It’s official: I have now included regular press-ups in my exercising routine. Short series, but one has to get started somewhere.
Not very impressive for people used to exercising on a regular basis, I know, but incredibly satisfying. After all, it flies in the face of so many stupid things I’ve had to hear ever since I started toying with the idea that working out might be a good idea after all:
‘If you work out too much, you’ll get square shoulders and that’s no good.’
‘If your neck and jaw muscle develop, it will be very ugly because you’ll look like a man.’ (Note to all guys out there: If we drop ‘looking like a man and therefore ugly’, could you drop ‘pink is humiliating’ as a courtesy?)
‘Women shouldn’t practice certain sports because they’re such beautiful creatures, it’s a shame when they do unsightly things.’
‘Girls can’t do press-ups because of the anatomy of their back.’ (I actually heard that one, I’m not sure where. Of course it’s rubbish, but it’s funny how willing people are to propagate urban legends when it comes to female strength.)
‘Very muscular girls are disgusting.’ (Uh. Disgusting? You mean, like a dead rat? Or having to eat raw rotten meat? Elaboration, please.)
‘AAAAHHHH BE CAREFUL DON’T LIFT THAT IT’S HEAVY!!!’ (invariably said in a panicked tone, occasionally causing me to wonder if I missed the memo where they said that ‘heavy’ now meant ‘radioactive’)
‘Give this to me, it’s too heavy for you!’ (Not to be annoying, but no it’s not. You can see it plainly, because I’m carrying it. If it was too heavy I couldn’t carry it in the first place. That’s what ‘too heavy’ means.)
And then there are all the little things you won’t notice until after you’ve looked more seriously into exercising techniques. The fact that exercise routines for women invariably involve doing many reps with very small weights; those exercises aren’t actually designed to gain strength (unlike exercises designed for men), but to lose fat and gain endurance. And they’re not easy to get rid of either. I once specifically asked a professional coach for a tailored programme to develop strength in my upper body, and I left his company with a full abs-and-thighs slimming programme, with exactly three exercises for back and torso muscles (the ones for endurance, of course, not the ones for muscular mass)(also, my arse is fine the way it is, fat and all, thanks a LOT, coach). Not to mention that very helpful guy who recently watched me work out with 12-lbs weights and suggested a great exercise to tone my biceps using 3-lbs weights. Yeah, that’s about why I make my own programme now.
I’m willing to accept that women are biologically less heavy and less strong than men, although that doesn’t change the fact that we spend roughly ninety-nine percent of our lives fighting biological nature in all its forms and it’s quite infuriating when the only area where people insist on living by biology’s rules is–SURPRISE!–gender relationships. I just can’t imagine how there can be any question that observable differences don’t reflect innate genetic traits: women are discouraged from exercising even more enthusiastically than men are encouraged to do so. And yes, pilates classes and other forms of exercise ‘for women’ are just another way to make sure female bodies will remain safely underdevelopped: having women practise special toned-down sports ensures that they won’t get any ideas if they see a dumbell, for instance. It’s alright, I’m not going to make a fuss about it. I’m just possibly going to strangle whoever next serves me with the old ‘but you can’t deny there are differences, it’s obvious women are less strong’ routine. But just a little, and gently. I’m a weak and fragile female after all.