Being a girl in a boy’s world is no piece of cake. I’ve only done a few weeks of BJJ and I can see that I’ve got two things going against me: I’m a white belt and I’m a girl. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pouting or complaining. I’ve been here before.
Long ago my sister and I raced dirt track in the two-man cruiser class. For those of you that don’t know, that means that we both raced in the same car, at the same time. She controlled the steering wheel and I controlled the gas from the passenger seat.
It all started when a guy that ran a towing business offered us a car. It took us about two seconds to say, “Hell, yeah!” and we became the proud owners of an old, beat up Grand Marquis. I think it had closer relationship to a boat than a car. Our dad, who raced almost his whole life, told us that he wasn’t going to help us. That if we wanted to race we had to do it all on our own. I’m sure he thought that we would get a car and expect him to do all the work.
It was no secret that we were a joke to all the men that raced. The first week that we started working on the car there would be men that would come out, drink beer, and watch us all while taking bets on how long we would actually stick with this. Most of them said a week or two. We quickly learned that they weren’t going to take us seriously simply because we had boobs. That’s kind of bullshit, right?
As the weeks went by and we got closer and closer to having a complete race car those bets of how long we would last turned into if we could actually race. I can’t even tell you how many times we heard stupid jokes about women drivers. Most of them thought there was no way that we could be any kind of competition and several thought we would get scared and give up.
When our car was finally finished we quickly learned that women on the track weren’t always tolerated. We had men threaten us and we had men that tried to take us out. A lot of them were not okay with the thought of getting beat by a women. The crazy part is that racing is incredibly dangerous. Sure we take all the safety precautions we can with roll cages and helmets but it’s still very dangerous. People die racing. These man-babies were so caught up in their egos that they were trying to wreck us and potentially physically hurt us just because they couldn’t handle getting beat by a woman.
I’ll never forget the time we had two men who raced in our class ask us for a “favor.” They saw the line up and saw that we were starting right in front of them. They asked us if we could just move aside so they could pass because, “We are here to win.” What the hell did they think we were there to do? Knit scarves? I laughed when the guy said it because I seriously thought there was no way that someone would be that much of an asshole. It didn’t take long to see by the look on his face that he was serious. Long story short, we beat them that night. By a lot. We had a faster car and a better driver.
I’ll also never forget the first time that we won. The whole race was close. We had a hell of a race going on between us and a car that we had never been able to beat. We were coming around the last corner and could see the checkered flag and the other car was in front of us. It looked like they were going to beat us. They were running up high on the track when Stacey took a chance and dropped it down to the bottom of the track, I floored it and we managed to beat them by a nose. We were officially the first girls to win a race in the history of that track. When we did a victory lap we got a standing ovation. What a feeling!
But, the best victory was when we pulled into the pits. (I seriously cry every time I think of this.) We pulled off the track and started driving around the big loop to our pit. We didn’t make it far because there was a line around the whole pits of men ready to give us high fives and thumbs up. I don’t think there was a single man in the pits that didn’t congratulate us. Usually the short drive to our pit took about a minute or two. This time it took over 20.
While the trophy and the feeling of our first win was amazing, nothing beat the feeling of winning the respect of the men at that track. We worked so hard to earn it. From that point on they all treated us so different. We became “one of the guys” to them. It was one of the best moments in my life.
So, I’m definitely not new to earning respect and I am totally game for it. I get that BJJ is going to be a similar experience. None of the men have treated me with any disrespect or anything like that. Everyone I have encountered has been so very nice to me. It’s not at all like the ego driven men at the race track, but I can tell that I’m really going to have to prove myself. I know that white belts come in and out like a revolving door and some give up faster than it takes time for milk to spoil. I know that everyone, EVERYONE has to prove themselves, to show that they aren’t going to quit. That’s a big part of the process.
Then what’s the difference between every other white belt and a white belt girl? It’s like a double whammy. A lot of girls venture into a man’s world and expect men to take it easy on them because they are girls. I think that makes it even harder for men to take women seriously in those kind of situations, and I don’t blame them. I would do the same if the roles were reversed.
Right now my biggest hurdle is finding people to roll with. Granted I haven’t grown my lady balls enough to just go up and ask someone so I get that a giant part of that is my fault. I will get there eventually and I’m looking forward to proving that I am a girl that is serious about BJJ.