On Gender And Politeness

On Gender And Politeness

Everyone remembers the Julianna Peña story. Apparently she has a reputation for rolling hard (she actually beat Shayna Baszler via submission which is a pretty hard thing to do). During a hard rolling session she blew out her knee and all of a sudden her training partner and gym were put in the cross-hairs of many internet warriors ready to defend her honor. The reason for the uproar was her gender.

The social constructs society has placed upon the sexes have changed drastically since the "Leave It To Beaver" era. Women can be anything and do anything. This includes being a professional fighter. And there are some very very good ones. But social constructs die hard. Complete equality is not quite a reality and I am not sure if it ever will be.

Proof you ask?

Dean Lister has recently become the target to some controversy. He was mimicking legend Kazushi Sakuraba's joke he pulled at Chute Boxe years ago.

The problem is he pulled the joke on a female student.

The woman was not offended. She laughed it off and apparently had beers with Dean after wards. The entire class was in on the joke, including the instructor. But apparently it is still an issue. An issue that would be non existent if the joke was pulled on another guy.

Is this fair?

I am in no position to be a teacher. But I do roll with women often. I treat them as equals on the mats. I roll with them just as hard as they roll with me. I treat men the same way. I gain nothing from man handling a smaller weaker person with very little experience during my mat time - regardless of gender. But I promise, if I ever rolled with Cristiane Cyborg or Gabi Garcia I would be worried if I did not put forth my best effort. And I feel I would be disrespecting their abilities as opponents and as training partners if I did not try my hardest. I would treat them as equals, like I do everyone else.

If Dean pulled that joke on me (and he probably wouldn't since I can see it coming from a mile away now), I would be embarrassed but I would take it in stride - just as the woman in question did. I am sure Dean has pulled that joke off on male victims in the past. He was treating the woman as an equal - like he would treat anyone else.

Grappling is an intimate sport. It is hard and it requires close contact for hours to reach the next level. Women have become formidable adversaries and it is normal for classes to have the genders mixing during training sessions. Close contact for hours at a time builds a sense of camaraderie amongst participants. Joking around is a known camaraderie builder.

Julianna's training partner and gym owner got on the net and apologized. Would that be necessary for if a man had blown out his knee during a hard sparring session? What if Gabi or Cyborg injured me? Would I be due for an immediate apology with cherries on top? I am sure if the so called victim was offended Dean would have apologized. But I do not think you can be offended for her even if you feel the joke was in poor taste. Trying to make an issue out of a non-issue is an example of even poorer taste.

Leave Dean alone and just train.