How is gender equity different than equality?
Gender equity acknowledges the historic and current conditions that have marginalized women, and attempts to amend these past and current injustices and biases. Equality, however, assumes that everyone comes from the same playing field and deserves equal treatment. Equality fails to acknowledge that others come from disadvantaged and marginalized positions.
Is this a new problem? Why are so many people talking about this now?
Gender inequalities exist in many arenas and have existed for centuries, ultimate is not alone. However, because ultimate has grown exponentially in recent years (think ESPN, Pro leagues), in many ways, gender inequities have also become more visible. Female athletes have tried for years to bring attention to this topic, but only until now has it gained as much traction and critical mass from the community.
I’m not actively part of the problem because I am not sexist, does this really affect me?
The problem is that inequities exist between female and male ultimate players. Gender inequity is a system of power relations where one group is thought of as superior to the other. Just by participating in this system as is, you’re contributing to these inequities. So, even if you don’t use slurs related to gender, you are still participating in a system that discriminates based on gender. It is also important to recognize that overt and subtle forms of sexism exist.
I play open/women’s and do not directly interact with the other gender, how does this apply to me?
Acknowledging that gender inequity exists is one of the biggest steps. So, even if you don’t work with female ultimate players, your ability to make space for women, on and off the field, is essential. This shows up in your interactions with your single gender teammates.
I play mixed, does this automatically make me an ally?
No. It’s important to understand the systems of inequity and actively act to make sure that you and your teammates aren’t actively contributing to the problem (ie: sexist comments/language, ignoring your female teammates until a male teammate makes the same comment).
I want to take steps to make womens and mens ultimate more equitable, how do I do this?
There is no single answer. Everything from being conscious of the language you use to helping facilitate a safe space for women to voice their concerns and listening to their experiences is something that everyone can do to begin to work toward a more equitable future.
I’m a man and want to be an ally. How can I help?
First, it’s important to recognize when you’re taking up too much space and when it’s time for you to intervene. If you see someone contributing to the problem, whether it’s through their actions or remarks, it’s important that you step in and intervene. On the other hand, if you’re in a group setting, give women a chance to speak and once they do, don’t talk over or repeat what they just said, and avoid mansplaining (assuming female peers don’t know as much as you or talking to women in a condescending or patronizing manner).