Friday, September 11, 2015

-isms Die Hard

Over Labor Day weekend, I was reminded that -isms die hard. Racism, ageism, sexism, take years and years to fade. In a 24-hour period I was the subject of two sexist remarks. Both experiences were isolated, yet related in their presumptions. The sexism was direct; it was overt. I didn't react to either incident right away, which explains why I wasn't sure why I was a little off when I woke up the next morning. I wondered why was I carrying something other than anxiety or "back to work" blues. I felt angst—an emotion is rare for me. And then I got it. I named it. Sexism is alive and kicking. No one said it wasn't. 
My former roommate Erin and I arrived at the Warren Golf course at the University of Notre Dame excited to play a round. With clubs in our cart, Erin and I were getting a few things in order when a man and his wife (who was not dressed for golf) looked at us and said "Women play golf?"

I didn't hear him. Erin vaguely smiled at him. She turned to me and asked "Did you hear what he said." I didn't. I wish I had. I would have responded by sharing some of the following information:

The USGA reports that in 2014, 22% of adult golfers are female. According to the National Golf Foundation, 48% of women say they want to learn golf with other beginners. And the number of new golfers, leans toward the "xx" spectrum. 

Furthermore, women have a rich history in this sport. In "Important Events in the History of Women's Golf," Nancy Berkely, President of Berkely Golf Consulting writes:
1552   Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87), an avid golfer, coins the term “caddie” by calling her assistants “cadets.” The Queen traveled to France to play golf and historians report that she was criticized for playing golf and not spending enough time on Royal matters.   It is during her reign that the famous golf course at St. Andrews is built.
The Ladies Club of St. Andrew’s, Scotland, is formed — the first ladies’ golf club.
1891   The Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island opens its doors to women. Golf proved so popular that the club opened a 9-hole course for women two years later.

The entire list is worth checking out!

The LPGA was founded in 1950 and its prize money, media coverage and talent level is ever increasing. Perhaps he is the one who doesn't play golf...
It's probably worth noting that Erin graduated with a degree in engineering.
A field traditionally dominated by men.
One day later, my friend introduced me to his dad by telling him, "this is my friend Anne. She just got back from Notre Dame where she went to school. She was there for the Texas game." His dad responded, "You went to St. Mary's?" I said "no, I went to Notre Dame." He asked "women attend Notre Dame?"

Out of respect for an elder, I said "you probably know a time when Notre Dame was single sex, I don't. Notre Dame has been co-ed my entire life. It first admitted women in 1972. St. Mary's is still an all women's college, but thanks to Father Hesburgh, Notre Dame is my alma mater."

I don't take for granted the fact that Notre Dame allows women. That step toward inclusion was recognized and celebrated at Father Ted's funeral and memorial. As I've written before, I thank him for the assist.

Unfortunately, the -isms still abound. I'm sure the man who drove by in his golf cart was trying to be funny. I wish he had simply said "Good Morning." Perhaps my friend's dad really didn't know that ND is co-ed...even though that is now 43 years in the making.

I truly believe that sports can abate racism and sexism, but it can engender it as well. When I watch a Serena Williams match, the sexist remarks are loud and clear. She plays like a man. No woman's body looks like that. But the fact of the matter is Serena is exactly who she is and she continues to define excellence for women and women in athletics. Here's to the many others that do.... 

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