First real hockey game last night. I was so excited I barely slept the night before. Couldn’t wait to get to the rink and out on the ice. Fast forward several hours – Let’s just say I could have done with a little less enthusiasm for what I got in the end. About 7 minutes of play time and a 5-0 loss.
There’s a lot to discuss here for sure. But I’d like to focus on what I perceive as a very female quality, my distinct lack of aggression, and how it shows up at the stupidest times. I’d wonder whether it was nature or nurture, but truth be told, we all know it’s some of each. The amount of space I tend to take up in the world is tiny. I was taught not to take up too much space. More accurately, I was shamed into taking up as little space as possible. At the same time, it is not in my nature. That isn’t to say I’m not loud at a party, or that I don’t love telling stories, being recognized etc. I’m talking about the level of assumed entitlement that seems to be inherent in cis-men. I know, I know, that is a gross generalization and stereotype and someone is going to post a negative comment, blah blah. So be it. That just happens to be my experience. Cis-men take up an awful lot of space and are quite comfortable doing so, actually see it as their right, don’t think twice about it, never even think to question it.
So what does this have to do with me and hockey? Well, I’ve been so psyched about hockey because I’ve been really working on skills, drills and making friends. We get out on the ice, form lines, skate, sweat, laugh and sometimes swear. Out on the ice for an actual game is a different story though. I like a nice cooperative game where everyone plays and has fun. Have I mentioned I’m not getting paid to do this? As far as I know, neither are any of the other players. But you would have never known that last night. It was like playing with a bunch of cismen! We had 10 forwards (myself included in that), which meant 3 lines plus one. Which meant that the same 3 forwards were not playing together every time they went out on the ice. Which was problematic enough. But I was the “odd man out” so to speak. Time and again 3 forwards would rush off the bench and hit the ice. Time and again I was left sitting like a little girl waiting for my turn. Waiting to be told what to do. Instead of taking up the space and assuming the right to my turn, owning the fact that by virtue of wearing the uniform and being a member of the team I am entitled to play time, I defaulted to… well… to…. nothing.
Having kept this as a draft and not publishing it for a week allowed me another opportunity… because I played in my second game. With that small amount of awareness, I was able to do things differently. Neither entitled nor invisible, just assertive enough, intentionally seeking the balance. I played plenty without taking away from anyone else. Cooperative play I think they call it. Sharing. Taking turns. All the things I try so hard to teach our two year old. And apparently it isn’t natural for any of us.
I felt good for having mitigated this one small dragon this one time. Navigated the subtle territories. Vanquished with awareness. And as I walked to my car with two of my teammates, I was figuring out- loud our place in the league given this tie game. Lonnie said to me, “what are you doing? you actually care about that? you’re such a guy! really you are. so competitive, just like the guys. we tied. in my book it is the best of all possible worlds. we all won. no one lost. what could be better?”
Life certainly is a versatile kaleidoscope of permeability.