Analysing the costs and benefits of “fake female empowerment” in the martial arts


  • Kai Morgan Independent



Women, martial arts, self defence


The martial arts are often said to be “empowering” for women. However, in some instances this purported empowerment can appear somehow inauthentic. Genuine empowerment should result in the student becoming more powerful in some way. This paper coins the phrase “fake female empowerment” to denote a form of martial arts training experience that can look and feel like empowerment for women and girls, while in reality doing nothing to increase their actual power, or even decreasing it.

Examples of “fake female empowerment” in the martial arts explored in this paper include: the promise that martial arts training will deliver a “shapely” body;encouragement to endure harmful pain and injury in the name of desensitization; and conversely, the encouragement to ignore the complex realities of violence in one’s practice.

The paper notes that while its starting point is women’s experience, most of the issues cov-ered apply equally to people of all genders.

It explores the differences between “real” and “fake” empowerment for female students, and presents a light-touch cost/benefit analysis in order to understand and articulate the reasons for the phenomenon of “fake female empowerment”.





Morgan, K. (2020). Analysing the costs and benefits of “fake female empowerment” in the martial arts. Journal of Martial Arts Research, 3(3).



Impulsbeiträge / Forschungsberichte