The Road to Rollergirl How I Stopped Being a Roller Wannabe and Started Being a Rollergirl

23May/116

Talk Nerdy to Me: Derby Names, Intellectual Property, and Our Corporate Overlords

Professor David Fagundes' article, Talk Derby to Me: Emergent Intellectual Property Norms Governing Roller Derby Pseudonyms (forthcoming Tex. L. Rev., natch) has been making the blawg rounds. The most recent coverage, What Can Roller Derby Girls Teach Us About IP Law? (Answer: More Than You Think) by Christopher Sprigman, appeared a few days ago on the Intellectual Property blog at Jotwell.  I encourage everyone who is so inclined to read both the journal article and the blog post. Grab a cup of tea. Or better yet, a Lone Star.

I'm putting a reply-turned-post here because I'm very curious what people think about one comment in particular.

16Feb/114

Reply Turned Post: Derby ain’t a bed of feminist roses

File this under "You Must Read This." Live Derby Girls really hit it out of the park yesterday with a post about the dark side of roller derby, and again today with a follow-up commenting on the fact that we all realize that there is a dark side, and how it is a feminist act to continue to love derby--and each other--even when we fall short of perfect sisterhood. As Villainelle so aptly put it: "Derby isn’t perfect?  So what?  Neither am I.  That’s why derby feels like home to me – because I’m fucking sick of perfection."

The post resonated with me because last night was a less-than-sisterly night for our league. Here's my response:

This is a thing of beauty. I am concerned with the feminism, as you put it.

Last night, practice was rough at our house. Lots of blow-ups, elbows to faces, tension I could feel in my belly. And for a moment I found myself thinking “god fucking dammit why can’t so-and-so stop being such a diva, and why can’t our pack work together, we’re all on the same fucking team!”

On the drive home, I came to the same place – derby is not about some sort of peaceful sisterhood where we all braid each other’s hair and live in our utopia of a woman’s separate way of knowing. It’s about us getting to be who we are, even if that is abrasive, or discouraged, or whatever. It’s about working with and through the differences, not about sameness. The fact that there is a dark side to derby just means that we get to be whole, many-sided personalities. It’s a pain in the ass sometimes, but like a lot of derby pain, it’s ultimately a good thing.

4Nov/102

Reply-Turned-Post: Roller Derby and Gender Roles

Last night, one of my favorite co-Wannabes, Cogs and Gears, posted a really awesome commentary on gender and roller derby, examined through the lens of the forthcoming documentary about men's roller derby, This is How I Roll. Negative Attitudes Towards Men’s Roller Derby (and Why Women’s Roller Derby Should Care). Click. Read it. Here's a highlight--talking about a man who heckles some male derby players to "play a real sport," she says:

The implication is that women aren’t really athletes, that roller derby is acceptable for women precisely BECAUSE it isn’t, to this man’s mind, a real sport. Women are tolerated in it at best, perhaps for the same reason mud wrestling is occasionally called a “sport.” An old white man in the video is asked if he would go see men’s roller derby— he flat out says no. This video was likely shot at a female roller derby bout, so it’s not that he objects to the sport itself. Why wouldn’t he go see men play? Perhaps because they aren’t in hot pants, they aren’t titillating him the way women beating each other up in fishnets does?

Here is my response to her (or not to her, because apparently Tumblr isn't like that, but to her post):

I’m very curious to see this movie once it comes out. I think the tagline says something about the movie being about equality, and there is a possibility of a point-missing here (although maybe not by the filmmaker). I think Cogs and Gears hits it on the head when she says that it is an example of how patriarchy hurts men too. I have heard a whiff of a gynocratic conspiracy theory, and how only gender parity will save roller derby from itself. As though the sport can only be legitimized by male participation. Far from the truth - the sport is marginal because it is feminized (and thus can’t be a “real” sport), but it doesn’t need to be baptized in the waters of binary/gender/conformity to be redeemed. It’s the gender constructs that need to be exploded.

That is: the girls don’t need to let the boys in. The boys need to stop being assholes and realize that it’s a fucking sport, even without sticks and balls (literal and metaphorical).

Speaking of men's derby, here's a really sweet video from the Twin City Terrors for the It Gets Better Project. <3