I would have never used the word “strong” or “feminist” to describe myself in the past. I depended on people I loved to make me feel happy, give me a reason to be alive, and to push me through things I wasn’t sure I could do. I was warned, a few weeks before starting derby, that feminism will take over once I get into the community. I didn’t believe it because how can a bunch of girls in fishnets and short shorts (sometimes tutus) be feminists?
A few days ago, I had cramps. Really bad cramps that made me weak in the legs and unable to walk without excruciating pain. I rested on the bed and my husband approached and patted my back. When I turned over, he seemed surprised and said “oh, I thought you were crying”. I thought for a moment and said “I want to play derby. I can’t cry.”
Derby has taught me that no matter what ways my mind tries to psyche me out, I can do anything. At practice, when we think they are telling us to do the impossible and yet we manage to do it with little injuries, the coaches say “see, you didn’t die”. This is my mantra now.
I can’t do it. Oh, but just try. O-m-g I just did it. See, you did it and didn’t die.
As a woman, we are constantly told we aren’t strong enough for anything tough. Sure, we can play sports but not something as dangerous as football, and even if we could, they’d “be easy on us”. Girls get pummeled in derby, its, essentially, the entire point of the sport. Then, we go home and take care of our husbands, wives, human children, and/or dog/cat children. We work our various jobs, go to college, make things with our hands, and just be awesome on a daily basis. While guys just play sports and depend on us to make everything easy.
And that’s when the feminism kicks in. Look at my busy life while I still have time to put 8 wheels on my feet and jump over piles of bodies just to score some points. I have skills that I cultivated just through sheer determination and practice. In the words of my husband after I complained of post-practice pain combined with cramps: I am a warrior. And being a woman made me that way.