So that cheerleading class I stumbled on last week turns out to be a new weekly event in my daughter's afterschool program. When I picked her up today for tap dance, there was the cheerleader, doing a handstand. Turns out it's a new program, happening weekly through December.
I am quite sure that none of the innumerable pieces of paper that rained on us recently had anything to do with cheerleading. I'd remember that. I would have said "no" to that. And I said "no" today, vigorously. A little too vigorously, since the woman I was talking to didn't plan the program herself.
When I called to apologize for yelling at her, I told her that I stood by the content of my tirade. My daughter has been asking to "be a cheerleader" for two years, and we've said "no". I'm all for somersaults and cartwheels, but not if it means girls on the sidelines while boys play the game. Not if it means girls selected to look good in short skirts so they can "inspire" the boys. Yes, I know cheerleading has its own competitions these days, so it can claim to be a sport itself, but that doesn't help.. The whole point of being a cheerleader is to cheer for a team, and despite the male cheerleaders in college programs, the vision my daughter has is girls in ponytails and cute outfits cheering for the boys.
My daughter, sobbing in the car as we drove to tap dance, did not understand why I was yelling at her teacher, and why she can't go to cheerleading any more. She won't understand, and I know I'm denying her something she really wants, but I'm not budging. This isn't harmless play. It isn't dress-up for fun and games. It's practice for life in a world where a woman's role is to cheer for the men, and look cute while she's doing it. That's not the life I want her to live, and I'll be damned if I'll let her do the dress rehearsal for it at age 7.