News

Roller Derby Experiencing All-Female Resurgence

The D.C. Demon Cats, an all-women's roller derby team, huddle before their opening match of the season
The D.C. Demon Cats, an all-women's roller derby team, huddle before their opening match of the season

Multimedia

Mana Rabiee

Roller derby is an American-invented contact sport that goes back to the 1800s. The modern version of the sport is often played by all-female teams. The women who play demonstrate the physical prowess of men, but they see themselves as femmes fatales.

These are the ladies of the D.C. Demon Cats - an all-women's roller derby team from a Washington-area league called the D.C. Roller Girls. They're two-time regional champions, and tonight is the opening bout of the season.

Derby consists of two teams of five players. They simultaneously play offense and defense as they skate around the track. A designated player from each team tries to skate past members of the opposing team, while they try to knock down her teammates.  For every opponent she passes, she scores a point.

"I'm going out there to block, to knock people down," said Meagan Henry of the D.C. Demon Cats.  "I mean, that's what I'm doing.  When I'm here, when I'm doing roller derby, that's who I am."

Roller derby is part athleticism and part entertainment.  The game uses lots of music to make the matches more intense.  But women's derby, in particular, is where beauty meets brawn.

"We're fighting really hard," added Henry.  "We're working together really well. We're adjusting strategy and we're going to go out there and win this."

And Derby is also part theatrics. The women use costumes and make-up to create fantasy personas. They use stage names that convey both destruction and femininity - names like "Velvet Landmine" and "Wham Slam Bambi."

"You want to look good and show off your skills but when it comes right down to it it's really about the athleticism and not about the glamour," noted Demon Cats teammate Camille Morin who skates under the name "Camilla the Hun."  "There are a lot of roller girls who just want to dress up and have fun and they don't remain roller girls for very long."

Fans say they come for the action. But derby is also a place where young girls can find athlete role models who do not otherwise fit a typical mold.

"We're definitely fringe," noted Morin.  "We are on the outside of what is considered normal female behavior but this is why we do it. We don't want to be normal. We want to play an aggressive sport and we still want to be women and have fun with it too".

The D.C. Demon Cats won this game 126 to 87. If they continue like this, they'll be defending their regional title at the 2011 season Championship games next May.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs