You Throw Like A Girl

What does that mean? Is the throw not far enough, fast enough? Is it exacted with a limp wrist, an unfinished follow through? Whatever it means, I don’t think it is meant to flatter the recipient.


My son played little league. Somewhere in the midst of Landon’s first season I concluded little league is where dads work out their own childhood sports trauma.  Either the bully is shouting insults to whomever he wants to feel bigger than-usually the coach or the umpire but in some cases, his son, or the nerd dad who is desperately yelling batting, throwing, running, sliding, or catching advise so his son won’t be a nerd too. It was disturbing to sit on those bleachers with those dads.


Then there are the coaches. Some coach’s coach for the love of the game and they like kids. Some coaches are dads working out their stuff, but with a coaches hat on. It seemed, however, that both types of coaches yelled, “YOU THROW LIKE A GIRL!” to some unsuspecting boy who had just attempted, but failed, to get the runner out at first base. I countered by yelling, “GOOD TRY!” I don’t think it helped the kid in question.


Perhaps the intention for yelling this statement was to stimulate the secretion of testosterone in the 6,7,8 year old boy, making them tougher so they could throw better. I don’t think it worked. What I noticed was the “throws like a girl” player became a little more tentative in his movements and in the game. He looked to me like he wanted to be smaller. Maybe he did.


As a mom-once a girl-sitting in the stands, with a daughter-at that time, still a girl-I had a reaction to the thrown insult (no pun intended) which was amplified if my son was the object of the coaches idiocy. I looked around the stands at the other moms and dads certain I would see the same outrage on their faces. I didn’t. In some cases I think they were just glad it wasn’t said to their son. I wondered what the young sisters of these players felt when throwing like a girl was used as an insult.


I remember being a junior in a high school gym class. I was walking across the gym toward the locker room in my one piece, blue and white striped jersey gym suit when I over heard Diane Dorms colluding with the “pretty, popular girls” that they should nominate me for homecoming queen. They all laughed. I knew what they meant and it wasn’t kind. I wanted to disappear. That last stretch to the locker room door was forever.


In my sophomore year at the University of Delaware, the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity chose me as their homecoming queen. This put me in U of D’s race for the coronation of their queen. A fraternity brother met up with me as I crossed campus headed to class to tell me the good news.


I immediately referenced my high school gym trauma and believed this was another cruel joke. A repeat of 1975. My self image was based on the belief that the possibility of MEEE being homecoming queen was a laughable impossibility. I told my him how hurt I was, what a mean joke and limped away. I remember the look on his face.


Later, when I saw my picture in the university paper, amongst all the other “pretty, popular girls,” I realized it wasn’t a joke. Now his look of bewilderment made sense. This contradicted my long held belief of myself.


I needed to make a choice. What/who was I going to believe? Who was I going to see when I looked in the mirror? I picked. I decided to let go of the self deprecating messages I referenced to remind me of my place. I practiced (I am still practicing) letting go of my self judgement by gathering new data. I listened to others and believed them when they told me I was attractive.  I decided if I am going to believe someone, I might as well believe the people that say kind words. Right? It’s amazing how difficult that can be to do.


All of this works most of the time. But when I am particularly insecure or vulnerable I feel myself back in that high school locker room getting smaller and smaller. This is when I have to be kind to myself, surround my self with people that love me and assure that 17 year old that there is so much more to her than her looks.


I didn’t win the homecoming queen crown. It was enough to be nominated (not really, I am just saying that).


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