Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Rant Against Roller Derby

So I know that people have already kind of debated the whole Roller Derby thing in feminist Blogland, but I just got in a fight with some people about it on a different blog of mine and thought I might as well post my rant here as well in case people are interested.

I went to my first Roller Derby match a few weeks ago and had pretty mixed feelings about the whole experience. So far I'm seeing a two-pronged argument in favor of Roller Derby in some feminist circles:

Point 1: The athleticism and showmanship of the girls on the team and the fact that they're pierced, tattoed, dyed, or alternative looking in some other way makes the sexy part of Roller Derby ok. There's an idea that well, these girls are tough enough and outside the mainstream enough that we shouldn't read their sexuality as falling into the traditional dynamics where women are exploited and used by patriarchy.

Point 2: It's ok for these Roller Derby players to play with their sexuality because sexuality is fun! It's fun to skate around in a mini skirt kicking people's asses! The sexuality is empowering for these girls because they no longer have to be masculine to be athletic, they can also show off their feminine side a.k.a. their tits.

Don't get me wrong, I think there is some validity to these points. Why should you have to look like a man to be perceived as tough and powerful? And surely these women should not be ashamed of their sexuality and their bodies, like the patriarchy has been telling them their whole lives. Roller Derby comes to symbolize a kind of punk-like, self-liberation strategy. I'm taking the roles you've placed on me, twisting them ironically, and shoving them back in your face!

But maybe we should pause for a moment and think of a couple things that most people WOULD consider patently sexist: Cheerleading for one. A lot of the advocates who I see talking about how badass Roller Derby is, think of something like cheerleading as the most terrible sexist thing imaginable. And yet, cheerleading requires a tremendous amount of athleticism and involves a huge amount of danger and physical risk. Further, the costumes cheerleaders wear bear an uncanny resemblence to the Roller Derby costumes that I've seen. Are you going to tell them what they're doing is any less empowering than what Roller Derby women do? Ok so cheerleading is ok. I sense the third wavers nodding.

Well let's push it further: what about Mud Wrestling? You know, the game where a couple of women get semi-nude and roll in the mud duking it out at strip clubs to cheers and yells. I would argue that you can make similar types of arguments in favor of women's Mud Wrestling as you could for Cheerleading or Roller Derby.

Now, I totally get there are huge important differences with these examples. The female bonding that takes place within Roller Derby teams is awesome. The audience at Roller Derby shows is usually pretty evenly gender-distributed, suggesting that it isn't as blatantly sexual as Mud Wrestling is. In a lot of cities the matches are women owned, women operated, and women may or may not be the ones reaping the profits from games. And sure, Cheerleading was naturally founded on women playing a secondary role to the "real" male athletes on the field (Newsflash: Roller Derby didn't have the greatest start in the world either). But I also think the idea of an audience cheering as women in skimpy outfits wearing roller skates try to make each other fall down isn't exactly the most feminist thing I can imagine. I think it's the sort of display you would never see at a men's atheltic event, not just because of the way masculinity is constructed by patriarchy, but because it's degrading and undermines how serious and competitive the players are.

If Roller Derby is really about how awesome the girls are at their sport, then it should REALLY be about that. It should really be about how empowering it is to see women being competitive and athletic and downright bad ass regardless of what they're wearing. Why does "embracing your femininity" in this context turn into wearing sexy clothing? Are there no other ways for women to assert their femininity? And if not, maybe we should reconsider what's so great about femininity in the first place. And if it's primarily about playing with sexual norms and doing some kind of Suicide Girls type performance with a little bit of violence added in for spice, well then I think we should stop pretending it's feminist and empowering.

To take things a bit further, here's the deal: a stripper doing a pole dance very well might be having fun or feeling powerful. Sure. I completely believe that. But what I don't buy is that her taking off her clothes for money is somehow resisting patriarchy because on a broader level the commodification of her sexuality just feeds back into the commodification of women's sexuality in general, whether we collectively volunteer for that or not. I think it trivializes what sexual repression and domination actually means for women on a psychological and sociological level and how sexual violence against women gets excused in the minds of men as business as usual. I continue to see violence against women as a problem with men first and I am not going to go around blaming women in the sex industry or Roller Derby ladies for violence against women. No no no. BUT let's not kid ourselves and pretend that all the ways women "play" with their sexuality are feminist or that when we make an "individual" choice about our own bodies, we aren't effecting other women or reacting to standards set by men.


Blogger Katie said...

BUT let's not kid ourselves and pretend that...when we make an "individual" choice about our own bodies, we aren't affecting other women

I've taken this to heart and made it a strong sentiment in my mind when I wake up & get dressed each morning for work, when I get dressed each evening for swing dancing, etc.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous rowmyboat said...

out of curiosity, what do you make of men's rollerderby? or maybe i'm the only weirdo out there who lives in a place where the women's team has a brother squad?

5:10 PM  
Blogger Chrissy said...

As a feminist who play on a roller derby team, I've struggled with a lot of the issues you present, as I'm sure many other women have. To me, roller derby is, first and foremost, a sport about athleticism, competition and sisterhood. I think it sucks that in many cases, the only way to get the public interested in our sport is by playing up the visual aspects of the game - that is, team uniforms. However, many leagues have addressed this problem. For example, the teams in my league have a combination of colors they're supposed to wear. The rest of the uniform is up to the individual skaters. Some girls where shirts, some where fishnets. Others where t-shirts and baseball pants. Still others wear running shorts and tanktops. It seems to me that often, people who are anti-roller derby for feminist reasons are only looking at the outfits, as if the length of my skirt cancels out everything positive about the sport.

It's my hope that as roller derby continues to grow, we won't need the flashy costumes to draw the crowds. Until then, leagues are just doing what they have to to keep their sport alive.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Christian Feminist said...

Thank you for posting this. And thank you Christine for adding some positive suggestions for the outfits.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does Roller Derby have to have anything to do with feminism at all?

I play derby. In my mind the two things aren't neccessarily related. OK I wear a short skirt (with bike shorts underneath, so it's not like anyone's getting a free show) I actually wear short skirts with bike shorts to practice - not because anyone sees it at all but because it's actually comfortable. Bike shorts = comfy ; little skirt over it = camo for my mommy fat.

Femminism if it's going to be of any use to me (or anyone) should be a lot more concerned with why every interview I go to after being at home with my son for two years acts like I've suddenly lost all my brain cells and need to re-start at entry level and be grateful for it. Or maybe not have my boss chew me out for taking a morning off to attend parent teacher conferences when at the same time my husbands boss gives him a pat on the back for being a commited dad.

I could go on. But let's stick to the actually important issues instead of being sidetracked by skirt lengths and the forbidden idea that some women actually do enjoy being sexy sometimes.

Wasn't the whole idea of femminism that we should be able to do whatever we want to do without being judged?

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feminism is the notion that women are human beings, not that it's a good thing for us to play into our own oppresion. It amazes me how many so-called "feminists" these days have never heard the expression "the personal is political."

Politics is about pattern and context, not about an individual's opinion. You could work as a prostitute and genuinely enjoy the work and your particular set of johns and you will still be propping up the patriarchy because you are acting out the notion that a woman's body is a commodity to be bought and sold.

It's every bit as worthwhile to oppose the way society ignores women's sports unless we're sexy, as it is to oppose employers treating mothers like they have no brain cells. Both are symptoms of the patriarchy. Neither is more important than the other. After all, being an athlete is a job too, and how would you like your employer to require you to dress sexy in order to retain your job? Because athletics isn't the only place this happens.

12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoever said Derby was ever trying to support any kind of feminist fucking ideals?

Feminists are against a lot of fun things, so I'm not really surprised to hear it being picked on here. Derby girls don't care a whole lot about what these feminists think of them though. They only listen to girls who can skate and hit hard.

I suggest you strap on a pair of skates and give it a shot. Then tell me about skating and what you wear. It would be hard to move around in a three piece suit.

What do you think about those little sluts in their leotards doing back flips and suggestive sexual moves on a big masculine pole in gymnastics? Maybe it is ok because they are over the pole, the symbol for male dominance and walking all over it?
Oh and my god have you seen the skimpy outfits that the fucking swim team was wearing? Holy shit what is this world coming too?

Oh, and not all of the girls sexy it up. It's a choice.

Ahhh, my first bout is on Saturday and I'm getting pumped up. I'll just imagine the team I'm playing against are a bunch of whiney feminists.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what really pisses me off is your total neglect of responsibility for YOUR OWN perceptions of female sexuality.
You are buying into it just as much as any beer bellied testosterone junkie boob oggler out there.
You are the one sitting there and judging this as an exploitation of sexuality. Maybe it's just an easy thing to move around in?

Would it be ok if a woman was breastfeeding and showed her tit then?

Would that be ok with you?

Derby is a grass roots team sports organization done by women for women. It's hard for me to believe you are trying to give that any sort of grief.

p.s. Get laid.

4:28 PM  
Blogger lost clown said...

bwahahahaha. I had a comment, but I lost it after the laughfest that followed "get laid." can't. stop. laughing.
*wipes a tear from my eye*
You hairy legged man and sex hating prude!

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, golly. More rollerhate on the blogs. You know, I read what was up on I Blame Patriarchy and one thing that really chaps my ass is how the notion of roller derby being an actual sport isn't considered legitimate unless men are doing it, too. Now that's some kinda Patriarchy if I ever heard it.

I play on a league. I am a card carrying feminist. The T&A factor might get them in the door but it isn't what keeps them there. We work hard and the competition is real.

Unlike earlier incarnations of the game where the teams were all owned by one family (teams which also have traditionaly, since Leo Seltzer's invention of the game in the 1930s, been co-ed) , this one is in fact owned and operated by US, the skaters.

We formed the league, we figured out the training, we raised the funds, we filed the paperwork, we take the tickets.

Also, it is worth noting that through this endeavor many of us have developed serious business savy and marketable skills that we either didn't have before or didn't have as honed.

On a very personal note, it is also worth noting that I was in the middle of leaving an abusive marriage when I came to derby, and the experience has given me more strength and faith in my built-by-me community than I knew I was capable of having. It is also, incidentally, the ONLY arena where I feel safe enough to wear any makeup at all and femme it up a bit.

Any critique of my baby, the Charm City Roller Girls, as somehow anti-feminist is utterly laughable.

Now go fight that good fight for parity for working moms like the above poster suggested. That battle I could actually use some help with.

Lady Quebeaum
Charm City Roller Girls

11:56 PM  
Anonymous brrri said...

i applaud you for keeping up this blog, especially if all of your comments are like those above. admittedly, i didn't really read all of them because anyone whose reaction to an opinion to which they differ is "get laid" doesn't deserve my effort.

but, to Lady Quebeaum:
i know you work hard. i KNOW you do. i've been nurse to many a rookie derby injury. i watched my love turn from marshmallow to powerhouse in less than 3 months. and i know that, theoretically, derby is an amazing and life altering experience for many people. but what happens when the alteration is destructive? how often is it destructive?

here's the scoop:
i have spent the evening trying to research the psychology of roller derby. mainly, why women do it and how it affects their out-of-derby relationships. unfortunately, there are few articles with any credibility on the subject, and the straight up scholarly ones have to be paid for. so i searched regular google, and found you whilst sifting through the masses of garbage the internet has to offer.

here's my story:
last week, my girlfriend of just over a year (relationship infancy, i know) left me after we'd been butting heads about roller derby since she joined the league in the summer. the issues were not that i didn't want her skating around and showing off her tits, it was that the derby persona that she'd adopted as part of the derby show actually started becoming who she was at home. some of the things i loved about her was her intolerance to bullshit and her strong will to do things her own way. but since she started derby, i noticed changes: she became obsessed with derby, staying up all night to view every derby page on the internet; she started shopping like crazy, her new clothes getting tighter and tighter; she stopped sewing, her previous favorite passtime to free up time to go out with her new friends; mostly though, she became arrogant and standoffish to the point where she started losing friends. and me.

she often argued that her derby persona was like being an actor in a play. but that's not what i witnessed of either her or one of our best friends, who also recently split with her girlfriend of ver 3 years for many of the same reasons. this is, of course, the short story.

what is it about derby that turned two of my loved ones into assholes so arrogant that they don't care who they're driving away? what is it that makes someone choose a false persona over a real and loving relationship? binge-drinking and high school-like sexual tension over stability and respect? in a couple of years, when they realize that they don't want to be fake people anymore, what kind of support will they have? will derby toss them aside like they did to their girlfriends?

i'm looking for anything CONSTRUCTIVE anyone's got on the subject.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a skater myself and feminist, I originally wasn't into doing roller derby because I thought the short skirts and punk rock attitude were big turn-offs. I'm more of a 'conservative' derby girl--no tattoos, my natural hair color (or close to it) and no crazy piercings. I'm an elementary school music teacher. I have an image to uphold off the rink that is more important than my image on the rink.

To respond to your comments, I don't really think cheerleading and derby, or mud wrestling and derby should be compared at all. I can honestly say that the majority of girls on the league I play for wear skirts both in practice, where there are no men, and in play because it's quite simply the most comfortable option. You're skating around in a circle nonstop, your knee pads are gigantic and you need to wear clothing that will be appropriate to the sport you're playing as well as comfortable. Derby's punk rock, DIY attitude lends itself to more liberal interpretations of clothing. Additionally, your ass gets sweaty in pants. You don't feel like you have the freedom of movement that you do in a skirt. It also keeps you cooler than wearing pants and keeping your appendages cool in a hot, hot rink can be a great advantage. Mud wrestling, in my opinion, is a bad example to compare to derby. Mud wrestling is not a sport. It is an activity meant for male attention. Of course there will be an attention-grabbing physical appeal to roller derby--girls of all shapes and sizes can be both athletic and sexy at the same time. I find that to be pretty awesome.

A derby persona is just that--a DERBY persona. "Brrri" said that she lost two people to derby and that their attitudes changed dramatically. That shows me that the people she was friends with don't know how to keep a personality "on the rink" and be themselves when they come home. A good derby skater can put herself into a role that she plays for a 60-minute game. Whether it's bad-ass, troublemaker, good girl, the quiet one--whatever--they can build a personality and gain fans and a reputation for her skating ability based on that. She can also go home and be her true self. I leave the rink, take my skates off, go to bed in the evening and wake up as Miss S...", the music teacher that all my students love.

The biggest point I have to make is the experience I've had on the rink. I have had numerous people come up to me after a game, both male and female, and tell me that I kicked ass. They tell me that I hit hard, that I skate fast, that I have a bad attitude on the rink (I'm known for being a troublemaker) and that they'll come out to see me skate again. They don't say my ass looks hot, they don't whistle at me when I skate--they cheer and yell and scream their heads off. They may watch to see me knock a girl over, but they KEEP watching because we have strategy, rilvalry and a true sport. And saying an audience won't watch men in skimpy outfits knocking each other over?? Ever hear of pro wrestling?

Roller derby is an interesting sport, for sure. It's comprised of a wonderful mix of individuals that may not have been friends before derby, but have an unbreakable bond once the skates are laced up. To say that we aren't feminists or aren't 'for the cause' completely negates the fact that this is why we started the leagues altogether.

Philly Rollergirls

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I am sorry that you lost two people. It sounds painful. Having no window into your personal situation makes it unfair to hypothesize.

Honestly? In my personal experience, sometimes empowerment means leaving a relationship. Does it mean turing into an asshole? No. Does it mean ceasing all other endeaors? Again, no. Not sure how much derby had to do with it.

For me it's an appropriate arena for my aggression. It's healthy. Better there than lots of other places I could put it. Frankly, I have so much going on outside of derby that there isn't room for much spillover. I suspect I'm not alone in this.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...That was from me, Quebeaum.

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Sarra said...

Why is it that when people talk about "women enjoying their sexuality" they are usually talking about women enjoying giving *others* an enjoyable sight of their bodies? Is having people look at you and like what they see really what heterosexual women's sexuality is about? Heterosexual men's sexuality generally isn't about being looked at or giving visual pleasure to others.

Sure, taking pleasure in the pleasure of others is wonderful, but I rather doubt that's quite what they are talking about here--no, they are talking about women feeling that they have sexual value (the main type of social value women are allowed to have) because they are sexually desirable to others. And the happiness that comes from feeling valued. The fun and pleasure that comes from having that tiny bit of power.

A more authentic female sexuality would not be all about being looked at!

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our Roller Derby League is Structured as a non-profit organization run by and for the skaters. We take pride in our athleticism, professionalism, and event production standards. In our first season, we have raised thousands of dollars for causes as varied as ovarian cancer to rock and roll camps for girls.
We let each skater determine her own level of “sexuality” when deciding how to dress for the bouts. Sure, each team has a uniform, but skaters are allowed to customize what they wear to fit their own personality. I was actually looking for football style roller derby pants when I stumbled across your blog. I have seen them on a number of all star roller derby girls from Texas, and would like to figure out where to buy them.
We also have a strict policy against individual skaters taking public stances on heated topics so I’ll have to remain anonymous. But I would say that you’re barking up the wrong tree here.
As a woman who has worked for a long time in male-dominated gritty industrial occupations, and who has been frustrated in other attempts to meet interesting like-minded women, roller derby has truly been a godsend.
I now know pharmacists, architects, engineers, corporate business women, moms, car repair people, etc. etc., whom I would never ordinarily have the chance to meet. Now we hang out together, play sports, and drink beer. And yes! Sometimes we even talk about shoes and clothes and relationships! ha !
Roller Derby Rules! Now quit fussing about my skirt, and go put on your skates.

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been a feminist pretty much since infancy - my first memory of being excluded from team sports includes refusing to be a cheerleader in the 2nd grade when the boys wouldn't let me play football.

But I'll be honest with you - I like that Roller Derby is one of the few places where I can wear a miniskirt & not feel like I'm going to be judged or get my butt grabbed.

I am very self-conscious & insecure about my body & I like being able to wear more form-fitting clothes without being ashamed of how I look! I have tattoos, but not visible ones (they're all on my back)& I have long, naturally colored hair.

Derby is actually a career risk for me because if I get hurt, I could get laid off (I work in the construction trades), but I can't give it up because it's really a great release of aggression for me & actually markedly decreases my asshole factor. I am much less of an asshole than I was before derby, because I was so stressed out all the time! Derby has made me more confident, hopefully not more arrogant.

I agree that some of the costumes in derby could be seen as exploitative, & there's definitely some one-upmanship going on in terms of "how short can my skirt get" but there are also girls on our league who wear long skirts or even pants! I honestly don't mind the T & A aspect of derby. We're not strippers, we're athletes. & I think that the camp value associated with derby definitely was a huge part of the draw in joining the sport. & I've played team & individual sports basically my whole life, but never really liked the standard 'jock' persona.

As if those female athletes aren't subjugated to the patriarchy! Often times, more so! How many WNBA teams are women-owned & operated? Tennis banks on the exploitation of the sexuality of women in a much more gross way to me than roller derby.

As if the "straight-laced" male athlete doesn't symbolize patriarchy! More conservative costumes wouldn't make Roller Derby less exploitative, it would just make it less fun. I love the showmanship involved in Derby, & I love the sport. & I don't think that in any way compromises my status as a feminist.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Imogene said...

"You could work as a prostitute and genuinely enjoy the work and your particular set of johns and you will still be propping up the patriarchy because you are acting out the notion that a woman's body is a commodity to be bought and sold"

Uh, aren't women's bodies bought and sold in regular non-sex oriented wage labor? Like picking fruit in the fields, scrubbing floors, etc? All employers use and exploit women's bodies for profit; it isn't unique to the sex industry.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone paid attention to the huge growth of roller derby over the past couple years? There are leagues popping up country-wide. You are unfairly criticizing women nation-wide because you are generalizing Roller Derby based on what you are seeing on myspace, you tube, or in very large towns. Come to Kansas. We skate in t-shirts, shorts, and socks. We work our asses off, we don't show our asses off. We practice like an athletic sports team, we dress like an athletic sports team, and we manage our affairs that way, too. There are leagues out there who are making efforts to earn credit for the sport where credit is due. It's not all fake and fluff.

I absolutely support any woman who puts on a pair of skates and tries this out, no matter what you choose to cover yourself in! It's not your everyday roller skating you did as a pre-teen; roller derby is hard work. Roller Derby has crashes, spills, and sometimes fights. But that's not what we are out there for. There is strategy to the S-P-O-R-T. So, out of respect for us athletes you are trashing because some women choose to play up their 'fancy' in a Bout and dress a bit sexier than others, please do some more research and find some legitimate criticisms of roller derby. I surmise once you've done that, you might not have so much to gripe about.

Top-City Rollergirls
Topeka, KS

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Roller Derby is really about how awesome the girls are at their sport, then it should REALLY be about that. It should really be about how empowering it is to see women being competitive and athletic and downright bad ass regardless of what they're wearing.

That pretty much summarizes the point you're making. So why don't YOU stop worrying about what we're wearing and let us just be our bad ass selves?

-from a rollergirl

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ummm, ever watch volley ball on espn? swimmers wear swim suits. what's the big deal, wrestlers wear little tiny shorts. we can show as much skin as we want, we have to impress people cause we are roller girls (and rollerderby is closest related to wrestling)! i couldn't emagine wearing sweatpants in front of a crowd:( it gets hot skating, just tell me, when you go to the rink to skate and you pass by a heat vent, and want to pass out.
striver, in a new team

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lesbians commodify female sexuality, too. Just because there are some women in the audience doesn't make Roller Derby any less degrading than a strip club. And if the whole thing is women owned and operated, well then, the pimp is a madam. It happens.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Kate the Great said...

It's so frustrating to see people trying to piss in my ear and tell me it's raining (the comments)
You may think it's ok to use T&A to get yourself in the door, but where does that leave everyone else? The same old system is reinforced, and other women who DON'T choose it have to live in it.

I'd argue with every comment that completely insults my intelligence (ie. bodies are sold in every type of labour!) but I'll refrain from doing so.

This entry was awesome and I think you hit the nail on the head.
There's no problem with roller derby, but I take issue with it when they turn a sport that could challenge a great deal of societal norms and make it into a T&Afest. Makes you take the whole thing a lot less seriously..

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

I play for a league about a year old in the South. We have a team tank top, and anything the girls want to wear other than that is their choice, provided their ass is mostly covered when they take a spill. We have teachers, nurses, nursing students, artists, hairstylists, all walks of life, on our team. We donate a portion of all profits to charity.

Some of us are more provocative than others. I, for one, weigh 210 pounds, lots of it muscle, but chunk too, and frankly appreciate the fact that I get to wear something cute when I knock the hell out of somebody. Makes me feel a little less butchy since I'm close to six feet tall on skates.

Roller Derby is not about feminism. We stand for and by ourselves. It's a grassroots movement for women, by women, and I'm sorry about the person who left the comment about their girlfriend turning into an asshole, but you will be who you are, on and off the rink.

Derby changes lives for the better. It's helped me get through a divorce. We had a bout Saturday night, and my 75 year old Southern Baptist grandmother came with my mother, my uppity aunt (God Bless Her) and my Pentecostal no tv watching stepdad. They loved it, and none of them said a word about my fishnets. Why? They know who and what I stand for. The rest of the world can kiss my ass.

Are we alternative women? Yes, most of us, some aren't. Have we lost a player or two because of family members having issues with derby? Yes. Boyfriends and girlfriends get jealous sometimes. There are inter-derby relationships (between refs and skaters) that thrive because they know what's going on. Our head ref is married to one of our jammers, and when we are at practice they are all business.

Basically, I say all this to illustrate that, while I respect your right to your opinion, you don't actually even play Derby. It's a complicated, strenuous sport. The fact that you compared it to mud wrestling shows how little awareness you actually have of it. Trust me, we don't have to wear t-shirts and athletic shorts to be taken seriously. When the whistle blows, and girls start hitting the ground, people know we mean business. The girl who's jaw I supposedly dislocated isn't hurting any less because I was wearing a skirt when I did it. And, yes, it was an accident. It's a rough game.

Siren Arrra
Mobile Roller Derby

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Lord this is new for me. I actually study Feminist theory for a living and have begun a project concerning Derby, though I am not quit sure which aspect I am going to tackle.

I am emotional, I mean Detroit is going to Nationals next week and I have worked myself to the point of near delirium; so gigs up, I play derby too.

With that being said I am both horrified by some of the comments on this blog and incredibly inspired, to the point of blurry eyes while I write this.

I will only talk about my inspiration and weave a few major attributes that I see in derby, I feel that tearing each other apart and making snap comments are very counter productive to elevating our position in society.

My derby hero plays for Philly, and thats what inspired my first point.
Us Women have some heroes in life, but we don't have the same volume of selection as our male counter parts are. I love Dr. Bartky like I'm sure many feminist do, but I after much consideration and academic dispute I must say that I admire Roxy Rocket equally, and feel that what I have learned from watching her is at least as valuable to my life as the writings of Dr. Bartky.

From watching Roxy I learned about competitiveness, indirectly granted. I learned that the judgments of those, who see me not as a lady as I am smashing others to the floor via vicious chest blows (and yes I accidentally dislocated someone's jaw as well), does not affect my personal existence. I have learned to not care what you think, cause I have power in my life for the first time.

And this brings me to my first point of major feminism in action of roller derby.

When I felt that I had earned the right to tell Ms. Rocket that she is my hero I did, and guess what she knew who I was. She knew cause we are all in this together, blood sweat and fartleks. Where else in life do you get to know your heroes and talk to them, learn directly from them and feel an incredible sense of communion? This is a very powerful and moving force in my life. And it's not just one hero, I mean I skate with Racer McchasHer (among Cookie and Honey and...and.. so many amazing women in Detroit) and she is an amazing human being as well as the best jammer I have yet to lay my eyes on in person.

But she's my friend as well as my inspiration, we scream at each other to push harder and then lay in each others laps... for those of you with harsh words about derby, I challenge you to find a type of female communion of this magnitude in other areas of our society.

-Insert, 'well power from a short skirt is a power from an unduly narrowing of options, etc..'
Well to you I say, and as a matter of fact to all those who have commented on the way you dress or the way in which others chose to cloth their bodies, don't try and justify yourself.
Have you ever heard of the Political is the Personal? To try and claim their is but one type of Feminism, and that failure to dress the part of that feminism is failure to conform, is conjecture. And to try and appeal to a theory as authority is the first sin of philosophy.

And lastly, I myself have played against Charm City and I would have to agree that any critique of them as anti-feminist is laughable. But I guess you would only know that through the communion of our sisterhood.

I feel that true knowledge does not come through philosophical conflation of empty facts, it's the ground level, experience, that reveals our feminism on skates.

Detroit Derby Girls

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Mrs. Manners Classic City Roller Girls said...

Can't a girl just skate for the fun of it and for the exercise? Why make it so complicated?

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go here:

This is the national roller derby championship, and these are the two best leagues in the nation, and this is the way all roller derby is developing. I challenge you to look at any of these pictures and identify ONE aspect that plays to any patriarchal stereotypes of women. And if you get into sports being a construct of the patriarchy or some such BS, I challenge you to actually get out and PLAY ONE for a year and then come back to me with your dogmatic, didactic opinions in place.

Look closely at this picture:

These are zapatista women playing basketball in skirts. You wanna talk to them about their complicity with the patriarchy?


Kentucky Dervish
Windy City Rollers

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Strawberry Shortkick said...

I have to apologize; I haven't read all of the comments above - a girl has to get back to work at some point - but I wanted to share a little of my experience here in St. Louis.

I've been a skater with the Arch Rival Roller Girls since we formed in late 2005.

In the early days, I think a big part of the draw was the short-skirt-punk look, but I think a lot of that has changed just in our first two years.

The uniforms have changed, our league's demographic has changed, and the fans' understanding of the strategy and rules of the sport has changed.

Yes, in the early days, the draw was certainly short skirts and sexy girls beating each other up. But when you practice 4 times a week for 3 hours at a time, and when you have people compiling statistics on your plays and tracking your averages, there's not a lot of time to try to look pretty out there. You have to wear what's comfortable. (On uniforms - my team, the Stunt Devils, wears modified volleyball uniforms (with skirts for ease of movement). The other teams in my league either have purchased athletic uniforms or wish they had.)

As we've developed greater intensity in our training and approach to the sport, our fans have followed suit.

Our league's demographic has changed as a result of attracting people from athletic, rather than punkrock, backgrounds. Yoga instructors, former professional cyclists, personal trainers, former national field hockey players, and others have come for the atmosphere and stayed for the workout. Those women have a strong influence on our league - they push the athletic side at practices, in publicity events, and in all of their 'derby' interactions. Maybe some leagues are different, but I can only assume that the many, many leagues who are faster and better than we are - and there are a ton - have to have come to the same conclusion along the way.

In addition, we are lucky enough to have very positive press coverage here in St. Louis. Articles on our league have focused on the development of the sport and the business (a feature article in St. Louis Small Business Monthly tracked our 'best practices' for other business owners to learn from), rather than on the short skirts. We get coverage of our bouts from local TV stations' sports anchors - sometimes broadcasting their weekend sports updates live from our bouts. Our fans come to games with detailed knowledge of players' statistical averages.

I had this debate about whether derby was feminist with my best friend a when I first joined the league. I can't remember which sides we took, but I can tell you that at the time, the women in the league were the same women I remembered from the personal-is-political-d.i.y. hardcore, riot grrl scene of the early 1990's.

Now, two years in, roller derby is at least as feminist as any other sport in which women had to fight for recognition as athletes.

I don't see why we need to be seen as making any statement other than 'we're strong, we're fast, we fight for our team to win.' To me, the very idea of a bunch of grown women training hard, working together on a team, working to help each other through a high-speed, high stakes human obstacle course, is enough of a statement to the fans and media about the power that results when we work together.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

generalizations are ALWAYS flawed and there are always exceptions, so I will not belabor the point that the generalizations here have exceptions.

but i have a few things to say:
1. no one has any right to say anything about the fact that i wear a skirt to practice or a game. screw you.
2. to brii: why does derby itself have to have anything to do with the fact that someone you love got sort of obsessed with it? to mr that only says something about the person you are referring to. i would be $$$ that one one told these skaters that they had to do anything other that show up to practice to be on the league.
3. sports clothing can be worn by the wearer for a combination of looks and performance and i don't give two flying fricks why some skaters wear fishnets or hot pants or whatever. that's none of my business. should we say that women's gymnastics are unfeminist because you can see their butts?

Charm City Rollergirls

9:17 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

PS to brrri - no skater i know is skating around to "show off her tits" and it only shows how your personal resentment at being dumped is seeping into your logic by utilizing such a hateful phrase in relation to a pastime your ex apparently enjoys.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous malicious_d said...

First of all let me say that roller derby is awesome and is a great way to exercise and get out aggression, especially when it's fueled by ignorant people who criticize things they know nothing about.

Any woman out there who is going to be negatively affected by my actions in any situation is weak-willed and undeserving of my respect. Sorry to break it to you, but the girls in roller derby who wear short skirts and fishnets to play a sport choose to wear those things for themselves and only themselves, either because it's comfortable or because they like to look good when all eyes are on them, and we have no reason or desire to play up to any sexual expectations and misconceptions men and you crazy feminists may have of the sport. This is the first time I've ever seen anything against roller derby, and you are the reason stupid people think of the sport as a show designed for male fantasies. Maybe if you got off your ass and on some skates, then tried to play roller derby (as in hitting and getting hit HARD, and playing with some sense of strategy and understanding of the rules) with the badass bitches who respect the sport for what it is, you'd definitely get your punk ass kicked but you might have some respect for the game and the girls who play it. Simpleminded people like you are the reason women still have so far to go. And to think, it's women who are bringing each other down. I've never met anyone who didn't think the idea of roller derby was totally awesome, and I really think you've got a lot of personal issues to work out. Confident women don't give a shit what men or anyone else think about them, and are comfortable enough with themselves to look sexy for themselves because it makes them feel good. Sexy doesn't have to mean promiscuous, or whorish. It is a show of confidence for many girls, and through roller derby I have gained more than I ever thought I could. I know this is probably way at the bottom of a stupid web page that no one will ever see except people like me who search for roller derby strategy and are severely offended by the accusations of someone who is criticizing something she doesn't understand, but I saw this and just had to educate you a little. God this makes me so mad... I have to stop. My advice to you is to go to one real practice with a real roller derby team and see what we do to get where we are in the sport, and see if you still think it's that and not people like you holding women back in our society. Get a life and don't bash what other people do if you don't know what you're talking about.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous malicious_d said...

Whew. Now that I look back on that, when I wrote that I was VERY angry and now that I've cooled off a little, I can see that was sorta mean. I don't mean to belittle your opinion or your right to give one but geez get the right info. Had to get that out. Felt good. Not sorry. Just worded a little strongly, is all.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Swede Hurt said...

I'm from a country where feminism is supposed to have come the furtherest, I love rollerderby, i love the sisterhood, the way I can wear whatever I want to, that any woman any size have a go at it. How your teammates hugs you and say they love you no matter what the lenght on your skirt is. I know I'm one of the girls with the shortest skirts, I love it. I wear tights with a skirt, it is very comfortble to me.
Go take a stab at any sport, but I can say that if men like what they see or women like what they see, they can come up and talk to me. Because ppl that judge after the way you look, are the once that are really taken by patriarchy.

I love my leuge, they have made me a stronger person, a person that don't go to the bars and get drunk to be able to talk to people, it made me belive in myself and that I am valuble as the person I am!

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many wonderful supportive comments from women who actually play roller derby - I had chills running up and down my body as I read the comments. I'm so proud to be part of roller derby. Even though I feel the original post was short-sighted, poorly researched, and far too simplistic philosophically - I'm glad she posted it, because it brought so many women together to leave such great comments.

Roller Derby has changed my life for the better. It enables me to be a powerful competitive player with an amazing league of diverse and intelligent women while retaining some of the individual expression that has been a guiding imperative in my life.

Fuck Penis Envy....

Envy MiYoni # XX
Derby City Roller Girls

1:16 PM  
Blogger Turtle_gurl said...

I was approached today by a member of the local Roller Derby team and asked if I wanted to join. I was excited and flattered. I am going to check it out with the intent of joining. 4 months ago I was 305 pounds and very unfit. I had Gastric bypass surgery, I started lifting weights and exercising vigourously and have gotten more attractitve. I have lost about 90 pounds. I look forward to the exercise, the ego boost and friendship. I can't wait!

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, I've seen a lot of women approach the subject of roller derby much like this blog, and I've got to say I'm very disappointed to think that so many "feminist" ladies out there are only seeing this sport for its shallow OSDA roots. The grass roots revival of roller derby has been a rocky one, but take the time to really look at the sport now and where it is going. I'm a skater with a nationally ranked team in the WFTDA, women's flat track derby association. Our skaters where athletic shorts, tanks, pads, and skates. Some girls where extra layers to prevent rink rash...and NO ONE out there is doing it for the show, fake fights, or up skirt shots to thrill the crowd.

The crowds are plenty thrilled by the sport...a sport that is ABOUT the athletic prowess of the femals who play it. Roller derby is centered in balance, agility, strategy, and core strength...the athletic traits which tend to favor women more so that men athletes. People enjoy that it is fast paced, competitive, and REAL. Nothing about it needs to be showy because the sport itself is interesting enough. So take a second, watch a real bout...learn the sport and respect the skaters for what they do.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Dee Stortion said...

"Are you going to tell them what they're doing is any less empowering than what Roller Derby women do? Ok so cheerleading is ok.

Well let's push it further: what about Mud Wrestling? You know, the game where a couple of women get semi-nude and roll in the mud duking it out at strip clubs to cheers and yells. I would argue that you can make similar types of arguments in favor of women's Mud Wrestling as you could for Cheerleading or Roller Derby."

(Mudwrestling totally disreguarded because it's an event rather than a league of people who mudwrestle all the time and train in the offseason... ridiculous comparasin) Show me one Cheerleading "league" who started their not for profit business on their own, is not part of a larger (usually male owned) corporation, who is it's own DIY, PARTICIPANT (not coach or school) OWNED and OPERATED, self-tax paying, self-promoting, charity fundraising entity who on top of all of those things gathers sponsors, does their own PR, manages to figure out their own liability and skater insurance, recruits for it self, puts together events (bouts, scrimmages, practices, fundraisers, promo), find entertainment for halftime, Trains on it's own without much help outside their participants, on top of the "training and danger" you aforementioned...

... and I will then agree with you wholeheartedly that this cheerleading league is as empowering to women as Roller Derby... but since every derby league across the country started and run their entire business on their own EVERY Derby League will agree it's pretty empowering to the women without any dispute (and yes... men's league's too!) and fortunately for us, one person's opinion about "our outfits" being not under feminist protocol, has nothing to do with that.


9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who said we had to wear skirts?

There are plenty of outfits that don't require my ass to be shown. So that's not even a valid arguement. As far as "wearing skimpy skirts and making others fall down", that's got to be the stupidest goddamn shit I've heard yet.

But of course, who cares. This is the internet, someone may or may not agree with me, and chances are none of us will ever meet in person. So I'm done talking about this lame shit.

Back to politics.


12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Life's too short to analyze things to the core..jst let b what will b..if it makes u happy then go with it. Tking the time to rant will leave no impression..who cares..

7:46 AM  
Blogger jumponjen said...

i derby. dont knock it till u try it. chicka u apparently dont have anything else to do with ur self, put on some skates, i am sure there r alot of derby girls out there uv already pissed off thanks to u they will have a great bout or practice! oh yeah....cheerleading is 1 of the most dangerous sport out there, no protective gear at least we wear protection! i would never let my daughter be a cheerleader, i would rather her derby any day. dont ever compare pole dancers or mud wrestling to derby...derby is a sport! so keep ur feminist bullshit to ur 2 see u on the track );)

11:06 AM  
Blogger jumponjen said...

oh yeah womens derby has brought alot of shy women and women who maybe never played a sport in school because they were too big or not pretty enough or whatever..i am saying this in a great way because i have a little extra poundage and i have soo many friends and my ass can knock yours into the fans.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think roller derby is the only use in the world for fishnets. They aren't as hot as tights, but still allow less friction (and friction-burn!) when executing a baseball slide across concrete.

Ditto on the extra poundage too. I mean, it was really either derby or yoga, everywhere else is Judgemental with a capital "J". You ever try going to a gym weighing 200+ lb? Not only does everything flop around when running (no matter how many bras I wear), people stare as well. Not fun. Plus, the team aspect of derby keeps me engaged, something yoga and other "non-floppy" activities can't really do.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous WonderousWomanRetreat said...

Dear Vicky,

Consider to join us for A Wonderous Woman Retreat
on August 13,14,and 15

The Wonderous Woman retreat program leads and encourages every woman to connect to all facets of her purpose and value. Our approach is to create experiential retreats in beautiful venues where you can connect to your mind, body and spirit.

It's easy to take care of everyone else in our lives,
but we tend to forget about ourselves.

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of the clothing worn in derby is all functional. For example, when skating I wear tights to whisk the sweat away from my body and so I dont get terrible rink rash! I wear short shorts or skirts because they're easy to move in. And its is a little about being sexy but these sexy clothes also serve a purpose!

3:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just going to add my two cents here... I didn't read all of the comments, so sorry if I'm repeating something.

This commentary of roller derby is completely written from a heteronormative viewpoint. I'm just guessing here, but you're probably straight. No objections here, but you should probably know that roller derby is about the gayest women's sport. Ever. Yes, gayer then softball. So, to assume that any "traditional' representations of women's sexuality are being performed for the enjoyment of men would be, for the most part, very inaccurate.

I think it's also very inaccurate to generalize your experience of going to one roller derby 'match' (it's a bout, by the way) to every single league in the nation (or world for that matter) is annoyingly anti-feminist and downright sexist. These athletes construct their gender identity in a variety genderfucking ways, and honestly don't give a fuck what the audience thinks. In fact, the same applies for the crowd. Roller derby is about the only sport I can think of that is queer-friendly, not to mention trans-friendly.

It's really unfortunate that our patriarchal society has made you afraid of your body, and afraid how others will perceive your gender. This commentary shows how patriarchy has turned women against each other.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Megan Arthur said...

I'm fairly new to Derby, but I can honestly say it has changed my life. And I think it has changed me for the better. I suppose that some people might say I'm turning into an asshole, but really derby, and my derby persona, have given me the confidence to say the things I really feel. If Megan doesn't have the guts to deal with a challenging situation at work or school or home, Junk does. I feel bad for the derby widow(er)s, but I am not sure you can say that derby MADE your exes into anything. For the women I have seen in derby, the sport has given them the mojo to be themselves fully. Perhaps you never fully knew your partner - and didn't like them when they became who they are.

And as for the outfits, I LIKE being able to feel sexy without having to give up my toughness. I'm pretty butch in most cases, but in derby I can be hot, and kick butt. And incidentally, most leagues will let you wear whatever you want on your a** - skirts, derby skinz, gym shorts. It's a matter of comfort more than anything. Have any of the people bitching about the costumes ever tried to skate in baggy pants? Hello chaffed thighs and sweaty cheeks! Plus, you're more likely to get tangled up and fall wrong and give yourself a huge Giner Shiner - not a badge of feminism I want to wear.

Articles like this are really the reason I refuse to call myself a feminist. Aren't there more important arenas of equality that we can fight for women in? Women in roller derby are ADULTS who CHOOSE to play the SPORT, and CHOOSE to wear what THEY WANT to play in. They also choose to own their leagues and run them and promote them and form bonds with other leagues and women everywhere. What part of this is "propping up the Patriarchy"???

Junk Drawer
Rollergirls of Central Kentucky (ROCK).

3:26 PM  
Anonymous BB said...

Please tell me the real link between Mud wrestling, pole stripping, and Roller Derby. Oh, wait, you can't, because you made it up in your own head.
You obviously have not been to or seen many Roller Derby bouts, because ALOT, and I do mean alot, of women wear just gym shorts and t-shirts, or leggings and shirts. Nothing sexy bout that! Baggy clothing is NOT a good idea while playing Derby. And, not every woman on a Roller Derby team is tattooed or pierced, or flashes cleavage, as you implied.
MOST of the women I play derby with are regular, average women, that enjoy being a part of a woman-centric sport (woman-owned, ran, coached, etc) and part of an incredible support group, where women DO NOT tear each other down, but hold one another up regardless of our differences.
It seems to me that you watched one or two movies and based your blog on those. Shame on you for not doing your homework and digging into what derby is really about.

Now, shut your effin mouth, you jealous, petty little girl!

7:28 PM  
Blogger jumponjen said...

i totally agree with the no sexy stuff (i personally kick ass!!!!)and names are no needed jumponjen FBXRG

8:00 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

i hate labels in all realms, but i really hate the stigma with being a feminist, as though i'm supposed to wear man clothes and scratch my crotch to avoid anyone knowing i'm a woman only to say that being a woman is oppressive. i'm not oppressed, no one dresses me in the morning and i wake up sexy, ready to knock bitches down. and those women, they aren't oppressed. i have never been a part of anything so female DIY and for anyone to insinuate someone is making us do it is belittling to the sport. it's funny that they don't want us to dress the part unless they (women) pick what we wear. how oppressing. perhaps if we go in amish garb and barely tap one another it will be okay...ofcourse there will always be a guy out there into that fetish. so we're damned i guess. we are atletes. we train vigorously. and there are actual women out there that don't want us to. brilliant 'feminist' contradictions. i'm just glad they're not on my team

9:38 AM  
Blogger Kassandra said...

The funny thing is, If i were to wear a BURKA to play derby, or even just fully clothed head to toe, you'd say the following:

"Wow. Men have oppressed us SO much that we cant even reveal that we are PHYSICALLY WOMEN just to play a sport we love. Roller derby girls are now wearing men's clothes because they have been forced to be ashamed of their sexuality. Why cant they just be who they are? etc etc so on and so on..." ...the arguements could come from any side! Wheres the happy median in this issue? There would never be one!

My crappy 2 cents: ITS ALL PERCEPTION BASED.

What we should all do, is be PROUD that we can go out and do whatever the hell we want! If it makes you HAPPY, DO IT! Screw everything else. THATS what being a PERSON is about. Thats what shedding normal sociological beliefs is. Throwing everything thats "set up" for you OUT and doing what makes YOU balanced for YOU, doing what brings you mental health & peace. It doesnt single out women or men or trans or Homosexual or heterosexual or ANYTHING.

BE WHO YOU WANT TO BE. If your comfortable with who you are, and your perception of YOUR life is a good one, then be my guest! We get into trouble only when we do things that dont make us happy because societal standards have required us to do so.

Im a HUMAN. I am proud of myself emotionally/mentally. I am also completely comfortable with my body and ALL of its parts. And thats what counts. Not what Joe Douchebag-womaizer thinks or Ms you-can-never-do-anything-right femenist believes.

I play derby. It makes me happy. I dont care if someone else thinks its for the wrong reasons because IM HAPPY AND HEALTHY & I support everyone else to do the same damn thing.

This cycle of "wear this dont wear that" will continue until we stop playing the ol' "Men's game." Why argue amongst ourselves about how to represent our bodies? Thats exactly what we are trying to get rid of is it not? All you can ask is that each person can be mentally and emotionally happy with what they got goin on.

Fuck everything else. Freedom to do what you want is a HUMAN right. I chose to not be oppressed because im trying to rebel against oppresion. If oppression begats oppression, YOUR STILL OPPRESSED. Period. We should do awawy with femenism and start practicing HUMANISM. Reminding ourselves that we have to be this and that or this to be empowering to our gender only extenuates our issue. Its like promoting non-racism when we have nothing but scholarships for people just because they are hispanic or black or whatever. It gets us NO WHERE but in a different boat on the same crappy path...

Support women, AND PEOPLE, to do what they want. Thats real sisterhood.

~Franky Bones, DyDD of Tacoma, WA
Tank top wearing, D-cup totin DERBY GIRL AND HUMAN EFFING BEING who wears whatever the hell makes her happy.


11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like the whole notion of taking the sex out of/ away from women as the only means of fighting patriarchy is absurd. a woman should be able to kick ass in a miniskirt and fishnets or what ever else she wants to wear without men expecting sex or feminists expecting an apology.

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to feel fat, too tall, ugly and awkward. Now I feel tall, strong, and healthier. I'm still big, but that's actually *valued* in a derby skater. I used to be unemployable and socially isolated, very much due to single-parenting an autistic child. Now I'm building my own business, living with my supportive and loving partner. My child is benefiting from having a saner Mum and a decent male role-model for once.

My child still has autism... Roller derby can't fix everything. But the strength my involvement in my league has given me has allowed me to stop barely coping and start living.
Hear that? MY LEAGUE. I belong there.

Pee-ess - I tried skating in a knee-length skirt... Doesn't work for derby. My wheels got all caught up in the hem when recovering from a fall. So I made a shorter skirt, and many more shorter skirts. Practicality won. Get over it.

1:06 AM  
Blogger HIghlander said...

To be honest, I'm really tired of being told what I should be wearing, by men and women who think they have the moral highground just because they slap the label 'feminist' on themselves. You don't have that moral highground, nor do you have the right to tell me that I should make my choices based on what you think is the right thing to do, because my choices impact on other women.

1:24 AM  
Blogger Mo said...

Ok. Firstly, as a feminist and roller derby player, I hope you won't take the anti feminist sentiments on the comments thread as representative of roller derby as a whole. But then, it seems naive to me to take any kind of political statement, aesthetic or 'type of woman' as representative of a sport which brings together women (and men!) from all walks of life, ages, sizes, shapes, ethnicities, sexualities and political orientations.

All derby girls are NOT just tattooed Barbie dolls or Suicide Girls who want an excuse to show some ass. There might be some who lean towards that in some ways, but who are you to judge them? As a feminist, I am constantly pissed off with being scrutinised and judged by the world. Derby allows me freedom from that. I don't shave my body hair, and my team mates support me. I often choose to wear hotpants to practice and nobody sexualises me. Sometimes I wear make up to practice, sometimes not, and surprise surprise, nobody bats an eyelid. Wish I could say the same for those who make assumptions about why I am wearing hot pants... I'm not gonna justify my reasons to you, suffice to say they've nothing to do with sex or being seen as 'hot'.

I don't think you *get* roller derby enough to be so opinionated about it to be honest. It is NOT about 'playing with sexuality', that is an incidental choice that some people make. It is NOT about different presentations of femininity. It is a sport, first and foremost and does not rely on the 'showmanship' (showwomanship?) and aesthetics to give it currency. It allows women to be more assertive, aggressive and physically active than is considered normal in most societies. It demands that women take up space, unlike efforts to force us into being slim and deferential in popular culture. It allows us to use our bodies as weapons. We are not 'knocking each other over' out of some kind of fucked up woman hating within us! On my team, we LOVE each other so much you wouldn't begin to understand. I have never met such an inspiring, beautiful (not just in the physical sense) group of women. Sure, we play a contact sport, but not with the intention to hurt each other. And derby isn't just about hitting, it's a highly tactical game.

I've struggled with the sexualisation thing within derby, but as I've become more immersed in it, I've realised there is more to this issue than meets the eye. So do your homework please.

Finally, if you've ever smelled sweaty derby pads after a game, you'll understand that it's not all about being sexy!

4:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Im from Ontario, Canada - Woman are allowed to walk around topless - SHOWING THEIR TITS if they choose too -- just like men can go topless.

2. I used to also figure skate - would it be acceptable for derby girls to wear figure skating outfits - would it then be acceptable??? My last figure skating outfit was backless and trust me when you jump or spin that skirt comes up and what do you find - not booty shorts or boy briefs but normal panties - which shows more than these roller derby girls wear.....also - at least their fishnets cover some of their legs - normal pantiehose (which figure skaters wear) show ALOT more leg --- BUT I bet it would then be "Acceptable"

Feminisim shouldn't be about woman who obviously need to get some and are obviously strung so tight they have to bitch and complain about what a women CHOOSES to wear herself, but rather that WOMAN can do what they want when they want, wear what they want, etc. without MEN OR WOMAN bitching about it...kinda like men can do..

ALSO - as a woman, I am sorry, but comeon - you don't look at a man in uniform or those tight tight baseball pants and think oh yah, i'd love to do that!!!! GET REAL AND GET LAID!!!

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Daisy Disease said...

Uh I kind of love this blog.

I am a derby skater and a feminist (whatdaya know?!) and pretty much spend my entire waking day thinking, talking and writing about these issues.

Derby and feminism both rock hard because they provide spaces for women to be valued according to what they DO rather than what you look like as per usual.

Anyway, obviously this is really old and no one will probably read this but I'm doing my PhD on derby and femininity and I have to do a presentation tomorrow and I am going to use some quotes from this blog, if anyone would like to see the presentation drop a line to yey!

Um it will basically be saying that using concepts like femininity to understand roller derby is somewhat irrelevant.


Daisy Disese

5:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

..getting down to the bones of it..roller derby is a sport. The point of civil rights is that we are free to live how we see fit in within our own beliefs as long as they are not infringing on the lives of others. IF a person wants to dress provocatively (man or woman) then they have that right. It doesn't mean you or I have to like or take our children to see it. I did not start derby to wear sexy clothes..I could care less what I wear..just as long as I can skate and am comfortable..I started derby for the fitness factor, competition, and learning something new in an atmosphere of acceptablility with other women who share my interest. If we are stuck on what we as women or men are wearing..then what have we accomplished at all? I am not involved in derby to make a statement about my ego...I am involved because it can be a healthy way to stay fit and have fun doing it. I am a human being not an is unfortune that society can and will objectify me in some form. Men will always look upon women in a sexual is a fact of science. I don't care if you are wearing a potato sack or a corset...they will think a sexual thought every couple of seconds. That can not be changed. We can only control ourselves.

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Germaine Leer said...

"the idea of an audience cheering as women in skimpy outfits wearing roller skates try to make each other fall down isn't exactly the most feminist thing I can imagine"

I get the feeling you don't actually PLAY the spot, and think if you actually tried you may have a different view on the sport.

Roller derby is played by highly trained athletes who have awesome tactical skills and awareness. The point is NOT to make someone fall. For the jammer it is to get round the track as fast and unhindered as possible; for the blockers to aid their jammer by distracting other players and using their muscle and mind to do so.

It's DIY, female run and owned and as with any large group of people,people vary in their outlooks and background which includes dress on the track.

And, as a feminist and a roller derby player, I do believe that that is their choice to do so, and
surely, my love, feminism is all about informed choice?

5:11 AM  
Blogger Martha said...

I can't even begin to explain how angry it makes me when people say Derby is anti-feminist. The very fact that you're questioning the outfits shows that you're thinking of it from a man's point of view. When I dress up for practice do you think it even crosses my mind what anyone else thinks? It is ZERO to do with sex & all to do with having fun & working out.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Martha said...

Right, having calmed down I've now thought of a better way of saying what I'm trying to say....

Derby girls are not pandering to the patriarchy by wearing short skirts. It's your erroneous view that is the problem - in implying we might be degrading ourselves it is actually YOU who are pandering to the male pov! Bodies are created naked. Sexiness, perversion, degradation are all in the eye of the beholder. Is a little girl sexy because she walks around naked? If someone, male or otherwise, were to imply she was then people would immediately take the (quite correct) stance that that person was a pervert, yet somehow because we have fully developed women's bodies that men desire, it is our fault if men view us as sex objects. That's the most anti-feminist thing I've ever heard!

Some radical feminists (including you IMO) make the mistake of looking at women through their simplistic & stereotypical view of men's eyes. Feminism is about recognising that men are perfectly sane & rational human beings. They are in control of themselves & they are not idiots. Give them some credit! Just because we chose to dress in outlandish & revealing costumes does not mean they can't see past that - don't treat them like morons!

As someone very adroitly said above - ever heard of wrestling! Yep that's right - men in skimpy outfits throwing each other about. A large dose of theatricality & showing off - not a 'serious' sport in conventional outfits, but is the crowd full of women drooling over them? No! They are recognised as the sportsmen & entertainers that they are. By suggesting Derby is anti-feminist you are simply widening the gap & doing us a disservice.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that men cannot tell the difference. Don't lower yourself to the level of a hysterical woman, seeing patriarchy lurking in every corner. And don't demean the efforts of empowered women who chose to get up & do something they want to without apologising to anyone, by sitting on the internet abusing them for wearing a short skirt while they do it.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vicky Vengeance would prefer female athletes to wear burquas, apparently.

the derby girls i know would rip your arms off for comparing them to strippers. and i for one would pay to see that, no matter what they wear.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i play on a derby team in new york, and not all the uniforms are like that and as for comfort hell yeah i would rather wear fishnets and shorts their fucking comfortable, he sport is about working together and having fun and thats what we do, so until you have actually put some skates on and played the sport SHUT THE FUCK UP U FUCKING DOOCH!!!!!! KC #111

12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crack says put sum skates on do what we do and than talk shit, but until than FUCK U and ur blog!!!

I skate because i love it and my Skanky derby sisters, and u know what i was also a cheerleader, CAPTAIN at that. But i would love to get you on a track to butt check the shit out of you,,,your so asking for a hammer and nail!!!!!

12:40 AM  
Blogger Gigi said...

I have to say, I find it utterly amazing how you were able to form a opinion with out doing any research first.
May i ask what is a Vicky Vengeance is that on your birth Certificate or a catchy name to attract attention? ( Glass House , Stones?).Every Damm Sports Team Does what it has to , To keep it going, and for the Uniforms, its clear you have never tried to skate
and manuver yourself, Less Clothes = Ease of movement. Could you imagine a swim race wearing jeans and a sweatshirt in the water. Why do people love to just run their mouths when they have no clue what the hell they are talking about. Roller Derby is as real as it gets when it comes to sports. I bet if you took the some time to analyze some statistics,instead of running your mouth while clueless . You would have seen this is a real sport. run and organized by the players, no fancy managers and agents to kiss are asses, so we wont whine like babies. no clean up crew we set up and break it down, every aspect to running a Sports Team from A to Z is done by the players You cant get any more real then that. All that is done on top of our Jobs (Teachers, Officers,Business Owners, Nurses, Management,) our family's and every other task to be done in our every day lives. How many athletes do you know who can do all that?
.The Women and Men (Gender Neutral Sport). Why would you even comment about someone's sexuality , what the hell does that have to do with it being a real sport or not? It is so stereo typical for people to believe that a sport is just a staged lesbian show because women play it. God forbid you might take into account that they are real athletes, that would be to much for all the Gherkin sized penis, raisin Balled Homophobic's out there . So Please Before you comment again on anything do a little research, then tell us what your Opinion is I would love to hear it. Check Out
Love, Piece & Derby, Gigi
Married, 3 Kids, and loving Derby.
You Might want to Consider a Sex Life, You have way too much time on your hands, use them for something else.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to see so many sisters posting here <3

I am a senior member from a team of 4 years. I've seen and heard it fucking all. I usally am VERY interested in hearing what people new to the sport of Derby have to say, but ONLY when they have sat on the suicide track, beer in hand and had a 200 lb back block fall in their lap. To experience a bout, imo, you need to be this close. Stupid assholes who write blogs on things they didn't do their homework on MAKE ME SICK! I don't mean strap skates on because you probably suck. Quit worrying about my fishnets and bootyshorts,they're comfortable and I wasn't thinking of YOU when I put them on.

Much Derby LOVE to all my sisters far and wide <3<3<3

Emma Peelout
Black-n-Bluegrass Rollergirls

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Scrappy Mae said...

First of all I don't know how old this is because I stumbled across it while I was looking up strategies for our roller derby leagues first bout.

The first thing I want to address is what we wear! At my first practice I wore basic shorts and a tee shirt, just like I would have to softball. when I left 3 hours later my legs where scraped and bleeding and I was sweaty as hell. The reason women where tights or fishnets is to protect there legs from just that. we where skirts and shorts over those because, Have you ever tried speed skating it pants? doesn't well does it, and we wear light shirts or tank tops because it is a work out and we sweat a lot! Just like any women at a gym might wear.

Now another part of this I was would like to address is the part where you talk a bunch of women just trying to knock each other down on skates. i didn't read any further then that. Roller Derby is more then a bunch of women trying to knock each other down that's like saying football is about a bunch of mean just trying to knock each other down. roller derby takes strategy and lots and lots of athleticism. ( one girl on our team lost 80lbs in 6 months) The goal is to get your jammier thou the pack as many times as possible to score... to put it loosely, pack is trying to get there jammer thou while blocking the other jammer. and so all this in 2 min. just like the goal in football is to get a touch down and the other team is trying to block them from doing that. There is a goal in roller derby where there is no goal in cheer leading except to pump up the crowd. and I'm not putting down cheerleader because I was a peewee cheer leader.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just started roller derby 3 months ago and I am five foot tall and weigh 190 pounds.(already lost tons of weight) Whatever I wear to derby.(tights, little shorts)It's not about being sexy. It's about wearing the appropriate clothing so I can skate, do my knee slides and whatever else. If I had a baggy pair of pants on I couldn't do that. I don't think many people will think I'm sexy when I play. But when I do. I'm going to do a good job. Our team is not focused on just being sexy. We have team members of all kinds of ages and all kinds of sizes. We have girls that I'm sure people would love to see in skimpy oufits but our coach and captain won't allow it. When we play our games we dress in PG-13 outfits. We look good, but we are athleates first. I know we are not the only team that have this philosophy. We know alot of decent teams all over. The game is first. And the fact that it is played by beautiful women is just great side effect. The sisterhood of derby is great. Roller derby rocks! And I just started!!!

3:02 AM  
Anonymous Kal said...

because women don't objectify male athletes at all...

Seriously is it sexist when women compare and contrast the physical assets of male athletes?

I went to rollerderby matches because an exgrlfirned was doing it, and yes it was fun to see people having fun handing out some rightous violence.

Sounds weird, maybe its because y sport of choice is battle reenactment and I know that a certain percentage of our audience come to watch pretty, long haired men in armour commit acts of mayhem upon each other.

Feminism has been the war banner, but the war is over. It is time to actually live in peace and equality as humanists.

Incidently, while I don't condone violence against women I would just like to point out that pretty much every Domestic Violence study has concluded the protaginist is as likely to be female as male.

1:07 PM  
Blogger gunga's din said...

I am an old feminist ( for 42 years) and I am absolutley thrilled to see my daughter kick ass in roller derby.

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roller derby is a sport. We don't go out there to dress up in cute outfits and knock each other down. We're competing and trying to win the damn game. I played high school sports and I see no difference in roller derby than volleyball, basketball or softball that I used to play. We don't hit each other so the crowd will cheer, we are either trying to stop their jammer or protect our own jammer. As for the clothing, I wear leggings to skate in because they protect my skin from rink rash and don't bind under my knee pads. I choose to wear shorts over them or a skirt out of modesty. i don't want to show every detail of my butt or have a camel toe situation. In my league we wear tights with shorts over them and tank tops on the top. I don't see how that's revealing or sexy. Every sport has its aesthetic. What about tennis skirts and running shorts?

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Hannah said...

Yeah roller derby isn't the most feminist thing in the world. Want to see true feminism in sport then women's curling is where it's at.

12:47 PM  
Blogger nocklebeast said...

Not sure why folks are against cheerleading either...

I actually know of one non-profit cheerleading org:

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Crossbone said...

As a freshmeat roller derby player, I have to say that I was offended by the idea that all we really do is skate around in skimpy little outfits and perpetuate violence against women and further the sexual sterotypes of the patriarchy! Most of the dergy girls that I know actually don't wear anything that I would consider slutty, and the ones that do only do it for their derby personas and not in their day to day life. I personally dress in smaller things than I would normally do because I can actually manuever a little better on the track and because I'm not burning up all the time. You try wearing knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, a helmet, tights to keep your legs from getting rink rash (or road rash for those of us who practice/play on concrete), thick socks and skates and skating your heart out for 2 hours, then come back and tell me how much more clothing you want to wear. Especially considering the warehouse we practice in isn't air conditioned!! The truth is the sexuality of the game is a player's choice! I see girls play in basketball shorts and tee shirts and I've seen girls in a skirt no bigger than a band-aid. So I guess if you don't like it, stop going to derby! But I suggest you see it for a sport, and stop looking at what we wear! You judge it too, good looking out for your sisters!
Crossbone Sally
The Mississippi Brawl Stars

5:35 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I'm a mother, wife, teacher, friend, sister...I'm also a derby girl!!
I train with my team three days a week, eight to ten months out of the year. I also work out three days a week on my own time, and take my kids to the skating rink twice a week. Six days out of the week is spent training and working out.
I have drive, dedication, ambition..
I am so proud to be apart of something that has made so many women stronger, has brought so many diverse women together to share one thing in common - derby!
Nike advertises using basketball, track & field, jumping rope & GUESS WHAT..they use derby!! Why would Nike do this?? Is it because we are degrading women?!?! No, I think not!!
If statements need to be made on a subject such as this, maybe more time should be spent on research. Instead of attending one or two bouts, listening to chatter about short skirts and tattoos...maybe you should check out a practice, speak to a captain and/or coach, maybe put on some skates and try it for yourself. Bet you wouldn't be bitchin about skirts and tattoos. :)
Derby Luv!!
#212 degrees F
Rayna OutRAGE

12:51 AM  
Blogger PBJ said...

Who the eff cares? It's just a blog. I've been playing/training/announcing derby since 2005 and I love it... some random feminist (with a chip on her shoulder - jealous maybe? *shrug* Don't hate me 'cuz you ain't me!) hatin' on a blog makes no diff to me what-so-ever. Opinions are like a$$holes... everybody's got one.

Shut up and SKATE!

8:05 AM  
Blogger c.gladu said...

Another view, another blog... from a player's perspective.

And oh-boy has the sport changed since 2006!

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolute love what Martha said:

"Is a little girl sexy because she walks around naked? If someone, male or otherwise, were to imply she was then people would immediately take the (quite correct) stance that that person was a pervert, yet somehow because we have fully developed women's bodies that men desire, it is our fault if men view us as sex objects. That's the most anti-feminist thing I've ever heard!"

I had been thinking that the entire time I was reading this blog. Even back when I read the bible before I changed my religous views, I always wondered why it was women's fault that men find us so sexy. So we have to cover up because men can't help themselves? I do like to dress sexy, but not because of the looks I get, it's because I like what I see in the mirror.

And for the record I have never played Roller Derby (although I am dying to give it a shot) but I have no idea how someone could call these women anti-feminist when they are exactly the opposite. They form friendships, support each other, and are tough, honorable women and I would be ecstatic to consider myself one!

Feminism shouldn't be about what another woman wears, it should be about supporting women no matter what.

I know this post is really old, but I wanted to put my opinion anyway.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former roller derby participant, I TOTALLY AGREE with this. However, the whole unification of women is a joke. Derby girls are catty and two faced. They want to make everyone think they are working together, blah blah blah, but they are the most two faced, back stabbing women I have ever met. They really do give women a bad name. The after parties were drug laced, anonymous sex shindigs you would ever see. Roller Derby today is about scoring as many "cool points" as you can. When it first began, it was probably empowering but now its a total joke. It's all about being in a scene and being cool. They don't care about what people think of them and sometimes when you are representing your gender that can be a VERY bad thing. I left derby quietly, saying I needed to spend more time with my family. The real reason was that I couldn't take being around some many awful people.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, now this is why feminism is funny. There's like a codex or something written by the grand feminist council that dictates what's okay for women to do and that's hilarious because it's the same thing that men up until the sixties were doing. The notion that women must behave in a certain way by a woman's standard's is the same thing as having that criteria imposed by a man. It's all a bunch a bull crap. Fuck feminism, join the independent thinkers group.


1:25 AM  
Blogger Scarlett Shadow said...

As someone who is part of a roller derby team I would like to say that I personally wear little shorts and a tshirt to bout in (and practice in) because it is the most comfortable thing. You get ridiculously hot playing roller derby and for me personally I hate baggy clothes clingy to my sweaty skin.

That being said, everyone on my team is different and wears whatever they want to skate in, be it shorts, a skirt, leggings, trousers etc etc.

I take part in derby because I enjoy it as a SPORT. I would not put myself through the blood, sweat and tears of such a tough sport just so I could wear hot pants in front of an audience. It is unfortunate that people focus on the outfits, but people come because derby is frickin' awesome to watch.

You seem to have completely disregarded men's derby. Yeah that's right, men skate around in shorts too, but somehow it's only a problem that women are doing it. Doesn't sound very feminist to me!

9:44 AM  
Blogger heartsong said...

Each sport has there code of dress you speak of other sports so lets go there fully swimmers wear swim suits, tennis players wear short skirts also, Yet you have failed to mention these sports as they would not fit the purpose you are trying to imply here. As you said you do not play so you would not know many of us wear club or team colors but are allowed to personalize the way we wear these, what other sport would give you such freedom of choice allowing all body shapes types to feel comfortable in. I am a 47 yr old mother of 2 who wears fishnets over my stockings which saves my legs from rink rash when I fall. I do not wear them to be sexual in any way and do not even think in such ways until someone throws this in my face. As you said many are pierced tattooed or dyed and are embraced by our teams for our differences and what we can bring as a person which is something mainstream society forgets sometimes. I am a team player and athlete first my uniforms dont always excite me but they are not why I play the sport and have never been.

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Sharon said...

I play for Rink Warriors and haven't seen too many problems with these things stated above. I just started with this group and they make us take physicals, drug tests, etc and it's a lot more professional than other leagues I've went to boot camps at. They don't encourage after party drinking but they let you do whatever you want after a game(we don't call them bouts) because if you show up hungover the next day, they'll get rid of you, so I haven't seen any drug or sex parties like stated above, everyone is just training hard and we also get paid to play which is nice. As far as uniforms, we have a team uniform and that's it. We don't get to wear skirts, fishnets, etc some women had a problem with this, but most could care less.

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My hot pants affect you? Fuck off and get a life. I'll show you feminism when I stick my skate up your ass because you're telling me what's appropriate to wear on my body. I'm not ashamed of my body and I'm not covering it up for your comfort. Really, it's like listening to a Muslim man tell me how much I'm degrading myself for wearing a bathing suit or skinny jeans. If you don't like roller derby, don't go to the bouts. You could just sit outside the arena with protest signs saying "GOD HATES ROLLER SLUTS."

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Cas said...

I think it's all about wanting their 15 minutes of fame with their roller-derby names and local rock star statuses. The couple of girls I know who've gotten into it are all about that. As a woman who skated all my childhood I was keen to get into derby but when I saw the types of attention seeking show offs who were joining the team I was put off it forever. They'll deny it til they're blue in the face but I think this is 90% of the reason chicks join up. Screw this 'sisterhood' bullshit.

4:39 PM  
Blogger PagynsMom said...

Okay I just have to say, a few things....1. I AM a Roller Derby Lady, 2. I AM A feminist, 3. As a Feminist, I believe that it is each persons right to choose what they do with their body. If I want to strut around on a stage naked for all the world to see then I should be allowed to do it. If a woman wants to be in a beauty show then she has that right. NO ONE has the right to tell another person what they can do with there body! BOTTOM LINE!

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a roller derby skater of 5 and a half years I agree mostly with you. I like how you looked at the issue from both sides of the coin. I do respectfully disagree with you about some things. I think that people choose to play roller for a wide range of reasons. I think that SOME do it for the reason you describe but I think that most people do it for more honorable reasons. I personally did it as a way to quit taking adderall and find a more positive and athletic outlet for myself. I have since fallen in love with the sport and hope I never have to quit. I would strongly suggest that you meet for roller derby skaters and have more personal interactions with them before you make such a huge judgement call about such a multi fasceted sport. It makes me cry sometimes when I think about how much roller derby has saved my life
Derby love

11:39 AM  
Anonymous SMK said...

One of my friends plays derby, and I refuse to join simply because I think it's insane for women to bitch about wanting to be taken seriously while wearing pink panties over fishnets. I cannot support something that -indirectly or not - plays into the idea that women need to look attractive to be worth watching. Roller Derby as it stands right now is no different than the Lingerie Football League, and all you need to do is read some of the male comments to see it. It's the same mindset as women in the 50s wearing heels while they vacuumed. Yes, it is work. Yes, women did it because they wanted to look good. And yes, the drive behind it is that women believe their worth comes from how they look.

You think that shit isn't playing into the patriarchal idea that women have to be sexually appealing to be deemed worthy? How about this : Ditch the ridiculous attention whoring and win support for the game based on its own merits and I'd be all in. THAT would be something to take true pride in. Don't rely on bullshit cuteness to 'get the audience'. Fuck that. Win an audience by playing a hard sport and playing it well. You can have 'fun' and 'comfortable' outfits without having 'sexy' outfits you know.

That being said, the attitudes of some of the 'derby girls' on here is absolutely appalling, and no one in their right mind would want to be part of a 'sisterhood' with such arrogant, condescending people. Anonymous four posts above is the epitome of the 'entitled bitch and proud of it' attitude that turns me completely off of what could be something truly awesome that all women could be proud of.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous G-Wrex, East Vic Roller Derby said...

To "brrri" from way up there above - you say you lost two people to roller derby because they took their derby persona home with them. I can't really comment because I don't know the situation itself.
What I can say is that every person & every league is different, but from my experience I've found that your "derby persona" is just who you are, but freer. Derby gives you a new world wherein you don't have to let people talk down to you any more, you don't have to try to be something to impress people, you have the freedom to be the person that has always been inside you but could never quite make it out. & in many cases i think it's great if that version of you can make it back into your other world. I don't let my coworkers treat me like crap any more. I'm not aggressive about it, but I have more self-respect & I'm assertive by st&ing up for myself when they put me down. Now that I respect myself more, they respect me more too.
Our skaters don't play up to characters. Some jammers, when they score a 30 point power jam, want to celebrate by egging on the crowd to cheer. Some head straight to the bench afterwards to calm down & focus for the next jam. This isn't them playing up to being the crowd-pleaser or the serious one - this is simply who they are & how they react emotionally to what goes on in the game. Nobody makes a conscious decision to act a certain way in order to fill a character role.
If a skater gives up a previous hobby, maybe that's just a natural progression for them. People do change. That's ok.

As for the butt-showing photo posted by SMK - Do you know the context for this? The skaters could well be showing off their playing tools, as would a wrestler if he/she flexed their arms. They might just have been doing a skills session on hitting.
The chairman of my league was saying the other day that she wishes she had a bigger arse. She'd never wished for that before derby, because in modern western society it is generally portrayed that a slim woman with a modest butt is more attractive. After seeing how well one larger-ended girl at a nearby league can hit with her ample butt & hips, our chairman was envious & no longer wishes for less in that area.
(Post 1/2)

10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree with what the post says. As someone earlier said, "the personal is political". When you are claiming that you are a bunch of empowered unconventional women, and you value sisterhood, you are representing a mass. When one becomes a public figure of any sort, they bear responsibility towards the people that they represent. Knowingly or unknowingly you become a role model to a lot of young people, especially people of same gender. Surely, all the roller derby players are not motivated to look "sexy" at least knowingly. But if you give in to a system that forces you to act certain way in order to value your worth (in this case skills required for roller derby), then you are being a part of that sexist system.

Instead of accusing and asking the feminists, who wrote here, if they'd criticize swimmers and gymnasts of provocative clothes, I invite all of you too rationally discuss this problem. There is a difference between a comfortable clothing and a provocative clothing - not saying that all roller derby players dress provocatively, but there seems to be a lot of variation among roller derby players unlike in other sports in terms of clothing since there seems to be looser dress code in roller derby. There are some in roller derby, who seem to be valuing comfort who wear fitting active wear type of clothing even if they are short. However, some players dress are very similar to what you would see a woman dressing in a porn trying to attract male gaze. This doesn't mean that roller derby is alone one such game where the society requires women to look glamorous, other games like tennis equally suffer from this. Let's not try to justify ourselves simply because others do it too. Why can't we unite together as women, and stop perpetuating this trend in our society that requires women to look pretty or sexy to succeed in anything else they are doing? This doesn't benefit anyone, not even those of us who think that we are sexy and pretty and we are simply expressing our sexuality by complying to the society's idea on what our roles should be. We should stop calling it our choice. It's not our choice, if we have to fear that if we start dressing differently, we might lose audience. Thanks!

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some derby gals probably sex it up a bit to look good for gender of preference, others do it to be ironic and/or show that they can look like a stereotype but act a different way, some just wear whatever and don't want sex involved. To claim 100% absolution for any person's uniform choice is ridiculous. Laundry day? Another reason. This feminist wonders why on the obsession about sex and why we need to define when and where it's approprate, or feel the need to attack/defend actions related to subject when threatened.

11:20 PM  
Blogger shelley greenaway said...

u know what?! if any of those feminists are real, then why can't they do something useful, like pack thier raging hormones to the middle east! women are having a hard time there, in some cases they are being denied an education, and they are tearing down men and putting thier noses down art roller derby?! i think it seems quite fun, what do the wannabe feminists expect us to do?! sit in our little houses, with robotic man servants and knit as a sport! SOD OFF!

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's kind of insulting to assume that all derby players dress in "skimpy" uniforms. The players in the league I'm part of compete in athletic gear in their team colours. Not booty shorts and fishnets. That said, if a girl feels like wearing booty shorts and fishnets, who am I, who is anyone, to tell her she shouldn't? It's also insulting to the fans to insinuate that a lot of them come to bouts to look at sexy girls kicking ass. Sure, the visuals might get some curious, but it's the thrill of the game, the strategy and the athleticism that keeps people interested. It would get old really fast if it was just about girls in fishnets.

To the person who commented about two loved ones becoming distant cold bitches after joining derby... uh, your personal experience doesn't mean that it's universal. I don't know what you found in your google research, but I know for a fact that derby had an amazingly positive impact on most players I know. So maybe you should refrain from extrapolating.

That said, to the blogger, I know what you mean. Personally, I do think it takes a bit away from the sport when players are overly sexy, but then again, that's my personal opinion and I have no authority, these girls are free to dress however they like. What you feel about derby is kind of what I think about burlesque.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever seen an actual WFTDA sanctioned bout? Because I'm guessing you haven't. Fishnets and mini skirts, while seen occasionally, are not the norm. Roller derby is on it's way to becoming a professional sport (you know, the ones that people actually get paid to play instead of having to volunteer countless hours to make the league work) and it is respectable. It's one of the most physically demanding sports out there. There is men's and co-ed roller derby. There is junior roller derby. It is the fastest growing sport in the world. Sometimes people who see one bout get the wrong image. Even if roller derby was incredibly sexist (and it has come to be very much the opposite) there would be no stopping it.

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I am 17 years old. I have played derby for one year. This is what bothered me, "If Roller Derby is really about how awesome the girls are at their sport, then it should REALLY be about that. It should really be about how empowering it is to see women being competitive and athletic and downright bad ass regardless of what they're wearing." Have YOU skated for an hour and a half in a warehouse with no air conditioning? I didn't think so.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on the sport is a joke no one takes it serious other than those that play it. It's laughable

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just have one question-why don't the guys dress like sluts???

5:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just roll around and hit each other, and quit squawking about how it's 'feminist' (it aint).

3:00 PM  
Blogger Tragedy Trin said...

Nope one of our teams have/had one

5:50 AM  
Anonymous T87 said...

Let's see how long you'd last on a track, then tell us derby girls how it's a laughable and joke of a sport. How about you also tell us why if it's such a joke why are people disappointed when their favorite team loses.

6:16 AM  

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