If I had my pick, I’d be a sports broadcaster one day.
I’ve had the brief conversation a million times about “what I wanna be when I grow up” and people always seem really surprised by my answer.
It doesn’t take long to infer that the reason my aspirations are interesting to them is because there aren’t a ton of women in sports. With male broadcasters outnumbering female broadcasters even for women’s collegiate sports such as volleyball, their reactions make sense to me, and while I’d like to see the number of women in sports go up, I’m sick of the way women in sports get talked about.
Growing up, I typically excelled most in math and science and before I fell in love with bat flips and basketball hoops I wanted to go into a STEM field.
To this day I’m pushed towards these fields, but not because of what I like.
“Women in the STEM field are so valuable right now.” “As a woman who’s good at math and science, you’re gold to employers.” “There’s a big push for female engineers right now, you could be successful so fast.”
We’re a trend.
People and companies love to give themselves such a huge pat on the back for giving women opportunities and fostering diversity that celebrating the success of women flies right out the window.
The employer credits him or herself for helping a woman overcome barriers that may or may not even exist.
Sexism is a very real thing, and it’s foolish to believe that there aren’t people out there that are blatantly sexist, but when people also plant into young women constantly that they are going to be held back, that facing massive barriers is something inevitable, that society won’t ever let women succeed in field x, y, or z, it is perhaps the most unempowering thing in the world.
This mindset that women are bound to be victims and are bound to have the lower hand or the short straw because of their sex only strengthens and reinforces sexism in our world and allows it to persist.
I remember going on a women in STEM field trip my freshman and sophomore year and part of the trip included talking to panelists. The panelists were all successful women from a variety of backgrounds who had ultimately succeeded in a male dominated field. When we went around to talk to them, someone would always ask them about the difficulties they’ve faced as women in a field where women are underrepresented.
The response was almost the same every time.
“Well, I’ve been very lucky. I haven’t ever faced anything major and the men I work with are all incredible and treat me just like anybody else.”
While women will inevitably face sexism, it isn’t a massive problem that drags back every woman who comes knocking on the doors of succes or male dominated fields like so many “feminists” claim it will. Which leads me to question what is actually holding women back.
Being a sports person, I follow sports media closely and every time a woman succeeds big time, the whole world seems to be thrown into pandemonium. Whether a team of broadcasters, a coaching position, a referee crew, or any other large role be filled by a woman or group of women, everyone goes berserk. The women are praised incessantly before they even start their job and there’s a ginormous party over the assertion that “this is a huge day for women.”
I hate watching the reaction to women’s hirings because I hate seeing women gawked over like animals in a zoo before they work a day in their new jobs.
People react variously when men fill a job – eg they’re excited, not satisfied, in disbelief, scared for the future of their franchise, when a new head coach is hired – and then continually judge him based on how well he does.
When a man attains a sports job, he’s expected to do well at it to win approval, but when a woman obtains a sports job, she’s already succeeded beyond the point of belief. This is what the sports field and media like people to believe and this narrative of sexism is pushed so hard that the expectations of women are lesser.
That is the real sexism.
Everyone always tells me it’s special when women succeed in sports. They think I should be grateful for their thoughts too.
I don’t want it to be special though. I want it to be normal.
I’m tired of people expecting me to feel empowered when they highlight female broadcasters. I don’t want to be a female broadcaster. I just want to be a broadcaster.
When we take the “first female” off the front end of a title and leave the position, that’s empowering. When women do the same thing as men and there’s nothing unusual about that, that’s empowering. Watching successful women in sports is empowering. Hearing people talk about involving women in sports and ramble on and on over how special it is for women to finally be dipping their toes in the water and getting involved isn’t.
“Femenist” men and people who are self proclaimed allies to women hate this approach because it takes away their ability to applaud themselves when women succeed in male dominated fields. The reality is that the idea of highlighting the hiring of women and pledging to use affirmative action to help women is only a means to take away from the success of women by placing much of the credit back into the hands of the people who “helped her get there.”
Women do not need help to succeed. Discrepancy doesn’t equal sexism and a field dominated by men is not equivalent to a field where women can not succeed. Women can succeed in these fields just as men can, and the day that white liberal men stop crying sexism and telling young women that they are starting out disadvantaged, women will become equal in these fields.
I don’t want to be highlighted because I am a woman.
When men and women stop telling me that I am automatically less likely to succeed because of my sex, which is blantant sexism, and recognize that I am exactly like a young man aspring to be a sports braodcaster, hungry for success and willing to compete with other people for a job, I will then be allowed to be the same as men.
Right now, even if I work to succeed as much as a man, I can’t be equal to him.
He can be judged by his success in a sports job, but I can only be praised for reaching the position. He can be celebrated for his hard work, but I can only be celebrated for overcoming sexism that I may not have even faced. He can become a broadcaster, but I can only become a female broadcaster.
A female broadcaster, according to the media, is someone who is incredible because of her sex and not because of her hard work and talents. That’s not what I want to be.
Those will remain different positions until my hard work is treated the same way as a man’s and people stop feeling sorry for me because of my vagina and start expecting just as much of me as they do of a man.
Telling women that it is rare and special when they succeed does not paint women as strong. It only tells us that we are less than. We need to stop talking about sex and start talking about success.
It is never a bad thing to hire a qualified woman out of a group of qualified individuals. It is, however, awful to diminish her qualifications by pledging to choose a woman for the job. A qualified woman deserves to be chosen from the entire group, not made less than by being chosen from a pool that started off cut in half.
When I succeed, I want it to be because of myself. I never want everyone to think I succeeded because someone else handed success to me. I don’t want to be praised for getting a job. I want to be praised for excelling.