Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Men, Women, Polo

The way I see it, polo is currently at a crossroads. We can buy into the precedent that the mainstream has already set up for us, and begin to segregate based on gender. This will lead to more mainstream, shittier polo, because you're cutting out half the competition. We can reinforce the notion that people with vaginas are delicate little flowers who need protecting from the REAL MANLY MENZ of the world. We can avoid confronting those difficult misogynistic attitudes that are so blatantly obvious whenever coed games occur in tournaments today. And we can then watch the women's league dwindle into obscurity and near-extinction, as most professional sports* have done before us.

On the other hand, we can continue to play as hardcourt has always been played- open to all willing to hold a mallet and possibly suffer bodily injury. We can remain on the fringes, daring to offer up a legitimately level playing field, without grossly insulting the dozens (hundreds?) of women who have been playing with their club since its inception, only to be suddenly turned away because their vagina suddenly makes all their past game play irrelevant. We can open our eyes to the gross transgressions that are made every day, in every form of bigotry, and work to change those attitudes and behaviors from within, rather than punishing a minority group for the hatred directed towards them. We can acknowledge that if a majority of women are easily intimidated by us crazy stick-wielding folk, it's because they have been raised in a threatening environment where women must be timid and fearful to conform and survive, not because all women are inherently like that.

Another thing to keep in mind- segregation based on gender creates a huge problem when we encounter trans people who would like to join us on the court. Do we really want to send the message that we, like almost every other sport out there, do not recognize their bodily autonomy and ability to create their own identity?

*I'm mostly thinking of the WNBA here- I mean, who gets as excited about their Finals as they do about any NBA game? No one I know, certainly.

x-posted to, in response to Kiersten's question about women's place on the court.

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