Today at the gym I noticed a fine example of the sort of casual unconscious sexism that is far too common in every day life. I train at a MMA/BJJ gym, and today we had a judo instructor come in for the first time so we can start to improve our takedown ability. Overall the guy seemed really cool and I learned a ton, but he did make one of those common sexist assumptions that you see every day even if you don’t necessarily recognize it.
At the end of the class he was explaining that going forward he was going to help us tailor the judo throws to our needs, be it competing in BJJ, MMA, or just for self-defense. The problem with this was he was picking out examples of each type of person, he picked me for BJJ since I was wearing a BJJ gi, he picked a guy just in shorts and a rash guard for MMA, and then one of the one woman who was also in shorts and a rash guard as the example for self-defense saying that she could use the throws if she were walking to her car at night or something. He unconsciously made the all-to-common assumption that the only reason a woman would be in a MMA/BJJ gym was to learn self-defense as opposed to love of the sport or a desire to compete. This flows from the assumption that women aren’t competitive, aren’t athletes etc…
To her credit, the woman, who has probably heard this same assumption a million times, looked him straight in the eye and said “No, I’m here to fight!”. It turns out she’s already had a few Muay Thai fights and is looking to transition into MMA. The judo instructor isn’t a bad guy or anything, but it just shows how sexism can just seep into your automatic assumptions about people because of this fucked up culture we live in.
Note: Speaking of unconscious sexism, while writing this I kept writing “girl” instead of “woman” and having to go back and change it. It’s a hard thing to rewire my brain to realize on a basic level that women shouldn’t be treated as and referred to as children like that.