It’s summer camp time, are you ready?
By Grace O’Malley.
In a conversation with my uncle last week, I mentioned off-handedly that I had heard about “gender-neutral” preschools in Sweden. At these preschools, the staff avoid using the pronouns “he” and “she” and instead use “friend” to address and refer to all preschoolers. With the goal of freeing children from societal expectations based on gender, they try to avoid books and toys that present or reinforce traditional gender roles. It was pretty cool, huh? I said. My uncle scoffed at the idea, and at me.
“That seems so unnecessary. Unless you have some sort of gender identity disorder, I just don’t see the point of that,” he remarked.
His comment shocked me on many levels. First of all, his understanding was that there were only a few, and a very rare few, strange cases of individuals who do not fit the categories of Male and Female. Now I’m wasn’t qualified to argue biology with him, but he missed the part about the social expectations and traditional roles that are attached to the Male/Female binary and taught to children at a very young age. I was also shocked because he overlooked the fact that I had grown up hardly knowing I was a girl.
This theory is a lot like watching Dr. Phil or Comso’s sex tips: a guilty pleasure. It’s trying to tell you how this socially constructed world works even though there’s no rhyme or reason to how ANYTHING works, but that doesn’t make it any less fun for humanity to rationalize, categorize, and quantify the constant phenomena around us. So with that disclaimer, enjoy the unfounded theory of how guys and gals function. Also remember my positionality is a straight white upper-middleclass girl trying to figure out how straight, mostly white, mostly upper-middle class men work.
The Offense and Defense Theory
Men are on the offense and women are on the defense. Traditionally speaking, men are more likely or more pressured to make the first move. They’re the one that’s supposed to ask the girl to prom, they’re the ones that should be buying the girl a drink, they’re the ones expected to go down on one knee. Traditionally speaking, women are on the defense, they’re the ones that get to say yes or no to the prom, drink, and proposal. For the metaphor, think of the man as the offensive player shooting into the goal, and the girl is guarding the goal. The men, especially the beginners in the sport of Flirt, miss the goal, or it gets deflected. In other words men get rejected. A lot. They put themselves out there with the risk of being completely denied. So when they get rejected, why would they do it again? If they treat like a game, it means it’s ok to lose, it’s ok to fail, it’s not personal it’s just part of the game of Flirt. It’s not who falls down but who gets back up.
I was just recently on a road trip, and Eric’s car was a manual. “I can drive stick! Please let me drive your car.” Out of the five people in the station wagon, only Eric, Chris, and I knew how to drive manual. Chris got to drive Eric’s car and I didn’t. Instead I got to sit in the worst spot possible. Yes, that middle seat that is shaped like a camel’s hump with no leg room. But I sit there because I have the shortest legs, so since my legs are 10% shorter than the tallest person’s legs, it’s 10% less painful for me to sit bitch for eight hours.
Once again, a woman’s body was valued over her skill.
Only once have I been on a road trip with just women. We rotated drivers every four hours, and we rotated seats so no one had to sit in the seat-that-should-not-be-a-seat the entire ride. This already makes this the best road trip I have ever been on, and that does not even add to the fact that we talked about hook-ups, first kisses, and so much more entertaining topics than what was on ESPN two weeks ago. Plus, the music was superb. This made me realize that in my experience women are more willing to share the spot of driving than men are. They are also more empathetic and offer to sit bitch (Eric and Chris never sat in the middle back seat, even though all the women did). Women not only trust other women to drive their car, but they trust other men as well (even though adolescent males have the highest car insurance rates). To me, that’s equality.
By Grace O’Malley.
To the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Thank you for Not Letting Jim Souhan Write about the Women’s World Cup
At the time of the 2006 Men’s World Cup, I was 14 years old.
Despite being pretty wrapped up in my own 14-year-old girl life and only superficially following the Cup, I remember being outraged after reading a column by Jim Souhan titled, “A Dozen Ways To Fix Soccer for the U.S.” I was just entering high school and didn’t know much about feminism or gender equality, but as a soccer player I was deeply offended by Souhan’s “suggestions” about what would make soccer better, which apparently were supposed to be funny.
In order to “make the world a better place,” and have soccer succeed in the American market, he proposed twelve ridiculous improvements, including:
“i want to apologize to all the women i have called beautiful
before i’ve called them intelligent or brave
i am sorry i made it sound as though
something as simple as what you’re born with
is all you have to be proud of
when you have broken mountains with your wit
from now on i will say things like
you are resilient, or you are extraordinary
not because i don’t think you’re beautiful
but because i need you to know
you’re more than that”
“A Smaller and More Ardent Church”
That the Catholic Church continues to shrink should come as a surprise to no one. But I can’t help but think, didn’t they see this coming?
In 1971, Catholic theologian and self-proclaimed “radical lesbian feminist” Mary Daly stated, somewhat prophetically, that,
“The women’s movement will present a growing threat to patriarchal religion less by attacking than by simply leaving it behind.”
Although she was fired from her teaching position at Boston College due to her politics and her refusal to let men into her classes, and although she is still considered by many Catholic academics to be a radical, forty-four years later it kind of seems like she hit the nail on the head. As society has changed for women, and changed in general, the Catholic Church has not budged. Instead of staying in it and fighting for change, many have simply left it behind. The Catholic Church has lost the position it once had in the lives of Americans.
It’s a great time to be an American woman. The US women’s team just won the world cup. I went to one of the games during groups, and I loved seeing how many American fans there were. There were girls and women of all ages concerned more about their face paint and red-white-and blue head bands rather than their mascara or straightened hair. Apart from the women, there were plenty of boys and men cheering the women’s team, making the gender ratio of the fans pretty balanced. This is the most viewed soccer event by Americans in history. The baseball world series 7th had 23.5 million viewers and this world cup was not far behind with 22.86 million viewers(NPR).
For a New York Times article, Julie Foudy, star midfielder on the 1999 team states explains
“We’re talking about them as athletes, rather than some of the conversations we had in ’99 — ‘My God, who are these women? They’re kind of hot!’ ” This comment well portrays the transition of US women’s soccer over the past 16 years.
The day before Super Bowl Sunday, I asked my brother, in my mind an expert and authority on most sports, to give me a thirty second run down on the game. Which teams were playing, who were their best players, interesting stories about players, etc.
When he started explaining to me, it became very apparent very quickly that not only did I know nothing, but I couldn’t care less about professional football. My brother looked at me quizzically, and said, “You know, it surprises me, that you don’t get into sports more. You are so competitive and you love sports. But you never watch professional sports.”
I lulled that one over for a moment, just as perplexed as he was.
“Hmm, I guess you’re right,” I told him.
I’d spend my whole life running around and playing all kinds of sports, and I loved going to any sporting event at my high school or college was playing in. But why didn’t I care about the ones on TV?