By now you’ve probably heard about the documentary “
Tomboy” which looks to elevate the conversation of gender equality in sports. And while I tuned in because I wanted to hear more about how unfair female athletes are treated, I stayed hooked till the credits because of the women in the film. These women have given so much to the world of sports and gotten little in return, little money and respect, they still believe that there will come a time when female athletes are treated the exact same as their male counterparts.
One of the more interesting parts of the documentary was when one of the women was discussing how gender inequality is actually taught to us from birth. She used two great examples, the first being when we are actually born; baby girls are coddled and held when they are upset whereas baby boys are taught to be self reliant by allowing them to cry by themselves. The second example focused on parents with their children on the playground and how when it comes to conquering something they are scared of little girls are told to be cautious while little boys are encouraged and even coached on how to do it.
So really if we are taught to treat girls differently from boys, more delicately than boys, is it really that surprising that female athletes are treated differently than male athletes?
Having spent a summer interning for a professional softball team, I saw firsthand how differently the women were treated than the boys. Sure, they had housing provided for them by the team, but they were paid anything close to a livable wage and most had to have jobs outside of the team. So they were having to split their focus between playing at the highest level to grow a sport/the team’s brand in the area and also give their jobs their fullest attention so they could make money to survive. You don’t see even the lowest paid MLB players having to have side jobs to pay their bills.
If they are competing at the same level, why are they not making the same amount of money? Case in point is Jenny Finch; she is the best softball player ever. She has won countless championships with the Chicago Bandits and Team USA but yet made nowhere near the amount that her male counterpart was.
Yet despite all the disparities and unfairness of treatment, female athletes still continue to fight for equal pay and treatment. Recent examples being the Women’s National Soccer Team, who riding high off their 2015 World Cup win filed a lawsuit against the National Team in order to get equal pay and just this week Team USA Women’s Hockey team has decided not to play until they get a livable wage. To which Team USA has said that they will look to put together an alternate team to complete in the upcoming international tournament.
Hopefully one day, women will not have to fight for equal treatment in sport and it will just be common for both women and men to earn the same wage playing the same sports and that Tomboy will no longer be part of anyone’s vocabulary.