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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Winning

Elizabeth's volleyball team last Thursday ended their winning streak and is no longer undefeated. Normally, I would not think this was that big of a deal. Heartbreaking for the girls on the team? Sure, but nobody's perfect. You can't airbrush your way into winning a match.

However, her team played like they had their heads up their asses. Really. Now I am not really one of "those parents" who lives vicariously through her children in a futile attempt to re-write history. I cheer when she does well (and when her team does well) but I don't yell at the refs or throw out negative comments. It is elementary school intramural volleyball, for God's sake...it is not like her entire college education is resting on how well her team performs because there are scouts in the stands, for Chrissakes...

(Though I will admit that I have briefly entertained the idea that she might get a scholarship...)

I digress. Playing like their heads are where the sun don't shine....they were very apathetic out there. Normally they are all running all over the place, actively trying to go for the ball, trying their very best with each and every serve. Last match...not so much. If I did not know better, I would have thought that they were all playing hung over. They did not even try.

After the game, I asked Elizabeth what the fuck was up with the team (well, maybe not in those exact words...) Her response? "Well, we scrimmage them all the time and they ALWAYS beat us. We knew we weren't going to win. Maybe the coaches should not have had us scrimmage them so much..."

My jaw hit the floor. That disturbed me on so many levels...

First of all, the whole blame shifting. It is the coaches' fault they lost...because they had them scrimmage a team a few times? (BTW, her coach is my husband's cousin wife...I asked her about that and she said, "Uh, we don't even keep score when we scrimmage...")

The second thing that disturbed me was the fact that they did not even try because they thought that there was no way that they could ever succeed in the first place. Keep in mind that this is an all girls team she plays on, made up of 4th through 6th graders. It got me thinking about how many other things this attitude has been applied towards, and how this comes about. Girls who are told that math is hard (by their Barbie dolls, no less!) so that they should go into an easier field. Girls who are told that "good girls don't sleep around" so they slut shame themselves because that is what others are telling them they should do. Girls who are given the message, implicitly or explicitly, that there are certain things that they just need to accept about society, such as the fact that they cannot be trusted to have autonomy over their bodies, that men will never be nurturing, so therefore if they have a man take care of the kids that they are horrible mothers...or even the fact that all they should ever aspire to be is a mother at all!

What are we teaching our children? How did girls so young already internalize the message of, "I can't, so why bother?" This was just more proof to me that things are NOT equal and feminism is still needed. We have come a long way...but there is still a long way to go.

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