We interrupt our regularly scheduled fitness programming for a commentary on #metoo

Image description: Dark pink border around light pink rectangle with dark pink "me too." in it.

[note: this post contains descriptions of cases of sexual harassment and violence]

I can’t help it. I know we’re a fitness blog, but all I can think about is the “me too” thing that took hold this week. Early this week, social media was overflowing with posts of “me too” in answer to this call (and variations thereof):

Me too.
If all the women and men and those who are non-binary who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

The #metoo tsunami ensued. Some people kept it to women. Others posted “me too” without any context. If the campaign had just the one goal: “to give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem” it succeeded. The vast majority of people posting “me too” were women.

This did start a conversation of sorts, but it’s been a troubled and complicated conversation, as we might expect when there is disagreement about what purpose a social media meme or campaign is supposed to serve.

“Me too” has a history that goes back a decade when Tarana Burke “created the movement in 2007 to let young women of color who survive sexual assault know that they are not alone.” Burke says it was not meant as a viral hashtag, but rather:

“It was a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible.”

Well whatever its original purpose, a viral hashtag it has become. And it’s hard not to have thoughts about it. And we’re a feminist blog. So a few of us wanted to say a few things about it. This will not be an organized and coherent essay by any means. But it does capture some of what some of the women in my life have expressed in response to the #metoo movement.

Tracy

The weekend before #metoo, I was visiting my parents. As my mother and I lingered at the breakfast table, we began to speak of Harvey Weinstein. I mentioned how unsurprised I was by it all. “Remember Teresa Vince?” I said. My mother didn’t. I told her of the Sears worker who, just months before her retirement in 1996, was shot at work by her manager (who then turned the gun on himself), after what has been described as “years of unrelenting sexual harassment.” I started to cry when I said, “All she wanted to do every day was go to work, do her job, and then come home.”

Yes, that’s all we want to do. Not all of us end up dead (but a shocking number do). And perhaps because so many of us have not met an end as bad as Teresa Vince, we want to think, “What happened to me? That’s just trivial.”  As Anita says below, “not bad enough.

In the article “Running while Female”  we are reminded of the three women who were running by themselves in broad daylight and killed. The article reported survey results of readers indicating that of the 2533 women and 2137 men surveyed, 43% of the women sometimes experience harassment while running, as compared to only 4% of the men. The article generated a lot of reader responses, where readers felt compelling to write in with their stories of what it’s like to run as a woman.

I’ve had my own share of this nonsense (do I trivialize it to call it “nonsense”?). Just this summer I was running on a pleasant and busy street in Annapolis when I passed a group of men standing outside a building on what looked like a smoke break. As a couple of them eyed me up and down, they both said something along the lines of “wow, looking good.” As often happens to me, I smiled. Then when I was ten feet on the other side of them I felt angry at them and my reaction. But, as a friend commented when we talked about this sort of thing at dinner last night, this is what we’ve been conditioned to do. In any case, my own discomfort at the interaction prompted me to find a different route back, even though my original plan had been to retrace my steps.

Was it traumatizing? Not really. Does this sort of thing devastate me? No. Does it “count” as sexual harassment? Absolutely, in the sense that it is unwanted and unwelcome sexual attention. In what world does a man feel as if he is absolutely entitled to give his opinion about whether he finds a random woman stranger attractive? Ours.

Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual coercion all happen on a continuum, in degrees of severity. Remember, we’re not all in as bad a situation as Teresa Vince was. But the fact that we have been conditioned to be polite, to put up with, and (as I did in finding a different way back to my starting point that day) adapt contributes to outcomes such as the death of Teresa Vince.

What did I do? I smiled. If guys get a smile back, then how in the heck are they supposed to grasp that their attention is not welcome? And then the next women, the one with the presence of mind enough to tell them to go fuck themselves, will be told she’s a bitch. My smile contributed to the normalization of sexual violation.

Unfortunately, saying “no” doesn’t often yield the desired results either. Sometimes it gets taken up as a challenge, or as a reason to abuse.

Years ago, as an undergraduate, one of my professors drove me to a park instead of straight home and said he wanted to go for a walk (it was dark). I didn’t know what to do so I said okay (to the walk, not to what came next). Before long he literally threw me down on the ground and jumped on top of me and rammed his tongue into my mouth. I pushed him off and turned to go back to the car. I wanted to go home. I didn’t like it but I didn’t know enough at the time to understand that I’d been sexually harassed (or even possibly assaulted, considering the force of the throw-down). I was too naive to grasp that I was supposed to be appalled, not merely annoyed and most certainly not flattered (or worse still, convinced I’d done something wrong to prompt it). 

This was in the same park where, one afternoon a few years prior, as a teenager, I was walking alone and a strange man sidled up along side me and started chatting (like, have we learned yet that we are under no obligation whatsoever to have a conversation with any random stranger who wishes to have one with us?). Instead of telling him to fuck off I made small talk. Within two minutes he’d whipped his cock out of his pants and asked me how I liked it. I bolted and ran all the way home that day. Police were called. They came and took notes. Nothing further happened.

And still, though I recall both of these incidents, I don’t even feel scarred by them. Which brings me to another thing that came up during #metoo. Besides people feeling as if their experiences weren’t bad enough, I had another friend who didn’t post #metoo because she hated the idea of her FB friends then speculating about what “happened.” She said that it would feel like “a violation all over again.”

But is #metoo about victimhood or about solidarity? If the things that happened occur on a continuum — maybe you were assaulted or maybe you “just” experience the low-level everyday harassment of cat-calling and unwelcome comments about your beautiful eyes and haranguing for not smiling when a guy wants you to smile. The ubiquity, and the fact that we carry on, not necessarily unscathed but many of us not thoroughly destroyed, can help generate a sense of common cause. Have we had enough yet? At the very least, as was Tarana Burke’s original intention, it let’s us know we’re not alone.

Now’s the time when people want to say here we go again. Putting it on the people who have been violated. We’re supposed to self-disclose (many felt some pressure to do so). We’re supposed to “start the conversation.” All of the commentators I’ve heard on media have been women.

One of the most difficult things for a lot of people to wrap their heads around in the #metoo thing is that if so many women have experienced the violation (like, almost everyone it seemed), then there must be an awful lot of offenders (like, many of not most of the straight men in our lives)? I too have complicated feelings about this side of it. More complicated even than about my own and many others’ experiences, large and small, of inappropriate and harmful sexual intrusion. Why? Because I’ve got lots of men in my life and I really like them. So it’s hard to accept that at least some of them, socialized as they are into the same heteronormative gender scripts as I’ve been, and buoyed up by their often invisible-to-them privilege, are the harassers and assaulters and violators. But that’s the sad truth of it.

Not only that, as Rachel Lark and Kate Willet so succinctly put it in their song, “It’s hard to be feminist and still want dick.” If you’re a woman who is attracted to men you’ll feel this more. Regardless, we all have men in our lives whom we want to (and do) think the best of. And sometimes, at the right times and from the right men, sexual attention is wanted and welcome. That means for us straight women when it’s from men we know and whom we interact with in “that way.”

It’s not so difficult to figure out when it’s inappropriate. Teresa Vince’s manager should have known it was inappropriate. My professor should have known it was inappropriate. In neither case were they encouraged or lead to believe this was a welcome interaction.

Strangers on the street? Men, you can be pretty certain that they don’t need or want your opinion of how they look. No woman goes out for a run hoping men will notice her and comment about her booty. What about when you see pretty women who are buying groceries? Don’t be that creep who scuttles around the store with his shopping cart striking up conversations about how good the blueberries look today or asking women he doesn’t know if they can tell him what to do with hemp hearts. The sense of entitlement is misplaced. And (this may help you make some changes) just because it’s harassment doesn’t mean it’s not also pathetic.

Miranda

I’m a runner. I’ve been a runner for a while. I’ve run in every city I’ve ever lived in, and I’ve been harassed in every city, both when I’m running outside or in a gym. Often, I don’t even realize that some man has said something inappropriate to me until I’ve passed him because, well, I’m running. I’m focused, both on my run and on the quiet I’m seeking while I run. But I’ve know that I have to stay alert to stay safe.

I know the tricks, as it were, to try to avoid harassment. I rarely run at night, and I vary my route. I do run with headphones, but I keep the volume down. I tell my partner where I’m running, and I run with a phone. In fact, I use a handy feature on my phone that allows my partner to track my location. Yes, that’s right. My partner can track my location at all times, and he has used it a few times when I’ve been gone longer than expected. Each time he has tracked me, he tells me, saying, “I didn’t realize you were going for a long run” or “You were gone so long that I got worried.” He runs too, and I can also track his location. He enabled this feature on his phone at the same time I did on mine. He said, “We should both do this, for safety reasons.” The thing is, his reasons are so I can find him if he injures himself, while I want him to find me if I’ve been attacked. Because I think about that when I run, especially on longer runs. And I shouldn’t have to.

I should be safe when I run. I should feel comfortable running in my own neighborhood, in my own city. Often, I do. Often, I experienced long periods in which I’m not catcalled or harassed. I start to let my guard down. I turn my music up, or I try a new route, going through a part of the city with which I’m less familiar. But then, it happens again. Some man hollers something at me, something about my body, and I’m reminded that I must be on guard.

Anita

I feel guilty about not posting a MeToo. I feel guilty about not having a major experience to flag. When I thought about my very minor experience- unwanted attention by a high school teacher – I thought: “oh, this isn’t serious enough. Nothing happened in the end. I didn’t even know what was going on.” This reflection, subsequent assignment of ‘not bad enough’ and then refraining from commenting in MeToo threads has made me uncomfortable.

***

So, not a comprehensive or thorough analysis, but some thoughts.

“All the other women should love their bodies but I wanna lose five pounds…” (Rachel Lark and the Damaged Goods)

Rachel Lark and the Damaged Goods have a very funny song called “I Wanna Lose Five Pounds.” What’s funny about it is that it’s an almost perfect parody. In the short space of 3 minutes, she manages to capture the angst that many women go through once they recognize that body positivity is actually more liberating than the diet train, and yet they still “wanna lose five pounds.”

It’s like this: everyone else should love their bodies. We can see that this is  a good way to go. But I wanna lose five pounds (Aside: I’m still a feminist).

She does a great job of hauling out all the rationalizations: I’m doing this for me! I’m motivated by self-love! I need healthy habits.

And saying many of the right things: I’m aware that our society tricks healthy women into dieting. But of course “that’s not what this thing’s about.” Nor is it about “looking good for a guy.” No, it’s that “my belly makes a roll when I sit down.

She says, “I know I’ll never be as pretty as my friends; I know that the scrutiny never ends, but nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels, and I deserve to feel confident when I wear heels.”

This is just so close to what you actually hear in places like Weight Watchers (“I’m doing it for me; nothing tastes as good as skinny feels; it’s for health you guys!…”)

Rachel Lark is great at capturing the tension between our feminist ideals and wanting to lose weight (and needing to find just the right reasons). A couple of years ago Nat and I explored this tension. See her “Self-Identifying as a Bad Feminist” and my “Does Feeling Good about Weight Loss Make Me a Bad Feminist?

I said something really similar to what we hear in “I wanna lose five pounds”:

In other words, losing weight has always made me feel kind of good, gaining has always made me feel kind of bad. And at a meta-level, my self-awareness about this fact about me makes me feel a little hypocritical, as if I’m a “bad feminist.” Natalie commented about this and we agreed that there is a lot to say about this issue still.

Intellectually I believe 100% that I am not my weight. I’m 110% behind the view that no one else’s worth or worthiness is determined by the number on the scale. And yet in my own case, at some level, I still think of weight loss as an achievement of sorts.

Nat said:

No one gets to call me a “bad feminist” but myself and let me explain why. I think that term is slung around when we mean other things like sloppy thinking or forgetting privilege or perpetuating harmful and hurtful ideas about body image and weight. I don’t think it’s intended to shame or silence but that is the impact. How dare I write about losing weight when there are so many bad arguments about weight loss! Bad Feminist! Uh, no thank you.

Rachel Lark and the Damaged Goods roll all of these thoughts into the one song and do so brilliantly. Enough about me explaining this to you. See for yourself. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Another gem in Linda’s bag of running tricks: “long counting” salvages Tracy’s tough training run

Image description: Cartoonish numbers 1 (in red), 2 (in blue) and 3 (in yellow) against a plain white background.

Image description: Cartoonish numbers 1 (in red), 2 (in blue) and 3 (in yellow) against a plain white background.

On Tuesday I drove the 5 hours back home from visiting my parents for the glorious Thanksgiving weekend that so many of us have been blogging about this week because of its all-around spectacular-ness!

I had plans to meet my running coach, Linda from Master the Moments, in the park for a daunting looking workout she had assigned me called “Specific Endurance Race Run.” Doesn’t it just sound as if it’s going to be brutal. The heart of it was supposed to be 4x2K at specific pace times that I knew ahead of time were going to be a push for me. I was so relieved that Linda agreed to meet up with me for that session because that was my only hope of staying even remotely on task that day.

It was another sunny warm day in London and I met Linda in Springbank Park, a popular spot in town with a paved and tree-lined path beside our Thames River, well-travelled by runners, cyclists, and pedestrians.

I won’t get into all the details of my lack of enthusiasm for what we were supposed to do. In fact, at first I had the wrong workout programmed into my Garmin (because when you’re meeting your coach, you don’t have to pay as much attention to the details). But Linda is always so upbeat and optimistic. She said she thought I could do it, even if not exactly, at least well enough. She also offered to modify the plan (on more than one occasion). And she never skips the warm-up, which is a nice habit that I’ve also started to get into because, guess what? A proper warm-up usually leads to a better run. Go figure.

We ran from our meeting spot to the pedestrian bridge where we do our stretching. We’re two for two for seeing the blue heron who lives at that part of the river standing on a rock while we do some leg swings and hip cranks (I don’t know what they’re called) and fast feet (and a few other things). Linda is really good at distracting me with chit chat. And then when the going gets tough, she gives me tips and strategies to stay in the game.

I had difficulty maintaining the suggested pace even for the first 2K. Linda was hardly even breathing hard, which is a good thing because it meant she had no trouble saying stuff like “focus on the sign ahead and nothing else.” I don’t know how, but focusing on the sign ahead actually does help. Before long, she even had me doing some short pick-ups. When we got to Storybook Gardens, almost 1.5K into the first interval, we did a couple of laps around the parking lot and it was time for a one-minute walk, which seemed really short.

We continued further along the path. The second 2K interval was tough and my pace slowed even more. But before long we were back doing a couple of rounds of the parking lot. Linda kept telling me I was doing great (I didn’t feel like I was). We continued to do the occasional pick-up, which seems counter-intuitive if your energy is fading but actually switching it up breaks the monotony and that in itself is energizing. During those, she had me focus on turning my feet over. I felt good when she said I have a nice light step.

Linda asked me what was giving out. “My breath,” I said. It felt laboured and difficult and we still had another 2K to go (I voted for dropping the fourth set).

The magic really happened in the home stretch. I was almost whining (not quite but inside I felt like I wanted to whine) and Linda decided it was time for what I think she called “long counting.” She started saying a counting rhyme out loud: “1..2..3..works for me, 1..2..3..and you will see. 4…5..6..get your fix…7..8..9..to the end of the line” and then on a two count “10, 11, 12..”etc. all the way to 100 and then back to 1, 2, 3 again. I couldn’t get the whole rhyme at first (nor did I have the breath to say it), but I was able to count quietly to myself and to say the 10s, 20s, 30s etc. out loud.

The counting got me into a solid rhythm, where every even number landed on an exhale. My breathing started to get steadier and my feet seemed to be turning over faster (Linda is all about fast feet). She continued to suggest short bursts, setting specific end points (e.g. that bench, the green sign, those people up ahead walking with strollers, the stop sign by the parking lot…). Soon we were at eight hundred. And the next thing I knew we were done. And the best part is that final portion, after I thought I had nothing left, ended with me feeling strong, fast, and steady on my feet. I’m a convert to counting.

As we were walking it off for a bit of a cool down, we said out loud what every runner knows: the mind wants to give up way before the body. The thing then is that you have to trick, distract or find some other way to stop the mind from messing with you.

What strategies do you use to re-group and get on track when your mind starts messing with you on a run and telling you that you’re out of steam (when you’re probably not)?

My Dad’s Running Advice: “Don’t Push Yourself”

It was Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and I was visiting my parents at their place, which is my favourite spot on the planet. So welcoming and relaxing.

Image description: Painted sign with image of lake and trees and says, "Welcome to the Lake." Propped up against a yellow and pink flowering plant with green leaves, piece of driftwood in the background.

Image description: Painted sign with image of lake and trees and says, “Welcome to the Lake.” Propped up against a yellow and pink flowering plant with green leaves, piece of driftwood in the background.

Sunday morning it rained so I put off my long run (12K scheduled) until the afternoon. This is usually a mistake because it’s so easy to skip it if put off.

The weather turned glorious, brilliant sunshine and blue skies. I sat down at the lake and took in this unexpected October glory. My dad joined me and we remembered Thanksgivings past, some where it even snowed and the unwinterized pipes on the original seasonal cottage froze.  Soon it was 3 o’clock. Then it was creeping up to 4 o’clock. If I was going to get my run in I had better get going.

But I didn’t feel like it. I griped a bit and said out loud, “Okay, I’m going.” As I gathered myself together to get out the door, I said, “Ugh. I’ll start with 6K and then check in with myself about the other 6K.”

That’s when my dad gave me his advice: “Don’t push yourself.” I had to chuckle because in lots of ways running is all about pushing myself. If I never pushed myself I wouldn’t run at all. I would walk. Not only that, this is uncharacteristic advice coming from a man who I thought was all about “pushing yourself.” After all, he was a fully credentialed practicing physician by the time he was 22 years old. It’s kind of a high bar.

But his words made a difference because in the end I decided not to push myself, and that made it possible for me to get myself out the door. It was hot and sticky out by then, but I ran to a beautiful little 2K stretch of cottage road that’s fully in the trees. It’s a quiet, hilly 1.5K to get there. Once there, it’s a good place to do flat repeats because there’s a ton of shade and almost no traffic. It’s also incredibly picturesque.

Taking Dad’s advice, I didn’t push myself. I’m already a fan of doing less, have been for ages. I put on my music and took it easy. I stopped to take a few pictures because everything looked so damn beautiful yesterday.

Image description: treed lane with sunlight streaming through green and orange trees, some fallen leaves in the foreground.

Image description: treed lane with sunlight streaming through green and orange trees, some fallen leaves in the foreground.

Image description: Another treed lane with blue sky and clouds above, orange trees and plenty of shade.

Image description: Another treed lane with blue sky and clouds above, orange trees and plenty of shade.

I ended up doing 8.25K instead of 12, backing out of my prescribed sets of 2x5K at a moderate pace with 1K easy in between. After three repeats on the shady lane I made my way back to my parents place and went straight down to the lake.

Image description: Tracy's feet in robin blue running shoes in the foreground, resting on a weathered wooden dock with a swim ladder going into the water, the lake, tree-lined shore, and cloudy skies with a hint of blue in the distance.

Image description: Tracy’s feet in robin blue running shoes in the foreground, resting on a weathered wooden dock with a swim ladder going into the water, the lake, tree-lined shore, and cloudy skies with a hint of blue in the distance.

Then I made up for taking it easy the day before with a steady 5K yesterday, pushing myself hard not to stop on even the most brutal uphills that I usually walk. I’m sure that even if he said “don’t push yourself,” Dad didn’t mean never push myself. Both runs felt good.

Tracy Talks to Sam’s Class about Fitness, Feminism, and Fashion

What are friends for? One thing Sam and I do for each other sometimes is teach each other’s classes. It’s easy because we have lots of overlapping interests, so it’s almost no extra work to throw something together.  Last night I talked to Sam’s Gender and Fashion class about fitness, fashion, and the sexualization of women in sport. I gave a similar talk last year, but this time Sam added a more theoretical reading on objectification and why it’s harmful to the person(s) objectified.

The students were smart and engaged, and had some good things to say about “What’s So Bad about Pink Anyway?” “Nipple Phobia,” “Play Hard, Look Cute,” and “No way am I wearing that! Body conscious clothing as a barrier to entry to women’s sports.”

When I asked about the social meaning of pink, one student said that its associations with normative femininity mean that it’s not the most empowering colour choice for fitness wear.  Yes! My point exactly.

I’m sure at least a few people didn’t believe me when I said bras didn’t used to be padded — that padding was an extra, not the norm, and not even an option in sport bras (remember?). But heads started nodding when I talked about all the diffferent ways we now shame women for their bodies: “headlights,” “camel toe,” “muffin tops,” “back fat.” It’s so hard to be socially acceptable. And yet women’s athletic clothing is almost exclusively body-clinging. It’s a tough balance to navigate if you’re not young, lean and thin, but even that doesn’t spare you from nipples and camel toe.

LONG BEACH, CA – JULY 23: Canadians Jamie Broder (L) and Kristina Valjas celebrate a point at the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball – Day 2 on July 23, 2013 in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

We spent a lot of time on beach volleyball, where the women’s skimpy bikinis stand in stark contrast to the men’s baggy shorts and tank tops. Students went both ways on the question of whether it was okay if, given a choice, the athletes would continue to choose the bikinis. Though one student thought that the choice made sense because it was a beach, the point was also made that it’s hard not to “choose” to continue in the skimpy swimsuit when you know that’s the expectation and you want people to continue to watch your sport.

So what’s wrong with sexually objectifying women who are athletes. Well, for one thing, objectification of any kind goes against a very widely endorsed principle from philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant said that we should never treat people as a means only. What he meant by that is that no matter what sort of interaction we’re having with someone, we must always treat them also as a person, not just an object or thing or tool or instrument for our own use. That’s a powerful idea that not many people would reject.

There are a range of ways of treating someone as an object, which is essentially what it is to objectify them, and they’re not all sexual. The three ways that came into play in class discussion of women in sport were: instrumentality, fungability, and denial of subjectivity. Instrumentality because in objectifying women athletes, they’re being treated as if they are simply instruments for use — in most cases sexual use. Fungability because one body is replaceable by another, as long as they fulfill the same purpose, perhaps as an object of sexual fantasy. And denial of subjectivity because in objectifying these athletes, their experiences and feelings aren’t even a consideration.

Now clearly there is more to be said (and more was said) on the issue of objectification. And of course, as one student pointed out, it’s not always and only women who are sexually objectified in sport. She noted that David Beckham, for example, is often presented in a highly sexualized manner that has nothing to do with his skill as a soccer player. I’m not sure if I was the only one who thought that there are relevant differences between social assumptions about masculine sexuality and feminine sexuality that might make the sexualization of women worse. But I did raise that as a possibility worth considering.

Class went well. Not the best ever, but I enjoyed the students even though it was the end of a very long day for me (I’d already taught for three hours earlier in the day). It’s always enjoyable to meet students in other classes and to engage with them as a guest lecturer on a topic that’s fun to talk about.

Thanks for the opportunity, Sam!

 

London Heathrow for Kids: They Get It a Bit Right and a Bit Wrong

I flew out of London Heathrow yesterday after a quick work trip. Last time I was there I noticed that they were trying to make it a better experience for kids with the character of Mr. Adventure:

heathrow mr adventure

He’s all happy and fun and adventurous and welcoming. I can’t say my Heathrow security experience was as fun as all that, but I applaud their efforts to lighten it up, especially for kids, whom I can imagine would find it even more tedious.

In the waiting area where you wait for your gate to be posted they have a play zone for kids. That’s another plus because it lets the kids be active instead of sitting around, and chances are they’ll be sitting around for a long time once aboard.

But I was dismayed to see that, in contrast to Mr. Adventure, the feature character at the play area is Little Miss Naughty. She’s the bad girl who breaks the rules. A sign implores the children not to be like Little Miss Naughty:

Heathrow little miss

Now, maybe it’s just because I was stressed about timing even before I got to security (because traffic!). Then the long wait for the random search of my laptop and liquids bag (all to code, I might add) just compounded things because the gates are so darn far away (like 15 minutes if you use the moving walkways). But I found the representation of Little Miss Naughty to be an infuriating reminder of the way girls and boys are differently presented. Mr. Adventure is all positive. Little Miss Naughty is all bad.

Not only that, it made me think about the gender gap where kids’ activity is concerned. Boys are encouraged to be active; girls not so much. So it annoyed me to see Little Miss Naughty as the one who needed rules, being told not to climb. It seemed like an example of the way girls get reprimanded for expressing themselves through activity.

It could be that I’m reading more into it than is warranted. But something about these gendered representations, pitched at children, doesn’t sit right with me. It feels like a micro-aggression, perpetuating subtle messages about the different and gendered expectations placed on boys and girls.

What do you think about Mr. Adventure and Little Miss Naughty?

Trains, Planes, Automobiles, and Jet-lag #tbt

Despite that when I wrote this last year I ended with, “But unless there are ways of minimizing the impact of crossing time zones, I think my days of the five-day jaunt across the Atlantic are over,” here I am again in the UK for less than one week. I modified things a bit by trying something new: a day flight across the Atlantic instead of an overnight flight. Instead of arriving in London in the morning, I got to my hotel by 10:30 at night. Bedtime! Except my body didn’t feel quite ready yet. It’s an experiment that so far isn’t going all that well. Conference sessions start today. We’ll see if the adjustment period goes any better! Cheerio!

Fit Is a Feminist Issue

jet-lagI just got back from a quick trip to Manchester (UK) for MANCEPT, where I co-convened an amazing workshop on new approaches and questions in collective action theory (maybe you had to be there!). It was a fantastic experience because I got to spend two and a half days with thirteen other people discussing one another’s work at a level possible only when everyone has expertise in exactly the same area. It’s a rare and wonderful thing.

But leaving for the UK from Toronto at 11 p.m. on Tuesday night and arriving near noon on Wednesday morning with about four hours of terrible sleep and perhaps the worst airplane meal I’ve ever had behind me, with many hours of reading, socializing, and eating ahead of me meant that I just never quite hit my stride.

Almost the whole time I was in Manchester I felt sleep-deprived (because I was)…

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