Saturday, 28 January 2012

Chivalry or sexism?

My son has run into some problems with his boxing; his trainer says that when he puts him in the ring to spar with girls, he just lets himself be pummelled and won't fight back. He does his best to dodge the blows and fends them off but he never really punches back other than a few ineffectual and half hearted jabs when the trainer bellows, "HIT HER."  After being questioned he has said it is because it, "doesn't feel right to hit girls and that he was taught not to." (We got something right then...)
I am not sure whether to be proud of said son for this attitude or whether it is a sort of inverse sexism. My personal view is that we shouldn't hit boys or girls, but IF you are going to do boxing or any competitive sport then it is a mark of respect to your opponent to engage fully and give them a fair game or match. My son says it doesn't work this way; the sexes do not compete in actual boxing matches and the sparring is just practice (I don't know much about boxing) and on that basis, he would rather get pummelled! He says it is not sexism because some of the girls are fantastic boxers and much better than him. It just doesn't feel right to him personally.
Overall, I am not really worried that my son is going to turn into some sort of complementarian and I don't think his  quaint/ old fashioned/ chivalrous/ sexist/ stupid (delete according to your lights) attitudes will hold him back in his pursuit of competitive success, but I have to say that he did look rather the worse for wear when I picked him up from boxing last night.
"Been sparring have you?", I enquired casually.
"Yup", he said.
"Who with?", I asked.
He mentioned the name of one of the girls who is apparently a pretty tough cookie.
I didn't say a word.


  1. I think it only fair we should be allowed to thump women Bishops.

  2. In reply to Fr Ivor Sidebottom - how many female bishops can you name who participate in boxing (as boxers)? If your comment is not about what happens in the boxing ring then I respectfully suggest that what you say is offensive.
    In reply to your post Suem - if you teach your children that it's wrong to hit boys or girls, why allow your son to learn boxing? You'll probably tell me it's a sport, but I wonder.

  3. I think Fr Sidebottom is being ironic, Nancy Wallace, and is meant to be taken with a pinch of salt.

    On balance, I would prefer my son participated in a different sport than boxing, but I think it is his decision. His grandfather (who was incidentally a priest) was a fairly successful amateur boxer who fought throughout his university career. My son is well aware of this and so is following in family footsteps in a way.

  4. I can't remember the exact figure off the top of my head, but I think it is around 15% of domestic violence is perpetrated by women against men. My own sister has been convicted of ABH and GBH - the latter against a man by smashing a half pint glass into his head (several times!) - to be fair he had been dating her while married and his wife had held me and my mother at knife point while trying to ascertain the whereabouts of my sister... (I might play all the middle-class cards now, but I was brought up on a dog rough council estate!) So I have no comprehension of girls being the weaker sex! Equality has its pluses and minuses - things work both ways. I think 'don't hit girls' is actually a form of sexism invented to reinforce the notion that women are the weaker sex - when we all know they're not!


  5. Kevin came from a working class background. Grew up on an Essex council estate and his sister apparently started her career in violence pretty early by hitting someone who was bullying him with a brick with string tied around it. (PS: Kev didn't get bullied again...)Yet Kev still does the "you don't hit girls" mantra. I don't quite buy into the "it's wrong to hit girls but you can beat the living crap out of blokes" concept (not that Kev has ever said that!) Maybe the attitudes are class based - I'd say my background has always been pretty middle class. I deplore domestic violence obviously, but I can't see why fighting a girl who has after all voluntarily joined a boxing club is a problem and think it is a bit "sexist" not to.

    15% is significant, but still much lower than the domestic abuse of women. Isn't at least one woman a week killed by a violent partner? I wonder how many men are actually killed? Statistically, men who die violently are more likely to do so as a result of violence from other men out on the streets, rather than at home.