Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Women, Boxing

Women beating each other up. Blood and spit. Female aggression sold as objectification of women. In fact, women should just go back to being card girls only: holding up those "Round One" signs. At least then there's nobody freaking out about their place.

What do the women have to say about it?

Well, nobody's asking, of course.

This guy didn't seem particularly concerned with why women get interested in boxing, why women would want to know how to fight, or why they continue to fight in a sport that trys to sell many of them on looks before talent (Ah, a League of Their Own, anyone?).

Like most women's sports, women's boxing isn't taken seriously, women aren't encouraged to do it - much less get good at it - and they're sold as being freaks or sexual objects before athletes. Anna Kournikova, anyone?

Somebody's still making women tennis players wear ridiculous little skirts, and it has nothing to do with their ability to play the game... and women boxers aren't being encouraged to train or taken on by the best of trainers because it's seen as a sport even more ghettoized than its male counterpart.

Does that mean women shouldn't be "allowed" to particpate in boxing? I mean, if it's so scary to see women in sports, out goes the WNBA, women's soccer, and tennis - short skirts or not.

Cause women being strong is scary.

Of course, his argument here isn't with women's sport: he feels women are being cheated into thinking that they can "compete like the boys" when in fact, the sport is incredibly ghettoized for women. What interests me is that he doesn't seem to grasp just why so many women keep coming back to it. I don't know that it has as much to do with the Rocky movies as he might think.

The problem with women's boxing isn't that women are doing it - it's that women's sports aren't taken seriously, and this one's no exception. The fact that there's often more blood involves doesn't matter a wit.

Brutal women, indeed.

What the fuck was he expecting? Skinny blonds in tutus?

via Jeff

17 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Did women's boxing experience an upsurge as a result of the movie "Girl Fight"? I liked that one a lot, and I'm not a fan of boxing. I wish Michele Rodriguez made more movies. I like her a lot. 

Posted by Trish Wilson

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your anger here, and I find your interest in boxing to be one of the many fascinating things about you. I'm not sure that the guy who posted the thing about boxing that got you riled up was focusing exclusively on women's participation in it, though. It seemed to me he's pretty much opposed to any boxing, and only mentioned women as a new trend in a sport he finds demeaning to all people.

I mean, you obviously look at boxing as something empowering, and just as obviously, you're not looking at it as a ticket to glory, which is one of the guy's biggest complaints about the sport. But, for those of us on the outside, boxing doesn't look very empowering. I went to one boxing card in my life, some 25 years ago, and I still get queasy thinking about it. It was brutality unleashed, as much in the taunts, jeers, and bloodlust of the spectators as in the pummeling of the participants. I can appreciate the sport of it, the science of it, but at the same time, I can't ignore the fact that it's about clobbering another human being.


Posted by Steve Pick

Anonymous said...

i thought of you while watching million dollar baby..in retrospective, i know i have ALOT of rage inside. with guy friends that i feel comfortable with, i like to throw a few jabs and stuff. & they are very weary about it, 'don't like to hit women.' i usually reply, 'don't see me as a woman,' see me as a would be competitor. it never quite works..& so now, i'm thinking alot on finding a gym or some place where i can learn to work with my body and learn about this side of me..and you are right, women sports is never taken seriously..look at soccer..its easier to see women as being anything but aggressive 

Posted by madamebutterfly

Anonymous said...

You are completely right; women's sports aren't taken seriously. To me, it seems like some men's opinion is that the world would be better off with out that arena. But since that can't happen they aren't going to fully support women’s sports. Women's sports are unappreciated and undervalued. Women aren't looked at as athletes, but as spectacles. Some day women will be looked at as equals and as athletes whose talents are worth while. Until then, you can find us playing in our skirts and makeup. I think that in tennis you can see the Williams' sisters slowly changing opinions and ideas of how women in sports are defined and viewed.  

Posted by myllissa

Anonymous said...

I can't remember if it was you that I was commenting to, though I think it was, but I was talking about the marginalization of women's sports just the other day. Argh. 

Posted by Beverly

Anonymous said...

Somebody's still making women tennis players wear ridiculous little skirts, and it has nothing to do with their ability to play the game... 

WTF? Do you even know what you're talking about or are you just shooting your mouth off? There is no one making women tennis players wear what they do. The only clothing requirements that I can think of are at Wimbledon, where it's tradition to wear all white, and even now they are allowing some amounts of colors on shoes and shirts. For pete's sake, tons of guys are wearing no-sleeve tops in every single match. If you watched the Australian Open, you also saw several European women in shorts, and I chalenge you to find how Davenport or Navratilova in a skirt is ridiculous. For a sport so steeped in tradition, I'd say we've come a long way, baby. You want individuals to stop wearing short skirts, you better work on individuals to convince them that it's wrong. Because saying that someone is making them (even if it's some vague thing like "society") is pretty demeaning in itself. Talk about un-empowering... 

Posted by Erin

Anonymous said...

No, I tend to just bullshit my way through life, like most people.

Are "skirts" required? Well... what's the reaction when women *don't* wear tennis dresses? Why's it been considered a bit of a faux pas *not* to wear one? There's *rules* and then there's what's expected, and they can often feel like the same thing, particularly when you're selling fans and endorsers an image as much as your talent.

Sidenote: arguing's great, but don't lay on the "you're fucking stupid" stuff on my site, or we're done.

Basic politeness. Relax. 

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Anonymous said...

I never said you're were fucking stupid, I said it sounds like you're just shooting your mouth off and don't know what you're talking about. I still think that. You rail against all kinds of stuff, and sometimes it doesn't even seem like you think before you write. Believe me, ridiculous skirts are few and far between on the tennis circuit. I can think of one ridicuous piece of clothing I've seen on a woman tennis player this year and it was Tatiana Golovin wearing (her now practically signature) short shorts. And skirts are perfectly functional, anyway. If they weren't, women would stop wearing them. It sounds like you  have a rule that you want women to wear whatever guys do. I'm telling you, women tennis players can wear whatever they want. People. make. their. own. decisions.  

Posted by Erin

Anonymous said...

Yep. Lots of ranting and raving here. Lots of pissed-off anger. Lots of verbage. Lots of thinking and writing. Bad, bad, bad. Better flee for the hills while the getting's good. Shit, why bother coming back? Flee, flee, now . Let's not waste time. Life is short.

I could go on an entire rant about social pressures on clothing choices (for men and women both), the history of the tennis dress in women's tennis, the fear of lesbianism in women's tennis (and women's sports in general), the fear women take into sports of being considered "too butch" and therefore unattractive to men (for those interested in men), and how those fears and pressures and historical standards effect present-day attitudes, but you know, I'm tired, I'm working 12 hour days, I'm sleep deprived, and I don't feel like it.

If you're looking for a better bitching partner, try some other blogs where there's less railing "against all kinds of stuff" and the author's looking for somebody to piss with. I'm not up for it this week. I'm spending my days pissing with people at work. I don't need somebody plunking themselves down in my webspace and calling me an idiot.

If you don't like it, stop coming. That's the great thing with this medium. You can just turn it off.

Much luck elsewhere. I'm sure you'll find a good sparring partner. 

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Anonymous said...


I'm totally agreeing with Kameron.

It's her own blog, she does get to say what she wants. Besides which I agree with her. Saying people make their own decisions simply isn't as simple as that. Hah. Bad England.

Anyway, dude, that's some powerful anger. Why are you so personally affronted by Kameron's opinion? Especially an opinion that is grounded in experience and knowledge. Shutting your eyes and saying everybody is free to choose, doesn't make it so.


Posted by Emma

Anonymous said...

I suspect that the truth is somewhere in between. There's no formal rule requiring the skirts, but there's probably some pressure to wear it.

And some athletes may feel it to be degrading and objectifying and be pissed off about the social pressure to wear that stuff, so for them it's a bad thing.

And some athletes may feel like they've worked their asses off to get into great shape and want to wear something that is functional AND shows off their body, and for them it's an empowering thing. They're saying, "I'm hot AND I could kick your ass in this sport," and taking that as a sign of strength.

Could see it either way. Have heard women's beach volleyball players talk about it in both ways -- sometimes they're irked about the expectation that they're wearing the two-piece skimpy outfit, and sometimes they feel like, "Well, it's light, it doesn't get in the way when I move, and hey, I've got no problems with looking good."  

Posted by Patrick

Anonymous said...

I think many men don't respect women's sports because they're insecure about themselves. Man: "If some gal is that good at ______ (fill in the blank), they might be even better at it than me. Egads, I might get beat by a 'girl!'"

For me, the idea that someone (male or female) is better at some sport than me is no big deal. Would I play basketball different against a female competitor? No way! Would I feel any less of myself if that female was better at basketball than me? No, but I suspect many men would say Yes. Those men just need to get over it!


Posted by Jim from Indiana

Anonymous said...

you're entirely right about the dressing code in tennis. It is true that things have improved, but I still remember the comments Amélie Mauresmo had to endure in the beginning, when she was a newbie in the circuit and people hadn't gotten over her homosexuality. Some sports journalists actually discussed whether her shorts meant the end of the elegance of tennis.

And although it is no longer as strict as before (bear in mind most tennismen and tenniswomen have had liberty in their clothing only for the last five years or so, cultural icons as Agassi notwithstanding), there is a board which issues recommendations about clothing, as well as outright bans on certain atricles of clothing (there are less and less by the day, thankfully).

Steve Pick raises an interesting question, though. I mean, I simply love fighting, and expressing this through sports feels exhilarating. But I'm very disturbed by the environment boxing in particular (and wrestling, actually) has been submerged in. I know all sports have been professionalized, but I believe it is of special concern in fighting sports. That some people, further spurred on by the attractivity of the athletes, can cry out for blood in a legalized way frightens me.

I mean, I can't justify to myself the fact that some people are accumulating enormous amounts of money out of people pummeling each other, regardless of gender. It seems to me that illegal private tournaments are the logical next step, once it has been realized how profitable exploiting ritualized violence can be.
I have really ambiguous feelings about professional boxing and wrestling. What are your thoughts on the matter, Kameron ? 

Posted by Ask, and you shall receive. Or not.

Anonymous said...

When I spar with the women in our Taekwon-do club I have learned not to hold anything back. Two reasons; 1) they won't learn how to defend themselves if they aren't pushed to their limits. and 2) some of them are perfectly capable of kicking my sorry middle aged ass. (or more precisely, my head. If your kicking your opponent's ass you're aiming too low...)

It's not for everyone, but for anyone who steps into a ring, male or female, I have nothing but respect. You have to conquer yourself first, and once you've done that you know you can do anything. 

Posted by A Hermit

Anonymous said...

Ah, thank you Kameron, for picking up and complaining about this piece. I read it and wrote a long rant about it myself (see webpage).

So as I don't hijack the thread, I think I'll go over there and start a post on whether sports are "violence" (even the violent sports)... 

Posted by Hardass

Anonymous said...

I dont know why so many men have something against women who wants to boxe, wrestle or anything physical (reserved in the past) for men only.

Why would I object ? I woudlnt even participate myself in violent sports lol, if women want to beat the hell out of each other its fine..

Do whatever you want to do and I hope the other men wil do like me and let anyone do whatever they wanna do, plain and simple! Those men who buy generic cialis  to be a man sohuld defenetaly grow up. 

Posted by Jeff

Anonymous said...

i think women should do away with skirts make-up and men, so what if a woman is a lesbian or dresses butch. the thing that pisses me off about men the most is when they think that they are the only ones who have the right to be strong. but i know why they have a problem with women playing powerfull sports. it is the same reason why most men hate lesbians. they are afraid that more women will recognise there true identity and realise its not a man they want. the reason men try to keep women down is to stop them from turning each other on! but there is some good news never give a man any support that way they will get no whare. its men that are the weeker sex and the best way to bring them down is for women to support each other. another thing to do is break gender based dress codes and wear no make-up never take a mans advise and never fall out with a woman for a man. there needs to be a new type of feminism and it needs to exclude men the only reason men join in in womens rights issues is to break them down. and yes i am a lesbian! and this is for the girls X 

Posted by lindsey