Reflecting on Womens History Month
How We Play the Game
by M.L. Faunce
At the beginning of this new year, Sherry, my friend and neighbor, got married on an island in the Bahamas. The surprise announcement of this unexpected union after a 17-year solid partnership was eclipsed only by the news that she took his name. A feminist by practice and a lawyer by profession, she explained that It just seemed right.
Have women now come full circle? Do we finally feel the freedom to do entirely as we choose not as we have come to be expected, by todays or anyones standards, without explanation or guilt?
Back in the 70s, the unconventional became fair game. The Joy of Sex was selling like hotcakes. Gloria Steinem, feminist founder of Ms magazine, was becoming a womens liberation role model. With the passage of Title IX, young females were for the first time promised a level playing field in education and athletics.
Women were liberated and loving it, leaving Anita Bryant to pander to the unenlightened.
Three decades later, we learn that Annika Sorenstam will play in a professional tournament on the mens PGA tour. With the lowest score ever recorded for a woman in golf, shes up to the task. By taking on the big boys, the golfer who has dominated the womens sport is shaking up the mens. Not in 58 years, since gold-medal Olympian Babe Didrikson, has a woman taken on the men in that sport. But then the amazing Babe excelled at every sport she tried, setting the bar for every female athlete who would follow.
A battle of the sexes? Is Sorenstam stirring the pot in a sport where some clubs still exclude women? Not really, says the reserved Sorenstam. I dont like controversy. Im a Swede. Im always neutral. It wasnt my goal, but its turning into a huge test, she admits. What I really wanted to do is to help the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association).
Not in the news are women like my young friend Allison, who among others her age is deferring marriage to take on personal and professional challenges at home and abroad. Allison is soon to embark as a Peace Corps volunteer in East Timor in Southeast Asia, the first new country of the new millennium.
In this troubled 191st member state of the United Nations, a country where women rarely, if ever, live alone, this young woman says she will assist nascent local governments rebuild health services devastated by long-term Indonesian occupation; educate children; and help reintroduce women to the work force. Her work in this far-flung corner of the world may make her a pioneer, but for her generation shell be doing it the old-fashioned way, with scant phone and computer access.
In family news comes a phone call that my great niece in Hawaii, two tender years old, won a pageant not wearing the standard frilly pageant dress. It only took a smile and a sweet Aloha. Meanwhile, her mom had just completed a marathon, with Marine Corps daddy caring for the toddler while she trained.
If all this news is typical today, its fair to say weve come a long way. Still, thinking about these women and their winning choices, Im struck by the irony of the inscription on Babe Didriksons tombstone: Its not whether you win or lose, its how you play the game.
Actually in life, Babe always said, I dont see any point in playing if I dont win. Do you?