Linebacker DeAndre Levy of the Detroit Lions. Photo: Getty Images
Late last month, DeAndre Levy wrote an email to the Free Press discussing his concerns with concussions in the NFL and how it's "scary" he may have the degenerative brain disease CTE.
Now, the Detroit Lions linebacker turns to The Players' Tribune, this time to write about male masculinity, sexual assault and the objectification of women in a piece titled "Man Up".
Levy wrote that he feels a need to speak up about these issues because he senses a "general silence" from professional athletes on them and that "when we talk, people listen".
"The dehumanisation and objectification of women are not issues that are specific to male athletes," Levy wrote. "They are societal problems. But they tend to be more associated with athletes in part because we are often idolised because of our athletic ability. In many ways, we're considered models of masculinity, which is at the very root of a lot of these issues. So in honour of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I want to use my platform as an NFL linebacker to discuss how we talk about rape and sexual assault - because not enough men are."
Levy used the opportunity to define consent - it "only occurs when a woman clearly says yes" - and addressed, one by one, some of the ignorant questions many men counter with to justify their behaviour.
Domestic violence and sexual assault are not new issues for the NFL. The league especially came under fire with how it handled the Ray Rice domestic violence case in 2014 and began instituting harsher punishments for players involved in future incidents of domestic violence.
Levy brought up a few facts from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN): Seven out of 10 sexual assaults are never reported and, when they are reported, 98 per cent of perpetrators don't spend more than a day in jail.
"I was pretty ignorant on this topic for a long time," Levy wrote. "I think a lot of men are, because it's often talked about as a women's issue. The focus always seems to be on teaching young women how not to get raped and on what steps they can take to "stay safe". But why are we not also focused on educating young men about the definition of consent and what constitutes rape? We're essentially dealing with the problem by telling women to be more careful. And that's bullshit."
"As a society, we need to get more serious about this. The issue of sexual assault is a lot more nuanced than what most men think. We need to teach young men how to be allies - explain to them the emotional and psychological effects that abuse victims often carry with them for their entire lives. We need men to understand that there are likely women close to them who have experienced an assault and never told a soul."
Detroit Free Press