Last night Caden had his weekly Jr. Jazz basketball game and it’s always amusing to watch. Since the kids are only 7 & 8 years old, they don’t call them on anything except out of bounds. So essentially double dribbling and carrying are the mainstays of the game. In fact, Caden’s first game he got the ball, dribbled for about two seconds and then ran with the ball down the court to the basket to shoot. Yep, that’s my boy. Anyway, back to the game last night. The boys were a little thrown as the opposing team had a girl as one of their teammates.
“Oh my gosh, they have a girl!” exclaims one little boy and the rest of them start talking excitedly. “We’re so going to beat them!” “I’m glad we don’t have a girl on our team!”
Humph. From that point on I was secretly cheering her on the sidelines. I was hoping she would show those boys a thing or two that girls are definitely a force to be reckoned with, on or off the basketball court, and they deserve some respect. After she stole the ball a few times and almost made a couple of baskets, the boys were starting to get a taste of humble pie…sort of. At this age, humility is really something that is lost on them. Humiliation – well, that’s another beast all together.
Watching this little girl play alongside the boys made me think about myself growing up. In my neighborhood, there were only 1 or 2 other girls my age and roughly about 12 boys. And since I love sports and started playing them from a young age, I tended to play with the boys in the neighborhood and could very well describe my youth as “tomboyish”. I relished being able to get down and dirty with the boys, be scrappy playing soccer or building a fort in the backyard, and I really didn’t have time for dolls or tea time.
My grandpa was not always a big fan of my participation in sports and you could often hear him remark, “Girls don’t belong on a field, sweating and getty dirty. You should do nice ladylike things.” Needless to say, it only drove me to push harder to do the things that boys could do. One famous occurrence in my youthful feminism took place at my grandpa’s house one Saturday when he had some of the grandkids over to help do yardwork. The boys were out pulling pyracantha bushes (mean, nasty bushes with spikes all over) and I asked my grandpa if I could go out and help instead of being relegated to the inside cleaning – mopping, window washing, vacuuming. You know, girl stuff.
“Grandpa, can I go help Joel, Matt, and Ben pull out the bushes? I’m done vacuuming and I have gloves to use in the dirt.”
“Now, Angel-A, you don’t want to go outside with the boys. Haven’t I ever told you how three boys work? Three boys work like half a boy, two boys work like one boy, and one boy can often work like a man. You should stay inside and away from interfering with their work. It’s not pleasant work for a young lady like you.”
With all the 11 year old pride I could muster, this was my retort. “Well, three boys may not do a lot of work but have you heard about three girls? Three girls work like half a girl, two girls work like a girl, and one girl works like a woman. So I know what I’m doing.” And I marched outside and proceeded to scratch the heck out of my arms pulling the ornery pyracantha bushes out of the ground. But I did it with a smile on my face.
Although I would say that growing up I was a little feminist, that I crusaded the cause of feminism everywhere, I realized as I got older that often the “feminists” had lost all sense of “femininity” (I’ll pause while you practice saying that word) and I realized that there is a fine balance to be struck. For heavens sake, look at the women who call themselves “feminists” today; not entirely feminine in my mind (ahem, one particular presidential candidate included).
For me, I still consider it important to push the boundaries and accomplish things that people might say are more “male oriented”. Go women! But perhaps we can wear that frilly skirt from Anthropologie while breaking down barriers. 🙂