An NFL Player Asks Men To "Man Up" About Violence

by Morgan Brinlee

Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy wants men to "man up." At a time when the NFL continues to be fiercely scrutinized on issues of domestic and sexual violence, the football player urged more athletes to speak out against sexual violence in order to change the way men think about the issue in an essay that is truly perceptive and powerful.

In the essay, written in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month for the Players' Tribune, Levy talks about the meaning of consent and proceeds to break down common misconceptions about rape and sexual violence. He references his own early personal experience hearing about men bragging of sexual violence and opens up about his own ignorance on the issue to highlight how important it is to change how men think about the issue.

"I carry guilt for not acting after hearing a story (and many others) that painted a picture of what I would now identify as rape," he writes. "This speaks to just how toxic and backward the culture around sexual assault still is. I was 18 years old — 'man' enough to drive, vote and go to war — but somehow I didn’t have the courage, or the maturity, to see what they were talking about for what it was: a serious crime."

He cites NFL efforts to educate players on domestic abuse and sexual violence as having led him to question how he approached the issue of sexual violence. "We’re essentially dealing with the problem by telling women to be more careful," Levy writes. "And that’s bullshit." He urges a focus on educating young men on what true consent is and how to be allies in an effort to prevent and decrease instances of sexual violence. To begin effecting change, Levy argues men need to stop thinking of sexual violence as a "woman's problem."

As a first step, Levy encourages men to change their perspective when thinking about issues of sexual violence if needed. "When you approach this issue as a mother’s son, or as a partner, or as a sister’s brother, rather than as a bro, it looks very different," he writes. "But it shouldn’t take a personal relationship to stand up for this."

Levy hinted he hoped his status as an NFL player would bring more awareness to the issue and inspire more men to not only talk about the issue but to challenge it. He implored his fellow athletes to join him in speaking out about instances of sexual violence. "When we talk, people listen. So in a sense, our general silence on this issue is condoning it," Levy writes. "Let’s change that. Speak out with me. Man up."