Why We Need to Stop Calling our Female Athletes “Lady Hawks”
A friend of mine was on the girls’ varsity basketball team last year. After the end of a pretty successful season, she finally got her team sweatshirt. I saw her wearing it and commented that I liked it. She agreed, but then pointed at the bottom, where it said, “Go Lady Hawks!” That was the first time I heard this phrase used, and I wasn’t too fond of it. She expressed her dislike of it as well, saying that it felt degrading towards the team, and towards girls in general. I have recently heard this phrase used a lot, and the more I hear it, the more I hate it.
Never have I heard the words “Gentleman Hawk” leave someone’s mouth, so why should it be any different for “Lady Hawk?” It implies that girls’ teams are secondary to the boys’ teams. Why do we have a separate term for the female athletes? The girls on our teams work just as hard as the boys do, and using phrases that completely separate girls’ teams from the boys’ teams doesn’t help. We might as well have a second mascot that has the hawk in a short pink dress.
There are already several barriers to equality in athletics at Tam. For starters, the cheerleaders don’t attend any of the girls’ varsity basketball games. There should be an effort in treating both teams equally, if there are cheerleaders at a boys’ varsity basketball game, then there should be cheerleaders at a girls’ varsity basketball game. This is despite the girls’ varsity basketball team winning MCALs last year, and the boys’ varsity team was sixth in MCALs. Even Redwood has cheerleaders at its girls’ varsity basketball games. There are significantly fewer fans at girls’ games in all sports and that needs to be changed. They work just as hard and the entertainment of the game is just as good if you give them a chance and actually watch.
Basketball isn’t the only sport where inequality occurs. The girls’ volleyball teams have recently been getting yellow carded for changing into their jerseys on the edge of the gym because a sports bra shows. Meanwhile, the boys’ water polo teams are literally stripping down naked, with the minimal cover of a towel on the edge of the pool, which would be completely unacceptable for female athletes. An MCAL referee was asked by Tam News reporter Abby Cabana if he would give a yellow card to the boys volleyball players for the same thing, and he responded, “the male chest doesn’t bother me.” Does that not seem a little questionable?
We live in a world where female athletes receive considerably less pay than their male counterparts, women’s game coverage is budgeted lower, and shaming occurs to women who do well in a sports environment for being too manly. So why should we subtly degrade the girls that work so hard for our school? As everyday sexism regularly occurs, we are already dealing with forms of oppression, so rather than give us a different name than that of the boys, even if it was unintentional, support us! Come to our games and cheer us on the same way you would the boys. There is so much that needs to be worked on at Tam to make girls feel more equal and appreciated, but we can start by cutting “Lady Hawk” from our vocabulary.