“You’re going to scare away all the men,” they say as I watch the point float right over their heads.

Taralei Griffin
Aug 6 · 4 min read

Taking off my glasses, I set them on a ledge, then carefully place my headphones over my ears. The sounds of the weight machines around me are drowned out, my breath echoing behind the steady beat pounding into my ears. Facing the heavy bag, I focus my eyes straight ahead, making sure that everything else is a blur — easy without my glasses. I look over the top of my raised fists, bouncing lightly from toe to toe, before striking the bag twice to the rhythm. A smile briefly crosses my lips, then the real dance begins.

I throw a flurry of punches, jabbing fast and saving my power for the hooks. Dodging the swinging bag, punching, and throwing a few knees, I feel graceful and powerful all at the same time.

This is my Paso Doble, the bag as my partner, dancing around each other, both fighting and providing support as the beat pounds on and my heart races to keep up.

It’s just me and the bag, just me and the bag…

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see the blurred figures of men stopping to watch, and my punches become more intense.

I want them to be the ones who are scared, for once.

When the timer goes off on my phone, I pick it up and quickly walk towards the water fountain, looking straight ahead, not meeting anyone’s eyes. It’s a silent attempt at showing that I’m not wanting a fight, but I’m also not someone you should mess with.

The other people at my gym think I’m rude or a weird loner. Sometimes, I think it’s better this way — while I might miss some genuine friendliness, I also avoid seeing a lot of unwanted lust or judgement in their eyes.

The reactions to the fact that I am a boxer range from “wow that’s awesome!” to “there’s no way you’re strong enough” to “that’s hot” to “you’re too intimidating.”

If I had a dollar for the amount of times I’ve heard “But aren’t you worried men won’t want to date you? Men don’t want intimidating women.”

Well, if that’s true*, that’s fine with me.

(*It’s definitely false, you should see the amount of requests I used to get from men on dating apps to literally beat them in the bedroom — which is not personally my thing.)

From a young age, many girls are taught that boys and men are the ones to look to for protection, sometimes to fear, and that we should appear soft and harmless so as not to threaten them, that we should always be polite and courteous, no matter what…

But in my experience, and I know in that of many other women & femme’s experiences, that mindset can put us in danger.

I have laughed, smiled, and acted the ditz to get out of many an uncomfortable, or even dangerous, situation placed on me by men claiming to be “nice guys.” Sometimes it’s worked, but there have been too many times where my good manners have only made me seem like great prey, and I’ve wound up violated, bruised, or even bleeding.

Boxing is one of the many things that has helped me to begin the process of taking my body back. When I started training, almost three years ago, it really boosted my confidence while also providing an outlet for stress, anger, and fear. I lost weight, gained muscle, and began to truly feel strong — not only physically, but mentally.

Whatever it is that makes you feel stronger as a human, as long as it does not harm others, is something you should do when you can. For me, sometimes that’s a long hike, kayaking, or even just dragging myself away from the computer screen when I’m about to go down some crazy internet rabbit hole instead of sleeping.

My favorite is boxing. Testing new combinations on the bag, challenging myself to hit faster or harder, continually building my control and aim, getting healthier, and the knowledge that I can throw a great knock out punch if a smile and polite excuses aren’t enough to get some uninvited man out of my personal space…

People tell me that I’m intimidating, and after an initial flash of concern, I can’t help but smile. After everything I’ve survived in my 28 years,

I’d rather be feared than be seen as someone who can have fear used against them.

Taralei Griffin

Written by

Storyteller. Hufflepuff. Valkyrie of Hope. Traveling Woman. Author of THE GREAT MEANDER - coming January 1st, 2020!

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