"Don't take me out on a date"
These topics are things most of us don't openly talk about in the BJJ community but i think its time we brought them out in the open.
As I've become more involved in the BJJ community, I have had many opportunities to listen to other women's experiences. I have found inspiration in the strength of the women around me, especially those who have had to learn what it means to love Jiu-Jitsu so much that it hurts. Although I'd like to think we are in a new era where women are becoming equals in a male dominated sport, I am continually reminded of the obstacles that remain a harsh reality for women today. I've heard horror stories about mistreatment including
verbal harassment, physical abuse, emotional torment and in some cases unwelcome sexual advances. But the most unifying theme among the women is that these traumatic experiences never took away from the genuine love they had for Jiu-Jitsu and made their commitment to the sport even stronger.
There was recently a big uproar in the BJJ community about a certain company that executed a overly sexual marketing campaign that many felt misrepresented and objectified women. I won't give any additional steam to the buzz, so their name shall remain anonymous. But as successful as the campaign was from a marketing stand point, the ads were a direct slap in the face to women and was a prime example of the stereotypes women in BJJ have fought to overcome. As if Jiu-Jitsu needed anymore help looking sexual to an outsiders.
Women discover Jiu -jitsu through various means and it can take on several purposes and definitions for each of us. It is a sad truth, but some men are still of the primitive opinion that women have no place in BJJ or contact sports as a whole. I've gotten comments on my YouTube site saying that I should be a lady and leave the fighting to the "real" men. The funny part is most of these men don't even train. These guys are ignorant and my suggestion is that they try rolling with a real BJJ woman. As I am sure most of them will find out what it truly means to be humbled when a woman half their size can "man handle" them.
Unfortunately some men in BJJ share this opinion that women shouldn't train or that we are not equals even though we put in our time on the mats just as they do. In my opinion, these guys are insecure and obviously intimidated by a strong woman. It's disheartening how they find ways to diminish or belittle women's efforts on the mats with sexist remarks, harassment and ridicule. When rolling they will use strength and force to muscle through moves so they won't get caught or feel embarrassed by tapping out to a woman when she's legitimately caught him in a submission. Or in some cases they use brute force and too much resistance to physically hurt and torment women. Perhaps they think that by manhandling and mistreating women it some how makes them more of a man. These are not men, instead I refer to then as "knuckle draggers" because of their caveman mentality.
But then there is the flip side, where some men "take you out on a date", meaning they roll with little to no resistance like a wet noodle or stiff like a board. These rolls can resemble a game of "grab ass" where the guy basically allows the woman dominate him so he can have the opportunity to be close to her or maybe a chance to flirt and work his "game". Even if the advances are innocent and harmless, rolling with women like this can be particularly damaging because it creates a false sense in her of the effectiveness of her moves. This behavior is equally as wrong as the knuckle draggers and an insult to our abilities as if we wouldn't be able to tap them in "real life" if they hadn't just given it to us.
My suggestion when being "taken out on a date" is to use it as an opportunity to work your game. Set the pace and gradually increase the intensity to see if they match it. Chances are he will get the point that you are serious about BJJ and not interested in his advances. If the guy doesn't match your intensity, think of it as if you're working on Bubba Gracie (the Bjj dummy) and have a field day with it. Or if the situation makes you feel uncomfortable, don't put up with it and go roll with someone who you know is a good training partner and will give you adequate resistance.
simply just want to train.
Don't get me wrong throughout all of my training most of my best partners have been guys. For the most part guys in BJJ are good training partners or can be taught how to be. One of the many things I was taught by the highest ranking female at my old school that will stick with me forever is to be selective in my training partners. This has saved me a lot of grief because I am kind of a snob for my own protection to avoid injuries or uncomfortable situations. Being a good training partner is something that isn't taught, but can be learned through practice. But that's a whole other blog for another time.
I hope one day women don't have to endure the torment that so many women have faced over the years. I hope that the pain experienced will not be a lost cause, but pave the way towards change for future generations of women in BJJ. No one deserves to be mistreated and it shouldn't be tolerated. Only we have the power to change our life's path and no-one will ever look out for our interests as best as we can.
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