My experience tells me there's a chance that many of you won't find this interesting, but I think it is, and I might even go so far as to call it important. So you're stuck with it.
New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora, on Twitter early Thursday morning, apologized to women who may have been offended by his Sunday tweet wishing a "Happy Mother's Day" to Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. Umenyiora's tweet indicates that he had his eyes opened by this Sarah Spain column that took issue with the idea of men insulting other men by calling them women -- something Umenyiora has done before with regard to McCoy. And something, as Sarah points out, people do all the time without thinking about it. This was Umenyiora's tweet at 5:09 am ET on Thursday (he's apparently in Germany):
@SarahSpain is absolutely correct in her article. I wasnt thinking about it from that perspective. I apologize to any woman offended
Later, he sent this one directly to Sarah:
@SarahSpain I always try and look at things from someone else's perspective when it's called to my attention. You article is the truth
That was in response to her telling him it was "fantastic" of him to "actually read the piece and really think about the issue."
Great exchange all around. Good job by Sarah to write a smart, common-sense column calling into question a low and outdated form of discourse in which too many men engage too easily and without thinking. And good job by Umenyiora, an unusually thoughtful NFL player, to read the column and hear its message. Sarah's point was coolly and sensibly made, and deserves our attention as much as it deserved Umenyiora's:
It's time to put an end to these lazy, damaging jeers. It's time to stop spreading the message that being female is inherently wrong or inferior. The use of "woman" or "female" or "girl" as an insult is sexist, plain and simple. Replace "woman" with race, religion or sexual orientation and the reaction would be far different. Just imagine the response from media and fans if Umenyiora had tweeted McCoy "Happy Gay Pride Day."
To Umenyiora, saying that a man is a "woman" is equivalent to calling him a "wuss," a "weakling," or a "crybaby." Well if that's what he means, he should use those words. The word "woman" should not be interchangeable with these insults.
I think our culture and our society should always be evolving, or at the very least always striving to evolve. And I understand that, for a lot of people, football remains a subset of our society in which it feels okay not to have to worry about such things. Men beat each other senseless in pursuit of the ball or the end zone. Fans scream themselves hoarse and drink themselves stupid, convinced for a few hours that their surroundings justify behavior that isn't tolerated in the real world to which they must return Monday morning. It's an escape, and for a lot of people that's what it must be. I get it.
But this is the real world, and in it there's nothing wrong with someone standing up and saying, "Hey. This isn't acceptable anymore. We know better, and we should probably start acting like we do." That, to me, is the central point of Sarah's column, and I get the sense that that's what Umenyiora took from it, too. Which is good, because maybe now he'll find other, less offensive ways to tweak McCoy and the next generation of football rivalries will better reflect its own presence in the 21st century as opposed to the 14th.