Friday, April 2, 2010


Apparently I’m an “aggressive woman”.

Last night in karate we did some one-on-one sparring. In spite of how much I hated sparring in the beginning, it’s now one of my favorite parts of studying karate. I think I may be the only one (out of only a small handful) of women in the dojo that likes sparring (considering that most of them opt out of participating if given the choice).

During our sparring rotations, I ended up paired with a 3rd degree black belt, a guy bigger and stronger and far more experienced than me. So what? I sucked it up, attempted not to be intimidated, and went full-force. Not to pat myself on the back too hard, but I was able to land several pretty spiffy shots. His response: “I don’t know how to respond to an aggressive woman.”

After my initial thought (“Just like you would to an aggressive man.” The “duh” is implied.), I started tossing that word around in my over-active brain.

Society doesn’t like women to be aggressive. While the word aggressive is a fine adjective to apply to the likes of men, it’s not up there in the acceptable adjectives used to describe women. Lots of negative connotations there.

While I wasn’t immediately offended, it was the impetus for some major self-reflection. “Aggressive? Shy little ol’ me? Certainly not!”

My first thoughts of the word aggressive had me listing synonyms like belligerent, hostile, offensive, and quarrelsome. Not me. I’m a major peace-keeper. I’ll go far out of my way to avoid confrontation if necessary. See? I’m not aggressive.

But I can be assertive, energetic, and self-assured, also all synonyms for aggressive.

When it comes down to it, I am extremely competitive, convicted in my principles, intense in the gym, and fiercely protective of my children. So maybe I AM aggressive, and it’s probably not a bad thing.

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