Beating the boys

One of our dedicated readers recently forwarded me this article from the NY Times, which links in nicely to our post from a few weeks ago about girls and boys playing football together.

The article describes how a team made up entirely of girls participated in a junior football league, a sport which is almost entirely dominated by males in Spain, and won convincingly against the boys. When I was growing up in Spain myself, I remember playground kickabouts never included the girls, and in all honesty I cannot recall a time in twelve years there when I saw a girl take part in football. Your writer set out stock early by purchasing a whistle and some cards, and simulating refereeing… some things never change.

The article itself highlights what a difficult achievement this was, with women’s football in general marginalised and mostly ignored in Spain, which largely retains a strong machista culture. It doesn’t surprise me to see that this team emerged from my own region of Cataluña, an area notorious for its large progressive population and liberal values. It just shows what can be done when the psychological barriers are removed…

Who wears the trousers?

One of the areas of our society in which gendered clothing most prominently features and differentiates between people is school uniform. From a very young age, children are forced to align themselves with a particular set of clothing, chosen from (typically) one of two prescriptive lists. This is binary reinforcement at its strongest, and it is hard to unpick this at a later age.Charlie Whitehead

This highlights how unusual it is for a school such as Highgate School in London to open a dialogue about allowing all children to wear a number of different options, including normally gendered garments, according to their choice. This, along with unisex toilets, are generally being more and more favoured, especially among young, progressive-minded people.

What is most encouraging about this shift in attitudes is that it seems to be driven by responsive teachers listening to outspoken students, including more and more students who are questioning their own gender and feeling able to communicate this. This is
partly brought about by a significantly better access to information and ideas on this subject, including through the internet.

Recognition for these ideas is also gaining momentum on a wider scale – notably, student Charlie Whitehead, of Impington Village College, recently received an award for challenging school uniform rules, while other cases have also hit the headlines.

Perhaps over time these brave youngsters challenging perspectives will allow for a more inclusive and understanding educational system.

Roller Derby poll

I’ve long admired the world of Roller Derby, which not only embraces, but actively creates spaces for queer sportspeople. Despite a few internal issues, about which I hope to publish a guest post from one of my Derby friends, the sport does an awful lot of things right in terms of inclusivity and LGBT+ issues.
One of my contacts in that world has asked me to publicise this, which is an attempt to address some of the internal questions of the sport. If you know anyone who this might apply to, please pass this on!
If you play Rugby or Roller Derby in a women’s team and identify with any gender that is not male then please help a sister out and fill in my questionnaire! It is a research project comparing Roller Derby and Rugby. It will only take a minute or two!

Gendering the Laws

A while ago now I wrote about how the terminology of sports can affect our perceptions of the genders involved with participating in it. My regular boardgames group and I frequently discuss (‘righteously rage at’ might be a better description) games instructions which use exclusively ‘he’ and ‘him’ to describe player actions. Some are wising up to this  now and using a mixture of pronouns (though rarely ‘they’), although there is still much ground to cover.

It was heartening, then, when this week I read an article on the new Laws of cricket, coming into force this October. Much to my surprise and delight, around halfway through there was an announcement that gendered terms such as he and him are also to be removed from these. It’s a shame that they didn’t go further, and remove terms like batsman and third man, but it’s at least a progressive step in making the sport more inclusive and welcoming to people of all genders.

Same strip, same sport, a unified set of laws?