strength and femininity

Today’s post from Molly is mixing with all my thoughts and nightmares and dreams about presenting my CrossFit stuff this weekend at the conference on campus. I had trouble connecting again with Molly’s challenge today about embracing your strength even though it might be a masculine thing to do.

Hmmmm.

Yes. Strength–at least physically–has been a “masculine” trait. Consult any chart on “feminine-masculine” characteristics and I’m confident you’ll see “strong” listed on the side of the male while “weak” falls on the lady’s side.

I think we need to be careful. Strong is slowly making it’s way into the mainstream for women. I’m immersed in the world of CrossFit a bit which probably makes today’s feminine ideal seem a little more bulky than the average, but I think it’s safe to say that women at least want to be toned–not skinny–nowadays.

While strong is no doubt a healthier way to be than skinny, replacing a skinny ideal with a more muscular one still keeps women in a place where they pursue some “perfect” image (via diet and exercise). I don’t think I’m going to find an online community of men who are talking about embracing their feminine side or their curves. Maybe because I read a post from Sociological Images about the kinds of work that Women’s History Month values   and it got me thinking about the way embracing masculinity might not be all good:

“Amelia Earhart, aviator. Wilma Rudolph, athlete. Sally Ride, astronaut. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, activist. Josephine Baker, performer. Virginia Woolf, novelist. Rosie the Riveter, archetype. Alice Paul, suffragist. Frida Kahlo, artist. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State.

What do these women have in common? They are the 10 iconic women featured this year by womenshistorymonth.gov, the official website of Women’s History Month in the United States….Unfortunately, the women singled out for recognition at the site appear to be considered notable mainly because they excelled at what are generally thought to be “masculine” pursuits. This is androcentric, meaning that it values masculinity over femininity.”

That being said, I understand where it comes from. We still need to be pretty (or do we?) as women and I think that for so long being muscular was considered an anomaly and a no-no. Women are learning how good it can feel to be strong and the side effects–namely, a bigger and more muscular body–comes along with that. So, we need to make this some part of the new feminine ideal. I get it, but I don’t agree with it. Do we really, in the process, need to buy into the idea that it’s masculine to be strong? I don’t think perpetuating that idea is doing anyone favours.

Do you think strength is still a masculine trait?
How do you feel about this stuff? 

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2 thoughts on “strength and femininity

  1. Pingback: CrossFit, empowerment, and thinking critically about the way we talk about CrossFit women | Happy is the new healthy

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