If the above title doesn't mean anything to you then you've been missing something really significant in the quest of women seeking to define themselves.
Picture a group of ten people clad in shorts and tops on a basket ball court. Now picture them racing back and forth across the court making impossible shots to the basket; making exciting patterns to keep or retrieve the basketball and doing all this at nearly the speed of light -- running, falling down, careening off each other and snatching the ball from their opponent.
With this kind of speed and activity, picture them sweating. Sweating? Well this certainly can't be women, can it. Remember how we were told as children to be ladylike, sit quietly and be nice? There was even a saying to go with it all: "Horses sweat; men perspire and ladies bloom." And yes, we were allowed to "cheer the boys on," but do it in a ladylike, *feminine* way.
Well, there is plenty of good old natural human sweating going on in the W.N.B.A. (that's Women's National Basketball Association) these days.
While we are not pleased that the N.B.A. did not become M.N.B.A., at least these fantastic women were not labeled N.B.L. Ladies! If you think we're picky, take a gander at the names given to women hoopsters in the coed colleges and universities that were forced to spend money for women's sports like they did for men because of Title IX. If the men's team was called the Cats, the women became the Lady Cats; Knights? Lady Knights. Indians? Lady Indians. Fah!
Women in the big leagues -- pros!, women on T.V. network sports, women's sports sponsored, women's sports attracting the attendance of thousands of fans per game -- unheard of only a few years ago.
Throughout the ages, both women and men have worked hard, especially during the years before machines and electricity. While the culture has, through time, assigned rigorous roles for each gender, there has always been a raging paradox relating to responsibility and play; values and implementation; talk and action. The male was (and unfortunately still is in some cases) assumed to be the adult, the responsible, intelligent and active one and the female, the one who remained always a child in need of the adult's direction and protection.
Despite these assumptions, the male has always had his games, his play, his relaxing beverages and his right to them unassailable. The female, on the other hand, had the duty to produce and care for the young, the male, and the home. On the farm, she was also used as hired help as needed, up to and including pulling the plow so the male could plant his crops which she then had to preserve. Recreation for her was merely an extension of her housewifely duties such as quilting bees, preparing and serving at church suppers or visiting shut-ins, seldom without young children in tow.
So a culture that declares its children and family to be of greatest value gives the responsibility for it to the female (the child), along with all the blame if anything goes wrong, while it allows the male (the adult) to play and acquits him of culpability when domestic problems arise.
Today as more and more women combine work outside of their home with caring for a family, they are expected still to carry the guilt as well as the double work load. (A recent study claims that women work 21 hours/week on average longer than men.) Although some men have realized their responsibility to partner with her in home and family activities, this is still not sanctioned by our society. The male who shares equally with his working spouse is labeled "henpecked" because he no longer drops all household commitments for the ball park or the local pub when the guys drop by.
For us, for women, each small advance is a super victory. Celebrate by dropping in on the SPARKS or MERCURY or . . . . . Do you know the name/schedule of your team??? Or, kick back in YOUR recliner with the beer and chips and luxuriate in YOUR freedom with the LIBERTY.
Our thanks for feedback from Subscriber L. who gave us the gentle shove that created this week's piece; and to Subscriber K. for framing our ending so precisely: She wrote:
|"Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who ever gets enraged at our sexist society.... I try to explain it to my husband but he just doesn't feel it the way I do."|
Copyright 1997 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: TWANDA@ConnRiver.net.
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