“Gina is not a delicate flower.” -The Professor
Someone asked me to write a post specifically dealing with being a woman in Jiu-Jitsu, but I’m not sure exactly what I should say. I’ve never assumed that most the struggles I’ve had were due to my gender, but more likely because of my age (old), my size (small), or my personality type (shy). I’m not every woman, we’re not all the same, so my experiences might not reflect those of other females.
I’ve never wanted it to seem as though I was complaining about the guys I’ve trained with, because the vast majority of them have always been great, but there have been times when I’ve felt like my gender was an issue, mostly with newer men. When I first started training at the dojo, there were a few douchebros who acted as though rolling with me was a complete waste of their time, or who went apeshit crazy to avoid being subbed by me. It should be noted that none of the asshats lasted very long, they all quit, and I’m still here.
Another problem I’ve had with dudes is that no matter how many years I’ve trained, some of them think they already know more than me when they first start. It seems as though there’s a segment of the male population who believes that having a penis automatically makes them know more about Jiu-Jitsu. I’m not the only woman who’s experienced this, Savage Kitsune is a purple belt, and she’s written about white belt men trying to tell her what to do (and being incorrect!). Maybe I’m wrong, but I doubt those white belts would have the balls to do that to a purple belt man.
Then there’s the strength issue. Even if most of the men didn’t outweigh me by seventy pounds, they are biologically stronger, and that’s just the way it is. One day recently, before we started rolling in no-gi class, Conan told us to remember to not use any “strength moves”, and then when I was grappling with a big white belt, he basically picked me up and slammed me to the mat. I didn’t say anything, but after a few seconds, he said “I don’t know if that was a strength move or not.”, and I told him it was. Those kind of things happen to me all of the time, and it barely even phases me anymore, I’m used to it. Strength and size advantages are hard for me to overcome, and it’s as though I have to be technically twice as good for things to work half as well.
Despite these issues, in an effort to be taken seriously (and not be considered “weak”) as an older woman training predominately with younger men, I don’t ask anyone to treat me like a delicate flower, and I don’t get mad at someone for being “rough”. I usually don’t even complain to them when I have a legitimate reason to (such as someone not letting go when I tap!). It seems as though some of the men are already terrified they’re going to hurt me, so I don’t want to give them additional reasons to be uncomfortable, or think I’m soft. Even some of the boys are afraid of hurting me (which is what led to the above quote from The Prof). Silly boys…I will annihilate you (at least until you become a teenager ;).
Since so few woman train at LBJJC, I almost feel as though I’m representing my entire gender, and I don’t think I’m good enough to bring the proper respect that womankind deserves! At the end of the day, I don’t really want to be treated any differently just because I’m female, but sometimes I am.