By Rachel Berger
I’m a NYC student, reader, writer who often wishes she had more time to read, write and study. You can find me online at personalslashpolitical.blogspot.com
On Friday, October 22nd, I had the pleasure of attending the SPARK Summit at Hunter College and hearing Geena Davis speak. Almost any experience is sweetened by the knowledge that the rest of your classmates are sitting in school, but Davis’ speech was thought-provoking in its own right.
Geena Davis is a Academy-Award winning actress best known for her role as Thelma in Thelma and Louise, a movie following the exploits of two women outlaws. Davis is an activist who has done great work promoting healthy body image and improved portrayal of gender in the media through her research institute’s See Jane program. She’s also a MENSA member, a mother of three, and — get this — nearly an Olympic-level athlete.
Explaining this last, “random” appellation, Davis said she began to develop a serious interest in sports after learning baseball for her part in A League of Their Own. She started taking archery lessons in 1997 after meeting Olympic gold medalist Justin Huish. Two years later, she competed in the Olympic semifinals for a place on the 2000 U.S. archery team. Since then, Genna Davis has worked with the Women’s Sports Foundation to educate girl and women athletes about their rights under Title IX. In both her acting roles and sports activism, Davis encourages girls to take charge of their own destinies: “I’d rather play baseball than be the baseball player’s girlfriend.”
Athleticism has never been something I pride myself on, so I’m not sure why this aspect of Geena Davis’ speech was so arresting to me. The determination and perseverance of women athletes inspires girls to achieve in all areas of their lives; according to Davis, “sports are 90 percent mental”. The importance of sports for women, though, is strongly rooted in its physicality. In a world inundated with images of female frailty, sexual submissiveness, and airbrushed “beauty”, the best way to reclaim our bodies is to use them.
|Charlotte Cooper, the first female Olympic champion, won the Wimbledon five times — in a dress.|