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Poem: "Hit Like a Girl" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Hit Like a Girl"
This poem is from the September 2, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from wyld_dandelyon and DW user Stardreamer.  It also fills the "a new start" square in my 9-1-14 card for the Ladiesbingo fest.  This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"Hit Like a Girl"




Carrie Bennion was the kind of girl
who made people pause, and
instead of saying, "She's pretty,"
they'd mumble, "Isn't she ... um, healthy."

She was already heavier
than her older brother Billy,
and it wasn't flab.

It was muscle.

She never sat if she could walk,
never walked if she could run.

She ran into things and bounced off them,
tumbled to the ground and got up again,
wouldn't stop moving if she could help it.

She climbed trees and fell out of them,
skinned her knees and elbows
but never broke a bone.

"She's as wiggly as a boy,"
the teachers complained.
"She can't sit still."

Carrie loved her body,
and she couldn't understand
why most of the other girls and women
seemed to hate theirs.

She loved hitting balls with bats
and kicking cans down the street.
She stomped her way up and down stairs
just to feel the impact jarring through her.
She adored the meat and bone of her body.

When one of the bullies at school
pulled her little black pigtails,
Carrie punched him in the belly
and left him puking on the playground.

He didn't try that again.

Carrie's mother read the note from the teacher
and sighed. "Get in the car," Mom said.

They drove across down to a place that said,
Mixed Martial Arts: Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai.

Sensei Han was a woman, but not a pretty one.
That made Carrie like her a little bit already.
She was small and dark and built like a fireplug.
"Let's see what kind of martial art might suit you,"
said Sensei Han, pointing Carrie at a big canvas bag.
"Here is something that is safe for you to hit.
You can hit it as much as you want,
any way you want. Go to town, girl."

Carrie went to town.

She punched and she kicked,
used her elbows and her knees,
ran against the bag and slammed it
with her shoulders, bounced off it
and flopped onto the floor,
got up and did it all again.

She loved the deep thudding force
of her flesh colliding with the canvas,
relished the feel of being free
to hit as hard as she could.

The heavy bag never budged.

Finally Carrie lay panting on the mat,
too exhausted to move.
It felt fantastic.

"Well, that answers that question,"
Sensei Han said to Carrie's mother.
"We'll start her in Muay Thai.
Carrie, would you like to see
what that looks like?"

"Sure," Carrie said, rolling her head to watch.
It was the only thing she could still move.
Her muscles felt like overcooked noodles.

Sensei Han spun into motion.
She hit with her fists and her feet,
her elbows and her knees,
her shins and her forearms.
Whack, thwack!  went her hands
against the canvas adversary.

And the heavy bag moved.

Carrie watched it sway slightly
on its gleaming chain as
Sensei Han belted it left and right.

"I want to do that!" Carrie said.

So Mom enrolled her in lessons,
and Sensei Han taught her Muay Thai.
It was a new start, and for the first time
Carrie had a teacher who encouraged her
to move her body the way she wanted to.

It was also a lot of work, even for someone
as healthy as Carrie. Learning how to hit
in exactly the right  way was hard.
Learning how to sit still and think
without wiggling was even harder.

Carrie did it anyway.

At first the older boys teased her
and said that she hit like a girl.
"How would you even know?"
she shot back. "There aren't
any other girls in our Muay Thai class."

But Sensei Han overheard them
and made the boys run extra laps
while lugging dumbbells, because
she didn't like that kind of talk.

"You are a girl, so you hit like a girl,
and girls hit however you hit,"
Sensei Han said to Carrie while
the boys huffed around the track.
"How do you want to hit?"

"Hard enough to move the heavy bag,"
Carrie said, and Sensei Han
showed her how to put her whole body
into a punch, shoulders and hips and all.

The first boy Carrie trumped in a tournament
said that fighting against her was like
getting beaten up by an octopus.

As Carrie grew up, she expanded from
Muay Thai alone to Mixed Martial Arts.
She won a lot of fights and made good money
from the prizes and advertising sport products.

She took up bodybuilding and did well there too,
found a job at a gym as a fitness coach.
Classes were free for staff members,
so Carrie studied Fitness Nutrition and then
got herself certified as a Citizen First Responder.

The latter came in handy when
a Super-Gizmologist started
making and selling super-steroids
out of the gym where Carrie worked.

One day, an explosion splashed weird drugs
all over a bunch of people working out.
Carrie helped lift rubble off the ones
who were trapped under fallen walls,
and applied first aid to those who were injured
until the ambulance crews arrived on the scene.

Several of the victims died.
Most just got spectacularly sick.
One developed superpowers.

And nothing happened to Carrie,
good or bad, even though
she'd gotten splashed
with the same stuff
while rescuing people.

Carrie said "Fuck it!" and
decided to become a superhera anyway.

* * *

Notes:

Muscle Girl (Carrie Bennion) -- She is short with a stocky, muscular build.  Her breasts are on the small side of average, her waist straight, and her hips narrower than her shoulders.  Her thighs are thick and powerful.  Carrie has pale skin, gray eyes, and straight black hair usually worn in two shoulder-length pigtails.  She weighs about 145 pounds.  Her family background is Welsh.  She has an older brother named Billy.
 Carrie began studying Muay Thai and later moved into Mixed Martial Arts.  She can deliver a tremendous amount of force very quickly.  Her elbow strikes yield 400 pounds, knee 550 pounds, punches 650 pounds, and kicks 800 pounds.  She can land 8 blows within 3 seconds, for a total of 4,800 pounds.  This is enough to break bones, cause a concussion, and do serious internal damage.  Or in self-defense lingo: she has stopping power.  She likes to do the math to figure out angles and power of attacks. 
 Muscle Girl works for the Westbord SPOON base, going out with whomever needs her support.  Her knowledge of nutrition includes cooking for athletes.  SPOON likes to pair her with people who have Super-Strength or Super-Speed because they need careful feeding.  She's also popular with novice superheroes in general because her coaching experience makes her an effective teacher.  Combined with her followship skills, this means Muscle Girl can fill any rank on a team. 
Origin: A Super-Gizmologist was making and selling super-steroids out of the gym where Carrie worked.  One day, an explosion splashed weird drugs over a bunch of people.  Several of them died.  Most just got sick.  One developed superpowers.  And nothing happened to Carrie, good or bad.  She said "fuck it" and decided to become a superhera anyway.
Uniform: Workout clothes, often a tank top and shorts in some combination of black and orange.
Qualities: Master (+6) Speed, Master (+6) Strength, Expert (+4) Bodybuilding, Expert (+4) Mixed Martial Arts, Expert (+4) Follower, Good (+2) Coach, Good (+2) Determination, Good (+2) Citizen First Responder, Good (+2) Math, Good (+2) Nutrition, Good (+2) Tough
Motivation: To fight the good fight.  She finds combat exhilirating and wants to do something productive with that.
Model: Gina Carano

Sensei Jennifer Han -- She has tan skin, brown eyes, and brown hair usually worn in cornrows.  Her ethnic background includes Asian,  American, and black.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Mixed Martial Arts, Expert (+4) Teacher, Good (+2) Strength
Poor (-2) Girl Stuff
 
* * *

Body image is a feminist issue.  There are girls who hate their bodies and girls who love their bodies.  Know how to raise a powerful girl who loves her body

Mixed Martial Arts can draw from a variety of styles; in this case the components include karate, tae kwon do, and muay thai.

A heavy bag is a basic piece of sport equipment.  It should move very little, or not at all, when you hit it.  When it starts to move more than a little, you need to switch up to a heavier bag.

Martial art strikes require practice to deliver with precision.

Meditation helps to improve fighting focus and manage temper.

Being a girl is not bad and should not be an insult, yet people often say "you hit like a girl."  Well, girls can kick your ass.  This often turns into a logical fallacy with "Girls X" (when a girl is not-X) or "Girls don't X" (when a girl is X).  If "girls don't X" and a girl is X, then either the premise "girls don't X" is false or the person Xing is not a girl.  Usually it is the premise which is wrong.  Learn to call bullshit when you hear this.

Steroid use comes with significant risks.  In Terramagne, Super-Gizmology can include chemistry as well as engineering, with higher rewards and even worse risks.  A typical spazmat incident will have a range of victims who die, get sick, or are unaffected -- with a much smaller portion of people developing superpowers -- depending on the toxicity of the material.  So far all the superhero origins I've seen are about people who are changed by extraordinary events.  This one is about not  being changed by the event, and deciding to change yourself, because that's something anyone can do.

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12 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
siliconshaman From: siliconshaman Date: September 6th, 2014 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Now her I like! I have this thing about 'ordinary' people who can step up and fight alongside the superheroes, especially the ones who never had to work for their powers. For example, Tony Stark is a super-gizmologist, but what isn't shown is the sheer amount of study he put in to use that imagination and talent of his... Batman in his latest movie incarnation would be another example.

Although, I do wonder why the super-steroids had no effect... unless her body was already amped to the max naturally. [or perhaps it did, but it's a slow building or latent effect?]
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 6th, 2014 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> Now her I like! <<

Yay! Feel free to prompt for more later.

>> I have this thing about 'ordinary' people who can step up and fight alongside the superheroes, especially the ones who never had to work for their powers. <<

Agreed. That's also one reason why I try to show the work that goes into some superpowers. Antimatter can do almost anything with his -- but he has to know the parameters for the original version of something before he can modify it. That takes constant work to expand what he can do.

>> Although, I do wonder why the super-steroids had no effect... unless her body was already amped to the max naturally. [or perhaps it did, but it's a slow building or latent effect?] <<

First, pharmaceuticals always have some variability of effects, and the breadth of variation is magnified in super-drugs. Some people just respond differently.

Second, they're not meant for external application. Change the method of delivery, and that tends to influence how things work, so they might not work as well or at all.

Third, most of the things that cause superpowers to manifest are doing it by activating a latent potential. Carrie doesn't have that. The only way she could gain superpowers would be to have them bestowed by an external source, and the options for that are much more limited.
siliconshaman From: siliconshaman Date: September 7th, 2014 11:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Point[s] and her potential, albeit at the far end of normal bordering on super, isn't the slightest bit latent at all! Nothing there to activate. I guess in our world she'd be someone like Ronda Rousey. Assuming that wasn't who you based Carrie off in the first place!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 14th, 2014 11:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>> Point[s] and her potential, albeit at the far end of normal bordering on super, isn't the slightest bit latent at all! Nothing there to activate. <<

That's another good point; what she had was already in action.

>> I guess in our world she'd be someone like Ronda Rousey. Assuming that wasn't who you based Carrie off in the first place! <<

The model was Gina Carano. I like basing athletic superheros on actual athletes; it helps the body diversity.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: September 6th, 2014 09:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Reminds me a bit of my older daughter, who studied karate on and off in grade school, and took up fencing in JC (using my old mask).
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 7th, 2014 01:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

That's encouraging.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 14th, 2014 09:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

That's fascinating. I appreciate the voice of experience!
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: September 7th, 2014 09:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like it that you used the "fight like a girl" meme in your superhero series. Thank you.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 8th, 2014 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)

You're welcome!

I'm glad you enjoyed this. It's something I have always used; the logical fallacy drove me nuts when I was little, and that's before factoring in the genderqueer stuff. Feel free to ask for more of this character if you wish.
From: technoshaman Date: September 7th, 2014 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Batman's origin is the closest to this... though Bats suffered emotional trauma... one could argue that since witnessing death and having a close call can also be triggers, she was at least *somewhat* affected by this... but then again, I think what she really needed was an *excuse*, she was almost there already. Trained first responder, multiple forms of martial arts...

Regardless of how you slice it, she's going to be *interesting*....
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 8th, 2014 06:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>> Batman's origin is the closest to this... though Bats suffered emotional trauma... <<

True.

>> one could argue that since witnessing death and having a close call can also be triggers, she was at least *somewhat* affected by this... <<

The crucial factor tends to be a feeling of helplessness. That was absent in this case, and it makes a big difference.

>> but then again, I think what she really needed was an *excuse*, she was almost there already. Trained first responder, multiple forms of martial arts... <<

Carrie wasn't traumatized by what happened, she was galvanized. Yes, it was gross and sad that people got hurt and died. But it wasn't something she caused, and she was able to help the survivors. There's a certain feeling of rightness to being able to make a difference like that. For some people that leads to a desire for doing it again.

>> Regardless of how you slice it, she's going to be *interesting*.... <<

I'm glad you like her.
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