Erin Go Bra: Behind the Bra

22 Apr

The women of BRAWL are spectacular, strong women, both inside and out.  We’d like to showcase one of those women today.  Shannon Lupien a.k.a. “Erin Go Bra”, 2 time, undefeated champion, is here today to tell you a little more about herself and what BRAWL means to her:

Erin Go Bra

Erin Go Bra

“As a kid, I remember watching this one movie. The only thing that I could remember about it was one of the final scenes in which Sylvester Stallone’s protagonist character was competing in an arm wrestling match. He was about to lose when a spark of determination flashed across his face. He adjusted his hand-position and ended up winning in a blaze of heartfelt glory. I used to reenact this scene over and over with the kids at school and would adjust my hand-position exactly like in the movie. I never knew what movie it was, but from then on, I would arm wrestle people whenever I got the chance. It became my thing. I loved feeling strong and capable. It helped me break through the idea that women are supposed to be meek, feminine, and dainty. So much of who I am comes from being a strong, independent woman. I challenge traditional gender norms and try to find ways to empower women whenever I can. That is one of the main reasons I just had to become involved with lady arm wrestling the very moment I heard about it. Coincidentally, at the very first BRAWL event I attended, there was a screening of the movie “Over the Top”. It was quite fittingly, the very same movie that inspired my love for arm wrestling and passion for female empowerment when I was a kid!

In college, I became interested in studying gender issues. I was introduced to the idea that gender isn’t necessarily something we are born with. Yes, we are born biologically male or female, but gender… what it means to be male or female, is largely created by society. Social norms of masculinity and femininity influence us in subtle ways starting from a very young age, and this shapes our perception of what it means to be male or female. For example, female babies are treated differently than male babies. A classic research study showed that people who thought a baby was a boy offered the baby toys like trains to play with, but dolls if the baby was a girl. They also were rougher with the baby if they thought it was a boy and were more likely to talk about the careers he would have. If they thought the baby was a girl, they were gentler and were more likely to comment on physical features.

A project I did for a gender studies class showed that almost all cereal box characters were male, and if there was a female, she was usually portrayed in a less prominent way. Children are very perceptive and little things like this as well as TV shows, movies, commercials, and magazines all contribute to the adoption of these gender norms. In graduate school, I have conducted several studies showing that exposing women to a non-traditional female can result in greaterconfidence and lead to a more positive physiological response during competition with a man than when exposed to a traditional female. Research like this… investigating ways to empower women has been one of my focuses in graduate school.

To me, arm wrestling is an extremely important way to help show the world that women can be whoever they want to be. They can be strong; they can be bawdy; they can be ruthless… all while still being women. Lady arm wrestling leagues bring these vital issues to light in a fun and entertaining way, spreading the word that women are fierce, challenging gender norms by creating a new view of femininity as strong and powerful, all while helping to raise money for important women’s causes. The message is catching on! Signing autographs for kids, being a role model for our youth, watching little girls arm wrestle after an event; I am honored to be a part of such a wonderful organization!”

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