We see so many celebrities, like Beyonce, take the stage to fight feminism. However, one of the biggest battlegrounds women face are behind closed doors in a space dominated by men for decades: the gym. Immediately, as a woman, you prep yourself when you walk to the free weights, headphones blasting and fuck off stamped across your forehead. Of course, there are the cardio bunnies with acrylic nails and an obscene amount of makeup, ready to speed date the entire gym. Either way, some men tend to either objectify or ridicule women by subjecting them to their vulgar gawks or scrutinizing stares.
To establish equality, it is important for men and women alike to make one another feel comfortable enough to approach the other. Something as simple as offering a spot or friendly advice or recognition. Men may act like they have been emasculated when a woman offers any advice or “out lifts” him.
It is important to establish that as women, we are men’s equals at the gym and have just as much valuable insight of exercise as any one of them. However, do not feel discouraged to ask the skilled bodybuilders; they’re likely willing to share their knowledge with you. Also, offer advice to those who are practicing unsafe or incorrect methods when training. If you are truly genuine about it, they should not take offense. We are all here to grow; let’s grow together.
Not only do we have to succumb to the ogling eyes, but we also have to combat the passive aggression and unhealthy competitiveness from other women at the gym. It’s true. Some women inherently give you dirty looks if they feel threatened. The biggest issue feminists face: women against one another. The gym is a space that should be reclaimed by women. They can build not only strength but a strong community empowering other women to become allies, not petty competitors for the male gaze. One of the most vital ways to exercise your feminism is to not body shame fellow gym-goers.
The weight room is no longer a boys-only playground. Although, this is the 21st century, women who lift and have more muscle are still belittled by degrading commentary about how their bodies are “gross,” “unfeminine,” or “manly.” The feminine form is fluid, meaning no one body type defines how a woman should look. Women need to empower each other by encouraging each other to be the healthiest they can be. Whatever time you dedicate to taking care of your body by working out and eating right is beautiful.
Exercise is a privilege because we are healthy enough to do it, and it is the utilization of that privilege serving to boost confidence and build a mental resolve for the battle against the patriarchy. The patriarchy is strong, but we need to be stronger. Our power and strength should not end at the gym.
By Dominique Zumwalt