Storytime: Creeper at the Gym
There’s something about a woman who does some kind of martial art. In my opinion, there is any many other aspects of life that mix of femininity and strength. Yes, femininity to me means beauty, grace, curves and softness, but that does not mean that it doesn’t come with power and strength (Vagina Power!). But, with that strength comes a bit of vulnerability. Of course a slew of woman in a sport of mostly men will attract creeps.
Although most people know that there are creepers lurking everywhere, creeps in jiu-jitsu are the worst because of the close proximity of the sport. I have been to a few gyms in China, US, and other countries and I’ve been lucky enough to not have this be a consistent problem But, unfortunately, I had an encounter with a creepy dude that really effected my relationship with jiu-jitsu early on my journey:
Sometimes in choosing partners for drilling, I am a bit shy in choosing a partner or everyone chooses quickly and I go with who’s ever left. Also, since I’ve been the person who’s picked last (flashed back to a sad childhood being picked last for sports), I don’t mind being the person who trains with who’s ever picked last.
In one of my old gyms, we had a lot of people to train with. Of course, less woman but all ages, sizes and shapes. It was my luck to be training partners with an older dude, which wasn’t the problem. The problem was his comments when his excitement when he was paired up with me. “Oh I’m sure you can really teach me something…”. “Um…eww,” I thought , but maybe my mind was in the gutter (like always). At the time, I think I had just gotten my blue belt or was maybe on my 4th stripe with my white belt and Creepy Mccreepster was a fresh white belt or something like that.
The drills proceeded with him making unnecessary grunting and moaning noises as we did the drills. You might be thinking “Hey, sometimes I make grunting noises when I do certain drills,” which, yes, true… I have too. But, I’m going to call out on a little thing called women’s intuition and “vibes” which at the time, I felt very uncomfortable. The way he was grunting seemed overly sexual and I felt gross hearing it. Also, certain hand adjustments felt “gross” and in the wrong place. I just couldn’t help but feel off the whole time. It didn’t help that I remember him also smelling like farts…
I didn’t want to train with that man again, but also I felt I was thinking too much. I didn’t want to destroy the “gym dynamic” where everyone is friendly and family like. If I was the girl who felt weird while training, then no one would want to train with me. I didn’t want other dudes to think I would call them out for being creepy.
I didn’t really mention it to my professor at the time. I just avoided pairing up with the dude… except one time I didn’t have a choice and the same things happened again…
After, that I knew I had to go talk to my professor, who after our talk went to creepster and told him that if any other girl complained about his behavior that he would be kicked out of the gym.
I didn’t see him much after that and I went back to training comfortably.
If you ever deal with a creepy person or anyone making inappropriate comments, here are three things you can do:
Don’t be afraid to tell them that their comments or actions or making you uncomfortable
Tell your coach or professor, they’ll definitely talk to the person in a way that gets the point across.
If you’re afraid to talk to your professor or the person making you uncomfortable, talk to a friend before class about pairing up for drills so they go directly to you when it’s time to pair up.
If you happen to be a person that gets called out for being “creepy”, don’t get angry, don’t try to make the person feel bad, just say sorry and that you didn’t mean to make the person feel that way, if you’re sincerely sorry. You can’t change how they feel or try to explain to them that they took things out of context. They feel how they feel and that’s that.
I sincerely hope that no one has to go through inappropriate comments or actions from anyone (male or female). The gym should be a safe space where we can choke each other, attempt to break limps, and aggressively cuddle in peace.
What are your creepy guy/person gym stories? How did you deal with it?