I've mentioned that I've been thinking about derby stuff in the Greater Picture before. I've blathered on here about such musings. Well, here's some more. Some of it is rehash, but some isn't. Enjoy your procrastination...
There has been an internal project that the Dolls have been working on that's included interviewing various skaters as well as filming What We Do when it comes to running a derby league. I think a project like this is long overdue, as I find the Dolls fascinating for so many reasons. Duh. And of course it gets me a-thinkin' about Derby Stuff.
There are still some interesting conceptions and misconceptions about derby girls. The media slant is still on the Superhero aspect: we do one thing by day, and become DERBY GIRLS! by night. Like we need to hide what we do during the day.
Which is sad.
Or, people do find the derby phenomenon so much more interesting than the individual that's involved in it, that all they do is ask about the Derby Girl, and the rest of that person is overwhelmed by her derby life to the extent that she's only known for that. Which is good in some respects, but I think the problem with both of the above is that we're still compartmentalized to a great degree. We're either our Day Persona or our Derby Persona. We just can't...be.
I think that happens to men as well, but I think compartmentalization is more severe for women. The madonna/whore syndrome is alive and well and it keeps the idea that women are interesting people beyond that viewpoint stifled.
I think one of the best things about my Derby Adventure is the aspect of working towards a Common Goal. Instead of a group of people who are purely out for themselves while using derby as a vehicle, they have to join together to make their league work. And the league is more important than the individual in this case.
What I like about all this the most?
It goes against the "I can't deal with other women because they're all backstabbing bitches" excuse that many women merrily spout.
Interesting note: in my personal experience, women don't have a stranglehold on being bitchy. I've seen some self-absorbed egos in the world of my day job. I know it mostly comes from insecurity. I also think it could be mitgated by some extent if said bitches of both male and female variety found that Common Goal in their jobs and other aspects of their lives. It sure cuts down on the drama and bullshit and gets more stuff done. But I might be the minority opinion on that.
For instance: being a director in the Day Job. There was NO WAY IN HELL I would've done it if I hadn't done derby and been the captain of a derby team. I learned something about leadership, diplomacy, and most importantly, when to ask for help. With the director's job, I knew I was in over my head, so I ended up being very upfront when I said that I was overwhelmed, needed instruction on certain aspects of the job, or was actually doing OK. If I hadn't had derby experience, I would've retreated to the World of Insecurity and surely would've screwed up the production I was working on because I would've been too afraid to ask for help.
And therefore would've ended up as That Bitch Who Fucked Everything Up.
Instead, I'm known as That Loudmouth Who Draws Stupid Stuff and Skates Derby.
Then there's the "E" word.
It's very charged. Either people get automatically hooked or automatically repelled when that word is used in conjunction with derby. It's a fave word used by (OMG) feminists, and because feminists (OMG) use that term, it automatically gets lumped in with a crazy fringe element of man-hating bitches who don't shave their armpits and stink of patchouli.
Isn't empowering a really good word for what we're doing? And not in relation to men, but just in relation to ourselves and going beyond what we thought we could do?
I think to me empowerment means that we've been able to face whatever fears this Derby Adventure brings up and come through saying, "Well, that was...interesting. But I learned something from it and now know what I can handle." Whether it's getting a basic skating skill, finding the Perfect Pair of Skates, wearing hotpants for the first time in public, being in a leadership position in the league, giving interviews, coaching, learning the legal ins and outs for renting a space to hold games, trying out for Fresh Meat or the All-Star team, figuring out how to set up the Perfect Bench Coach sheet, creating lineups for games, making the most awesome signs for your favorite skater/team/league, setting up rules to play by, designing team uniforms that utilize function and form, learning how to do a boutcast, unraveling the joys of googledocs to put the training calendar up, starting your own side business that caters to derby, finding the best cross-training regimen for the few days you're not skating at practice, how to run an Executive Committee meeting...doesn't all those big and small things add up to empowerment when you've tried it and hopefully succeeded?
And if so, why would anyone consider that bad?
Related to empowerment...we're an egalitarian elite.
Elite because this small group of women has been working hard to become really good at derby. Egalitarian because it's still the Western Frontier That Hasn't Been Tamed. Anything can still happen. Anyone can still join and be a part of derby. A woman still doesn't need to be a lifelong athlete to become a derby skater. But those that do are willing to share their backgrounds with the rest of us slobs so that we don't hurt ourselves and shorten our derby lives as a result. There isn't a strict type that joins derby as of right now.
And those that discover this world finds a group of women who build each other up, not tear each other down. Again, going back to bucking the stereotype of women not being able to deal with each other. Help, not hurt. What a weird thing to encounter these days, it seems.
And in the end, it comes down to this for me:
Derby is an incredible Love Affair.
How many times have I laughed, cried, been so mad I've wanted to punch a wall, have taken to such exhileration that I thought I'd never come down? Have I ever been as contemplative? As driven? As...successful without being paid?
Derby is a demanding lover. I've given up much of my life for it. Luckily for me, so has the Dear Husband. So now we kinda have a three-way with Derby. Uhm...ewwwwww.
But nothing else has driven me to do more stuff that I wouldn't otherwise do. Except real-life threesomes. Not this girl.
all photos by Stalkerazzi