065. Rebecca Brightly: Parenting, gender, and representation

Episode summary


Rebecca Brightly discusses the changing dynamics of going from Lindy Hop to motherhood and unpacks her parenting philosophy. She explains why she tolerates parkour and how the gender dynamics contrast with her experience in dance. Rebecca gives her thoughts on gender representation and why she wants women to see how capable they are.

Dancing to Parenthood

Expectation vs reality of parenthood, overwhelming changes, dancing as a hobby is not child-condusive. Why she never returned to dancing – Lead/follow dynamics, lack of self-expression and exploration as a follow, pressures of social dance eventually became intolerable. Wanting more collaboration,

Meeting her partner

Short version: Lindy Hop event in New Orleans, he saw her in an elevator (but she doesn’t remember that part). They danced later, then went their separate ways. A year or two later, met him again in Seattle at at dance, and he got her number… the rest is history

“Tolerating” parkour

Gender interaction in Lindy vs Parkour, no physical touch, pushing or pulling. Power dynamic of actually moving someone’s physical body, leading or making you do various moves. Parkour doesn’t have that, but still has its own gender dynamics. Tends to cross less boundaries than Lindy; Not perfect, but an improvement.

Something people get wrong about you

Many things, but most annoying; Women assume that you’re so fit, strong, special for doing parkour (diminishing hard work). Keeping themselves from seeing their own capability

Parenting role and philosophy

Making sure kids know certain things, important skills, but more than that. Providing challenge, risk, opportunity to grow, learn capability, gain confidence. Learning internal motivation, overcoming failure in many areas. Making sure they’re interested, passionate enough in something that they have goals, something to aim for, to persevere.

How parenting is changing

Equipping kids to handle various situations, are we losing that ability? A matter of experience, age doesn’t matter. Complex environment, unexpected movements, learning to communicate and respond to diverse situations. Specific training becomes more difficult the more specific situations become. Learning to move around others who are moving, or preparing kids for certain situations

Gender dynamics in parkour

Rebecca’s observations… patriarchy, maintaining masculinity, negative effects to both men and women. Different ways men and women train – expressing emotion, talking through mental process, fears. Men express fear and process things differently, harder to read or see in body language. How men and women respond differently to fear, and how that affects their training, ability to help each other and the way they train together.

Gender representation

Most women who train parkour tend to be gender non-conforming… not conducive to female beauty standards (scrapes, broken nails, calluses). Actually having an interest in the physicality of parkour, overcoming social conditioning. The voices, pressures women hear in their heads.

Admirable traits

Wanting to live in someone else’s body, trying to understand what it’s like, experience life like that. Male traits: upper body strength, power and dynamic movement, ability to take impact. Specifically, using that to do beautiful, creative movements. Feminine trait: talking through process, feeling the emotion together, empathy and listening

Mental game

Mental hang-ups in dance, the excuses we come up with. Same applies to parkour, how we perceive things, how our insecurities effect us and our progress, not just physicality. Examining our mental hang ups honestly, to help us work through them. Need both mental and physical to progress.

Something that gives you joy

Someone listening closely, and being interested in who she is, or a really good dance, where your partner listens to you, that deeper connection

Somewhere you’d love to visit

Many parkour communities, a tour, to see and learn about each different community.

Best training session

Best set of sessions – first classes training outside, experiencing the outdoors, and with a particular group of people of all levels and backgrounds. Seeing people being uncomfortable, being challenged together, but at their levels. Creating a more collaborative environment, humanizing everyone.

Note to your future self

Not advice, you’re not as wise as you will be. Saving a memory she didn’t want to forget, a gift for her older self. Journaling and writing, personal essays. Creating a scene, trying to create interest out of your own life. Need to journal more, a gift to herself

Theater performance

Experience of going to a tiny show and theater, being very close, and a part of the experience.

3 words

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Craig: As much as I hate to ever come to an end, I don’t know if you’ve listened to the episodes. But there’s this thing that I always ask you the end, which is the final question, which is three words to describe your practice.

Rebecca: Yes, I have already thought of those three words.

Craig: Actually, people are starting to show up prepared but that’s fine too.

Rebecca: Well if you ask it in the podcast, it makes the listener also be like, “Oh, what are three words to describe my practice?” Because my dance background one word is technical. Very, very technical. I’m always thinking, “How do we make this smoother, better and always stick the stick better?” Yeah, 10 years of dancing will do that to you because dance is all technical.

Rebecca: Another word is, I would say mindful. I’m really interested in being present with what I’m currently going through and responding to the present moment instead of the way I wish the world were. Yeah. I like dealing with emotions and thoughts that come up in Parkour are really, really great practice for that, it turns out, and of course, the third word has to be fun, because that’s my life. It’s always when I bring it back to you is I’m doing this because I want to enjoy what I’m doing not because I’m trying to impress somebody or whatever. That’s because I literally enjoy doing these positions over and over. It feels good to drill this or to make this creative line, or even do four by eight deadlifts. This is going to make my jobs better. I’m enjoying those. I find a way to make it enjoyable. I’m always going back to that.

Contact and further info

To find out more about Rebecca, or to get in touch with her, you can visit her website (rebeccabrightly.com), or follow her on instagram (@rebeccabrightly) and YouTube. She also wrote a piece about her podcast episode, which you can find on her website, here.