This week some of our excellent merchandise has featured on the pages of a prestigious feminist webzine, BUST. Not only were the brilliant I'm Not Sorry About Your Fragile Masculinity pins created by our great friends HandOverYourFairyCakes showcased, but so were our own Skate Like A Girl enamel pins!
Skate Like A Girl is a phrase which Glasgow Roller Derby has stood by for quite a long time now, in fact we put it on some limited edition merch as early as 2010 which proved so popular we had to bring it back! We caught up with the designer of the shirts and Irn Bruisers stalwart Sarah McMillan to find out more about what it means to Skate Like A Girl.
So Sarah, where did the idea for the GRD line of Skate Like A Girl shirts come from?
Hi! The first line of them was printed back in April 2010, we were still Glasgow Roller Girls at the time... It was a personal idea I had, but I thought since it sat well with GRD, that I'd make them up and donate the profits to the club. All our merch was black and white and I wanted to wear some colours so we had green, blue, hot pink, red and black. I wanted to offer racerback ribbed vests, cool bamboo (fairtrade) fabrics and a design that had a statement that many of us could feel empowered by.
What does the phrase 'Skate Like A Girl' mean to you?
I've been involved in, and on the periphery of, action and traditional sports for decades... For whatever reason many of these activities are dominated by men and boys. I have also always been upset by the concept that to do something 'like a girl' is a negative thing. It's such a misogynistic term; traditionally to be like a girl is classed as a negative thing... (and note, it's not just some men who say it, I've heard it said by women more than I'd like to admit). To me it's not the 'girl' term that's offensive but just the fact that the phrase is saying; "if you're female, you're weaker/ less capable". So, being involved in roller derby, I was so excited to be a part of this sport that was completely dominated by women, where the women did everything of note at every level (obviously men have always been involved but they were very much in a respectful and supportive role from the beginning).
So, I guess the campaign was about reclaiming the whole "like a girl" thing - for once many of us had found ourselves in a world where to do something like a girl was pretty obviously a good thing but, in addition, it was a way of saying "I'm proud to be like this, I'm proud to be a part of a dynamic sport that has a place for people of all shapes and sizes, and I'm ultimately proud of my body and excited to focus on my strengths as a woman rather than feeling limited".
You mentioned that these vests were originally produced to raise funds for the league. In this age of crowdfunding and sponsorship, how important do you think it is for leagues to come up with creative ways to raise funds?
Oh, completely! Yes! It's so hard because we're a small sport with a limited and wonderfully supportive fan base, but we just can't be asking the same people for money over and over... It ends up being the skaters themselves (we pay dues every month as well as a large amount towards travel expenses) but on top of that, it's usually our friends and families that are paying to come and watch and sponsor us etc. We're very lucky to have a wonderful array of commercial sponsors which we hope is a real win:win situation and we're always trying to come up with fun ways of engaging other people for fundraising purposes but also so we can suck them in to the wonderful world of Roller Derby! ;)
Are there any other exciting fundraising efforts coming our way from GRD in the near future?
Oh my goodness! We have so much coming up - the whole of the GRD Charter has fundraising projects in the next year - everything from fun running events to derby fun to skate park demos and bootcamps... Watch this space for sure, there's something for everyone!
Finally, you've been a member of GRD almost since the beginning - the heady days of GRG! We're sure our readers are dying to know the secret of your incredible longevity - who or what inspires you to Skate Like A Girl?
Haha, well, I love GRD! I love the club, the sport and the wonderful group of people who I get to skate with. I'm inspired by veterans and newbies alike and I'm very lucky to have a supportive partner who supports me - and the club actually; it was Will who designed our GRD rebrand and has been the person behind a lot of our artwork, including all the Skate Like a Girl work (with my direction obvs). I also love that our daughter gets to grow up with this wonderful community, to have so many strong women as role models and friends.
Thanks so much Sarah. We can't wait to see you get out there and skate (like a girl!) in the upcoming game against Newcastle!
If you fancy checking out some of our brilliant merchandise you can find it here in our online store. Don't forget that we're still running a special offer where if you spend £40 you get a bonus free item worth at least £10.
We'll also have a case load of merch along with us at our away game against Newcastle Roller Girls on the 10th September. You can find more information on the event on Facebook or buy tickets online from Newcastle Roller Girls' website here. Come buy our stuff in person and give us a cheer while you're there!