This weekend at The New York Times, Charles M. Blow, one of our great social-issues columnist, tackled the controversy over Roland Martin's Super Bowl tweets last weekend:
This week, Roland Martin, a bombastic cultural and political commentator was suspended by CNN from his role as a political analyst on the network for Twitter messages published during the Super Bowl.
One message read: “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl.” Another read: “Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass.”
Blow assumes good will and good faith on the part of Roland Martin—and still holds him to account for being part of the masculinity patrol. No matter how jovially, mocking deviation from a narrow vision of manhood has real-world consequences, as Blow explains perfectly:
Words have power. And power recklessly exerted has consequences. It’s not about being politically correct. It’s about being sensitive to the plight of those being singled out. We can’t ask the people taking the punches to also take the jokes.
And it’s about understanding that masculinity is wide enough and deep enough for all of us to fit in it. But society in general, and male culture in particular, is constantly working to render it narrow and shallow....
The man that we mythologize in the backs of our minds is a cultural concoction, an unattainable ideal, a perfect specimen of muscles and fearlessness and daring. Square-jawed and well-rounded. Potent and passionate. Sensitive but not sentimental. And, above all else, unwaveringly heterosexual and without even a hint of softness....
And this narrowed manhood ideal has a truly damaging effect on boys....
We have created this culture, and we can undo it.
Please do read the whole piece.