Feature from Ivy Sircus - Friday, 25 November 2011 @ 9:00am
Do women spoil men's fun? Ivy SIrcus discusses how she applies her feminism in everyday life.
Feature from EJ Cook - Tuesday, 04 September 2012 @ 4:41pm
Once upon a time, I could go for a half hour jog and do a session of sit-ups every morning and not even break a sweat. I could spend half the day chasing a horse around a paddock and the other half the day perfecting my canter transition. I could climb a rockface and then abseil back down. I could play an hour of squash with precision and not feel a thing in my legs the next day.
Those days are long gone.
That's one of the reasons I signed up for training as a roller derby ref. The best exercise is the kind you do regularly, and it's easier to do something regularly when it's fun. Plus derby training focuses on the areas I most want to work on: legs, abs, coordination, and balance. But it's not the only reason I signed up.
This is the first time I've ever signed up for a team sport. Roller derby is inclusive and supportive, and it's a women's contact sport that fiercely celebrates strength and speed. Although refs in some leagues are male, the league I'm training with understands that it's not always ironically amusing to see a man telling a woman she's doing the wrong thing, so there are plenty of female refs here. There's no one perfect body type for this sport - big bums and tree-trunk thighs are an advantage for blockers, and a pixie frame with speed and agility is an advantage for jammers. But I have never wanted to be a team skater. I'll never be the fastest, strongest, or have the most precision. I don't even want to wear fishnets or hotpants while I skate (although I love dressing up as a spectator). What I am good at is learning systems and rules, being objective and fair, and getting up more times than I fall down. Because the key to succeeding at most things, I have learned, is just to keep trying.
And so I have started basic skate training to hopefully become a referee. I am, without a shadow of a doubt, the worst skater in the training course. But I'm already learning. In our first session, I learned how to fall on my knees and instantly crawl into what looks awfully like a foetal position. I am now highly skilled at falling over. Thankfully, I had invested in some good gear before training, so my knees and elbows are well padded. I went home from my first session thinking that everything is beautiful, and nothing hurt. And because I am so unskilled as a skater, I didn't even have any aches in my legs the next day - I can't yet skate well enough to test my muscles!
I've got a lot of practice to do. But if I just keep doing it, I'm sure I'll get there. In a year or two...
Image taken from Gomisan's Photostream on Flickr under Creative Commons Licence