Gender In The Gym

The Binary, Perceived Differences in Gender Ability, Culturally Reinforced Standards of Female Beauty, and Gendered Space

The female lifting experience is often defined in relation to men. We are seen as weaker; we are supposed to be smaller. And, in instances when we are, in fact, stronger, we are sexualized or otherwise diminished.

What’s going on here?

Our culture teaches women and girls that strength and size are not things they should value. Is it any wonder, then, that boys and men gravitate towards strength sports in higher numbers and at earlier ages?

The cultural understanding of the ideal female body is all about the parts. Women’s bodies are rarely conceived of as whole, integrative systems, but are rather fractured and digested as individual pieces.

Not only is weight room use influenced by a society that associates smallness with “ideal femininity” and strength with masculinity, it is also deeply tied to our fears of being perceived as wrong or different in some way.

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