At the age of 7, every type of sporting equipment, had found its way into my hands. I remember perfectly, waiting for my dad to come home from work to toss the ball around with me. At age 7, my father signed me up for Little League and my mother signed me up for Girl Scouts. I remember showing up to Little League and with a roster of 13, I was in the minority. Little League resulted into spending multiple hours outside with my father learning to hit, pitch, field, catch and bunt. My father wasn’t an athlete growing up, but there was no way my father was going to have me sitting on the bench. The words “Stop throwing like a girl” rang from his mouth on more than occasion. It made sense to me: I was a girl, so I threw like a girl. However, my dad would continue to say “Throw like a boy”. He would show me how you need to pull your arm back, take a step, and lob the ball and watch it flow through the air to your target. He showed me how “throwing like a girl” only allowed the ball to travel a short distance. You also looked kind of funny doing it. At about age 9, as I began surpassing my female counterparts in athletics it appeared it was because “I threw like a boy”. However, I was still and will always be a girl. I quickly learned how “throwing like a girl” was something that I didn’t want to do. Throughout my Little League career the girls who “threw like a girl” sat on the bench. The boys who “threw like a girl” got stuck in the outfield. In Little League, you don’t want to play outfield, nobody hits it in the outfield. I played shortstop, surrounded by a bunch of little boys.
I wish I could truthfully say that when I got to high school, I didn’t hear coaches, parents, or spectators degrading young girls or boys by saying “you throw like a girl”. My gender did not dictate my ability to perform. “Throwing like a girl” does not mean that I cannot throw. What it does it mean to “…like a girl”? Let me tell you. It meant that “like a girl” I was a starter in every sport that I ever played. “Score like a girl” meant that I made the boys lacrosse team. “Making saves like a girl” meant that I was one of the top goalkeepers in the league. “Dive like a goal” meant that I threw my body on the ground and secured a .48 goals against average. “Dress like a girl” meant that I dressed how I felt comfortable. All of this resulted into being successful. That I did everything right and I won’t change it. Why? Because I am a girl, and “like a girl” is the only option!
So how does this all relate to higher ed? We must be careful about the stereotypes that we use in everyday speech. If we hear it, we must knock it down. We also must be careful about not making someone feel bad about who they’re. We need to continue to “Think before we speak”. There is nothing about “who we are” that makes us incapable of succeeding in what we do. We are who we are. We cannot change who we are, and we shouldn’t be expected to. We do what we do because its who we are. And “who we are” is enough. Who we are is exactly who we should be. We don’t need to explain to others why we do or don’t do something. I can only speak for myself, but I love being a girl.
If you haven’t watched this video, you should. You will understand my need to blog about this.