What's with the shirts?
The following post has been written by VC's CEO Adriana Withers.
Over the past few months, the VC team has been sporting staff shirts that say "The Future is Female". More than a handful of times, each of us has been asked, "What's with the shirts?"... and so, please let me explain.
A Team Canada player Julie Landry with Daniel Bergson, the designer of our staff shirt, at WCBU in Royan, France.
As we've worn our Future is Female shirts, we've heard all sorts of comments and questions, including:
- What does that even mean?
- Why does the future have to be either male or female; that's not fair.
- Isn't that shirt a bit aggressive?
- The future is MALE! (folding shirt in half, while laughing)
The Future Is Female
The purpose of wearing these staff shirts at events, such as the World Championships of Beach Ultimate in France, the USA Ultimate Masters Championships in Colorado and the Canadian Ultimate Championships in Ottawa, has been to start a conversation. To get people asking, talking and (hopefully) thinking about equity in ultimate.
When I first came to Daniel with the design idea for the shirts, he asked me a question similar those listed above. I was proud that one of my own team members was challenging me on the idea, and, right then, I knew that this was the message I wanted to get out there and engage about with our community.
- It means that society, including our wonderful ultimate community, needs to be working together to discuss, understand and make progress around the problem of gender equity.
- In order for female athletes to catch up in terms of opportunities available to them with comparison to those available to male athletes, there needs to be equitable action, not just equal action. As a community, we need to focus energy and resources on the development of female athletes and their competitive opportunities to make up for so much lost ground. If we only give female athletes the same support as male athletes, female athletes will never close the gap.
- Aggressive, no. Assertive, yes.
- Thank you to the young male for illustrating exactly why we need to have these discussions. For reference, please see almost every history book, ever, and report back on who it was about. The Future is Female because the past has been Male.
The statement "The Future is Female" is one of will and purpose. It's about where we are going, the necessary journey to equality for all athletes, and what is needed to get there - a distinctive investment in supporting female athletes.
What is the story?
Unless you've been hiding as of late under a rock far, far away from "mainstream" ultimate media, you know that equity is a topic demanding the attention of players around the world. It's bringing out the best of our community, and also shedding light on situations and perspectives that I believe are detrimental to the positive growth and exceptional potential of our sport.
This post isn't about those examples, though... although I'm happy to discuss them with any one directly. This post is simply to explain why I felt it was important for the VC team to put this message across our chests and out in to the world.
The explanation is simple: We need to talk about equity, and each and every one of us needs to find a way to spark that conversation with friends and strangers alike if we're ever going to make progress. I want to hear from one of my team members that he doesn't really fully get it. I want to hear from a masters player who wouldn't want their kid wearing this shirt. I want to hear from the female engineer who is the only female engineer in her firm who wants to wear the shirt to work. I want to hear from the boys team coach who overhears sideline stories from his players which indicate that they have a lot to learn about respecting other individuals.
I want to ask the junior player who folds the shirt in half and says to his friends, "The future is male!" if he understands where we're coming from with this shirt and how he understands our message.
If we don't listen, we don't learn. We don't bust out of our own carefully curated bubbles to more fully develop our own beliefs.
If we don't challenge ourselves to take deep breaths and listen and, then, calmly share our own perspectives, how are we to expect others to do the same for us?
If we don't challenge the status quo, we won't know our own potential as a sport. Personally, I want more for ultimate.
So, like'em or leave'em, I'm proud of our Future is Female shirts, and all I can ask is that you respect that. Or better yet, talk to me about it.
Thanks for reading,
Proudly wearing my staff shirt while talking about... you guessed it... women's development with WFDF's Caz Malone on the #UltiShow
Interested in VC-supported equity-related organizations or initiatives?
- Without Limits Ultimate
- Ultiworld/Media coverage: VC Ultimate To Sponsor, Help Grow Women’s College Coverage and VC Extends Women’s Coverage Sponsorship To Support Division III Nationals Reporting
- VC Women's Development Sponsorship
- WFDF Women in Sport Commission
Let's discuss how the Future Is Transgender, The Future Is Gay, The Future is Multicultural, The Future Is (insert any other credible movement that absolutely deserves support). Let's talk about the Future Is Equality For All.