climbing · men

Men explain things to me: the bouldering edition

This week, I was going to post about my new bike and commuting with it, but I’m afraid this is going to have to wait until another time (though spoiler: I’m loving it). Something happened to me this week that really annoyed me, and I need a space to vent.

Mansplaining apparently never gets old. When I prepare a post I always double-check it hasn’t already been written, or what the other fit feminists here think about a topic. Lo and behold, when I checked for “mansplaining”, a post from Sam came up from 2014: Men explain things to me: The Gran Fondo Edition. Five years later, enter the bouldering edition!*

I’ve written before about how bouldering is a social sport that is a lot of fun in a group, and it is. Even if it so happens that you show up at the bouldering gym alone, you will usually end up chatting to someone about a problem that you’re both working on. And most of the time it’s nice. On Monday, however, it so happened that I just wanted a bit of quiet time figuring stuff out for myself. It’s been really busy round here, we have visitors at home (whom my partner was taking care of for the day), and I needed a bit of space. So maybe it wasn’t the best idea to engage in an activity that usually provokes chats. Maybe I should’ve just gone for a run. But I wanted to boulder, so off I went.

A smiling Bettina hanging off a bouldering wall, enjoying the triumph of a solved problem.

Oh boy, did people talk to me. And by “people”, I mean men. Out of an admittedly small sample of n=3, 100% of the people to give me unsolicited advice on problems I was working on were male. I got so pissed off I left earlier than I normally would have, or else specimen no. 4 would have had a “CAN A PERSON NOT HAVE SOME SPACE IN HERE?!” thrown at them. I didn’t want a hypothetical specimen no. 4 to suffer thusly.

The most blatantly mansplainy exchange was this:

ME: *works quietly on a boulder problem, chickens out before the end because doesn’t want to slip and bite the wall*
RANDOM GUY (RG): But you almost had it, you just have to step up on the last bit!
ME: But I didn’t want to. If you slipped there, it would be really nasty.
RG: Hm, OK. But have you tried this problem? *points to problem next to the one I’d been trying*
ME: No, I haven’t.
RG: You should, it’s a fun one.
ME: OK, sure, I’ll give it a whirl.
RG: Try it, and then I’ll show you how.

I mean, seriously???!!! I hadn’t asked him for help, I hadn’t asked him what problem to do next, and I certainly hadn’t asked him to “show me how”. The conversation went on like this for a bit as I tried my hand at the problem (he wasn’t wrong, it was kind of fun, just not with a random guy watching and doling out “helpful” advice). Eventually, I sort of bowed out and scampered off to the other end of the gym. Yes, I enabled this guy by agreeing to do the second problem. But what does one do in such a situation? Is there a way of shutting mansplainers down without being rude? Or should one just be rude?

Interestingly, I have hardly ever encountered unsolicited advice-giving from women. Mostly, they either don’t say anything, or they wait till you ask. On rare occasions, they have said something along the lines of “Have you tried doing this or that? It might not work for you, but it did for me!” As in, not just telling me what I “just have to do”, and waiting a while until politely offering a possible solution, while being aware of the fact that it may not work for me.

Often, I’ll have an exchange with someone and a witty reply will come to me after the fact. This time, I’m still stumped. What would you have done? How do you all deal with this sort of situation?

*Others have written about this too, notably Kim in her post “Why I hate spin“.

body image · bras · clothing · Fear · femalestrength · feminism · gender policing · men · objectification · running

Again?! Women at Rowan University are Serena’d

This article in Odyssey about how women runners at Rowan University were forbidden from running in only their sports bras seems like it should be a spoof in The Onion. It’s real. The university’s response was half-hearted, though ultimately the no-sports-bras-in-practice policy will be rescinded.

How much longer will we be having these conversations? After the brouhaha this summer over the ridiculous outfit policing by the tennis powers (which we wrote about on this blog), causing grief to Serena Williams (Let Women Wear What They Want and Serena Williams and the multiple ways of policing black women’s bodies) and Alize Cornet (Is Tennis Trying To Win a Chauvinism/Misogyny Award?), how is it possible the university administrators at Rowan forgot? Or did the news never even reach their ears?

Every time this happens, I am grieved by the lack of respect for women and their bodies. Men are responsible for their own lack of decorum and inability to contain their impulses, not us!

A sports bra is not provocative. It is comfortable. It is practical. It makes us feel strong and capable and empowered.

Oh … maybe that is provocative … because it provokes fear?!

Do you workout in sports bra only?

men

Spanx for men, or not the kind of equality Sam wants

So there I am browsing online sales on the internet looking for my favorite brand of Spanx tights. They’re wonderful black tights. They fit. They feel good. And they last.

Whatever awful things you have to say about Spanx shapewear, I likely agree. I bought some once to fit back into my work clothes for a conference right after Christmas after a heavy over eating holiday season and I thought they were dreadful. I never wore them again. Yes, I got into my suits for the purpose of interviewing people for jobs but I could barely breathe. Ugh. But I like their tights.

But while browsing for tights, I came across Man Spanx. New to me.

There are have been lots of videos and articles about men trying on their girlfriends’ Spanx underwear.

But now men can have their own because there are Man Spanx, promising you a trim, lean, athletic physique without working out. As they say, “See an improvement in your physique without even hitting the gym with SPANX men’s shapewear.”

There are trimming undershirts and high waisted underwear that tame bellies. Sigh.

I was sad and surprised when I saw them. Turns out they’ve been around for awhile. See Men’s ‘Shapewear’ Is a Retail Hit

Call me naive but I was really hoping in a more equal world that women would get more body comfort, not that men would get less.

Sigh.

advertising · body image · diets · men · motivation

Men, don’t change much but women, you’re doing everything wrong!

We’ve all heard the message of small changes, Make small changes to improve your health and fitness

And for Canadian Men’s Health week that’s the message, Don’t Change Much.

I love the motto, “Half fries, half salad, once in awhile” in this radio spot,

 

There are lots of reasons to start small. Tracy, here on the blog, has been a big advocate of doing less.  I’ve written about aiming for a 2/3 vegan diet because a fully vegan diet seems too much and it’s better overall, if it’s sustainable, to just eat fewer animal products.

In general, lots of public health agencies push a moderate message because it’s more likely to be motivational.

But I worry it’s gendered. We send men the moderate message, while women strive for perfection. We tell men that the “dad bod” is hot but there’s no such equivalent as the “mom bod.”

I love this Southern Comfort ad but can’t imagine a women’s version.

Instead, the message I hear that’s aimed at women is “OMG women, eat less, move more, sleep more, spend more time with your families, advance your careers, GO GO GO!”

It’s hard to imagine the “don’t change much” campaign aimed at women. What might it look like?

 

 

bras · equality · fashion · fat · fitness · gender policing · inclusiveness · men

Liberation, two nipples at a time (Guest post)

When all the fashion magazines featured women with hands (their own or others’) covering their breasts, a thought flickered that hands are much more comfortable than the average bra. Hiding women’s breasts, one way or the other, is standard media fare, and of course in some places women aren’t allowed to go topless in public, a clear gender disparity.

Fashion in the last few decades has even come to erase to nipple that might protrude from a shirt — again only for women like Serena Williams, not for men like Andy Murray.

It’s become really hard to find a non-padded bra, even for sports. Yet it’s seriously unpleasant to exercise with sweaty padding. Does anyone really believe in “breathable padding”? Sorry Victoria’s Secret, but my skepticism was well placed.

However, in recent years fashion has shown glimpses of the saucy braless 70s, including the bralette and bandeaus, all pleasant options for small-breasted women. The news even declares that bralessness is in fashion.

Many of us may sneer “how nice for you!” Bralessness and even lightweight bra alternatives are not realistic choices. Many heavy breasted women are simply not comfortable and even experience back pain without support from a bra. Sizes small, medium, and large rarely do the work we need them to do either. Sports bras tend to be sized that way and create a special kind of hell. We end up pinched and unsupported on top of being sweaty.

So I suggest the new move away from bras and padded bras may be good for all women. It marks a greater diversity in the types of breast support and sports tops available for women. The less women are expected to hide our breasts the easier it will be for us to demand comfortable functional support.

body image · men

Your Monday smile: Here’s a happy man in a speedo dancing

And here’s some more posts and about men and their bodies: 

Happy fat guy in a speedo dancing

Men it isn’t junk

Whatever’s comfortable 

Men, meet normative thinness 

The dad bod

Why men on a feminism and fitness blog? Because my feminism includes body positivity for men too.

fitness · men

If you like it then you should have put a ring on it? The fit bit for boy bits

Perpetuating all the gender stereotypes when it comes to sex women are said to worry more about looks–see My boyfriend tells me my vagina is too fat–and men are said to worry most about performance.

How to quantify sexual performance though? Don’t worry men. Help is on the way.  There’s now a fitness tracker for your penis.

What? Lovely – the smart sex toy that has been dubbed ‘the Fitbit for your penis’  

The product can apparently collect all kinds of data about your lovemaking skills – after you’ve finished, the Lovely app connects to your smartphone and provides you with a report, containing information on how many calories you’ve burned, your top and average speed, and even the g-forces you’ve exerted on each other’s respective pelvises.

The Lovely even senses what sexual positions you’ve used, and can apparently tell when things are going well – providing you with handy tips and suggestions on what you should do next time.

Why? See 10 Reasons Every Penis Needs a “Lovely” Fitbit

So you had 23 minutes of sex, with a top speed of 16 mph and a force of 6g. What does that even mean? The Lovely will let you know that those stats equate to 17 minutes of jogging.

Men like data, I guess. At least that’s the gender stereotype.

I’m amused thinking thinking of the social networking (over) sharing opportunities this presents. “Dave logged 46 minutes of sex this month in two different positions with three partners.” TMI, Dave.

There are so many questions here. “What counts as sex?” is one obvious one.  My favourite piece on this theme is Greta Christina’s Are We Having Sex Now or What? I guess at a minimum for the Lovely to count it, the penis has to be in motion. Then there’s the question of feedback on technique. I would think a real live person with whom you’re having sex might be a better choice than your fitness tracker, but call me old-fashioned. Then there’s speed and force of thrusting as the thing that gets measured, rather that say, precision and timing. But I’ll stop here and leave the last comment, dressed up as a meme, from a comment on our Facebook page. Thanks TK!

 

meme