Physical Strength is Feminist

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September 11, 2015 by Darlene McC

Let’s start with a little story.

kittens make messes

I’m cute…but you need to go to the store…

This morning, soon after waking, I realized we were in desperate need of cat litter.  We have 3 fur-babies & 2 boxes in our household and it’s been a busy week.  So this wasn’t going to be a patch job with a 5lb bag.  Nope.  I needed to go haul the big guns.  The biggest boxes I could find.  I also have no interest in wearing a bra on my day off, so I caught a few side glances on my way there but no actually color commentary.  Phew.  That created a good baseline for my return trip.

With a 20lb box of litter in each hand I wended my way back toward home.  I’ve had a lot of shoulder and posture work in my program this summer, and the farmer’s carries served me well.  Shoulders retracted and depressed, core steady, my back felt goo.  Solid.  In contrast to the way over, every guy I passed said some version of “good morning”.  Not unpleasant or creepy; but clearly I’d caught their eye.  One did offer to help, though I comfortably refused.

It is interesting to me, though.

—-

can you just open the door?

here honey, let me get that for you.

We’re taught as young girls, and as we grow into women, that we should expect help from me for physical tasks.  Movies, commercials, comedy; they’ve reinforced the idea.  Men are stronger, after all.  (right?)  Carrying boxes (and groceries, of course), hauling suit cases; and in this subtle form of polite, well-meaning misogyny it’s reinforced that we can’t do it.  We can’t carry the heavy thing because we’re not physically strong.

Been playing with this brain nugget for a while.  Still working on fully forming it: If feminist is about equal expectation for everyone and women not being afraid or thought of as ‘less than’ or ‘other’, and if you can train to improve strength, isn’t strength training in itself an expression of feminism?

Maybe not for all!  And, of course, it’s okay if that’s not you and you don’t care and yadda yadda.  If your feminism feels like “I want someone else to carry it I don’t care” I’m all for it.  All that is okay.  But if your goal is true independence and a life without fear, the ability to move and own your body confidently in a space is one vehicle to get there.

And the look on the construction worker’s face when I asked him to get off my steps and effortlessly continued on with my 40lb load was fantastic.

What’re your thoughts?  Post in the comments; I can’t be the only one thinking this way.

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