Jameis Winston was trying to engage some elementary school kids in St. Pete yesterday while giving a motivational speech (not always an easy thing to do, trust me. We’ve been there! Kids are a tough crowd.) Unfortunately, in an attempt to amp these kids up, he asked the boys to stand and repeat the message that they are loud and strong. During this time he asked the girls to stay seated, adding that ladies are supposed to be “silent, polite, gentle.”
I get that this was an on-the-fly experiment and that he was just trying to give these little boys some motivation.
But this was not a great message to send to the girls OR the boys. These are kids that potentially look up to Jameis Winston as a celebrity. Why else would he BE there, speaking to these kids? He’s someone kids admire.
For the girls in the room, being told that ladies are meant to be “silent, polite, gentle” reinforces an archaic belief that women should act that way. Let me tell you, it’s hard to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company (or to, say, ask for equal billing on your radio show) by being silent, polite, and gentle. Sometimes you have to BE loud and strong and ask for what you want.
The fact that it crossed his mind to note the difference between the boys and girls in such a manner proves that this is still an issue we’re dealing with in America. I’ve already heard I’m overreacting to this, or over thinking it. “He’s just a football player,” a caller said, and “He didn’t mean all that,” etc.
Then if he’s just a football player, DON’T TROT HIM OUT FOR SPEECHES. If he can’t adlib better on the fly, don’t let him do it. If he didn’t mean what he said, maybe he should clarify to the kids in that classroom that girls can and should be loud and strong, too.
Or maybe, if he or you or anyone thinks that girls SHOULD be silent, polite, and gentle, this is a teachable moment. There’s a difference between being a bold but classy man or woman and being a doormat.