The story of 8-year-old Mili Hernandez tells us something really important. It is okay for girls to like sports. Why wouldn’t they enjoy activities for boys if they know they are fun and valuable? When females play sports, however, they should not cross some lines. When we watch women’s football, we want to see females. Long hair, especially used in catfights, is how we differentiate what teams we watch. Why create confusion? How are we to know if the players running on the field are not just long-haired men trying to win in an easy match? After all we do not want to see men when we finally decide to watch women play sports.
The news of Mili’s team being disqualified from further participation in a girls’ football tournament created outrage around the world. The question ‘why did the adults not allow her to play although her parents had brought her insurance card to prove her gender’ is on tongues in the States, the UK, Europe, you name it. Can the child and her parents complain, though? One cannot blame the officials, as they clearly saw a boy behind the short bangs. Otherwise, how would she be able to play equally with older girls? She must have been a boy because a girl is not capable as being as good as her older friends.
A wiser pair of parents would know that gender-stereotypical characteristics would have made this situation a lot less problematic. Children, especially younger ones, can look ambiguous. Why not invest in some clothes, accessories, and toys that would make the identification process so much easier? If they lack pink ribbons, tuille, ponytails, dresses, how can we rule out if it is not actually a boy? Why would parents want to risk the possibility of their child being misgendered? What if the child hears that and actually becomes the other gender than the one assigned in hospital? And what if their gender does not really matter to them because they are children? Their parents need to prepare them for the future, they need to know they are inherently different and deserve different treatment from others. That is why the president of the girls’ tournament told this to Mili instead of her irresponsible parents.
Women in sports tend to be stubborn. Bad examples like Mia Hamm, professional football player and Olympic winner, encourage Mili to continue with her behaviour and follow her dreams. Following one’s dreams is great, and the fact that the 8-year-old pursues such an ambitious sports career is admirable but can’t she include in that pursuit being a little bit more womanly? Sport is pretty much a guys-thing, a girl needs to balance it out to make it ‘herself’. Do not try to be someone you’re not and copy men, try to make the sport for yourself, that is for sure more pleasurable to watch.
Football is not the only discipline that women do not entirely understand. Let’s take tennis for example. Men turned this sport from a technical one to a strength match and all that matters right now is how hard a player can hit a ball with a racket. And while women’s tennis may have been treated as a refuge for spectators who miss technical-based tennis for some time, now we experience the same kind of strength-over-finesse bias taking over this environment as well. Female players are able to rotate the ball up to over 200 km per hour and it is becoming harder to differentiate between men and women’s games today.
It is not only the nature of the game that changed in tennis. Female players are harder to separate looks-wise from their male counterparts as well. If it were not for the obligatory skirt or dress in tennis, the average tennis fan would have a hard time believing the muscles of Samantha Stosur or Serena Williams belong to women. They did not have to take it to such extremes, as many female players achieve strength while still having very lean arms and thighs. This kind of appearance, topped with a competitive and stubborn personality, makes the public wonder if they dope on hormones or other substances which make them look, behave, and play like men. If so, is it fair to other women, who try to achieve good results in sports while still remaining feminine?
Doping might be a huge problem for women in sports. The temptation to achieve great results while losing appearance, gender identity, and confusing everyone around is moderate but still some women take that path and sacrifice themselves. Many women do not understand that muscularity is not part of feminine identity, and even in body-building competitions, they will not be judged on their sculptured bodies alone but also on how they fit in their femininity. Why would there be a female category in these competitions if we did not make that distinction. As it is a primarily male-originated sport, the competing women have to come to terms with the fact that they will be judged on additional characteristics, not only on how developed their muscles really are.
What is the use of winning, constructively, throughout your whole career, if you become a laughing stock while doing it? The Norwegian cross-country skier and Olympian, Marit Bjørgen can put on a dress for formal galas but what does she look like, being on heavy supplements and various types of medicine? Even a fancy dress cannot make her look not a tad bit womanly. There are other hopeless cases, like the previously mentioned 39-times Grand Slam winner in different categories, Serena Williams. What to put on these kinds of bodies if the clothing is not tailored for someone who is built like that, and it is hard to say that build is the one of a woman.
Even in predominantly feminine disciplines, women push it to extremes nowadays. Gymnasts around the world have boosted their training to perform more complex and unbelievable routines. This amount of complicated flips and jumps results in the female athletes not controlling their muscle growth. A sport associated with delicacy and elegance has now become another monstrous creation of recent times. It seems as if no sport is left for women to truly enjoy their fragile femininity.
It is hard to believe that this kind of masculine representation in women’s sports does not stay in the shadows. Female athletes claim that they have confidence in their over-grown bodies, exhibiting them during games or photoshoots. Aly Raisman, Olympic gold winning gymnast, says “instead of being insecure about my muscles, I’ve learned to love them. I don’t even think of it as a flaw anymore because it’s made me into the athlete that I am.” While Raisman implies she gained that body through sport, Williams states that her body has always been of that kind: “I’ve been like this my whole life, and I embrace me and I love how I look. I love that I am a full woman, and I’m strong and I’m powerful and I’m beautiful at the same time. And there’s nothing wrong with that.” She even refuses to accept the public’s opinion and dislike of her look and said she had bigger matters to worry about: “I just don’t have time to be brought down. I have too many things to do, you know. I have Grand Slams to win. I have people to inspire. And that’s what I’m here for.” This kind of response you would expect a man to have. But, thankfully, we do not need to worry in that way about men.
All these women have the same problem: not listening to what others have to say. Society wants all the best for women, also for those in sports. Why would they not listen? They would be more accepted by others if they were only a little more cooperative and stopped being so thirsty for success. Their blindness hinders their ability to see what negative things they do to themselves. And they will regret it in the future but as they are young and reckless, they continue to ruin their lives to achieve the best results in their respective disciplines. Will they live fulfilled and happy family lives when they settle down? A mother or a wife like that would get a number of raised brows from onlookers, if she ever ended up with a man at all. Reevaluating their choices should come immediately but many processes can be irreversible by now. This is a message to all the young girl athletes: don’t put your guard down! Remain weak!
This article is pure irony. Please do not read it literally.