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Boys playing netball

Four years ago I wrote a post objecting to girls playing rugby, saying that back in my day, no girl would be seen dead playing such a game. Yet my old high-school had a picture of one of the pupils on page 3 of the Dominion Post diving through the air holding a rugby ball.

With the story Andrei posted yesterday on the parents who won't reveal the sex of their newborn baby so that he/she can decide what he/she wants to be, I can see now that girls playing boy's games and boys playing girl's games is part of that same spectrum, where it's not considered important to teach boys to be boys and girls to be girls.

Today I had to send an email to my son's physical education teacher asking why the boys in his class will be taught netball by the girls. I mentioned the increasing gender confusion in society, and the concept of tearing down internal barriers so that boys and girls are indoctrinated in such a way that the confusion is encouraged.

I don't know if the email will have any effect, but thought I better do it because this man teaches them "Health", which will also include sex education. If he's encouraging boys to be girls via netball, who knows what he'll teach when it comes to sex.


  1. Oustanding.

  2. Sorry Lucyna, but for goodness sake, this is just sport. Social netball with men and mixed groups is already commonplace.

    It's merely a game.

    When In NZ I was a coach/player/committee member of a local hockey club. My rugbyhead mates may have jest it is a woman's sport, but ironically it's probably the most 50/50 sport in term of gender you can find. As a coach of both male and female teams I can assure you gender stereoptypes never came into play. It was merely about the standard sport objectives: strategies for winning, improving physical capabilities etc.

    I would lay off the PE teacher on this occasion. You have bigger battles to fight!

  3. Sean,

    My most important battles around to do with my children, that's why the blog quite often takes a back seat to what I'm doing in real life.

    In an email exchange with the Head of Department, I was told that the purpose of playing netball was to develop interpersonal skills - cooperation, communication, encouragement, relating to others.

    When I asked by basketball wasn't used for this purpose, I was told they would be playing it next year (ie, a sidestep of the question).

    So, in other words, it's not about sport at all. It's hardly about physical education either.

    Most of the boys don't want to play netball, so they are being forced to play something they don't want to play that they know is a girls game. Adults, at least have the ability to decide whether they want to play it or not, and personally I think any man that wants to play netball, with all the twirling involved, must be a bit weird. But these boys aren't adults and they are being forced to play this game. If that's not a battle worth fighting, I don't know what is.

  4. Tourist, whose blog is called Off the Gaydar, therefore indicating he is one of those sexually confused individuals that are prevalent in NZ society today, makes the ironic comment:

    Sweetheart the only thing you should be worried about is how your poor son is ever going to see women as social equals with a mother who single-handedly attempts to set the feminist movement back decades.

    Anyone who calls me "sweetheart" in such a context is obviously being patronising, and thus not treating me as an equal. Who has the problem with women?

  5. Lucyna - indeed sport also encourages interpersonal skills, cooperation, communication, encouragement, and relating to others; as the HoD says.

    Sport does that, especially team sports because they bring a body of individuals together to achieve a common target. So it is about sport.

    Boys don't want to do a lot of things, dancing and music are up there on the list. But since when has pandering to the child's immediate wishes been good for them long term? Think of the aforementioned benefits sport can bring to those who make an effort to participate. Netball has the same fundamentals as other team sports.

    As for the comment "with all the twirling involved" you should be aware that males playing social netball don't wear skirts. If you're confused with the manoeuvre of twisting/changing direction, I can't see much difference with basketball. Not weird at all

  6. "When I asked by basketball wasn't used for this purpose, I was told they would be playing it next year (ie, a sidestep of the question)."

    The Head of Department's an idiot then. Netball's rules about areas of the court players are allowed in and the inability to run with the ball make it a really good way to learn all those skill that you opposed to basketball which tends to encourage dribbling showoffery.

  7. Sean, you asked: "But since when has pandering to the child's immediate wishes been good for them long term?"

    It's when you get them to do something they feel is wrong, and here I'm backing my son on this. I feel it's wrong as well. Just as I would feel it would be wrong to make girls play rugby or wrestle, especially if they were to do so with boys.

    There are a whole group of people that believe that boys and girls are essentially the same, that the only difference their genitalia, that sexual differences are only socialised, and those people do everything in their power to reverse that socialisation. Netball looks to be one of their tools. If you can't see that, then I obviously can't explain it to you.

    So, it then has to come down to not only what the child is comfortable with, but also what their parents want them to learn. I have expressed to the school my reasons for not wanting my son to be forced, against his will, to play netball, given that is still a girl's game, and that he is not a girl. If they continue to make him play the game, then they are overstepping the bounds of their authority, and I have to think that they have an agenda.

  8. Lucyna - in typical blog fashion, you pick on they one point you wish to attack and ignore the rest. Therefore my points on the benefits of team sports stand.

    But on the point you raise - my meaning was akin to a child not wanting to eat his/her vegetables. If your son (I don't know his age, please tell me) is under 12/13 - the age of puberty and learning the bird&bees - is thinking like this then I can only think he has been made aware of too much too early. And I am sure this is not that case having read your posts on the concerns of the sexualisation of our children before their time (posts I generally agree with). If he is over that age then not doubt he is having the same grizzle I would have at that age - not different from the exposure to other less male-oriented activities (like singing, dance and music I mentioned earlier). Probably normal but as a teen this is a time when a parent should at least guide the troubled adolescent through such tumultuous years. We know having a burst at netball or any team sport in an school environment is not gay, nor feminine. If one think it is, they need to look at themselves. I bet you the All Blacks have had a training session with some netball involved to hone a skill related to what I mentioned above. If one of them took the view of your son, I am sure he would look like a bit of a fool pretty quickly.

  9. Sean,

    Yes, in typical blog fashion I do ignore the points that I don't consider important. So, if it's about sport, then why not pick a sport that's not considered a girl's game?

    My son is 14, is already shaving and is pretty close to me in height (is over 5'11" and still growing). He has a strong sense of what is and isn't appropriate, probably because I'm his mother, but moreso because it's an intrinsic part of him. So if he feels something is wrong, I have to give him a very good reason as to why he should do it.

    To give you an example, recently he's been asked by various girls whether he likes a particular girl at school. He knows the word "like" is loaded and doesn't even want to say to her (as I suggested) that sure he likes her. He would rather just not say anything at this stage, and for now the girls have given up.

    Today, in the paper is a story of 3 fifteen year old boys rescuing a 12 year old from 2 much bigger men. He read that story this morning and pointed it out to me. He was very impressed. He's at the age where he is learning what it is to be a man, and stories like this give him something to aspire to.

    What I find interesting, having played netball before, is what is this implication of yours specifically that netball does what no other game does. I played netball for many years, and I don't understand why it's so special, what it is supposed to do. And they are only going to play it for a five weeks, so they're not going to pick up much more than just how to play the game. Maybe you can enlighten me on this point, even though you've not played netball, but seem to have strong views on it anyway.

  10. I've updated my name to Dan J but rest assured I'm still the Tourist who commented yesterday.

    Here's a comment re your comment, enjoy:

    I applaud Lucia Maria’s realisation that I was in fact being patronising when I called her ‘sweetheart’ in my last entry1, the title of which is becoming more appropriate with every comment she posts. She has condescended to reply to my deconstruction of her illogical and rather bizarre assertions about gender construction...

  11. As I said, team sports - netball included - have the same fundamentals. This is despite female-favoured (netball, gymnastics, camogie), gender neutral (hockey) or male-favoured (most of the rest).

    So your son is 14 and well on the way to becoming an adult. Of course you are right to listen to him when he has concerns. But we all know that this is a critical transition phase (between child and adult), and it is ultimately down to the parent to parent them. To merely refer to netball as a "girls game" is - in my view - to ignore the benefits this team sport can offer to any participant.

    Your paragraphs 3 & 4 are sensible but irrelevant to the point at hand.

    Regarding your last paragraph, back on netball: I can understand you personally don't see it as special. Fine, each unto their own. Probably your son - like I - have a similar view. But I never said it was special, I pointed out it had the qualities of other team sports, that the school's HoD mentioned. And if it's only for 5 weeks then it resonates with my earlier comment about it being only a 'burst' at netball. Hardly something to get ones knickers in a twist about.

  12. Sorry Dan, but change of name, change of tune (re interpretation of 'sweetheart') is all a bit much. You really should have got your shit organised earlier.

  13. Sean,

    Yes, they are only playing it for 5 weeks, therefore it's not going to actually do anything for them (even all the interpersonal stuff crap) except socialise them to accept playing a girl's game. Therefore, choosing it is an ideological choice on behalf of the school.

    You don't have children, you don't worry about this sort of stuff, fine. But just remember, life sometimes has to be more than just caving to the fashions of the day.

  14. Dan/Tourist, I'm not going to go read your post. You want to say something to me, say it here.

  15. There are a whole group of people that believe that boys and girls are essentially the same, that the only difference their genitalia, that sexual differences are only socialised, and those people do everything in their power to reverse that socialisation. Netball looks to be one of their tools.

    It's two teams doing stuff with a ball. Any sex differentiation you apply to variations on two teams doing stuff with a ball is pretty much by definition "only socialised."

  16. Lucyna - I disagree getting involved in team sports will do nothing for the individual, including your son, as well as the other pupils. The benefits I have stated already. You said "even all the interpersonal stuff crap", well I can tell you as someone who works in a business environment that developed interpersonal skills are a premium and an advantage in most environments. I am sure you don't want to deny your son this opportunity for personal growth.

    Yes, I don't yet have children, but this shouldn't mean I don't concern myself with such matters. It's about determining the wheat from the chaff and quite frankly, from your comments on this particular thread, I don't think you are capable of differentiating between the 'fashion of the day' and reasonable, sensible judgement. The "girls game" reference says it all really.

  17. The problem is feminizing boys and masculinizing girls is that it is an ideological stance that leads to tears and human unhappiness which when all said and done is its real purpose, coming as it does from the Devil himself.

  18. Andrei - that's a call a long way from 5 weeks of netball tuition, wouldn't you agree? If someone saw practising netball for 5 weeks as "feminising" or coming from the Devil himself I would call him a plonker that needs to grow up. And I'm being nice.

  19. Read it/don't read I don't care. Keen as you are I'll copy it for your sake:

    I applaud your realisation that I was in fact being patronising when I called you ‘sweetheart’ in my last entry, the title of which is becoming more appropriate with every comment you post.

    1)By calling you ‘sweetheart’ I was being anti-feminist?
    In all honesty, I will happily call any ignorant person (male or female) ‘sweetheart’ if the mood takes me. It is patronising, but of the inadequacy of your argument rather than your gender. As I clearly demonstrated in my last entry1, I’m very much for women’s rights, a claim you can hardly make.
    2)I am ‘one of those sexually confused individuals that are prevalent in New Zealand society today’?
    Your attempt to claim that I’m the anti-egalitarian really collapses here. Forget feminism. Homosexuality is the real issue that somehow invalidates my opinion. My concern for your son’s gender perspectives is growing by the minute. Thank your lucky stars the government doesn’t pursue eugenics (something you no doubt would approve of).

    So, the failure to address my argument aside, all you have managed to do is reveal the extent of your own intolerance and bigotry and introduced further faults to your already shaky opinions.

  20. Dan - all you have done is call Lucyna "intolerant" and tried to explain your own use of the term "sweetheart". Do you have anything constructive to add?

  21. Come on Sean
    Its not boys playing netball per se thats the problem - that is a tiny drip in the vain attempt to erode gender differences.

    I drive my daughter to school on the other side of town to get her away from the local school which is afflicted with that sort of PC nonsense.

    That particular school (the one she doesn't go to) can't even field a credible first fifteen rugby team for the boys - little interest, which is why we moved our boy.

    My eldest, who is quite athletic, did go there and she loathed doing PE with the boys but that's the way it was and when doing competitive things the boys were given a handicap.

    At primary school my boy was forced to play T-Ball in a mixed team and not allowed to play cricket at interval with a real bat and ball but had to use dinky plastic bat and ball. T-ball for goodness sakes! Talk about squishing competitiveness.

    We need to be boys to become men and girls to become women not its because their future happiness and wellbeing depends upon it.

  22. Sean - My only addition to this topic is to outline how it alienates certain groups of society in unconstructive ways. As far as I'm concerned nothing helpful is voiced in what Lucia has said. Only a reinforcement of negative elements of society.

  23. Actually I do have something else to add - anyone who calls me a sexually confused individual after the years it has taken me to come to terms with the way I am deserves zero tolerance. Her thoughts are outdated and bigoted. She deserves all the criticism she gets - including mine.

  24. Dan,

    God made you, a unique individual and a man out of love for a greater purpose than just to be a sexual plaything for other men. Whatever feelings and thoughts and desires you have or have had, cannot take that away from you.

    Unfortunately society now would rather you are trapped in your sexual identity that you've taken on, which is a destructive and unnatural way of being, than being led into true freedom from the sometimes animalistic desires of the body.

    Please don't take this post as attack on you personally, because it isn't that.

  25. It's quite a leap from gay man to sexual plaything, Lucia. I'm afraid you might have fallen victim to those demonizing stereotypes that circulate.

    My sexual identity is no trap. Conforming to the sexual identity society (you) wants me to is the real trap and let me tell it's not fun pretending to be something you're not.

    How is homosexuality unnatural?

    Heterosexuals also have animalistic sexual urges. They too are animals in the biological sense.

    You are attacking basic social freedoms. It is an attack on many people on a personal level, myself included.

  26. Dan,

    Yes, it could be considered a leap. Let's see if I can explain it.

    Most human beings have sexual urges. It just how those sexual urges are expressed that determines whether we are living in such a way is for our ultimate good or not. Sexual activity within a true marriage, without contraception, renews marriage vows and images the Trinity (ie the love between two potentially creates a third). Anything else, including pornography, masturbation and unmarried sex of any type (including homosexual sex) degrades the human person.

    All human beings are not only biological, they are spiritual. We not only have base physical instincts, we have an intellect and a capacity to love that is able, with the appropriate help, to stop the biological from overwhelming and controlling the person.

    When you say that it's no fun to pretend being something you are not, you have fallen victim to the idea that you are your urges, which is false. Biologically and spiritually you are a man. The physical is how the invisible (the spirit) is expressed. You are both physical and spiritual. Take one away and you are incomplete.

    Once you've fallen, the battle for your soul is over. Until you get involved in conversations like this one, that is. And then that internal sense of right and wrong is triggered, which would of course feel very uncomfortable, because we are wired that way so that we will be able to find our way back.

    In heaven, all your sexual urges will be gone. So, that which you define yourself by now, here on earth, will no longer exist. Therefore, it does not and cannot define what and who you are, which is a man and a unique individual created out of love by God.

    Our society tells men that they need to feel lust for women in order to be heterosexual - that is wrong. Lust is the opposite of love. Lust seeks to devour, while as love wants nothing for itself, only for the other.

    Presumably, feeling no lust for women, your lust is somehow turned in on itself, making you think you can only gain satisfaction through other men. Except, lust is never satisfied. It only leads to more and more degradation, especially if there is no appropriate tempering relationship, such as marriage for it to be transformed into love.

  27. I don't play a lot of sport nowadays but when I was younger I played representative tennis and hockey. Prior to that I played age group rugby league for a club as well as cricket at school. More recently I played indoor cricket and indoor netball 3-4 nights a week, both mixed and men's grades.

    In my experience, netball is an excellent sport and I would encourage anybody, male or female to play it if they want a fast and skillful sport to take up in the evenings.(indoor netball) Why would you consider it a girls game? If two all male teams are playing against each other is it still a girls game?

    Or are you saying it is a girls game because you think it's easy, non athletic, non skillful, non contact, etc, etc. If so, I can assure you it is an extremely fast, skillful and very competitive game. As for the non contact, like all non contact sports (eg football) there is more than a fair share of body checks, elbows, etc, etc. And sorry girls, but some of our female opponents were the hardest in regards to breaking the no contact rules!

    Or are you saying it's a girls sport simply because it is played predominantly by females? If so, then you would obviously consider many sports (such as tennis, basketball, golf, gymnastics, athletics, the list goes on) to be off limits to females as they used to be men only affairs?

    If your son is a sporty type, he'll love playing any competitive sport just like I did. Thinking about whether it's a girls or boys sport doesn't come into it. It's just a sport. Also, it's a great chance for him to have quality social interaction with the girls teaching them the rules of the game, rather than have to build up the confidence to approach them otherwise. He might even get a girlfriend out of it if he doesn't already have one.

    It could be infinitely worse. They could be teaching him to believe in the bible and organized religion for example!

    I'm sorry, but you sound like a typical indoctrinated right winger who tries to stifle creativity and progress by demanding that people be kept in confined areas of activity which you deem to be acceptable. It's just another method of control. By trying to say this is a girls only thing or that is boys only thing or that is a Muslim thing or this is a white person thing, etc (See where that's headed?) you inadvertently perpetuate the restrictions placed upon people due to plain old discrimination, racism, intolerance, etc,etc.

    You mentioned 'back in your day', well times have changed, society has moved forward (in some aspects). There's more troublesome and infinitely more important things in society that need your attention than thinking that a boy playing netball is some secretive plan by the authorities to turn boys into girls.

  28. [quote] ragingglory said...

    Well done Lucia for your courage in speaking out. Ours is an evil society where it is considered more evil to oppose evil than to partake in it. Abortion, homosexuality, pornography, these things are all satanic and are dooming souls every day. God bless you and keep fighting the good fight. We fight for Christ in a battle that is not of flesh and blood.
    11:04 PM, May 27, 2011 [/quote]

    Did God persecute Job to win a bet with the devil?

  29. Andrei - where is the evidence that it is all about eroding gender differences? Do you think the objectives and abilities of netball are much different than soccer? Or any other male-dominated sport?

    I'm sorry but you've gone too far this time. And you're both just being silly. Personally I would see the 5 weeks as an opportunity to learn something new that I can maybe bring into my own regular game. You see it as gender erosion. One of us is extracting value, the other is being political.

  30. Sean,

    Read the beginning of the first chapter of Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences through the preview. There's evidence about the erosion of gender differences there, and the tools used for this purpose.

  31. sound like the flipside of Maia and those confused feminist nutter's at the Handmirror.back in then 80's at Intermediate the boys of our class took on the girls at netball during PE (a common occurrence with many sports we had)... needless to say we smashed them and basked in our manly superiority. ;-)The point is....lighten up and stop being so silly...this is Maia nonsense in reverse.


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