We are all different and we have passion for various things, right? Martial arts is one such passion. Being highly popular in most parts of the world, Karate, Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Ju Jitsu, Krav Maga, Kalari and Kick Boxing are common forms of martial arts learned in India.
Since childhood I was consistently taught that dancing and singing were art forms meant for women. Those who wish to try something else are ridiculed. That notion has slightly changed now (thankfully), but even this is not enough. Here are a few stereotypical things I am just tired of hearing.
1. Are you learning martial arts to hit men?
What people mean by this is: you are learning martial arts for self-defence? First of all, if I am learning martial arts for self-defence, then I will really have to learn to fight 10 armed men at once.
However, there are all kinds of people. Some women learn it for self-defence owing to the nature of their work or where they live or just because they know that they live in a fairly misogynistic society. But, there are others who learn and practice martial arts because they like it – just like many like painting or dancing.
2. Her in laws will have a tough time
I thought marriage was the union of two souls and not a woman’s free entry to wrestling competition with her husband’s parents, mother-in-law being the major participant there. The sarcasm here is plain sexist and exceptionally annoying!
3. Your body cannot handle it
This comment reminds me of a quote from Don (1977) “Eise jism ko pyaar karna chahiye” (A body like this is meant to be loved). A lot of people are of the opinion that physical exercise is not meant for women since they are physically weak. Football, weight lifting, wrestling and body building are all taboo sports for women owing to the same reason.
The point is that an unfairly large portion of housework, which is physical in nature are done by women. Several women who do not have access to water at homes pick up a heavy load of water on an everyday basis. Women who choose to reproduce tolerate up to 37 lbs pain while giving birth and that baby is about 2-3 kg heavy while it is inside the womb.
So, martial arts is not really too much!
4. Your body will become masculine
This is a mere continuation of the previous statement.
“Martial art exercises will bring about physical changes and will make the female body masculine”.
This fundamentally stems from the idea that a female body is meant to look a certain way and anything else is unacceptable. Popularly women are expected to fit the stereotype of being weak and sensitive. A strong body is clearly seen as ‘masculine.’
Mary Kom, Gina Carano, Veronica De Santos among the many, all have learned mixed martial arts and they haven’t ‘spoiled’ their bodies. So, neither will you – because how you want your body to be is the way it should be.
5. Aren’t you afraid of fighting boys?
When it comes to martial arts what matters are the skills and not how heavy or physically strong you are.
So in a fight between a man and woman, both have a 50% chance to win. Plus the process of learning will help women gain self-confidence and even if they lose, they will have tolerance and determination. Hence, asking this question is just ridiculous.
6. Learning Karate or Kung Fu will make you violent.
Is that why guys are encouraged to learn martial arts? To be violent? There’s a line from the movie Karate Kid that I want to quote “No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher”. If a teacher teaches you to be a goon then you will become one. So learn it from a good teacher or institution.
7. You should have been a boy.
A big duh to that!
I would like to quote a female kickboxing candidate. “I have ovaries and collar bones. I can’t change my gender and I want to learn martial arts. So end stereotyping and let the children follow their passion”.
8. Cat fight
Lack of aggression shown by girls are mocked by many (the most annoying part is when women do the same). So a fight by a woman or between two or more women is stereotyped as “Cat fight” no matter how seriously or professionally they do so.
9. The dress is quiet sexy for her
This can be applied for any sport. At the end of the day women are seen as sexual objects and no one looks at them as sportsperson.
10. She’s the man of our group.
I get to hear this a lot. This is the 21st century and women do a lot of things, ranging from learning martial arts to ruling a nation. I identify with being a woman and I am one irrespective of what I choose to do.
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