A lot of news has been going around lately about the feminist movement; it would seem that the flickering flame from the bra burning days has been reignited.
From Emma Watson’s UN speech to the most recent video compilation of street harassment in NYC, you can’t get on the Internet without feminist virality popping up. This week I watched a video from CNN responding to the viral street harassment campaign that infuriated me more than it should (link here). My boyfriend’s opinion on the issue of catcalling on the street switched from comical, and not entirely believing that this was realistic to quite protective when I enlightened him to the fact that this happens to me. He was surprisingly surprised by that fact…
But today I am here to address an issue that has not been touched on: equality in the weight room. I am a weightlifter (more technically, I strength train), and have identified as such for over two years. When shopping around for a gym, the personal trainers always point out the cardio areas to me and are a bit surprised when I tell them that I am really more interested in a large weight lifting area. Right now I am at a pretty crap gym, aka the cheapest one we could find, and my boyfriend (also a weightlifter) and I make do.
Women who lift weights are admittedly a bit of a rarity in the States, although I was rarely the only one in the weight room. And I gradually became the bravest girl in there. However, being a part of such a small demographic, I have had to deal with a bit of sexualizing and what could either be attempts at intimidation or showing off from men.
A bit of gawking? I learned to deal with that by perfecting my “don’t f*&% with me” face (my apologies to anyone who has ever seen me after a gym session…sometimes it’s hard to transition). But here! Oh goodness…here, women do not lift. I am consistently the only female in the weight room.
Not only that, but I have dealt with some incredible forms of rudeness from men. I have had weights taken from me…while I was using them. I have had someone ask me, while I was on the bench, weights in hand, sweating from every pore in my body, if I was using the bench, or just sitting on it. These degrading acts have put me in such shock that I can’t even reply with my typical witty comeback. I just haven’t been treated that way before. If I was in the weight room, using the mirror to take selfies or texting and generally being in the way, I would understand. But I am virtually kicking my own ass EVERY TIME I go to the gym.
It is for this reason that I have become even more callous at the gym. God help the man who tries sincerely to ask me a question, I will all but throw a dumbbell at him by the time I realize his intentions.
I would like to tell the men who are brainless enough to treat me as if my workout is less important than theirs that while I may not be able to lift as much as them (although sometimes I can), I am often lifting with better form. And although I may not be able to inflict physical pain (unless I start throwing dumbbells, which at this point is not out of the question) I have the ability to mentally destroy you. It would be very unwise to suggest in any way that I am weak.
I have, in fact, been thinking of some screen tees that I can make and wear to the gym in order to get this point across. Something along the lines of “Steal My Weights, I’ll Steal Your Manhood” or just simply “Don’t F*** With Me”. Maybe it would be better to post flyers around the gym. You know, be THAT feminist. Any thoughts?
Discrimination against women happens in many areas, like this knight in shining idiocy, for example.
In all seriousness, I hope that in my lifetime gender discrimination continues its historical decline. And I will do whatever I can to show my strength as a woman both inside and outside of the gym.
I am woman, hear me roar!!!