Girls challenge masculine sports stereotypes

“You hit like a girl.”

“You run like a girl.”

“You throw like a girl.”

These are just a few of the statements girls may be confronted with when playing sports. Junior and Lacrosse player Katie Batchelder encountered a few of these in a high school gym.

“In PE I have heard people say things to my friends. One friend I have would always hear ‘move in cause she is a girl’ but then she would hit it and they would back off,” Batchelder said.

Senior Taylor Rutherford has been playing softball since she was young. She speaks about her first time playing.

“As a little girl I would always play catch with my dad, so as soon as I was old enough he signed me up for T-ball and I have been playing ever since. I remember drawing a lot in the dirt with my fingers and picking all of the dandelions in the outfield during my first game. I think I was too young to have a real appreciation for the sport,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford criticizes people that tend to insult others and discriminate based on gender.

“When people say you throw or hit like a girl, I really just try to ignore it. I find it pretty insulting but people who say that tend to have some underlying insecurities so I choose not to let it affect me,” Rutherford said.

Senior Sophia Barton has been wrestling since she was a sophomore. According to Barton she felt intimidated the first time she wrestled.

“My first match in my sophomore year, I was so scared. I thought I was going to get pinned really fast and I was not really sure of myself. It did not end up being that bad though,” Barton said.

Barton strongly states her opinion on her thoughts on “you throw like a girl” and insults much like it.

“Doing something like a girl is not an insult. I can run far, throw far and hit hard. People should not use it as an insult just because they think that a different gender is weaker than another because that is not true. Girls can be just as strong as guys because doing something like a girl means doing it as best as you can and working hard for it,” Barton said.

Barton boasts that her male counterparts who have underestimated her in the past do not feel that way when they lose.

“I have felt like people underestimate me. I have had to wrestle guys at my old school and they are always hesitant to wrestle me because I am a girl and they think it is going to be an easy win. They usually do not feel like that after they lose though,” Barton said.

Batchelder expresses a need for the discontinuation of discriminatory statements directed towards females.

“I think insults like ‘you throw like a girl’ is demeaning. It should not be something that is negative because I get that we are naturally weaker in the physical sense but we are still really tough. We work hard and it is discrediting when people make girls sound weak when I know a lot of girls who are even tougher than boys,” Batchelder said.

Batchelder has felt underestimated because of her gender and empathizes with other girls who play sports.

“I have felt underestimated sometimes. I think that there is still a lot of judgement especially for girls in say, wrestling because they have to wrestle boys and they just expect it to be an easy win and a lot of them will go out and beat the boys. Lacrosse is the same way, you can totally beat someone with foot work. Maybe you are not as strong but you can beat them with a different mindset,” Batchelder said.

Rutherford touches on common perceptions of women and the idea that women are weak.

“I know that doing something like a girl is perceived as weak by most people but I find that most girls who play sports like fast pitch are extremely strong, not only physically but mentally as well,” Rutherford said.

Batchelder feels negatively towards the stereotype that women in sports cannot be feminine or girly.

“Girls act different in sports than they do in everyday life or their social life. They could totally be girly and feminine and still play basketball or any sport. They can still wear skirts and makeup but not every girl is like that,” Batchelder said. “Every girl is different and just because you play a sport does not mean you are not a certain thing. Just because you play sports does not mean you are only athletic or if you do not play sports you are only girly.”

Barton debunks the stigma that girls cannot do things boys can do.

“In some aspects yeah, girls can do anything guys can do. I can work on cars, I can wrestle, I can play baseball, I can do anything a guy can do if I put my mind to it, sometimes even better,” Barton said.

Barton says to other girls that they should not let their own perceptions of themselves stop them from trying new things.

“Do not be afraid to try it just because you think you are weak. Wrestling and a lot of other sports are about mental strength as well as physical strength. Just do not be afraid to go out and try because even if you do not like it you are not stuck in it and it is not for everybody. It is a tough sport but if you are unsure just try it,” Barton said.

Rutherford encourages girls to play sports and experiment with different activities.

“I would recommend every girl to get into whatever sports they can. It is a really fun way to get exercise. Some of my best friends I have met through softball. It is a great way to meet girls your age, plus it could end up paying for your schooling one day,” Rutherford said.