I was recently reminded of a fun little incident from my youth throwing like a girl the other day after seeing a young girl at the park playing football with the boys.
When I was 11 we used to have recess outside after lunch because they would close off the school block for twenty minutes. I would always use this opportunity to play touch football with the boys, throwing like a girl. Mostly because it was fun and I loved football, but also because I had a huge crush on this one boy in my class and I thought he would be impressed with how well I could throw as a girl.
I did after all, play softball so throwing like a girl looked pretty good on me. This one particular afternoon I was totally killing it too. I got to play quarterback and my crush was the receiver. I was launching these magnificent passes left and right. My team was scoring points and making it look so easy. I thought, “Oh yeah he’s so loving this! The dance is next week he’s totally gonna wanna go with me!” My homeroom teacher always supervised recess and even he was getting a kick out of watching me demolish all these other guys. It was a great day.
When we got back up to the classroom after recess that afternoon. A conversation was struck up about the game.
“How come she’s so good Mr. Gary?” asked the moron. Well that was a dumb question I thought. He knew I played softball. I was the catcher on the team! I had to be able to make that long throw from home plate to second base without blinking. I started to answer,
“Well I play…” Mr. Gary cut me off.
“You see Kevin sometimes when a father has a child and it’s a daughter instead of a son, he will often raise that girl in the same way as he would a son.
I silently panic. WHAT THE FUCK WAS HE SAYING!?! HE’S UNDOING ALL MY HARD WORK AT LOOKING DESIRABLE TO AN 11 YEAR OLD BOY.
“That’s why Christina is so good at sports. Her father probably raised her as he would if his first born was a son.
I was red with anger and embarrassment. I couldn’t say a thing afterward. The boys in my class were satisfied with this answer. They no longer felt emasculated and I looked like an 11-year-old lesbian. Which is not a bad thing, but it is when you’re straight and trying to get your crush to go to the school dance with you. It’s true, I did spend a lot of time with my dad growing up. But he never pushed sports on me or any other activities that society would consider “masculine.” The decision to watch and play sports was totally my own. He certainly did not “raise me as a son.” I wanted to disappear from this class and never return.
For the record, I didn’t get asked to the dance. But here’s my point: When a girl is good at sports, don’t come up with some wild justification for why this is so. That she is a good athlete should be enough. When am young boy is good at sports, we don’t wrack our brains all day trying to figure out how on earth that happened. I like to hope this is not happening as much today. Especially, with that awesome badass female hockey team to grace the Olympics this year. At least they won silver. The men’s hockey team couldn’t even qualify for bronze. Just saying.