Friday, February 5, 2016

Overheard Conversations

My youngest daughter is dating a former All-American football player.  He is a huge, burly, manly-man with very conservative, manly-man views.  This is a conversation I overheard between the two of them:

Her:  Well, what if your son wants to be a ballet dancer?

Him:  Absolutely not.

Her:  But what if that’s what he really wants to do.

Him:  Absolutely not.

Her: But what if he was really good and it was his passion?

Him:  Well, then he would have to be really good, like that guy Baryshnikov, and dance for the Russian Ballet or something.

I actually gave him a couple of points for that

Him:  Well, what if your daughter wanted to be a cheerleader?

Her:  Absolutely not.

Him:  But . . .

Her:  There are no buts.  End of discussion.

Yes, I see the double standard.  Truth is, when my daughters were in elementary school and flyers about cheerleading were sent home in their backpacks, Martha threw them out before the girls even saw them.  They both took tap, ballet, and jazz dance from 3 to 16 years old, but cheerleading was forbidden, and they both became 3 sport athletes.  It has me wondering about how we steer our children and what possible dreams get crushed at an early age.


  1. We all have double standards that is for sure. Before I was with Mary, I was happy my girls didn't want to cheer. But, our oldest cheered in college and at the pro level for a while. It gave her great things such as confidence and a built body and it took away as well when she struggled with her eating. Overall, what we no matter what we choose makes us who we are and that in itself is worth it.
    It will be interesting to see how it plays out for her... Ya never know...

  2. My daughter always wanted to be "normal," whatever that means. I guess it was her way of rebelling against alternative parents. She insisted upon becoming a cheerleader in high school. At first I was embarrassed. Then I remembered that being a feminist meant fighting for the right for all women to become what they want. So I embraced the idea and encouraged her. I was impressed by how much work and physicality went into cheerleading. There are good people everywhere. I learned what I thought I already knew - that it is important not to stereotype. The things we do for love. Still, I wish she had taken up soccer like her friends did. Oh well. Her life, her dreams, not mine.

  3. Yes, I think cheerleaders at the high school and collegiate level are athletes. What we objected to at the younger ages was that cheerleaders (always girls) only cheered for boys' sports. At least in college they are co-ed and perform at both the mens' and womens' games. I can get behind that.

  4. I like your point, 8, about girls cheering for boys. It's one of the reasons I've always been uncomfortable with cheer. There's also the objectification of female bodies for the male gaze. Yes, I realize that might not hold true at the elementary grades, but it sets up our girls for the expectation that looking pretty and being on the sidelines is their role in sports. We don't want our daughters on the sidelines, we want them on the field.

    But, I also agree with Colette and Paws - to support our girls in whatever they choose, without judging, is also the right thing to do. And, yes, cheerleaders are athletes too... but if they were just tumbling and cheering, why do they need to dress in skimpy outfits?

    I think your daughter understands the difference between being at the field and being on the field. I see which she would choose for her own kid.

  5. I get so nervous when folks (who aren't parents) make declarations that begin with, "no kid of mine is going to . . . " Of course we have opinions about what we would "like" for our children and how we'd like our children to be in the world, but . . Well, ya'll who are parents know.

    When I was in HS, ours had cheerleaders (always (only) girls) Pep Squad (girls and boys) and Dance Crew--who all performed at games.

    My kids (son could have done cheering of some sort at their HS)weren't interested. *I* would have balked at him wanted to go out for football--but he preferred soccer and basketball. She went for soccer, basketball, softball, gymnastics, and volleyball. Had she wanted to cheer I wouldn't not have been thrilled, but would have supported her and certainly continued to impart the lessons.

    Standard. Doubled. Yep.

    And speaking of skimpy outfits, I read about a school district somewhere that banned wearing the cheerleading uniforms to school--even on game days--because they didn't meet the dress code. YET, no one suggested altering the uniforms.

  6. I was a cheerleader in college. (I even have pictures of this.) I did it because gym was required to graduate & unless there are boards on my feet (snow or water), I will be universally hated by the rest of my team because, not to put too fine a point on it, I suck.

    So, cheerleading. And I got my gym credit, although I ran out of money before I could graduate.

    My best friend growing up, however, was a HUGE gymnastics and cheerleading person. It was weird how very different we were. She went on to coach the cheerleaders at both college & high school levels. And her teams often place in National competitions, because cheering has changed and you have to actually be an athlete now to do it. And her teams cheer both male & female athletic evens so that has changed. It's super intense. I could never do it.

    Sorry to hear the negative on the dance thing from the father, though. If the kid wanted to star on Broadway or be an actor or even a better athlete, that dance would totally help.

    1. Also, I despised half of the guys on both the football & hockey teams, and they knew I thought they were asses as I was even less quiet about it back then than I would be now. So there wasn't a lot of confusion in me or them. About that, at any rate. If we'd cheered girls softball, I would have figured out my sexuality SEVERAL years in advance and I would have probably dated Laurie G. and been ecstatic. Too bad.

    2. I didn't mean this to be a post about cheerleading, per se, but rather about how we consciously, or unconsciously guide our children into certain activities and away from others and wondering about how that impacts them.

      That said, yes! if girls cheered for softball, all that middle and high school angst could have been resolved so much earlier!

      Laurie G's loss.

    3. I know I was consciously guided away from music and I've basically spent my life trying to figure out what my 2nd choice is. If I'd been allowed to be a musician, my life would have turned out very differently and I think I would have been much happier and less lost.

      In a bit of irony, my aunt (by marriage) was pushed and pushed towards music (her 2 siblings are both very successful classical musicians with big orchestras) and she didn't want it. She plays piano extraordinarily well, but I don't think she's ever really figured out what she wanted as that was literally the only choice.

      My loss too. Laurie G was ridiculously great. Gone now, but one of the most alive people I've ever known when she was with us. And funny as hell.