The last frontier

Girls playing tackle football is, according to the father of this incredibly motivated 14-year-old, the last frontier in girls’ sports:


Love what you do

About very talented and very determined young boxer and her father:

My favorite lines:

Jesselyn Silva:

“I want to help him, and I want to help myself get better.”


“I never ever ever ever ever — maybe like a hundred evers — think that anything is too difficult for me.”

Her father:

“Regardless of how it turns out in the future, you’ve got to do something that you love to do. And you master it.


But I also really get his occasional apprehensive looks when she’s talking.

Silva mentions Claressa Shields towards the end of the video, when she’s talking about her long-term goals. Here’s an article from NPR about Shields, with audio and a transcript: “After Second Gold, Boxer Claressa Shields Looks Ahead To What’s Next” (from August 2016)

Gender-bending “boyband”

This article from the Guardian introduces a new “boyband” from China called Acrush.

Some excerpts follow. Try paraphrasing these sentences after you read the article, and then write your opinion about the topic. I did the first one as an example:



There is a new “boyband” in China that seems typical on the surface. The band consists of 5 good-looking singers who sing cheerful, danceable songs, and many young women have become fans. But there is one big difference: they’re girls, not boys.

“The A in the band’s name refers to Adonis, a figure in ancient Greek mythology whose name has become synonymous with male beauty.”

“Job advertisements (in China) frequently specify a desired gender, and five feminist activists were detained in 2015 for planning events to raise awareness of sexual harassment to mark International Women’s Day.

“Wang (the manager) said he originally intended to push a “cutesy” girl group. But Acrush has since become the company’s star act after a smattering of concerts led to overwhelmingly positive response, including a flood of love letters from female fans.

“The manager has prohibited members of Acrush from discussing their sexual orientation, and he said there was a sizeable contingent of “anti-fans” who trolled the band over their looks.”

“There’s a long history of cross-gender performance in China, male playing female roles and vice-versa, in traditional Chinese theatre.”

“Feminist issues are getting more and more politically sensitive under the current political regime, but as long as they don’t mention any gender issues and remain entertainment-oriented, it’s all OK.”

Women and war

This post from Brain Pickings describes and recommends a book about women who fought in the American Civil War. These women weren’t doing “typical” (stereotypical) women’s jobs like nursing or cooking. It’s a great reminder that women have so many more options in life today. Well, in many societies, anyway. It’s also a chance to think about why countries go to war, with other countries or within their own borders, and why citizens choose (or choose not) to fight.

“Oppression by Omission: The Untold Story of the Women Soldiers Who Dressed and Fought as Men in the Civil War”

Can you make some good language usage questions and discussion questions using this post? I think this excerpt is full of ideas:

“So why did women do this? For some, like their male counterparts, the motivation was purely patriotic. Others did if for love, taking to the battlefields in order to remain close to a husband, lover, fiancé, father, or brother. But for many, the reason was economic — an army private made $13 a month, roughly double what a seamstress, laundress, or maid would make. At the time of the Civil War, women, unable to vote or have bank accounts and still subject to Victorian ideals of homemaking and motherhood as the sole purpose of female existence, had neither personal nor political agency. In fact, these female soldiers tended to come from particularly marginalized groups — immigrants, the working class, farm girls, and women living below the poverty line.”