Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fight Like A Girl

Saying that someone “fights like a girl” is a pervasive enough insult that even we women have been known to use it sometimes. Everyone knows the unspoken images behind the words – a useless slap instead of a solid punch, ridiculous angles and no follow through. In popular culture, to fight like a “girl” means you’re no good at it.

But have you actually seen women fight?

 I’m not talking about female boxers and MMA fighters, though those women are awesome and terrifying in their own way. I’m talking about the struggles an average women goes through in her life, and the challenges she’s able to take on without breaking a sweat.

 Our bodies are wonders of strength and design, able to accommodate an entire other person growing inside of us without breaking or becoming permanently mangled. We’re such great survivors that our bodies know how to not only keep one person alive for months, but two. And we can do it again and again.

 It’s not just childbirth that shows how tough a woman’s body is. Studies have shown that women overcome brain trauma faster than men, taking less time to heal from concussions and other injuries. We outlive men by an average of about five years, at least in the United States, and are less likely to be obese adults as well.

 Inevitably, there are a few areas where men have the edge over us. National statistics show that we’re at a higher risk of developing strokes, and more women suffer from osteoporosis than men. Heart attacks are more of a concern for women than many of us realize or like to acknowledge. There’s also breast cancer, the most common cancer in women and second to lung cancer as a leading cause of death for women.

 But real fighters know that just because you’re down doesn’t mean you have to be out. The fact that breast cancer is so common, but still isn’t our leading killer, is proof that it’s possible to fight back against even the worst illnesses. Breast cancer survivors are some of the strongest, bravest women I’ve ever met, banding together to support each other and pushing a major outreach to make sure other women get tested. Even if they’ve been hit by the disease, they don’t want to see other women fall.

 We can combat other illnesses as well. Research shows that potassium lowers the risk of strokes in older women. Knowing the warning signs of heart attacks for women – which are different than they are for men – and pushing for early detection can lower our risk for that as well. Making sure your calcium intake is high enough can help you avoid having to deal with osteoporosis later in life. Screenings of all kinds are important.

 Sure, men may be physically stronger than you are. But strength is only one factor that matters when surviving a physical fight, and when it comes to the battles life throws at us it’s often the least important one. The ability to survive, to take care of yourself and others, and to heal and move on can be far more important. And we women excel at all of that.

So the next time you hear the phrase “fight like a girl,” tell the person that they’re using it inaccurately. Because girls are some of the best fighters I know.

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