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May 14, 1993 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-05-14

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Editor's Notebook

Throwing Like Girls

Mrs. Miller's
class, Fallstaff
School in Balti-
more. That's
where it hap-
pened. That's
when, in 1963, I
received my first dose of fem-
inism. It's almost 30 years lat-
er, and it's stuck.
The scenario went some-
thing like this. We had a class
of 20 girls and nine boys. Of
those 20 girls, perhaps five
were the best athletes in the
class. The best boy in the
class was the sixth-best ath-
lete. Now, this was a time
when girls had to wear skirts
and dresses to school, and
they largely didn't associate
with the boys. Yet, the girls
in our class played punch ball,
dodge ball, anything and
everything with the boys.

For some reason, these
warm spring days always re-
mind me of that afternoon on
the playground. As an adult,
I spent two summers follow-
ing my wife around Wash-
ington, D .0 ., softball
diamonds. She played left
field on a women's Top Flight
tournament team, so I saw
firsthand what women could
do on the field.
In the mid-'80s, I played on
an ice hockey team that won
its division in the Washing-
ton, D.C., area. Three of my
teammates were women. The
best skater and puck handler,

Don't Tolerate

women on the Detroit Tigers.
It's nothing that can be easi-
ly camouflaged with a "Well,
honey, one day," response.
She wants to know now.
There's something else she
wants to know, as well, and
she wants to know it now.
There are friends of hers,
boys, who say she is a pretty
good ballplayer for a girl.
Where does that come
from? Does it come from their
fathers? Does it come from
their friends? Is television the
Children, both boys and
girls, need to know that they

Children learn
from the message
senders, be they
parents, friends or

One warm spring day, a
team of punch ball players
was formed comprised pre-
dominately of boys. I re-
sponded by saying to the
teacher, "This isn't fair. There
are more boys on the team
than girls."

Mrs. Miller's response:
' "Philip, when are you going
to learn that girls can play
ball just as well as boys, if not
) better? In fact, Philip, girls
can do just about everything
as good or better than boys.
Nothing like having 28 oth-
er sets of eyes staring at you.
The way you execute an
"out" in punch ball is to hit
, the runner with the rubber
' ball before he or she reaches
base. Nothing like being the
extra-incentive target while
• starting that run to that base.
It was like one of those scenes
from an old Western movie
when the cowboy, caught by
the Indians, is forced to run
unarmed through a human
passageway of clubs.

But none of the punch ball
hits could replace the impact
Mrs. Miller's statements had
on me. Don't forget, the
women's liberation move-
ment, Equal Rights Amend-
' ment, and other efforts
> focused on women's equality
weren't even born yet. Actu-
ally, its founders were proba-
bly throwing the playground
ball at me.



Girls are excelling and are quickly moving up to high levels of competition.

no argument, was a woman.
Now in the '90s, and with
the distribution last year of
the successful movie A League
of Their Own about women
baseball players, it should be
apparent to everyone that
women can compete well
against one another and as
teammates and opponents of
men. Their achievements
aren't restricted to athletics,
There are women fighter
pilots and combat specialists,
women professionals, women
excelling in all fields. And
perhaps one of the greatest
success stories, especially in
this day, is the woman who
chooses to be a mother. There
is, perhaps, no more reward-
ing and no tougher job out
On these warm days, while
I toss the softball around with
my two daughters, my 9-year-
old asks why there aren't

can dream; they can reach for
any goal. No boy can tell Lau-
ren Wolfe, the Okemos High
wrestler who won more than
she lost this year against the
boys, that she wrestles pret-
ty well for a girl.
A physician, who happens
to be a woman, isn't a good
doctor...for a woman. You get
the point. Now let's teach our
children that point. Women
shouldn't learn about their
self-worth at adulthood. It
needs to come from the time
they are little girls.
But perhaps more impor-
tant, boys need to see their
sisters and female friends and
classmates as equals, without
feeling the threat from their
male friends that they have
to better than any girl.
Next time our daughters
throw the ball, they throw
like ballplayers. But if they
throw like girls, so what?

Is it my imagi-
nation, or are
we Jews becom-
ing even more
nasty to, and in-
tolerant of, each
other than usu-
Not that we
haven't always
disagreed and fought — the
religious and the secular, the
Zionists and the non-Zionists,
the doves and the hawks. Two
Jews, three opinions. And the
Jew on the deserted island
who builds two synagogues:
"One I pray in every day; the
other I wouldn't step foot
True, feistiness, passion
and combativeness are part of,
our tradition. Some say it's
kept us going all these years.
But it seems to me the level of
discourse is sinking and the
lack of mutual respect among
us is growing of late.
Some examples: Shulamit
Aloni, the outspoken and con-
troversial Minister of Educa-
tion in Israel, shocked even
her left-wing supporters re-
cently when she criticized Is-
raeli Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin. Not for his policies on
the territories or the economy,
but for reciting the Sh'ma at
ceremonies in Poland com-
memorating the Warsaw
Ghetto uprising.
Mr. Rabin, not known for
being either emotional or re-
ligiously traditional, put on
a black yarmulke at the end
of his Warsaw speech last
month and recited the Sh'ma
Yisrael prayer, "Hear, 0 Is-
rael, the Lord our God, the
Lord is One." He noted that
these words were on the lips
of many of the victims of the
Holocaust just before they
Mrs. Aloni later criticized
Mr. Rabin's action for imply-
ing that the victims went to
their deaths with a sense of
submission or resignation.
That was the last straw for
Shas, a religious party, that
was prepared to pull out of the
fragile Rabin coalition if Mrs.
Aloni was not replaced.
Mrs. Aloni has a long record
of criticizing Orthodox Jewish
practices, even when such
statements have threatened
her political career. If the gov-
ernment was to fall over the
latest flap, thus halting the
Mideast peace talks, it would
only prove to religious Jews
that Israeli leftists like Mrs.
Aloni hate religious Jews
more than they love peace.
But Orthodox Jews are not
blameless, either, in the We
Aren't One sweepstakes. (Crit-

ics could argue that Shas'
readiness to bring down the
government over Mrs.
Aloni's statements proved
that religious Jews hate
leftists more than they love
peace.) Closer to home, this
past week the annual
Salute to Israel parade in
New York was given a black
eye by the controversy over
the participation of a large-
ly gay and lesbian congre-
gation in Manhattan.
One need not condone the
gay lifestyle to argue that
all Jews who support Israel
should march together in a
spirit of solidarity. While
Orthodox groups view gays
as violating Jewish law,

We Jews will
always disagree
with each other,
but we must never
hate each other.

they do not suggest that
Jews who violate other Jew-
ish laws — of kashrut or
family purity or Sabbath ob-
servance — be banned from
the parade. To do so, they
realize, would be ludicrous,
insulting and self-destruc-
tive. Why, then, did they in-
sist on excluding the gays
before they would partici-
pate themselves?
This was a needless de-
bate that only served to em-
barrass the Jewish
community and deflect from
the cause of support for Is-
Several national Jewish
leaders have spoken pri-
vately of their concern that
the climate of discourse
among Jews is deteriorat-
ing. They say they are con-
fronted by a new
phenomenon — name-call-
ing and hate mail from fel-
low Jews who disagree with
their positions, on topics
ranging from Mideast peace
to the Pollard spy case.
Perhaps that's indicative
of the rest of society, whose
tolerance for intolerant be-
havior is expanding. Any-
one not convinced that raw
language and public dis-
cussion of what used to be
private issues is common is
instructed to turn on the af-
ternoon talk shows any
weekday. But that doesn't
mean we should stoop to
such a level.
We who are so quick to
fault other groups for how


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