I’m not an expert on this topic, but the chances are, the United States, through NCAA, has the biggest and most well organized women’s college athletic organization in the world. If this were true (and I bet that it is), you can also assume that the rest of the world isn’t so used to seeing college-age women playing sports as much as in the states.
But anyways, so recently, my friend Raj and I found a soccer field in Paris where a lot of the locals come play on a pick-up basis. We’ve been going pretty frequently to get a bit of exercise in and also to meet new people to practice our French. The French are obsessed with football, so there’s always a good vibe there and a milieu of friendliness. And more recently, our friend Kelsey, who plays on the NYU varsity soccer team, started coming with us. The last time we went, the three of us played in a 5 v 5 tournament in which we had two other French guys on our team, Mark and Rocco. The two of them told Kelsey that they usually don’t see girls around playing soccer so it was cool that 1) she was there and 2) she was easily the best player in the tournament.
Today, Kelsey and I went to get a bit of a jog in and to play around. She showed me a bunch of cool tricks and we played HORSE, in which, of course, she easily beat me. There wasn’t any space on the turf field so we conceded on playing on the smaller, cement field. Then when a goal opened up, we moved to the all-weather, super duper nice turf field on the edge of Paris and started shooting on real goals. As soon as she started shooting, the guys at the other goals (there were 5 others) began to cheer.
Imagine an entire field of grown men cheering because you’re a girl and you’re talented.
I don’t know, but I guess Kelsey was used to it. But me, as a guy, I felt embarrassed for those men. It’s one thing to watch from afar and be like, “wow, she’s good,” but it’s another to cheer. Me, being the only person there with her, felt judged and humiliated. I know that wasn’t their intention, but that’s how it felt. I can’t help but relate this to cat-calling or hitting on someone on the streets. Just mind your own fucking business, okay? I can’t speak from personal experience because I was only a bystander in this entire matter, but I can’t imagine having to deal with that every single day.
I’m sorry, Kelsey, that you had to go through that.
And as for you boys, you’d better straighten up if you want respect in this society. You’ll never turn out to be a gentleman if you keep judging someone for their appearances like that. Instead, you’ll end up in the dumps and I promise you that. Use your heart to do good, and use your mind to help dictate your heart.
Thanks for reading,
Victor T. Paulsen.