This question has been directed at me more times than I can count. “What’s your view about girls playing paintball?” Up until recently, I don’t think I really had a firm opinion on the matter. But now, I’ve finally settled on my feelings.
Let me preface this piece by giving a bit of a background on myself. I have always been a female in a male’s world. I played flag football in middle school. I was the only girl on my drum line in high school. Now in college, I’m the only girl on my college paintball team and the only regular who is female at my local field back home. Being the “only girl” is not a strange thing to me.
Because of this history, I feel normal when I’m out on the paintball field with all the guys. I’m just another player. But, there is an attitude surrounding female paintball players that I just don’t agree with. Take two players: equal in skill, ranking, and length of time playing. One is male. One is female. Which one is better?
The natural thing for most people to think is that the female is better. Why? There is some unreasonable perception that being a female is some huge obstacle that makes a player so much better if she can “overcome” it. I’ll give you a for instance.
A few years ago, I was in a pump phase. I just started college. Paint was expensive. I drove down to New Jersey to play with some friends at an air ball field. At this time I was ranked beginner in tournaments and had only played one 3-man event before (we came in last). All the players I played against at this field were at least D4 and were all playing on psp ramp. I got lucky in a game and ended up in a one on one with a player. After a good five minutes of snap shooting, I bunkered the other player. I got cheers and congratulations from everyone but one comment in particular sort of took the glory away.
“You just got beat by a GIRL,” one of my friends said to the player I had beat. He didn’t get beat by a pump player. He didn’t get beat by a paintball player ranked two divisions below him. He didn’t get beat by a player with just about no tournament experience. He got beat by a Girl.
I don’t just see this attitude in the boys either. Many females that I have played with and many female players that have made themselves known within the industry embrace this attitude. Why? I couldn’t even fathom a guess. I’ll admit, even I felt this way when I first started playing. It’s so silly and I don’t even know why I did, but I grew out of it. To the girls that still feel this way, I think Fight Club says it the best: “You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”
Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh but why do we need to point out differences in players? Acknowledging differences only enhances them. I feel like we would be able to get more girls into the sport if there was less hype about them being so different (aside from the whole getting over the pain thing). I don’t see people making a big deal over having different races or religions in the sport. Why should gender be any different? Everyone should make a conscious effort to stop focusing on what makes all of us different and focus more on what makes us all the same: the love of the sport. Only then will we see the sport grow.