Girls and Contact Sports: What are We not Discussing?

Recently a wave of excitement rippled through many of the 9 to 12-year-old girls at the Primary School where I work. The girls were presented with the opportunity of participating in an exclusively all girl AFL* training programme during their lunch breaks – the latest example of the way in which girls are mixing it with the boys and claiming their apparent gender ‘equality.’

I could share neither in their excitement, nor in the vaunted claims of this being another positive step towards gender equity in sport. Rather, this for me marked a backward step.

Girls are now raised and educated to compete with the boys, and in this are laying down a foundation for a possible lifetime of competing with men on the terms dictated by a society that drives girls to toughen up and harden their bodies in exactly the same way as boys are exhorted to do – to the absolute detriment of their own emerging femininity.

In 2016 more than 76,000 Queensland women and girls participated in AFL, an increase of 30% and a 140% increase over the last three years (1). Skills training begins at age 5 and modified mixed gender games at age 8. With the establishing of the first eight elite women’s national teams this year, very young girls now have something to aspire to.

“The establishment of a national women’s league will provide a platform to inspire young girls to reach for the stars and provide another avenue for Australian Rules fans to enjoy. Our game will never be the same.” (Mike Fitzpatrick, AFL commission chairman (2))

The ABC News recently ran a news item reporting how the Women’s National Rugby League (WNRL) is to offer female career pathways through to elite player status starting from the age of 6. In 2016 in Australia, 482,000 women and girls participated in Rugby League, an increase of 27% in one year alone. With a national competition planned, the WNRL is the largest growing area in NRL.

For devotees of sport, these figures are to be feted and celebrated, the signs of things to come where men and women have equal status in the sporting arenas and in sporting status and adulation.

For those who prefer to express the precious and delicate nature of a woman and hence, that of girls, this is a sorry indictment of the lack of value we as a society place on femaleness, if not on the complete undermining of all qualities associated with the expression of true womanliness.

Inherent within the girl is the woman that is to be with all of her tenderness, stillness, sacredness and joy. Rather than allowing these qualities to unfold from within as each female child is nurtured and confirmed by the adults in her life to be who she naturally is, we seem to be currently intent upon bludgeoning such qualities out of existence.

Contact sports like AFL and WNRL are the latest, and I feel, most intense, in a long line of extremely harsh and gruelling exercise regimens which serve to harden, masculinise and toughen up girls so that they can claim to have won some type of illusory, physical gender equity with boys and ultimately, with men. The added feature of the physical contact, which is a part of such sports, where hurling one’s body around and banging into the opposition is all part of the game of securing the goal or try for one’s own team whilst inhibiting the same efforts on the part of the competing team, is particularly aggressive and suppressive of the true and delicate nature of a girl.

This applies also to boys and to men so is it the case that, having successfully imposed such false and erroneous rigours upon one gender, we are now further compounding this gargantuan error by imposing the same on girls and then covering this collective madness under the insidiously deceptive ideal of ‘gender equity’?

So… we are effectively free to abuse our bodies in the same way as the men do? Is that what we are saying?

Would the women of ancient Rome have seen it as a step towards their equality had they been invited to enter the gladiator’s forum as ‘equal’ combatants with the male gladiators, or perhaps to be equally thrown to the lions, I wonder?

For every girl the time of puberty is a time to connect with the cycles and joyful responsibility of what it is to live the grace and beauty of a woman (4). How is this possible if our girls have already become desensitised, bludgeoned and numbed within their own bodies due to engaging in certain types of physical activity? How can a young woman connect with her tender sensitivity when she has already spent several years disconnecting from her physicality in order to compete with and mix it with the boys?

Do we really want to raise our girls to become urban ‘GI Janes,’ ever ready for any type of combative action, bullet belt draped around their hips replete not with bullets, but with ‘I can do anything’ tampons?

Or do we want to raise our girls to be the sensitive, self-nurturing, gorgeous women they all are on the inside?

If we choose the latter, do we not then need to seriously evaluate what does and does not support such an unfolding, including the type and quality of physical activity and exercise in which they engage throughout their childhood and especially as they enter puberty? Does what we currently offer support our girls to claim their femininity or does it militate against it? Is this not one of those topics that needs a truly open forum discussion so that we can, as a collective, discuss what we truly want for our children as a foundation for the question, where to next?

* Australian Football League – a contact team sport played in Australia, which has aspects of both Rugby and Gaelic Football

By Coleen Hensey

References:

  1. AFL Queensland. (2017). Female – AFL Queensland. [online] Available at: http://www.aflq.com.au/female/ [Accessed 23 Aug. 2017].
  2. AFL.com.au. (2017). Eight teams named for inaugural women’s league – AFL.com.au. [online] Available at: http://www.afl.com.au/news/2016-06-15/eight-teams-named-for-inaugural-womens-league [Accessed 23 Aug. 2017].
  3. ABC News, Queensland, 12.04.2017 – 7pm bulletin
  4. [online] Available at: http://www.esotericwomenshealth.com/girl-to-woman–festival.html [Accessed 23 Aug. 2017].

Related Reading:
Exposing the Brutality of Rugby
Beverley Carter – from Tough to Tender
My True Tenderness and Delicateness – a Fresh Look at True Gender Equality

426 thoughts on “Girls and Contact Sports: What are We not Discussing?

  1. Men are too precious and sensitive to engage in these rough sports, let alone a woman’s body getting thrown in the mix. Having to tape down their breasts to play contact sport is a great indicator of the gender denial factor that women face and also the brutal activity at hand.

  2. Whilst we live in competition we will always be out of harmony regardless of our sex. The way forward is not in trying to be like another but to be true to your expression.

  3. Such hard contact sports affects women, hardening their body to prove she can just be as competitive in any environment. When women become so driven and hardened their bodies, they can later experience issues with periods, endometriosis and infertility.

  4. Great you bring this point up Coleen. As a community we have to support our children to keep the tenderness they natural are. If we look at women now a days we see an increase in breastcancer.
    The hard bobbels in the breasts show us much more then ‘ just in illness’ . Why we have so much hardness in the breasts, does it relate to the hardness we live in with our bodies? How can we take care our young ones get shown a different way that honours their body?
    Serge Benhayon shows us clearly this new way which is basically not known as it is our natural state of being to live in our tenderness.

  5. We live in a world full of confusion and sadly the only thing that will make us stop and consider the rot that we willingly subscribe to is the escalating rates of illness and disease amongst all.

  6. We certainly need to step back and re-evaluate what we are doing to our young girls and young women and ask ourselves why we are doing it. Why do we jump onto this bandwagon and champion tough contact sports for girls (or even boys!) There is an insidious force out there that does to want the true power of a woman to come to the fore so any mad and brutal scheme that comes to mind gets launched and all in the name of equality! It would be enough to make my blood boil if I weren’t taking great care to be the observer and understander of this.

  7. It is when we start to have conversations about this topic from this great blog we can bring more awareness to the real issues at hand. It is when we choose to ignore or collude with what we feel keeps us comfortable on such a topic that we will continue to see the rise of sports and behaviours that are far from a young girl and women’s natural way of expressing.

  8. Last Christmas I was involved in a family game of back yard cricket, and its time for me to bat and my young niece comes into bowl at me and bam, she bowls me out first ball, well I wasn’t expecting that and because in back yard cricket you can’t go out first ball I get another go. So in she comes at me and I manage to hit this one straight at her and she catches it and I’m out. Her skills were exceptional, she was equal if not better than the boys of her age and I somehow felt, well for a start a little embarrassed that I got out without scoring but also a little sad that sport and competing with each others such a revered thing and now the girls are beating boys at their own game.

  9. There are so many ways to override our natural delicateness as women, recently I was talking to someone who was carrying huge bags around in her grandmothers store when she was 7 years old, and the accumulative hardness is very apparent and how it affected her outlook.

  10. Any contact sport is full on and intense for anyone. When you look at a baby there is not an ounce of that quality in them, we are pure, divine and precious beings that have just entered into the world. For it to get to a point where contact sport is considered normal and fun, for people to go and watch and cheer this on is craziness. I’m so pleased I started to see and feel how far away from who I am when I went into this.

  11. Where does it all end, this constant competing and fighting for validation through what we do. Rugby is a great example of this, the men’s sport is getting bulkier, harder, faster, more velocity, unstoppable forces meeting immovable objects, place a microphone near a collision and it sounds like two ferocious stags locking horns. Apparently the impacts are becoming more and more like car crashes. And women are replicating this, thus adopting the very behaviours that are damaging men’s bodies. I have heard it said that women used to be the ones who reflected the common sense to men to rein in their excessive testosterone, acting like the most natural emollient, but if women are now copying the men, who is reining anyone in and where does it all end. Is our prostate and breast cancer rates evidence of a way of living gone wrong, a way showing that we do not thrive through this excessive drive to seek recognition through aggressive, often violent sport. And what effects does it have on young girls and why are we so keen to gain equality through competition but wont explore equality in the wider meaning of cherishing natural qualities and accepting and embracing differences that exist between men and women and are also apparent in each individual.

  12. Apart from all the obvious reasons of injury, hardening the body adversely etc. You would think that traditionally and medically it would be inadvisable to be playing rough sports at an age when the body is not yet fully formed and is very tender. Where is the medical profession???

  13. I agree that we as women are very disconnected from our bodies and this has serious consequences when it comes to our well-being and how we take care of ourselves. Being tender and gentle are not qualities that we hold dear in western society, and I do remember as a young woman having the idea that I wanted to show I was just as strong and tough as the men. Why is this? We really do have it all confused.

  14. Hearing an extraordinary presentation at the weekend by Serge Benhayon at Universal medicine, it is so interesting to get to the bottom of realising the discomfort the human spirit felt when entering the male and female bodies with the divine particles that they are made of. It makes prefect sense then why the human spirit with its desire for domination champions rough sports so that the challenging, amazing body will be wounded, subdued and disabled.

  15. Equality, should not mean everything is done the same by each sex. Our differences are what make us such a dynamic team. I have joined the gym recently and was shocked to see the images of the ideal womens body shape at the moment, these images were displayed on all the screens in the gym and presented in the female trainers. It was very masculine image, big bums and muscular thighs, like tree trunks. This pumped up and unnatural woman shape was being championed, held up and it did not look feminine at all. We have to be careful that we don’t end up crushing woman for a second time around all in the name of “gender equality”. True equality honours differences and shows everyone an equal respect.

  16. It makes me shudder to think of women (let alone young boys) playing full-contact sport – watching the boys and girls in primary school kicking a foam ball around in their lunch break is enough for me. On many occasions, we end up with children on the floor crying from being hurt because things have gotten too aggressive.

  17. A most serious state of affairs the world is in where we don’t honour our sensitivity ,natural delicateness and tenderness of both women and men alike and the trends are worsening as seen here. However there is also another movement of honouring and sacredness being lived and this is very beautiful to see and really can offer the true reflection we all know inside us deeply of who we really are through Universal Medicine and Serge Benhayon.

  18. The status quo that we have all allowed is further and even more brutally bashing and hardening the beautiful delicate yet powerful body of a woman. It is so clear and blatant that it can almost take your breath away that we are still allowing this to occur.

  19. Women and girls participating and competing in sport is deemed as a great thing for women, showing that we can do everything that men do. But with the focus on being able to compete with men on many levels what qualities of being a woman are we leaving behind? Which means what reflection of women are men receiving also?

  20. We have become so good at fighting our true nature within, women and men alike will do crazy things in order to escape and not embrace the tenderness and sacredness which are our own natural rights. As a society we need to discuss such topics, which are creating such harm for women as this has such an impact on the way we men are encouraged to embrace our own feminity within.

  21. I would have thought that on a very practical level the soft breast tissue that women have could be damaged irreparably by contact sport, this seems to be sidestepped as even an issue. If we were to go on feeling and remove our need for this oh so false equality, we would be struck by the enormous overriding of a natural delicacy that women have, and on a deeper level, what internal anatomy are being thrown out of balance through such unnatural physicality.

  22. We really need the qualified health and well-being practitioners, doctors and dentists, who realise what is going on with this violence done to both men and women’s bodies, to set up a committee, a forum, and to contact the appropriate body and submit a document which lays down what is going on, and the damage that is being caused.

  23. it seems like there will continue to be more and more desensitizing activities on offer… No coincidence because if we really looked around and felt truly what was happening it would be extraordinarily devastating

    1. Yes and the rate of this activities are escalating on a grand scale. What is interesting here is that in most cases it is a far higher level of harm than before as the extreme sport is held us the ultimate ‘nova’ experience – a must do on the bucket list!

  24. What we have come to here with the introduction of tough contact sport for young girls is the end result of the ‘imaginary’ yet oh so real battle of men versus women, and vice versa . There is no enemy – this is the biggest trick and illusion on earth. There is no battle and it cannot ever be won. The ‘opponent’ is pure love, pure wisdom and pure universal intelligence and this ‘opponent’ will never be in battle with anything or anyone. We are simply fighting against our own evolution.

  25. I am yet to meet someone ‘on the streets’ who doesn’t champion girls being able to play contact sports. It is seen as a great advance in women’s equality with men. However, I have heard many women share their experiences of playing competitive sports and how hardened and disregarding of their body they had to become to be ‘as good as the boys’. If I was cynical I would say the small print of the quote from the AFL chairman reads more like, ‘AFL will now have more consumers which is great for the sport and our pockets’. It reminds me of when marketing to women started by smoking companies, as they realised 50% of the market was not being targeting. This was sold as a liberation for women, when it was actually a harm to our health.

  26. As someone who played women’s touch football for a few months, I can honestly say i did it to prove that I was better if not equal to a man. It was awful and I really did not enjoy it – the only thing I enjoyed was telling a bunch of guys that I played a contact sport. But the hard reality is that when we play this sport we are not honouring our sensitivity or tenderness.

  27. “The ABC News recently ran a news item reporting how the Women’s National Rugby League (WNRL) is to offer female career pathways through to elite player status starting from the age of 6.” This is extremely scary and something that needs much more awareness around and discussion about. We need to ask how does playing rugby affect girls, their periods, their overall health etc because for a woman to deny her femineity is detrimental to their health and well-being.

  28. If in the name of gender equality we as women supress our feminine qualities, we won’t have found any equalness at last, because we would have lost our wholeness in the way.

  29. “Inherent within the girl is the woman that is to be with all of her tenderness, stillness, sacredness and joy.” So what happens to this tenderness stillness sacredness and joy if we ask our sensitive loving caring 6 year olds to harden and toughen up their bodies to play a sport that was never designed for women and in truth not for men. We have taken equality to the extremes at the expense of the woman’s body. What sort of women will these 6 year olds grow up to be if they can’t feel the innateness of what it is to be in a woman’s body. And the sad thing is that it is the men that lose out too because they don’t get to feel what it is to be with a woman that knows who she is from the inside out.

  30. The thought of going onto a field or court to play a sport with the intensity of what it brings simply couldn’t happen again. Back when I did thou I never thought twice, it was what you did and you were on a mission to win, what ever it takes. Not in the sense of physical abuse to the opposition but for myself and not even blinking an eye lid.

  31. The choices we make in raising our children today literally create the future we will live with, and I agree this choice to bring women and girls into more “tough” style physical sports is the opposite direction of the future grace that could be on offer.

  32. “Doing it tough” serves noone. We are delicate and tender human beings and anything that does not support us to live in this way is harming us.

  33. I feel we have fallen for the biggest cosmic lie by competing to be “as good/as strong, as men”. Have we gone loopy. There were two sexes put on earth, and two divine ways to express. A woman’s true expression definitely does not come from “being one of the boys” it comes from the power and grace her body enhouses in her womb. After feeling and connecting to the sacredness of all women it is incomprehensible that this could be dismissed for “rough housing”.

  34. Girls and contact sports raises one question for me – why? Why do it. i don’t need to justify why not and there is nothing I have heard that can give me a justification to abuse young bodies in that way.

  35. The statistics you present for women getting involved in these hard core games is saddening and disappointing , what is happening to the true woman? ‘For those who prefer to express the precious and delicate nature of a woman and hence, that of girls, this is a sorry indictment of the lack of value we as a society place on femaleness, if not on the complete undermining of all qualities associated with the expression of true womanliness.’

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