Sexism and Squats: How Fitness Propagates Misogyny

The gender pay gap, harassment, and double standards. What do these have in common? Each of these represent areas where women are significantly disadvantaged. You would think that these issues are independent of daily life; they happen in isolation. I mean, sexism in the workplace sounds normal (should it?), but sexism and fitness? That seems like a reach. But we’re here to tell you, unfortunately, you’re very wrong. 

If you’re male, the next time you go to the gym (whenever they open up, that is), we want you to carry out a simple test. Glance at the men, and then the women. Count how many of each there are. Then count how many of them look actually comfortable, i.e. not looking around, checking if anyone is looking at them inappropriately or not adjusting their clothes constantly to make sure they’re not showing too much skin. By then you’ve probably figured out the point we’re trying to make. 

While you would think twice about correcting another man’s form, you wouldn’t hesitate to roll your eyes at the woman trying to lift heavy weights (because it’s a man thing). Women showing physical strength and determination is something that makes society uncomfortable, but does that mean we propagate the stereotype that women are physically weak? And don’t even get us started on harassment. Shouldn’t the gym be a safe haven, an escape from the daily humdrum for everyone? Equally? Why deprive women of the mental endorphin boost you get when you deadlift 80 kilos?

If you’re thinking: “Yeah, but this doesn’t apply to me, I’m always respectful to women. I have a mom and sister you know.”, think again. Just because you don’t actively catcall/harass women at the gym, doesn’t mean you haven’t seen other men do it. Did you do anything about it then? If your answer is no, do better. If yes, then we hope you’re on the right track to making the gym a more healthy, equitable space for men AND women.

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