Guys Aren’t Meant To Care About Their Glutes

19 Apr

The University of Virginia’s student-run newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, ran an article today that is more than a bit disturbing. Contrary to its title, “The Guy’s Guide to a Girl’s Workout,” by Abby Sigler, is not about helping men understand the unique exercise needs of women, or how male and female anatomy differ. Rather, it’s a lesson for men on how to avoid “doing some girly work out.” Here are some of the gems of advice that Sigler offers both men and women:

  • “Men’s stretching should be particularly nonchalant”
  • “Walking on the treadmill is for girls. The only time it’s acceptable for men to walk on the treadmill is to warm up or cool down after or before a run. That’s it. I don’t care if you’re power walking uphill; it’s not OK if you’re a dude.”
  • “Guys, stick to running on the treadmill, or even better, man up and run around.”
  • “Guys, if you’re on the bike, you better be riding like Lance. Coasting on the recumbent bike simply will not do.”
  • “Men should not be on the elliptical. I don’t care if you’re on resistance 5,687 and your elevation is set so high that it’s vertical, you shouldn’t be on an elliptical….Otherwise, I, along with all the other girls on ellipticals, am judging you — harshly.”
  • “Guys aren’t meant to care about their glutes.”
  • “It’s hard to make weight lifting girly. Abide by one simple rule here. If your grandmother can lift it, you probably shouldn’t.”
  • “If there are two complementary machines that men should not use at the gym, it’s the hip abduction and reduction machines.”
  • “Most of the time the inhabitants of Man Land are spotted doing their manly thing — pumping iron and engaged in bro talk with the occasional fist bump.”
  • “Sometimes, you spot a girl in Man Land. When I do I think, ‘Wow! That girl’s intense and really jacked! You go girl!”

I was shocked when I read this article, and saddened that it was (a) written in the first place, and then (b) allowed to go to print. The article perpetuates so many stereotypes that hurt men and women: men should be stoic, aggressive, physical, and concerned only with having big biceps. Women, in contrast, deserve accolades for “upping their game,” but mostly should focus on “gazing dreamily” at men lifting heavy things, “toning their thighs,” “wanting to look great in your swimsuit at Beach Week,” and fitting into that “favorite sundress” that “as feeling a little too tight there.” According to Sigler, any man who is concerned about such “girly” pursuits needs to reassess his priorities.

After reading the article, I expected that the comments section would echo my thoughts. While half of the comments express what a terrible article it is, the other half contend that this is Sigler’s version of “tongue-in-cheek writing” and “sarcasm.”  I have a hard time swallowing that. GoodMenProject.org – a reliable source – seems to agree with me, and I hope that most people would. Yet I recognize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; what is “obvious” to me is only so because I push myself to be more aware than Joe Sixpack.

My strong reaction to this article also led me in a direction that I am not proud of. Upon reading this and searching for the author on Google and Facebook, I saw myself categorizing her in sexist ways. I wanted to call her out for her internalized sexism and for harming both men and women. Her other articles suggest that she’s in a sorority, that she watches The Bachelor, that if she were the First Lady, “she’d never wear dress pants like Hillary.” I began to think of her as “another dumb white sorority girl.”

I own this prejudice. I check myself. I recall an article I read that says something to the effect of: each of us interacts with oppression in the best way we can, given our training/skills/awareness. We’re all doing the best we can, and getting angry is not the productive reaction. It’s easy to get angry; what takes skill – what works – is being patient and working alongside people to forge new awarenesses and alliances. It’s instances like these that remind me: we are all works in progress.

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