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I can't answer why some girls wear war paint, or panty/fishnet ensembles with something better than, "because they feel like it." My team, for the most part, doesn't wear pants. There's no better reason behind it than the one I just mentioned, and that its good for staying cool because as athletes we sweat a lot (and our gear bags smell nasty). Would you say volleyball players bikinis are about sex?
We play a womens sport, just because we want it to be girls. Would you ask a men's football team if their choice to exclude women was because they are misogynists? (okay, maybe.) Its important to note that just because men aren't on the track, doesn't mean they aren't still heavily involved in most womens leagues. They are referees and workers just like any other skater that helps keep each league a well oiled machine.
And, there are mens teams, but there are much fewer. There's something like 250+ women's leagues in the country, and just a sprinkling of mens leagues. Many of the skaters on mens teams are referees for women's leagues. Go here for more information on mens derby: http://www.mensderbycoalition.com I don't have any links to co-ed teams or leagues but I know that they exist. www.derbynewsnetwork.com does a great job on covering every bout they can--female, male, kids, adults, flat track, banked track.
What was offensive and disrespectful was summing up everything HKRD (and every roller derby league) does and calling it a "non-sport" and "novelty sport". Saying that it has to be on the outer edge or it won't work. Saying it is "filled with vicious, sometimes brutal, violence," is misleading. Violence, I think, is defined by the intent to cause harm or injure. That's not what we do.
I can tell you that there were only two girls with "war paint" in your photo essay. Likewise, not ever girl had fishnets and nopants on. Its VERY common for journalists to come in and see one girl with a tattoo, another with ripped tights (that probably JUST ripped while skating that day), and hear "welcome to the jungle" play over the PA and lump all skaters into some alternative subculture. Thats really not the case, we are extremely diverse.
What separates the good derby journalism from the bad, is going the extra step. MOST writers come in see what we do, and don't get it. They have the same confusion you did, but rather than just making a bunch of assumptions, they sit down with skaters to get the real scoop. Maybe they'll attend a practice or a bout set up day. If Mr Maldonado had done his research, all of your questions would have been answered in the article.
I'm wordy, but I hope this helped.
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