I rode on the Blue line, Westbound toward downtown and beyond. My dad gave me a seat next to the windows and I gazed in wonder toward the glowing ball surrounded by blinking car lights and stop lights.
“What do you think about Sabonis?”, he asked.
“I can’t wait to see him, dad” I replied without looking away from the window.
“The paper said we have to wear red, I guess I’m going to stick out like a sore thumb.”
“Do you think I look okay with this sweatshirt on? It has ST AGATHA GIRLS BASKETBALL on the back, I look … nerdy , or something.”
My dad smiled at me and with no small measure of pride,”you look like a good fan, and a good student, and an athlete.”
I smiled and we got off the train to check into our seats. Arvydas Sabonis had a mediocre game, but I cheered, and jeered, and probably screamed some profanities. My dad and I high-fived, we drank expensive soda and left high off the energy , the game, the experience. The max ride home was boisterous, as they normally are after a Blazer win. I returned home and wrote in my diary:
“This was my best night ever!”
The Max Train carried me to my first game at the Rose Garden that night. Of the numerous father-daughter moments to occur later in life, each important and monumental in their own way, this night, this trip, sticks out in my mind as the most memorable, the most important and the most special.
The years preceding that night, I developed an uncommon interest in sports and basketball in particular. My dad traveled extensively for work, but when he returned home, we started in on lively conversations about the Blazers, my Mariners , who the Raiders released and why. It wasn’t a common way for father and daughter to bond, in fact neither of us would consider it a “bonding experience”, that’s too awkward for either of us to acknowledge. And neither did these conversations happen regularly. I recall them happening during an unpredictable moment when I would blurt out how well the Raiders could do in the upcoming season during a random car ride to Seattle.
But what my father recognized was that out interests are common and we enjoy debate and compelling conversation- and thus the perfect catalyst naturally became sports. Young people, young women in particular, yearn for acceptance of those older and more “worldly” than us – we are forced to grow up at a much faster rate than young men- so I came to regard the conversations between my father and I as precious, because they were indeed devoid of age and gender constraints ingrained in both of us . We were , and still are, nothing but two equals talking. I looked up to him and talked without constraint, while he listened and conversed with me with respect.
The power of this lesson remains within me today. I write about women’s equality, both on the field and off because I know there should be no boundaries between women competing against and next to men.
This applies to the workplace, where women make less than men for equal work. It should never be that just because I am a woman my work and my mind, are less valuable than those of a male coworker. My credit score shouldn’t be less simply because I have ovaries and I should be able to obtain large amounts of credit after marking “F” on an application. It should be this way, because I am, as my father taught me, a person first and foremost. Because treating me otherwise is wrong.
This applies to athletics, where girls are considered less capable athletes than men, even though there are more and more scientific studies to disprove that age old notion. Telling girls they shouldn’t be interested in sports for real like boys are, is simply a foreign concept to me.
And when I see almost every professional athletic product continue to use almost naked women as a prop, a piece of meat bought and sold every night for the viewers pleasure, I know it is wrong. I have class with these women, I sit next to them and study with them, I know they are intelligent people, but this fact doesn’t matter because to everyone who sees them , they are breasts and booty only – merely because corporations think guys will like it.
Women have more to offer sports, the world and society than their body and ever-changing beauty. More importantly, men are interested in sports and business and the world for a million other reasons that include in no way whatsoever something that is appealing to their base nature.
Sex sells, I know, but it should not be this way, because it is wrong and we are worth more than a tool to appeal to the base nature of male consumers.
Last summer I was obsessed with President Obama and Congress passing health care reform. I wanted so bad for the Stupak Amendment to die, for the Pro-Choice caucus to stand firm in their convictions, and for the media to report that Bart Stupak’s Amendment would hurt women, even more so than our current political does. When it became clear that the overall reform package was more important than millions upon millions of women’s lives, I washed my hands of it. I openly stated I would not care one bit if the whole bill failed.
Because throwing women under the bus, as it is so consistently done, is wrong.
From sports, to the equal treatment of girls, to my father’s message that I am a person first, i derive my entire pro-choice, feminist , womanist , girl-power mentality . Small things matter, and my dad’s candid and respectful lessons on the max to every blazer game we attended together, however small and insignificant they seemed at the time, planted in me the sense that women can do anything a man does and any other way is not right.