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Feb 06 2006

Uplifting Postcard From The Last Frontier

When I started this blog I expected no end of accusations that I am nothing but a profligate doomsayer. Happily, I could not have been more wrong. That I never have anything nice to say about anyone or anything doesn’t seem to bother anybody! This evokes in me plump, warm feelings towards the world’s patriarchy-blamers. Which is not to be confused with me saying something nice. I’m just sayin, period.

Anyway, although the usefulness of balancing obstreperosity with optimism has never been adequately demonstrated to me, there is no reason to cling obstinately to a crapulent worldview when semi-pleasant, patriarchy-impairing events appear to transpire. To wit: the report I received this morning from Antelope, one of our wild Alaskans. Quoth the ‘Lope:

“Superbowl Sunday, and what’s on the front page of the Anchorage Daily News?

• An article about a teenage girl wining the statewide wrestling championships at the 103-lb level by beating lots and lots of boys, at least one in 48 seconds flat. This makes the first time a girl has won state anywhere in the country, though apparently several have come close before.

• An article about how only 2 of the 11 Alaskans participating in the winter olympics are likely to bring home gold medals, a women’s hockey goalie & a member of the women’s curling team.

Both articles have some signs of patriarchy getting its nose out of joint out towards the end, but all in all I thought it was very cool of the editors to do that, especially on this particular day, and especially without making a big deal of patting themselves on the back for it.

• There were also pieces further back in today’s paper about Keira Lestina, an Alaskan woman who performed the classic “male movie hero” feat of dragging a family from their burning vehicle just before it exploded, and Lauri Waterman, a 16-year-old Alaskan accused of having some guys knock off her mom. So women are holding the ‘top angel’ and ‘top devil’ slots in our local news today as well as dominating the athletic news. Whatever else you can say about Alaskan women, we sure as hell aren’t invisible.”

9 comments

  1. antelope

    The most interesting bit was in the article about the wrestler. The Director of the U.S. Girls’ Wrestling Association speculates that now Alaska will get Girls’ Wrestling as a separate varsity sport (like Texas and Hawaii) because boys might not participate if they have to worry that a girl will beat them.

    However, when they ask some of the boys who lost to Ms. Hutchison how they feel about it, they say that she’s just really, really good and there’s no major shame in losing to someone that talented. Including the boy who lost in 47 seconds.

    So now the question is, will they need to segregate the girls anyhow to protect the egos of the boys’ parents, if not the boys themselves? But of course we’ll never know b/c they’ll say it’s about some sort of concern that these boys & girls are just not old enough to be rolling around on the floor and smelling one another’s sweat

  2. Carpenter

    I doubt they’ll run rushung to separate girls and boys wrestling. Lots of girls went to state championship finals last year, on girl in Maine in a heavier weight class lost the title match in overtime. I have done martial arts for many years . Recently I was at a judo tournament where men and women had separate matches, but there was a lot of talk from senseis that they should stop segragating. Unfortunately many people thought that while men and women should spar against eachothe, this was unlikely to happen untill the old generation of teachers/coaches died or at least became completely imobile. But the idea is out there.

  3. Sylvanite

    This reminds me. I need to move to Alaska. I just know they need geologists, though probably mostly for environment-raping postions in mining or the oil industry.

    Sigh. More realistically, I will probably only manage to vacation in Alaska. Someday.

  4. Frumious B.

    I used to take judo. Participants aren’t just segregated by gender, but also by weight, and weight really makes a difference. I was 95 pounds at the time, and even the girls could just pick em up and throw me down. Of course, they all had 30-40 pounds on me. The only weight-matched partner I ever had was 6 inches shorter than I was, and I could pick her up and toss her down. Gave me insight into how all my other partners felt when they went up against me. (practice, that is. I was never skilled enough to compete.)

    From that point of view, keeping the gender segregation makes sense. There will won’t be many boys in the low end of the weight class, and there won’t be many girls in the high end, so there will be effective gender segregation anyway.

    There are other martial arts which are not gender segregated, kendo, for instance. I believe that one is not weight segregated, either, and it makes sense for that sport. Unlike judo, there is no grappling involved.

  5. Carpenter

    Fromious B thats just ridonkculous. The average woman in the USA weight 140lbs The average man wieghs about 180. There is plenty of overlap for weight class matched fights. Lost of men weigh 140 and vice versa for the women. When I first started taking judo I was at about 95 lbs also and I had to fight gisls 40 lbs heavier than me whose asses I thouroughly kicked. Now that I am twelve years older and up to an astronomical buck ten, I regularly kick the asses of gentlemen at 160.
    This past summer I won a tournament, since there were so few women, there were no weight classes at, also black belts were in the mix fighting everone else. I order to wim I had to fight opponents that were not only 40 lbs heavier than me but also blackbelts, which I am not. It would have made sense to just mix the women into the lighter wieghtclass with the men and separate out the black belt, but alas that just threatened everyones masculinity too much. The martial arts are not just some gorilla contest in absolute size, they involve a miriad of complex factors, especially judo and aikido and all of those bigger they are harder they fall martial arts, there is no reason any woman couldn’t excell at them.

    I would like to pose a question to Twisty…say all of these one on one combat sports opened up to women and man/woman matches, what would it mean? With my sports background I have wondered this a lot. Do you think it would help deconstruct the notion of women as weak and possesable, or do think it would just encourage more meatheadedness and dominance heiarchy in woman kind?

  6. Twisty

    I’m not really your deep thinker when it comes to sports. Maybe we should ask Kameron Hurley. She boxes.

  7. Spinat Teig

    c’mon
    what could possibly be wrong with superbowl sunday?

    http://video.google.com/superbowl.html

  8. antelope

    Sylvanite – we also have lots of geologists working for the gov’t agencies that supposedly regulate mining. But I don’t think anyone will be too surprised to hear that most of those folks are pretty depressed these days. The third option is to work for independent environmental engineering & assessment firms, and in that case I imagine it’s all about doing your homework on who’s doing real science & who’s telling clients what they want to hear.

  9. Frumious B.

    Carpenter, I am glad to hear you kick butt. I never said there was no overlap in men’s and women’s weight. I said there is little overlap in the lower and upper ranges. From my experiences, this is an accurate statement. In fact, my coaches always encouraged me to enter tournaments so that I would be the only person in my weight class and the team could get an automatic win. I wasn’t so thrilled with that. I recognize that my judo experiences are based only on the particular set of people in the club where I practiced. I think that yours are, too.

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