“It is easy to be the butterfly. It’s hard to sleep in the barn.”
In ‘In Praise of Female Athletes Who Were Told No’ which is my favourite poetry, Brad Cran is trying to reveal the gender inequality in sports and show people that women should not be limited their behavior or acts because of their female sexuality. The above line is the core message from Cran to all women.
“a woman short of breath”
“The heft and depth of sport surely could not be good / for the reproductive organs of a lady”
“the run that was thoughts impossible for a woman to complete.”
“The most unaesthetic sight the human eyes could contemplate, De Courbertin said, / was the female athlete.”
“The media called / the Canadian women’s team the Matchless Six for their athletic ability.”
“The New York Times called one of them, Ethel Catherwood, “the prettiest girl / of the games. She became known as the Saskatoon Lily, for her “flower-like face.””
“but still the media thought / she was too old to represent her country and that she should stay home / to take care of her children.”
“They called her The Flying House Wife.”
“Ski jumping is too dangerous for women. It’s not appropriate for ladies / from a medical point of view.”
There have been a lot of prejudices toward female athletes. Some are based on the biological differences (although I should admit that women are physically not as strong as men, without big efforts), some come from a conservative gender role that ‘women should be at home and do housework’, some are because of a gender bias that ‘women are the existence which should be protected’. From the story of Ethel Catherwood (stanza 4), although she was an athlete, why should she be valued because of her looks? The most appropriate way to value an athlete is the sport performance, not the looks or the gender. Also from the story of Fanny Blankers-Koen who was named “The Flying House Wife” (stanza 9). Would The New York Times have called ‘The Flying House Husband’ if she had been a man? Those are obviously indicating how female athletes have been treated differently.
But they have conquered all of those and won praises, as Cran also mentions in this poetry. Although Cran describes tons of discriminations toward and difficulties for female athletes, in the final stanza he ends this poetry with a scene of women’s ski jump filled with expressions of speediness and sportiness, and it does not show us any gender differences.
Even though it is true that women are physically not as strong as men, or have biological differences, still they can do any things as they want. Ski jump, other sports, or others – the choice what they do should not be disturbed other social factors, i.e. gender inequalities.
“It is easy to be a butterfly. It’s hard to sleep in the barn.”
If you feel uncomfortable, you don’t have to stay there. you can be any things if you want and act – this is the main message from Cran which he wants to describe through female athletes in this poetry.