Is Anyone Not Ready?, 2020.
High school policy debate is a world unto itself, and to outsiders, it may appear to be utterly bizarre. Debaters present their arguments at a clip of hundreds of words per minute in a style called “spreading” (a portmanteau of speed and reading), coaches and students alike idolize high school boys with a penchant for aggressive argumentation, and teenage participants fancy themselves experts on everything from critical theory to foreign policy. High school policy debate is also almost hopelessly male-dominated, and this piece explores its gender politics from the perspective of a former debater who sought to make a place for herself in the activity—and to win as many rounds as possible. Alternately narrating the experience of a tournament day as member of a rare two-girl partnership and analyzing the broader structures of high school policy debate and modern feminism, this essay explores female friendship, the problems of debate’s celebrity culture and “Girl Boss” feminism, and what it was like to grow up in the activity as a self-branded “Debater Girl.”