On Monday, my friend posted an interesting article on her facebook page – 24 Lies People tell Women. I found the post to be entertaining but missing a few lies that have been shoved down my self-identified lady throat. I’m going to talk about one that has been bothering me a LOT recently.
Lie #25 – Women must be physically fit, but not athletic enough to make men feel inferior
This weekend I was reminded of this fallacy as I laid on the couch in all my soreness glory after running 11 miles and then training two consecutive hours for kickboxing. My fantastic, feminist partner came home with his friend, Raj. They had just played basketball and Raj proclaims how he is in so much pain. I had just woken up from a nap and, having not put on my social filter, retorted that he couldn’t discuss pain with me. I understand his feelings of discomfort are legitimate… but, like really, do you want some cry-fries to go with that whaaa-burger? My sexy, supportive partner then goes into the amount of training I have just put in and Raj proclaims:
Ugh – how can a woman make me feel like such a pussy
First of all – what’s weak about pussies? Aren’t they the threshold that bowling ball size babies cross to enter the world? Second of all – what would you have said if I was just some other guy that my partner was bragging about? Would I have still made you feel like a pussy?
But don’t worry Raj. You’re not the first nor will you be the last to feel like less of a man because of my athleticism.
Here is what I say to gym gender norms:
This sort of encounter happens all the time. I am a petite, curvy woman who has competed in a Ironman 70.3, runs marathons, and has sparred fearlessly with a 6’5 man. I love the fact that I defy the women’s fitness magazines image of female athletes – with cute, color coordinated outfits (really, who the fuck has time for that), who jog slowly (um, maybe in my warm up), and lift 5lbs weights to get toned (I mean, I’ve had bigger biceps than most of my male partners). Now there is NOTHING wrong with anyone who wants to have stylish outfits or lift soup cans as they get their sweat on … It’s just not for me and I shouldn’t have to buy into that image.
I know that my body, my gender, and my achievements make some men uncomfortable. I’m not supposed to train as hard or be as tough as the boys... but it makes feel proud of my body when I can see men get visibly uncomfortable with my athletic success.
But that sense of pride turns into downright fury when men attack me for my personal achievements and my physical abilities.
I’ve been bombarded with insults in about every sport I’ve ever been a part of. Mostly other male athletes or instructors saying that I’m full of myself and only go to the gym to show off. I’ve been called outright cocky in the middle of a few kickboxing classes. That’s right guys, I pay over a hundred dollars a month to come to classes just so I can prove that I am fitter than everyone else in the room.
I’ve also had men chase me down in Central Park after I’ve run past them. I can hear strained breathing as they try and catch me. Now, I’m all about a little friendly competition but, dear sir, I just past you running 7:30 miles. You think speeding up from your 9-10 minute miles makes a lot of sense? Sorry buddy, enjoy the dust I kick up as I fly by you in the next half mile.
I’m not going to apologize for being a woman. I am not going to apologize for my fitness. I’ve worked thousands of hours in the gym, on the road, and in the studio to get my body to do the amazing things it can do.
So, sorry, I’m not sorry.
What about you? What is a lie that society says is true and it really just chaps your ass? What do you refuse to apologize about?