One of the big reasons so many women make the choice to not participate in sports is because “sports” is defined as a thing that very specifically and consciously denies women a place in. For example, I was discussing Sean Avery with my partner earlier in the week and he expressed the belief that on the whole, hockey is one of the least sexist sports out there.
It took a might amount of restraint for me to point out to him that, well, women aren’t allowed to play in the NHL, they’ve NEVER been allowed to play and the possibility of them being allowed to play isn’t even remotely on the horizon. He got the point–but the fact that even ‘liberated’ or ‘pro-feminist’ men need to be reminded that when a structure is built on the process of exclusion it is, indeed, sexism–well, there’s a lot of work to be done in the act of unfolding all the hurt, pain, silence, marginalization and distaste women deal with on a daily basis when it comes to moving their bodies and the embracing concept of ‘sports.’
So in that vein, I urge you to watch the following video:
Although dance competitions may get an occasional shout out on ESPN, I think all you really need to do is look at where the funding is to see how seriously dancing is taken by the ‘sports’ world, and as such, how accessible that ‘sport’ is to those who would like to participate.
This dance competition is in Europe, where universal health care is normal, so it makes sense that there are enough people to put on a huge competition–economic support to buy the right tools for a sport is essential to being able to participate in that sport. But something I noticed was how ethnically undiverse the population of dancers are. In other words, where are all the people of color? All the women of color? Are they too busy trying to survive? And I have to believe that if there is a lack of ethnic diversity in Europe due to economic hardships, in the U.S., where women of color consistently sit at the bottom of the economic ladder (even more so if they are disabled women of color), dance competitions are beyond the realm of imagination for probably most.
So, what do we do about this? It’s a question that must be thrown out into the atmosphere, but one I think that must be answered first and foremost by the women who are already negotiating exclusion and marginalization.
If you are a disabled woman of color, what are you doing to indulge in your love of moving? What support would you most appreciate from those who are not a part of your ‘team’?