Sunday, June 22, 2014

Men in Derby

So, I've been reading a lot of blog posts about men in derby; some of them are supportive, and some are definitely against men being involved in the sport as players. I think I've been pretty consistent in my support for men playing derby, but I felt like I need to restate why I personally feel that derby belongs to everyone who wants to play it. These reasons are mine, and mine alone; opinions, everyone has them, right?
Photo by A Boy Named Tsunami

1. I didn't join derby because it was a feminist movement; I joined it because it was a sport. To me, derby has always been a sport. It's not a sorority, it's not a DIY movement, and it certainly isn't a way of life to me. It's a sport, and that means that it needs all kinds of people to be playing it and loving it for it to survive. That means juniors, women, men, and whomever else wants to play will make our sport stronger. If a sport isn't growing, it's dying, and nobody in derby wants to see that. The more people that understand our sport, the more people are going to be interested in supporting it by watching it or going to bouts. Right now, the derby community is self sustaining and doing a poor job of getting a foothold in an outside audience. We can't keep surviving this way; we all know it. We need to bring in as many fans of the sport as possible, and that comes from people being familiar with the game.

2. Men are already here and have been here from the beginning of the sport. Many coaches, trainers, announcers, volunteers and refs have been present since the beginning of modern derby. In fact, I'd say there are a majority of leagues that have quite a few men in key positions they rely on. Heck, I still know women who have been playing the sport for years who still rely on the men in their leagues to do most of their skate maintenance. (Boo hiss....every skater should know how to do basic skate maintenance) Expecting men to support our sport without having a chance to experience the amazing part of skating is really kind of shitty. Hey guys, give up your time and gas money so you can make sure we get to play games! We don't want you to do it though, ok? On a slight tangent, I'd love to see more women coaches and refs out there; it kills me when I see an amazing player leave the sport and not pass on her wisdom to future skaters. Sigh. That's another blog entry, though.

3. Roller Derby is never going to fix the inequity in all other sports, and it really shouldn't be expected to. Yes, I know there is an imbalance in other sports; women often get the short shrift when it comes to attention, and that's not great, but treating men the same way in our sport fixes nothing. It doesn't make the other sports stop the unequal treatment, and it doesn't make the world a better place for women in general. Inequity is disgusting no matter who is causing and reinforcing it. We should be striving not to be perpetrators of prejudice. Most of the men I know who are involved in this sport are respectful and idolize women skaters. "I want to skate like Bonnie Thunders" has been heard coming from the mouths of the male skaters more than once; do you think that happens in other sports?

4. Co-ed derby is fun. Yes, it's not for everyone, and if you are not comfortable playing against someone of the opposite sex, then you shouldn't be forced to, but it is fun. I learn something new every time I get to play with or against guys, and they learn something new too. I've never had an unpleasant experience playing against or with men, at least not more or less unpleasant than I have playing with women. People can be creeps no matter what gender they identify with.


  1. I love the fact that you bring a very level headed point of view in derby...I love sharing your blog!!!!!

  2. I got to play co-ed last night and it was amazing! Men are great for the sport. Just let them play! Thanks Q for this great blog.

  3. I would love to contribute to that blog you do about skaters that retire and never come back to coach

    1. Ok. You know how to find me, Paris. :)

  4. Yes! Yes! Yes! 1000x yes! Thank you for writing this.

  5. So, a funny story: when I started playing derby a few years ago, I was skating along in a pack surrounded by women. One says to me "See Mike, this isn't so bad, you're surrounded by girls!" to which I responded "No, y'all are mean, I want to go skate with guys!" ;)

    ...and a not so funny story: several years later, I invited a former skater from a women's league to come practice with my co-ed league. Instead of a simple "no thank you" I got this tirade rant of a letter about how she didn't believe in co-ed derby, and that "men who play derby just like beating women and are all a bunch of spousal abusers." Sorry I asked! :(

    Otherwise, co-ed derby is awesome! If you haven't tried it yet, definitely recommend!

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