Over the last month or so, it’s been an absolute joy in my household to have the Women’s World Cup matches playing. I unabashedly love women’s soccer, so being able to sit back and watch the best in the sport playing for a top prize has been tremendous. Watching it all with Nugget has been just that much cooler, because I can imagine her being part of that team down the road.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not currently charting out all of the classes and drills and what-not that Nugget needs to go through to land herself a spot on the US Women’s National Team. I have no idea if she’ll ever have a desire to receive a pass from Carli Lloyd, or if she’ll want to spend time trying to punch away strikes from Alex Morgan. Instead, what I love is that the fact women’s soccer, at least with regards to the World Cup (and the Olympics) gets televised coverage. As the father of a little girl, that opens up a potential future path for Nugget, should she choose to take it.
I’m also involved in the sport of roller derby, which means that I not only get to spend a lot of time watching some amazing athletes in a full contact, high agility sport, but I can call a lot of those athletes my friends. Knowing that I have these resources at my fingertips makes me happy, because it means that Nugget has access to each and every one of them as well. She may never utilize them, but the choice is available to her.
This isn’t just about sports, though. Yes, I know (and watch) amazing women participating in athletic competition at high levels, creating options for Nugget’s future path. I also known incredible women in a wide variety of fields, from comedy to law, medicine to technology. All of these women inspire me, personally, and I know how hard they’re all working to shatter through the glass ceilings put above them, so that the path for those who follow is a little easier.
Given that Nugget is a little girl, I clearly want her to be able to look at these strong, confident women and take away from their experiences, to strengthen her own. I want her to look at all her mother has accomplished and know that the world is within her grasp. I want her to see athletes performing at their personal physical peaks, and never have a question of whether or not she’s “good enough” to do something, especially something often portrayed as being in the realm of men. Of course I want all of these things, because I want my daughter to have the most amazing life, never once tainted with doubt that she couldn’t do something.
But here’s the thing. If I had a son, I’d want that for him, too. I’d want him to take life lessons from the amazing women in my life, to become stronger, and more confident, in his own abilities. I’d want him to find glass ceilings of his own, and shatter them into a million pieces. That’s largely because, despite what a lot of people seemingly want to believe, both men and women have a wealth of experience and advice to offer. It’s high time to stop pretending that any one gender is better than the other at anything that doesn’t specifically tie to our physical bodies.
It makes me sad to see any sort of slam being thrown at one gender or another. Being a stay-at-home father means that I unfortunately have to deal with certain stigmas, and advertising talks down to men when it comes to housework. Women get the flip side, because they clearly don’t understand how to really be powerful in an office environment, but would just be fantastic if they stayed at home. And, when articles come out talking about how nobody really cares about soccer, or women’s sports, despite the US/Japan women’s soccer match drawing much higher ratings that the vast majority of televised male sports, I have to actively stifle rage. Because it’s all still being presented through a sexist spectrum, and that spectrum is still being largely dominated by the male view.
This isn’t to say that men CAN’T do things. We totally can. And so can women. That’s the great thing about being human. Any one of us should be able to do just about anything, if we truly put our mind to it. It really should come down to the individual and their personal drive, not any sort of long-standing patriarchy. Yes, historically men have held a lot of specific roles in our society. Why is that? Largely because men held those positions beforehand, paved the way for those to follow, and due to outdated beliefs about what the genders could (or even would) do, women were pushed aside into the homemaking, nurture roles. This worldview is changing, but it isn’t changing fast, and there are a lot of sticks buried deep into some old-thought mud, making it even more difficult for people, regardless of physical characteristics, to be able to achieve and succeed no matter what they do. We can do better.
Nugget has some amazing role models in her life. She has incredible people she can look up to, on all areas of the sliding gender scale, and she can learn amazing things from each and every one of them. If there’s any one lesson that I really hope she takes away from the adults in her world, it’s a simple one.
I hope she learns “I can.” Because she can. And, if I know her, she will.