Progress?

6 comments

This past week an article in the New York Times caught my eye, “The Kicking Queen” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/sports/homecoming-queen-and-winning-field-goal-on-same-night.html?_r=2&hp

I get it. It’s a great story about a young woman who is the first woman to make the varsity football team in her hometown. She is a 4.0 grade point average student, treasurer of her class, and an outstanding leader to her peers. As a mother of two daughters I would be thrilled to have my daughters follow in her footsteps. I was proud of her, and I don’t even know her!

However, as I was reading through the article I felt mixed emotions about what her story represented for the progress of women. Yes, she was the first woman to make the varsity football team. But…why isn’t there a women’s football team? Not enough female participants, ok, I can accept that.

Then, I get to the part about her being named homecoming queen. How is it that we can have a young woman overcoming gender stereotypes to be the first woman on the varsity football team, and a successful participant at that, to then receiving some insulting award where she wears a tiara and walks arm in arm with the chosen king?

Doesn’t this seem counterproductive?

I feel like she is, or we are, as women, taking one step forward and two steps back.

She overcame so much only to show up on stage to take the arm of the king, in some foolish beauty and popularity contest. She even points out that if she were not playing in the football game, “she would have worn ‘a nice dress, a long dress, what the other girls had on.'”

As the mother of two daughters I can’t help but read this article and feel conflicted. I am happy for the young woman, but what kind of message are we sending our daughters by encouraging them to wear long dresses, make-up, tiaras, and hope that their peers consider them to the prettiest?

If you have a daughter and you’ve read this article, or an article similar to it, I would love to hear your thoughts? Am I being overly critical, or is this a valid concern?

It seems to me that this young woman has so much going for her, and is so confident in who she is and what she stands for, that she would be embarrassed to put on a silly tiara and prance around on some guys arm!

6 comments on “Progress?”

  1. I agree with both of you Katie and Dena. At one point I actually thought about writing a book and calling it, “Confessions of a Young Feminist” because sometimes I feel kind of guilty about liking certain things (ie eminem, the twilight series etc.) and being a feminist. But then I remind myself of my favorite quote about feminism, “Feminism isn’t about what choice you make, it’s about having a choice.” I so believe that!

  2. I think that female sounds “fabulous” and I love the fact that she plays football and also became homecoming queen.

    Do not get me wrong I am not huge on girly girl things, but sometimes I feel like our “feminist” movement is taking away femininity! We try so hard to make it “even” like men that we end up becoming more masculine than not. Which in turn you are promoting that masculine charachteristics are beter than feminine are.

    Why can’t we do both and show society that while we can do anything a man can we still love being a woman?

    1. Love your answer! I feel that way often, that somehow I cannot be a feminist and like my makeup and heels. But, I love them so I do it… Besides, anything I do in heels counts as exercise 🙂

  3. I have never quite understood what homecoming was all about. I thought it was a popularity contest, and because we have boys and girls in school, one boy gets selected and one girl gets selected and they become the “king and queen.” From a gender equity perspective, perhaps it should be “homecoming student” (lame-sounding, I know), and pick one kid who is the favorite in the class regardless of sex/gender. But yeah, if it is a beauty/attractiveness contest, then this is totally problematic. Gender stereotypes run deep in our society however, so it would take the dismantling of entire social institutions to fix the problem of the football-playing homecoming queen wishing she could wear a dress.

  4. Thanks for your comment. I agree with your philosophy about offering both pearls and trucks to children, and you are right, some children will naturally gravitate toward pearls and others, trucks. I guess my biggest gripe is that in a time when anti-bullying and acceptance curriculum are sweeping eduction reform in our country, why are we still allowing our children to participate in archaic beauty pageant contests? If progress is about personal choice and confidence in who you are, lets not judge one another, or allow our children to judge one another on superficial beauty.

  5. This girl does what she wants, gets good grades, and has the respect of her peers. I want my daughter to be who she wants to be because she likes who she is, whether that is the star kicker for the football team or the top of the cheerleading pyramid. I’m finding that even though I have raised both of my kids with trucks and pearls available to them they gravitate to what they like. Just as I won’t force my daughter to wear pink and jewelry because she is a girl, I also can’t deny her of those things if that’s what she wants. Same with my son. Progress is about choice to be you, not what others think you should or shouldn’t be. And I’m with you, I’m proud of this girl even though I don’t know her!

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