I’m inspired by women and girls who just aren’t taking it.
“It” being stereotypes, unfair contracts that penalize them for being female, brands and leagues who talk a good game but then don’t follow through with the money, and ideas about who is supposed to do what.
Not taking it is the general attitude I try to embrace myself (I can’t do what? Yeah, we’ll see about that). But when I learn about women and girls who are seriously defying expectations, I’m humbled.
Sometimes defying expectations means speaking out about unfair practices, like Olympic runner and 3-time U.S. national champion Alysia Montaño did in her powerful video from earlier this week, “Nike Told Me to Dream Crazy, Until I Wanted a Baby,” about how Nike “paused” her contract and cut off her health insurance during her pregnancy.
Other times, defying expectations is simply about doing what you want to do. You’re not officially protesting, or looking to make some kind of statement. You’re just being who you are, and organically following those interests.
In my most recent piece for The New York Times (see above), I write about the teenage girls who have taken up some extreme sports—Gtramp (extreme freestyle trampoline flipping) and parkour—that tend to be fairly boy-dominated (I’ve got a 10-year-old boy who does Gtramp, so I’m well-versed in the culture). These girls are, well, awesome.
When I was a teenager myself, I positively felt like an awkward moron who did not know how to talk to other teenagers. But now, I love getting to talk to teenagers about their ideas and their dreams. It feels like a privilege to be let in. All of the girls I interviewed for this piece were so genuine, and so committed to their sport—I almost felt silly pointing out that they were in the minority. Because they were like, whatever. They’re just doing their thing, and that’s a beautiful thing.
For this piece, I also did some digging into other more “freestyle” sports, like skateboarding and surfing, and learned about women who are dominating in those disciplines, and pushing for big gains in gender parity regarding prize money.
I get pretty mad about gender stereotypes and inequity. I think, I should do more, I should say more, I should protest more. And I should.
But for now, I am going to enjoy that there is one more story of girls defying expectations out there.