Where are the female mascots?

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Where are the female mascots?

By Michelle Silver

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Graphic by Charlotte Alden

The unifying force behind any team is their mascot. From the Washington Wizards to our own Whitman Vikings, mascots are the figure that fans can rally behind.

When a mascot runs out of a locker room, they energize and excite fans. However, the majority of mascots, especially in MCPS, are either animals or males.

Ten out of 26 MCPS high schools currently have male mascots, and the other 16 schools have either animal or gender-neutral mascots, like the Richard Montgomery Rockets. However, not a single MCPS high school has a female mascot.

Sports teams need female mascots to help empower girls and promote equality. Female mascots demonstrate to students that women can represent strength and perseverance.

New mascots for schools can be named after notable figures, like the mythical Amazon warriors, the goddess Athena or even the iconic American working woman Rosie the Riveter. If schools want an animal mascot, the mascot could still be given a female name, like Kate, the lioness mascot for Hofstra University or Temple University’s owl mascot named Stella.

Female mascots help display the commanding and prominent presence a female can have, providing another avenue for students to see and embrace powerful female figures. When female leaders are publicly accepted by their peers, girls may feel increasingly comfortable becoming a leader themselves; seeing their friends rally around a female mascot could make it easier to step up in group projects, speak up in a class discussion or run for student government.

Seeing male mascots without female counterparts makes males seem more dominant in today’s society. Females aren’t only underrepresented as mascots; they are also out of sight in popular culture and in movies. Only 12 percent of protagonists in top-grossing films in 2014 were women, according to San Diego State University. If mascots can help students see both male and female strong figures, and future generations grow up with a more dominant female presence in their lives, gaps between genders may begin to fade.

The next middle schools opening in the county, which will feed into the Bethesda-Chevy Chase and the Clarksburg/Damascus High School clusters, will be perfect opportunities for MCPS to have female mascots without changing the mascots of existing schools. These new mascots can lead other schools to realize that changing their mascot can bring positive changes to a school atmosphere.

We are comfortable cheering for male mascots. We are comfortable cheering for animals. By encouraging the next school in MCPS to have a female mascot, we can finally become more comfortable cheering for strong women as well.

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