My youngest son attends a karate class regularly. While his big brother has gone downt he route of the Welsh national sport, T has embraced martial arts, mainly I think because he gets to pretend to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Last night I did hear him shout ‘Booyakashah!’ as he performed a round house kick (what happened to Cowabunga?). Anyway, it’s a great class and it has had a huge impact on him: his discipline, his concentration and his co-ordination. I tell anyone who listens about how wonderful this karate class is. And when I do tell people about this class one of my biggest praises is that one of the main teachers is a woman and that there are many, many, MANY girls who attend. I think it’s brilliant that this class has attracted so many girls into what appears to be quite a masculine activity.
Now with karate we have gradings. I love gradings. T gets to show off some set forms and moves and he gets a new belt. And again I love that there are so many girls and with that a huge number of women helping out who appear to be bad ass black belts. One part of the gradings is to see the Tigers who have just turned 7 being inducted into the Dragons class. For this they have to demonstrate that they can hit a piece of wood really hard (don’t panic, the wood is designed to break in half and it’s not that hard). The Tigers step forward one by one and hit the wood with a downward punch and an accompanying battle cry.
On this occasion there were a fair few girls progressing to Dragons. Each one fierce in their attitude and powerful in their blows to the wood. It was amazing to watch little girls embracing something so physical. Step forward a little boy. He hits and gives a murmur. The female coach tells him to hit it again. He tries and he doesn’t break the wood. The coach turns to him and says…..
Come on, you can do better, YOU’RE HITTING IT LIKE A GIRL.
I think parents may have turned round when they heard the sound of my palm hit my face with force. You’re hitting it like a girl.
NO hes not hitting it like a girl! Was what I wanted to scream. Three girls before this child had smashed this piece of wood in half. I was dumbfounded because of what those girls had managed to do just before and also because IT WAS A WOMAN WHO SAID IT.
But then it’s ingrained isn’t it. Hit like a girl, run like a girl, fight like a girl, cry like a girl. I have no doubt that this female coach hadn’t even thought twice about what she had just said, it was habit, societal. As routine as saying please and thank you. I was thrilled for T getting his grading that day but I felt sad for those little girls. I doubt anyone else had noticed and that makes me a bit sad too.
I am quite hard on my boys and they probably get fed up with me but I jump on them if they use ‘like a girl’ as an insult. I correct them when they say that boys are better than girls. I pointed out to my eldest that a female match official is there because she understands football and rugby just as well as any male official and better than anyone sat on the sofa. I told the boys that at one time woman weren’t allowed to vote and couldn’t have bank accounts or own a house. It’s probably a bit much but I feel that it needs to be done because in 2017, despite International Women’s Day (there is a men’s day it’s 19th November before any baby men go wah wah wah) the female gender is still seen as a symbol of weakness and a way to insult a man. NO, NO, NO, NO.
So when you find yourself saying ‘crying like a little girl’ just stop and think. Language like this needs to be stamped out. Little girls are not weak, they are awesome and grow up to become black belts.