I’m very good at a lot of things.
I’ve spent the past 23 years mastering (and forgetting) the oddest of skills, one being knitting, but my favourite one being shooting hoops. I knew that shooting three pointers would be nearly impossible for me, what with my height and fear of being off the ground as a factor, but for a year of my life when I was like 8/9, I would stand on our school’s basket ball court and practice shooting 2 pointers for 30 minutes before the bell rang. No frills, no “dunking on em” just plain old throwing the ball in the hoop. I would make 50-100 free throws before my day started. When I had a moment (usually at the end of the day when I was home) I would think about the shots I missed and made, why they worked and why they didn’t. More than 10 years later I still have that skill and it helped that I haven’t gotten any taller (I didn’t have to recalculate my moves) and as much as I do believe that the concept of 10 000 hours is an elitist one that doesn’t take into consideration socio economic nuances for people like me. People who have had no “free” time, minimal resources and no freedom of movement what so ever. I do believe that practice makes perfect.
Years later my perfect self was at my varsity church’s camp and we were put into teams, in that random selection that isn’t so random kind of way, and we were to eat sleep and breathe as a team!
If you know youth camps, they don’t waste time, and just as we got acquainted with our team member’s, the first challenge was announced.
There was an even split of girls and boys. The boys immediately looked at the girls and asked:
“Who plays netball?”
Basically all the girls raised their hands.
Me: “I think we should all get a turn, we have 2 minutes to get as many balls in the hoop as possible and there’s all but 6 of us, surely we can all have a go.”
(I had always hated the mysoginistic undertones that followed “women centered” sports. The comments on the size of our skirts and how we looked when we ran. Nope.)
Enthusiastic boys: “Yeah yeah yeah that’s true! But let’s have the netball girls in front”
The whistle went and the game started. I was somewhere in the middle of the line.
I remember my clean execution as I casually got my first ball in the hoop and then my second and then my third. I got a ball in the hoop every time it was my turn (around 3 times). The crowd cheered. I was in my element. 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week for a year, I took Fridays off coz I knew rest was important even then.
I was DJ Khaled to that hoop.
WE THE BEST!
I was sent to this planet for such a time as this!
During the last 30 seconds, one of the more enthusiastic boys took it upon himself to only have him and his tall friend shooting.
My stomach dropped.
No more netball girls, who had been seen as fit to lead the team to victory because of their experience with nets and balls, just two guys throwing our hopes and dreams into anything BUT the hoop.
They got none of the balls in.
I had never been so disappointed in my entire life. I stood there wondering why they hadn’t just passed me the ball. I’ve always been a show don’t tell kind of person and I showed them my skills but I still felt like I wasn’t good enough. Why did I have to prove myself more than everyone else? Why did the girls on my team, including myself, step aside and watch while we drew further and further away from that number one spot.
In Issa Rae’s Insecure (season 2 episode 1-3) Molly finds out that her colleague who does the same job as her (with a lot less swag) and is a white male, is earning a good amount more than her. She doesn’t confront her boss about instead she tries to infiltrate their “boys club” by watching sports and socialising with them at after work events, but do they even know they’re in a boys club?
One, you can’t solve a problem you don’t know you have.
Two, we have all toxic internalised behaviour’s that need to be unlearned daily.
So what does Molly do?
I don’t know, the rest of the season isn’t out yet.
But I think it’s always easier to try and be one of the boys than stand up to the boys and that’s just because boys get to be big and bold and overly confident without it causing a stirr. Women are taught to be small. We need to aspire to be small in size, in character, even our feet and hands are judged on how small they are. We’re “supposed” to be compact, pocket size, forgetable.
We’re everything but.
I still don’t know what I would do today if the church camp incident happened again and I don’t really know how to end this so…