Thursday, June 20, 2013

How to Leave Ryan Disappointed and Offended

I was recently made aware of this: 10 Reasons Why Heavy Lifting is Terrible for Women

Knowing where the article was coming from, I knew it was going to be a joke article, and that the whole thing was going to be riddled with sarcasm. As someone who speaks sarcasm as his first language (English as second language), I had some high expectations when I went clicking. Ultimately, half the article disappointed me, being significantly less funny than any author over the age of 12 has an excuse for, and the other half was either offensive or stupid (or both). I'm now going to dissect the article (although I won't post my ideas about every single point in it), and break down why I was so unimpressed with it. In other words, I'm going to critique someone's comedy work, ergo treating this like serious business, because humour is no laughing matter.

Let's start with some of the disappointments.

"Pants won't fit because your butt has gotten so big. Imagine actually filling out a pair of pants, the horror!!"

Rookie error. The most cliched thing for any female to ever worry about is "Does my bum look big in this?" (as a sensitive new age guy or whatever the nut I am when I'm not scratching my crutch and belching, I'm pretty sure real women actually worry about other things like the $300,000 debt on the home and the poop in the baby's nappy and the unresolved issues from last night's argument with the mister and how guests are due in under two hours and the house is a mess; but what would I know?). There was so much opportunity to play on stereotypical insecurities here, like how a squat booty is bigger than a never-been-to-the-gym-in-my-life booty, therefore your bum must look big in that dress that always looked so good on you, therefore your boyfriend/fiance/husband/that-guy-you're-trying-to-attract-who-seems-nice-but-you-really-need-to-get-to-know-him-a-bit-better-before-making-a-decision-so-you're-just-seeing-how-things-go-for-a-bit is going to be so disappointed and underwhelmed when he sees you and all your romantic efforts are going to be in vain and everything's going to be ruined and you just want to know that he likes you but your bum looks so big he couldn't possibly...!!! Yeah, there wasn't any of that, there was just the horrible, horrible fear of making your pants fit. Come on, guys, you can do better than that.

"You can each a much larger amount of delicious food and not gain a pound. Disgusting! Pass the tofu and skim milk please."

Okay, using the word "disgusting" doesn't present something as disgusting. The whole point of sarcasm is that you say the opposite of what you mean, rather than say exactly what you mean, and then throw in a negative assertion about it. Granted, a sarcastic cutaway can work, but when the whole article is meant to be sarcastic, again, you've missed a great opportunity. The big error here was starting with a positive, and presenting it exactly like a positive for the entire first sentence. Instead, the author could have gone to great lengths to tell us about how you need to eat so much food just to maintain weight. Does eating a lot of food sound good? Think again, ladies. Food is expensive, and once your metabolic rate increases from strength training, you're gong to have to force feed yourself just to keep up. Eating is nice when you're hungry, but force-feeding? You'll grow to hate food so quickly while your bank account suffers at the same time. The costs just aren't worth it. See what I did there? I actually made it sound like this is a bad thing: Instead of having the freedom to enjoy more food, you've lost your freedom to make choices with food or to enjoy it -- now it's just a difficult chore that will make you hate what you once loved. When there's just a moment of sarcasm, it can work well to have blatant sarcasm, but when the whole article is sarcasm, subtlety is key: I shouldn't be entirely sure that I'm reading a joke until I'm partway through.

"Heavy lifting can be as diverse as you want to make it. Your time would be much better spent on a treadmill every day watching CNN."

Cool story, but you forgot to funny. Like the point about being able to eat more, they failed to present this as a negative. Diversity is a THREAT, m'kay? You go to the gym, you see the cardio theatre, and it's simple, easy and clear. You've got a row of treadmills, recumbent bikes, ellipticals, stationary bikes, rowers, stair masters and climbers (assuming a thoroughly-stocked gym; most gyms I've been in actually only have about 4 of the above). You get on them, you start moving, you sweat, you breathe heavy, and you just keep on doing that for 20 minutes before moving onto the next cardio machine (only 20 minutes, because it's gym etiquette to let other ladies have their turn). But then you look at the weights area. There's a hundred different machines, plus all the free weights. This is overwhelming! There's far too many things to do. The cluttered mess that is your gym is a confusing place, and trying to make sense of the weight room means you have to go through the stress of planning, making decisions, and taking the big risk that they're the wrong decisions. This isn't just overwhelming, this is needlessly scary. When you step out of your comfort zone, you expose yourself to all sorts of hazards. What if you choose the wrong exercises? What if you do them wrong? What if this exercise is dangerous? What if that exercise doesn't work? Why waste your time doing difficult, dangerous exercises that don't work when you could just follow a simple routine of walking on the treadmill at the same intensity for the same duration at the same time every day while watching the news (on a more serious note, there's really nothing wrong with moving your body lightly and getting some highlights of information about what's going in the world at the same time -- if the news were on while I was in the gym, I'd probably be a much smarter man in terms of awareness of what's going on around me)?

Now for some points that ranged from stupid to offensive.

"Your children might see that a woman can be something more than a frail object meant to please a man. Challenging the status quo is never a good thing."

If lifting weights is the first sign that you have something more to offer the world than "pleas[ing] a man," then it's probably the only sign. I don't recall Queen Elizabeth I being influential for picking things up and putting them down again. I don't recall Portia saving the day in The Merchant of Venice by squeezing out two more reps. I don't recall the women's rights activists changing the dynamic of western culture in the 20th Century through deadlifts, or demanding to be recognised on the basis of how much they lift. When you reverse engineer this quote from the original article, it's effectively saying that women who don't lift have no purpose other than to appease a man. As a man who has had more female bosses than male bosses; who has learned from more female teachers than male teachers; who knows that his mother did a hell of a lot more for him than conceive him; who has intimately cared for a woman who is intelligent, considerate, joyful and has endured all kinds of adversity; who knows that he wouldn't be where he is now (for better or worse) without the influence of the women who have been in his life, I flat out reject this author's understanding of the status quo and feel it entirely reasonable to be offended. This author has basically dismissed the importance of women in society by suggesting that without lifting they are just "frail object[s] meant to please a man."

"You will find less and less that you are asked to go to the kitchen and make a sandwich. What will you do with all that free time?!?"

This is just moronic. If someone's going to ask you to make a sandwich, they're going to do it whether you lift or not. In any healthy relationship, I'm 99% confident that there's no correlation between how much a woman lifts and how often she's asked to make sandwiches by her boyfriend/husband, and her kids are going to ask for sandwiches at the same rate regardless. The only reason (that has any correlation to strength training) why someone who was comfortable asking for sandwiches will no longer ask is because you became a nazi and started spreading whey and creatine on all sandwiches instead of butter, in which case they're right not to ask you to make sandwiches, because now your sandwiches suck. While I think the inclusion of this...joke?... was stupid, if we're going to run with it anyway, from a sarcasm fail point of view, it would have been more effective to make a big deal about unproductive, wasteful "down time" rather than "free time."

"You will be shunned from old friends that want you to go clubbing every night. Those are the kinds of friends you just don't want to lose."

This doesn't even merit commentary due to how unrelated lifting and clubbing are. Last night I spent a fair amount of time trying to articulate how pointless of a statement this is. I made the same mistake just now. There is no point explaining how stupid this statement is. It's just an attack on youth and night club culture, a culture which -- by the way -- has plenty of people in it (both male and female) who lift. In fact, when I was doing my Diploma of Fitness, I was one of the few people that I'm aware of who wasn't super-keen on going clubbing, and most of the girls in my classes lifted. Lifting was not an aversion towards anyone going clubbing every night, and if not for classes the next day and a general lack of money (being students), there are plenty who would have gone clubbing as often as possible.

Okay, that's enough ranting now. Bye.

1 comment:

  1. I think it was written by a muscle head for muscle heads. I engaged my inner/outer child and enjoyed it.


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