My Recent Experience with Misogyny in the Rope Community
Recently, I was asked to teach at a well known rope convention and had a great time doing so. However, I had an experience with misogyny that I really did not expect. I have not experienced it like this in a very long time. This is my story.
Background: I have been teaching rope for almost four years now. During that time, I have had varying degrees of having my authority called into question while in the classroom. But it hasn't happened in a long time. As an educator in real life, I am always working to make my classes more educationally sound, allowing my students to grow and learn as much as possible during the short time I am with them. I have always been a fan of the masterclass style as a learning tool for students at the intermediate to advanced level. I have seen it work very well a number of times in the past. So, I applied to the con with this class and it was chosen as one of my classes.
Side note: For anyone unfamiliar with the format of a masterclass, students, one at a time, are asked to demonstrate something they are working on to the class. The instructor then offers critique, suggestions, or insights on how it could be improved or modified to achieve the goals of the student.
The incident: I had about eight couples attend my class. I explained the format to them and then had two couples demonstrate something, ask questions, and generally work within the style of the class. Then, a third rigger came up. I had told the students that the one thing I was not going to do was teach any one specific tie. First, ignoring that stipulation, he told me that he was working on one very specific arms front chest harness and that what he wanted was to know how to tie it. I explained and that I wouldn't be teaching any specific ties but that I'd be happy to see what he could do with the harness and offer suggestions on how to make it more useful for what he wanted. He agreed, and started tying the harness. He then used the next fifteen minutes of the class to teach the rest of the class how to tie this harness that he had designed. When he was done, I started to look at the tie and offer suggestions, every single one of which he shot down saying that they wouldn't work or that if he did them people on the internet would tell him it was wrong. Eventually, I decided to let him step back and have his space in the class and then continue with my class when he was done.
Where I went wrong: I know there are a number of places that I went wrong here but they boil down to not being assertive enough, mostly out of fear of being seen as a bitch. Were I male-presenting, being assertive would not have been seen as a negative but since I am about as femme as they get, I still feel the necessity to be nice, warm, and friendly because that's what people expect me to be. I should not have let him teach the entire harness and I should have told him that the point of the call was not to argue about the critique but to logically think about the suggestions before shooting them down. And I should not have stepped back at any point to give over control of my classroom.
Final notes: I am processing what happened in this post. I know that I made mistakes in the situation and now I am working on preventing this from happening again. It makes me sad that even at a rope convention where I have been asked to teach, someone will completely try to take over my class and question my authority. So yea, that's my story. Now, it's my time to be strong and prevent this from happening again.