Tonight after dinner, the girls were doing their usual thing, running around the kitchen and great room. At one point our youngest told us she was going to see how far she could jump as she ran, and I told them about long jump. Now, this is where some parents would digress into a story about how when they were in university, they were on the varsity track and field team, and won silver in long jump. I won't be making such a digression, although I do remember a singular dream during high school, where I was competing in long jump and decided, mid jump, not to land but continue running through the air. But I digress.
So I showed the girls what it was all about, and they were amazed. They couldn't believe that such a sport could exist, and we quickly cleared a path so they could run on the hardwood and jump when they hit the carpet. I was witness to some incredible distances.
At some point I suggested we look for videos on long jump so they could see how to land without skidding their bare knees on the carpet. I did a quick search and found some great long jump videos right away. However, almost every result I was getting were of men, and I wanted to show the girls that women excel in this sport too. Another search, and we saw women doing incredible jumps. The girls absolutely loved it, and I had to pause many times so they could go and try what they were seeing. "She's really jumping that far, dad?" Of course they wanted to see more--I did too, it was amazing to watch--and I continued to click through the related videos. Only, I very quickly found that it was difficult to find anything that wasn't about female atheletes' bodies instead of the practice of their sport.
I'm not a naieve web user, and I have come to expect that I'll need to skim, skip, and ignore most of what I encounter online. That's fine: I'm a jaded adult. But I find it depressing that I can't inspire my daughters to try and be like these incredible women without also needing to sexualize the experience.