- Full-contact wrestling will necessarily send a sexual message
- Boys should be raised to honor and protect women, not attack them
His second is weaker and incomplete in how he applies it.
Of course I agree that men should protect women, and never mistreat them. But what is the purpose of wrestling? If it is simply an athletic competition, then Piper's arguments make a point worth pondering. But is it a facet of teaching the girls self-defense?
I was karate-dad to three boys, and then joined the class myself. I remember very vividly the first times my oldest son sparred vigorously with a girl. He and I both had very mixed feelings about it. So I thought it through, and here's where I ended up:
These girls were in karate partly for the athletics, but even more to learn self-defense. Their dads wanted them to be able to protect themselves when no one else was there to do it. And against whom would they need to defend themselves? Who would be the likelier attacker, in "real life"?
Suppose we forbid boys from sparring girls, or tell the boys to hold back. Then the girls will learn to defend themselves — against attacks from other girls, or from gentle, restrained men. How useful is that?
I'm father to boys and a girl. If I had put my daughter in a karate class, and felt she was getting only gentle, dainty sparring sessions, I'd find another school. I would want her to be prepared if necessary to unleash an instant, intimidating, and witheringly-discouraging self-defense against any single-helix pre-limbic mutoid who was fool enough to attack her. I would want him to count that as the single worst day in his life, featuring the single most foolish decision he had ever made. I would want him to wake up every day after that praying that he didn't attempt anything so miserably moronic and self-destructive. If he lived another 50 years, I'd want him to look back on that day as the day he made a choice so appallingly bad that it changed the course of his life.
Be shocked if you like. Fathers with daughters are nodding and saying "Darned straight!"
And would she have gotten there through a course of slender, waiflike partners who merely nudged and tapped?
I don't think so.
So I encouraged my son to spar with gusto, because of our concern for his female sparring partners.
He did, and I was proud of him for it.
I faced the same thing when I sparred children. Now, of course I held back, sometimes a lot. I mean, I'm like fourteen feet tall and weigh 1400 pounds. Last thing I wanted to do was actually hurt a child.
I did once unintentionally make a sparring partner cry, a youngster. I felt like a 6'1" pile of manure. I got a stern talking-to from Sensei (that I shouldn't feel bad)... and I went on. But my reasoning was the same: who is the likelier and worse threat to these kids? Other little skinny kids? Maybe. Big hulking grownups like me? Probably, sad to say.
And so, likewise, I wanted my little tiny sons to have vigorous sparring-partners. Because that was a big reason why they were there.
So Piper makes a point, but only one point. And it needs to be balanced by the fact that these girls are not in fact living in a world where (A) all men are gentlemen, or (B) they'll always have a man with them to protect them.
As some sage once pithily observed, "Wishing don't make it so."