Why We Are the Even Weaker Sex
Today’s guest post comes from someone many who read this site regularly should recognize – Kellie Hart Davis.
For those scratching their heads, Kellie’s essentially the female equivalent of me except for the slight distinction of being way smarter and much better looking than myself.
Plus, given she’s a copy editor and prolific health & fitness writer herself, she can tell you the difference between an independent and dependent clause, whereas I’m the king of run-on sentences.
So I guess we’re nothing alike- except for our affinity to lift heavy things and to encourage (and to enlighten) women all over the world on why they should do the same.
Nevertheless, this post was inspired by and serves as an adjunct to last week’s post by Emily Socolinsky.
While this is a phenomenal stand alone article in its own right, I’d highly encourage anyone who didn’t read Emily’s post from last to click on the link above before proceeding. Trust me it will be well worth it.
*Cue Jeopardy music*
All caught up? Good.
Why We Are the Even Weaker Sex
As a kid, I didn’t put much thought into how my grandmother lived. But now I sit here marveling at the very thought of it. How she accomplished so much in a given day without ever making mention of the work involved.
My grandfather passed away the year I was born. He left her with a modest 3-bedroom home and a backyard garden that would gain approval from Martha Stewart. It hosted an expansive 20 x 5 meter vegetable garden, an apple, cherry, plum, and apricot tree. Bushes of various berry varieties and other types of edible plants.
Below in the basement she stored the finished products of her agricultural ventures. A cabinet filled with jams, pickled vegetables, and canned sauces and fruits all made with her hands. The freezer held prepped vegetables, potatoes and cuts of meat to get through the winter.
And this was just a hobby. She worked at Colorado State University everyday up to her forced retirement at age 66. Until she was in her late 50’s she rode her bike to and from the printing press on campus (weather pending). This wasn’t the flat terrain of the Midwest. It was Fort Collins, for heaven’s sake. That’s no easy ride.
I remember days as a kid when all my aunts, uncles, and cousin would gather at my grandmother’s house for harvest. The women would sit in lawn chairs shucking corn and beans for dinner while the kids dropped cherries down from the tree and the men pruned bushes.
That was her life for 70 years. She was as strong as an ox, but never made mention of it. She never made noise about how she activated her lats tilling soil or how she had to cut back on carbs in the winter because she was more sedentary.
She didn’t think about it. She just lived everyday knowing these were things that had to get done. So, when I read this recent article titled, “The even weaker sex: Faddy diets and fears that muscles aren’t feminine have left modern women weaker than their grannies,” I nodded in agreement.
Yeah, I can say that my grandmother was indelibly stronger than I ever will be. There’s no shame in that. She was pretty badass. I grow potted vegetables and bake bread in a $300 bread maker that does the work for me. There’s no way I would ever compare to Granny Hart.
What really struck a cord with me: faddy diets and fears that muscles aren’t feminine have left modern women weaker . . .
Is that really it?
My grandmother never thought about dieting or bulky muscle. But she was into Clean Eating™. Tosca Reno would be proud! Grandma was never overly muscular either. She was rail-thin even though she was totally Primal™.
I guess one could argue that modern women have all the luxuries that women in the past never did. Sure, when my dad was a kid they lived on a farm with no running water in the plains of Nebraska. They had to walk to the outhouse in the dark and milk their own cows.
But when I was a kid things weren’t so. Grandma had a washer and dryer, a vacuum cleaner, running water, a dishwasher, and many of the same luxuries that I have. Okay, so she wasn’t totally Primal by this point.
I don’t think it’s the fear of being bulky or eating too much that sends modern women fleeing to the couch with their iPhones so they can tweet their daily macro accountability.
I think it’s an innate fear of all things.
We are a society that is scared shitless of everything.
We’re scared of injury, disease, germs, dirt, robberies, getting hit by cars, concussions, aging, peeping toms, pederasts, guns, not having guns, too much real violence, not enough fake violence, loss of internet connection, Facebook hackers, identity theft, zombies, not having a hot vampire to love, too much carbsfatprotein, muscular arms, flabby triceps, bulky legs, fat legs . . .
We think so much about what could possibly go wrong in our lives that we live in a state of paralysis. That is why we are weak and lazy. It’s safer to sit around and
talk text and tweet about what we think we should do or aren’t going to do rather than unplugging so we can actually do something.
That is the generational difference. Our grandmothers acted on instinct, doing what they must to make life possible. But now the female mind switches to making choices. We must choose to be active, to eat well. All instincts are gone because life comes in a ready-made package with automated systems.
It’s time to turn off automation. It’s time to reach deep down in your belly to pull out those instincts. The ones that tell you to move and eat the way that your body was designed to do. To unplug from a world that you cannot touch or hear and get involved in the world that is tangible and interactive.
So be it if you pick up a barbell or plant an orchard. Just be present in your daily life.
Presence is what we are all missing. Never once do I remember my grandmother not hearing my voice because her mind focused on something arbitrary (she wasn’t around when Facebook and Pinterest launched). She was always there with us in that moment. She never talked about all that she had to get done. She just did things, and if she didn’t finish she did them the next day.
When I talk about presence it means to tune out the part of your life that is not actually happening and tune into what surrounds you. Sounds a bit archaic, huh?
So, going back to faddy diets and fears that muscles aren’t feminine have left modern women weaker.
That’s just our excuse to live in this alter state of reality. To think about how doing these certain things will change our perception of an ideal body.
How we don’t want to do these things because we don’t want the perceived results. If this is so, then don’t do those things. Do other things. No one is saying that you have to deadlift or eat skirt steak. Yes, these two activities rank right up there with finding out Mark Cuban left you a fraction of his estate, but they aren’t for everyone.
That doesn’t mean you should sit in a stinking heap of fear either. Look where that’s getting you—smack in the headlines of a news article that goes on to talk about how you can’t even whisk an egg without hurting yourself.
Is that the legacy you want to leave in this world? Is this what you want your granddaughter to write about on the Internet 30 years from now?
I write all of this not to point a finger at society. I am just as guilty when it comes to not being present in my life at times. I’ve mastered the art of ignoring the world around me by shoving my face into a handheld device or opting out of a weekend activity because I downloaded 3 seasons of Boardwalk Empire.
I write all of this to evoke change within us. All women, including myself. May we finally adopt those skills our grandmothers and great-grandmothers tried to instill in us. A sense of pride in our homes, our bodies, and our lives.
If we take this back and own it, strong will always be sexy.
Kellie Davis is a freelance writer and blogger turned fitness coach living in Northern California. She published short fiction and essays in anthologies and literary magazines before starting a full time career as a health and fitness writer. She currently works as a contributing author to several online fitness publications including Greatist and Bodybuilding.com, and also runs corporate health blogs.
In addition to writing, Davis helps women all over the world achieve optimum health as a fitness and nutrition coach. She runs MotherFitness, is the co-owner of Get Glutes and the co-author of Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body (with Bret Contreras) due out in stores April 2.