The other day boxing class was held inside the gym, instead of outside as usual, because it was only myself and one other woman, J. We were with our trainer in the “boy part” the part with all the weights and punching bags. (And to be fair, we WERE the only women in that section the whole morning.)
I’ve been boxing for several months at this point, and J has been doing it even longer I believe. I know we look like we know what we’re doing, and I know we look like we can do some damage with a punch – when you land a solid hit into a pad the sound is loud and can be almost deafening when you’re in an enclosed space. J had just finished a sparring round with the trainer and I was setting myself for my turn and in the brief moment of quiet before I started my round, this old, flabby, grey haired guy who had been watching us from where he stood near a bench press -spotting a younger, buffer guy, but not using it – says to our trainer, “Hey! Are they gonna fight each other? And can we watch?” with a wiggle of his bushy grey eye brows. My trainer replied “They’re gonna fight YOU! How about that?” Then turns back to me. I had to take a second to reset myself because the exchange, though it had only been 10 seconds had thrown me off. My trainer turns back to the guy and says “Are they gonna fight each other…” with disdain and dismissal clear in his tone. When he turned back to me I was ready, and as I started throwing the combinations he was calling out, I could see the old guy over his shoulder, and he looked suitably shamed, and kept his eyes focused on the guy he was spotting.
Part of my brain said that he was old, from another generation, he probably didn’t see how the comment wasn’t so much funny, as sexist and belittling. And I want to say that recognizing that was enough to keep me from feeling sexualized and belittled. But it wasn’t. I mean, it only stung for a second, but I’d felt it nonetheless. But THEN, I got mad, and *POP* I landed a cross that sounded like a gun shot. “Stupid jackass…” I thought and *POP* *POP* “Yeahhh” my trainer says in response to the sudden increase in the power behind my cross. *POP*, *POP POP*, *POP* the sound of me hitting the pads was so loud and consistent that the guy couldn’t help but look in my direction and just as I landed an upper cut that felt like it could pop a man’s head off his neck (although, to be fair, I sort of believe that about every upper cut I throw. It’s the kind of punch that makes me feel like I could actually take someone in a fight.) I pushed myself to keep hitting hard and fast, to keep getting that *POP* even though I was almost at my limit. I kept hearing my trainer say “they’re gonna fight you!” and I wondered if the old man even considered it an option. *POP* I wondered if he thought he could take me just because he was a man, despite being old and soft. *POP POP* I wondered if he saw the 20 years we had on him, the muscles in our arms, the power in our cores, the precision of our punches, the focus in our eyes. *POP* I wondered if the 3 other men who’d witnessed the exchange, and who were watching us now as well, thought I could take him. *POP POP POP*
Because I so totally could. I could wup the wrinkles right out of that liver spotted ass.
Do I feel weird about the fact that I feel empowered at the idea of committing elder abuse? Not really. Maybe I should, I don’t know. But I do know this, that old man is probably the only person I could beat in a fist fight, including a smaller untrained woman. Unless I snuck up on her and got a few blows in before she knew what was happening, so she ‘d be dazed and have trouble focusing her eyes… actually, that’s probably not a bad strategy for Wrinkles over there either…which isn’t because I don’t think I’m strong enough to win in a straight out fight, but… I really don’t like it when the other person hits back. It’s so annoying. And hurts.