Raging Belle

Raging Belle is a song about women looking after themselves. It’s a song about women being independent and not requiring men to safe-guard their well-being.

My inspiration for the song came from my daughters, who, along with their girlfriends, were taking boxing classes at the local gym. I wanted to make a statement that encouraged them. I wanted them to know that I supported their endeavours to not only enhance their fitness and learn self-defence skills, but also to foster their belief in themselves. As a father, of course I want the best for my daughters. I want them to know that they are capable and able to live their lives to the fullest, that they are worthy of the right to make the most of their immense potential. My daughters, like all people, are precious. I don’t want them to feel intimidated, derided, suppressed or repressed by a society that continues to allow many women to be disrespected and maltreated. The level of violence and abuse directed at women in our community is an indictment upon each and every one of us, it is a widespread chronic sickness that needs to be healed. To be subject to violence and abuse destroys who we are, it steals the innocence of children, damages them, sometimes irrevocably. The threat of violence is just as bad. We all have the right to be free of this scourge.

Women should be able to rely upon the community to protect their rights, but I’d contend the community is failing them miserably. Given this situation, the more women who can be encouraged to take actions that will send out a clear message that they are not vulnerable to the violent wiles of others the better. The mindset that there is a hero who will save us, and that there are laws in our defence, has become redundant. We all must become heroes and uphold what we deem to be the laws by which we live. Women are capable of defending themselves, and their efforts to do so should be supported wholeheartedly. It may seem incongruous to support women’s boxing, a blood sport, when our society is inflicted with so much violence. However, I’d argue that the violence women are subjected to is largely a product of weakness, a consequence of an ill society that perpetrates domination against those perceived as the most vulnerable. Having all women being capable of fending for themselves against those who would subject them to violence and abuse is a strength our community could well do with. Every woman has the potential to develop her self-defence skills and sense of self through boxing. Every woman is a hero, not burdened with the belief that they need some white knight to protect them.

The Raging Belle video was filmed in the PCYC boxing gym in Broome, a town in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia. At first I considered featuring an up and coming female boxer, such as Elisha Buckley, Katie Taylor, Yanan Wang or Xiyan Zhang, as the video’s main character. Fancifully I pondered setting my sights even higher, aiming for boxers who have already established substantial names for themselves, such as Holly Holm, Ira Menzer, Laila Ali or Jing Cheng. Availability and cost factors aside, I wasn’t sure this is the way I wanted to go. There was a danger of reinforcing the hero myth, the star of the show being someone other than one’s self. Besides, after checking out the local Life and Soul Fitness Club and the PCYC boxing shed, I was surprised to discover how many women were participating in boxing classes. There were women of all ages and backgrounds, women of diverse ethnic and cultural heritages. Some were at an elementary level, but others displayed skills that could only be attained through the hard work and discipline of serious training. I felt very encouraged, for Broome is a small town thousands of kilometers from any capital city. If Broome is a microcosm of the world, then women globally are participating in boxing to a huge extent.

I wanted to capture this in the video clip for the Raging Belle song. There was no need for a Hollywood style approach, featuring as a role model a well known success story, preferably with the customary glamorous look. I wanted to portray what is happening at a grass-roots level, where the everyday woman is a role model for all women. I wanted this video to be real, as real as I believe the lyrics of the song to be. The participants in the video were chosen to illustrate that women of all ages, backgrounds and levels of skill development are working hard at altering the perception of women in our society. That a growing number of women are pulling on the gloves and embracing women’s boxing suggests a social movement is well under way. Given the increasing popularity of women’s boxing it is most timely that it has been included in the program for the 2012 London Olympic Games, and that nations such as the USA, China and England are investing substantially into this sport’s development. These steps that women have taken to assert themselves as independent and capable individuals who can fend for themselves and heroically heal one of our society’s gravest ills will be displayed on the highest stage. A clear message is being sent to our community at large. Those who choose to perpetrate violence and abuse against women would do well to take note.

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 at 4:20 pm and is filed under Russells Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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