April 16, 2019

The Current

In this week's edition:

  • The Winds of Power are Changing: A Case Study of a Gender Equity Talk at the University of Colorado Boulder

  • Breaking the Mark…And the Glass Ceiling

  • This Week in Social Media

The Winds of Power are Changing: A Case Study of a Gender Equity Talk at the University of Colorado Boulder


Acknowledging and accepting one’s role in the circle of power dynamics is like purchasing birth control. Take it or leave it. But no halfsies, ya hear? (Try getting an IUD then tell me about your discomfort with power dynamics). Actually, maybe gentlemen, don’t. Just take it from me, the side effects of this and releasing power are the same. Uncomfortable at first, but in time, liberating.

From my observations on the frisbee field, and now through my work embodying more leadership roles off the field, this aspect of responsibility seems to be overwhelming to the masses.

Last year, the University of Colorado at Boulder ultimate frisbee program hosted a program-wide gender equity (GE) talk. Good turn out. Bad juju. This was a result of comments from the previous, where many female players of our program had shared that they were unable to connect to the male players. There was clearly a gender induced impasse. This impasse, like any highway, was two sided, unfortunately.

This impasse derived from a place where we, females on Kali, have already taken steps as a women’s team to better learn the nuances of intersectionality and social justice. Therefore, our patience is lower than Trump’s approval rating since that oh so crowded inauguration of his. I imagine this is not too uncommon for many frisbee programs, particularly in the regions and cities of the country which are predominately white institutions (PWI).

The intent for this GE talk was to bring together the program to center a conversation around gender norms, sexuality, intersectionality, party culture, team culture. OMG slow down. Equity. Equality. The difference between equity and equality. Power structures and oh dear we only reserved this room for 2 hours. Come the end of the GE talk, whatever we were unable to get to, we just swept under the rug. The final responses were that the women felt that the men completely lacked all respect for them, and the men felt that they were being talked at or talked to.


Despite how entirely, you know, galling it is to hear this in a position of oppression, the aspect of their college career people tend to forget is when they signed up to come to CU to educate themselves, no one demanded that stop in the classroom. However, topics of social justice and power dynamics forces some internalization, unlike how thermodynamics, macroeconomics, or organic chemistry compel you to look at the world as a spectator, not a participant. It’s also why so many of us in the ultimate community, so many studying STEM in particular, have hardly been challenged to truly study something so micro. We have hardly studied ourselves.

What brings us together is the fact that we are all learning how to coexist in these less than inclusive spaces. With that being said, those in power have larger than life roles to play. There’s not one specific script and an infinite amount of extra characters. Your lines are your own so learn what to say to be a better ally. Your privilege is your power. It is your number one tool. If you don’t use it for long enough, it will become rusty and useless. Where does that get for us? Where does that leave me?

What a shame that would be.

Correction. What an outrage.

The way my ultimate program has gone about divulging hard truths about power dynamics in the past has only added to the strain of our formerly contentious men’s and women’s teams. We would bring out of storage the social justice broom and dust pan and partake in our annual spring cleaning, looking to rid ourselves of whatever oppressive bullshit that got trapped in the open air and the crevesses of our program and lightly stroke.

We needed a vacuum.

We needed such a high voltage shock to our system that we would be forced to react and then act proactively. Luckily for us, this country is experiencing an epidemic of individuals who, for the first time in their lives, are being called out for their privilege. Like the polar plunge, being called out for one’s privilege shocks the system of the human body more than a beer in the belly of a college freshman in September.

So embrace it. Because Upwind is that shock. Upwind is here to make you shiver.


Power is for Pussies

I’m just gonna say it: power is for pussies.

The most dangerous people in the world are those who understand the value of their power. The most dangerous people in the world are also those who know nothing of the value of their power.

Males, I am mostly talking about you. You are dangerous to me.

You are dangerous, because I have no idea how your power will traverse with my lifestyle and my convictions. You are dangerous to me because when I demand respect and gender equity, you tell me I am yelling a bit too loudly. You are dangerous to me because too many of you know nothing of your power.


Not to be extreme, but how is it going for the man in 1600 Pennsylvania who knows too much of his own power, and yet, knows so little? Remember young men of USA Ultimate, you too could be President one day. Oh yeah, and women I guess….

When power becomes misguided and ineffective, that’s when we recognize that timeless archetype: power corrupts. The opposite of corrupt power is inclusive leadership. (I know, the two terms don’t even rhyme). In fact, the second you see avenues of inclusion being blocked off by any particular leader, especially in the male-dominated spheres of politic, government and STEM, there should be no doubt that there is a fear of surrendering power to someone else. Someone lesser.

They know very well power is for pussies.

That is not to say that people with power are incapable of enlightenment. On the contrary. For now, being “woke” is en vogue for people in positions of power….that is until they are introduced to the inconveniences that come along with it.

They soon come to realize that with great power comes great responsibility. I’ve noticed that when the topic of social justice is brought up, similar to the Democratic Party during anytime post this not-so-new century, those in positions of power did what they’ve always done best. They cower in the corner and say,”Please stop yelling at me”. Any oppressed individual risks appearing unhinged or even dangerous, the second they raise their voice. Those who transition from passive beings into active beings solicit quite the volume adjustment. That tends to happen when one goes from silent to volume on. Warning: To those unprepared, this will happen again. Wear earplugs if we’re too loud. Or earpods - I hear they’re great.

There are those who have signed up to stand in the line against social justice, who see no reason to question the strength of power dynamics, who detest the possibility of changing the status quo. They are the social justice haters. It’s okay, don’t hate them back, they are just doing their jobs. Ask Taylor Swift about it.

She’ll tell you - power is for pussies.

These individuals should wear some hefty work hats when they go to work - I mean just to reduce the impact of our social justice mallets knocking some sense into their thick, big heads. But you know what, this is our role. It is just our responsibility. Without them doing their jobs, how could we ever do ours?

No matter the category of intersectionality, many in positions of power know not of it’s clout and tend to be exceptional sleep walkers. For many others in positions of power, they are well aware of its implications and often times find themselves uneasy the second their privilege is called into conversation. If you´re curious about what your role is here, recognize where you might harbor power in your given circles, and if you find yourself in any position of power, you should be holding the mallet; all the others should form a sturdy sideline, talking in their ear nonstop. To any of you Off White™ Feminists existing in these spaces, now's your chance to strike.

Afterall, power is for pussies.

There is a famous saying, “If they’re shooting at you, you’re doing something right.”

Perhaps now is the time to ask yourself, when it comes to former situations where power dynamics played a role, (how) have you used your position of power to escalate others and to shut down the haters? If no one has asked you to quiet down, have you really been as vocal as you could be? In no way does this suggest that you go out looking for a fight. These power hungry haters are everywhere. You’ll begin to see them in plain sight. They exist throughout the halls of your academic institution, at your job, in the white house, on the sideline. They are all rattlin’ in their boots. And goodness gracious, how many times do I have to say it? Silly rabbits, your boots were made for walking.

Let´s see you start walking the walk.

Power to the people.

Power to the pussies.


This Week in Social Media

  1. White Fragility Self-Test by @allyhenny and @_joshrivers

  2. Misguided Desires featuring Brittany Packnett

  3. Supporting Women’s Sports featuring Danielle Warby

  4. Love Coaching featuring Khalif El-Salaam

  5. Coaching Advice featuring Harry McNamara

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