Femme Fisticuffs

Fighting writers knock themselves out.

The Boxer's Heart: How I Fell in Love with the Ring, by Kate Sekules. Villard, $23.95.

Looking for a Fight: A Memoir, by Lynn Snowden Picket. The Dial Press, $23.95.

In my house, Michelle Yeoh is this season's It girl. She's been around for years, of course, kicking Asian ass in such fun fare as Heroic Trio and The Executioners before becoming a Bond Girl and Supercop sidekick/successor. But it's only now, flying high and looking good in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, that the mighty Malaysian's gotten the attention she deserves.

A martial arts master and a superb athlete, Yeoh does most of her own stunts, and can handle herself on the street. Flying high and looking good' "Yeoh, mama!" the pint-sized powerhouse makes middle age and muscle sexy. And she's never cried foul in a fight.

The authors of The Boxer's Heart and Looking for a Fight should take a lesson from Yeoh. Journalists who jumped into the ring for the wrong reasons and with suspect intentions, Kate Sekules and Lynn Snowden Picket are masters of the double standard. They put on the gloves and then cry foul when they're hit, and demand respect without earning it.

Though sometimes beautifully told (Sekules is the better writer), their stories are irreparably scarred by the same old sexist bullshit.

In a hilarious bit of comic relief, the jacket on Sekules' book says it should be read by "Any man who has -- been baffled by the mysteries of the female." What makes that statement so silly is the fact that, as their stories demonstrate, Sekules and Picket are mysteries to themselves. They haven't figured out their own behaviors and motivations, but expect men to have done so.

Like the woman who's offended when she hears a catcall and insulted when she doesn't, Sekules and Picket want it both ways. Clambering for acceptance while demanding special treatment, they give feminism a bad name.

And in a fight, neither would stand a Chinaman's chance against Michelle Yeoh.