Audrey: Conferences are tricky to navigate for those of us who are used to moving our bodies on a regular basis. Lots of people get up and stand, but sometimes that’s just not enough. The Pacific APA (American Philosophical Association) Conference was held in Seattle in mid-April, and I was lucky enough to be able to get funds for staying at the conference hotel, which I often don’t do, since I’ve tended to opt for cheaper off-site accommodation. But one of the benefits for staying on or very near the venue is an increased ability to engage in non-conference socializing with other conference-goers. This time, my dear friend Rebecca Kukla (my co-author on the Lingerie Fighting League post) and I were able to plan a few hours to meet up at the hotel gym and do a little bit of training. We did a little bit of boxing, calling combos for each other, and I got to get some kicking in, since my main sport is taekwondo. It was nice having her non-academic partner there as well, who partook of the boxing, and helpfully held kicking targets for me also.
I’m in a pretty privileged academic position these days, and my ability to skip sessions and exercise surely reflects that, but it was definitely a fantastic time for setting the tone of the rest of my day. Not only did I get to do something I love that isn’t philosophy, but hitting stuff is pretty great stress relief too, that helps with talk-related nerves. Plus, you get to pose like a superhero afterwards!
Rebecca: Philosophy has a happy number of Amazingly Badass Women who are not only brilliant and charismatic and righteous but also awe-inspiring, highly trained athletes. Their existence makes me so happy – it reminds me that being a legitimate scholar doesn’t mean I have to ignore or denigrate embodied pleasures and pursuits. When I get to train with one of these Amazingly Badass Women at a philosophy conference, I feel like my life is in perfect balance. I’ve escaped conferences to go running with Tracy Isaac, to lift weights with Serene Khader and with Julia Bursten, and to box with Cassie Herbert. But it has been a specific bucket-list goal of mine for a long time now to get to punch and hit things with the formidable Audrey Yap. I’ve wanted to do this for so long, but I have to say, feeling the power of her incredibly precise, strong kicks and punches in person intensified my awe. Not only was this training session one of the highlights of the APA, but it made me once again so proud that the discipline is home to these women.
(And we had a blast even though the inevitable older philosophy dude had to walk by and chuckle, “Har har I wouldn’t want to be hit by one of those!” No, sir, you really would not, nor would you ever have bothered making explicit that you didn’t want to be hit by a man’s fist or foot!)