Dog Eat Dog World
by Samantha Schell
It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and often from an early age, we see the aggressive and gritty ways people use to clamber their way to the top. Perhaps I am a bit more sensitive to the levels of competition and comparison early on, being born a triplet and feeling like I have had to fight since birth. My brothers are great people don’t get me wrong, but it was pretty cramped in there, and we almost didn’t make it, so I was born through battle and turmoil and that theme has seemed to plague my existence my whole life. Not to mention having two other people your exact age living in your household where you knew you would always be compared to and held to the same standard.
As women in a male dominated sport, we are still constantly fighting to be heard, to be seen, and to be taken seriously. Even in gyms, there is sometimes a weird vibe in the atmosphere when certain women get paired up against one another. I don’t know if it’s because they feel they have to reign supreme and be top dog in order to be seen, but society has always made it seem like there is only enough room for one queen bee. If you are fortunate enough to train in an environment where the women are exceptionally encouraging and uplifting, how lucky you are. But it saddens me to think not everyone experiences the same. Comparison truly is the thief of all joy.
I have definitely witnessed firsthand the cattiness that can sometimes accrue and the cliques that certain women may form. Oh boy, does it hurt on a deeply emotional level that no one really prepares you for. Takes me back to my high school days where the vicious words and malicious behavior by some of my classmates could send me plummeting on a downward spiral, feeling worthless and alone. But I have also witnessed, and not only witnessed, but also been privy to a wonderful camaraderie of uplifting women who are exceptionally inclusive and also supportive.
As women in a male dominated sport, we are still constantly fighting to be heard, to be seen, and to be taken seriously.
Yet, it’s still so hard when we are constantly being criticized and judged in ways our male counterparts never get to experience, and it starts to weigh heavily on our hearts and our minds. For instance, female MMA fighters are often criticized for their appearance and what society deems as ‘attractive.’ I know this all too well as without a doubt, anytime fight photos of myself gets posted, I am hit with comments about looking manly due to my muscles. Or people will make perversely sexual comments when it comes to the women on their screen, i.e., referencing a wardrobe malfunction. I wonder why no one is clamoring at the sports bar for an accidental testicular exposure. It’s a fight, not a fashion show.
In Jiu-Jitsu, both male and female matches are equally as technical, aggressive, and exhilarating at the highest levels. Yet, it is discouraging to hear about the differences in prize money awarded to men versus women in the same competition. The wage gap had undergone reparations since attention has been called to it, but there is still so much more that can be done. For this reason, I implore the ladies to always show up in droves when it comes to compete and really instill the confidence that we are here to stay.
In the children’s divisions, boys and girls are often paired together for competition, as there really isn’t much disparity in strength or size until the onset of puberty. So why does there always need to be such a big production when one of the girls wins? Or even if one of the boys is super aggressive and then lambasted for competing so ‘hard’ against a girl. You can’t have it both ways. My heart definitely aches for the preteen ages where some of the boys and girls start hitting growth spurts and there is definitely a difference in mass and brute force, but hopefully with the influx of women in the sport, this will one day be an issue of the past.
In Jiu-Jitsu, both male and female matches are equally as technical, aggressive, and exhilarating at the highest levels. Yet, it is discouraging to hear about the differences in prize money awarded to men versus women in the same competition.
Unfortunately, when it comes to youth wrestling, girls are having to compete against the boys even through high school ages, as there simply aren’t enough divisions for the ladies yet. I’ve watched firsthand how difficult this can be. Call it building character all you want, that doesn’t make the suck hurt any less. Luckily there has been an abundance of growth as of late, with more women’s tournaments being created and more leagues to diversify the sport. Each day we get closer to more available equality.
As much as we get pitted against one another, we also greatly help one another too. I wish for nothing more in life than to be able to have made a difference in this sport, as the young girls at my gym who look up to me mean more to me than they could possibly know. Sure, it may be a dog eat dog world out there, but I can definitely bark with the best of them, and I got one hell of a bite. Bad b*tches unite. Woof Woof.
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