Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pigtails + Scooter = Strong Woman?

Recently, I had my heart warmed by a comment. One of the guys I train with at my Brazilian Jiu-jitsu school said his daughter said she wanted to have her hair tied back the same way that I do. Incidentally, she said she also wanted to ride a scooter like me when she grows up.

The father had brought his 4-year-old daughter in to watch class because he couldn’t get a sitter that night. After having watched me roll with the guys the whole class, she wanted to be strong like me and therefore wanted to copy every other aspect of me.

I am not a radical feminist, but like most people, I believe in equal opportunities for women. And while I think opportunities for women have increased over the last few decades, the reason why we don’t see more women involved in non-traditional jobs and sports is due to lack of role models. Kids are very influenced by what they see when they are young so if they don’t see any women training in a martial art, they’ll think it’s “just for boys.” Incidentally, BJJ schools are bad for this since so few women train in it generally. I'm the only one at the school at which I train.

Now I don’t do martial arts training for the purpose of influencing young women of the world. I just like martial arts. But if it opens the eyes of 4-year-old girls to the possibility that they too can do what I do, I can’t help but be pleased. The 4-year-old girl’s father was also thankful for the influence, as he wants his little girl will grow up to be a strong, independent woman.

That being said, I can’t help but chuckle to think that that one little girl now associates pigtails with her image of strong women.


Stefanie said...

That's awesome Lori :)! I think there are other issues as well as lack of role-models that keep girls out of sports. One is the still lingering idea that a girl who likes sports to be unfeminine. For adult women, I think that a few things block the way, such as the discouragement of women to be overtly aggressive, and increased familial responsibilities for women.

Hopefully by the time that girl grows up even more of the things blocking women will be cleared out of the way :). Great post!!!

Lori O'Connell said...

I honestly don't think that many people under the age of 40 believe that sports are unfeminine. And there are plenty of women who do sports (less so in martial arts though).

I think most parents who are under the age of 40 encourage their kids, boys or girls, to do some kind of sport or physical activity. Boys, however, see more role models in sports who are glorified in the media and are influenced by this. But what tv stations show the sports heroines who bust their asses day to day to earn recognition in their chosen sports? If young girls come to believe that sporst are unfeminine, it's due to lack of exposure, not lack of existence of women who do sports. Which is a shame really.

Renee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Renee said...

Hey Lori,

this is a voice from the past. Tim is doing well, and we both wish you a Happy Holiday.

I've finally come out of my hibernation. :) I never had the opportunity to tell you that I enjoyed having you as my Sensei.

Take care

Lori O'Connell said...

It's great to hear from you, Renee I really enjoyed teaching you before I left for Japan. I still have the video of you throwing Tim for the first time. Always makes me smile!

Tim said...

we still want a copy of that video :)