Women's World Record in Skydiving

1997 Women's World Record in Skydiving pages are available by contacting Jan Meyer.

Don't Need No Stinkin' Women's Record!

by Jan Meyer

Yeah I used to think like this too. Historically, women athletes have been the most ignorant of obstacles and discriminatory policies women face. The reason is that most women athletes are, as my mother used to say, "too damn independent for your own good!". Most women athletes go after their goals and don't let any type of obstacle stop them.

I used to think that if I could go and do such-n-such then so could any other woman, if she put her mind to it. I thought that the only thing stopping other women from doing what they really wanted to was their own lack of self-determination. I'm not sure how I happened to slowly become aware of the socio-economic conditions that are predispositioned against any woman's success, but some how over the past few years I've learned exactly what is meant by "the status of women" and "equal opportunity".

Some of my more poignant personal experiences with respect to the status of women and equal opportunity:

1: Our team had just won the 4-way Intermediate Skydiving Championships. One of my teammates said, "Jan, you ought to get married now and have a kid. You'd be good at that." Just think I had just won a National Championship in 4-way and 8-way and I was judged on my ability to produce offspring. Would such a comment be made to a male teammate???? Can you hear Dan BC saying to Jack Jefferies, "Hey Jack, you're a world champion now. You ought to get married and have a kid. You'd be good at that!"...This is a reflection of how society perceives women. Women's accomplishments are nothing unless we have children. In contrast, men's accomplishments are held in high esteem regardless of their marital status or the number of children they have. Men's experiences and authority are unchallenged by society, whereas, women are continually justifying and rejustifying our experiences and authority.

2. The spring season, after we had just won the National Championships, had just started. We were dirt diving an 8-way. One of the points had myself and another woman come to the center for the base portion of the formation. One guy said, "Now be careful here because the formation will float because we have two women here." On the actual dive the "floaty woman" base deliberately was slightly faster than the rest of the boys on the load. After the dive, one of the other guys said "They'll never call you two floaters anymore." I said, "Oh yes they will. It won't matter how many championships women win, we'll always be judged by gender first. Some guy will always split the women apart because he thinks we'll float." I'm not saying that every woman can fall as fast as every man. What I am saying is that there is a great amount of gender overlap. I know many "floaty" men that I move to the outside of a formation. I know lots of fast falling women who I keep in the base with me. I am tired of continually explaining this and "proving" that I fall faster than a vast majority of men. In fact, there is no sport where all the men are better than all of the women, not even tackle football.

3. When I was a kid my mother and I went to the playground to sign me up for Little League. They told us I couldn't play because girls weren't allowed in Little League. Girls are allowed in Little League now. I just wonder how much my life might have had been different if I could have played Little League as a kid. Teams sports provide are great way to build self-confidence and friendships. Equal opportunity exists in kids' baseball, but what about the Golden Knights Relative Work freefall team??? When will a women be on that team??

I hope no one thinks that I might be overly sensitive to these incidents. I'm not. It's just that incidents like these happen over and over again, day in and day out, year after year. I'm tired of it. You won't be able to "get my goat" by making sexist remarks. In fact, I'll probably turn the comments around and "get your goat". For example, at dinner one night, this newer jumper referred to a jump as a 4-man formation. We told him how to be politically correct and call it a 4-way. He said, "Since the dive was all men it was okay to call it a 4-man." Then I asked, "If he saw 4 women doing a jump together, should they be called a 4-woman?" He said, "Oh no that's a 4-way." With this comment he had the whole dinner table against him now. Even the folks who gave him a ride to the restaurant tried leaving without him.

I'm also not a man-hater. All of the men I've loved (and you know who you are) can attest to that!

If you still don't understand why Women's Records must be done, I'll recommend two books that are very easy to read. "Coming On Strong-History of Women's Sports in the 20th Century" by Susan Cahn talks about the athletic endeavors of women this century. "The Creation of Feminist Consciousness-From the Middle Ages to Eighteen-Seventy" by Gerda Lerner is a book that addresses the long term perspective of the status of women. Cahn's book has won literary awards. If you read the books you will have a new understanding of women and society.

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