Thursday, February 17, 2011

Women hitting men.

I've been seeing the trailer to Nick Cage's Drive Angry a lot lately and it's ruffling some feathers of mine that have been settled for a good while.

It first came up when I saw the trailer for the first Tomb Raider, and saw Angelina Jolie's stringy arms and legs throwing punches and kicks all over the screen. I knew it was a movie and that her thinly muscled punches and kicks were just as fictional as the CGI creatures that were crawling across the walls.

It still bothered me.

And it's bothering me even more now. I know, I know..."girl-power" is a theme that sells to both men and women. I STILL find it disturbing displayed in a way that could potentially go so wrong and I know the frequent smallness of fighting women is displayed to protect their appeal to men in the audience.

One of the white-belt moms at the gym said it best when she saw her daughter hitting one of the boys. "Don't hit someone unless you're ready to get hit back." How many women are REALLY ready to get hit by a man. I was always told the same thing by my parents and I took it seriously.

I've never been hit or attacked by a man, but training BJJ has given me new perspective on just how powerful they CAN be when they want to exert force. Sometimes it's formidable. Others, it's just plain frightening...especially when you know they're holding back...somehow you can feel the potential behind a choke, even if a guy's only going 50%. Even if I trained striking (and I'd love to hear the opinions from the ladies out there that do) I doubt I'd be able to withstand too many blows from a guy my size, or even smaller...and I'm betting that's why, when discussing self defense in my first class at the gym, my instructor told me that they never train women to stand and exchange blows with a man.

I haven't seen the movie yet, so maybe she's got some psycho Muay Thai skills, and I know that there are women out there that do hit incredibly hard, but scenes and movies like the one above give a false impression of what a woman needs to make any real impact on a man in a fight. 


Trudy said...

Brilliant post. I think that societal equality and selling girl power has created a perception that women and men are equal physically as well. For the most part men have lower body fat percentages, greater physical speed and at least 30% more upper body strength. Being smarter than a man, making more money, having more degrees, speaking better, reading more or doing any of the things that women fought for equality for or fought to be recognized for does not balance out sheer physical strength or testosterone levels, of which men on average have more. Women should consider this before ever throwing blows. Unless in self-defense, I have no reason or desire to physically hit a man. It's interesting culturally too because I have had men tell me that or imply that I would hit them simply because I am Black. There is statistical significance because some statistics do cite that Black women are more likely to fight back and Black women have to physically fight off men more often in some cases. However, again, no one should hit unless prepared to be hit back and consider the totality of those consequences.

Interesting how you mentioned you can tell me are "holding back" during your training. I wonder if being exposed to realities like this would shape some women's views that are currently shaped by inaccurate themes of girl power in relation to violence?

Megan said...

I think it would make a difference and give girls/women a look at the reality of the situation...even though I knew men were more powerful, I didn't KNOW until I rolled with a purple belt that was controlled, but gave me more strength than some of the other guys. Even when he wasn't applying it to me, I could tell his strength just through his movements and it made me very...careful...and that was with a guy that I knew wasn't trying to hurt me.

SavageKitsune said...

It is true that we are taught to not stand there and trade blows with someone larger/stronger (regardless of what plumbing they have). Strength-on-strength contests with someone stronger is just senseless. You're going to lose.

In a self-defense oriented striking art, you're taught to try to end the altercation with the first strike if at all possible. In any event, we are taught to chain strikes and KEEP striking until you're sure the assailant is no longer able to attack you.

One of the most important things you can learn is how to identify threats and when you are justified in striking. People are often surprised to learn that if you feel physically threatened (and can convince a jury of that), you are actually legally justified to strike FIRST.

It's important to learn what advantages your body *does* have, and use them. I may not be able to armwrestle most larger people, but I'm quick and have good targeting. Thus I will not try to outstrength a big guy, I'll dart in and try to strike quickly at a vital target (like the throat).

As far as practice/training with men.... my groups rarely use padding, so we are not striking with full speed/full force on each other in practice. We do use light to moderate contact, and the men don't hit the women any lighter than they hit each other.

Liam H Wandi said...

Beautifully said Megan, as always. There is a lot anger around nowadays.

This white-on-white violence really makes me sick! :D

A.D. McClish said...

I agree. I know that BJJ is the best defense art for me to train because if it is my strength vs. a man's strength, I am going to lose. If I ever get attacked--and can't otherwise get away--my only goal will me to take the guy down to the ground and try to break something.

Liam H Wandi said...

Hmm. @Allie. If it's your strength against a man's strength and you know jiu jitsu, you won't necessarily lose. You might not win but you are almost guaranteed not to lose and that's the original idea.

Megan said...

@Savage, thanks for that insight. Great point about it being more about size and strength than gender. Gender being a decent indicator though of relative strength.



Shark Girl said...

I agree, great post. If it's any consolation, it looks like a crappy movie. The same with Tomb raider. This movie is trying to appeal to a lowest common denominator with shock value. "Oh, look, this hot, tiny, white chick is beating the crap out of guys three times her size. Isn't this so 'edgy'?" (Was that slideyfoot in a cameo at the end?)
I also agree that I have a better perspective now that I fight with men. Some of these guys could crush my ribcage without even trying. I'm fast and small and can get away quickly. Sometimes when I'm sparring (since I can't do anything else) I just escape to my feet and move away. From a self-d perspective, I feel like I've just done the best thing I can do.