I’m back in college at the moment, writing is the last thing on my mind at the end of a long day. But, I wanted to put something out there. Something I’ve had on the back-burner for I while.
A few months back, I learned of a girl through a group I follow on Facebook. She seemed nice, and incredibly motivated to pursue the path of Bjj. However, as time went on, I learned she was contently being harassed by the guys in her gym. She was the only girl there and I guess the guys took advantage of that. She would come to the group with stories of how they told her to roll naked with them, that all girls trained that way, then they would laugh at her if she tried to retort. She also spoke of how her coach began rolling with no-one else but her, and hurt her a lot in the process, also, he would also laugh at her if she complained. I made me so sad to hear of someone, simply trying to pursue the same path I did, being treated in such a way.
The few photos I could find of her and her club, showed most of the guys were very young and probably a bit cliquey, which makes sense (if you’re thinking in terms of teen movies), but being young and excitable does not excuse this behaviour, and when I heard the part about her coach, I felt, well ill. Your coach is the one who is supposed to protect you from these things, weed out the bad apples and make the gym a place safe for everyone. To hear he was involved in the harassment was simply put, disgusting.
I’m the only girl in my gym too, but my experience has been vastly different. I work with guys who, sure in the beginning seemed a little apprehensive to work with me, but it was probably their first time working with a girl as it was mine working with them, there was bound to be some friction. However over time, the guys became my family, I work with the biggest and the smallest, the fasted and the most inflexible alike. I have never had a problem with them. I think of myself as profoundly lucky, though hopefully not in the minority.
Being treated the way this girl wrote about is simply not okay, acting in the way her gym partners and coaches did is not okay. Never let them or anyone else say otherwise. It doesn’t matter who you are, boy or girl, if you’re being treated in anyway badly at your gym, get out. It’s better to take time out and skip a few lessons whilst finding a new and better place, than to go through that. If Bjj is something you’re passionate about, start. Find a place that welcomes you, that treats you as an equal on the mats, no matter your background.
I’m not sure what became of her, I kept going back to the group page to see if she had posted recently, and last I heard she was asking about new gyms in her area. Other girls from the group were lining up to have her join theirs, so hopefully she is safe in a new gym, practicing the martial art she loves, with kinder and more like-minded people.