Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
May 28, 2018
Much like last week, we got another tough subject to handle when it comes to the world of sports and fitness, and it is basically a perceptual subject. While I’m sure the Red Pill crowd and the Third Wave Feminists would have a field day on some live stream debate (which would guarantee a 100 million views, seriously!) we are going to talk a little about gender bias in sports and fitness. Now you might not like the subject but it is definitely prevalent in the world of sports, mainly because it is accepted throughout our society and usually argued over on a compartmentalized basis. We all know the average NBA player is going make more money than the average WNBA player. The NBA has more reach, more money and simply more fans. Heck, polls have indicated that even women would prefer to watch the NBA due to the fact the athleticism displayed in an NBA game is more appealing than the athleticism in the average WNBA game. Never mind the fact many of the women in the WNBA can break the average gym bro’s ankles and beat a great many knuckleheads who claim their coach had it out for them in middle school and that is why they never made it to the pros. All I can say to that is…Uncle Rico anyone? Anyway, the economics is rarely talked about in the sport, for the big deal is whether the said WNBA player is capable of crossing over and (excuse the blunt language) giving men boners with assorted photo spreads. I’ll give you Lauren Jackson as the example. During an 11-year career with the Seattle Storm she averaged almost 19 points and eight rebounds, numbers good enough to get her into the Hall of Fame. But when you Google her name, the first images you see are her in a non-basketball context as well as the crazy “WTF!” uniforms the Australian National team wore during the Olympics. There is a story behind those. The USA has been the most dominant team in the Olympics….like ever. They won the 2016 Rio Olympics by a margin of 37 points a game! You think the Men’s team is good, the Women’s is even better! Anyway, the Australian team knew this and rather than waste time trying to compete on the court, they had their ladies wear skin tight one pieces that left little to the imagination starting in 2000 when they hosted the Olympic Games. Jackson stood out for the fact that she was attractive, blonde and 6-5. Her skills were barely mentioned as most people just watched her run the court. It was a sad farce to say the least but this is pretty much par to course. While ugly sumbitches like James Harden, Patrick Ewing and Allen Iverson will be judged for their skills, women in sports are judged quite a bit by their looks.
Look at the most popular women’s basketball players and they usually start with the most attractive, with the likes of Candace Parker, Sue Bird, Elena Delle Donne and so on and so forth. Few talk about Diana Taurasi or Britney Griner or some of the other great athletes who just happened to not be blessed with good looks. BTW, when Taurasi was the best women’s player on the planet…she barely broke fifty grand in earnings. Anyway, one of my favs of all time is Sheryl Swoopes, who to this day still put up the greatest performance I had ever seen in the NCAA tournament man or woman when she dropped 47 in the 1993 Championship (I only watched that game because it was a Sunday afternoon, I was bored and did not have cable…good thing I did because man, she killed it that day). But people seemed to be more concerned with her sexuality in the mid-90s than her skills. ESPN did a pretty good documentary a few years ago about this concept with “Branded,” which talked extensively about the fine line a lot of female athletes dealt with. Do they focus on the titular or their sport? The best example was from Mary Lou Retton, who was specially told not to say anything that indicated she had personal thoughts in her head. “I pretty much couldn't say anything for a decade” she stated. Her publicists only wanted the world to see the smiling sweetheart on the Wheaties box, not the actualized woman. Men don’t really run into this conundrum too much, for even some of the least attractive men in sports can do a titular photo spread and not be judged by their looks, but the “cuts” of their bodies. However, the one thing that is transcendent between both genders is the fact most people hate the idea of athletes being able to have actual thoughts of their own, like it is a privilege to make money being a pro athlete? Really?! I mean, the day I can sky through the hoop like LeBron James and grow nearly a foot to be as tall as Anthony Davis (as well as be ridiculously athletic) maybe I would believe that argument. You got to be damn good just to make it to the big time college game, much less the NBA. Anyway, back to the article.
The biggest offender is of course women’s tennis, and this controversy always seems to start wth Serena Williams. Yeah, she was a little bitchy and probably should have focused on the sport more for a six or seven year stretch there, but you cannot deny she is the best female tennis player ever. Of course, people judge her on her attitude, on-court style, her muscle, her less than feminine facial features and her father’s antics. But tennis has a long history of knocking down women that focused more on strength and skill starting with Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf, so this is par for course pretty much. No matter what sport you look at, these examples are always cropping up, and it creates a rather tough decision to deal with. Does soccer great Hope Solo capitalize on her skill or capitalize on the often times dramatic personal life of hers and her looks? (in the postscript, we all know the answer to that one). Heck, she appeared on Dancing With the Stars one year and got a lousy score because one of the judges felt she was too muscular? What!? I also wrote an infamous rant one year when the women’s soccer team lost the World Cup in 2011…an event they were expected to dominate. The ladies were not gracious in defeat, and deserved some shellacking after demanding respect from the male dominated media all throughout that year. And of course, that same male dominated media seemed to treat them like damsels in distress and let them off the hook for the egregious loss. Personally, gender equality in sports starts with the idea of judging women on their actions rather than trying to treat them with kid’s gloves. We destroyed the men’s team for not making the World Cup this year, and we are not even that good in the sport!
Anyway, I have prattled on a lot about sports and gender and all of that. The same situation is also prevalent in fitness. I think women have an especially precarious decision to make when they start thinking about starting on their fitness journey. On the men’s side, it is all about muscle and getting “swole” and bursting out of your “smedium” shirts and having livid discussions about which protein you need to eat and how much. On the ladies side, it is little more complicated. The health benefits have been pretty much proven to this point…women need weight lifting!! It not only helps protect them from bone loss, it keeps them healthier for a much longer period post menopause. The health benefits have been studied, confirmed and placed in journals…but what is the dominant argument that floats around the internet? Will lifting weights make a woman too “man-nish" and intimidate would be suitors? Seriously, I mean a major argument about health and quality of life that is exponentially beneficial and we are muddying the argument about whether doing said thing will make men less attracted to you? C’mon! Clearly, this bias is all over the place, and of course men like to steer this conversation to areas that benefit them. You often times see memes glorifying the rotund derriere of a “squat babe”….. but then nothing else. It’s like the person they are spotlighting is just a floating rear end. Because of this Instagram models and fitness “experts” are sure to prominently feature their backside on a lot of photos, thus encouraging the current trend. I look at it this way. Lifting weights and fitness is great for any woman and any person in general, and your personal goals are what your personal goals are. I think the part that needs to be shut down is there is no real right or wrong way when it comes to women and weight lifting. The only thing that matters is if they are doing said exercises properly and in a safe manner. Who cares if they want big muscle? If anything, this is male fragility at work. Now this also affects men in a lot of ways as well, for society has often times trivialized men that do not fit the ripped and strong stereotype that supposedly bags all of the women and is just a general winner at life. While women can be thin and lack any real muscle tone and still be deemed feminine and attractive, men that have a hard time living up to the societal standards of male “manliness” are routinely mocked. I mean, we judge women who lift too much and we judge men that don’t. Can’t we just agree that fitness is good for all?
Anyway, I should probably stop there. I have thrown around a lot of stuff and in reality I am sure you get the idea. Bias in the sports and fitness world are pretty well stated, and shutting out the naysayers is always going to be key. If you wanna be a strong as hell Olympic lifter, then do it! If you want to get abs like the ladies you see in some fitness magazines, then do it! The level you decide to take your regimen is completely up to you. While outside forces will hammer at you with grand promises, what you desire will always be first.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
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Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. The author of this blog is an independent writer and is not an associate of Parsons Training, LLC. Any information or images displayed are done so solely at the authors discretion. Any dietary or fitness commentary is exclusively that of the author and in no way dictated by the company.