I have nothing useful to say about my own personal diet and exercise at the moment. I’m following programs. I’m feeling some rough feelings about my body and its not constructive and so I’m dealing with it. So I don’t want to blog about it as I think it will add nothing to the world.
So instead I’m going to change gears on you and bring up a topic that was brought to my attention by another woman this week and I happen to find it really important. It’s really the tip of an iceberg that is really a multi-faceted glacier so focusing my writing into a cohesive text has proven difficult. You’re patience with my novice writing skills is appreciated in advance.
If you will, join me in a discussion on, our responsibility, our feelings and beliefs related to the treatment of women on fitness websites. Every opinion is welcome, I’m really interested in other’s ideas. To start us out, there was an article that prompted one woman’s frustration about being put down as a gender quite often in fitness articles written by men, especially in bodybuilding and strength training forums. Are flippant remarks to the tone of “lifting like a girl” “crying like a little girl in a frilly pink dress” or references to “little pink dumbbells” offensive to you? Do you feel they can contribute to an environment that condones misogyny and even violence towards women? Is it our job as women to “prove them wrong” by being stronger, lifting heavier weights, never shedding a tear? Or is it better to ignore these kinds of comments, develop a thick skin and move on? Or is it our obligation to speak out and do our best to squelch the attitudes that seem to say “women are weaker, women are less important, pink is a color of weakness, men who cry are weak like a woman” because those attitudes, on top of being incorrect in the absolute are also demeaning to females and seem to allow an attitude of superiority in males. Is this not the same or a similar issue as homophobia and demeaning remarks against gay people like “that’s so gay” “what a fag” and the like?
Now, this is just the beginning of a giant subject. Let me give you a little bit of an intro on my beliefs – which I must be honest are just developing. It’s not that I haven’t had an opinion about it before but I took it for granted, unexamined if you will. Without thinking I seem to ignore remarks like “throw like a girl” or “cry like a girl” and I seem to remember even using the phrases before myself along with “bitches be crazy” that I picked up from the stunt men I used to work with and have made it my own. I’m not ashamed of the fact that I’m not a great pitcher and I am a big cryer now. I did used to be ashamed. I remember distinctly my father telling me when I was 6 years old and crying “Crista you can’t cry like that in front of people. No one will take a woman seriously who cries”. And for a long time not only did I believe him and do my best to hold back my tears, but I also looked down on people who were weak enough to cry. I’ve also been known to placate men. I will come out and say to you now, I am scared of men. They seem much more dangerous to me then most women, more unpredictable. I have some experience with abuse and while in reality my experience was first with a woman and then with a man, I am still just scared of men. When I have been cornered or felt threatened, or hit on at a bar I tend to smile, covering up my racing heart and adrenalin dumping in my system and placate with soothing, ego stroking words. I don’t know where I learned this but it is my default. I am scared of men. And little boys too.
When Dan and I were doing the kids show, there is a part in the show where I win a race against Dan’s character. I usually do a leap and a hooray and 9 times out of 10 all the little boys in the audience boo or console Dan. Some of them cheer for my character. One day a little boy (though he didn’t seem that little) yelled out at Dan “JUST PUNCH HER IN THE FACE!” and even though he’s a primary school child, no older then 10, I had a huge adrenalin dump – because I have been hit in the face by a primary school child for the simple reason that I did something they didn’t like. This is, of course, not every child, but even in my experience I have sustained a certain amount of abuse and it begs the question what promotes this environment that people feel free to hit each other, and in extreme (all though not so rare) situations rape, kill, and bash other human beings?
I guess what really got me about this subject is that why have I not thought about it more? I have thought about it in my personal life. Because of my history with violence I have surely developed a set of “red flags” that guide how I act around certain people. With an ex-boyfriend, I noticed he would put me down “as a joke” and I called him out on it. Words lead to action, words always mean something about your beliefs in my opinion. However I didn’t leave him. Then he slapped me “playfully” across the face – I told him flat out, that is not a joke, that I believed his “joke” was covering up something violent that he really wanted to do. Still I stayed. One day “playfully” he pushed me and I tripped down about 4 steps. See, in my mind, those red flags were accurate, his violence was escalating. We broke up shortly thereafter so I don’t know what would have become of it, but it was a huge lesson. I tend to know that people who throw something in anger or degrade you for a laugh are people that I placate and keep at arms length. In my experience, jokes, words lead to action. So why have I just rolled with the jokes when it comes on fitness websites or from my fellow stunt people? It’s because on some level I believe them – I am weaker, I am inferior in someway to men. I certainly don’t want to teach that belief to my children so I’m willing to dive in and figure out how to change it.
Okay, what do you think?