“I am not paying to watch girls play basketball”.
She said it almost with a mocking tone, as though it was ridiculous for someone to even assume that anyone would pay to watch girls play basketball. She said it unapologetically, seemingly unaware of how damaging her statement was.
She said it in front of my son.
The youth basketball league that my son plays in gifted each player a ticket to watch our hometown University Women’s Basketball team play. Parents and siblings had to pay for their tickets, which ran a whole whopping $5 each.
Many parents decided not to go because they didn’t want to pay to "watch girls play".
I was angry. I looked at this woman - a mother - in shock and wondered why she saw nothing wrong with what she was saying. I wondered why she saw nothing wrong with the fact that she was referring to the women’s team as “the girls’ team” but the men’s team as “the men’s team”.
I was angry but I didn’t say anything.
It was just a month ago when I took my daughter to our local Women’s March. Some people questioned why I went to the March and why I took my six year old daughter.
Standing there that day, listening to another woman imply that women (or girls as she referred to them) were not worthy of her time or her five dollars, I instantly knew why I marched with my daughter.
I marched with my daughter because throughout her life she is going to repeatedly hear people tell her she can’t do something just because she’s female.
I marched with my daughter because even though I tell her that she can do anything she wants to do or be anything she wants to be the world is going to try and convince her otherwise.
I marched with my daughter because I tell her that her body is hers and she gets to decide who, when and how someone touches it yet I’m also going to have to teach her never to leave her drink unattended and she’s going to hear stories about men who walk free because their accuser wore a skirt that was just a little too short or giggled just a little too much.
I marched with my daughter because I tell her that if she works hard enough she can have a fulfilling and exciting career but I’m going to have to talk to her about bosses who make inappropriate comments and how those comments will make her fear for her job.
I marched with my daughter because I tell her she gets to have a career that she loves and still be a wonderful mother if that’s the path she chooses but I will have to warn her of the guilt she is going to carry around with her and how she will be judged for it.
I marched with my daughter because just when I have convinced her that hockey, basketball, swimming or any other sport is not just for boys and that she can play, someone is going to make her feel like she will never play as well as the boys and that is going to make her ask herself why she should even bother.
I marched with my daughter because even though I am going to do my best to try and teach her that there is nothing she can’t do she is going to be bombarded by messages that tell her otherwise.
Sometimes these messages are going to come from people that she loves and respects.
One day someone’s going to tell her that she’s not good enough and she’s going to believe them.
This is why I marched with my daughter.
Because when she starts to question herself and her capabilities I want her to remember that she’s not alone. When someone tries to hold her down or make her feel like she’s not capable I want her to remember the way it felt to be surrounded by women and men who have her back.
I marched with my daughter because I want her to know that I have her back. Always.
I am ashamed of myself for not saying anything that day at the basketball game. But I'm glad I took my son to the basketball game with me. We had a blast.
And he never once questioned why we were watching the women’s team.