At first, they don’t pass the ball to you. Boys are ballhogs by nature so they hardly pass to each other, much less a girl. So you just keep running patterns and being in the right place at the right time and yelling “Give and go” or “Overlap me” so they see you’ve got some good ideas and might have some utility after all.
Eventually one of them will give it a try. At this point, you better damn well execute, because you won’t get many more chances. And no pressure, but when you’re the only girl on the field, you are representing all womankind. So you get the ball and you, of course, send a nice, little pass, perfectly placed so he can kick it in the goal. He sees what a good idea he had to pass it to you. The other team figured you were not a threat so they weren’t even marking you. This little trick works very well for a while.
During water breaks, you remember you’re the odd man out — or woman in this case. They make dirty jokes and denigrate each other’s manhood — then glance nervously at you. This is important if you don’t want to spend the next countless practices and pick-up games losing respect for all men. You don’t let it fluster you. Do not, I repeat, do not engage. It’s tempting to take that just-one-of-the-boys path, but you are not and will never be, one of the boys.
These are the roles that you can choose from: sexual fantasy goddess, dyke, mother, sister or whore. Girlfriend/wife gets up in the mix with the older guys, but it’s practically the same as mother and seriously, who would want that role? Besides, he’s already got one so you’re good.
Wait, what about girl next door, you ask? That isn’t a role. It’s a brief state before you get a role. This lasts exactly the amount of time between you being big enough to be fun to play with and growing boobs. Boobs are the end of that.
“Wait, I don’t want any of these roles!” you say. Here I reveal the reality — none of us is just one of these all the time, but we can only be one of these to any man in our life at any given time.
Girls playing soccer is still a new thing. It’s going to take the guys a little while to adjust and, right now, these are the only roles they have on file to put you in. Your goal is to keep them guessing so they can’t pin you down. This is how new roles get created.
Here’s your playbook:
First practice: You’re here to play.
Wear what the boys wear — soccer shorts, t-shirt. No girly shit and that definitely includes makeup and braids and pink. There is no fucking make-up in soccer. If he wouldn’t wear it, nor should you. Don’t say much. That way they can just project on you — you are nothing except what you are in relation to them at this point and this allows them to assume the best of you. This is especially true for the most macho guys who are not pleased at your presence — being silent at least ensures you’re not one of those “loud-mouthed bitches.” This is your calming mantra: I’m here to play.
Second practice: Get them to start passing the ball to you.
If they don’t start including you soon, you’ll forever be a pariah. I don’t need to tell you that you don’t want to be that. You need to be on your shit — you need to be twice as good as them. When you beat a boy — you take the ball from him, you nutmeg him, take him out — you don’t rub it in. The other guys may say shit — tease him, rub it in. His ego is bruised and the male ego is a very delicate flower. Listen, he’s processing stuff right now. You think this is hard for you? Imagine what he’s going through!
So play your ass off — do NOT let the boys win. No give aways. They will not be used to girls challenging them, much less girls beating them. That’s good — this makes it hard for them to fit you into one of the roles.
Third practice: Distract them with your body.
At this point, you’re starting to get a little respect. Now, this is going to be hard for the machos – right now, they are on edge and tempted to label you a “dyke bitch.” I can hear you from here thinking: “Fuck them.” Look, go play some Bikini Kill when you go home, but right now don’t focus on winning the battle – we are here to win the war. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I know you’re a feminist. Me too. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to use every weapon we’ve got – and our hot bodies is a particularly potent one. Remember, we’re trying to recruit more people to the team here. Now there — this is NOT a Carl’s Jr. ad – you don’t want to end up in the sex fantasy category which is separated by about a millimeter from the whore category. Obviously, you’re wearing a sports bra. What you do is you change your shirt. Someone needs to change to a dark shirt. Or it’s the end of practice and you change into a fresh shirt to go home. It’s fast and you do it a ways away from everyone, probably turn your back. This is just to remind them that you have boobs — if you have boobs, you’re not a dyke. See how we’ve ruled out multiple categories here?
Fourth practice: Keep them guessing!!
By this point, they’re passing to you and marking you. They know you’re good for the assist. Remember, you’ve got to keep them guessing. Get yourself in the mid-field, watch closely for your opportunity — it will come because they’re all expecting you to pass. Fake them out and put it in the goal. No jumping — you are allowed to smile shyly like: “Ah, shucks, did I do that?”
Let’s check in:
You’re not a dyke because you have boobs.
You’re not a fantasy sex goddess because in guy’s fantasies, they make the score. They don’t get scored on.
What are you?! You defy categories! Exactly.
So that leaves sister and mother. Let me emphasize that none of these roles are all bad or all good.
You don’t want to be mom because it’s a lot of ego stroking, not to mention you’re stuck taking care of him. Let moms/girlfriends bring oranges after the game — you’re here to play. No baked goods.
Sister is one of the better roles, depending on the family dynamic. It’s fine for him to feel protective of you, defer your honor, especially if some macho asshole is laying into you. The danger would be if he doesn’t let you grow up or take care of yourself.
Remember: Always keep them guessing.
Now we’ve entered the phase where it’s really just most important to keep showing up — and bringing it, of course. You ALWAYS have to bring it. The important thing to establish at this point is that you are here to stay.
This is not a temporary situation — an aberration in nature — but something they’ve got to deal with. And they will, in their own way. And one of these days, you’ll get a ball right in the crotch and all the guys will wince. But you just prance off and they remember, “Oh yeah, you have boobs,” and round and round they go until — bam — you’re in a category unto yourself.
The author is a straight girl and feminist who loves dating and working with and playing soccer with guys.