Feminist versus feminazi!

International Women's Day.

Ok so I know I'm late with this - International Women's Day was on March 8th. It's just that my friend and fellow krav maga instructor Sarah Brendlor sent me a badge in the post this week that got me thinking. It was about women supporting women. Sarah works tirelessly for women's rights and is a total inspiration. I had to ask myself why didn't I post a blog about International Women's Day? Maybe I was wussing out. Maybe I didn't want to put my head above the parapet. 

Let me explain.

I recently had an experience online where I realised some days you are just peeing in the wind. It was a post by a man, about how there is no such thing as the gender pay gap. I tried to engage with this because I personally think that is utter horsesh*t. Plus I know the guy who posted it and he is such a gem of a man. I know he is a clever guy, reasonable and up for interesting conversations. I wanted to have a discussion about the pay disparity between men and women. It was interesting because every single person commenting about how gender pay gaps were non-existent were men. 

I'm not even a feminist let alone a feminazi!

As with many things online it quickly disintegrated into name calling and personal attacks, and the word feminazi was used. At this point, my response was "taxi" because it was no longer a discussion or a dialogue but merely a rant and people simply telling each other that they were wrong. However, before I signed off I wanted to say "I am not a feminist let alone a feminazi" but I suddenly remembered something one of my young students said to me in class during the week of International Women's Day. 

Feminism is about equality.

I don't remember what we were talking about but I was in class saying that I wasn't a feminist, and the youngest student there said to me "Actually Tara the true definition of Feminism is to promote the equality of the sexes, not that women are superior." She stopped me in my tracks and I was humbled to learn from an 11 year old that the idea of the "bra burning" women's rights movement in my mind was wrong. I'd been as manipulated by the media as the men that see the more extreme feminists talking trash about guys. So I had to accept that actually, I AM a feminist. I believe men and women are equal but different, and we have to celebrate our differences. 

Mixed classes. 

So as I get ready to launch the mixed classes in April, I realise I now have to own the fact that I am a feminist! Which is ok, because I absolutely LOVE training with guys. When I started krav there were 2 women in the class of which I was one and I exclusively trained with guys. The other woman was a little ninja, she'd been training for ages and I was a newbie. As I trained more and more I met some guys who couldn't cope with training with a woman, even just marking attacks messed with their heads. Anything that required contact was too much for them. Then you had the guys that hit harder because you were a woman. I clearly remember the first time I encountered one and remember him gleefully telling me what his gameplan was. I smiled sweetly, put my gumsheild in and proceeded to kick him as hard as I possibly could in the balls. After that we avoided each other!! We call men and women like that krav a-holes and they are few and far between. The beauty of running my own club is I can weed them out early on.

Three trial lessons for £19.99.

By offering three trial lesson for £19.99 there's no commitment on either side which is brilliant. Any big egos won't be welcome. Similarly, if it's not for you we part ways and happily go on with our lives. Perfect. I'm hoping that some of the ladies will start training on Tuesdays in the mixed classes. Krav training revolves around finding your perfect bowl of porridge. Not too much contact, not too little contact. One of the best feelings in the world is when you are going hard with your training, yet you feel safe and you know that your training partner is feeling the same. You're in the zone, in a state of flow, and it's like a dance. I've lost count of the times I have finished a class and been exhausted but euphoric, grinning ear to ear and hugging my sweaty training partner. It's a common sight at gradings, workshops and masterclasses. 

Oh God not Rory again?! 

Rory talks about "adrenaline equaling truth" and by God he's right. We've probably all experienced it. Ever done a Spartan race in a team? Got out of a tricky situation and found yourself hugging complete strangers? Why do you think big organisations run team building events where you have to whitewater raft or zip wire? It's because it bonds you in a way you just can't really articulate verbally. Yeah, Dave in accounts can be a bit of a dork when you're in the office but after a shared experience that gets your blood pumping, you're soon fist bumping and high fiving like you're best mates. 

I will never stop learning. 

So yeah I am a feminist and it's taken me 47 years to realise it. My cousin recently shared something she experienced when she was 14 years old. She lives in Melbourne and met a woman on a train. The woman was in her 80's and it was her first day of University. She told my cousin to never stop learning and 30 years later that woman's words still resonate with her. I guess I have to be grateful that my job allows me to spend time with people that teach me things every single day. I will never stop learning. Such is the life of a krav maga instructor. 





I'll be proud to wear this but it doesn't mean I am a man hater. Being an a-hole is not gender specific! 

I'll be proud to wear this but it doesn't mean I am a man hater. Being an a-hole is not gender specific! 

Tara Shaul