Gender

Why Adult Kickball Leagues Perpetuate Gender Stereotypes

Some time has passed since my season as an adult kickball player has come to a close and I’ve had a week to reflect on my experiences.

Kickball, a game that is supposed to be fun and played amongst school age children has become a phenomenon of sorts for the 20-something crowd who pine for the nostalgia of their own childhood.

I decided to join a team in a league with some friends to see what the hype was about and to stay active, if even once a week (there are only so many hours a day one can binge watch tv).

I had zero expectations going in to the season and I was only hoping to have some fun, be goofy and enjoy my time.

Little did I know that the random strangers who were on my team with my friends and I took this game way too seriously.

We are all grown adults with big boy and big girl jobs that we clock in and out of each and every day, yet the idea of kicking a ball and winning turned them back in to the school yard children they once were.

I realized in that first game, when a teammate and team captain who had placed me in right field (because he took one look and me and assumed I had no athletic skill without any prior conversation) screamed across the field asking if “I was awake out there.”

It was in that moment that I was brought back to my childhood when I first experienced being teased for lack of athletic prowess or skill.

It was in that moment that I once again felt my manhood had been called in to question, being treated as if I was like one of the many girls on the team who they also assumed had no physical skill on the field.

I flash backed to those times in the school yard when I chose to sit out from playing with the other boys who played the recreational games at recess because I didn’t want to be shamed or made to feel lesser as a male because I was not as athletically inclined as they were.

My interest and desire to “be the best” in sports never existed.

It was meant to be fun, to be spectated on, and because of my views I often times found myself on the outs with those who I shared the same genetic makeup as.

My frame, my build and my stature have always indicated to others merely from my perception alone at first that I am not to be taken seriously, that I am not into sports and that I am just a joke.

As the years have gone by I have more than come to terms with not being the sporting type but that little bit of insecurity always existed, even if it was so far buried.

The five weeks I played on the kickball team I was subjected to those same insecurities I had as a young boy, a teenage male, and an adult male by the other males on the team who didn’t value me as an equal because I had not played kickball bi-weekly since the incarnation of these adult leagues.

I was told to “bunt like the girls” because they thought I couldn’t kick.

Week by week I attempted to try to prove them wrong.

There were weeks where it just wasn’t my week and I was okay with that but it was those five weeks when I realized how idiotic the whole thing was.

I was letting people who take kickball seriously get under my skin when I realized that it was so minute and unimportant in the grander scheme of life.

The idea of what a man is has changed drastically over the years and it’s because of these new roles and non-conforming ideas of what “men” and “women” are that I felt okay that I wasn’t an athletic specimen.

It’s okay to not be physically inclined to kick a ball far out in the outfield that won’t be a pop up fly.

It is because of my experience on this Co-Ed adult kickball league that made me think about my future children and who they will become.

No longer does gender conforming roles guide how children are raised and no longer are stereotypes acceptable.

Our value as a person should not be based on how much or how less we equal up to our gender identity.

Next time you think about putting someone down because they’re not performing by what society’s standards expect of them because of their gender, remember that they have insecurities just like you and that their interests vary from yours and they should be respected.

There is a fine line between a joke and an insult.

Think before you speak and before you pass judgement on those who you don’t know.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: James/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Sims 4 Will Now Give Sims “Customizable” Genders

The realm of virtual reality knows no bounds, and that now includes the boundaries of gender.

On June 3rd EA Games announced their newest update of The Sims 4 will now have the option to Customize your Sim’s gender.

In the original gameplay while creating your Sim although you could alter their physical appearance almost any way you pleased, there was only a “male” and “female” option when selecting their gender.

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This was true in all four versions of the game until this recent update.

But now, you can still choose the traditional male and female options, but now may also “Customize Gender.”

This option asks a variety of questions about the Sim you are creating including if your Sim has a more feminine or masculine frame, what their toilet behaviors are, and whether or not the Sim is able to get pregnant.

Clothing selections will also not be limited based on a male or female Sim and will be able to be worn by any Sim.

On their official website, thesims.com, this is what the team had to say about the newest update:

The Sims is made by a diverse team for a diverse audience, and it’s really important to us that players are able to be creative and express themselves through our games. We want to make sure players can create characters they can identify with or relate to through powerful tools that give them influence over a Sims gender, age, ethnicity, body type and more.”

This update can be done for anyone who currently owns the Sims 4 game, and will a permanent feature to any future buyers of the game.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: EA Games

“SAVE OUR SISTERS”: The Nuns At This Miami Shores Catholic School Are Leaving After 35 Years, And People Are Really Mad About It

MIAMI SHORES, FL- St. Rose of Lima Catholic School is a small Pre K-8 school that has been one of the most important bedrock institutions in this northern Miami suburb since it was started in 1951.

And since the start, the school has been staffed and led by nuns.

For the first 30 years, Adrian Dominican Sisters led the school until the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) took over in 1981.

The IHM has supplied the school of roughly 500 with a handful of teachers and a principal since the first year of the Reagan administration, while the rest of the teaching and administration jobs were filled by lay people- some of whom are non Catholics.

All of this changed last Thursday when the school announced that the IHM sisters would not be returning for another year due to the lack of women religious it had to support its mission there.

In a letter, St. Rose’s Principal Sister Bernadette Keane explained to parents why the decision was made:

“Dear Parents, it is with a heavy heart that I write this letter to you as this letter informs you that our community, the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, finds it necessary to begin the process of withdrawal from St. Rose of Lima School and Convent as of June, 2016,” the letter reads in part. “For 170 years our Congregation has been faithful to the mission of Catholic education in our Catholic schools. However, at this time we do not have the number of sisters needed to staff the schools we are presently serving.”

Keane went on to thank the St. Rose community for the past 35 years of service.

The reaction was met with anger and outrage by many in the St. Rose community.

A Facebook page called Show your Support for our St Rose IHM Sisters was launched and an online petition designed to keep the nuns at the school is also circulating.

Many parents don’t believe the letter and think that the nuns are being forced out by the Parish Priest, Father Pedro Corces.

Many parents don’t believe the letter and think that the nuns are being forced out by the Parish Priest, Father Pedro Corces.

Salvador Barreiros wanted his kids to go to St. Rose so badly, that he and his wife moved close to the school shortly before the birth of their first child.

Now he has two children at the school and jokes about the potential of his newborn going there as well, “St. Rose may have me for another 14 years.”

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But Barreiros, the Treasurer of the Home and School Board was so angered by the decision that he launched the Facebook page in support of the nuns and the petition calling for the Archdiocese of Miami to do “everything possible to keep the IHM Sisters at St Rose School in Miami Shores.”

According to Barreiros, he went to Sister Keane shortly after receiving the letter and asked her for more clarification about what took place. “Talk to your Pastor,” Keane reportedly told Barreiros and so the concerned dad did just that.

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St. Rose of Lima in Miami Shores. Photo Credit: RISE NEWS.

According to Barreiros, Corces said that the IHM was a dying order and that he wanted a lay person to lead the school moving forward.

Corces did not respond to an interview request from RISE NEWS.

In an phone interview with RISE NEWS, Sister Marie Roseanne Bonfini, the Director of IHM Information Services at the order’s Motherhouse in Immaculata, PA said that she didn’t know the specifics for why the nuns at St. Rose were withdrawing but that they will be gladly used in other roles across their ministry.

Bonfini said that the IHM would never have accepted a mission if it couldn’t promise a long-term commitment to the community and that there are many reasons why withdrawal happens- including a lack of qualified personnel and when the Parish Priest decides to not renew a contract with the order.

The IHM nuns at St. Rose are basically contract workers that serve the Church and stay as long as the Parish Priest wants them to.

The IHM nuns at St. Rose are basically contract workers that serve the Church and stay as long as the Parish Priest wants them to.

Bonfini and the other nuns at the Motherhouse had never seen a copy of the letter Sister Keane sent home to the parents last week announcing the withdrawal, until RISE NEWS supplied them with it.

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It is also not clear whether the Motherhouse was aware of the decision in advance.

However, Bonfini and other IHM nuns were aware of the anger and sadness of the St. Rose community displayed online in the aftermath of the decision.

“I understand that the people are upset,” Bonfini said. “We just hope that this can be resolved peacefully.”

Photo Credit: RISE NEWS

Photo Credit: RISE NEWS

While the actual cause of the St. Rose dispute is hotly disputed, there is undoubtedly a real crisis facing the very future of nuns in the United States because not enough young women are joining their ranks.

According to the Washington Post, there were only 56,000 nuns left in the United States in 2013, down from the peak of women religious of 180,000 in 1965.

According to Bonfini, the IHM has 750 sisters serving around the world, including the six currently living at the St. Rose convent.

IHM is withdrawing from three other schools this year due to a lack of nuns available to serve at those schools.

Jai Koch has been a parent at St. Rose for the past six years. She is also the Vice President of the Home and School Board.

Source: The Washington Post

Graphic produced by RISE NEWS. Information Source: The Washington Post

Koch said that she believed that the nuns are in good physical shape, vibrant and could potentially stay at St. Rose for another 10 years without much difficulty.

“Sister Bernadette [Keane] spends every free moment with the kids,” She’s a constant presence for the kids. There’s no way to replace her and for what she means for the kids.”

Koch told RISE NEWS that she believed that the nuns had to take the high road and not smear anyone, which is why the letter was sent out.

Many of the comments on the page have called into question the motives of Corces and the Archdiocese of Miami.

“The priest is temporary,” Meike Katrin Espinosa wrote on the pro-nun Facebook page. “We are permanent.”

“The priest is temporary,” Meike Katrin Espinosa wrote on the pro-nun Facebook page. “We are permanent. The nuns are a blessing to our community, that’s why we choose to live here in Miami Shores.”

“It’s a shame our Pastor doesn’t have the appreciation for the Sisters like the parishioners do,” Lawrence Zigmont, a longtime St. Rose parishioner and the husband of the school’s Assistant Principal wrote.

The Archdiocese of Miami stood by the decision, which it said was made by IHM.

“Everyone is upset when change occurs, but the spirit and the memories will continue,” Mary Ross, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese said in a phone conversation. “The Pastor will decide who the next principal is going to be.”

If you want to sign the petition in support of the IHM sisters staying at St. Rose, you can do so by visiting this link: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keep-our-ihm-sisters-at-st-rose

Public Disclosure: Ross, The Archdiocese of Miami spokeswoman tried to dissuade RISE NEWS from writing this piece and asked about whether the author viewed the fact that he graduated from St. Rose as a conflict of interest.

No, he doesn’t.

But for the sake of transparency and fairness, it is important for our audience to know that he attended St. Rose from 2002 until he graduated in 2007.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Facebook/ Show Your Support For Our St. Rose Sisters

Is This University Of Miami Sorority Recruitment Video Worse Than That Infamous Alabama One?

Last August, the University of Alabama greek system was slammed for being too racially homogenous and weird in the way that it objectifies women after the Bama Alpha Phi chapter released a controversial recruitment video.

As a grad of Alabama who reported on the de-facto segregation in the greek system there, I can say that those claims of racial and gender inequity are fairly accurate.

Everyone on campus and in the community knows it and efforts to change the campus have been made in recent years. Perhaps that change hasn’t come fast enough (God knows, many out of state students don’t think it has) but there is progress.

Of course, since it was Alabama (a loaded word in our national lexicon)- national sources flocked to the video and slammed the sisters of Alpha Phi into taking it down.

Here’s a version of it though that is archived online: (the audio has been changed from the original)

Even the New York Times (!) reported on the “controversy” of the Alabama white girl video at the time.

The whole Internet got worked up about it because it fed a stereotype of the American South being a place where women aren’t empowered and Stepford Wives are created en masse.

Perhaps there is some tangential truth to that stereotype, but it is a stereotype nonetheless.

Yesterday, the University of Miami chapter of Delta Gamma released a video that is just as problematic as the Alabama one.

And yet there has not been the same outrage- at least not yet.

The Miami New Times described the Miami video as looking “more fabulous than Jennifer Lopez’s big-budget, Miami-shot music video for “I Luh Ya Papi” (except with fewer male models in Speedos, and more co-eds in bikinis).”

Yeah, exactly.

Is the Miami video better because there are a couple minority students in it and because it was filmed on Biscayne Bay?

That seems like a pretty weak argument to make if you support equality.

But you be the judge.

Is the Miami video just as bad as the Alabama video?

Is there a double standard in the way national media outlets cover issues relating to race and gender when talking about a Deep South school?

In the end, I’m a dude so I’m going to check my privilege on this one and would like to see what women think about it.

Tell us what you think in the comments below.

You can also submit an opinion piece to editor@risenews.net. 

Cover Photo Credit: Artec Media/ Youtube (Screengrab)

This College Paper Just Decided To Start Using Gender Neutral Terms

Back in 2010, the University of North Carolina’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, was approached by roughly 30 students with a petition containing over 430 signatures that demanded that the paper use gender neutral terms-  chairperson instead of chairman, first-year instead of freshman.

This week the paper decided to make the change to gender neutral terms.

“We don’t really believe in leaving things the same way just because it’s the way it’s always been, and now more than ever, we all see a pressing need to be inclusive in the way we write about people.” Paige Ladisic, editor of the paper said in a message explaining the decision.

These changes, like the Associated Press Stylebook, considered by many as the Bible of journalistic standards, seem to reflect society.

For example, Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented immigrant, tracked news media’s use of “illegal alien” to convince outlets to use the term “undocumented immigrant” instead.

But was the Daily Tar Heel in the right to make the change?

“Gender neutral titles have slowly been making their way into everyday usage for decades. For instance we don’t call a female flight attendant a ‘stewardess’ anymore,” Jason Parsley, Executive Editor of South Florida Gay News said in an interview. “As for ‘chairperson’ there doesn’t need to be separate terms for men and woman because both positions are equal.  Men and women are equal. Period. And ultimately that’s what this gender neutral movement is all about.”

Marimar Toledo, a 20 year old freelance journalist also supports the use of gender neutral usage, because it was more respectful to people in the LGBT community.

“You’re just never gonna know- and just to be on the safe side, and be on the respectful side, you should use the gender neutral terms, rather than the ones that specify which sex you are.”

While people may be of different opinions, The Daily Tar Heel‘s decision seems here to stay.

Rise News reached out to DTH editor Paige Ladisic and will update this story when she responds. 

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. (We can keep your identity hidden.)

Cover Photo Credit: William Yeung/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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