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Gender and Pétanque

Quick link: Women Are My Tribe

EthnoTraveler published this piece on Friday, along with gorgeous photos by Aaron Van Luven. Thanks to a good editor, it morphed from a rather blah piece about the game of pétanque into a more thoughtful story about gender roles and ultimately ends with me saying the rather unusual (radical?) thing that I’m okay with some gender segregation. Even when it means men are playing a game and women are inside the home. I don’t think this is by necessity demeaning to anyone. There is so much more nuance and depth to gender relationships that I can’t say the simplistic things like “Women should be able to play pétanque” anymore. Unpacking that would require a much longer essay. For now, enjoy this little piece about the game and social interactions.


Pétanque is a French game similar to boule or bocce. Every evening in Djibouti City a triangular island of dirt right across from the National Djiboutian Football Stadium fills with pétanque teams, older men on one side, young boys on the other.

It’s hard to say which is more popular in Djibouti: pétanque or football. Men play in teams of one, two, or three but many more people are involved in the game, offering advice, keeping score, and simply standing around, socializing. I sit with a group of men and watch a game.

“Do women ever play?” I ask.

They laugh. “I’ve never seen a woman play,” one man says. “Do you want to try?”

I have played pétanque with my kids and husband.

“What would happen if a woman did play?” I ask.

“Oh, they just wouldn’t,” the man says.

The others laugh again. The idea is so far out of the realm of possibility that they can’t imagine it.

Click here to read the rest of the story: Women Are My Tribe

Closing the Confidence Gap, SheLoves

Quick link: Closing the Confidence Gap

Today I’m writing at SheLoves about leadership, confidence, girls…

closing the confidence gap

In June The Atlantic published an articled called The Confidence Gap, which cited evidence that women are less self-assured than men. They found that confidence affected success just as much as competence and that women, in general, suffer an acute lack of confidence compared with men.

Even female leaders, women at the top of their careers – investment bankers, pioneering engineers, WNBA stars – revealed that they are plagued by self-doubt, that they feel they came across their success by luck rather than skill, that they feel like imposters or frauds, undeserving. Women don’t consider themselves as worthy as men for promotions, predict they will do worse on tests, underestimate their abilities, are less likely to ask for raises and if they do ask, they ask for less. Unless they feel 100% confident, or borderline perfect, a woman is less likely to take a risk or initiate something new.

Included in the online article was a link to a test that would reveal your level of confidence. I took the test and, well, either you know me well or you’ll have to read the SheLoves piece to learn what my results were.

Click here to read the rest of Closing the Confidence Gap

*image via Flickr

By |September 19th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |2 Comments

SheLoves: Honor and Gender

Quick link: When Value and Gender Intertwine

How appropriate that this week, following news of an honor killing in Pakistan of a pregnant woman, the topic of the month for SheLoves is Honor. Lest anyone jump to the lazy conclusion that ‘all Muslims’ commit honor killings, I have to say that I could tell story after story of Djiboutian girls who get pregnant outside of marriage and are supported and loved by their families.

What is the good news that I love? My understanding of it has deepened over the years and almost nothing has impacted me more profoundly than my growing understanding of honor and shame.

gender and value

So that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:5,6)

The idea of being valued by God and adopted like a son, used to sound sexist. And not really important. I have two sisters and a brother and my parents make it exceedingly clear that we are equally valued and, if there is anything left, will receive equal amounts of an inheritance. I felt no gender-based shame and never worried that I might be overlooked or neglected by my parents. So I skimmed over those promises about sonship in the Bible and thought, ‘oh, that’s nice.’

Until I lived in country where value and gender are intimately intertwined. Until I became conscious of my gender every single time I step out our front door because kids shout at me…

Click here to read the rest of When Value and Gender Intertwine at SheLoves

Image via Wikipedia

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