the hardest part about going to the gym

I’ve recently joined the gym. I’m fortunate enough to live a literal six minute walk away from it; which, let’s be honest, was one of the deciding factors in my choice.

Having done barely any exercise for the last 7 or so years I’m finding it quite difficult, however my friend and I have got a regime and we’re giving it a damn good go. I’ve been enjoying it so far, but we’ve only gone a handful of times. Hopefully this won’t be a quick flirtation but the start of an actual healthy relationship with health and fitness.

That being said, the worst part about going to the gym is the travelling. You may be wondering what’s so difficult when it’s only a few minutes away from me, so let me set the scene…

The hair that normally falls down to my bum has been awkwardly scraped up into a ponytail that probably won’t last the duration of the workout. For someone whose sole hairstyle is simply ‘down’, I feel exposed and self conscious.

Walking feels strange because I’ve had to swap my (comfortably) heavy Dr Martens for some incredibly light trainers. I feel like I’m walking on the moon. In fact I feel like a lemon in general walking around in my gym gear, but it’s only a quick sprint so I decided to brave it.

I get to the traffic lights, the gym is in sight, when lo and behold a Fiat Punto full of ‘lads’ drive by and yell something at me. Reflexively I stick my arm in the air as high and straight as possible, my middle finger extended. Wankers.

I continue on unscathed, meet my pal at the gym, struggle on the floor like a beached whale attempting ‘straight leg situps’ (amongst other things), and then set off home.

I manage to get about three minutes into my journey back when a car full of middle aged men start barking at me. After giving them the same treatment as the car of young lads – a swift middle finger – I whip my phone out to rant at my boyfriend about what happens when a woman attempts to occupy a public space. When, lo and behold, before I’ve even finished typing five words a car on the other side of the road crawls past whistling at me repeatedly.

You guys, I am sick to fucking death of this. Being catcalled twice on my six minute walk home from the gym is two times too many. Before I’d even started going, I’d thought long and hard about the repercussions of making the short journey in my gym gear. But I don’t want to have to walk to the gym in less ‘provocative’ clothing just because some people can’t control themselves. Because some people believe they have the right to pass judgement on my body as a result of me simply daring to venture outside.

My idea of less provocative is the shirt and jeans I’ve worn to work, rather than the t-shirt and gym leggings that I’ll be exercising in. But why should I have to carry a bag full of my gear, to spend ten minutes getting changed once I get there and again when I need to go back, when I could just walk there in my workout clothes and be ready to start immediately.

I shouldn’t have to be thinking about the repercussions of what I wear when I go outside. Anyway, we all know that it doesn’t actually matter what you wear – I’ve been called a slut whilst walking through the city of an afternoon wearing black jeans, a black hoodie and a rucksack. How that can denote to a perfect stranger that I’m a slut is beyond me.

The issue here isn’t what women wear, it’s the entitlement of some men commenting on women and their bodies. Although let me make something very clear, I know not every man does this. I am in no way claiming that all men do this; I am simply sharing my experiences of the men that have done this and how it makes me feel. Because boy does it make me pissed.

Advertisements

the oppression olympics

Jade Anderson's portrait.

Feminism strives to achieve gender equality. Feminism has opened up the dialogue about anything to do with gender. These problems are only being solved because of feminism.
Feminism is your friend, yes even if you have a penis.

I’m not comfortable with how this guy’s status is trying to outdo women in some form of oppression olympics. The idea is to improve things for everyone, people of all genders, ages, abilites, classes, ethnicities etc etc (the clue here is in the ‘everyone’ part).

I shall reiterate my stance that being a man in today’s society sucks balls, just in different ways to how being a woman (or anything that doesn’t fit into the gender binary for that matter) sucks balls. The suicide rate for men is 4x that for women. There absolutely has to be (and is) a reason for this. The pressures put on men to never be vulnerable, to always have their shit together, never appear weak, be in charge, take control, have all the power, never fall down – it’s all ridiculous and clearly it takes its toll.

The thing is, a couple of things mentioned in this guy’s status that are always pitched as ‘male problems’ are also female problems, or are clearly sexist to women as well as to men..

Conscription: Men having to fight while women ‘get to stay at home’, is caused by benevolent sexism. Benevolent sexism is the idea that women are weak and need to be protected. A lot of women in times of war did want to fight for their country. A lot of women do now fight for their country, but they’ve had to campaign extensively to be given the right to fight on front lines.

Penises being mutilated: This is due to religious and cultural tradition and is grim as fuck. Something that is also due to religious and cultural tradition and is grim as fuck is female genital mutilation. But it’s not as widely known about as circumcision. It has absolutely no medical benefits whatsoever, quite to the contrary; long term consequences include chronic vaginal and pelvic infections, difficulty passing urine, kindey impairment and possible kidney failure, infertility, pain during sex and/or complete loss of pleasure, psychological damage, complications during pregnancy, flashbacks during pregnancy/childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
Circumcision is more widely practiced, with a third of men worldwide having had the procedure done on them, but there is a reason for FGM being illegal and considered a violation of the rights of girls and women. But basically anything that involves the word ‘mutilation’ is a big ‘no thank you’.

Men being raped: Men are the majority rapists of both men and women. That is a fact. Men being raped is a massive problem, women being raped is also a massive problem. There may be more of a dialogue surrounding women being raped, which might be because it happens more often. It doesn’t mean it’s worse. Nobody, ever, deserves to be raped. If we were to address the power relations and reasons for men raping so often (and anyone raping obviously) it would greatly improve things for everyone.

Men rarely winning child custody: This is also to do with benevolent sexism, the idea that just because she’s a woman she’ll be a better caregiver when that’s not necessarily the case at all. The idea that the main reason for women being alive is to bear children (when we’re asked why we don’t want children we’re told we’ll change our minds in time, how could we be so selfish, how could you choose career over family etc).

My main point is that these are problems for both men and women, and they can be solved through the help of feminism.
The last paragraph is rather dodgy, it seems as though it’s making out that women aren’t oppressed and that men have it worse, and that women are just complaining about trivial things. I’m not quite sure you can reduce women’s very real experiences of oppression to that.

Every single status or most comments I’ve ever made about feminism have been met with ‘yeah but what about men, men have it worse, etc etc’ instead of a ‘yeah that fucking sucks, this also sucks for me/men *insert very real problems here*’.
It may seem like a small distinction but it makes a helluva lot of difference.

anti feminism = anti equality

image

I’m going to write a lengthy post about how damaging it is that so many people don’t actually know what feminism is about and feel the need to stress that they’re not feminists.

I don’t have the time to write it at the moment and I’ll be busy over the weekend so I’m going to leave this here as a taster, although it really does address the main points very well.