I train and compete in sports that are historically (and currently) considered masculine.
I punch, kick, knee, choke, throw and slam on a daily basis.
The pugilistic arts are described through a lexicon of masculinity. Words like aggression, dominance, strength and fighter are discursively male, while women are ideologically subjugated by descriptions of passivity and weakness. Women who choose to participant in male-dominated sports are often questioned regarding their gender status or assumed to be abnormal in some way. Although many historically masculine sports are now practiced by women in the main-stream, fighting sports continue to be considered ‘male.’
If participating in presumed masculine sport caused us only to be misinterpreted, it would not be an issue. I have no problem with people thinking I am strange. The marginalization of female fighters in the media and in the industry as a whole has allowed many groups to routinely ignore the women who do choose to fight. On a professional level, women’s MMA has not become the international phenomenon it should because women are shut out of competing in the largest venues. However, progress has been made; the 2012 Summer Olympics will be the first to feature Olympic boxing with female fighters.
In order to promote women in combative sports, we must change the way we talk about fighting. Part of that means finding a space where women of all pugilistic styles can congregate to advance their sport, discuss their training and provide advice to the many girls and women considering participating in fighting sports.
Pugilistia is a blog dedicated to women and fighting sports. It is a resource for women who train and a tribute to women who compete.