I spent the day researching this piece. It was actually going to be in my healthy living blog, as just a general, don’t let sexism stop you in your pursuits sort of piece. As I researched, as I typed in a series of key world relating to misogyny, martial arts, gyms, feminism, etc, I was horrified at the results. Forum posts of men complaining that women who complain are “whales or fugly,” women having their queries shot down by men saying they had no place in MMA (MMA was a popular topic in my searches). How should a woman respond?
I will give you some context for why this piece even came about. In my dojo, and in many proper dojos, gender is rarely a factor. It comes into play with certain things but never are a reason to not do something. Anyway, all this to say a dojo, a school, is considered a safe place. Regardless of where you fall in the hierarchy of your studies, someone will always have your back. During a recent class, a rape joke come out of the mouth of a fellow student. Yes, a rape joke. I shut it down immediately, no one laughed with this individual but it still happened. Steps needed to be taken to assure that this individual was not given the opportunity for a repeat performance. I will not go into the details of that since it became the organisation that took further steps, not just me.
I am lucky in that I am a member of an organisation that understands and strives to abolish this type of behaviour. I am lucky that in hearing his “joke” I was not retraumatised from previous experiences. I am lucky that I am no longer in a place where I could have given my power away to this individual and allowed them to hurt me. Not everyone is there, not every woman is at the same place in their healing process. It could have been a very bad experience.
I am in a position now, where I can determine his punishment. I know what my anger wants his punishment to be, my impulsive need to hurt this individual in a similar fashion to what his potential damage could have been. Long sentence to mean I want to hurt him. But in reality that helps no one. Especially not me. Is punishment really the way to go with this individual? I know his thought process runs along the lines of my being an overly sensitive bitch without a sense of humour. And when it comes to encouraging rape culture, yes I am sensitive, as everyone should be. The fact that people think it is a sensitivity thing, further proves the need to discourage rape culture and demonstrates how deeply rooted the issues are.
This individual is a definite misogynist. The women in the class (there are two of us) are often the focus point of his angry and frustration, not that we cause it but we are who he takes it out on. It has been noticed by other attendees and they have tried to solve this guy’s problems. Unfortunately, this approach has not had any impact on his behaviour.
My goal is not to change his point of view. I have long given up trying to change an individual who is not even able to recognise that they have an issue. That does not mean I will not call people out on their bullshit. Accountability is important. Accountability applies to both those behaving in an inappropriate manner as well as those who let it continue. I am proud of those around me who took steps to rectify the situation and feel good that I was supported.
This should be a lesson to others. That you should support the women around and come to their defense when men are encouraging rape culture and misogyny. Women have a certain impact but men who are proponents of misogyny will not give women a chance to voice their issues. Help women have a voice.