The female oppressors of roller derby release their gender-grip on the sport, and after years of inequality, male players celebrate the second step in claiming their place in the female-dominated sport. (The first was being recognized and taken semi-seriously as male athletes.)
The newest WFTDA ruleset, released in November 2012, highlighted several major changes in the sport - the removal of minor penalties and separate jammer start whistle - but none as significant as the removal of gender-specific pronouns. We believe this change was deliberately made to recognize and include male players, a minority in the flat track derby community. (As of March 2013, male leagues represent 9% of flat track roller derby leagues in the world.)
But will the de-genderization of the ruleset change anything? Will the hate crimes stop? Will men ever be treated as equals? Will the derogatory term "merby" cease to be used? Only time will tell.
Shreddy Crocker, a male official and temporarily retired merby player, was asked how he felt about the genderless pronouns in the new ruleset. "Equality for men," he stated, "I know how that feels, bro."
Though hate crimes and rape-on-rape statistics continue to rise, Shreddy believes things will change. "One can hope the day may come when we can safely skate the streets at night again."
We hope so, too, Shreddy.