Fighting Women

I have to admit I don’t follow, or know very much about the sport of boxing. The spectacle of people punching the bejeebuz out of each other kind of fills me with some kind of empathic pain…. and I don’t enjoy pain. I could count the number of professional boxer’s names I can recall on one hand. I enjoyed the first Rocky film. Does that count for anything?

A few years ago I remember a big hoohaa about Muhammad Ali’s daughter, Laila taking up the sport. “Should women even be allowed to box?!” Everyone had an opinion, with the positive reactions coming from women, of course… funnily enough. “Women are weak!” “They might mess up their pretty faces!” “It’s a man’s sport!”

According to some of the photos I’ve come across in recent times, women have been active in the boxing arena for almost as long as there has been photography. Probably a lot longer.

There also seems to have been some kind of fetish attached to the phenomenon for a very long time:


I can’t help but feel a little cynical about the authenticity of this pose. As I said, I don’t know much about fighting, but surely if the recipient of this punch was actually being hit in the throat, she would be in big trouble…. but who would even notice that when there are BOOBIES on show?


This looks a little more serious, if not still very much posed. One has to wonder for what purpose this photo was taken. Is it for demonstration? Maybe I am jumping ahead of the times and the vision of these women in what appears to be Victorian underwear was the real attraction.

Thanks to Shorpy.


Again, we have women in a definite pose, although not quite as undressed as the last. I’m thinking this photo actually was for demonstration. I’ll also bet they were more than happy to be out of the horribly layered and restricting fashions of the day. Hell, I’d take up boxing to be free of that.

Thanks to The Library of Congress


Well, now everything is becoming clear. Women’s boxing has been around for possibly hundreds of years, and has pretty much always been sexualised. Funny how this photo echoes in many ways, pictures you would see today in women’s sport. It seems the only way for women’s sports to be recognised on a wide level, is if the women pose half naked, relevant to the current social/moral climate.

Interesting, indeed. The sad thing to me, at least, is that this sexualisation of women’s sport shows no signs in slowing down. Be sexual or be relegated to obscurity. It seems to me it’s one of the last bastions of overt sexism in a benign public sense.

Of course, it’s a complicated subject, and it’s not entirely up to women to change it.

Off my soapbox. For now.


~ by at her discretion on January 25, 2008.

4 Responses to “Fighting Women”

  1. […] Fighting Women. At Her discretion […]

  2. Regarding men boxing: I don’t find guys punching each other to be entertaining.

    Regarding women boxing: I don’t find women punching each other to be sexy.

    I simply don’t get any of it, but your post definitely provides an interesting snapshot of history, although it doesn’t clear much up in terms of why people are so into boxing.

  3. I’m right with you. I don’t get it, either. I see boxing globes and breats and it just leads me to think of being punched in the boobs and there is nothing less sexy than that.

  4. […] items.. but in this one things are categorized into different themes.  Themes such as “Fighting Women“.  Some interesting shots there for […]

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