I have a friend who teaches Sociology and Psychology, and in an interview for The Thunderbeat, I remember her talking about -isms and -ists and how they tend to be divisive, not cohesive. So I’m keeping that in mind as I write this and judge my own feminist failings.
For me, the core of being a feminist means my voice matters just as much as anyone’s, regardless of gender identity. Other elements exist within my feminism, but voice is the core of it all. And every day I get better at this. At church, I am better at allowing my voice to be heard. At work, I am better at not apologizing for my ideas and opinions, and I just share them openly. In my personal relationships, I am better at vocalizing my expectations, fears, and needs. But there is one place I allow my voice to exist in a vacuum.
I’ve been a sports fan forever. I was raised by sports fans. I still remember having a crush on Steve Garvey (I was 7), watching David Robinson play at Navy (I was 13), and camping out for season football tickets at BYU (I was 18). One of my favorite memories of my sophomore year of college was the epic trash talking between me and Jeff from the neighboring mens’ dorm during the NLCS, in which the Braves (my team) faced off against the Pirates (his team). Incidentally, I’m still not convinced Sid Bream was safe, even though it worked to my favor and Jeff had to make me dinner.
I know the jargon, I know the rules, I know the players. And I have opinions about all of it–opinions that are safely sent to my sisters while watching games, and hardly ever posted to Twitter.
It hit me last weekend, while watching a zillion hours of basketball, as I composed and deleted over 20 tweets, that I am mostly silent about sports on Twitter. Part of this is watching what happens to most commentators who happen to be women. Last year when ESPN had an all-female crew calling BYU games, I saw how men reacted on Twitter. Anytime Michelle Beadle tweets opinions about the Spurs, I see how men react on Twitter.
Occasionally, I will pop off on Twitter and the deafening silence of no acknowledgment is almost as awful as being attacked for my 140 characters (thankfully, I haven’t been attacked. Yet.). But the lack of acknowledgment reinforces to me the idea that I am trespassing the patriarchy, that I do not belong, that my ideas and opinions–even if shared by men–are not valid.
And so when games are not going as I hope, I rage text my sister or my friend Peggy, and occasionally I will spend several minutes carefully composing a tweet that might add to the conversation, an idea that might validate me as a member of the general sports fandom. Sometimes that validation happens, most of the time it does not.
What makes me a bad feminist? Thinking I need male validation to have an opinion about sports in the first place. Something for me to work on.