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COLUMN: #BeAnExample

Published: Sunday, September 22, 2013

Updated: Sunday, September 22, 2013 23:09

Let me start by saying that I, like many, am a fan of Boston College football. I go to the games, I yell too loud, I sing along with the marching band, I do the cymbal thing on third down, I love it. Being an Eagle has always been one of my favorite parts of being at BC, and that isn’t going to change.

But part of being a fan is calling out my team when they aren’t doing a good job of representing me, and lately BC football deserves to be called out: the #BeADude mantra that trends on Twitter every Saturday and is plastered all over our promotional materials is offensive and should be removed. The slogan promotes a restrictive ideal of manhood and alienates the many women who love football as much as their male peers. #BeADude makes us look immature and frat-y, so it’s time to pick a new slogan.

#BeADude originated with defensive coordinator Don Brown and was later adopted by coach Addazio as the team’s de facto slogan. Asked by ESPN to explain what it means, Addazio said, “be a dude, and what being a dude is, is being a baller. You know? Just being a real baller. Just being a dude. Be great. Be a baller. Be great at what you are. Just don’t be average.”

So, let’s set aside for a moment the fact that that explanation is, at best, confusingly worded—this is a remarkably close-minded statement about gender for a top-flight university (or any university, or anyone, ever) to be making. Think about what BC football is saying. They’re drawing a line, with “dudes” on one side, and everyone else on the other and claiming for themselves the authority to determine which side of the line you fall on. In so doing, they’re simply perpetuating the narrow stereotype of machismo-laden masculinity that plagues our society, creating an in-group and an “other” group. We live in a society that encourages men to be aggressive and unfeeling while discouraging them from being emotional and vulnerable. Sports are manly, so they’re acceptable. But singing along when the marching band plays One Direction? Not so much (sorry, not sorry). I’m not saying that BC football is creating or even intentionally promoting this unbelievably restrictive standard of masculinity, but they’re certainly participating in a broken culture that fails to give many men space to express their gender identity comfortably. If you want to say something to your team, fine. But what message does it send to other students, not to mention young boys who idolize BC athletes, to equate being a “dude” with being a big, tough football player? I know some great dudes who sing opera or paint or do math. And they’re just as manly as the dudes I know who play football. We need to tell our young boys to do what they’re passionate about, whether it’s suiting up for a football game or suiting up for a ballet performance (ironically, the “suit” is somewhat similar). Telling them that being a man is “just being a real baller, just being a dude” is as harmful to their growth as it is verbally senseless.

And by the way, I know plenty of people who love BC football who aren’t “dudes.” News flash: women like football, too. So what message are we sending by sticking “#BeADude” on the promotional poster for BC football? It’s like the sign they put up at the end of Little Rascals (spoiler alert): “The He-Man-Women-Haters Club: Girls welcome.” Oh, why thank you, BC football, for allowing women to participate in this dudely dude-fest. I dropped out of CSOM, so I don’t know what theory of marketing says it’s a good idea to alienate half of your consumer base, but apparently that’s a thing now. If football is all about being a dude, we’re perpetuating the notion that sports are for men. It’s a man’s world—women just get to live in it. I would never try to speak on behalf of women, but I’d guess that being on the receiving end of that message is pretty awful.

As cynical as I may sound, I actually think this is a great opportunity for BC. Because, let’s be honest: gender is awful. Gender is just this arbitrary set of societal conventions telling us what we can and can’t be, and it’s the worst. But it’s really difficult to talk about gender, particularly for men, because talking about it means questioning it. And why would you need to question it? Why would there be any doubt in your mind about what it means to be a man? Are you gay or something (side note: it turns out some men are gay and they’re also men, crazy, right?)? Men grow up in a world where questioning masculinity is itself considered unmasculine, and that’s a shame. 

But whose masculinity will never, ever be called into question? BC football players. Say what you want about their performance on the field, nobody is disputing that they’re a manly freaking bunch. So let’s use this. Let’s start the conversation on masculinity that we so desperately need and let’s start it with the BC football team. Because that’s who we need to hear it from. That’s who we need telling young boys that they can play an instrument and still be manly. We need them telling boys they can like boys and still be manly. We need them telling young boys that it isn’t sex if their partner doesn’t say yes. The “dudes” of the BC football team have so much potential to be a force for good when it comes to deconstructing antiquated and harmful stereotypes about masculinity. And maybe the clumsily-worded, ugly slogan is an opportunity for BC football players to be examples, not dudes. Maybe it’s the push we need for that conversation to finally begin.

Editor’s Note: The views presented in this column are those of the author alone and do not represent the views of The Heights.

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Wed Oct 2 2013 08:53
Some of the comments on this article are actually more disturbing than the slogan itself. If that isn't promoting traditional gender roles and sexism, I don't know what is. John Gostola Walsh mentions above that "'Be great at what you are. Just don't be average.' is a motto anyone could live by." He's partially right. Right in that it is a motto anyone can live by, wrong in that earlier in the quote, Addazio states "be a dude" which suggests in a big way that being great is tied to being a "dude," something that doesn't apply to half the population.
Sun Sep 29 2013 13:45
Thank you. Thank you for being one of very few who don't mind standing up for something that some may deem, "not a big deal." It is a "big deal" for some. Letting the small things through the cracks is one of the ways the big issues become so ugly. I hope for a day when sexism and gender disparity isn't used to promote.
So, thank you.
Thu Sep 26 2013 08:54
"Tiptoe Through The Tulips" would be much better.
Wed Sep 25 2013 22:22
This country is screwed if people like Evan constantly pursue their agenda of taking everything at face value, finding the group it could possible be offensive to, deciding for that group that they feel offended and then jumping up and down yelling about it in order to be some sort of social hero. It is time for the regular level headed people of this country to stand up to bullies like Evan and say enough is enough.
Recent Grad
Wed Sep 25 2013 18:04
Be A Dude is a stupid slogan. I think most of us can agree with that. However, you took this awfully far, touching on so many different things: sexism, homosexuality, rape, gender roles, Little Rascals... I don't think this slogan perpetuates quite as many of these negative things as you seem to think it does. There are other things on campus that probably perpetuate gender roles and bro-type behavior, but a Twitter hashtag? I think our football players are, in fact, pretty good examples (off the field). Other D1 schools have constant problems with their athletes, and though there have been plenty of BC football player misbehavior stories in the past, I think ours are pretty stand-up guys. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, I suppose.
Wed Sep 25 2013 00:31
Yikes! I'm not sure what is more disconcerting, the article itself or the blind support it is getting by some commentors. I don't know the author, and his/her writing is not at all bad, but the content is FAR overreaching, overstated, and exaggerated. If some more research was done into the origins of the slogan and its colloquial use in pop-sports culture, maybe the author would have a better understanding of its contextual meaning. Unfortunately, the article comes off as a rant by an dissatisfied (albeit educated) individual who ultimately tried to make his school/student body look worse than they actually are.

#We are all dudes!

Tue Sep 24 2013 23:34
Most "dudes" are either stoners or cowboys. By calling his players "dudes" he's pointing out that anyone can be what he refers to as a "dude." He is redefining the word as someone who excels at what they do in order to try to rebuild comraderrie in the program. If you're a fan as you claim you are, then you would appreciate this. But you're not.

Tue Sep 24 2013 21:05
Congrats Evan. Seriously. For the first time in 5 years people are actually getting excited about the football program and your getting your rocks off talking about how our recruiting slogan is "sexist" and jumping as far as saying that we should teach young kids that its not sex if she doesn't say yes. What in god's name is wrong with you? It's articles like this that make people laugh at those who advocate for gender equality. You made a mountain out of a molehill and now are adding yet another problem for a coach that desperately wants this school to rally behind a team they once loved and supported. You wrote this to get a response from people and you got it. Just know that there are bigger problems on this campus and you are getting all worked up over a hashtag. Take that in for a moment. You are getting worked up over a freaking hashtag.
Tue Sep 24 2013 19:20
The reason for the attempt to define masculinity in a narrow sense, is that the use of masculinity in this country is to ;prove or attempt to prove that the individual is not homosexual, not a pansy, not a momma's boy, and all of the other phrases that are important to certain members of our society. The concept of masculinity gives structure to the homosexual mask. This does not really have much to do with the phrase Be A Dude, but the issue is critical in our society for what it tells us about ourselves.
Tue Sep 24 2013 15:45
Congratulations on completing your Gender Studies assignment. Now, please stop posting your damage publicly for the rest of us to read. Also, I'm sorry that you were consistently picked last in gym class.
Patrick O'Neil
Tue Sep 24 2013 15:24
Talk about creating a story out of a complete non-issue.
Mon Sep 23 2013 22:47
Clearly Evan is taking his first Intro to Gender Studies course and feels the need to inject it everywhere. Grow up and chill out, dude.
John Gosstola Walsh 222
Mon Sep 23 2013 18:32
This is honestly the worst article I've ever read and you do not know how to analyze a quote. No where does Adazzio's quote promote manliness. He says, "Be great at what you are. Just don't be average." This is a motto anyone could live by and you completely change the meaning of it.
Mon Sep 23 2013 18:21
I think this is an amazing article that highlights some really important problems at BC. Thanks Evan for writing it and making it a discussion around campus!
Mon Sep 23 2013 16:44
What a great article! As a recent BC grad, I'm sad to see such an ugly slogan representing our team and becoming a part of the BC culture. You're absolutely right, this is a fantastic opportunity for the BC community--especially the football team--to grow. Both men and women benefit from open, honest, respectful conversations about gender. This such an exceptional community of intelligent, talented, successful individuals, and I think we can afford to hold ourselves to a higher standard.
Mon Sep 23 2013 14:08
I mean honestly? While BeADude is a silly slogan, you've taken it about 15 steps too far. Cripes we're talking about college football here. It was a way to rescue a down in the doldrums program and create some buzz. #BeADude isn't about the's about the players. The fans already have their own's called superfans. Be One.
Mon Sep 23 2013 13:53
Are you implying that women cannot be great at what they do? For shame. I, for one, feel that women can certainly be greater than average (a baller, a dude) in all that they do.
Mon Sep 23 2013 12:14
Thank god someone is finally pointing this out. I'm a girl, I like football, and newsflash: Be A Dude just sounds dumb. Go Evan!
Mon Sep 23 2013 11:48
This article, as usual from this author, is both one sided and full of logical fallacies. Be a Dude is BC Footballs recruiting slogan, not something that questions masculinity, promotes sexism, or even promotes traditional gender roles.

"We need them telling young boys that it isn't sex if their partner doesn't say yes. The "dudes" of the BC football team have so much potential to be a force for good when it comes to deconstructing antiquated and harmful stereotypes about masculinity."

Drawing this conclusion from the slogan "Be a dude" is utterly ridiculous. Mr. Goldstein, if you wanted to write an article about rape culture or traditional gender norms, do that. Don't disguise it as a football article. Based on your articles, you are desperately searching for a soapbox in which to convey your opinions on both of those matters. Though I think many of your views are misguided and one dimensional, you have every right to do exactly that.

But in warping a BC slogan that was intended to recruit and mean something along the lines of, be yourself, be a dude, play football, you are no better than Fox News, or better yet, MSNBC.

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