So, I was down the pub with a bunch of my fellow Jiu Jitsu students after a hard day’s grading (which I passed!) sat at a table with three other women while we waited for the lads to be served their drinks. A group of three or four rowdy, drunk footie fans ambled in and started proclaiming that this table was theirs, that in fact it had their name on it. Cora was all, ‘so where’s your name written then?’ and one guy decided to retort with ‘ha, you can’t say that wearing that dress’. As you do. Cora responded with something cutting about being able to wear what ever she damn well pleases and we proceeded to ignore them and they soon wandered off, so all’s well that ends well, yes?
I turned to my fellow new orange belt and proclaimed that they’d chosen the wrong table to pick on, given the large army of hulking, manly, jiu jitsu fighters we had with us at the bar.
Anna pointed out that actually our Sensei is sat here with us and she’s quietly ignoring them even as Cora is spoiling for a fight.
Cue me back-pedalling, realising only too late the crap that is coming out of my mouth, and wondering why on earth I’m responding to a standard bit of everyday misogyny with ‘oh but at least we have our men to defend us!’ when I’m a feminist engaged in martial arts, relaxing after a hard day’s work that proved how kick-ass I am.
I’ve practised various martial arts for over a decade. I can hold my own on a re-enactment battlefield and I can keep going in a grading when I’m exhausted and under pressure. I have been punched in the face and got up to keep on fighting. How ironic then that as a woman learning a martial art, surrounded by women who are damn good at said martial art, I fell back upon the idea that when we women are being threatened the best place to turn for safety is our menfolk, regardless of whatever skills and strength we have ourselves.
Just goes to show, the struggle is as much against the poison lodged in our brains as it is against the external issues we face.