“Men fighting men to determine worth (ie, masculinity) excludes women as completely as the female experience of childbirth excludes men,” wrote Joyce Carol Oates. “Raw aggression is thought to be the peculiar province of men, as nurturing is the peculiar province of women. (The female boxer violates this stereotype and cannot be taken seriously—she is parody, she is cartoon, she is monstrous.)”
Mary Kom violates the stereotype of the violating stereotype. This is her extraordinary achievement. Raw aggression, childbirth, nurturing, teaching, are all her province. She enjoys doing her nails and visiting the beauty parlour, loves raising her children, and yes, she will fight with a skirt on. These aren’t contradictions. She is not closing worlds, she is expanding them.
Another inspiration taking the stage in August 2012 at the London Olympics is pint-sized Mary Kom from India. I picked up a copy of Intelligent Life at the airport on my way to Cologne, and it’s definitely one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time.
Mary comes from an impoverished background. She is now a mother of two, manages her own boxing school in her backyard, gets next to nothing in terms of sponsorship in spite of her talent and achievements, but she continues to fight.
I really hope she brings back the gold for India.