September 11, 2017
In this week's edition:
- Being a Male Ally for Gender Equity (3/4)
- Gender Equity Action Group releases "Step Up, Step Out"
- Oh Yes She Did! Celebrating Spirit of the Game
Being a Male Ally for Gender Equity (3/4)
The Impact of Language
“Hey guys, let’s get seven on the line!”
“Nice throw, man.”
Those are couple of things you might here on the sideline of an ultimate game. They may seem like innocent phrases, and honestly are meant in an innocent way usually. The issue is that they’re not always innocent. In mixed ultimate using these phrases or phrases like them can be problematic especially when being used towards women. When talking to a group of people that contains one or more women it’s an issue to use terms like “guys.” In doing so you are just pushing a patriarchal ideology that fails us all. Also, it’s not only that, would you like to be called by the wrong gender over and over again? Didn’t think so.
Now I know many people are thinking that this may be an overreaction, but I don’t. Making changes in your use of words can go a long ways. There are ways to correct your language pretty simply. Instead of saying “hey guys” you can just say “hey y’all” or something like that. Instead of “man defense” just say “person defense.” I know these seem like small and potentially meaningless things, but they aren’t. This also isn’t the easiest change to make for many people. I regularly find myself saying “guys” instead of “y’all” but if I recognize my mistake I will instantly correct it. Correcting your language is important and human. Furthermore, I regularly look for feedback on my use of language. I often encourage my friends and others to mention something to me if they think I’m saying something that I shouldn’t.
Like I said, many phrases of that nature are meant in an innocent way, however there are several that are not. The worst of the worst is, “He throws like a girl.” This is blatant sexism and there is no way around it. As men we must strive to avoid using language like this. Saying something like “he throws like a girl” implies that women are incapable of throwing or even competing at the same level as men. Speaking like this is an indication of the entire culture and society that we were raised in. Not only does speaking like this harm women, but it motivates them not to participate in sports, and pushes the ludicrous idea that men are superior to women.
So, as I sat down to write this I had every intent of only talking about language. However, this morning the first, "Step Up Step Out" video came out, and Elliott Erickson said something that really spoke to me. He essentially said that something men can do to improve their work for equity is have one-on-one conversations with women about their experience as women. I know I’ve talked about this before but I’d like to talk about some more.
I want to tell a story about major misstep I made a few years back. In conversation with a female friend of mine I referred to someone as a “B***h.” When I said it I thought nothing of it, and honestly many people would regularly think nothing of it. However, my friend, Nina, called me out on it. She told me to be incredibly careful with my use of that word, and that maybe I should never use it again. I was perplexed. This is a word I was using to insult people for as long as I’ve known it and I didn’t know why all of a sudden someone was making a big deal about it. So all I did was laugh, I came to the conclusion that she was joking. Spoiler alert, she wasn’t. I asked her what the big deal was, and she proceeded to blow my mind. I was absolutely taken to school.
Nina would go on to explain to me the history of the word. Yes, in the early 1900s, that word was used to reference a female dog. However, by 1930 it was used as a slur against women in literature far more than it was to reference. She’d go on to tell me about how in 1848 women first demanded to have the right to vote at a convention in Seneca Falls, however they didn’t receive that right until 1920. It was in the 1910s that use of “b***h” as a sexist slur began picking up steam. There were organizations attempting to fight the attempt made by to women to earn the right to vote and people used it as a way of calling women “difficult, interfering, or annoying.” The word's use would continue to gain strength shortly after women gained the right to vote, as an attempt to belittle women. There were many people who were uncomfortable with this for no reason other than sexism. So when you call someone a “b***h” you are doing nothing more than belittling women and reminding them of a time when they had significantly less rights.
Needless to say, I learned my lesson. Even though it was an incredibly awkward and difficult interaction that I had with Nina, I absolutely needed it.
So, sorry about the history lesson, I just felt as if this story was important to tell. I, albeit unintentionally, had a one-on-one conversation with a woman about the experience of women and I learned a lot. I urge you all greatly to do the same and to attempt to improve upon your use of language. Keep in mind it’s okay not to be perfect, just make sure you attempt to be a better ally.
GEAG Launches #StepUpStepOut
We're partnering with the Gender Equity Action Group to bring you Step Up, Step Out, a project to support more men to become allies in the gender equity movement.
Please share this with anyone who needs to see it.
OH YES SHE DID!
Highlight of the Week
Shout out to Spirit of the Game and how special it makes this sport. Thank you Fulcrum Media for such great footage!