Playing to Lose?

The Love Goddess remembers the days when women were asked to feign fragility.

Editor’s Note: Who is the wisest of them all? Who is more dedicated to your pleasure than anyone on earth? Who can help you when you’re going online for the first time to find love; or when your lover’s children hate you; or when you want to strangle your husband? Why, the Love Goddess, of course. She promises nothing less than celestial wisdom, heavenly sex, divine dating. Read on …

Hundreds of years ago, when I was an athletic young goddess going out with the teenage head of the Pantheon Tennis Team, Jove stopped me at the heavenly court gates: “Let him win,” he whispered.

“Not if I can beat him,” I said.

“Beat him and you’ll lose him as both a partner and a lover,” Jove replied.

Remember when women, like goddesses, were asked to feign fragility and sacrifice the fun of a real competition? Haven’t men realized yet that this protection racket is not good for them, either? Even a cautionary tale for girls as popular as Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, whose jacket copy says, “a timeless story of courage, sacrifice, and the triumph of unselfish love,” had to clean up its act for the Disney movie version, down-playing how much courage, sacrifice and unselfish love was put on Little Mermaid’s tail and not on the Prince’s.

But look:

Hannah Berner, 17, is such a good tennis player that she’s the only girl on the Beacon High School tennis team on the Upper West Side of New York City, a team that has won the three major high-school tournaments this year and earned the coveted Mayor’s Cup.  Her game is described in The New York Times as “aggressive,” and yet she nevertheless says she always has to prove herself worthy (aggressive enough) to play with the boys. 

But watch as players and coaches grumble at the very idea of playing against such a talented girl. One angry boy, losing to her the other day, broke his racket in a rage. And what did his coach say? That he should wake up and realize that some girls are even as physically powerful as boys these days – and isn’t that spectacular? That he has the good luck to be playing against a girl who is, like any other opponent, worthy of his greatest respect? No, his coach said Hannah Berner’s team had an unfair advantage because her presence unnerved the boys. “It’s a lose-lose situation,” he said. “If he wins, he’s supposed to win. If he loses he’s lost to a girl.”

A girl, by the way, who didn’t have the option of playing on a girls’ team because there isn’t one. A girl playing against a mass of testosterone and muscle and height and weight who hasn’t once mentioned “being unnerved” by either losing or winning, or by this retro attitude.

Who wants to be the one to tell your incredibly talented daughters and granddaughters to lose so boys won’t be “unnerved”? Who wants to be the one to tell your beautiful, high-achieving young women not to try too hard to beat the guys – in order to “win” at love? 

I never will.


Like all savvy goddesses, the Love Goddess has her own blog, which you can visit by clicking here.

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