Thursday, April 5, 2007

pumping iron - chick style

I ended up in a discussion today with the guys at work about female-only gyms. They were arguing, partially to be devils’ advocates, but I don’t think entirely – that it was unfair there were female-only gyms, while a male-only gym would be considered discriminatory. I disagree. I think that women are more systemically affected by body image issues, and that physical fitness institutions are traditionally male-dominated spaces, such that many women would not work out at a co-ed gym. So then, the guys argued that men might be uncomfortable working out at a co-ed gym, and need a male-only space. It seems to me that men who are honestly feeling self-conscious would not feel any better in a muscle-head testosterone male-friendly environment. The argument was put forward that maybe men should be able to have a safe space where they could “be guys” (referring to a case about male-only golf course being found discriminatory, whereas a female-only gym wasn’t found to be). It seems to me that having a safe space to smoke cigars and be vulgar, which seems to be what they were referring to, isn’t quite as legitimate as having a safe space to work out and not be judged or be exposed to a situation that leads to self-judgement. Am I being a reverse-discriminatory uber-feminist here?


Paul said...

I can think of legitimate situations where a man might feel uncomfortable having a woman present at the gym. However, each of these situations seem equally uncomfortable if the roles are reversed.

I believe that in our society, women are still systematically seen as sexual objects. I think that it is fair to have a women-only gym, since it is a reasonable response to this inequality. Hopefully, we'll get rid of the gyms once women are free from this universal objectification.

What do you think we need to do to get rid of sexual objectification?


meLissa beNson said...

i think men should have their own space so they get sick of one another and realize that women are really a good thing to have around.
i am not making light of your issue carolyn, but honestly i wouldn't consider a 'men-only' gym to be discriminative.
if women really want 'equality' than i dont think its right to raise a little hell if men build their own segregated spaces.

as for women-only gyms....i would prefer them, but can't afford them. so i go to the ymca and have learned to survive and just stretch myself to share a bench press (or something of the sort) with a guy who is using 50kg's more than me.

in the end, i still get my workout accomplished!

Anonymous said...

Yes I think you're being a reverse-sexist and here's why: you think women should have a women only space because you as a woman feel it is necessary. You wouldn't want a man to tell you that you don't have a right to have a women-only space. Similarly, if men want a men-only space, then you have no right to tell them that they shouldn't have one. It shouldn't be up to men whether women can have women only spaces, so it also shouldn't be up to women whether men have men-only spaces. Otherwise you are being hypocritical.