The whole swimming issue of the man that’s “changing himself into to women” that won in the women’s swimming has been on my mind a lot lately. My heart breaks for the girls that are competing against that person and the ones that have worked their whole life to get scholarships and now find that not only do they have to compete against other women that are trying their hardest they now have to also compete against the boys, who have an undeniably huge advantage. (Yes, I’ve read all the stats about how theoretically he doesn’t have advantages, but come on when you have him standing next to the other women competitors how can you not admit that he definitely has an advantage….) Anyways, it got me thinking about myself and if maybe I’m being a hypocrite. You see I find myself hanging with the guys more often than not because my interest tend to be more in the male dominated fields. Most ranchers are and cowboys are well men and I expect them to treat me as an equal… sort of at least. So does that make me a hypocrite because I like to join in on manly activities but don’t think it’s right for a guy to compete with the girls?
So, while I pondered this dilemma of if I’m a hypocrite or not it made me think of the time that I went to New Mexico for branding season! I was so excited and I was ready! I had been practicing my roping and I was riding this really cool horse that we called Steady Eddy! The first day went great! The family that we were branding at were so nice and while I had just met them while we were trotting out to gather, I felt like I belonged and we had a great time. Everyone went along to gather and when we were finished we went to the local Mexican restaurant. Now the second day was at a different place and before we tightened cinches and trotted off most of the men gave their wives and girlfriends a kiss and wave while the ladies went inside to cook and we took off at a trot. While we were getting dropped off on the circle I couldn’t help but notice that while everyone was starting to get a position I was not. I finally asked the man in charge where he was going to position me and he said “you were suppose to stay at the house and cook with the other ladies.” I was pretty stunned and didn’t say much the rest of the day. He never dropped me off so I trotted the whole circle with him and was proud that Steady Eddy true to his name kept up and kept me safe. When we finally got to branding the pen it was a little tricky and extremely tight and they were having a little trouble. A few of the guys suggested sending me in to rope and drag at least a few while the pen was full since my horse was so quiet and after the man in charge had a his fill of a struggle he finally called me in to the pen to drag and not work the ground crew. I was so nervous and I missed my first two loops but Steady Eddy stayed true and I got my confidence and soon started snagging those two back feet. I was pretty proud of myself for proving myself and thought that maybe now I would be excepted but when we went to have lunch I was once again reminded that I didn’t belong. The man made a big deal about who got checks and as you can guess I was the only one to not draw a check. While I left feeling a little deflated and finally understanding a little bit of what the ladies before me faced when trying to get equal rights, I am able to look back at it and remember a few things. One, I stayed true to who I am. I dressed nicely and you definitely new I was a girl, I proudly wore my hair braided with a big bow in it. Two, the people that really matter excepted me. It made me feel pretty special when guys that were really good hands and had good horses wanted me to drag first because, they knew I wouldn’t stir up the herd. The man that didn’t except me had a horse that I wouldn’t want to take home and well between you and me, he wasn’t a very good roper and brought some panty hosed calves to fire.
After thinking back at this adventure I don’t think that I am hypocrite when it comes to this issue. While it would have been nice to draw a check I wasn’t expecting one, I had just come along for the adventure and getting one the first day was just an extra bonus. Each time that I was slighted I just went with it. I didn’t argue and I didn’t demand that he treat me like the guys. Most importantly though I didn’t change myself into something else just to get ahead. I did my makeup before anyone else in the bunkhouse had woken up (which if your wondering is way too early, horses have eaten and were trotting out before daylight) and I wore a big bow in my hair with pride. While I like to think that I work as hard as the guys the truth is they looked out for me and I appreciate it. Nothing was said but, it was a given that on the extremely big and soggy calves, I wouldn’t have to worry about flanking those even if it was technically my turn. If I needed someone to step on my horse and get the fresh off him, no one would have said anything or thought anything of it but if a guy had been in that position it would have been unacceptable. The list could go on forever about how the guys let me play cowboy but also let me do it as a cowboy-girl.
My dad always told me that I should be tough like the guys but that I should also be proud of being a girl and it’s something that I try and accomplish everyday . So while yes I do like to dabble in male sports I’m not trying to become a man and demand that they accept me. I don’t care what you do if your a man and like to do things people think of as girly or visa versa the problem pops up when you aren’t true to yourself. I think the biggest difference that keeps me from being an hypocrite though, is that I was doing something that didn’t have a boy division and a girl division, I was just trying to find where I fit. So bring a your own chair to the table and figure out where you can fit, if their isn’t a seat for you but if there is (like they have a men’s and women’s division of swimming) take your place where your yourself.