150 Punches

Had boxing class last night with Sifu Dino. It’s only the second time I’ve worked with him, and you know, I suppose there’s always gotta be one semi-evil instructor at an MA school.

First, I do want to say that I was in a brutal woman mood last night, and if he was really all bad, I would have walked out. He’s an OK instructor and knows his shit, but I wasn’t in the mood for shit last night. If Coach Fernando is Mr. Miyagi, Sifu Dino is John Kreese the Evil Cobra Kai Sensei.

So the goal was to work the bag for two minutes, then throw 150 punches in 30 seconds, which gets you to the “over five punches a second” level. He told us to keep track, and at the end of 30 seconds, we called out our scores (I was 101 – just over 3 punches a second). One guy forgot to keep track, and Sifu Dino goes. “Then we do it again. Let’s go. You guys think I’m kidding?”

And we did it again.

Not bad in itself. Good discipline crap (or good at teaching people to lie, anyway).

Then we got paired up, and as we had an odd number of guys, and I was the tallest woman, I was paired with a guy. I like being paired up with guys because I think it’s more realistic. If I get in a fight, it’s more likely I’m going to be dealing with a guy.

At the end of the round, Sifu Dino was pacing the ranks of partners and yelled, “90 seconds! We’re not playing patty-cake here, people! You guys can exchange numbers after you’re done! What, you guys think you’re on a date!”

If you wanna piss me off, play the kiddie-date card.

Come over here, you slimy son of a bitch, I thought, and I’ll kick the shit out of you (of course, rationally, this guy would wallop me with his little finger, but seething anger isn’t rational).

Fucking. Stupid. Piece. Of. Shit.

I wacked the crap out of the mitts, and got some tap shots from my partner, something else that also pissed me off. Sifu Dino didn’t tell us to grab our mouthpieces before doing mitt work, then had our partners smack at our faces after each punching combo (so we could work on blocks). This is a good drill, because you gotta get used to getting hit in the face – or, ideally, get used to *blocking* someone hitting you in the face. But he kept telling everybody to hit harder, which means I’m getting my face walloped without wearing a mouth piece. Which pisses me off. I have really good teeth, and I’d like to keep them that way, and avoid getting my lip split for no good reason (real sparring would be another matter, of course).

So we end the round, and he gives another little crass date-phone-numbers line, and my irrational self was just absolutely seething.

My rational self knew that mine was the only mixed-sex pair, and the comments weren’t personal, and the fact that they were pissing me off so much was because I’d gotten so pissed off about that Ladder Theory crap that I ranted about earlier in the day. When I’m pissed, little bullshit things can set me off.

This was a little bullshit thing, and I was pissed.

Bashing on the mitts after the Sifu’s haughty little lines, I got echoes of other voices, groups of guys talking about women like our sole purpose is that of penis-sheath and sperm dumpster, idiot guys and jerk girls telling me I’d failed to be a “real girl” because I didn’t look right, dress right, eat right. People telling me I was too tall, took up too much space, talked too much.

And all those crappy voices saying: you can’t. You can’t. You can’t. Can’t. Can’t. CantCANTCANTCANTCANT.

Fuck. You. You. Stupid. Piece. Of. Shit.

Men have this “freak-out hysterical women” stereotype that seems to baffle them. “Hormones,” they say. Something instrinsically womanish. They’re part right, but not for the reason they think. Highschool age girls especially will burst into tears for apparently no reason. They’ll freak out about what seems to be a totally innocent comment. A lot of this is trying to find some kind of outlet, some kind of release. Women are allowed to cry. Men aren’t. They’re given other avenues to express their displeasure at the system. You’ve got a culture and often, a social circle, that’s banging you on the head telling you how to be now that you’ve passed through puberty and get forced to look at yourself as a gender instead of a person (and using sex/social attractiveness as reward for good behavior as you get older), and you’ve got no idea how to handle it. Guys explode into adolescent violence and/or start to worry about how to gain sex points. And women… and women…

I keep getting told “can’t.”

Men wouldn’t want to screw around with me, my elders consoled. I wasn’t the sort of woman men would screw around with. I was the sort they married.

But. Wait. That’s supposed to make me feel better? I don’t want to get married! I want to hang out with guys who are my friends! I want to hang out with good people! I don’t want my entire social life to revolve around a husband! I don’t want people to look at me like some sort of sex-point meter!

It’s OK that you’re a fat girl. Fat girls can be smart. Just be a smart fat girl. You know that stereotype, right?

But.. but… I wanna fight! And smart girls don’t get laid!

You’re not supposed to want to get laid. You’re supposed to want to get married.

Who says so?

You can’t go to South Africa. 1 in 3 rape rate. You can’t buy a one-way ticket to Alaska, you’ve never been there. You can’t jump off the bridge at Molten Falls – girls don’t do that.

Can’t. Can’t. Can’t.

Fuck you.

WHAM! SMACK! BASH! I’ll show you my dating behavior, you slimy prick!

The thing I *really* spent my college years learning was this: it’s all bullshit. It’s all make-believe. When I hear other people say “can’t” or my own little socialized self monitor freaks out and goes, “You can’t. You’re a girl,” I ask myself this: If you were a guy, would you do it?

Funny, how merely altering my gender makes me so much bolder, and makes so many decisions so much easier. Take my womb and my fertility out of the question, and it’s almost like I can have the autonomy of a “real” person (read: a man). I always wonder what it would have been like, to be raised like a guy. To not have been so afraid about the sex=pregnancy thing, the onrushing hordes of potential rapists (read: sex=pregnancy and of course sex=AIDS=Death), the constant hammering about serial killers stalking women, the concern about who’s handing me a drink at a party, who my partner could potentially be talking to about bedroom antics, whether or not people thought I was a slut and therefore a low-class outcast, to not always have to consider my fertility as being my sole goal and purpose in life, to not measure my corporeal form by those of plastic people and place my entire self-worth on it.

It would be different. Other worries, of course – I would have gotten into WAY more fights if I was a guy – but different worries, and I believe, not nearly so pervasive, or so tied up in my physical body and its fits and starts, it’s physical attributes and manifestations. Nobody would be passing legislation on my womb. Nobody would be threatening to rape me if I didn’t have sex with them (unless I was in prison, or the military). In fact, I would have no stigma around rape at all, really.

It would be a different sort of world all together.


The good news is, I felt a lot better after class.

I need to buy a punching bag.

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