I’m sure this will come as a surprise to none of you, particularly those of you who have been involved in sporting activities with your children. Specifically, team sports. But I just had the kind of experience that makes me want to stab someone in the eye with a drill.
I was at The Captain’s hockey practice tonight. Usually, it’s the dads who take their kids to practice, and I always just assumed that was because in a lot of families, the mums make supper and/or have other kids to hang around with while Dad tries to live out his NHL dreams vicariously through his offspring. Personally, I’ve never minded going to sports practice, except that sometimes I have a teeny little attention span and end up getting a little bored, so I’ve learned to take a book, my writin’ book, knitting, or a friend. Or I chat with the other parents, if they’re not too put off by whatever it was I last said to them.
Games are a different story; there are usually just as many mums at games. It’s a pride thing, maybe? A ‘that’s my BABY!’ thing? I don’t know. I’ve just noticed that far fewer people care about practices than about games, and that most of the parents at practice are Dads.
So tonight, our team manager was explaining to this guy that our team has a game scheduled to end roughly the same time the first quarter of the Grey Cup game will be finishing, so he’s tried to reschedule the game for the morning. The other guy says, “yeah! Ha! You’d have a lot of Dads pretty upset if they had to miss the game because of a hockey game, ha-ha!”
Now, to be fair, the guy saying this (not our team manager) was a fat douche bag who doesn’t know how the world really works.
I turn to them and say, jovially, “never mind the Dads! What about the Mums!? I’d plough through a miasma of drunk midgets to watch the Grey Cup!”
We laugh about it, and then after our manager left and I was waiting for The Captain to get done whatever it was that always takes him so long in the changeroom (chatting), the douche bag taps me on the shoulder and says, with a self-satisfied smirk on his mug, “Now that he’s gone, I just thought I’d point out to you that if you take a look around, you’ll see that 75% of the people here are men.”
I confess, I didn’t get the point he was trying to make. I was *about* to say, “actually, it’s more like about 80%, since there are probably about 25 people here and only two of us are women”, but then I looked at him. He had that look on his face that said, “don’t you feel stupid now, missy?”
He continued: “which is why it would really only be Dads upset about the game. Because it’s only really men who do sports with their kids.”
I smiled and told him, “I guess I’m the exception to the rule, then. Always was a tomboy who never quite figured out what the girls were up to. To this day, I spend the most time at our boys’ sporting events, rather than my husband, who was not athletic.”
What I really WANTED to say was: “people like you cause boys to grow up with an overinflated sense of their own importance in the world. I pity your children, particularly your sons, because they have no proper role model.”
Then he stared at me, and squinted his eyes a bit. “That’s the point I was trying to make before. That it’s the Dads who’d be upset.”
I laughed and said, “you’re probably right. If I was a Dad, I’d be really pissed if I had to miss football.”
Inwardly, I was saying, “you misogynistic cock-knobbler.”
There have been very, very few times when I have felt like I was treated differently…significantly differently…because I’m a woman. Yes, I know women earn less than men. Yes, I know women are still considered a ‘minority’. Yes, I even know that there are still stereotypes that seem to put women in a subservient or submissive role in society, in families, and in the workplace. I get all that. But I can tell you, the last time I *felt* that someone was honestly taking the “men are better at this than women” tack was so long ago that I don’t even remember the exact circumstance. Probably when I was still driving the VW and the guys at the fixit shoppe wouldn’t listen to me when I told them what I thought the problem was (turns out I was right and they kept trying to charge me more money for not fixing the problem).
I felt marginalised. How does that feel? It feels like shame. Embarassment. Guilt. It feels bad. It feels like you’ve done something wrong, and you can’t atone for it. You can never be good enough. You might as well quit. Nobody wants you there. You weren’t even INVITED to the party, so who said you could come? You’re getting docked pay for mistakes nobody told you you’d made. It feels like you’ve just screwed up the courage to ask someone to dance and they’ve laughed at you. It feels like the worst team in the league has just scored on you. It feels like having your manuscript rejected because it’s “too trite”. It feels like your kids saying “I don’t love you”. It feels like your Dad promised to come to your concert, but he didn’t come. It feels like your room-mate left the dishes for you to do while you were away for a month treeplanting.
I was ashamed. And I was really angry that I was ashamed. Because I am not the one with the overinflated sense of importance. Ego, maybe. Importance, not so much. Because I know he is wrong. But did i challenge him? No. I used humour to deflect what I felt. And that pisses me off too. Because I’m not part of the solution; I’m part of the problem. I didn’t stand up for myself. I didn’t say, ‘look, mister. The reason the women aren’t here has nothing to do with who is better at sport or the fact of their gender. It’s because we’ve been trained by the same twisted, fucked-up society that made *you*, to think that, and to raise children who believe that, women must or ought to be the primary caregivers. And while I do not begrudge the women who choose to do so because they enjoy it, when was the last time you told whatever woman was unfortunate enough to be saddled with you that you appreciate what she does for you? When was the last time you *acknowledged* what she does for you? When was the last time you asked her if she *wanted* to go to hockey practice, and you could make supper (which probably would have amounted to either cereal in a bowl or toast)? And have you ever thought that maybe the reason she doesn’t want to come is because dipshits like you drive women away with your glares and your loud, raucous laughs and your sexist jokes and your trying-to-be-funny jibes?’. I didn’t say, ‘Freud would have had a FIELD DAY with you.’
But make no mistake.
Men are *definitely* better than women at taking their kids to sporting events. Dads *get* football, and hockey, and they’re the only ones who care enough or who are passionate enough to take their kids out to these things, because if you left it to the women, we’d wind up with a bunch of nancy boys who only do ribbon dancing and pottery and other faggy things like dance and diving. In fact, I bet you didn’t know that women turn boys gay. It’s true. You can cure faggotry by enrolling your boy children in contact sport. Because women just don’t *get* it, so they don’t go. It’s a fact. Proved by MATH.