Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Bar

Both Someday Is Now and Caustic Musings have already linked to this Dr Scott-Dixon interview at Dr. Berardi's site, but if you haven't read it yet, go now.

This is the part of the interview that resonated with me:
I work in an all-female workplace – actually there are a couple of guys – and even just lifting boxes, everyone is like, “Oh I can’t lift that.” And I’m like, “You should be embarrassed to say that.” We’re talking about 20 pound boxes, I mean, what’s the problem here?

Another example of the ridiculously low expectations for women: At my school, the fitness test result for the boys basketball team (1 mile run, 1.5 mile run and bench press) are posted outside the coach's office. The other day I was talking to some students, and I mentioned that without knowing what these weights are as a % of bodyweight, the numbers don't actually tell me all that much. The students discussed which of the boys on the team they thought was the strongest, pound for pound. Then one (who knows that I lift) asked me something that floored me, "Can you bench the bar?". Excuse me? What is the world coming to that there should even be a doubt about the ability of any woman to bench the bar? It is 45lbs, people. There are women whose purses weigh more than that. *sigh* I can't blame the kid for thinking that. Most of the girls he goes to school with don't train or lift. But sheesh, the bar?!?!


At 8:35 AM , Blogger M@rla said...

Holy cow. Bench the bar! I hope you will give them a demonstration some time and break through those misconceptions and stereotypes.

I had a very similar box-lifting experience once when I had to pick up some brochures at the printer, and the couple women at the front desk were all fussing about me trying to lift them and carry them to the car. And seriously, they weighed maybe 20 or 30 pounds. I was so surprised that they thought I couldn't lift them; that they thought THEY couldn't lift them; and that if they thought the boxes were so heavy, why didn't they offer to help? Surely we could each handle ten pounds a side?

There's a lot going on in that gender-role dynamic, though. When I'm on my own, I carry things, lift things, push things, etc. without a secnd thought. When my husband is around, he automatically does the carrying and I automatically assume he will. I also expect him to open the door for me, which obviously I am quite capable of doing on my own. So it's not just believing you CAN do it, it's also about believing you shouldn't HAVE TO do it.

I was going to give you the link for the Eric Cressey interview today, but obviously you're already there.

At 1:55 PM , Blogger BethK said...

Heh. Oh, the education you are going to provide those young'uns. Have you thought about teaching a strength training class? I think you'd be great at it. I bet the-man-in-charge from your gym in Isreal would be stoked to know that his tutalage has gone global.

It pains me that a certain level of physical helplessness, feigned or real, is still synonymous with "feminine" in our culture. I would be embarrassed to be unable to lift a 20lb box and I certainly wouldn't sit back and let my male co-workers hump a bunch of boxes because I was afraid of appearing less girly. If women want real workplace equality then that means you don't get to play "the girl card" anytime it suits you.

At 1:57 PM , Blogger BethK said...

:blush: I meant: Israel...

At 3:01 PM , Blogger Mich said...

m@rla, beth: it's amazing how ingrained this nonsense is. In today's Kansas City Star, one of the columnists wrote about how, as a single woman, she has trouble carrying both her groceries and a 20lb bag of dogfood at the same time. Unbelievable.

At 5:43 PM , Blogger M@rla said...

When I carry my groceries in, I always make it a contest to see how many bags I can carry in one trip. I try for ALL of them - not usually possible!

At 8:42 AM , Blogger BethK said...

I agree that this is a great argument for the absolute need for Functional Fitness but I was more struck by her story about her stuck car.

Girl needs a winter driving kit more than she needs a helpful roomie or live-in SO. Perhaps I should e-mail her the old Yankee trick of mixing equal parts clay cat litter and ice melter together, pouring the resulting mix into a couple of gallon jugs, storing it in the trunk so it is available to pour on the ice that's got you stuck. Wait five to ten minutes and between the traction from the litter and the melting from the salt; you're usually out. (The jugs go next to the folding shovel, blanket, booster cables and chemical hand and foot warmers.) It also sounds like she needs to be shown just how easy it is to push a car that small when it's in neutral.

And yeah, grocery bags in one hand, dog food on the opposite shoulder. Imagine that 20lbs was your sleeping child, and nobody else was there when you got home. How would you handle it then? I bet single moms have to do things like that all the time. More brain, less self-pity.

At 12:36 PM , Blogger JuliaMazal said...

I'm giving her a break on the groceries - it's not the weight most of the time, it's the way the plastic bags cut across my hands. Feel free to mock me. Maybe I have to buy those plastic thingies that you string the bags on.


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