“Who’s watching the World Cup today?” asked one of the other coaches at summer league this morning. It was an innocent question; it really was. It’s the kind of question you can ask a group of seven- or eight-year-old girls just to get them excited, not because you actually want to know the answer. There was the usual mixed bag of responses:
“My family is rooting for Brazil!”
“What’s the World Cup?” (No, that actually wasn’t me.)
Then the girl next to me, Olivia with her dusty black cap and her short brunette pigtails, turns to me and says, “I’m waiting for the women’s World Cup.”
I smiled at her, and she continued.
“It’s always men’s everything. Men’s basketball, men’s baseball.”
“Men’s football,” I added.
“Yeah! And firemen.”
“One day,” she said very seriously. “There should be a women’s New York Yankees.”
She’s right. There really should be. Not a woman who fights her way up and plays for the regular New York Yankees. Not a feminist protest against the New York Yankees for discriminating against women. Simply a women’s New York Yankees.
It’s not that I’m against those other things at all. Far from it, really. But to me, feminism isn’t about all being extraordinary.
I spend a higher-than-average amount of my time reading feminist articles on the Internet, and, while obviously there are exceptions, many of them tell girls to fight for their rights and defy gender roles. There are stories about that one woman who was a rare success in the male-dominated world of business because she was a straight up badass and bitch-glared men into respecting her. The moral of the story is be assertive, even though you are a woman, which does not naturally lend itself to assertiveness.
In many ways, this is an empowering story, because hey look, a woman in power. We’d be stupid not to call that a victory. Unfortunately, though, not all women are natural-born, ENTJ business leaders. You know, the same way that not all men are meant to be leaders, either.
The struggle of a group with little power is that we see an extraordinary woman and we say all little girl should aspire to be her. Feminist articles often come with an implicit do and don’t list. Study this, say this, don’t say that, don’t act this way. Follow these simple steps and you can call yourself a feminist.
I’ve found, however, that being extraordinary is a lot harder than it looks. And so, a quiet woman is submissive while a quiet man is, well, quiet. And a woman who is not in-your-face-assertive simply cannot be a feminist role model. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: we attempt to shift away from gender roles by reaching for the other extreme.
Feminism does not mean destroy all men, and sometimes, it doesn’t even mean play with the boys. Feminism means that women are pretty cool. We can do cool stuff. That’s it. Running over the boys while you’re at it is fun, but optional. You don’t have to be extraordinary to simply do cool things. You don’t have to fit some mold of a feminist. Just do you, and do something cool.