Friday, February 18, 2011

Should Girls Wrestle

This has been an odd week. Multiple social circles have been embroiled in debate over matters of gender and the relations between the two.

The atheist community is dealing with low participation rates of women. My state is questioning the appropriateness of girl wrestlers.

I want to focus on the girl wrestlers right now, as I have something clear I want to say on that one. Something I want to say, as an Iowan, as a fighter and as a woman.

Girls absolutely should be allowed to wrestle in school, against boys. If a girl is interested enough, talented enough, tough enough to train and practice, then absolutely let her compete in tournaments and absolutely encourage the boys to wrestle her.

Women need to know how to fight. Think how many hurts and abuses could be avoided if more women had adequate knowledge of defensive fighting. How dare you tell girls they shouldn't wrestle, that they shouldn't fight boys. Nearly 1 in 3 American women will be physically abused in their lifetimes. Do you have a wife, a mother and a daughter? Chances are one of them will face it. I'd argue we should be teaching wrestling in every high school to every girl that will learn. AND teaching them to use it against both genders.

Women can be good at fighting. I've had a Judo instructor teach me how to use my naturally lower weight distribution to good advantage in a hand to hand fight. There were sparring moves in Tae Kwon Do that I always did better with than the guys I regularly fought against, including my brother. So don't try to tell me that girls can't handle fights, that they aren't as good, I'm quite ready to prove you wrong on that one.

High school boys can handle it. Yes. They Can. I sparred against boys all the way through high school. I danced with boys in show choir, often changing clothes in the same room, and doing close dance moves wearing skirts and low cut sequined outfits. No one ever lost control in a fit of lust. And I think the few times I ever even heard about a whiff of trouble IT WAS HANDLED. That's why there's adult supervision. That's why there is parental involvement in the activity. Fighting, wrestling, dancing, building theatre stages into the late hours of the night, there are ways to do them with dignity, with behavior towards one another as human beings, as equals, that even in high school we understood. These behaviors should be encouraged and taught, not avoided. The real world isn't gender segregated. Learning to deal with the opposite sex in a profession, equal, respectful manner is a life skill that will get high schoolers much further than complete protection from temptation or learning.

Should there be separate competitions for girls, sure why not, it can be fun to fight other women, it gets boring just fighting men all the time, in my opinion. But I see no reason at all why girls and boys can't fight together in co-ed competitions either. Because right now, that's all we have. There doesn't exist a girl's wrestling, so if you say she can't wrestle the boys, then you're in effect saying she can't wrestle. That argument has gone on long enough and the only way to get to the point where we can create a girls wrestling community is if we encourage, teach and wrestle with the girls who try to take the first steps.

Keep fighting girls!

Edited to add link:
I liked their take on it too.


Anonymous said...

Right if the guys gets to rough he's a horrible person. If he grabs her in the wrong place he's a perv, maybe open to a type of sexual assault charge.

The guy is in a no-win situation.

Jennie said...

Thanks for chiming in Anonymous.

I don't agree though.

Every form of fighting I've ever trained in has stressed the importance of self control. Getting too rough and hurting your training partners or opponents is frowned on in all of them. Whether the opponent is male or female, so I'm not buying that argument. If he lacks self control, then he's not a horrible person, but I guarantee his coaches will identify that as an area that needs work.

Plus, a lot of wrestling is divided into weight classes, the girls won't be randomly fighting the biggest guys in the district. Flyweights here folks.

Every guy I've talked to, with direct wrestling experience, mentioned that getting their junk knocked around was a pretty regular occurrence. It happens. If the students all sign waivers, (as I'm pretty sure they already do,) a sexual assault charge isn't going to go very far if it's resulting from a wrestling move.

Suburban Survivalist said...

I have heard very little of this issue, but, without reading more on it, would guess it's more telling boys they should fight girls than the other way around. When I was growing up, boys did not hit girls for the most part. Obviously it does happen with boys and girls somewhat, and later when they grow up. Not sure I want to do more to weaken that taboo.

Though you didn't have any trouble while changing with the boys, I'd bet a few of them had issues getting to sleep thinking about it. My HS days were a testosterone fueled fog.

bctruck said...

i guess you would have to be a male to understand the training we get from early age. dont be rough with girls,dont hit your sister,treat girls gently,and gentelmanly. from a very young age boys are taught this from thier fathers and even mothers not to be rough with girls or grab them in unapropriate ways. you cant undo that type of training and i dont think the occasional girl that wants to wrestle boys should be allowed to change the rules that boys where trained to follow from youth by people they trusted. its not right to change the way an entire culture thinks and believes for the benifit of a handful of girls who arent content to accept chivalry and gentlemanly conduct from boys or men.i also think it puts boys who have trained to wrestle at an unfair disadvantage because of that training from youth ,its highly likely that they wouldnt put thier all into a match for fear of injuring or being her or even fear of being percieved as a man who would hurt a woman. you dont understand the stigma that goes with being thought of as that kind of man.i would even say that,as i man i look down upon those that dont behave that way towards women and im sure im not alone. its good that we talk about this though and i hope you dont take my comments as anything more than a person who is trying to help you see a side you couldnt posibbly see unless you where raised a male. by the way i foujnd your blog through md creekmores blog. the survivalist blog. nice plaqce you got here. take care. brad

Jennie said...

Brad and SS,
You say men are trained to treat women gently, but the statistics on physical abuse of women, (usually by a male she's living with) shoot holes in that view of how-the-world-works.
I don't doubt that YOU were taught that, and maybe your sons/brothers too, but fact is, that's sadly not universal.
I'm not advocating that that sort of training stop. I don't see any disconnect at all between teaching boys to respect girls AND teaching girls how to defend themselves from boys that don't get the lesson.

"for the benefit of a handful of girls who aren't content to accept chivalry."
Letting girls wrestle would benefit lots of women who aren't content to be hit or abused as women. I love chivalry, I'll let my husband open doors for me all day long. But I don't spend 100% of my time with him, and the knowledge that I can defend myself against an attacker is worth it's weight in gold.

"i also think it puts boys who have trained to wrestle at an unfair disadvantage because ... they wouldnt put thier all into a match for fear .. of being percieved as a man who would hurt a woman."
In my opinion, that's like saying white boys shouldn't fight black boys because they might be perceived as racists. That argument doesn't fly with me. If the girl signs up, does the training, and shows up ready to fight, there should be no reason for the boy to have to worry. She's a teammate, a competitor, not a defenseless girl getting beat up.

You're here from the survival site, so I'm going to make an assumption here and guess that you've done some hand to hand training/fighting. If so, you know as well as I that there are fights done honorably, sparring matches between teammates that better both participants no matter who wins, and there are the other kinds of fights, those where someone is trying to dominate another, and someone usually gets hurt. All I'm saying is that women need to train, need to learn to fight so that they aren't the ones getting hurt when that ugly fighting rears it's head in their life. If honorable men and honorable boys won't train with women, won't honorably fight with women, then they are saying that women don't deserve to learn to defend themselves. Those honorable men and boys would rather see women abused and hurt than risk the small injuries that come from honorable fights. That seems not-so-honorable to me.

It is good to talk. That's why I love blogs so much. I really appreciate your comments.
Come join the conversation anytime!

Suburban Survivalist said...

I referred to boys rather than men, and alluded to abuse when they, "grow up." My guess is that the abuse statistics you refer to would eventually rise as an unintended consequence should it become acceptable for boys and girls to fight. While some girls would excel and be able to defend themselves better, the vast majority, I think, would not be as interested in it. I see training specifically for self-defense as distinctly different than sport fighting. Just my observations/hunches.

HemlockMan said...

I was on the wrestling team in high school. While I don't want to come off sounding like a right wing jerk, I wouldn't have wrestled a girl, either. It has nothing to do with politics, but with upbringing. You don't commit any act of physical violence against a female. It's just something that was ingrained in me from childhood. I find the idea abhorrent. And while wrestling is not really a violent sport (you even get penalized for inflicting anything akin to a punch), it's pretty darned close to violence. I just wouldn't have been able to wrestle a female. At the very least, I would have held back or intentionally lost. But it wouldn't have even gotten that far...I'd have refused to participate.

Jon Lorisen said...

Excellent post.

I wrestled in high school and university (1990s). In grade 12, we had two grade 9 girls on the HS wrestling team, they had to wrestle the guys in practice as they couldn't just wrestle each other all the time and no one cared about it. They were quite good and because of their age and their weight class, they weren't at a size or strength disadvantage. They won far more than they lost in practice. They only wrestled other girls in competition though.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with girls wrestling boys. Maybe it wouldn't always be competitive but it certainly isn't always competitive between the boys either! By university, it would be hard to imagine most women being able to match up strength-wise but if they want to try, more power to them.

I also coached high school wrestling for three years, there were several girls on the team and it was never an issue. I did have some concerns about being a male coach with young female athletes but always kept the parents involved. There were never any issues. Men and women, even at that age (and yes, it is was testosterone fog for me too way back when) are more than capable of interacting on a physical level.

I've also trained in and coached various martial arts, both striking and grappling oriented for over 25 years. I fought a lot of women over that time and there was never anything sexual or suggestive about it. Was I concerned about hurting some of them? No more than I would be when going up against a male that I was bigger and/or better than. I always looked for the biggest, toughest, best people to fight and train with, I am more than willing to extend the same courtesy to everyone else - men or women. Anything else would be ridiculous.

Jon Lorisen said...

One other point I wanted to add. Jennie, you mentioned that women need to learn to fight. I agree. Other than weapons training and the wonderful option to actually carry weapons that you have in the U.S., it's very important for women to know how to grapple when looking at defense against sexual assault. Most traditional martial arts, especially striking based ones, are a waste of time from a self defense standpoint - even more so for a woman trying to defend against sexual assault.

I would consider it unlikely for a man to ever square off against a woman and them to exchange punches. It's ridiculous. What is likely and what does happen, especially since your attacker is probably someone you know, is that they get their hands on you to try and drag you down.

Grappling arts are very effective for one-on-one fighting. They allow you, in training, to go full out (especially wrestling) - there is no artificial touch sparring or holding back. Wrestling teaches you how to keep on your feet and how to stand back up. BJJ (gi-oriented) teaches you some of the same things as well as how to use clothing as an effective offensive/defensive tool.

Teaching young girls to wrestle teaches them self-confidence, allows them to be physical in a safe and controlled environment, and also shows them the effect of a size/strength disparity. Most of the women I know think they can just knee some guy in the balls and they will be safe. Ridiculous. Most of the women's self defense training I have seen is pitifully unrealistic.

Wrestling is effective, it's fun, it's great for building strength and confidence. And from a practical self-defense standpoint, it's a very effective tool for women - far more than for men.

Add in some practical striking techniques and weapons training and it gives a woman a chance, far better than years of pointless kickboxing, karate, or similar training ever will.

Jennie said...

Thank you Jon,
It's nice to hear from a man that isn't spouting platitudes about "ooh I don't want to hurt the poor gal."
(Like the thought that said gal could kick their ass never came to mind.)

I love hearing that you coached girls. Thank you for that.

Sometimes I worry about Americans and their Puritanical values. They do so much harm by trying to "protect." Protecting women from violence by... not encouraging them to learn self defense. Genius.

Jon Lorisen said...

For some men, I suspect there is some hidden fear that a woman would kick their ass! Then they would no longer be men...

A line I hear too often:

"I can't win. If I beat her up I'm a bully, if I lose, I'm pathetic."

So we are teaching that it's not OK to lose to women? That's an attitude that carries over into other activities and the workplace. Women are still not treated equally and we need to encourage anything that shows boys and men that women can not just be our equal but our superior - and that it's OK. My testicles do not mystically disappear, I get to keep all my man points, etc.

I think it would be awesome if a woman kicked my ass in wrestling. Means I have something new to learn, no different than getting beat by a guy.

I worry a LOT about Americans and their puritanical values. It's incredibly disturbing to see the kind of legislation being passed or proposed there over the last year, a concerted effort to dial back the clock on everything - women's rights, worker's rights, social welfare, you name it. And it keeps coming this way.

We have gotten incredibly complacent in Canada, our arrogance and perceived social and moral superiority will be our undoing.

Of course, it's somewhat ironic that you are annoyed at America and women's self defense - and I am annoyed by Canada and women's self defense! We don't allow women to carry weapons to defend themselves. I'm surprised that more Americans, especially women, don't take advantage of their constitutional firearms rights.

My wife loves to shoot, it's good fun, and an activity we can do together.

steven villafranca said...

im a wrestler in high school and iv always thaught girls should and could play with boys, but as i got allitle older with each passing year i noticed stuff. we have a girl on my team but my coach wont let her wrestle in a match. when i found this out i was pissed. she practices with us and shes decent at what she does although she isnt very strong. he didnt let her wrestle becouse guys who didnt take it easy on a girl would usualy attempt to hurt her in a match, and those who did take it easy had a subconscious disadvantage. it simply is awkward to wrestle a girl. its hard to steer away from my teachings of protecting girls, i wish i could ignore it but i cant. girls are generaly more skillful than boys, but boys are usualy stronger even in ther designated weight class. i hope no one takes this the wrong way. im just saying not all boys are good and will try to hurt you, but alot of us are shamed being the center of attention in the middle of a mat under the scrutinny of coaches, parents, ur team, the opposing team and audience plus second guessing your own morales on top of an already mentally and physicly exhausting game. its tough, i think we as wrestlers should be allowed to decide as teams and opponents wether we can wrestle.

steven villafranca said...

also if i were to lose ther is a slight shame in losing to a girl but im not an ignorant sexist. mostly its feeling like im useless. if a girl can kick my ass it sends a message, that i probably couldnt defend her anymore than she could defend herself so i feel like im useless. i think girls should wrestle, but understand a boys position, if a girl wanted to fight me in school id probably take her down or let her beat on me till i got help in dealing with it, but i would try my hardest not to swing. the same in wrestling, id probably lose to a girl no lie, mostly becouse alot of girls tend to be better technuiqe wise. but i also have that disadvantage of not giving it my all as i would a boy.

Unknown said...

Wrestling is a sport. It shouldn't be one way to combat physical abuse in a relationship. True, the number of men who hit women are way to high, but most men do not hit their wife/girlfriend. Also missing, is domestic assault by women against men has been continuously on the rise since the turn of the century; are you also suggesting boys should wrestle to defend themselves? No one should be hitting anyone, especially their partner, and should get out of that relationships as quick as possible, not try to fight them back. It doesn't get better with time. I've been there, and tried to make it work, but the abuse never stopped.

It goes both ways, and any number above ZERO is way to much, whether its men hitting women or vice-vera; same goes for same-sex partners to. No reason to hit your mate.

Awais said...

I am an 11 year old wrestler and I have wrestled girls. The funny thing is that I always defeat them. No girl has ever won against me. I've seen some of them even start crying because of their injuries I gave them. Girls don't have Skills or Strength to fight. I chellance any girl to fight me at the FEC fight club!

Anonymous said...

They are in wrestling. If he's too rough they'll call unnecessary roughness and that's it. If he accidently grabs her it's understood to be an accident and it's easily moved past.

The only no-win situation is an attitude like that.

-From a female wrestler