This just in: Glenn Beck, ever-classy, has just revoked the President’s Man Card.
I wasn’t aware that Glenn Beck was the current head of the "Who’s a real man?” club, but evidently he is, and he used the power vested in him by the authority of, er...himself...to strip President Obama of his man privileges. Apparently hosting a beer party on the lawn, releasing photos of himself shooting a rifle, and modeling other activities traditionally associated with masculinity wasn’t enough to convince Beck that Obama deserved to be a member of the Man Club.
Why, pray tell, has the President been kicked out of dudeland?
Cumulative traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has become a buzzword in recent years as people become more aware of the serious neurological consequences of playing football -- and other violent contact sports. It turns out that the brain is not a fan of repeated jostling (shocker), and can accrue serious damage over time, leading to early onset dementia, radical changes in personality and mood, and behavioral outbursts, sometimes with tragic consequences.
PROTECTING BRAINS=PROTECTING LIVES
The numbers of NFL veterans who’ve committed suicide, developed dementia at early ages, and shown other signs of severe brain damage are on the rise; and autopsies of football players’ brains donated to science show that an alarming number (90%!!) had signs of brain injury. Furthermore, over 3,000 players have sued the NFL with head injury claims.
This is serious business in a serious industry, and it’s already leading to calls for reform along with the development of better equipment. There’s only so much sports gear can do to protect the brain in situations like a sports field, though, especially with players getting larger and heavier.
Football is violent. It’s a contact sport. People play it and watch it because of the aggression on the field; just like people enjoy boxing, MMA, rugby, lacrosse and other violent sports that carry their own risks of head injury and other long-term complications.
CTE is just one facet of a larger national conversation about head injuries. As servicemembers return from Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re also looking at a myriad of other kinds of brain injuries and their effects on veterans. More research into understanding how head injuries are incurred, how we can intervene to treat them, and how we can prevent them is obviously needed for the sake not just of football players and athletes across the country, from amateur to pro, but also for the men and women serving the US and coming back with serious injuries that will change their lives forever.
Commenting on the head injury situation in football, the President noted that he was concerned particularly about college players, who don’t have the benefit of salaries and union protection like NFL players do. He said he’d be nervous about letting a hypothetical son play football because of the potential risks involved (presumably he’d also be concerned about Malia or Sasha playing violent contact sports as well, but he wasn’t asked about that), and Beck took umbrage at this comment.
How unAmerican of the President to dare bring up the issue of CTE in football; clearly, his comment needed to be met with the most insulting, dismissive thing that Beck could think of. And that, of course, was the shredding of the President’s “Man Card,” because everyone knows that football is a hypermasculine sport, one that any real man would enjoy full bore without any hesitations or concerns, a sport that women never watch, of course.
Fans are concerned for the welfare of people who play football because they love the sport and they love the people who play it. And while football players are adults who can make their own decisions, they still deserve to access the best protections possible to prevent long-term medical complications as a result of pursuing their sport, and their dream.
HEYO, IS THAT TRANSPHOBIA I SMELL?!
It wasn’t enough, though, to destroy the President’s Man Card -- Beck also had to repeatedly call the President a “girl,” bringing some transphobia into the mix. Because there’s nothing more cutting than misgendering someone to illustrate the depths of your contempt for him. Calling the President “chick-in-chief,” Beck went on one of his usual spittle-laced tirades berating the President for venturing to have an opinion on a serious social issue, in the process making his disdain for the President crystal clear.
Replaying Obama’s media interview in which he’d discussed the head injury situation, Beck repeatedly talked over the President with childish interjections, and forced his voice into a higher register to make sure viewers got the picture. Obama = “full-fledged woman,” according to Beck. Har, har, har.
The implication of this rant, beyond simply attacking the President for believing that something should be done about the rising incidence of CTE in football, was also that the President was unfit to lead the country. After all, one wouldn’t want a “chick” in the Oval Office making key policy decisions and holding the nuclear football, and one wouldn’t want someone who might be soft in charge of the nation.
Before you know it, we’d all be forced to ride pink unicorns that shit rainbow sparkles, and we can’t be having that sort of thing. There is only one gender that should occupy the White House, and members of that gender should conform to a very narrow and rigid set of performative standards in order to be considered acceptable.
This is not the first time the right has attacked the President on the grounds that he’s too soft/feminine/prissy, and it’s notable that these appeals to the base tend to be highly effective. A campaign shaming the man for eating arugula, for Pete’s sake, managed to get people thinking of the President as elitist and pansified; making it sound like the President hates one of the nation’s most beloved sports is an even more effective campaign.
Who, after all, could support a President who thinks there’s a problem with football?