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Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Paranoia means having all the facts."

--William S. Burroughs, Beat Generation writer (1914-1997)

Gymnastics got me into the 'girl world' but I kick butt in tackle football

By Megan C Tschida

September 22, 2006 | My brothers are one and two years older than me and growing up I was very close to them. I would wear a tee shirt and shorts, and avoid dresses and skirts as much as possible. I was what they would call a tomboy. My mom told me that as soon as I could walk, I would do anything and everything my brothers were doing.

I was a girl who would challenge whoever wanted to say that girls can't play ball. I could run faster than most of the kids (except my brothers) and was pretty strong for my age. In fact, no one would mess with me. If they did, I could defend myself.

Playing with girls was just not my thing; I would rather go out and get myself dirty. The only thing that would connect me with the doll world was gymnastics. I loved gymnastics, and it is a dominant girl sport. Plus this sport helped me get stronger and work my fast twitch muscles. This did not change the fact that I was a tomboy; it just gave me a connection to the female world.

One day we were playing tackle football in my backyard. It was a normal game, at least that's what I thought. My team was winning and my brother threw me a pass, which I caught and ran for a touch down. When I stopped and looked back I had realized that a couple of my neighbor kids could have tackled me and did not. What's the deal? My oldest brother, who was on the other team, started yelling at his teammates. He asked why they had not tackled me. "She's a girl!" they yelled. For a quick second my mind was pouring with thought after thought: What do they mean I'm a girl? It never bothered them before... I am not a girl... ha, I'll show them.

The next play the other team started out with the ball. I needed to do everything in my power to tackle someone on the other team. The ball was kicked and one of the boys from across my street caught it. This kid was fast, but I knew that I could get him. I started running. Nothing was going to stop me, and nothing did. I hit him right underneath the shoulder. He went down so fast he couldn't figure out what hit him. Lying on the green grass I could feel my adrenaline pumping as I bit my lip and smirked. Ha, now what? The rug burn that had developed on my arm was a pleasure pain, and the grass stain on my pants was something I hoped would never wash off. I stood up and looked around at the other kids. My brother gave me a high-five and told me it was a nice tackle.

The kid I tackled got up and quickly yelled out that it was not fair. My team told him it was a fair tackle and told him to deal with the fact he got tackled by a girl. But he continued to shout that no one else would tackle me and so it was not fair that I could tackle them. I told him to tackle me then, and he shot right back with he did not want to hurt me.

As I stood there everything and everyone froze like we were stuck in a picture. I realized that I was the only girl there. I looked down at my chest where my new training bra was that my Mom insisted I wear. I started thinking of the girls in my class. They did not accept me the way the guys did, until now. They were all developing breasts and wearing make-up. They no longer thought it was cool to play games with the boys, and now no longer did the boys. I slowly walked away like I had been slapped across the face and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

>From that day on I learned that society puts you in a place that is inescapable. You cannot get away with being a tomboy forever, and be accepted with your peers.

The one thing that always had connected me was gymnastics. So it was easier to change my ways and become a girly girl. I had to learn to wear skirts, tight jeans, tank tops, and eventually I learned to put on make-up. The girls started accepting me as a girl, and so did the boys. I still played some games with the boys in the neighborhood, but had to stop every once in a while and complain that "I broke a nail."


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