Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Let's settle this.

So, lately I feel as though I have been bombarded with derby conflict. Maybe I feel this way because I am on a temporary derby sabbatical, or maybe it is because the sport I love is changing at such a rapid pace I feel as though I am watching sand run through an hourglass. I love roller derby and have dedicated a good chunk of my life to the sport. I want it to change people's lives the way it did mine and for it to have a lasting impact on how the world thinks sports should be played and organized. Therefor, there are a few things I wish we could all quit yappin' about so that we can re-focus on what is actually important: the unification of women with different backgrounds, cultures, countries, bodies, strengths, religions, sexualities, ethnicities, ideals, and beliefs. Here are a few things I would not mind never “debating” again:

  1. The pivot line. Don't like scrum starts? Don't do them. Think they are effective? Keep em up. Either way, this nostalgic view people seem to believe in about the pivot line is a little silly. It is like when people say the “good old days” forgetting that they are referring to a time when black and white people could not go to school together. The pivot line was not the “good old days” ladies, it was a few years ago and it is still there. If you like it, learn to be an awesome pivot and incorporate it into your plays with your line up. Otherwise, learn to find the hilarious joy in squatting in front of someone on their knees.
  2. Lazy train. If you don't like the lazy train, keep your jammer out of the box. Done. 
  3. Men's roller derby. Hard to sum up in one paragraph, but I will try. The only thing that annoys me about this topic is that there is a debate on what to call it. Merby? Dangle derby? Cue the eye roll. They don't call woman’s basketball “wobasketball” or “ovary ball”. The call it “woman’s basketball” (the fact that sports that women and men both play are assumed to be male is another reason why we need to refocus the goal of roller derby). If men want to lace up and get out there and play derby, have at it boys. Just call it what it is: “Men's Roller Derby.” We were here first and it shows respect. If you are still not sold on men's roller derby, go see a Gatekeepers (St. Lois) bout. They had me at the first whistle.
  4. Skaters transferring to another league (particularly Oly). Are these skaters on your bench? Do they pay league dues to your league? Do you know them personally? Know their skating history? Have you had a conversation with them? Do you always harshly judge people's actions based on something you only know about because of a Facebook post? Then move on and let the ladies skate where they want. People said less harsh things about Lebron.  
  5. Derby names. Some leagues like to use government names, other leagues stick with the tradition of using derby names. One is not better than the other, or more “legitimate.” My birth name is Susan but everyone calls me Susie-and no one questions it. Lets do the same for leagues choices about what they call themselves. This also applies to debates about league uniforms vs all other derby wear. Don't tell a woman what to wear, she has enough people doing that already and if what other people are wearing bothers you or affects how you see them-why are you wasting time with derby when you could be working with Rush Limbaugh? ZING!
  6. Olympics/Being “taken seriously”/Being on ESPN/etc. There is nothing I could say to wrap this up in a cute little paragraph package, so I will say this: our sport is new and unique and defies gender norms so it scares the crap out of people. We fascinate spectators, the media, other athletes-but we rarely take time to pat ourselves on our back and say “job well done.” Instead of worrying about being apart of everyone else's world, lets fall back in love with the one we created. 

So that is it! My rant for the month. Re-focus your energy on bettering yourself as a woman and as a skater. Both will make your world a better place. And in closing, let me leave you with the wise words of Tina Fey: “When faced with sexism...ask yourself, 'Is this person between me and what I want to do?' If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way.”

See you dingos soon.

Love, Miller 

Friday, August 3, 2012


When people ask me why I love roller derby so much, I usually tell them something about how awesome the sport is. That answer is true, so very true, but I also love this sport with my full heart because to me roller derby is a revolution that set me free...

Every time a woman moves her body, some man somewhere thinks it is for him.


I hang out with really beautiful women. Women who train hawks, ladies who get full scholarships to law school, and women who can wrangle four kids' schedules without breaking a sweat. 

When I skate in a pack with my league mates, no matter what my day has been like, I feel safe. I am free. Not only am I flying on my eight wheels, but I am surrounded by people who know what it is like to run to your car from the grocery store. Who know what it is like to obsess in the mirror over every inch, every curve, every piece of skin. Who know what it is like to be treated like a child, to be paid less, to be told that your interests just are not as important as men's. My league mates know what it is like to have to defend themselves from someone who does not think “no” means stop, they know what it is like to have to work extra hard for less respect, they know what it is like to pick up a sports magazine and not see their half of the population represented. They know what it is like to be giddy about watching the Olympics, only to be crushed when the female athletes' hair and weight get more attention than their talent. My league mates know what it feels like to have your body picked apart by a society that does not represent you. My league mates know what it feels like to hear those awful words “you asked for it.” They know what it is like to flip through a magazine, one that is directed at them, and close it feeling like they will never live up to what is expected of them. 

The shared experience of being a woman is not one that men can empathize with. You can not know what we feel or what we can handle because if we told you the WHOLE TRUTH you would think we were lying. Being a woman is really, really, really hard. (And it is also the best thing in the world.)

We are sick and tired of having to follow society's rules of how we should act and how we should look. 

So instead, we strapped on some skates and we made our own rules and we started to fall in love with ourselves. 

Roller derby brings women together by allowing us to reveal the most hidden version of ourselves. It lets you hit, scream, compete, and push yourself to be a mighty warrior. Strapping on skates is like releasing a volcano of awesome into your own world, and you get to do it alongside other women who “get it.” 

Until a woman president.
Until rape does not exist.
Until female athletes are treated with respect.
Until our paychecks are equal.
Until our decisions about our bodies are our own.
Until we can all get married.
Until there is no “ideal” body.

The revolution is calling. You gonna answer?!

Love, Miller Lightnin'