I've been thinking a lot about gender equality the past few days. Thursday, I attended a required training for all coaches in the county. We filled up an entire auditorium. First, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of females there. The longer I stayed, the more disappointed I became. For starters, I was by FAR the most overdressed person there. I had worn my skinny ankle pants with a silk top from The LOFT (quite cute, IMO). I had put on make-up and worn jewelry. After all, this was a professional meeting, was it not? I simply dressed the way I would for my regular teaching job. My grandmother probably turned in her grave over the way these women dressed- running shorts, tee shirts, sneakers... not to mention that the majority appeared to have forgotten to brush their hair, much less apply a little lip gloss! Honestly, I was appalled. Quite frankly, I stuck out like a sore thumb.
Let's move on to their behavior. Most of them joked and buddied around with male coaches, slaps on the back, laughing and cutting up, whispering and snickering during the presentations. I kept giving this one gal the evil eye trying to get her shut up. She continued to whisper loudly, even after the presenter gave "hush it" glances in our direction. So, not only was I appalled by their dress, but also their behavior.
For a girl raised in a highly conservative home based on Christian values, I consider myself to be fairly non-judgemental. Therefore, I was actually bothered by how much I disliked these women at this clinic. I mean, they hadn't harmed me or done anything to me, but I just could not WAIT to get out of there. I did some soul searching as to why I was so bothered by them. I came to a few conclusions. Over the past decades, women have worked tirelessly at forcing the entire gender into athletics. I mean, when I was born women were still officially banned from the Boston Marathon! That is ridiculous. Title IX is also fairly recent, finally giving equaly funding and opportunity to school-age females. While this is the year 2012, in the south, there are still many gender inequalities, especially in the area of coaching. I feel like I've worked hard to break or overcome gender barriers in my past positions as a coach. The thing is, I think even we (women) are confused about what we want, maybe even confused about who we want to be. That sounds terrible doesn't it?
We WANT to be athletes; we WANT to be competitive; and we WANT to be respected as much athletically as men. Right? Can't all female athletes and coaches agree on that? Well, how can we blame society for being confused on our place when we are giving mixed signals.
For example, I work out HARD. When it's time to bring it, I try to bring it. I sweat like a man; I've peed in the bushes; my hair turns into a rats' nest when I run; my toenails would be hideous if it weren't for the $25 pedi I get twice a month. And then, there's THAT, the PEDI. On the other hand, I wear make-up to work. I love dresses and skirts and lip gloss. I put on mascara before races, and I LOVE Bedazzling my running clothes.
Women want men's respect as athletes. Some women want and try their darnedest to be "one of the boys", and many are successful. Some women still expect men to hold doors for them and not use foul language in front of them. Some women want to be sexy. Some like to be sexy when they run, and others only like to be sexy when going on dates. And the men collectively scratched their heads. It's no wonder society is confused by our place in athletics.
That's just it, though. Women have the capabilities to wear many hats. We can be sexy; we can be the tough coach; we can be the girly-girl. "I'm a little bit of everything all wrapped into one." Exactly. So, after a few days reflection, I made mental peace with those coaches at the clinic. They are either a) very afraid of being their feminine selves or b) naturally at peace with being "one of the boys." Either way, that's okay. We are women; hear us ROAR!