While women have been practicing Muay Thai for decades, the sport has only recently begun to shift away from the male-dominated culture that has traditionally surrounded it.
One of the ways this shift has occurred is through the creation of all-women spaces within the Muay Thai community. These usually start with somen within Muay Thai that had similar grievances about not having enough sparring partners their size or having to deal with microaggressions from men coming together so create safe spaces for themselves. These spaces provide a supportive and empowering environment for women to learn and practice the sport.
All-women spaces in Muay Thai provide a safe and welcoming environment for women to practice the sport. Women who are just starting out may feel intimidated by the male-dominated environment of many traditional gyms. They may feel uncomfortable being the only woman in a group of men, especially when they are just learning the basics of the sport. All-women spaces provide a space where women can train and learn without feeling intimidated or out of place. They can ask questions, make mistakes, and grow in their skills without feeling like they are being judged by their male counterparts. They can wear whatever they want without worrying about unwarranted looks.
All-women spaces provide a sense of community and belonging. Women who practice Muay Thai often share a common experience of being in a male-dominated environment. They may feel isolated or unsupported in traditional gyms where they are the only woman in a group of men. All-women spaces provide a space where women can connect with each other, share their experiences, and support each other in their practice. This sense of community can be especially important for women who are new to the sport or who may be struggling with self-doubt or confidence issues.
Women Supporting Women
Another benefit of all-women spaces in Muay Thai is the opportunity for women to learn from and be inspired by other women. Women who practice stay consistent enough to get to a high level are common, but they still have issues finding fellow women to train with. Women who are recognized as leaders in the sport are even rarer. All-women spaces provide a space for women to learn from and be inspired by other women who have achieved success in the sport. This can be especially important for women who may not have access to female role models or mentors in their everyday lives.
When women feel like they are in a safe space, they are also given the opportunity to explore the sport in their own way. All-women spaces provide a space where women can explore the sport in a way that feels authentic and meaningful to them, without feeling like they have to conform to male-dominated norms or expectations.
Muay Thai has traditionally been considered a male-dominated sport, and women have faced numerous barriers to participation and recognition. All-women spaces provide a space where women can challenge these barriers, and where their voices and experiences can be centered and heard. By promoting the visibility and recognition of women in the sport, all-women spaces can help to shift the culture of Muay Thai towards one that is more inclusive and equitable for all participants.
All-women spaces in Muay Thai are an important and valuable resource for women who practice the sport. If you are a woman who is interested in practicing Muay Thai or feels the need to be surrounded by more feminine energy, consider seeking out an all-women space in your area. You can also join an online community for women in combat sports such as FightHers. FightHers aims to support and educate members while minimizing politics and gatekeeping.
Note that the idea of the need for “all men spaces” as a comparable concept to all-women spaces is a false equivalency. Men do not experience the same level of discrimination, harassment, and barriers that women do in the Muay Thai world. Men have historically held the majority of leadership positions in gyms and promotions, and often occupy the most prominent and respected roles in the sport. This power dynamic can make it difficult for women to fully participate and feel comfortable in mixed-gender spaces, and highlights the need for all-women spaces as a means of promoting gender equity and providing a supportive environment for women to excel in Muay Thai. Long story short, there is absolutely no shortage of “all-men” spaces in Muay Thai or elsewhere that warrants this comparison.
There will be a separate article on the topic of healthy masculinity. Belen and I discuss this in a Podcast episode, so for the time being, if you’re interested, have a listen. We discuss all-women spaces and cover some of the counterarguments we’ve come across. Here’s the YouTube version of the same podcast episode:
If you want an in-depth guide to training in Thailand, I’ve got just the thing.