I’ve talked before about how athletic women are portrayed in the media. I still feel that society (especially Argentine society) shies away from portraying women as aggressive, powerful, or masculine. And, if they do, it is sugar coated with some sort of femininity.
After the recent Argentina win in the Women’s Hockey World Cup, there have been a lot of images and exposure on Las Leonas. Especially on “Lucha” Luciana Aymar, who had to choose between being an athlete or a model.
It is interesting how the female athlete is not shown in the same way as the male athlete; if any masculinity comes through, it is downplayed and covered up. I’m not quite sure what is trying to be hidden: is it confusing to see a masculine woman? Does it have to do with some sort of fear of mixing the genders? Or is it simpler to keep the masculine and feminine traits completely separate and matching with their own sex?
I find this simplification degrading; isn’t this the perfect era to show our true colours of diversity as a human race?
A couple weeks ago, I came face to face with my own need to express my so called masculine side. And it didn’t happen with my women’s team, but while playing with men.
I was at Devoto court, engaged in some competitive rounds of 3-on-3 basketball. It was probably around my 5th or 6th game, playing with Oso and El Pelado, when Freezer was paired up to defend me. He is a good player: fast, good handles, and I have respect for his Kobe-esque shot from the corner ears of the paint. We are friends, although for some reason or other he always addresses me as “Señora”.
The game started up and we were playing well, with both teams fairly even in skills. And around half way through the game, while setting up the ball, Freezer suddenly started defending me up close, pressuring me. I got nervous, tried to protect the ball, but he ended up swatting and stealing it and making a point. Up until that point, he had been letting me move and shoot freely, not defending me that hard and now he changed his degree of pressure. This pissed me off; not because of the strong defense, but because of the sudden shift. If you are going to defend hard, do it for the whole game, not in random spurts when you feel like it.
What happened next was completely natural, and unexpected. The following words came out of my mouth:
“Okay, you want to play like that?”
“That’s fine…that is how we are going to play.”
I didn’t look at any of the other players, but later Oso told me that everyone was looking at me in disbelief. I don’t think I even believed myself, but apparently something needed to come out.
After that the obvious went down: Freezer played his toughest offense and I played my toughest defense. I did everything possible for him not to shoot and ended up picking up a couple fouls in the process.
Through the game of basketball, I have been getting to know both my feminine and masculine sides, paying with both men and women. However, when I do play with men, maybe I feel this need to assert my toughness, and reassure the guys that I can handle the same physical and emotional demands. And sometimes I do this by putting a tough face. But now I realize that it isn’t about what you say or face you put on, but more about what you do with your game.
Talking to Oso in the car, he noted that I always have this sour or tough face on while playing with men. Do I play better? Not really. The contrast of gender seems to create this opposition, maybe to protect myself, or maybe just out of habit.
Something else he noted, which I tried to soak in, was: “If you know a guy is faster than you on the court, it is very simple…you pass the ball.”
He was right. Letting my own pride inflate is useless and it is smarter to play as a team. I left leaving Devoto that day sore and puzzled, but satisfied because I knew I had played well.