Someone just made a remark to me that implied that I don’t like sports because I’m a girl. While not made with unfriendly intentions, every time I hear this it annoys me. It irks me because it fails to recognize the nuance of my dislike of sports.
I don’t like sports, or perhaps more properly, am largely disinterested in sports, because I had a bad experience with them as a kid. As an adult, the logical part of me knows that sports are probably fine, and plenty of decent people got something decent out of them like.. um.. whatever good thing comes of sports to people who aren’t me.
I had a bad experience with sports.. and for those of you who need me to be specific, by bad experience I’m referring to basically the period between kindergarten and sophomore year. It lessened in junior high, when, in hindsight, I tormented my very nice PE teacher by insisting on forgetting or refusing to wash my gym clothes, resulting in the punishment of not being allowed to participate in sports. She could never understand why no punishment she threw at me mattered to me at all; this was largely because playing sports- with other people!- was pretty much the worst possible punishment for me. The bad experience ended after sophomore year because of a loophole I discovered whereby I didn’t have to take PE if my schedule was absolutely full.
The reason I had a bad experience with sports was largely because I was bad at them. How did I know I was bad at them? Because other kids told me I was and took it upon themselves to punish me for it. Who were these other kids who let me know how bad I was? Mostly, other girls.
Even though I still can’t quite wrap my head around people liking sports, I’m pretty sure that some girls must like them to a degree, because they cared enough to dislike me for sucking at them. It also should be noted that when I won that glorious scheduling victory in the guidance councilor’s office sophomore year, it was because I filled the second half of the day junior year with the suitably manly Ag 3 and Ag Mechanics. I had a great time in these classes, and my good friend Curt and I had such a good time showing off our macho muscles by welding scrap metal into odd facsimiles of people that I continued on to Shop and the most advanced class in the ag shop – Ag 4.
Part of me is tempted to respond to these kind of comments with something to the effect of “If disliking baseball and basketball was inherent to being female, my whole childhood would have been so much more pleasant.” But, that is in fact not true, as I also suck at jumping rope, cartwheels, and I didn’t learn how to put my hair in a ponytail successfully until I was approximately 18.
In all seriousness, I’m sure my experience with sports were pretty similar too the experiences of any other girl or dude who had the misfortune of sucking at them, and I’m sure everyone has had the experience of being terrible at something that you are expected to be good at. Its divisive to dismiss my sports sarcasm as being a side effect of my boobs… and we don’t want to be divided along gender lines when we all can share experiences and emotions. (And also how the hell are sports girls supposed to explain away my sports disability?) When you forget gender stereotypes.. you gain the ability to take my disregard for sports REALLY personally – and that’s something worth striving for. 😉