A few of us have come to realize that female fighters are not going to make the opportunities, change the conversation and take the stage just using the male-favored Gym-Is-Your-Manager approach that often means that you put your head down, just do your work and let your gym make your fights and (usually a male) represent and speak for you. Most often it’s men speaking to other men. The result of the old way can be that even people who want to know more about you – anything from your motivations and your personality, to your record or seeing your fights can’t find a thing other than perhaps a highlight reel set to high octane music on YouTube. The old ways were about hiding everything, every detail, and letting your gym or manager talk. One of the great changes in the digital age for women is that now you can hunt out your own relationships, express yourself creatively, take on your own adventures and be surprised at what can happen and what opportunities can open for you.
Female Fighters Are Unique
One of the people I’ve met in my digital travels – I believe I found him on Rosy’s Female Muay That Facebook Group – is Rew who started R-Awakenings. R-Awakenings is a website dedicated to recording and promoting female martial artists around the world. Their philosophy is that instead of women being only an imitation of men in the rise of Martial Arts sports, they (we) are its future. For Rew female fighters need to be celebrated, photographed expressively, and given a platform to show what they can be and what they have achieved. He’s put in the hard work of creating a site full of profile pages for female fighters, which is both extensive and impressive. I am both honored to be part of it, as well as excited to be part of it. You can see my R-Awakenings profile page here. This week Rew has also has written a “spotlight” feature on me that can be seen on the R-Awakening’s home page (scroll down) or see it here R-Awakening’s Spotlight: Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu
Most Impressive – aside from the sharp design of the site, and the community ambition – is that he seems very focused on keeping the profile fight records up to date. One of the biggest deficits in female fighting is that fans can’t even find the records of fighters. There was a bold early digital record attempt some time ago on womenskickboxing.com, a list of women fighter profiles here but it is no longer kept current. Having current fight documentation – not only records, but also video – is part of keeping female fighters from slipping into invisibility, ensuring that we rise rather than stagnate or disappear. (If you want to know what invisibility looks like, try looking up any of your favorite female fighters on Wikipedia.) Hopefully R-Awakenings can keep this vital information current and it can become a resource for more, better and accurate representation.
Rew’s efforts have made me realize that I’ve done a pretty poor job of documenting my own fight record. (All the fights are there, but it’s daunting and disorganized trying to get the numbers and names together.) I was amazed to see it all in one place when I saw my profile page, so in a few days I’ll be posting a permanent up-to-date record page as well. Speaking of records and fight video, I think people misunderstand what documenting yourself is about. It’s about giving others a finger hold to grab onto as they pull themselves up also, and to imagine what they can do. It isn’t about wins and losses and belts. It’s about sharing “this is what I’m going through, this is what I’ve tried to become, this is where I’ve been.” It’s choosing the strength in we over the protection of me.
Browse the female fighters on R-Awakening here – the site is just launched so they are building out their database – and if you are a female Martial Artist be sure to submit your own profile information through this Add Yourself Form.