My Beautiful Wickedness

This medal sweep means a lot to me.
August 9, 2008, 7:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A few of you who knew me in college remember that I was (for a couple of years) a fencer. We were a club team, but we traveled around and had a good time at regional meets. This (and distance swimming) were the only sports I ever cared about enough to practice.

When I was fencing, however, women were not permitted to fence sabre in competitions. If one wanted to compete, one had to enter under an pseudonym or an initial, keep one’s helmet on during the entirety of the time that one was around the mats, and hope that the officials had a feminist streak. I was a foil specialist (I liked the grunt footwork drills, the strategy, the game of luring in the attacker and then driving back, the speed) and I more or less sucked out with my left hand which left me vulnerable to attack in sabre (foil attacks only the torso — sabre hacks whatever the attacker can hit) Like all the women on my team, however, I made a point of signing up to fence sabre whenever we went to a meet. I got beat up by better fencers. The men (who were stronger and had greater reach, advantages offset by women’s typically greater speed and sneakiness) were aggravated that the women were “junking up their mat.” They became allies in getting women into sabre. Shortly after I quit (I kept injuring my ankle and just couldn’t be competitive), women got the right to compete in sabre.

So, salut, ladies. I’m delighted to see you represent.

Congratulations, ladies.


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