Truth is the cry of all, but the game of few. —George Berkeley
Lika a lot of creative people, I had a tendency to daydream when I was a child. I could get lost in my own thoughts no matter where I was or what I was supposed to be doing, which often meant I wasn’t doing anything at all. Those would be the times, after calling my name multiple times and getting no response, one parent or the other would take hold of my shoulder and give me a firm shake, then say, “Charles, you need to get with the game. You’re holding everyone up.”
Yesterday, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) essentially told the entire United States the same thing: You need to get with the game. The “game” isn’t anything with a ball or rings or mats or fields, though. The game they’re talking about is equal protection for everyone regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. The message was blunt and firm that cities hosting, or even bidding, for any manner of NCAA event, whether an educational conference or a major game, has to ensure that everyone gets equal treatment. No exceptions. The statement from the NCAA reads, in part:
The board’s decision follows the recent actions of legislatures in several states, which have passed laws allowing residents to refuse to provide services to some people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. While proponents of the laws focus on how they protect religious beliefs, critics have voiced concerns that they create an environment of sanctioned discrimination.
Here’s the thing: the NCAA isn’t exactly known as a bastion of liberal or progressive thought. If anything, they tend to see themselves as protectors of tradition and legacy, taking more conservative positions on the majority of issues. The Board of Governors is made up largely of university presidents who tend to be more concerned with not upsetting major donors, who also tend to be rather conservative in their positions. One can’t blame the influence of liberal media nor liberal academics as the NCAA stands quite separate from either. For the nation’s governing body over collegiate sports to make a statement such as this indicates something very important: society has changed, whether you like it or not.
Oh, but the NCAA wasn’t content to just let it go with sexual orientation and gender identity. They’re taking on some other very important issues. The statement also reads:
The Association now prohibits championships events with predetermined sites in states where governments display the Confederate battle flag, and prohibits NCAA members from hosting championships events if their school nicknames use Native American imagery that is considered abusive and offensive.
In case you’re head is spinning and you’re just not sure what all just happened, let me make it very clear: anti-gay and/or anti-transgender laws and blatantly racist symbols are no longer acceptable. Anywhere. Period. Under any circumstances. Get with the game.
Hold on, we’re not done.
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)announced yesterday that it is launching an investigation into gender stereotyping in advertising. Again, we’re talking about a traditionally conservative body, one that has at times been accused of being too knee-jerk in its reactions, taking a surprisingly progressive move demonstrating a significant shift in what contemporary society considers acceptable. ASA Chief executive, Guy Parker, said as part of the statement:
We’re serious about making sure
we’re alive to changing attitudes
and behaviors. That’s why we’ve
already been taking action to ban
ads that we believe reinforce
gender stereotypes and that are
likely to cause serious and
widespread offense, or harm.
While the ASA’s announcement legally applies only to the UK, advertising is expensive and while some regional changes are often made, global campaigns that run in the UK as well as other countries will still have to meet those same standards. So, word to all the misogynists out there, especially those in advertising: Get with the game. Gender stereotypes are no longer acceptable.
Morals are not something that can be legislated, nor can they be strictly dictated by a mythology. As a society progresses and moves forward, those morals, those social norms, are going to change. Some change willingly. Others foolishly fight change with their last breath. Boycott all you want, protest all you want, elect all the religiously intolerant, inbred, closed-minded legislators you want, society will move forward. Your best move is to get with the game.
To review, the following are no longer acceptable, anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances:
- Anti-LGBTQ legislation of any kind
- City or venue policies that do not protect race, gender, and sexual orientation
- Confederate flags
- Offensive Native American imagery
- Gender stereotypes
I realize, for some of you, that is a lot of change in one fell swoop. Too bad. Get with the game and start moving forward. You’re holding everyone else up.