I was asked to write a chapter for the book, Real Talk, Real Women, edited by Miriam Khalladi. Here is the beginning of my chapter
“Bitch, I will break your fucking arm!” is perhaps not the best statement with which to begin an inspirational essay. However, it is a good summary of my attitude when I competed in judo. I always wondered if maybe there was a week during my school years where they got all of the girls in the room and gave them The Rules. You know, the rules, like:
• Your physical appearance will never match up to what it should be.
• It makes a difference what clothes you wear.
• Girls aren’t good at math.
• No man wants a woman who comes home from practice soaking wet with sweat.
• Women can’t be as successful as men in business, because they have children to raise.
• Don’t say anything that might upset people.
If there was a week like that, I must have been out sick with the measles and missed it because all of my life nearly everyone around me has acted as if there was this set of rules.
“Why can’t you be like everybody else?”
“Why can’t you just accept that there are some things you CAN’T do?”
“Why do you always act like the rules don’t apply to you?”
“Just who do you think you are?”
I have heard that mantra all of my life and even though I’m probably the oldest author in this book, I still don’t understand it any better than when I was a child. Fifty years ago, I couldn’t accept that schools had boys’ sports but not girls’ sports. Thirty years ago, I couldn’t accept that women couldn’t be engineers. Today, I can’t accept that grandmothers can’t be CEO of a successful technology start-up, especially not in gaming.