Male vs. Female (Fitness) Double Standards

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I just got done watching last night’s episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the opening bit, as always, was hilarious……but there was also an important commentary on societal stereotypes concerning women in politics.

In a nutshell, Chelsea Clinton (Hillary’s daughter) let if be known to the world that she’s expecting her first child.  Congrats to Chelsea (sorry,  I voted against your Mom)! The media followed suit by asking the asinine question: “Will this news somehow affect Hillary;s decision to run for President in 2016?”

They then followed that up with: “Is it sexist to even ask that question?”

Answer: Yes. Yes, it is.

Especially when you consider 2012 Presidential runner-up, Mitt Romney, has enough grandchildren to field an entire football team, yet this was never brought up or became an “issue” during his campaign.

Expounding a bit further, Jon Stewart also took “beef” with how the media portrays female politicians in general, as these emotional, unstable, ready-to-burst-into-tears-at-any-moment-Titanic-watching-misfits.

If a female politician sheds a tear she’s weak and shouldn’t hold public office.  And clearly it’s that time of the month. If a male politician cries, he’s a “man’s man.”

If a female politician debates or fights back she’s clearly an emotional wreck.  Conversely, if a male politician does the same – ALA Chris Christie – he’s considered somewhat of a hero.

It’s a double standard, and it’s unfortunate.

Again, I HIGHLY recommend watching the opening bit HERE.

You find many of these same parallels in other aspects of society too. Hitting a bit closer to home, the fitness industry is no different.

Walk through any magazine aisle at your local CVS and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Fitness mags geared towards men tend to have some jacked dude on the cover with words like “yoked,” “get ripped,” and “how to gain 10 lbs if 10 minutes” transcribed throughout.

Fitness mags geared towards women, though, paint a different picture.  Here we’ll often (not always) see some petite, likely air-brushed iteration of a woman on the cover with key words like “drop x pounds, fast!,” “burn calories,” and “tank top arms” highlighted.

What’s more, the media doesn’t help.  Women are programmed to think that lifting weights will make them big-n-bulky or that they’ll grow an Adam’s apple if they attempt to lift anything heavier than their purse.

It’s a double standard, and it’s bullshit.

Women CAN lift (appreciable) weight and build a strong, muscular, athletic looking body (which is also lean, sexy and feminine!!). What’s more, why place such a dark tone on women building muscle?  Is that such a bad thing?

Of course there are a handful of unique considerations that differentiate how a woman should train compared to a man (women tend to be more hypermobile for example), but the mainstream media prefers to over sensationalize things and paint women as these delicate flowers who may hurt themselves if they attempt to deadlift. And if they do, they run the risk of adding gross muscle!

Which is why I’m really excited that the Girl’s Gone Strong crew are releasing their new project The Modern Women’s Guide to Strength Training next week.

The ball has been slowly rolling for a while now, women are starting to gravitate towards the squat rack instead of the Zumba studio (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), and understanding that there’s a lot of false information out there.

There’s still a lot of work to be done.  Molly Galbraith and the rest of the Girls Gone Strong team have upped the ante and have produced what I feel is a stellar product that will empower and encourage many women to embrace the barbell.

Like I said, the product itself won’t be available until next week, but in anticipation they’re going to be releasing a series of FREE videos this week leading up to its release.

The first of which is titled The Role of Your Hormones in Training and can be viewed HERE.

It’s a quick video, but dives into some of the more controversial issues surrounding women and fitness – namely how and why most fitness programs geared towards women simply don’t work.

Admittedly, the video is for women-focused-on women, but even if you’re not a woman it’s still great for your girlfriend or wife to watch.

And, if that’s not enticing enough: everyone who views the video will be entered in to win some killer Girls Gone Strong swag.

—-> Free Video <—-

  • Jack

    I always find the paradox interesting in womens mags, they use half the stories to tell women that they are “beautiful no matter what they look like and should feel empowered” then the other half on stories like “lose 10lb in 2 weeks with this new diet!! No more flabby arms!!”

    • TonyGentilcore

      LOL – so true! It’s weird isn’t it????

  • Paul Bruce

    Tony, it’s great how passionate you are speaking out against sexism in fitness. It’s so prevalent. I hear some of my female friends saying they’re going to the gym, and when I offer to give them a workout plan, they say “I’m just going to do cardio.” But weights CAN BE CARDIO!

    And Molly Galbraith is awesome.

    • TonyGentilcore

      LOVE Molly and the rest of the Girls Gone Strong crew.

  • she-ra

    Tony, I appreciate that you’re trying to break down the barriers to women lifting heavy weights, but why did you then have to mention “build a lean, sexy, feminine looking body?” Aaargh! That sounds exactly like all those dumb fitness mags you’re trashing. What’s wrong with “build a strong, muscular, athletic body”? Thank you for championing women lifting heavy.

    • Jack

      He’s just countering the whole “if you want a lean, sexy, feminine body then don’t lift heavy” train of thought most of these magazines put out there. He’s not saying thats the only thing possible if women lift heavy just that it is doable, whoch many of these sort of magazines would have women believe it isn’t.

    • Tony Gentilcore

      You’re actually right She-ra. It wasn’t my intention to come across like that (I think Jack hit the nail on the head as far as the point I was trying to make), but I do see your point.

    • TonyGentilcore

      You know, that’s an excellent point She-ra. It obviously wasn’t my intention to play into that mindset, but I do see your point.

      I went in and made the slight change. Thanks for setting me straight….;o)

  • Jennifer Campbell

    I have a friend that always admired my body and my dedication to the gym (dedication being 2-3 days a week). I told her to come along one day. So she did. But she didn’t last. After a few sessons she told me my workouts were “too masculine.” Um ok. This strong and feminine body you admire was built with “masculine” workouts. There’s still a lot of education needed in women’s strength training.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Well, that’s unfortunate. Hopefully she’ll give it another “go” soon.

  • michelle

    starting to get old, Tony…you sound like a typical lib

    • TonyGentilcore

      hahahahaha. True.