Sunday, July 19, 2009

Girls: practice your bunts, throws, and make-up application

Every time I hear about saving softball, people invoke young girls. We're doing it for all those girls in the stands, commentator Michelle Smith says. I am so sick of this rationale. Why do women's sports have to invoke the future of girlhood as a primary reason for saving the sport? I agree that it is part of the larger argument. But it is almost always proffered as the sole reason--at least during broadcasts of softball games. I haven't completely dissected the rhetoric yet and this is not the reason behind this post, so moving on...
Since these girls in the stands are the future of softball and Smith likes to talk about the skills necessary for youth players to develop if they want to play collegiate and eventually international ball, I think I should add that in addition to 1) becoming a leftie (seriously--lefties are ubiquitous on team USA); 2) learning to sneaky bunt or slap; 3) and making it to first in less than 5 seconds young girls are going to have to learn the art of eyeliner application.
Because it's not enough these days to sport the sparkly headband (unless you're pitcher Cat Osterman wearing sponsor Under Armour's spandex-y red one along with your Nike uniform!). You have to wear eyeliner. Black eyeliner. Every player I saw last night in the game against Japan had it on. Different amounts. But it was there. There's nothing wrong with eyeliner. I really liked the way a former Cal pitcher wore intense make-up on the days she was pitching. It had this goth/intimidation effect that I read as a little queer; a little counter culture.
But this display of eyeliner seems more compulsory. Softball just works way too hard to maintain some kind of hetero feminine image--including the preponderance of male head coaches. The very successful Japanese team wasn't sporting make-up. They also have a female head coach who, whether she is gay or not, certainly is not the picture of (western) uber-femininity. Seems to work ok for them

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