A big chunk of my life was taken up recently with
a) feeling hurt because of some of the effects of gender segregation in my beloved only-team-sport of Underwater Hockey;
b) venting about that hurt on FB, which to my shock angered some powerful players and resulted in my being told I wasn't welcome to play anymore;
c) becoming the locus of a bunch of heavy conversations about it as a result of my public booting from my team;
d) at the request of several people, writing this huge piece on how and why the sport must desegregate in order to avoid being fucking stupid*
e) getting a bunch more email and having to back away from the topic for a bit, while gaining a whole new appreciation for how hard it must be on various disadvantaged folks to have others shouting questions and demands for explanations and education at them…wow, did I hit a special level of mental exhaustion there;
f) finally figuring out what I wanted to do, and publishing the below, which I now leave here for anyone who's been following this saga and/or is interested in this topic.
*note: this is a technical term now :P
The Deal With Underwater Hockey:
I just started a GIANT new project, so it may take a while, but I've decided that I will go back to #underwaterhockey practice soon. (I will also answer all the emails and messages I owe people, eventually. There are, it feels, about two million.)
TL;DR: I am still planning to avoid all tournaments and events that are segregated. I am ALSO planning on CONTINUING to write about and discuss my thoughts about gender-segregation, here and elsewhere. Some people intimated that if I didn't apologize for what I've said and/or keep my mouth shut in the future (including on FB) about my feelings on segregation, I would not be welcome to play. I don't accept that, and I will not self-censor on something I believe in. If hockey doesn't like it, it can kick me out.
I've come to grips with just going to practices, so I'll be sticking to my guns when it comes to not attending any gender-segregated events (in hockey or elsewhere): This, I think, is kind of the least I can do to show my support for equality and the firmness of my belief in the fucking stupidness of gender segregation as a thing. For that view I will not apologize, and anybody who thinks they can out-argue me is welcome to try. (You might want to train up first; fair warning :))
I will also, as I always have, try to be nice to everyone in hockey, and not ruin anybody's good time — I've never gotten loud about this during a game or anything, and don't plan to — BUT now that I've had time to get over my shock at the multiple suggestions I received that I would "need to apologize" for causing bad feelings in order to come back, OR that I would have to censor myself here or elsewhere concerning my stance on gender segregation if I want to continue to play…no. NO. EFF NO. Ew, yikes, wow, really did we just say that. >,< I'm honestly embarrassed for all of you who took those stances…but I'm willing to let it go if you are. Shit's hard; I get it.
Look, my opinions are valid and well-considered (as I proved, I think, by writing a sensible, detailed, damn-near-publishable paper on them with 48h notice), and it's ZERO PERCENT MY FAULT that hockey has the flaw of being sexist, like so many other sports. If you don't want people complaining that your stuff is dirty, maybe focus more on cleaning it up than silencing the complainers? Eeesh. So yeah — no. There will be no apologies (unless something I said hurt *your* feelings specifically, in which case I'm *totally* sorry and please do come talk to me so I can listen and try to be better), and there will CERTAINLY be no self-censorship. Even if I wasn't about 99% sure I'm in the right, I'd still be opposed to censoring my own personal social media so as not to anger the poor sensitive hockey people. (Though…seriously ya'll…harden up. :P)
I do recognize that, while #UWH is better than other sports in many ways, its community is still composed largely of people (male and female) who are used to either supporting or tolerating segregation, and who may be made uncomfortable by my refusal to do so. (It is this general acceptance of sexism and segregation that kept me out of team sports most of my life.) All I can say is, yeah that sucks; I'm uncomfortable too. Maybe we can figure something out. Maybe we don't have to; maybe you can keep your segregation and I can just play in the practices and avoid tournaments — not great for me, but like I said in my writeup, I'm not a world-class player; I just enjoy playing; so while you're probably hurting *other* women with that view, it's really not much skin off me. I don't like it and it makes me feel really icky sometimes, but those are punches I'm willing to take, I think, at least for a while longer, to be allowed to play a game I love.
But if people want to fight for hockey's right to segregate without being called out on it by players (even on our personal FB pages), then they're going to have to kick me out. Like, actually kick me out; as in, tell me, publicly, that I must leave because my refusal to not talk about gender segregation is a kick-out-able offense in this sport. I'll leave then, and be happy about it, because any game that demands censorship and unquestioning support of its policies as the price of playing can suck my middle finger. …But for now, since so many people have pointed out to me that there's nothing stopping me from going to the co-ed practices, that's precisely what I plan to do — while continuing to argue against gender-segregation, here, and wherever else I choose to exercise my freedom to speak and write, thank you. Those who don't like it are, as always, free to ignore me.
(Be warned though — ignore me TOO well and I'll steal your puck like *whoosh*. :D)