cover image You Throw Like a Girl: The Blind Spot of Masculinity

You Throw Like a Girl: The Blind Spot of Masculinity

Don McPherson. Akashic, $28.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-61775-779-2

Former NFL quarterback McPherson’s memoir is a “thorough self-scouting” that challenges men to consider violence against women as a men’s issue, and to pivot toward a “conversation among men about the aspiration and essential values of masculinity.” McPherson sees boys being raised with a primary mandate to avoid being girls or gay men and to be tough, silent, and stoic—an essentially misogynistic approach that also, he writes, limits men’s emotional growth and sense of accountability. He recounts his transition from celebrity athlete to educator at age 29, which prompted realizations that privilege and gendered expectations had a greater impact on him than the racism he had experienced. McPherson is critical of the abusive language of sports motivation; of the team loyalty that leads men to protect peers who commit assault; and of the “bare minimum effort” style of allyship that promotes protective chivalry and violence for supposedly good causes and approaches problem solving “as if [victims’] experience is the source of the problem.” Instead, McPherson wants readers to begin to understand that traditional masculinity is a burden to boys and men, and to help change the narrative handed down to them. Though McPherson’s vision is neither unique nor perfectly articulated, this is a valuable contribution to the new choir of traditionally masculine men reevaluating themselves on their own terms. (Sept.)