Click on the picture to see the surprising array of items for sale...
I'm almost done with the soccer postings... Here's my last one...
I just had to take these pictures in a store that sells sports-related gifts. An entire wall is devoted to SOCCER and GIRLS' LOVE OF THE SPORT.
What is blog-worthy about this? Seems pretty obvious, no?
Not to anyone living in Russia... I brought the director of our elementary school into this shop when she was visiting us last month and she was STUNNED.
You see, even in the girls' Western-style "enlightened" school... girls just DO NOT play soccer.
The P.E. teacher is a wonderful woman who was even on the national team back in her day, winning many titles! Who better to coach our girls? She would LOVE to!
But we don't have enough girls to form a team! (The BOYS get to have a team, and they even got to play a game in the Olympic stadium!) I rallied and rallied, trying to convince other parents to let their girls sign up. No can do... While some parents do think a girls' team would be great, there just aren't enough. (I noticed that most of those supportive parents work in Western companies and have significant interaction with foreigners... Many of them have also lived for a period overseas...)
You see, in Russia, only LESB-ANS* play soccer. This is a "fact" according to almost everyone I asked. ARGH.
It's really too bad... There are girls in the elementary school who would love to play, but their parents just won't let them...
Maybe it's the way people raise an eyebrow when boys do ballet in America? But do people even do that anymore? Maybe it depends on where you are in America? It's no big deal at all for boys to wear tights (even when eight or nine!) under their clothing or to dance in Moscow... So what's the big deal about girls and soccer?
Katya has so many t-shirts featuring soccer, all covered in sparkly sequins... And headbands, bracelets, etc... No one gives her any trouble for it, though... Pretty much anything our family does that's odd (letting the kids pick out their own outfits and do their hair--however they turn out, my wearing flats, my using a backpack, the girls wearing short-sleeved shirts all year long, the decidedly casual style of the girls' clothing, my ever-present travel mug) is simply chalked up to our being "American" and let slide...
I'm repeatedly amazed by the intensity of homophobia in Moscow... In popular culture, the color light blue, or "goluboi," also is a derogatory term for a gay man. As a result, I've ended up removing blue playing pieces from board games I use in class—so that no boy is stuck having to use them (no one EVER wants them, any way), thus subjected to any kind of teasing. It's ridiculous! Others shrug it off when it happens, but I can SEE how much it hurts some kids and I just won't allow it in my presence...
Now I really understand how when I was hired, the Director of the school told me that one of his main hopes for my teaching wouldn't be simply to share native-speaker English—it would be to share an American belief of TOLERANCE.
Here's raising a glass in the hopes of more open-mindedness in the future... (The other parents at our school would NEVER believe that anyone would even make—or buy—or use—this set above...!)
*Just a note about how I wrote the word without the "i." I only did this to reduce the number of hits from people looking for "adult" content. I'm SICK of getting readers like that, readers who sometimes leave a trail that brings other such readers. Having monitored for a few years what key words bring new readers to my site, I've learned to avoid anything that could attract people looking for *ornography. I've also learned what words in general to avoid with a blog that has "American Girls" in the title! I certainly meant no offense.