I’ve been thinking about masculinity and femininity. It’s funny how the masculine sets itself up as totally badass and invulnerable, and then collapses when the smallest hint of femininity is thrown into the mix. Hair’s too permed? Drink isn’t dudely enough? Bam! It all comes crashing down. Maybe that’s why I never felt like I quite fit in with men, or maybe there are other reasons too...
It breaks my heart when I see women emasculating men by accusing them of having a vagina. They’re participating in their own oppression, under the guise of being cool and progressive and shit. And some men applaud it. But this isn’t an essay on feminism and I’m certainly no specialist.
When you object to the status-quo, you are accused of weakness – and you are trivialised. It’s the first defence – trivialise the objection, or the person voicing it. It reveals the vulnerability not of the dissident objector, but of those who serve the status-quo.
Some of us ignore the prejudice, struggle and ridicule.
Some of us trivialise and berate ourselves, telling ourselves we shouldn’t care, we should be tougher. Internalising the abuse is not something I’m a fan of.
And some of us call people on their bullshit. And of course, there are other means too.
In an attempt to trivialise our point of view, we who reject the beauty standard are asked when did we all start getting so sensitive?
But it’s not sensitive to stand up for your rights and reject prejudice, no matter how insignificant we are told our point of view is.
The thing is – we all have different ways of coping with our stuff, of managing the various stressful situations we encounter.
Don’t interpret my calling you on your bullshit as an inability to cope. Don’t assume that if I’m complaining about something it means I need to toughen up. If my objection is trivial, your bullshit is trivial – let it go. If you have the right to be a jerk, I have the right to call you on it.
Nobody needs to harden up. We grow more resilient in our own time, in our own way. It’s okay that you don’t like being ridiculed and marginalised. You’re not supposed to like it. When people say you’re lazy or accuse you of moral laxity because of your shape, then tell you to be less sensitive, it’s unhelpful. To say the least. They only want you to shut up – why? What are they uncomfortable about? What do they want to ignore? Trying to ‘be less sensitive’ doesn’t resolve anything, and I’m not a fan of wasting time on things that are unhelpful. What’s helpful is to resolve shit.
But you don’t have to call people on their bullshit either. Often I don’t have the time or energy to get into the conversations that result. You can do what you like, you can ignore the crap if you like but you don’t have to. You don’t have to internalise the prejudice and smother your own objections – if you can help it – don’t become your own oppressor.
People often think that if nobody calls their lie, nobody knows. We know. We just don’t necessarily want to go through the bother of calling you on it.
I’ve been told to simplify everything – give people ‘what they want’ – be decisive and don’t talk about how different methods work and how it all depends on the individual – but I don’t see this shit as simple. If it was, there wouldn’t be so many different opinions about fitness, so many sophisticated programs designed to ‘trick your body’ into developing. So I’m not going to assume my readers are idiots, and I’m not going to assume that it’s okay to exploit your insecurities. I’ve had enough of reading oversimplified training advice that in the end turns out to be ineffective or dangerous. Yelling it loud and simple won’t make it true.
I tend to think a lot. It’s how I’m wired. But there’s a place for detail and complexity, and for simplicity too. Sometimes, all you need to do is be, and you can care for yourself however you like, when you’re able. But I’ve never seen anyone really grow and develop by telling themselves to suck it up and toughen up. It just comes crumbling down later on. The irony is that when we need to be gentle, we are usually hardest on ourselves, and we only seem to love and accept ourselves when we’ve got it together and are succeeding – but not when we need it most.
If all you need is to sit and be, you can sit and be. It’s okay to do nothing. It’s always your choice. If you want to exercise, the difference between doing nothing and one set of six repetitions of something is huge. You don’t need to jump straight into an hour-long spin class. You don’t need to pretend you don’t have a joint disorder, or an illness that prevents you from playing with the other children; you don’t need to go straight from no formalised training to crushing it at the gym five days per week.
You don’t need to be developing or improving yourself all the damn time – if you don’t like your situation, and you have the energy to do something about it – go for it. But being dissatisfied won’t magically enable you to do shit, and being intolerant of your own fat won’t change anything, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Take on what you want to take on, when you can take it on. Yeah.
There’s a reason change isn’t easy. But we talk as if we always should be invested in moving forward, in becoming more, in blasting through our limitations rather than understanding them. I like to approach exercise and physical development with the mindset that I respect my limitations while I’m trying to exceed them.
More than intensity or duration, or any other exercise variable – it’s consistency that leads to progress. Punishing yourself at the gym whenever you feel guilty has nothing to do with athletic advancement. All that’ll do is make you sore. Avoiding ‘leg day’ because it hurts too much – then training squats once every second month – that doesn’t serve anyone. You don’t need to train that hard. It’s not emasculating to work within your capacity. It’s not a waste of your time to respect your limitations.
But why should we change? What are we dissatisfied with? Do we think so little of the human condition that we always need to be better than what we were? Why such contempt? Why are we so resistant to accepting ourselves as we are? Why are we taught to hate ourselves in the name of perfection? Are we so imperfect? How can fat – that necessary element to survival – make us imperfect? Did evolution get it wrong? Or did God get it wrong? Or am I an exception? Do we believe that we are abnormal - an aberration - that modern obesity should not be a part of the human condition? Or that we should be perfect, that we deserve to be better (than others)? We use words like unnatural - but what’s unnatural? What about the notion - if it wasn’t meant to be, it wouldn’t be. What about diversity? Are we so fearful of our own mortality that we’ll bury our head in the sand, blame everything on fat, and buy the lie that if we’re good we won’t have to die?
Stay tuned, dear readers, for answers to these questions and more!
...Because I’ve totally got all the answers to everything. Cough.
Anyway. Exercise for fun. And, as an added bonus, it’s good for you. Except when it’s not. Jeez.