Tag Archives: women

Women are told it is unfeminine and gross to have muscles and to cultivate strength, which in turn leads them to actively avoid doing things that will build muscles and strength, which then makes them even less capable of doing things that require strength, which the critics then use as proof of women’s inherent physical frailty. And so the cycle continues…

So, I think the question of what makes a strong female character often goes misinterpreted, and instead we get these two dimensional super women who maybe have one quality that’s played up a lot like, you know, a Catwoman type, or she, like, plays her sexuality up a lot, and it’s seen as power. But they’re not strong characters who happen to be female, they’re completely flat, and they’re basically cardboard characters. The problem with this is that then people expect women to be that easy to understand, and women are mad at themselves for not being that simple. When in actuality, women are complicated. Women are multi-faceted. Not because women are crazy, but because people are crazy, and women happen to be people.

“You should date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.”

You’ve heard of this girl before, her name is Summer or Alaska or something else that sounds cutesy and different because she’s always trying to define herself as not being like ‘other girls’. The girl who reads doesn’t shop, watch sports, play video games or anything else that she deems to be beneath her. She buys books instead of clothes because who needs to be dressed, she is obviously lying if she says she understands Ulysses and doesn’t find a strange man sitting down beside her in a coffeeshop and buying her a drink even though she doesn’t want one to be predatory behavior. It’s okay to lie to or fail her because she confuses real life with fiction, wanting conflict right before the climax and then a sugar-coated happy ending.

She isn’t a girl at all. She’s an idealized portrait of the already idealized trope of the manic pixie dream girl who only exists to serve as a love interest and teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life’s many mysteries. Women do not exist to complete you or give your life meaning. It is not our job to get you to see the world with ‘renewed eyes’ and we certainly do not live just for you to project your half-baked obsessive fantasies on us and then call us foul names when we don’t fulfill them because excuse us if they’re your visions and not ours.

And the Girl who Reads is one of the more toxic incarnations of the MPDG because it tells girls that if we like clothes, boys, being around our friends , taking pride in our appearances or anything else that doesn’t seem ‘deep or intellectual’ that we’re catty and jealous. We’re constantly trying to tell ourselves that we’re not like the other girls as if there’s something wrong with them. We all want to seem special and different and quirky so that we’ll eventually find someone whose personality quirks align with ours and create a lasting love affair. The girls who are not like us are called horrible names and treated like they’re worthless as if what they choose to do with their life is our decision. And as girls we cannot help tearing each other down; we see another girl on the street and think ‘oh she’s prettier, skinnier, smarter, more popular, more athletic’.

With the Girl who Reads we measure a person’s worth based on how many John Green books are on their shelves or if they enjoy Bukowski. You do not have to be widely read or able to wax poetic about your favourite author for hours on end to be intelligent or interesting. But it is not the Girl who Reads who looks down on the girls who don’t and labels them as stupid, catty, vain, promiscuous or boring, it is the people who created the idea of her, they believe that because she is so deep and mysterious that her special snowflake syndrome will prevent judgments from being passed at her. Everybody wants to be different, everybody wants to be special but let me tell you something. You are exactly like those other girls; you all are made of the same atoms that make up the solar system but do not think that because you have nebulae in your bones that you are better than anyone else.

I am sick and tired of people romanticizing this belief that if you don’t read that you’re not worth being loved. There are countless people I know who don’t like reading and who are still worth being loved the same amount as the people who do. Tumblr users say that they want to live like the Girl who Reads and be suffocated by the amount of literature they own because clearly book hoarding is the best way to go. Great for you if you want to find someone who likes the same things as you to be in a relationship with, you should want that. But if being a hollowed out shell of a manic pixie dream girl is your ideal life then you need to think more about what it means. I refuse to be a blank canvas on which you draw out all your delusions of what life and love should feel like according to you. I do not exist to counterbalance you.

Stop looking for the Girl who Reads because you won’t find her. There are girls who read but they are not singularly formed archetypes constructed for your approval. Stop looking for someone who fits your 27 point idealized criteria of a person and find someone who’s real. Nobody ends a date by saying ‘wow I think you’re great and all but you’ve never read A Farewell to Arms so it’s not going to work out between us’. That’s just ridiculous. Date someone who makes you laugh so hard that you snort soda out of your nose and even when your shirt is soaked with carbonated bubbles they will still find you and your laugh cute when nobody else does. Date someone who understands when you’re upset with them that you are not just waiting for the plot to advance because the hero always fails at one point or another. Do not fail her, do not lie to her, because she won’t think ‘oh boy this is some conflict before the resolution’ she’ll just think you’re a jerk. Which you are. Date someone who you can love as a human and not as a fairytale. A Girl who Reads may be able to give you a world full of adventure and imagination but you know who could do that even better? A person who actually loves you .

And pardon if I’m more than a little irked by the fact that we can’t even love each other as humans anymore, pardon if I am a ‘raging feminist harpy’, pardon if I don’t want to be the dramatic backdrop to your trials and tribulations, pardon if I would rather people to see me as a person and not a walking, talking library . But I am 50 shades of done with the elitist belief that reading makes you worth more as a person and why is that? Because I am a girl who reads, I am a girl who writes but most importantly I am a girl.

written by charlesmacaulayy in response to ‘Date a Girl who Reads’ (via charlesmacaulayy)

Now I’m curious. Which martial styles cater to female strengths?

A fair number of them do, actually. Many of the kicking forms like Taekwondo, Muay Thai, and other forms of Kickboxing are really good for women because they teach one to use the full body. The joint lock disciplines are also excellent, because joint locking relies on leverage, accuracy, and body placement, not physical strength.

Women are also very good at wrestling because of their lower center of gravity, which once mastered, can be used to destabilize their opponents. One of the physical female advantages is having a lower center of gravity than their male counterparts as a simple part of their physiological makeup. You have to learn how to make your body work together to take advantage of it though.

Female power comes from the center and below the waist (which doesn’t negate the upper body) by focusing on martial arts that focus on those things (which is most of them) and having an instructor who won’t handicap his or her female students by forcing them to fight one way instead of adjusting their teaching style to the students technique.

Techniques will only get you so far to learn well one needs a good instructor. Also, learning how to think and fight with the entire body is important. I wish I could say that it was as simple as just a physical match up of statistics, but it’s not.

-Michi

Well the thing you wrote about women fighting was a good read. Now my experience with female fighters weren’t that they were stronger, but have more control. My experience has been boxing so might be wrong. In that control I’ve seen female fighters be powerful in a different way then male. That female fighters may not have the same strength as male fighters because their strength is different then theirs. Would that be wrong?

capricorn-child:

fuckyourwritinghabits:

howtofightwrite:

Yeah, boxing is a bad test example. The “problem” with boxing is that because the strikes are, for the most part, upper body only, men do posses a much greater advantage when it comes to physical strength. Men can develop their upper body much more quickly and much more fully than women can. Whereas female strength develops more quickly in the core muscles and the lower body. They also have a much harder time building up “weightlifter muscles” and an easier time with “runners muscles”. That’s not a medical definition, but I can’t remember the terms right now.

When we look at boxing, even with the wider hips, the natural advantages that females possess just don’t come into play. This is just the way boxing works, for the most part. Add full rotation of the legs like in kickboxing and the field shifts dramatically. Add in joint locking techniques and free standing grappling, it’ll look different again.

The second problem that women face, and this one is much more important, are the psychological blocks they have developed from living in a patriarchal society. The beliefs a woman has about herself  will be her biggest barrier to learning how to fight effectively. “I don’t want to hurt anyone, I can’t do that, I’m not a bad person, I’ll get in trouble” etc are all part of mental barriers that come into play when faced with a male (and sometimes even female) opponent.

The differences between men and women on a purely physical level aren’t really that substantial. When we compare their fighting ability on a cultural and psychological one, the difference is enormous.

We see this one come into play a lot with writing, especially with the latest influx of “badass” female heroines. In most of those cases, the character themselves isn’t the reason for their success. The success is based on X, be that their superpowers, their base fighting ability (which is treated as separate from their personality), the way that other characters around them underestimate them on the basis of their size and gender. But none of that actually has anything to do with who they are as a person or how they see the world around them. There’s some extra reason why these girls and women can win that has nothing to do with them, but instead their victories are based in outside forces at work around them and how those forces fuck up.

The expectation is the same in the beginning for many of the female students I’ve taught and it’s something that they have to get over if they’re going to succeed in their training. Mental willingness to go the extra mile and push past the self-imposed mental limits will actually make the difference over base physical strength.

In the article, I wasn’t just talking about perceived physical differences, though they are important, because success in combat is learning how to play to your strengths. But, I was also talking about mental strength and what we believe about ourselves, how we see ourselves, and our capability for success.

When someone goes into a fight against someone else on the belief that they are going to lose merely based on their gender, they will. Now, across the board women aren’t necessarily stronger than men either. That one is going to come down to the individuals in question. The important thing to remember is that they’re just not weaker and that, at least in the mind, begins to level the playing field.

-Michi

OH MY GOD THEY SAID PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY this is the best blog.

when I did martial arts my sensei [who had a -lot- of experience] said girls tend to have better technique than boys, because to fight someone who is stronger, heavier and has a better reach than you, you have to really use skill and the way they teach you to use the opponent’s moves and weight against them.

This is true, but in some ways only partially so. I had this opinion too, until I stopped and thought about it. But the perception is, and this perception is general, is that the weight is the important factor. Since most martial arts are developed around the idea of making full use of weight, it is in a sense true. Men on average weigh more than women, so they get to coat. However, that’s only half the equation. Ultimately, what it comes down to is physics. Force = mass x acceleration.

Men have the greater mass, but because they do inertia works against them. They’re slower to start and slower to stop, which accounts for the lack of precision in their technique. Women weigh less, but they can accelerate faster and because they lack the problem with inertia, they reset much more quickly. This is where the average female martial artists greater precision comes from. She can start and stop whenever she wants and because she’s lighter. This means she hits slightly less hard but can hit her opponent more times in rapid succession than a man can. (The strength differential is ultimately more minimal). Thus, resulting in greater bodily control. When Starke and I discussed this, I ended up likening the female strengths to the Italian School of Fencing and male ones to the German School. The German School uses the longsword/broadsword for reference where the Italian School uses the light blades: foil, rapier, sabre. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when I tell you that women happen to be extremely good at fencing. Both sports will mess up someone’s day, but they do it in different ways. Those differences are actually very important.

Now, in most martial arts, including many of the Japanese ones, you’re not really going to see this come into play unless the female practitioners begin to modify the style for themselves. The reason is that the average martial arts are built to play to male strengths, not female ones. They’re built around making use of the weight advantage, not the speed one. This translates into a general thought process that revolves around women being less proficient combatants because they lack the male advantages (generally taller and heavier) instead of feeding the female ones (lighter body, hits happen in rapid succession, making use of a lower center of gravity).

This is just on the basis of body. It doesn’t touch on the additional problems created by societal gender bias or how that can travel as a sub-component of the martial art and the societal attitudes that surround a martial artist as they are learning. Much of what is considered to be conventional wisdom, isn’t.

For most men, the best thing to do is focus on a “top down” mentality. Focus on building the upper body primarily, with an emphasis on hand techniques and using their greater size to force someone down. For women, I’ve found, the best approach is to focus on “bottom up”, start the student with an increased focus on leg strength, leg placement, hip rotation, and making full use of their lower center of gravity. Build muscle mass with an emphasis on speed. In most styles this will amount to “better technique”, but that’s not quite what’s happening.

My thoughts on the subject anyway and those are based in my martial arts experiences.

-Michi

Well the thing you wrote about women fighting was a good read. Now my experience with female fighters weren’t that they were stronger, but have more control. My experience has been boxing so might be wrong. In that control I’ve seen female fighters be powerful in a different way then male. That female fighters may not have the same strength as male fighters because their strength is different then theirs. Would that be wrong?

Yeah, boxing is a bad test example. The “problem” with boxing is that because the strikes are, for the most part, upper body only, men do posses a much greater advantage when it comes to physical strength. Men can develop their upper body much more quickly and much more fully than women can. Whereas female strength develops more quickly in the core muscles and the lower body. They also have a much harder time building up “weightlifter muscles” and an easier time with “runners muscles”. That’s not a medical definition, but I can’t remember the terms right now.

When we look at boxing, even with the wider hips, the natural advantages that females possess just don’t come into play. This is just the way boxing works, for the most part. Add full rotation of the legs like in kickboxing and the field shifts dramatically. Add in joint locking techniques and free standing grappling, it’ll look different again.

The second problem that women face, and this one is much more important, are the psychological blocks they have developed from living in a patriarchal society. The beliefs a woman has about herself  will be her biggest barrier to learning how to fight effectively. “I don’t want to hurt anyone, I can’t do that, I’m not a bad person, I’ll get in trouble” etc are all part of mental barriers that come into play when faced with a male (and sometimes even female) opponent.

The differences between men and women on a purely physical level aren’t really that substantial. When we compare their fighting ability on a cultural and psychological one, the difference is enormous.

We see this one come into play a lot with writing, especially with the latest influx of “badass” female heroines. In most of those cases, the character themselves isn’t the reason for their success. The success is based on X, be that their superpowers, their base fighting ability (which is treated as separate from their personality), the way that other characters around them underestimate them on the basis of their size and gender. But none of that actually has anything to do with who they are as a person or how they see the world around them. There’s some extra reason why these girls and women can win that has nothing to do with them, but instead their victories are based in outside forces at work around them and how those forces fuck up.

The expectation is the same in the beginning for many of the female students I’ve taught and it’s something that they have to get over if they’re going to succeed in their training. Mental willingness to go the extra mile and push past the self-imposed mental limits will actually make the difference over base physical strength.

In the article, I wasn’t just talking about perceived physical differences, though they are important, because success in combat is learning how to play to your strengths. But, I was also talking about mental strength and what we believe about ourselves, how we see ourselves, and our capability for success.

When someone goes into a fight against someone else on the belief that they are going to lose merely based on their gender, they will. Now, across the board women aren’t necessarily stronger than men either. That one is going to come down to the individuals in question. The important thing to remember is that they’re just not weaker and that, at least in the mind, begins to level the playing field.

-Michi