"Potential" Pandering

This week, my Facebook feed was inundated with friends sharing a video posted by CrossFit – calling on me to get rid of my “preconceived perception" of female frailty and celebrating strong women as “modern-day suffragettes.”

“In thousands of chalk-filled gyms, women are killing the preconceived perception of their own frailty—and with calloused hands, rewriting the story of expectations."

I watched the video with my girlfriend – and honestly tuned it out about halfway through. Let me be clear – I love seeing women lift weights. Watching my girlfriend throw around heavy weight and crush workouts is amazing. Women in the CrossFit gym I go to inspire me every day. I don't have preconceived notions that women are frail, I don't have lower expectations of a person because that person is a female. I wrote about this in one of my most popular blogs to date, “She lifts, bro.” I agree that these women should be admired – I don’t agree that we need to create problems that don’t exist in order to do this.

Men and women are not the same. We are not equals. There is a good reason we have a men’s weight and a women’s weight for the workout. We each have traits that make us better at or more suited for, different things - and we deserve equal respect for those differences.

 Is a woman who lifts "more of a woman" than one who doesn't? Natalie Newhart just tested postive for a male hormone and was banned from CrossFit competition for two years. 

Is a woman who lifts "more of a woman" than one who doesn't? Natalie Newhart just tested postive for a male hormone and was banned from CrossFit competition for two years. 

 Following the viral success of his video, P.S. Cummings immediately takes the opportunity to apologize to those who criticized his video for its lack of diversity (only white women were featured in the video). My god – you can’t even go male feminist in today’s outrage society without offending someone. Cummings should have told these idiots to get bent, but instead apologized and promised to work “harder in the future to be better.”  He then referenced a black female athlete in a later paragraph - an attempt to placate his minority readership who was so incensed that his video lacked diversity. Sorry Patrick, you only scored one point for pandering to women – but you forgot - you have to be all-in when you go this route. Your lack of little people in the video also offended me – I hope you mean it when you say you will be better about this in the future.

In the comments section below the video on CrossFit’s social media pages, outraged women also complained about the lack of older women in the video, they complained about the attire of the women in the video, they complained about the lack of “regular” women in the video. The guy made a video pandering to women, and the complaints rolled in, mostly from women. 

“Can’t decide if I love this or it’s just man-splaining”
“They show all beautiful females and shaking asses and breasts…Quit marginalizing women by showing them as tits and ass.”
“Would love to see a less sexualized version of this video with some more diversity.”
“CrossFit, the new Lingerie Football League.”
“Love this. But I don’t love the use of “young lady”. Holy patronizing.”
 A six-pack doesn't make you dangerous. Elia Navarro Garcia, another female athlete who is "more of a woman" - tested positive for a banned male hormone.

A six-pack doesn't make you dangerous. Elia Navarro Garcia, another female athlete who is "more of a woman" - tested positive for a banned male hormone.

 Cummings says he wanted to make the video because “…10 years ago [these women] would have needed the permission of a dozen men…just to be given a microphone and then been told to stay on script.”

WUT?

In 2006, a female athlete would need the permission of a dozen men to speak freely? In 2006 Maria Sharapova made $19 million playing tennis and reached millions of people through endorsement deals and media appearances. Venus and Serena Williams were displaying their dominance on and off the court, racking up endorsement deals, winning titles and reaching millions. Danica Patrick was racing in the Indy 500 and into the hearts of women race fans across the world. These are women who were/are famous in MUCH more popular sports than CrossFit, worldwide. They are athletes – they are strong, and they had and continue to have a voice.

The idea that 10 years ago, female athletes were on some leash, held by a dozen men, and not allowed to speak freely – is a problem that simply did not exist.

 Cummings states that a female athlete 10 years ago would need the permission of a dozen men to speak freely. Maria Sharapova destroys that theory - as she made nearly $20 million in 2006 and reached millions through media appearances and endorsement deals.

Cummings states that a female athlete 10 years ago would need the permission of a dozen men to speak freely. Maria Sharapova destroys that theory - as she made nearly $20 million in 2006 and reached millions through media appearances and endorsement deals.

In the video, a quote from Susan Cahn, author of “Coming on Strong”, is featured in full-screen.

“If women were no longer a fragile, timid group in need of protection, men could not be assured of their own role as powerful protectors, and consequently relations between the sexes would have to be reconsidered.”

Yes, because a woman who does CrossFit will never find herself in a situation where a man may be needed to step up and fulfill his role as protector. CrossFit can make you strong – but a man twice your size can still kill you – even if your Fran time is faster than his.

Why do we need to “reconsider the relations between the sexes” in order to appreciate a woman who lifts? Why shouldn’t a woman who lifts, be allowed to rely on an equally strong man to be her protector? In the video, Cummings says that women in gyms are a counter-point to the story that they are in need of our protection and therefore our approval.

 P.S. Cummings made the video "Potential". It was met with rave reviews, and a hefty amount of complaining about things like "man-splaining" and a lack of diversity.

P.S. Cummings made the video "Potential". It was met with rave reviews, and a hefty amount of complaining about things like "man-splaining" and a lack of diversity.

A woman who chooses to rely on a man as her protector –is not necessarily a woman who needs his approval. A woman can be strong, she can be fiercely independent – and she can understand that a powerful man who cares for her can protect her. If someone made the poor choice of attacking my woman – I would protect her, and I would do a better job of it than she could do herself. Does this make her weak? Does this mean she is somehow less of a woman? I certainly don’t think so. If you are a strong woman, would you refuse to call your man if you were in danger, for fear of being called “less of a woman” because you relied on a man’s help in a time of need?

Susan Cahn, who wrote that quote, teaches “women’s studies” at the University of Buffalo. You can buy her book “Coming on Strong: Gender and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Women’s Sports” for one cent on Amazon.

Videos like “Potential” actually perpetuate this so-called “gender war.” This video tells all women, that women who CrossFit are “more” woman than those who don’t. It says women who lift weights are doing more for women than those who don’t. It calls women who rely on a man to protect them, as weak.

 Author Jack Donovan addresses the topic of women lifters in his popular article "Beauties in Beast Mode."

Author Jack Donovan addresses the topic of women lifters in his popular article "Beauties in Beast Mode."

Jack Donovan, the author of “The Way of Men” addressed the hypocrisy of the “more woman” idea in his article “Beauties in Beast Mode.”

“…Every time I see men…share some “strong is sexy” pic of a broad shouldered woman with an 8-pack. I wonder about it every time I see them point to a woman who is obviously taking male hormones as an example of a “real woman.” And I have to peel my palm off my forehead every time some tough guy turns radfem and starts telling any man who questions this that he is just “threatened” by “strong women.”
Guys have been taught from an early age, thanks to the scolding of feminist educators, that there are no “male” virtues, only human virtues. Men are naturally drawn to the old masculine virtues of strength, courage and mastery. They place a high value on traits and behaviors that men have always valued in each other. So, instead of letting women be women and appreciating the differences between the sexes, men are imposing their own idea of what is good on the women in their lives.
Radical feminists would, somewhat ironically, call this sexist and oppressive, because it is men telling women how to behave based on their own preferences and biases.”

When we use terms like “modern-day suffragettes” – it says women who lift are fighting for their right to lift? That sounds like a shitty t-shirt slogan. Who out there is telling women they shouldn’t lift? This is not a civil rights issue – any woman who wants to throw some weight around can walk into any gym in the world and do exactly that. Hell, as “gender-segregated” as it is, there are even women’s only gyms out there – including CrossFit gyms. There is no “fight” – walk into a gym and pay your membership fee. Again, this idea is addressing a problem that does not exist. Tell a woman who organized protests for the right to vote, that your squats this morning made you a “modern-day suffragette.”

Why can’t we admire women who lift, without making it a gender issue? Why do men feel the need to trash other men or women in order to raise one type of woman up? Both men and women who choose to make fitness a big part of their life, don’t need your applause. The reward for that work comes in the form of a better physique, a higher level of confidence and a more enjoyable life – not from a pandering video on social media that spawns derision between the sexes.