Synchronized Swimming and Why I’m a Shitty Feminist

We recently started our synchronized swimming unit in P.E. We have to pick a song, come up with our routine, use the space to our advantage, and utilize at least seven of the twelve different strokes and figures that we’ve learned this year.

Oh, yeah, and only the girls have to do it.

The boys, in comparison, get to do water baseball. I have no idea how a game like that could possibly come to fruition but hey, if it works it works. Sounds fun to me.

Plenty of girls have complained to the teacher about having to do synchronized swimming, myself included. It’s boring, it’s too complicated to master in the couple weeks we’ve been given, and above all it’s way less fun than baseball! It basically boils down to “Why do the boys get to do fun things and we can’t?” (which is, in my opinion, a really freakin valid complaint). Alas, our attempts to convince the teacher to let us have some actual physical activity rather than watching videos of people dancing in pools were futile. The synchronized swimming unit has proceeded as planned. Thankfully, it’s coming to an end sometime next week.

Whenever the teacher was asked why we weren’t allowed to play sports with the boys, she replied with “Well, how many men do you see in professional synchronized swimming?” To which the resounding reply was “IDGAF.” Except, of course, none of us said that out loud because we’re all teacher-fearing little shits. See, the thing is, we did a hockey unit last year in PE. And a baseball unit. And–get this–a FOOTBALL unit. How many women do you see in the NHL, or the NBA, or the NFL?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

And yet we still had to play football and baseball and hockey right along with the boys. And we bitched and moaned about that, too. Because we, being teenagers, will use any excuse to complain about anything that we can possibly find.

This whole war (pro tip: If you go to war with your teacher, no matter how many of you there are, the teacher’s vote counts for like a bazillion) over whether or not we have to do synchronized swimming in PE has caused me to feel this really weird sense of self-awareness, and I don’t like it. I want it to go away.

Because I am a shitty, shitty, shitty feminist. I know for a fact that if I enjoyed synchronized swimming, then I most certainly would not be complaining. I would be laughing at the boys like ha ha ha, we get to dance while you guys have to do sports (because we all know teenage boys hate sports). I would be expressing my happiness that the fact I’ve got tits and a vagina means that I have to spend forty minutes a day dancing around in the water like an idiot.

And it’s very possible that I could enjoy the synchronized swimming unit, but I’m resolved to hating it on the grounds that the teacher is perpetuating the patriarchy. Because I’m really just that goddamn pretentious. You see, I tend to only hold on to my feminist self when the situation suits me–when I’m around like-minded people, or when I have a point I know I really want to make, or when I’m debating. I can turn off my social justice brain with surprising ease. I like to lord my feminism over other people as a way of saying “LOOK HOW SUPERIOR I AM TO YOU, I’M ALL SELF-EDUCATED AND SHIT!”

As much as I like to pretend it is, for me this is not about equality. This is not about equal opportunities and participation for men and women. This has nothing at all to do with the huge gap between the amount of men and the amount of women in certain professional sports. This has nothing to do with the fact that according to our teacher, the boys don’t have to do synchronized swimming because they would look “goofy” whereas we, by the virtue of possessing a second X chromosome, are automatically graceful and athletic.

No, for me it is not about any of those things. For me, it is about the fact that I hate synchronized swimming and would much rather play water baseball. Whatever the hell that is.

(((P.S. You may or may not have noticed a lot of self-loathing and/or hyperbole in this post. As for the former, well…I’ve just been in that sort of a mood the past few days, and there’s been no getting me out of it. That’s beside the point. As for the latter, I feel the need to clarify that 99% of the time, I turn my social justice brain off and then realize what an ass I’m being and turn it right the hell back on again. I will always, always call someone out if they’re being a bigoted asshole. It’s just that it always requires a conscious (and sometimes very difficult) decision on my part, even though I know I should never hesitate. And I hate the fact that I hesitate, because it reminds me that I’m not as good of a person as I like to think. As for my acting all superior because I’m a feminist–that was not at all exaggerated for the purposes of the rant and/or magnified by my self-loathing. I really and truly am just that goddamn pretentious.)))



  1. I find your honesty and directness and self-awareness incredibly inspiring. And I highly suspect that even in your “shittiest feminist moments, your still a pretty darn good one.

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