So, for those of you who don't know us well, in the past few years Greg and I have become big fans of JMU's women's basketball team. It all started the first year I was living here in Harrisonburg and we were trying to "get involved" in the community and the university.
Since then, we've become slightly obsessed. Like, we joined the Crown Club, watch away games via the internet, and, of the 2 personal days I get from work this year, 1 will be used to go to the CAA women's basketball tournament in Maryland. If it's not obsession, it is, at least, commitment.
I like the basketball games for a lot of reasons. It's a competition and a team to cheer. It's something to look forward to on winter evenings. It's a family friendly atmosphere at the games. It's a super deal (less than $100 for two adults for the year!).
And, it's a super message being sent to my daughter.
Watching women's basketball presents an in-your-face juxtaposition of what being a woman means.
It's watching women in jerseys and tennis shoes race up and down the court for 40 minutes. During this time they run plays as a team and shoot foul shots all on their own. They scramble for rebounds and get the ball stolen out of their hands. They fly through the air gracefully and get pushed to the ground, catch some lucky breaks on foul-calls and get busted on others, make miracle 3-point shots at the buzzer and miss gimme layups. These are strong women, beautiful women, successful women, and yet their style of femininity flies in the face of everything girls are taught about being "lady-like" while they are growing up.
However, when the buzzer sounds to signal a time-out, a totally different picture of femininity takes the court. As basketball players catch their breath and strategize the next play, cheerleaders take center court, jumping, flipping, and cheering their peers on toward victory. These women are as strong and agile as their ball-shooting counterparts: lifting each other up in the air, doing backflips from a dead stop in the middle of the floor, bending and stretching their legs into all sorts of shapes. Wearing make-up and ribbons in their hair, though, they present a much more typical picture of womanhood.
What I want Meredith, and lots of little girls and boys, to know is that both represent an awesome way to be a woman--as do the many gradations of femininity between these two seemingly extreme positions. And, I want her to know that these two positions are not as far away from each other as they may seem. Both groups of women are healthy and active, involved in their community, well-educated, hard-working, and striving to be the best they can be as individuals and as a team. If that's not a positive message, I don't know what is!