Good Work Other Women You Do That Thing I Don’t Care About

by jillst



I care about sport about as much as I care about being able to apply perfect winged liner, which is not at all, ever.

But I couldn’t help but feel a little swell of pride last week as I watched a promo for the first WAFL match.

It was with no small amount of wonder that I watched these women, limbs on display in their practical shorts and singlets, huddle up before going out on the field. Their long hair was secured in bands and braids, kept out of their faces. There was no cleavage on display, only muscles. Their bodies weren’t sculpted for bouncing, but to kick.

They were their own cheerleaders – and even though I don’t really like watching sport, I was drawn so strongly to them, off to lead themselves to a tiny victory, in support of a much larger cause.

It’s scary, to be honest, just how rare it is to see a group of women dressed up to honest-to-goodness go and a do a thing. Not to sell a thing or to attend a thing or to be a thing, but to go out and just kick some general ass and take some freaking names.

In a month where Donald Trump signed a bill banning abortion rights while surrounded by a gaggle of smiling, old white men, these women were a bright ray of sun.

They reminded me of someone.

They reminded me of many someones.

They reminded me of my best friend from school who used to be the only girl to enter coding competitions, who had the last few subjects of her degree awarded honorarily because she was that good – and because she had to leave the country to start her job at Google.

They reminded me of my youngest sister, who is also studying computer engineering and politely corrects me every time I accidentally state that she is “going in to IT.” Apparently this is the equivalent of calling a journalist a copy writer.

They reminded me of my middlest sister and all the awesome women teachers and scholars I know, who inspire and inform, who don’t get nearly enough credit for the fascinating things they know and can tell us.

They reminded me of the women at work who are rising up a male dominated ladder to become kickass, full-on, hardline, hard news journalists, who get scoops and front pages and knows all the names of the people in the NSW state parliament – instead of Googling them as needed, like I do.

They reminded me of the women I interned for when I still thought I might be a lawyer, who were tireless, fearsome legal advocates for teenagers who lived on the streets and drug addicts just out of jail and women in abusive marriages and confused international students done for drink driving.

They reminded me of the women I know who truly understand and passionately love the business of business, who are rising through the ranks in HR or PR or MR while studying hard at night for a master’s degree, so they can one day nurture other women, can help us all pull each other up the jungle gym that dominates the corporate enclosure.

They reminded me of all the women doctors I know, who are just now, ten years after high school, finishing up their training – or still studying. Of the many other women in healthcare who don’t get nearly the same credit, but are just as crucial. To have the drive to do something that takes so much of you, and sometimes seems to give so little, is incredible and inspiring.

They reminded me of several women on my Facebook, who all seem to be getting Phds in  incredibly complicated science things that I do not, for the life of me, understand.

In spite of what every film ever released would have you believe, I am not jealous of any of these women.Their jobs and lives and choices are inspiring as hell, but they’re not right for me.

But I am so, so glad – I am glad beyond glad – that they want them and that they have them, and that they show us there’s another way. A way where we are more than bodies, more than things, more than numbers.

I am so glad that in every field there is someone to lead the way.

I am glad, selfishly, because if I ever decide to have a child, it will probably be a daughter.

We are a family of daughter-havers. My mum is one of four sisters and between them they had seven girls, no sons.

I’m sure in this hypothetical future people will come up to my fake daughter at a party and pat her soft little head and – because they don’t know what else to say – will remark that she looks so pretty today, or that they like her shoes.

I suppose I will have to let her hear it, to hope it skims off her. But if I see it sneaking and wiggling its way into her brain I will take her hand and pull her aside and crouch down beside her as she looks confused about why I am so weird. I’ll take her little hand in mine and tell her not to listen. I will say:

Don’t be a thing. You are not a thing.

Do a thing.

Do your thing.

Whatever the hell that is.