Monday, February 5, 2018

Me too, Tonya

I, Tonya is a must-see film for our times revealing what some (too many) young woman go through to try and make it to the top of their chosen sport, especially if they don't quite match the exact image of the ideal female in that sport, as American ice-skater Tonya Harding did not. She didn't look the part, she was too chunky and 'trashy' compared with her more refined and thinner competitor, Nancy Kerrigan.

I had a very similar experience with my ballet career, my perfect physical adversary was called Megan. I wrote a book about it, but it's no film in the making. Because I was not nearly as tough as Tonya. I didn't have a mother who pushed me too hard (or at all), or a boyfriend who bashed me on a regular basis, as Harding did. And so, that she  got so much further in her intensely competitive field than I did, shows just how tough she was (I was a little bit tough). 

And that's what this film shows brilliantly, the toughness of this woman, and one suspects many other women too, who have to fight against obstacles put in their way at every step, many of them obstacles that are not put in the way of men.

Of course Tonya did not ultimately win her battle - unless the film, which tells her side of events, is a victory - being banned from skating competitively at the age of 23 when she was in her prime, for something she didn't do due to her boyfriend telling the authorities that she had done it, namely knew about the plan to injure her rival Kerrigan, an accusation which the film shows to be patently false. An accusation which anyone who has been a competitive sportsperson at that level would know a fellow competitor would never do, risking it all to injure a rival, when you want to beat them fair and square, especially a true competitor and thoroughly decent person and brave battler like Harding.

So in the end it is a film about winning the war of your truth being told while losing the battle of being the best skater in the world, as Harding could have been. That's a war worth winning but one we shouldn't have to fight so hard for, if at all.

Hopefully this kind of truth-telling about women's battles won and lost can help to make sure that subsequent generations of women won't have to fight quite so hard to get the rewards and recognition they deserve.

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