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Racecars and Bowling…. A Synopsis of Gender and Me….

RaceBowl Pic
Left Image:  My first racecar, I was 15 or 16 in this picture (1992 or 1993).
Right Image:  Bowling at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, NV in 2005 or 2006.

When I was 5 or 6 a somewhat older neighborhood girl I had never met before saw me playing outside and joined me.  The next day, she came again.  It was not until a few days later that she realized I too was a little girl.  I suppose it could have been because everyone calls me Chris that she thought I was a boy.  I never really knew, and I never saw her again.  My last memory of her was a drawing of a body part she left in the sand.  At that age, it was unrecognizable.  But, as a I grew older I realized it was, in fact, a penis.  Maybe she was curious about mine, and disappointed I was just a girl like her.  Either way, that memory stuck with me my whole life.  Yes, I was a tomboy.  No, I did not actually look like a boy.  My best friend from the down the street was just as much of a tomboy as me, and the only girl in the neighborhood who could keep up with the dirt and trees I normally played in and on.

As I got older, I guess I got more “girly.”  My sister was a tomboy, but she was one who wore makeup and had perfect hair.  As early 90s arrived, I became more concerned about my appearance and less concerned with being a tomboy.  I never played sports or went four-wheeling as my sister did.  Instead, I became obsessed with my hair and my makeup.  I wore skirts and dresses and all kinds of flowery things.  I spent hours on my hair with a curling iron and a bottle of AquaNet.  I got up close to two hours before school to make sure I looked perfect before I left.  When I was 14, things would change once again.  That summer I went to Monadnock Speedway in New Hampshire.  As I saw racecars flying around the track and accidents galore, I decided I wanted to do this.  As soon as I got home, I told my dad I wanted to be a racecar driver.

Most parents would laugh it off.  Obviously, and especially in New England, no parent was just going to get their kid a racecar.  My dad is not your typical parent.  On my 15th birthday, my dad bought me a racecar.  It was an Enduro car, and beat to crap, but it was mine.  That summer (with a falsified age), I started racing cars.  I had never even driven a car before.  I got a quick lesson in it before I headed out for my first race.  My dad’s one caveat to this whole adventure is that I could only enter the “powderpuff” race that went on after all the other divisions raced.  It bothered me, but I lived with it.  After all, I did not want to race just girls.  I wanted to race with everyone.  The next year I got to race with everyone, and by everyone, I mean all guys, and I did so for 10 years off and on after that.  I remember only one year that another woman raced in the same division, other than that, it was just the boys and me.  I wasn’t great, but I had some seconds and thirds, won some money and some trophies.  It has been at least 9 years since I raced.  When I think back to that part of my life, it is almost surreal.  People who hear I raced are far more impressed with me, than I am with myself.  I never thought of it being a big deal, even though I was a female in a male-dominated sport.  I raced cars because I thought it was cool.  I never thought of the gender issue.  I never thought of myself as any different from them.  I was a racecar driver, not a female racecar driver.

I still think this way.  I gave up racing because of work and school, and started bowling.  Bowling is a male-dominated sport, at least on the competitive level.  I bowl on historically “male” leagues, and I compete.  I still do not view myself as a woman bowler, just a bowler.  I go head to head against men, and many times, I beat them.  Again, I never think about the gender issue.  I have bowled against more men than women, and I strive to beat the best, male or female.  A 300 game is a 300 game.  My picture is up on the wall next to all the men who have shot one.  I am tied for the women’s house record and state record for high series, but maybe someday I will bowl a series that is just a record, no need for gender differentiation.  Anyone that has read my McSorley’s post will know that I do not consider myself a staunch feminist.  Perhaps I let my sex down at times, but I feel that my contribution to equality is by having the mindset and the desire to compete in these male-dominated sports with no desire to be acknowledged just because I am a female.  I just want to do the things I want to do to the best of my ability, not to the best of my gender.

2 responses to “Racecars and Bowling…. A Synopsis of Gender and Me….”

  1. Avatar disperse says:

    There was a time in my household, when we lived with my mother-in-law, that Wii Bowling was a female-dominated sport.

  2. Avatar The Tailor says:

    That's the key to getting past gender bias: not seeing it in the first place.

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Christina About Christina

*Christina “Olives” Lamoureux is the self-fulfilling prophecy of a quirky and sarcastic procrastinator. When faced with the reality of work, she generally takes a nap instead. She currently lives and attends graduate school in Fitchburg, MA, where she spends her time studying really old stuff as an Ancient and Medieval History major. She is very slowly writing a true crime story that has nothing to do with ancient or medieval history, but aspires to write historical fiction as well. The only perfect thing she has done in her life is thrown a 300 game in ten pin bowling; since that occurred in her twenties, it is now ancient history as well. Besides history and bowling, she “sees dead people” as part of a paranormal investigation team. When she cannot afford to indulge in her martini fetish, she reads or watches terrible, pointless TV.

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