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Women’s fight through the eyes of a historian


Intervie with Anna Sidanova



Anna Sidanova
Alexey Bauman Alexei Bauman conducted an interview with an historian, psychologist and enthusiast of the feminist movement, Anna Sidanova, the author of several materials in the Female Single Combat Club: Challenge of a Spartan girl, Battle over being a Queen, Female recreations in Ancient Sparta, Bout in a Ladies Club, The Ring as well as other stories in the sub-section "Gender Inversion of the Classic Fiction".


Русская версия






Photo by Helmut Newton

Ladies fighting

Anna, the first question: Why women’s combat has drawn your attention?

One of my professions is a historian; my focus of interest includes women’s history and history of feminist movement. I am also interested in the extremes of human capability. My answer is derived from these: physical combat regards as an extreme form of human activities. But since it is traditionally attributed to men, it is related to feminism and women’s history as well.

What was an incitement to you to study this subject?


First of all, legendary Amazons, Spartan women as well as gladiatrices. So, from time immemorial, women ability to participate in dangerous and extreme activities was well proven. After that, I began studying other manifestations of female violence and aggressiveness. Then I came across with the “Female Single Combat Club.” Although it is not a scientific resource, a lot in it turned out to be useful for me. I began getting familiar with combative sports; coincidentally at that time, women just rushed into these sports.

Why did you examine combative sports and how did you do that?


My sphere of interest is too wide of these matters but I had to learn (in theory though) basics of boxing, freestyle wrestling, mixed martial arts and some other sports – in order to better understand the topic. I also watched a lot of videoclips with spontaneous fights between women.

Which combative sport is more interesting for you and why?


I am a researcher rather than a sports fan, so I am mostly interested in the most extreme combat sports, like MMA, boxing and probably street fighting. It doesn’t mean I enjoy watching contests in these sports. As far as aesthetics is concerned, I consider Japanese Sumo the most noble and spectacular combative sport - however strange it may sound.

Why Sumo?


It is an elegant ritual not having elements of brutality. Young slender girls are especially nice in the sport…

What did inspire you to write stories with gender inversion of classic fiction?


In fact, an idea leaped into my mind to imagine women in the most extreme actions described in the fiction, especially in the fiction of old times, before combative sports became popular among women. I started with popular in Russia stories and novels of Jack London who dedicated a lot of his works to boxing and fistfighting. By replacing male characters with female ones I wished to see how this transformation would look like. For me, it was an entertaining and not too serious game. You can read the inverted stories in the section "Gender Inversion of the Classic Fiction".

What did force you to write these stories for FSCC?


This is just my hobby – when I deepen into a subject, I need some rest.

Anna, you attribute yourself to feminists. Do you think women are inclined to violence as much as men are while their “peaceful disposition” is just the result of traditional social stereotypes and constraints?


A brief answer would be NO because women and men are quite different as far as the hormonal physiology and the biological mission are concerned. However, traditional social realities in human societies set up some limitation to female aggressiveness: “men fight over women”, “women seek protection from men”, and cetera… Not everything though is the result of the differences in the anatomy and physiology – social restrictions and taboos played significant roles as well. Just an example: it is proven that contemporary girls are much more willing to engage into spontaneous fights than their ancestresses. If in the past, women happened to fight, they usually used hairpulling and scratching as female techniques, nowadays, many girls know how to fight using real hand-to-hand combat techniques: throws, punches and kicks. They often use the MMA technique of so-called “ground-and-pound” (Take an opponent to the ground, establish a dominant position and then reign down punches, elbows and forearm strikes to the downed fighter.) In other words, as soon as women are loosen up, they act quite similar to men in impromptu conflict when people usually act more reflectory.

Do you see any differences in motivation of women and men coming to fisticuffs?


Yes and no. As male animals, men need to prove their strength and manlyness, they fight for dominance and social recognition in order to prove they are fit to be a mate to women. Women don't care so much about being seen as the tougher fighter; women fight to cause damage, to hurt the enemy or to humiliate her. That’s why fighting was always considered as male activity. However, according to recent studies, women’s fighting is one of the strongest aphrodisiacs for men, so contemporary girl capable to fight and win in a fight receive much attention from guys.

Why then women’s fighting turns on men ?


I think, because violence is biologically related to mating and a man having fantasies about fighting women implicates himself into the fight in his imagination. This phenomenon needs to be investigated more closely. What is your opinion about female combat sports? As a person and as a woman, not as a researcher.

The answer will be quite standard for a feminist. I consider some combat sport as dangerous for the life and health irrespective of gender. HOWEVER, participants in such combat sports are the most strikingly demonstrate the capabilities of human beings to act in ultimately extreme situations, so they are beneficial as far as this aspect is concerned.

Which combat sports you consider as the most dangerous?


Won’t be unexpected again. First of all those sports in which the very intention of fighters is to disable an opponent by striking in the head. That is to say, unlike other sports in which participants may accidentally get a trauma, in the sports I mean, the traumas are inflicting not just intentially but inflicting brain damage is the main goal of each fighter.

So, which particular sports do you consider as the most dangerous?


Boxing, contact Karate, MMA and probably taekwondo. Sorry if I forget something. You probably have watched video with events in man’s and women’s combat sports. Which contests did you like more? Or if ask more correctly, which contests did you dislike more? ?

Perhaps, women’s MMA bouts. Too much brutality.

Do you thing female participants in combat sports lose their femininity?


Absolutely, especially during their actions in the rings or cages. It beyond the arena, they could be decorated and photographed for men’s magazines. (There seems to be a FSCC classification of combative beauties.) Nowadays, cosmetologist can make a beauty even out of an old witch. I guess, yes, many female combatants lose femininity as long as traditional women’s features are concerned: delicacy, evenness, softness, kindness, etc. However, I am not sure that by losing something of traditional femininity they don’t gain something more significant.

Anna, we greatly appreciate your time and your answers!

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