By popular request, and despite my personal disinclination towards sports, I’m finally talking about roller derby! With none other than brilliant and badass literature-scholar-slash-derby-player Gillian Roberts. After she very patiently explains to me what exactly roller derby is and how it differs from Whip It, we chat about women in sports, the link between hobbies and mental health, and why it’s good to keep learning new things, even (especially?) when you aren’t very good at them.
Here’s some stuff to read:
- First off, here’s Gillian writing about roller derby as part of a whole, excellent series of posts about Women, Academia, and Sport on the feminist academic blog Hook and Eye (if you look carefully you may find a post by me in there!)
- Here’s another post about roller derby and its complex relation to self-care: “Sometimes we hurt ourselves in order to protect ourselves. I believe this to be true—that hurting ourselves can be protection—but I don’t know how to talk about it, how to reconcile self-destruction with self-care.” CW in this one for eating disorders, mental illness, and self-harm.
- If you didn’t know what we were talking about vis-à-vis ice-dancing couples and heteronormativity, you can read up on Virtue and Moir here.
- If you’d like to read a little more about trans women in derby, here’s a lovely starting point.
- And finally, go find your derby name.
Download Episode / Read Transcription
The podcast theme song is “Mesh Shirt” by Mom Jeans off their album “Chub Rub.” Listen to the whole album here or learn more about them here. Gillian’s theme song is “Cheated Hearts” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Secret Feminist Agenda is recorded on the traditional and unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.
One thought on “Episode 2.12 Getting Fucked Up on Learning (& Roller Derby) with Gillian Roberts”
I just caught up on this episode and found it so fascinating! I’ve never been a big fan of roller derby, but I really liked hearing Gillian talk about it. I’m sure by now you’ve had lots of people tell you that netball is not secretly lacrosse. But it was interesting to hear netball brought up rught before Gillian began talking about some of the things that make roller derby special – the idea that it is a sport by women, for women and the fact that “roller derby” is the women’s sport, while if men were playing you’d refer to “men’s roller derby”. Netball is exactly the same in this regard and like roller derby, the move into the mainstream seems to involve more men getting involved. Suddenly large percentages of coaching and umpiring roles are taken by men, as well as administration and broadcast commentary.
I also loved the discussion about the push from some to try to get roller derby into the Olympics and how it would compromise their values by creating barriers for transwomen. Here in Australia, we’ve had a lot of controversy around our Australian Football League not allowing transwomen to play in the national women’s competition – in a sport that involves a similar level of contact to roller derby – citing safety issues. I’m glad to hear roller derby is so much more progressive in its thinking.
Also here is a successful ad campaign for netball from a few years ago that goes along the lines of some of the roller derby stuff you discussed – though it may destroy your beliefs about its similarity to lacrosse 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRecZExUvwQ