#progressiveofthemonth

Terry Crews: Cracking the Egg of Male Stereotypes

(Photo Credit: hollowverse.com)

“I’m a man, and I’ve got to look like a man. And I can’t admit that I’m afraid, I can’t say that I’m weak. I can’t say that I’m tired. I’m not allowed to say that I’m sleepy, or I’m hurt, or that I can’t handle this. … When I crack that egg for my son, he was free. And I’ve got to learn to keep cracking that egg for myself, every time.” Terry Crews interview on The Agenda

One look at Terry Crews, and you would think: “there’s a man”. But you would doing so for the wrong reasons. Sure, he’s spent his lifetime modelling the traditional gladiator physique, playing in the NFL, and even being known for his Old Spice commercials. But Terry Crews is a Progressive Man.

Ask him why feminism is so important, and you will get this answer: “Let’s not even go back to slavery, let’s go to civil rights: the people who were silent at the lunch counters, when it was the black lunch counter and the white one. … [If] you were quiet, you were accepting it,” By simply letting stereotypes and institutional power work their magic, you are doing nothing, and certainly not contributing to any progress. He goes on to emphatically forward:

“Same thing with men right now. If you don’t say anything, you are, by your silence — it’s acceptance. I’m not going to be silent.”

He was recently in town for the What Makes a Man Conference presented by the White Ribbon Campaign, and sat down for a full length interview with TVO on The Agenda. 

This is THE conversation on modern manhood. Watch the entire interview here:

Mad love to Terry Crews for being TPM’s Progressive of the Month for December.

Advertisements

Joss Whedon: Screenwriter, Director, Producer, Male Feminist, Ally

(Photo: popmatters.com)

For those of you who grew up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, or Serenity, Joss Whedon is not a new name to you. Thematically, he is known for his vision which incorporates strong female leads. Looking ahead to The Avengers and his work in translating other comic books to the big screen, this we can expect him to undoubtedly follow suit.

Why is he progressive? Here’s why:

“You know, it’s one of those things that’s always surprising. I was raised by a very strong woman, I didn’t know feminism was actually a thing until I left home and found out the country didn’t run the way my mom’s house did. So I have this goldfish, idiot, forgetful thing in that every time I’m confronted with true misogyny, I’m stunned. I’m like, Really? That’s like, I don’t believe in airplanes. It’s like, What century are you from?”

Like Joss, I was raised by a strong woman myself and thought it normal to consider a woman’s point-of-view, thoughts, and body, with as much respect as I would treat my own. For us, this has not been as novel an idea as it seems to be in the media of late (#HeForShe, #rapedneverreported #mentalhealth). These conversations need to continue long beyond the point when the media cycle deems them no longer ‘relevant’.

Joss’ work shows quite aptly puts his money where his mouth is, sans agenda:

“Action is the best way to say anything. A guy who goes around saying “I’m a feminist” usually has an agenda that is not feminist. A guy who behaves like one, who actually becomes involved in the movement, generally speaking, you can trust that. And it doesn’t just apply to the action that is activist. It applies to the way they treat the women they work with and they live with and they see on the street.”

The impact of entertainment media (and media in general) on notions of self and constructions of identity cannot be overstated. Joss sets a fine example of how to weave an important topic into the stories that become an inherent part of society’s fabric.

Joss is the TPM Progressive of the Month for these reasons. We look forward to his continued success in the film and television industry, as well as to see how his pop culture influence forwards equality.

Phil Jackson – Coach, Mentor, Teacher, ‘Zen Master’

(Photo: Mark Ralston; AFP; Getty Images)

“If you meet the Buddha in the lane, make sure you feed him the ball.” – Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson is the man. He is without question the best coach in NBA history, leading Kobe and Mike (and Shaq) to multiple championships. Some would say he couldn’t have done it without them. I would argue the reverse: championship teams always have great players on them. He has replicated the pinnacle of success more times than any NBA coach ever, and has now embarked upon on the laborious task of rebuilding the New York Knicks (a storied franchise that has flirted with mediocrity over the past 10+ years).

Why is he the TPM Progressive of the Month?

In the big business of professional sports, coaches are the balance-makers between revenue generation and player development. They are given a small army of players, and expected to make it work. Focus too heavily on one aspect, and the other suffers (which might mean your job). In the case of markets where winning isn’t required (see Toronto for more), this pressure isn’t as high.

So, what distinguishes Jackson from his other coaches?

1. Coaches are supposed to win – not only did he win, he fundamentally applied a new selfless system (the Triangle offense) to that end. It forces players to work together, and to read each other, for the best shot possible. We can never extricate his successes from the players he worked with, but that is really a moot point, isn’t it? Eleven championship rings speak loudly.

2. Good coaches are supposed to inspire and motivate – this he did. Through his work, he activates the Situational Leadership model which is the antithesis to the ‘one size fits all’ mentoring and coaching approach. This required him to establish authentic connections to his players, for example making recommendations on what books to read at specific points in time, that were relevant to each player. This is really a tactic that can only be effective by truly knowing what makes someone tick. It is in blending elements of indigenous and Buddhist spirituality together that Jackson has essentially created a new model of leadership development, and in doing so, garnered the title of ‘Zen Master’. This ultimately leads to…

3. ESPN’s Chris Broussard stating that, “[b]eing a great NBA coach is about managing egos, earning your players’ respect, developing team chemistry, making (in-game and off-day) adjustments, and emphasizing the right things. And no one’s ever done all that better than Jackson.”

4. Jackson brought together a group of men who operate in a testosterone-driven environment – complete with traditional gender roles, competitive fangs, and stereotypes of manliness – to open up, hold hands, meditate, and transcend the individual for the group.

While mindfulness has been thrown around as a buzz word, here’s the thing – it works. Applying it to your personal life, daily practice, business, or management strategy helps you achieve great things. It quiets out the noise and lets you and your team focus on the goal at hand: whether greater productivity or inner peace.

The ‘Jackson School of Management’ translates off the court as well – see this Forbes article on Jackson.

I encourage you to read up on Phil Jackson, TPM’s Progressive of the Month. Search for the book at a local public library, or better yet, grab it from your local bookstore.

Selected bibliography:

Sacred Hoops

Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success