” You play ball like a giiirrrrrrl!”
-Ham Porter ( The Sandlot)
At that moment, we sat in front of the TV and wondered, ‘How does Phillip come back from that?! No way he lets that slide!’ And of course Phillips was stunned. Hell, I was stunned right along with him because at 8 years old, my friends and I couldn’t think of anything worse than being told you play ‘like a girl.’ It’s was like someone questioning your burgeoning manhood before you even got to fully enjoy it. Life just didn’t add up anymore; you didn’t know if you’re still allowed to enjoy the Powerpuff girls show (a personal fav) or if it’s best to immediately enlist in the military (you know, at 8, years old).
Across genders, the inherent misogyny weaved into the “…like a girl” retort has been subtly (and sometimes boldly) fed to us since we were kids. But I’m avid fan of women in every arena, particularly as athletes. And as I look at the exceptional skill I see in women like Serena Williams, Mia Moore and everyone in the lingerie football league, I wonder– what exactly does ‘Like a Girl’ mean? As we currently use the term, it basically suggests that when it comes to sports, women are second class citizens because they can’t possible be ” good” at it.The sports world couldn’t be anymore misogynistic. But that’s not where it starts. We place limitations on children and tell them what colors they should like (pink vs. blue), what games they can enjoy (Barbie vs. SpiderMan)and what sports they should care for (football vs cheerleading; both of which are exceptionally physical). You know what that creates? Small-minded men who are threatened by women who disrupt the status quo and women who never explore their limitless potential. So, let Sally have the football along with her Easy Bake oven because society’s idea of what young girls are allowed to enjoy and excel at is skewed and needs a proverbial ‘makeover.’
Just this year I watched Ronda Rousey destroy yet another opponent to win her 11th fight in a row. Her performance of late has been so dominating that Dana White went on to compare her to Mike Tyson and note that “she is without a doubt, the female of him.”
White genuinely meant that as a compliment. But the idea that we have to compare Roussey to Mike Tyson is not only a backwards compliment but also erases her lived experience as woman who also is an exceptional athlete. Not to mention, it downplays the general awesome-ness of Women’s Mixed Martial Art. Why can’t Rousey just be Rousey? You know, a kick-ass athlete with two X chromosomes. Rousey the first of her kind in the UFC and she’s going to pave the way for women for years to come. Let them have what’s theirs, let them idolize her for her achievements rather than letting every up and coming female mixed martial artist know that you can be as good as ” that guy.”
* steps down from podium of the feminist convention and gets niece ready to go to soccer practice this summer*