After my article about Male Privilege in Jiu Jitsu, some folks said they’d wished I’d “balanced” it by presenting ways in which women had privilege.
An aside about the term “privilege.” It’s not the “normal” meaning, just as “shrimp” and “roll” have very different meanings in jiu jitsu. Privilege is what people would call “normal.” In other words, dudes have a relatively “normal” experience in bjj.
I mention this because I CANNOT use the term “privilege” when discussing advantages for women in jiu jitsu. We do not have “female privilege” in jiu jitsu. Please don’t debate that with me or on this blog. Instead, please read further down about the actual subject matter – what advantages we have.
while men have what’s called male privilege that doesn’t mean that there must logically be a “female privilege” counterpart. This is because, although many strides towards equality have been made over the years, women as a class have not yet leveled the playing field, much less been put in a position of power and authority equivalent to that which grants institutional power to men as a class. – FinallyFeminism101.
However, women can and do have advantages in their training that most men do not. I turned over to Jiu Jitsu Forums and asked the members what advantages they felt that women in our sport have. Feel free to add your own to this list. No, it doesn’t make the playing field “normal” or “balanced,” but it’s definitely not all “doom and gloom” as one person called it.
1. Women can choose to be part of gender segregated events (classes, camps, seminars, open mats) without negative backlash from the jiu jitsu community.
2. For better or worse, women are more likely to be noticed or remembered by their instructors or teammates, even as a first day white belt.
3. Women generally have less pressure to spar or to compete than their male counterparts.
4. If a woman injures a male teammate she will generally take less negativity from teammates than if the opposite situation occurred.
5. Women are sometimes given discounts at jiu jitsu gyms.
6. Women are often sought out after by jiu jitsu gyms.
7. Women grapplers will often be sought after by other women grapplers, and there is often an instant comraderie based on the fact that they’re women in bjj.
8. Women are often given special treatment at their gyms when they start, some being exclusively paired with upper belts or not required to roll.
9. There is more room to make a name for themselves at higher levels because of the low number of women in the sport.
10. Tournament brackets are often a lot shallower. It’s not unusual to be one of only two or three in your bracket, so no matter how bad you suck, you can still medal. (10 black belt women competed in Abu Dhabi as opposed to 44 men)
11. Women can visit a new club without fear of being “taught a lesson” because in general women grapplers are not seen as a threat the way a man might be.
12. Small and “regular sized” women who do make it to black belt will often be required to be more technical than their male counterparts because they cannot rely on strength to help them get the technique.
Although not all have specifically applied to me, many have. For example, from white belt all the way up to my current 3-stripe blue belt, I am usually paired with the highest ranked male. (This COULD also be due to my not speaking Korean, so I can’t be totally sure what the reason is). My gym used to give a discount to women. As a woman, I was NEVER a nameless white belt – I was always highly memorable.
I’m curious as to if there is anything you would add to this list, or which of these have you experienced (either you personally or someone at your gym). A reminder: although these are privileges that women have, please don’t debate if it should be considered “female privilege.” To be honest, I don’t really care if people think it should be called that or not, and that’s not what this article’s about.