Fight Like a Girl

So recently I received an email from a local fighter, concerned because someone told him that he treats women differently in a fight — more “softly”.

I’ve heard this same kind of complaint before; I’ve had people ( people I know and respect ) warn me that such-and-such fighter doesn’t respect women/won’t take a shot from a girl/ won’t give females a decent fight. Myself, I’ve never particularly noticed it ( or if I have, I haven’t attributed it to my gender ); the she-woman-man-hater in me that grew up with seven brothers would like to believe that anyone who didn’t take me seriously in a fight because of my gender was rather swiftly and painfully re-educated.

But the question remains — do people fight differently against different genders? Is it because of gender, or is it because different genders actually fight differently ( I feel like I meet more females who aren’t ‘aggressive’ as beginners than I do males, but my sample size doesn’t seem big enough ). What do you do to prevent it, both in yourself and others?

And more importantly — what the hell do I tell this poor fighter? 🙂

7 comments to Fight Like a Girl

  • Dante di Pietro

    I don’t treat women differently; I do treat skills differently. A dangerous woman is no different than a dangerous man.

    Is this guy fighting down to inferior fighters? That’s fine. If it’s really the gender, then tell him that he is doing them a serious disservice by not showing them a real fight. Someone like me will, and they need to be prepared correctly.

  • Tibbie Croser

    I’m female. I haven’t noticed male fighters fighting me differently because of gender, though some may fight me differently because of my lower skill level or my small size. Also, while more-advanced fighters tend to give me “teaching fights” in practice or pickups, they tend *not* to fight down to me in tournaments (I’m accustomed to being one-shotted by Dante. :))

    I would suggest having the male fighter in question fight *advanced* female fencers as much as possible to get over his inhibitions.

    How much skill and experience does this male fighter have? Does he lack confidence in his own control of his sword? Does he fear that he’ll injure a female opponent?

    • Hawke

      Ironically, he’s a fairly skilled fencer — maybe not top 10, but certainly top quarter. Judging from both his skill and demeanor, I doubt ‘fear of injuring’ is a concern of his. 🙂

      The problem is that I can’t honestly say that he DOES fight females differently. He was told this by someone whose opinion I honestly don’t trust, who intentionally tries to stir up drama. The only other female fighter I have access to who I know has fought him hasn’t noticed anything either, but she’s a pretty “advanced” fighter as well.

      ( realization: There aren’t a lot of advanced female fighters in kingdom…. )

      • Dante di Pietro

        Here’s a thought: if he’s *winning* his fights against women, he’s not taking it “softly” on them. If he doesn’t fight you differently, then tell him to forget it.

      • Wistric

        ( realization: There aren’t a lot of advanced female fighters in kingdom…. )

        Give yourselves some credit! There aren’t a lot of advanced male fighters in your kingdom either.

        I’m with Dante: If he’s winning, he’s not taking it easy. A shit-stirrer stirring shit should not be surprising, or trusted.

  • Wistric

    For a long time I would not fight down to a woman, but also would do things like give up an advantage I earned to keep the fight even (take her off-hand, give up my own. I don’t do that for guys). We consider that to be a respectful and courteous action in the SCA, and I was raised to be respectful and courteous to women. One day Baroness Cat explained to me that, actually, by doing that I was being disrespectful. So I stopped (also now I don’t usually do it even in “courtesy” tournament settings, regardless of gender, unless it’s being judged by somebody who hasn’t figured out that it’s a humongous insult to give up an earned advantage).

    I will hold back fighting a lower-skilled fighter (unless it’s a tourney where they just have to die), male or female. As Dante suggests, maybe that’s what’s going on here.

    It is my experience that women bring a different vibe to the fight: Dante’s one of the top end male fighters. Caitlin is one of the top end female fighters in Atlantia. When Dante fights, he’s intense, quiet, and is pretty much all about destroying you with his anger and his will (The only words I’ve ever heard him say before a fight, beyond the usual “good luck” bullshit, are “You are meat”). When Caitlin fights, she’s still very intense (see: her champs fight), yet she’s more relaxed. She’ll talk, she doesn’t turn into the T-1000. She’ll still kill you, but she’s there to kill you, not to crush you, and she doesn’t dehumanize you in her own eyes to be able to do so.
    Thinking of the other top-end female fighters and the top-end male fighters this holds mostly true (Connor’s an outlier).
    While the fighting intensity is the same, the interaction is different. Maybe that’s what observers of your local fighter are seeing.

    If female fighters really feel he is fighting down to them because they’re female, then they should run him down and jack him in the jimmy until he stops. If they can’t do that when he drops his skill level down, then he’s fighting to their skill level, not to their gender.

    Tell the female fighters that, then tell your local fighter that you’ve told the female fighters to do that. The problem should correct itself.

  • Wistric

    So how’s this turned out?

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