The Girls Football Game

I find my self becoming more and more sensitive to gender issues these days. Chalk it up to having two unreasonably precocious daughters. 

I was watching a little football this weekend with my #1 buddy, my 5yo daughter. She caught me off guard with an obvious question.

“Daddy, where is the girls football game?”

At that second, every gender conflict for the last 30 years flashed before my eyes. It’s hard explaining the construct of gender differences and double standards in society to a 5yo when you have spent the last five years telling that 5yo that she can be anything she wants.

I told her that when grownups play sports, the men and the women play separately because sports are something you mostly do with your body and men and women have different kinds of bodies–just look at how different Mommy and Daddy are. I also told her that there are other things like science, or art, or reading that you do with your mind and anyone can do those as much as they want whether they’re a boy or a girl.

I don’t feel like this was a perfect answer, but it’s the best I could come up with on the spot. Empathy, clarity and context can be hard to manage on the fly.

And where is the girls’ football game? The Lingerie Football League? Fuck you.

Fortunately for us, the 5yo has a pretty good notion that there are other badass sports for women out there, due mostly to my peripheral involvement with the DC Rollergirls and her own experience playing soccer. Also fortunate for us, 5yo is a badass and will do whatever she wants.

This exchange over football was just a little anecdote until the next day when this stain Pax Dickinson shows up in my Twitter feed. Watching him get called out by the likes of Anil Dash, I knew his demise was imminent. But what sticks in my mind is that he’s another unfortunate example of an undercurrent of misogyny that lurks in the tech industry. To be clear, I definitely give my esteemed technical colleagues the benefit of the doubt here. Most of the engineers and designers I have worked with are indeed men and they have been nothing but professional.

The truth is that when our daughters go into a field like software engineering or design they need to be armed with an extra set of skills. Our daughters need to know how to identify, manage, and sidestep these sexist little pricks that they will inevitably encounter in their careers. Sadly, that’s the playing field. I like to think that we’re becoming a more equitable and just society, and that the tech community is trending in that direction, too. I like to think of it as a work in progress, but that’s like saying a glacier’s path to the sea is a work in progress.

I’m not worried about the 5yo in this regard. She’s a firecracker and force of nature and a dynamo and a charmer and a wrecking ball all wrapped into one. I’m more worried about anyone that tries to cross her. But that doesn’t mean I’m not keeping an eye out for her.