This weekend, I dragged my family to a Roller Derby Bout. Now this was not just any bout -- this was the Bay Area Derby Girls championship between the San Francisco SheVil Dead and the Richmond Wrecking Belles. I had always wanted to go to one of these, so with a rare free weekend, off we went.
It was awesome.
It was awesome for all of the reasons that you might imagine: the athleticism and bad-assery of the skaters, the love and energy of the fans and the general vibe of this historic American subculture.
What I most loved about the evening -- besides this -- were my daughters' reactions. While the Wrecking Belles eventually won by four points, our family proudly screamed and clapped for our hometown team throughout the bout. As we tried to grasp the rules, follow the action on the rink and dodge the feisty Belles fans shouts of "She cut, she cut!" our family fully joined in with a huge crowd of derby lovers!
My daughters, who are slight of build, were excited to see another group of women who were athletic, tough and exhibiting integrity in competition, and they were thrilled when Trixie Pixie lined up as the SheVil Dead jammer. Trixie Pixie was quick, tough and "skated big" throughout the night. Each time she lined up, our girls screamed, "Go Trixie Pixie! Go Trixie Pixie!" because in her, they saw what they could be -- and are -- though small of stature, they could play oh so big.
While I do not want to over-assess the impact of this event, -- my daughters are indeed formed by the strong women who are in their day-to-day lives -- these public expressions are also important images for my girls to see. In Trixie Pixie and the rest of the skaters, they saw adult women who embodied the many things that we try to teach them about being a strong and secure person in the world. There are so many messages in the world, both subtle and blatant, that tell them that as females, they are somehow "less than" males, that these public crowd-drawing moments of female strength of body, mind and spirit are important for them to experience.
And yes, we will be going back maybe next season... and maybe we'll even know the rules. Go SheVil Dead!
If you want to know more about the championship and a little more about the rules, here is a great recap from Richmond Confidential. You can also follow the Bay Area Derby girls on twitter: @bayareaderbygrl.