Last week at my semi-private gym session I tried boxing for the first time. I don't think it was a coincidence that it was the first time my trainer was a woman.* She took one look at me and said "I think you're going to enjoy this." She was not wrong. It was glorious. I felt like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I have spent almost 20 years watching Buffy train and never once did it occur to me that I could use exercise to find that feeling of punchy empowerment for myself.
I have done exercise for wellness, both mental and physical. I have done exercise to lose weight and raise money. I have done exercise as an excuse to meet up with friends. I have never once done exercise to feel empowered. I've often thought of doing a self-defence class but that comes from a place of fear not power. Also, I have never got round to doing it.
My first taste of boxing though was thrilling. I literally jumped for joy at the end. All I did was a short routine using pads to do some punching. When I go back to the gym next week it is the only thing I want to do. Violence is lots of fun. I haven't lost as much size as I would have liked through going to the gym (that's my bad, not theirs) but I find I care far less about that now, I'm in it for the punching.
I totally get the rough and tumble play both my kids engage in; violence is clearly a jolly good time - for a short while at least. I have always gone for channeling the urge, trying to sublimate it in other 'healthier' activities. If they want to punch, I have suggested they run or skip instead. It is not the same. I know that now. It's also hypocritical, some of my happiest childhood memories are being unsupervised by adults and knocking seven shades of shit out of my cousins and being equally beaten in return. I used to wear my bruises as badges of pride.
I am very glad I signed my son up for ju jitsu - I might be trying it for myself very soon. I thought that at 3 my daughter would be too young for that kind of activity but she's tough as nails and already quite punchy. She is also far more willing to fight dirty than her brother so they would probably be pretty evenly matched in quite a short time if she does get the opportunity to fight him legitimately. I think I may just get her signed up and let them have at each other. Expect a lot more of my posts to be dispatches from A&E.
* I was not sure whether to acknowledge my thoughts on this, but I considered how often I haven't mentioned the times I felt that options had been closed to me because I have lady bits and how much accumulative damage this wreaks and I decided to acknowledge it. Even if it is not true in this specific instance, if we, as women, acknowledge the times we think we are not being offered every possible option it may help to make people (all people, it's not just the boys doing this) aware that this is a thing that happens and to be aware of their own part in it.