Friday, March 6, 2009

Fighting Girls

'Why does Damon,' you might ask, 'have a Maxim photo on his blog?'

Good question.

This is Gina Carano, a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter, from the United States.  You can watch her fight here.

MMA looks brutal - and it is.   But in many ways, it's safer than boxing.  

And the fighters are superb athletes: disciplined, courageous, and sometimes tactically brilliant.  (You can read more about MMA here.)

Watching Gina fight, I was thinking of our little Sophia.  

With her striking looks and charm, Gina puts paid to stereotypes of martial ugliness.  She's a reminder that physical toughness doesn't rule out beauty, elegance, allure (in men or women).

But I'm not hoping our little girl will be professional Mixed Martial Artist (or my son, for that matter), or a model.     

And I'm not endorsing Maxim's vision of womanhood.  In fact, I don't care about 'masculine' or 'feminine' virtues, or the false dichotomies of gender idiocy.
I just hope she's brave, resilient, focused.  Put simply, I hope our little girl will be a fighter. 

Perhaps this won't be combat with fists, elbows and shins: she'll fight with words, or pictures, song.  

But part of me hopes it is real fighting; hopes she learns violence and brutality, and then learns to restrain them.  A fighting girl is one step closer to freedom: independent, confident, and at home in her body.

If she can armlock like a squid, and kick like a mule, so much the better.


Rachel Power said...

I know very little about martial arts, but I do admire the discipline involved. As you say, something very powerful about having a capacity that is held in restraint--in a Zen rather than repressed kind of way. For a woman, I can imagine martial arts being hugely empowering.

Damon said...

It can be.

Of course it can also be repressive: in the thrall of teachers, bound up in authoritarian codes, and so on.

But, yes: I think the capacity to be brutal can be liberating, particularly when it's civilised.

Gondal-girl said...

Go on you only posted this image because of her impossible killer abs! :)

A shame that sports women or any woman in the public eye, have to fit into sexualised boxes, for common consumption...

Damon said...

If I were punched and kicked in the guts thirty times a day, I'd want 'killer abs' too!

No doubt fans do enjoy Carano's beauty - which promoters and the media package sexually.

But, Carano's appeal is also her talent: she has a very impressive record in Muay Thai and MMA.

(Put bluntly: she's not a Kournikova.)

Emma Kirsopp said...

What a magnificent body. She is also amazing to see in action. Watching her take those blows without flinching is incredible.

Whatimpresses me most about that image is that her figure is the result of strength, power and discipline rather than being fashionably pathetic and emaciated. She is not divorced from her body, instead she is so clearly comfortable within herself.

Damon said...

Yes, exactly: it's not a body for simple display; for others' gratification. It's a body of achievement (like to many sportspeople).

Having said this, sportspeople can sometimes trat their bodies as machines; as mechanical 'things' to tinker with, tune up, optimise.

Not knowing Carano, I can't say whether this applies here.

But, yes: a very tough, disciplined, beautiful example.

Daniel Keating said...

Well said Emma.