Saturday, February 4, 2012

"I don't think of you as a woman anymore"

Comments like these may be intended as complements, but for a lot of female BJJ players, they are extremely insulting. And they should be. Just because we are involved  in a male dominated sport does not mean that we want to be dudes.

A post by one of my favorite bloggers discussed the subject:

A lot of what she says is summed up here:

 "... Men and women are different. Women in BJJ do not want to be SEXUALIZED. Sexualization and femininity are NOT the same thing. Many women want to be feminine. BJJ is not feminine. Women who do BJJ either do not care about it or they do care about it. Let me sum up:" She illustrates her point with the following graphic:

When in doubt, assume that your female training partner falls into the middle realm. For those who fall into the blue realm, more power to them. But that still doesn't mean that they want to be dudes.

So how can you tell if your female training partner cares about being a girl? Here are some clues:
- Despite the threat of mat hair, maintains a female haircut
- Buys a female gi or glams up a regular gi with girly patches
- Tries to avoid, rather than develop, cauliflower ear
- Generally burps and farts less ostensibly than her male counterparts
- Responds to the personal pronouns "she" and "her"

If you answered yes to any of the above points, then your female training partner does, in fact, want to be considered female.

But won't treating her like a man make her feel "equal?"

No. If a person has to be male to be your equal, then you have a pretty sexist world view. I have plenty of Black training partners who I obviously consider my equals. And I don't have to think of them as white in order to do so.

Imagine what would happen if someone approached a Black training partner and said "I consider you my equal. I don't even think of you as Black anymore." Obviously that would not go over well.

The best bet is to treat your female training partners the way you would treat your sisters. You're from the same family, so it's ok to beat each other up a little. But you always have each other's backs when it comes to outsiders.


  1. I'm really proud of that article. It's my most often read one, along with the article about cauliflower ear. :)

    I agree - I don't treat men and women in my gym equally, especially because I'm in Korea. I go out of my way to encourage the women. I try to bond with them.

    Unfortunately, I've had people say to me "I'm not going to roll with you differently because you're a woman" and then proceeded to be kind of a douche to me.

    pssst if you use my photos would you just mention that the graphic came from me? :)

  2. yes, ma'am! I edited the post to make it more clear that the graphic was yours. Sorry that wasn't clear before.

    I love reading your blog!