Feminist Friday: “I didn’t want to play softball because I thought it was stupid.”

Feminist Fridays in a new blog project in which one Women’s Center employee will tell the story of how she or he was influenced to identify as a feminist.

By OUSAP Publication Assistant Brenda Mahler

I honestly didn’t know what “feminism” meant or was exactly until sophomore year of college when I took an intriguing women’s and gender studies class. Looking back, however, I have always had feminist ideals—I just didn’t know the words for it. My childhood was very much “woman-powered.”  I was raised by a single mother and attended an all female high school. Women were my role models. In some ways, I didn’t notice that women and men weren’t treated equally. I was raised to be a strong woman leader. My environment suggested that I could do anything and everything I wanted.

I decided in the third grade to join an all boys baseball team. This is when I remember realizing that boys and girls are different. I didn’t want to play softball because I thought it was stupid. My brother played baseball. My uncles played baseball. My grandpa played baseball. I wanted to play baseball. I was placed on the M&K Automotive team. “The Blackjacks” were made up of about 16 boys and me.

My coach, Mr. Hark, was very supportive. He treated me no differently than the boys. I was a baseball player in his eyes. Mr. Hark was very stern and passionate. He was also known to take us way back into the baseball field to yell at us after a game. I’d never experienced such stern lectures from any male figure in my life. He didn’t talk down to me. He didn’t sugar coat anything for fear that I would be too emotional. He talked to me like he talked to the boys.

I continued to play on the team up until 8th grade. Our team remained the same, adding and dropping a few players here and there. My teammates didn’t treat me as “the girl,” but outsiders did. I remember being taunted from other teams and even hearing comments from coaches. One taunt in particular stands out in my mind and happened when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade. Our team was participating in the Annual North Olmsted Hot Stove Baseball Opening Day Parade. There were anywhere from 600-1000 baseball players and coaches. I was one of the only girls, if not the only girl, walking in the parade. I remember overhearing a conversation between my teammate Benny and a boy from another team.

“Hey, is that a cross-dresser on your team? Ha Ha!”

I didn’t know what a cross-dresser was but I was completely offended. Benny knew what it was and patiently defended me.  Throughout my life, I have often thought about my experience on this team. Looking back, I think this was my first realization that women and men weren’t considered equal. Engaging in activities that were male-dominated meant that I was not performing my gender role. After going through the WGS certificate program, I can put a name to my beliefs and experiences. So when did I become a feminist? I’ve always been one!

Advertisements

About Ohio U Women's Center

The Ohio University Women’s Center serves and responds to the needs of OU women students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the community. Founded in 2007, the center is dedicated to creating an inclusive and welcoming campus climate for all members of the community through programs, resources, referrals, advocacy, and education. Located in Baker University Center 403.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s