Feminist overtones – in conversation with two eight year olds

In a bus:

I happened to find a seat next to two young boys, who looked like they could be in Class III; and who still had some innocence maybe, for they were looking out through the window, and enthusiastically pointing out places they were familiar with. Innocence is difficult to find in kids I think: they seem to know everything most of the time anyway, and there is nothing with which you can make them look at you in wide eyed wonder; I had to learn about Snapchat from someone many many years younger than me (the horror).

In the bus:

These boys could not stop talking about football, I gathered that they were on their way to football coaching, and they seemed to be consumed by the game. A group of girls, who look to be in middle school, gets into the bus. They smell of sweat and failure, they are wearing sports jerseys with their names printed on the back, and they are discussing how their opponents had several older girls playing (not fair!!!!!!). The boys are piqued. They want to find out what sport it is that these girls have played. Finally, after much craning and squirming (now I am curious too), we spot HANDBALL on their jersey.

Boy 1 is audibly relieved. He states dismissively: Oh! It is handball da. It cannot be football of course.

Boy 1 and Boy 2 now laugh.

I join the conversation at this point. I ask them: Why can’t it be football?

Boy 1 answers with an incredulous look in place: Girls don’t play football!!!?!?!?!?!? Boy 2 nods sagely.

It is my turn again, I persist for some reason. “Why do you say that?”

Boy 1 responds with the air of someone used to being talkative and witty. “It is tough. You have to keep running.” And then he adds: If they really played, it would have been shown on TV.

I did not expect that. I am not sure what to say, I am somewhat worried the kids may be mean to me.

This time I ask him: So you are saying a sport is played only if it is shown on TV?

Now he is a little confused. He takes on an aggressive stance. “Okay tell me some girl who plays football.”

I invent a younger sister who plays football for her college. (In all honesty though, I have a cousin who plays football for her company, who is my age).

Boy 1 is suspicious. But Boy 2 is taken up by this. “APPDIYA?????” (REALLY?????)

I am more confident this time. I say “Yes, she has been playing for few years now”.

Boy 1 still looks dubious. With some authority, he investigates into the issue. “Fine. If she plays, tell me what does she play as?”

Oh! This is an interrogation. Really, kids are just tiny adults I think.

“Striker”, I declare.

Hah! Having a brother who is football-crazy is convenient. I have learnt useful information merely through osmosis.

Now both Boy 1 & 2 are suitably impressed. Maybe I have surpassed their expectation by being aware of some terminology.

Boy 1 and Boy 2 (slowly): Oh…. So they really play huh?

Me (triumphantly): Yes.

And because I have to conclude this the proper way, I tell them: Girls can play anything they want to.

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3 thoughts on “Feminist overtones – in conversation with two eight year olds

  1. I have been meaning to comment on this post. But somehow did not get around to it until now. I am sorry if these questions sound disrespectful or anything. This is more a question from a feminist to a feminist about ethos of feminsm, so I think it is alright.

    I just have a question on “I invent a younger sister who plays football for her college. (In all honesty though, I have a cousin who plays football for her company, who is my age)”

    1) If it is a cousin who plays for a company, when why not say so? Why invent a sister?
    2) If you had to use information accumulated through osmosis to make a point that women are interested in a male dominated sport/field. Does the point still stand?

    I agree that little boys who have chavinistic outlooks (which were ingrained into their brain by parents and caretakers) should be chatted up and we should help them see women in a good light. But do white lies kill the point?

    The moral of the story maybe “Girls can play anything they want to.” But why are male-oriented things like rough games so overrated that women need to feign knowledge about something that they are not drawn to? Should we not be what we are and like what we like and be frank about it?

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    1. Hi! 😀
      1) No reason, at that moment in the conversation, I just felt like saying “Ennoda thangai vilayaduva”. I think it just seemed easier, or maybe at that point in time, I felt they could relate better to someone in school or college. I can’t recall my thought process exactly, but it was just something I felt like saying.
      2) I don’t watch football, but that doesn’t mean others don’t? I have a few (girl) friends who enjoy the sport and follow the leagues and everything. During this conversation, “Striker” popped into my head, possibly because my brother had been telling me something about in the recent past. I never actively think about football myself, that’s what I was trying to say when I wrote “osmosis”.
      In that bus journey, I just wanted to tell them girls can play anything they want. Getting a little bit more into it, I don’t think girls need to feign knowledge. I do know a girl who frankly says she watches sports only to be able to have a conversation with guys/ make sure guys find her interesting. I don’t really want to do that sort of a thing, I think I don’t watch any sport, except a little bit of tennis. And I have no qualms admitting this too. Maybe if I can spend more time with those kids, I could have had a better (and more meaningful) conversation.

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  2. Well, I learnt even the basics of Cricket terminology only @ 23. I did so so that major discussions about the WCup is not a completely sealed book to me. But it was for general conversation with both men and women that I bothered and that too because it is CRICKET. The rest of the world of ball throwers and kickers remain at the other side of the moon as far as I am concerned.

    I was just wondering how I would have reacted to those boys. I probably would have done some speed reading reg. Womens football to impress them and get their attention. (Hail Wikipedia)

    I might have said, “Women can be great in sports if encouraged by school and parents, but in most parts of India we don’t have people who do that. So women playing football is not very obvious in our country”. I may include a bit about olympics and how China and Russia encourage their women better and get more medals as a consequence(if they do).

    Or maybe I would have just witnessed them and let it go with a shrug. I don’t know. 😀

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