Author Topic: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour  (Read 7458 times)

Offline Brandee

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Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« on: August 16, 2010, 08:16:50 PM »
Hey.

At Seattle's National Parkour Summit recently, Janine and I had a conversation with quite a few others from the Bay Area Parkour scene regarding how to create safe training spaces for women interested in parkour. Some of the issues to arise were how to encourage women training in female-centric situations to move into a co-ed environment, how to have women who've come out to play once come back, and how to draw out the women who are interested but may not have the courage yet to come play. I know some of my views on this, but I'm curious as to what ya'll might think, so some general questions, if interested:

- What makes you feel safe/comfortable when training parkour? What may hinder that comfort?

- What encourages you to go back to train with the same people? How do you like to be treated as a beginner/beginnermediate/intermediate traceuse?

- Do you generally prefer to train with only other women? Wish that you could? Spend most of your time in co-ed environments?

- What are your feelings regarding female jams, both those that are pro-women but open to anyone, and those that may be women-only-no-exceptions?

- Do you feel more comfortable being taught by a woman, or a man, or does it matter? Do you think it's important for women's classes/clinics/jams to be led only by women?

- What, if anything, has frustrated you about a parkour community/training space where you may not have felt comfortable?

- Do you feel that women train differently/learn differently, and that coaching women is significantly different that that of men?


These are just some prompt questions--by no means must you go through and answer them all or in any order. I'm just trying to extend the conversation out so that we can have the views of more people as well as benefit more by discussing it widely. Input?
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Offline Ashley McCauley

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2010, 10:31:10 AM »
I also haven't attended a jam. But I have trained with some others.

- What makes you feel safe/comfortable when training parkour? What may hinder that comfort?

What makes me feel safe/comfortable is when I train alone most of the time. I am only concentrating on myself and not worried what others may think of me. Sometimes when I train with others it hinders my comfort because I think of things that they might be thinking about me.

- What encourages you to go back to train with the same people? How do you like to be treated as a beginner/beginnermediate/intermediate traceuse?

If they are welcoming and don't judge you based on skill. As long as I'm not treated like I'm stupid when training, as in I get a movement wrong and they treat me like I can't get it at all. (That has happened to me before.)

- Do you generally prefer to train with only other women? Wish that you could? Spend most of your time in co-ed environments?

I haven't trained with any other women sadly. I wish that I could.

- What are your feelings regarding female jams, both those that are pro-women but open to anyone, and those that may be women-only-no-exceptions?

I believe female jams are great. I think that the pro-women but open to anyone are better because you do get men that are helpful and can show you how to do things possibly easier that other women can't. The women-only ones are also good because you're with other traceuses that are helpful and encouraging.

- Do you feel more comfortable being taught by a woman, or a man, or does it matter? Do you think it's important for women's classes/clinics/jams to be led only by women?

For me it doesn't matter because as long as they explain the movement and treat me as a equal.

- What, if anything, has frustrated you about a parkour community/training space where you may not have felt comfortable?

I hate it when men try and show off when all you want to do is train and that makes me uncomfortable because its all about proving who has the best skill.

- Do you feel that women train differently/learn differently, and that coaching women is significantly different that that of men?

No. Because both men and women may train or learn differently than most of there peers.


I think if no one were to judge (not saying all traceurs/traceuses judge) based on skill and were more helpful we could draw more women into this art of movement. Most women are intimidated by someone whose skill level is higher than their own. I know that I am like that, at least sometimes I am. If there were classes that were women-only and coached by a woman than maybe more women would train and get drawn in because they might feel like they're not getting compared to a man.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2011, 03:24:08 PM by Ashley McC »
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Offline Hopefulpilot

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2010, 09:07:22 AM »
Please note that I have never attended any jams, so my opinion may change after some experience.

- What makes you feel safe/comfortable when training parkour? What may hinder that comfort?

   Right now, I'm not comfortable if there are any people around because I'm very awkward in my movement, and fail a lot. I think I would feel more safe and comfortable if I were training in a group, because lookers-on wouldn't be laughing at just me.

- What encourages you to go back to train with the same people? How do you like to be treated as a beginner/beginnermediate/intermediate traceuse?

   I don't want to be laughed at, and as a beginner, I would just hope there would be someone that could help me a little.

- Do you generally prefer to train with only other women? Wish that you could? Spend most of your time in co-ed environments?

   I would prefer to train with other women, but it doesn't have to be JUST women, so long as the guys don't get distracted, treat us as idiots or babies, or show off.

- What are your feelings regarding female jams, both those that are pro-women but open to anyone, and those that may be women-only-no-exceptions?

   There are probably advantages to both.  I generally feel more self-conscious around men than women, but if the guys just treat me like everybody else, I'd probably be fine with them.

- Do you feel more comfortable being taught by a woman, or a man, or does it matter? Do you think it's important for women's classes/clinics/jams to be led only by women?

   I would feel more comfortable being taught by women, but again, as long as the guy doesn't try to show off, consider himself superior, or be ogling at us, that's fine.

- What, if anything, has frustrated you about a parkour community/training space where you may not have felt comfortable?

   For me, right now, I'm uncomfortable training if there's anyone around, because I'm always worried about what other people think about me. I think that I would also be uncomfortable if there were any rules being broken, like playing in a fountain that has posted "No Swimming" signs or something, where police have every right to come throw us out.

- Do you feel that women train differently/learn differently, and that coaching women is significantly different that that of men?

  I agree with Ashley. Everyone learns differently. But I do think women as a group learn differently than men do. We're most of us more emotional than they are.

The closest group (SactoPK) has weekly training sessions, and I have looked forward to attending one someday, but I would work a little harder to get to a jam or training session if I knew I wouldn't be the only girl in the group. I guess I'm afraid of either too much attention from the guys, or just being ignored. If there was even one other girl, at least there would be moral support.

Don't I sound like an insecure baby?  ;D ::)

Offline Andrea.

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2010, 05:21:36 PM »
I haven't attended a jam or trained with anyone yet. :P Just a heads up.
- What makes you feel safe/comfortable when training parkour? What may hinder that comfort?
I like to either be alone in a quiet place, but if I have to leave, then I would prefer to be in a group. :P

- What encourages you to go back to train with the same people? How do you like to be treated as a beginner/beginnermediate/intermediate traceuse?
Um. Have not trained with anyone yet.

- Do you generally prefer to train with only other women? Wish that you could? Spend most of your time in co-ed environments?
I think it would be good to have a group of women to train with, get a break from the boys. ;D


- What are your feelings regarding female jams, both those that are pro-women but open to anyone, and those that may be women-only-no-exceptions?
I think female jams are okay, I do feel a lot more awkward around men though.

- Do you feel more comfortable being taught by a woman, or a man, or does it matter? Do you think it's important for women's classes/clinics/jams to be led only by women?
I don't think it really matters, I just feel more awkward around a man. I do think that the occasional women's only jam should be held though. :D

- What, if anything, has frustrated you about a parkour community/training space where you may not have felt comfortable?
Maybe when guys start showing off. >.<

- Do you feel that women train differently/learn differently, and that coaching women is significantly different that that of men?
Same as Ashy.

I probably failed at half these questions. :P
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Offline Hopefulpilot

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2010, 07:45:20 PM »
I want to add that I'm with Andrea on the having to leave thing. If something happened and for some reason authorities asked us to leave, I'd rather be with a group than on my own! A group of guys in that case might be kinda nice.  :P

Offline Brandee

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2010, 07:18:09 PM »
Thanks for responding, ya'll. It's nice to know where everyone stands with comfort--and don't dare put yourselves down for not being comfortable! All of us have insecurities. :)

What makes you feel safe/comfortable when training parkour? What may hinder that comfort?


Honestly, I feel most comfortable training in early evening or night time, when the city is the most quiet and there are the least eyes to watch me. I've gotten more used to training in populated environments, but even at large jams I have difficulty focusing on good training when so many people are watching/giving me feedback (both of useful and unhelpful nature). If I'm training in populated areas, a small, focused group is preferred. 

What encourages you to go back to train with the same people? How do you like to be treated as a beginner/beginnermediate/intermediate traceuse?


I actually feel quite lucky to have a solid community of traceurs/traceuses to train with. The men here are used to women training, and there doesn't seem to be too much 'special treatment' or babying of women. It may have happened before I showed up a few years ago, but I've never really been singled out for being a girl (other than by myself.) I love our community and the support and fun brings me back training with people.

Do you generally prefer to train with only other women? Wish that you could? Spend most of your time in co-ed environments?


I prefer a mixed-bag for training, often depending on my mood or what I want to accomplish. Often times training with the guys is great for me for fear work, work on sheer power, and big jumpy stuff, but there are definitely days where I'd rather be training with women. Most of my good training happens alone or in small groups, those being co-ed whenever possible.

What are your feelings regarding female jams, both those that are pro-women but open to anyone, and those that may be women-only-no-exceptions?


I believe femme jams are necessary for many women who want to start or continue training parkour to become comfortable. They are fun, inspiring, and supportive. I do not agree with banning men from training sessions for any reason, especially since there are men who may not be as strong or masculine as most, and have similar emotional responses to parkour as women do.

Do you feel more comfortable being taught by a woman, or a man, or does it matter? Do you think it's important for women's classes/clinics/jams to be led only by women?


Both! Anyone who teaches has something to offer. I'm not sure if it's important for women to be led by only women (it's why I'm asking), but I do think it's nice to have a woman there to help and provide a kind of role model; many women just need to see others doing it to believe that they can as well.

What, if anything, has frustrated you about a parkour community/training space where you may not have felt comfortable?


For the most part, I'm the one making me uncomfortable by running disparaging thoughts around my head. I've never felt unwelcome at a training session, lesser, or weak due to anyone else. 

Do you feel that women train differently/learn differently, and that coaching women is significantly different that that of men?

I do think women train from a different part of themselves, oftentimes. Always with exception, women may be more obviously emotional about training, have more hesitations regarding trusting their bodies and facing fear, and express more eloquently what the training does for them emotionally and mentally. I think it's less about a person's sex and more about the person's expression; as stated earlier, coaching feminine men is much like coaching women. In this stance, the main feminine characteristic is having emotions closer to the surface, therefore being more vulnerable. I've been trying to compile my thoughts about this for some time, but have yet to truly do the research to back up my opinions and experiences.


Thank you all again for answering! Through discussing these issues we can better pave the way for comfortable environments for ourselves and other women, I'm sure of it. 
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Offline Ashley McCauley

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2010, 09:39:00 AM »
Brandee I didn't even think about more feminine men. But I agree with you've said. :)
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Offline Brandee

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2011, 09:32:39 PM »
PicturesOnTheWall, your comment is out of line. I feel you know very well we are not talking of--nor believe any such thing as--a "weaker sex." Please take care with potentially offensive comments in the future.


Edit: After browsing you're previous "posts" I almost regret taking you the least bit seriously. I hope you're as successful in positive endeavors as you are at being no help at all on these forums.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2011, 10:19:34 PM by Brandee »
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Offline AnonJack

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2011, 09:35:54 PM »
Your right special provisions should be made to accommodate the weaker sex.

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Offline Ashley McCauley

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2011, 11:16:52 PM »
PicturesOnTheWall, your comment is out of line. I feel you know very well we are not talking of--nor believe any such thing as--a "weaker sex." Please take care with potentially offensive comments in the future.


Edit: After browsing you're previous "posts" I almost regret taking you the least bit seriously. I hope you're as successful in positive endeavors as you are at being no help at all on these forums.

+1


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Offline Kim Martin

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2011, 01:34:41 AM »
- What makes you feel safe/comfortable when training parkour? What may hinder that comfort?

Right now I'm training in a Parkour gym outside with ice and snow is hindering outside training a bit, though I have practiced some of my rolls in a snowy field. Warm gym and equipment I don't feel scared crashing into makes me feel safe as a rookie. Though I may have looked funny as I clung to the top of vaults as they tipped over

- What encourages you to go back to train with the same people? How do you like to be treated as a beginner/beginnermediate/intermediate traceuse?

The people at my gym are awesome, I cant help smiling or laughing at their antics.
During open gym times sometimes I feel intimidated by the advanced class people, but that's because they like to set things higher than I am capable of doing, or setting up difficult courses.
 I have learned to wait and watch what they do. When they get tired they have no problems letting rookies like myself setting some equipment to our level they'll even give pointers to help out

- Do you generally prefer to train with only other women? Wish that you could? Spend most of your time in co-ed environments?

It might be nice to have more woman in my class, but there are lots of woman at my gym so I don't feel like a odd one out

- What are your feelings regarding female jams, both those that are pro-women but open to anyone, and those that may be women-only-no-exceptions?

Might be nice, but I have the feeling that although there is a large female parkour community here, a all female event may be one I'd have to travel to. I may just want to hit a national jam and just get together with other ladies there

- Do you feel more comfortable being taught by a woman, or a man, or does it matter? Do you think it's important for women's classes/clinics/jams to be led only by women?

Man or woman doesn't matter. I want to learn from a experienced professional, besides Jim is awesome as a trainer. He cracks jokes and gets us smiling though he's working us as hard as a drill sergeant

- What, if anything, has frustrated you about a parkour community/training space where you may not have felt comfortable?

Not enough space + equipment, though the boxing club that shares our space is moving out so that should be solved shortly

- Do you feel that women train differently/learn differently, and that coaching women is significantly different that that of men?

No movement is movement, its more a mental thing and each person may have different issues with learning a guy may have similar troubles getting over a mental block as a lady. Besides I've met tiny guys and I'm a friken amazon so it's more a body type thing that may be a limiter
« Last Edit: January 06, 2011, 01:38:13 AM by LoneHowler »

Offline Chantelle

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2011, 09:45:19 PM »
I want to train at playgrounds, but I feel like I'll get arrested for being a suspected pedophile because I'm 26. 

Offline freeflow246

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2011, 02:32:27 PM »
I haven't attended any jams yet, so my opinion may not mean much, but here goes:
- What makes you feel safe/comfortable when training parkour? What may hinder that comfort? I'm most comfortable when I'm training with someone I know or completely by myself. I don't like it when people stare or laugh. But that's probably my shyness speaking. Oh, and I hate it when guys whistle and holler. That's terrible.

- What encourages you to go back to train with the same people? How do you like to be treated as a beginner/beginnermediate/intermediate traceuse? Well, the first question I can't answer. As a beginner, I don't like to be treated as an idiot or pandered to. On the other hand, I wouldn't want people to be frustrated when I couldn't advance as quickly as they think I should.

- Do you generally prefer to train with only other women? Wish that you could? Spend most of your time in co-ed environments? if I had a choice, I'd prefer to train with other women. Our bodies are different from men's (center of gravity, upper body strength, etc), and I think that training with someone who understands that completely would be ideal.

- What are your feelings regarding female jams, both those that are pro-women but open to anyone, and those that may be women-only-no-exceptions? I haven't been to any, but women jams sound awesome. Having them open to men is nice, because maybe some traceurs have something of real worth to say. But I can see why traceuses would want women-only jams. Sometimes lady time is nice.

- Do you feel more comfortable being taught by a woman, or a man, or does it matter? Do you think it's important for women's classes/clinics/jams to be led only by women? If I was taught by someone, I would prefer a woman. I think it's probably best for women's classes, clinics, and jams to be led by women.

- What, if anything, has frustrated you about a parkour community/training space where you may not have felt comfortable? Showing off.

- Do you feel that women train differently/learn differently, and that coaching women is significantly different that that of men? I don't think the difference is huge, but it's there. Physically, certain vaults may be easier or harder. I also think that women usually benefit more from gentle encouraging than some of the more aggressive ways male coaches tend to push their students.

Offline Brandee

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2011, 02:42:16 PM »
Thanks again for your replies! I'm glad to see this topic taken seriously and answered honestly. It's something I think many practitioners think about, but rarely discuss eloquently. I appreciate your contributions :)
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Offline Alissa J. Bratz

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2011, 05:55:23 PM »
Brandee, thank you so much for starting this thread! There is a ton of great discussion in here. FYI I will be giving a talk on women in parkour at the Ohio Rendezvous this May. The main focus of the talk will be to help the guys understand how to "deal with" women in training. We have all seen the threads, where guys are like, "Oh man a girl joined our group! Are there any special tips you have for how to help her train?"

We know they mean well, and we appreciate the concern and desire to help, but we also know they are kind of over-thinking it. I'm hoping my talk will address that and help everyone feel more comfortable training together regardless of sex or gender.

I was wondering if I could share some of the comments in this thread during my talk. I am happy to leave people "Anonymous" if they prefer. Let me know.

Thanks in advance!
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Offline Brandee

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2011, 05:52:22 PM »
Any of my words are game! Have fun at the rendezvous :)
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Offline Ashley McCauley

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2011, 08:21:17 PM »
You can share my thoughts/comments. I don't mind if you use my name either. :)
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Offline Andrea.

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2011, 01:00:04 PM »
Feel free to use my pretty useless noob-y comments xP
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Offline Hopefulpilot

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2011, 06:10:48 PM »
Muse_of_Fire: Not a problem with me.
Man!! I wish I could attend a jam!  :'(

Offline Alissa J. Bratz

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Re: Building Safe Environments for Women in Parkour
« Reply #19 on: April 22, 2011, 08:22:11 PM »
Thanks for the replies, ladies! I will try to give a good talk.

Hopefulpilot... where there's a will, there's a way! I hope you can make it out to a jam some time soon.
She followed slowly, taking a long time,
as though there were some obstacle in the way;
and yet: as though, once it was overcome,
she would be beyond all walking, and would fly.
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