I go to medical school with a bunch of amazing people, half of them are men. One thing needs to be absolutely clear- these are good, good men. They are the kind of men who will make wonderful physicians. They are the kind of men I would be proud to have as my brothers and the kind of men I am lucky to have as my friends. If you take nothing else from this article, please take away that Queen’s medicine is chock full of good guys.
We hold many sports tournaments at Queen’s Medicine, in fact, these tournaments have created favourite memories of my time here. We have inter-class basketball tournaments, volleyball tournaments and hockey tournaments. All of these events are open to both genders and very inclusive. Everyone who wants to, plays.
This afternoon on social media I came across a picture captioned “The #QMed Cup- congratulations to the 2015 champions” with a picture of a group of these good guys from each year playing in a golf tournament and the 2015s holding a trophy. I was surprised. I didn’t remember hearing about a #QMed golf tournament and certainly had not been invited. It looked like a lot of fun, I wish I had been there. I assumed, given the caption, that this was another of our many school run class tournaments and posted:
I have since learned that the event was not a formal inter-class tournament. It evolved into one when a bunch of guys from the pickup hockey team decided to golf together. The day morphed into a tournament and somehow a winner was declared and trophy awarded. Do those facts make me feel better? Sure. I’m very glad our student society didn’t run a male only golf tournament – that would have been a serious issue. I’m also glad that this organic game of golf evolved from a bunch of guys out having a fun time doing something healthy on a gorgeous day. I am a big fan of healthy competition.
One of these good men has approached me with the sentiment that my post on twitter was unprofessional. He felt I should have approached them with my concerns and not voiced my frustration on social media. Perhaps he is right. He is worried that my post paints #QMed men in a misogynistic and exclusive light. Again let me be clear, my #QMed peers, the men I work with on a daily basis are not misogynistic and they are not exclusive. They are good, good men. I am fortunate that the women before me in this profession have broken down barriers and created an environment in which I largely feel equal to and supported by the men that I work with. It’s not perfect, but it’s getting there.
However, the same destruction of barriers has not happened as quickly in the world of golf. Yes, I grew up playing and still often do golf with good men but despite their positive influence the game can still often feel like an old boys club. I remain piqued that I was not invited, not necessarily under this specific set of circumstances, but because girls are rarely invited to join the boys when it comes to golf. It is acceptable for us to play on ladies night or with other women or with our male partners but that’s about it. Of course, I don’t always abide by such convention so I get strange looks when I hit the practice range or the course on my own. Many I meet are surprised to hear I play. Today I went to the driving range and while there I saw two other women. One was sitting watching her boyfriend practice, never once picking up a club, and the other was with her partner who would stand behind and “help with her swing” suggestively, as seen in the movies. I have felt awkward and uncomfortable many times on the course. I’ve heard phrases like “you’re the only woman I’ve seen that can actually hit a ball” and “women belong on the drinks cart”. I have been programmed to think the worst. Please read these two fantastic articles for in-depth look at sexism in golf:
So why do I stick with it? It’s certainly not because I am all that good. I stick with it because I like the feeling of the rare, well-struck shot, the sound of drained putt and the mindfulness required to get through each hole. I do it for the same reason men stick with it- because it is a devastatingly frustrating, wonderful game.
So next time you are about to hit the course with the boys, think about inviting the girls along. I would also be happy to help organize a #QMed Golf Tournament- like some of the best competitions, it’ll definitely be an Open.
As always, interested in your thoughts. Please feel free to share in the comments section below.