I Fight Like a Girl

Perhaps it is a bit late in coming, but we are seeing a wonderful new trend in girl-positive advertising, where the women are not the punchline, but the ideal. The Always #LikeAGirl campaign (it hurts me to type out hashtags) is now on 56 million views on Youtube:

With it’s gorgeous and inspiring sequel, Stronger Together:

There is the excellent Everlast campaign: Don’t Call Me a Female Boxer:

And my personal favourite, This Girl Can:

Let us not forget this incredible Beats by Dre ad featuring Serena Williams and her physical prowress:

I may be a lone voice in this, but I really want to bring this rallying cry into the martial arts, and especially in karate. I hate hearing ‘you punch like a girl’ being leveled at boys, that anything feminine is inherently weaker. It is one of the reasons why we see such an attrition of young female budo-ka. There are reasons why they don’t stay, so many reasons, and key amongst them is this bullshit idea that girls kick/punch/fight badly because they are girls, not because they need better training.

I, like many other women, am sometimes vulnerable to crippling period pain. To bloating and headaches and general physical shittiness. Have I EVER missed a class in 9 years because of it? No, of course not. The idea that I am weaker because I have two X chromosomes is as insulting as it is facile. Sure, I can’t do a pull-up, or lift more than 30kgs, but isn’t it a little bit narrow to define strength as a purely physical act? What about grace, and speed, and technique? What about dedication, and kindness, and patience? What about kata that is technical perfection? Like here:

And here:

In our dojos, in our classrooms and homes, stop using ‘like a girl’ as an insult. It is not a statement of weakness. Let it be a statement of elegance and dedication and strength. It will take time to change the perception, but in the martial arts we desperately need to cut out the macho culture and celebrate the girls who do stay, who are brave and fight hard and train hard. Using them as a punchline goes against the spirit of martial arts.

I fight like a girl. I train like a girl, I teach like a girl, and I am proud to bring all of my skills to my dojo like a girl.


3 thoughts on “I Fight Like a Girl

  1. BG says:

    I stumbled across your blog and it struck a chord with me. My 13 year old daughter and I are both die-hard recreational climbers, and on the climbing wall we’ve faced several of the issues that you mention above. However, in our efforts to expand our collective definition of strength, I think we need to be wary of diminishing women’s (or girls’) capacity for physical strength as well. Many times at the climbing gym, I’ve seen or heard a woman dismiss a climb as “one for the guys” or too “powerful”, and stick to routes that favour technical excellence, balance, and grace (which they may excel at but does little to build their capacity for physical strength, if that is a goal). A lot of women underestimate the amount of physical power they can achieve, which limits their potential. (Or maybe this just gets under my skin because I can do more chin-ups that most guys I know and I’ve worked really hard to achieve that.)

    I want my daughter to grow up with a definition of female strength that isn’t entirely based on the concept of physical power/strength, but doesn’t preclude that either.

    1. Zoe Hinis says:

      You’re absolutely right! Women can also be powerful and strong – you are proof of that! I wish I could do a chin-up, and it definitely is a very pure form of strength. I’m sure your daughter will be a true beacon as she grows older – she’s definitely being taught to be strong. Thank you for stopping by!

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