“Do you go to a doctor? Or a LADY doctor…”
“Did you get pulled over by a police officer? Or by a LADY police officer…”
“Does your church have a pastor? Or a LADY pastor…”
Imagine if asking questions like these was considered appropriate. Imagine the psychological effects it would have on our girls and young women to grow up in a culture where the default gender for all professions was male, and if a woman happened to work her way into that same profession, people felt the need to throw a “LADY” in front of it.
This is what we are doing to girls and young women in our society when we divide middle school and high school sports teams into “The [Insert Team Name]s” and “The LADY [Insert Team Name]s.” How is it okay that the presumed gender for a sports team is male, and if it’s NOT male, then they have to let you know by putting a “lady” in front of it? How is it 2019, and we are still distinguishing between going to watch The Wildcats play, or going to watch The Lady Wildcats? The Eagles, or The Lady Eagles? The Tigers, or The Lady Tigers? And what does that distinction do to the hearts and minds of the young women who have so much to learn and gain from the experience of organized sports?
My oldest daughter is a freshman in high school this year, and every day I get updates on a GroupMe about her soccer practices and games and whatnot. And with every message that comes in, I am reminded of the ridiculousness that is this idea of throwing a “LADY” in front of the school’s team nickname/mascot. It drives me crazy. There is nothing particularly masculine or feminine about a Panther or a Bear… Or a Bulldog or a Bobcat… Or a Pioneer or a Warrior.
There are other options. For instance, “The UCB (University of Chris Boeskool) Fighting Hyenas Men’s Volleyball Team” and “The UCB Fighting Hyenas Women’s Volleyball team.” How frigging hard is that? But calling them The Hyenas and The LADY Hyenas is just stupid. And insulting. And needlessly sexist.
Who knows… Maybe this is why women are so kick ass. Maybe the reason women today are — by and large — so much more impressive than men is because they have to overcome way more crap like this. They have to work harder. They have to fight against the expectation that they can’t… At least not as well. But regardless of the outcome, it is undeniably stupid to divide athletics into “Default” and “Lady Distinction.”
I’ve written before about the ingrained sexism in our language in a post called “Feeling ‘Manly,’ And Other Lies.” The word “Manly” has synonyms in the thesaurus like Courageous, Bold, Heroic, Noble, Self-Reliant, Virile, Brave, Confident, Fearless, Powerful, Lion-Hearted, Resolute, Stately, Strong… With MANY other virtuous characteristics. While the only synonyms the word “Womanly” has are the following words: Female, Girlish, Ladylike, Maidenly, Matronly, Motherly, and Womanish. This obviously needs to change. And when we elect a woman to be president next year, it will hopefully be a big step in that direction.
In the meantime, if your local middle school or high school is separating their teams into “The Lions” and “The Lady Lions” (or other such nonsense), take a couple minutes to call the school and voice your displeasure. Ask to speak to the principal about it. Talk to the athletic director, and ask him or her (let’s be honest, 95% of the time in high school, it’s probably going to be a “him”) why the default sports mascot is male. Why not “The Grizzlies” and “The GUY Grizzlies?” Give them some time to try to explain it, and listen to them fumble over their words. Ask them if they took education classes or LADY education classes. Then let them know it’s time for them to change…
This has been the longest break between blog posts that I have ever taken since I started writing almost 8 years ago. I’m sorry if you have missed me. I’m not going to go into details right now, but I’ll just say that this last month and a half has easily been the most difficult time of my life. I am so very thankful for those of you who continue to support this blog and my writing.
During this break, I have been working on the book I’m writing. I’m about halfway done! I think you’re going to love it. If you’d like to become a Patron, you can DO THAT HERE. If you’d like to leave a tip on PayPal, you can CLICK RIGHT HERE. Otherwise, you can follow me ON TWITTER and ON FACEBOOK. I love you people. AND I love you LADY people.
My daughter plays HS rugby. There is no boys team, so in this one case, they get to be just “Rugby”. Not so with her tennis team. Girls Tennis. 47 years after the advent of Title IX, I can’t believe this sort of sports sexism still exists. My son is on a co-ed mountain bike team, so we’re clear there.
Glad you’re back!
Thanks for this post, right on. And I nearly snarfed my coffee at the lions.