This picture shows the fragility we all face in trying to balance our lives
Using fighting skills gained from years of martial arts experience in wing chun & jeet kune do – exercises and padwork to improve fitness, endurance and strength.
Burn calories, lose weight, strengthen core & Improve technique, speed & flexibility.
International women’s week has just finished and I observe the women who are talking about equality for women and wonder how equal they are in their own lives to men. They talk equality while perpetuating sexualised gender norms themselves. “They talk the talk but do they walk the walk”.
To be equal you have to believe you are equal in all ways and present that to the world. Asking for equality doesn’t get equality, it gets a version of equality that is acceptable to the oppressor.As the oppressed you are told you are equal even when you know you’re not.
Women’s domestic abuse is still high and rising, rape continues to go unpunished and sexual harassment and assault on all young women is high and on the rise.
The conversation gets shifted to monetary equality instead, but you can have equal pay but not equal respect.
So this brings me onto transgender and feminism;
So as a women who has spent her life trying to break down ideas and notions around what it is to be a women there are a couple of questions I have about trans and the recent debates on feminism.
I have always been a supporter of trans rights and freedoms as well as their equal rights and acceptance in society.
But as a woman who has constantly and proudly fought against patriarchal ideas and stereotypes around what it is to be female and or feminine find the trans debate interesting as well as controversial.
This leads me as I said to a couple of questions;
- Why is it that women transitioning to men are not caught up in debates around their gender acceptance?
- Why do most men transitioning into women perpetuate the stereotype of femininity and what it is to be female that I have long fought against?
So let me expand these two questions more;
Are women transitioning to men not as much as a threat as men transitioning to women and if not why not?
But a question that has long been in my mind when talking about my ideas around feminism and transgendered women is simply this. As a woman who chooses not to fulfil patriarchal stereotypes or gender norms that have sexualised me as a young woman and I feel kept us as women vulnerable.
How can I accept trans women who perpetuate the same feminised sexualised myths as understanding my fight against sexualised rules and norms when it comes to me as a woman.
So just like my feminist politics does not agree with women who push the notion of gender norms and behaviours perpetrated by men over the years. How can I have an affinity to trans women who also emulate the same stereotypes that I as a woman have constantly fought against?
Equality is not just about money but about value and respect. This includes not being raped under any circumstances, not dying at the hands of an x partner, not feeling like I can’t speak up through fear of being physically abused. In my life I don’t ask my male friends for equality, I expect it, but then I have put a lot of emphasis in not allowing myself to be physically intimidated by men. I work with women to encourage a belief in physical strength as well as psychological strength. As this gives us greater equality and helps with the fear of intimidation. The right to physically defend yourself as well as mentally defending yourself. So although we fight under the same banner of feminism, the heterosexual normalising of the female and these feminised body types and dress that continue to perpetuate patriarchal norms, does not understand my ideas of equality. This is because they still believe themselves to be more vulnerable than men and dress in a way that makes them vulnerable to men.
The debate that goes on around being more vulnerable because of the clothes we wear i.e. skirts, you can’t be upskirted, in trousers, or the continuation that certain behaviours and beliefs around body type have kept us vulnerable in a male-dominated society is no longer being heard.
To coin the phrase ‘male privilege’, can be viewed in the same way as ‘white-privilege’, and unless you’ve experienced how those privileges affect your life in all ways, how can you truly understand female politics.
So for me who has challenged notions of strength, dress, vulnerability, etc, find it difficult to support any group that normalises these behaviours yet flying the flag of feminism. Choosing to confront heterosexualised norms as well as patriarchal ideas of female and feminity is different from those women who speak of equality yet still continue to promote certain normalised notions around behaviour and dress. The same is true for trans women.
I also go back to my first question, why is this debate not happening with women who have transitioned to men?
By Michelle Crawford
“In order to achieve, you must believe..”
As a counsellor and trainer I often speak to my clients about the ‘Self-fulfilling prophecy’, so what do I mean by that?
Well if you believe yourself to be weak you will be weak, if you tell yourself you can’t do something then you won’t. What you believe about yourself, your future, your abilities, etc is the reality you create for yourself.
Self-empowerment means taking responsibility for your life and changing your life and this begins by how we talk to ourselves.
Being empowered means we own our weaknesses and our strengths and not looking at our experiences as black and white. For instance not achieving something when you first try is not a failure. It is, however, guidance to what you need to do next time in order to achieve your goal. We should learn from our mistakes and not berate ourselves or be berated for trying. Every experience in our lives is there to teach us something, it is up to us to listen and learn from it.
As a personal trainer and therapist, I don’t like the title ‘life coach’, I promote self-awareness regardless of how hard my clients might find this at first because I know in the long run my clients become mentally stronger as well as physically stronger and this will create long term behavioural changes.
Training mental and physical strength;
Some people in society have very low self-esteem caused by experiences growing up, and this low self-esteem creates a negative dialogue in our minds. This negative dialogue can cause us to stop believing in ourselves and our self-worth. So if we constantly use the phrase “I can’t”, then you won’t and you’re limiting yourself and denying yourself.
If you tell yourself “I don’t know if I can do that” and you try then if you weren’t successful you are more open to the reasons why and changing them in order to get there.
My experience with female clients tells me they do this all the time. I will give them a 6kg weight to lift and they will tell me it’s too heavy. Yet they pick their child up all the time which probably weighs a lot more. When their child comes to them and needs comforting they don’t instantly look at the child and say I can’t pick you up you’re too heavy, they will find a way.
Women’s self-fulling prophecy is that they believe themselves to be weaker than men. They don’t say to themselves I might be weaker than him but by no means am I weaker than you. They then push this philosophy on all women. So now all women are weaker than all men. No this is not the case. They then continue this prophecy even further and believe they can’t build muscle or shouldn’t build muscle because it’s unattractive. Well with muscle comes to strength and when you discover how much you can lift far outweighs what you thought this becomes empowering.
For people who struggle to lose weight, this self-fulfilling prophecy stops you from either losing the weight or maintaining the weight loss. In order to maintain weight loss, you have to look at what allowed you to gain weight in the first place.
What was it in your life experience that makes you dislike yourself so much that you present to the world an image you don’t like yourself.
If you loved yourself you would want the world to see the best of you.
This negativity to self can come out in the language we use to talk about ‘self’.
Some people do this by constantly using themselves as a source for humour i.e Dawn French and Jo Brand. If they loved themselves and their weight so much then why have they both lost weight or have even bothered with diets?
Others use negative language when describing themselves such as “I hate my arms they’re all flabby” or “er I don’t like looking at myself in the mirror”. By refusing to see themselves in the mirror there is obviously a dislike there.
Some people will only get undressed in the dark, while others won’t be seen in a bathing suit and talk about their bodies in very negative ways. They then victimise themselves by using language that intimates they don’t have control over themselves or their lifestyle.
If we tell ourselves we are unattractive or we are not able to stop eating even though we dislike how we look then there are self-sabotaging behaviours going on stopping us from achieving our goals. At this point you probably need some professional help or a support group to help you achieve your weight loss, but what about your mental health.
Some people go on to run marathons to get better self-worth, others may do this in a different way. But however, you do it in order to maintain weight loss you have to develop better self-worth and love for yourself.
Weight loss is not all about the food and calories it’s about developing a better lifestyle and better understanding of the ‘self’, abandoning negative talk and changing your ‘self-fulfiling’ prophecy.
Use positive affirmations like,
“I love myself and am open to receiving and giving love”
“I forgive myself and no longer hold guilt around…..”
“I love myself and believe in myself enough to know I can achieve my goals”
Or try finding one that suits your needs better.
Look at yourself in a mirror while reciting your positive affirmation to yourself like a mantra. Any successful person in life or sport believes in their abilities before achieving their success.