Shark Girl is officially glomming on to Stephanie’s post.
About a week ago Stephanie wrote that when she invites other ladies to try jiu jitsu, they often decline with a comment like, “I’m too girly for that.” Stephanie’s point was that she, too, is girly, and if I’m reading her correctly, takes offense that people would box her into being less girly than they are because she grapples, and that more girly equals better.
Shark Girl does not ask other women to join her in jiu jitsu. After reading Stephanie’s post, I wondered if it was to avoid the “No, I’m not as manly as you” comments. I don’t think it is. I never invite anyone to exercise with me unless they show an interest. Way back when I started exercising, I often heard the advice that one should include a “buddy” who could help you stay honest in your pursuit of fitness. I heard that, but thought, “If I need a buddy to keep me honest, then I’m not really exercising for me and at some point the whole thing is going to break down.” I firmly believe in not regularly exercising with a buddy. I learned to enjoy my solitary runs and training in the gym by myself. Occasionally my brother or a friend would join me and it would make me happy. But I don’t want to be responsible for someone else’s fitness and I surely don’t want to nod and say, “That’s okay, really,” if a friend gives me that pity-filled, it’s-hard-for-me-to-say-this-because-I-know-how-much-you-love-it-but-I-hate-it-and-can’t-figure-out-why-you-do-it speech.
I still felt Stephanie’s pain, even though it’s not from an invitation snubbed. Just telling someone that I do jiu jitsu can bring that “Oh, so you’re a manly woman!” reaction, and a step backward.
After reading Stephanie’s post, I went to Nine-Year-Old Niece’s talent show. (She was awesome, by the way!) I saw elementary school girls devising reasons to dress in scanty clothes and wear clownish make-up. I listened as the audience of parents tee-heed when their daughters gyrated suggestively to sexualized lyrics. (“Isn’t that cute?!) I saw gymnasts contort in ways that are similar to grappling positions. I am certainly not against sex or sexualized behavior. I am not a prude; for God’s sake I grapple with men—I put my head there, as Stephanie would say. But where is the other side of feminine? Why is it feminine when it’s dirty dancing and there’s make-up involved, but the same moves in jiu jitsu are manly? Someone commented on Stephanie’s post that jiu jitsu was like “dry humping” (okay, I’m taking liberties in the interpretation there). But I’m confused. Are sexualized moves feminine or not? Why can’t grappling be girly, too? Not in the frills and bows way, but in a way that says, “This is another possible side of being a girl.”
I don’t expect that everyone will agree with me. And it’s okay if you don’t. However, I am interested in what you think constitutes femininity. Because I submission grapple, God-damn it, and I’m a freaking girl’s girl. I’ve got the pink dresses and frilly underwear to prove it.