DOUBLE STANDARDS – The tide seems to be turning – Joan Walsh denounces a London gym; no, she praises it by faint damnation

Joan Walsh has a good article up at Salon on a man in London suing his gym because they restrict hours to male patrons to provide male-free time to female customers but still charging the same fees. Walsh concedes he has a point, this is sexist discrimination, but where her article shines is she goes through all the reasons for this kind of discrimination and rejects them.

Note about the article on Peter Lloyd. Yes it’s in the Daily Mail and yes I am aware of what people say about the Daily Mail. But the Daily Mail is exactly where this sort of thing should be published, because this is about broad cultural change. This might be published in some publication with a little higher tone perhaps, so that the “right people” would read and consider it, but in this case the “right people” are the voting masses of people who read the Daily Mail. So that’s where it should go.

Lloyd is quoted:

“Several weeks ago, I formally complained to the general manager, asking him to change the policy with one of three alternatives: A) maintain a women’s hour but introduce a men’s alternative for fairness, B) keep women’s hour (and only women’s hour) but annually charge men less, or C) scrap single-gender sessions altogether.

Hardly controversial.

After all, if demand for women-only sessions is so great then the gym should put their money where their mouth is and fund it themselves.

Unsurprisingly, they declined.

‘A report by the Women Sport and Fitness Foundation showed that a significant proportion of women (26 per cent) “hate the way they look when they exercise”.’ they replied in an email.

‘This takes on an even greater significance when you consider that women feel even more self-conscious when taking part in sport and physical activity when men are present. If you are wondering who or what [we are] it’s a charity that specialises in increasing women’s physical activity levels.’

Translated into plain English, this means that a group of agenda-driven feminists say a minority of women ‘feel’ bad about their bodies. And because heterosexual men are naturally attracted to women, their very existence makes it worse, so they should be banned.

No, seriously.

That’s like trying to clean a dirty face by rubbing a mirror.”

In one of the comments a commenter named “Brittany Elizabeth” displays the smug and witless lack of empathy we associate with sociopaths:

“Please excuse me while I fetch a box of tissues and my tiny violin because this story has made me tear up. It’s so hard to be a man in this world. I don’t know how you all do it.”

You are so right, Brittany, my dear little spider – you have absolutely no idea how we do it. It would probably break you if you tried to do it.

Walsh points out:

“For many of us, there’s a vulnerability that comes with fitness training, with exposing our bodies and moving them in ways that may not always be perfect or graceful or deferential to the world at large. The appeal of safe, supportive, private environments — to both men and women — is understandable.”

Understandable but toxic. That sense of vulnerability is a problem in and of itself. It is not healthy, it is poisonous. And it is surely not something that should be honored and enabled. One of the female commenters makes this point.

Walsh sums up with:

“God knows I missed my Boston health club tremendously when I moved back to New York and found myself briefly at Club Juicehead, where the equipment room perpetually rang out with the EAAAAAAGGGGGHS of thick-necked musclemen.”

Well it couldn’t have been any worse than a gym perpetually ringing with the slap-slap-slap of hammy thighs (once again we see this trope of women’s bodies being inherently benign in a way men’s are not) but can’t we all just get along????

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  • dungone

    the equipment room perpetually rang out with the EAAAAAAGGGGGHS of thick-necked musclemen

    But it’s women who are supposed to feel self-conscious? I’m sorry if I can’t be as charitable towards this article. I mean, it flat out sucks. I expected it to be a little more promising than it turned out to be, Ginko.

    She even links to a tumblr “boys club” collection of men who meritoriously obtained some position or another. I’m pretty sure “world’s most thick-necked musclemen” will be on there if I scroll down far enough. But not one single example of an organization that actually excludes women as a matter of policy.

    Her biggest reason for ending discrimination is because guys who have a problem with it don’t “actually” care about being discriminated against. “he instead rails against “a group of agenda-driven feminists [who] say a minority of women ‘feel’ bad about their bodies.

    Seriously? He railed against the response his own gym gave him for discriminating against him after he asked them to stop and they said they wouldn’t. How much more of an asshole could Joan Walsh be for misconstruing him like that?

    ‘A report by the Women Sport and Fitness Foundation showed that a significant proportion of women (26 per cent) “hate the way they look when they exercise”.’ they replied in an email.

  • Snake Oil Baron

    “but where her article shines is she goes through all the reasons for this kind of discrimination and rejects them.”

    I don’t know what to say. That’s almost like what journalists used to do centuries ago.

    I like Brittany Elizabeth’s reaction. Your complaint is not as important as starving children in Somalia so you are a sissy (I was going to say “pussy” but I don’t want to trigger the bad faith filter and… …!… Damn it! And I used “you”! Double damn it!). I think that if Western feminists want to be seen as consistent (I know–they don’t care) they should consider turning down the volume on their own gripes until little girls in Central Asia don’t get acid thrown on them by Taliban supporters for going to school.

    I notice that they didn’t mention men not enjoying being seen exercising. While I don’t worry about women ogling me (I am pretty safe from that sort of tragedy) I don’t feel comfortable exercising in front of either sex. Maybe some charity gym will implement hours just for me. I hope it’s a charity gym with an open bar. They have those, right?

  • Snake Oil Baron

    I wish I could go to that gym just once to yell EAAAAAAGGGGGH!!!

  • dungone

    http://www.thelocal.se/8168/20070813/#.UXrr0bWkorT

    Despite Boduljak’s assurances that he didn’t use steroids, she forced him to go to the police station and give a urine test. In her report, the officer said he had “unusually large muscles, particularly large arm muscles, which are a sign of steroid use.”

    Wait for it…

    EAAAAAAGGGGGH!!!

  • Ginkgo

    “I expected it to be a little more promising than it turned out to be, Ginko.”

    Call it the bigotry of low expectations. After “How much more of an asshole could Joan Walsh be for misconstruing him like that?” – not much and that’s about where I put her in the scale. so maybe I was easy for her to impress.

    But honestly I think she was laughing at herself or chiding herself a little with that bit about the EEEAAAAGGGGH. Or maybe that was me laughing at her, with that bit about the thighs slap-slap-slapping.

  • AjaxMurgatroyd

    “Your explains who you are. It’s your identity in the gym.”

  • dungone

    I think she conceded any claim to sarcasm when she concluded her piece by reminding us there are thousands of “female-friendly” gyms out there and that no one except for a bunch of gross male trolls care. She thinks that sexism is “female-friendly” and “female-friendly” means not having to put up with the EAAAAAAGGGGGHS of thick-necked musclemen. No sir, these men don’t have the right to work out in her presence.

    The article that I linked to – that is the future. How much do you want to bet that the Swedish female cop goes to a female-only gym? http://www.thelocal.se/16794/20090108/#.UXr39LWkorQ

  • Ginkgo

    I think you have convinced me, dungone. So Joan Walsh meets the low standard I have set for her.

  • Paul

    wait, wait, wait… I’m confused… I thought only women got called names and told to shut up when they spoke out. Feminists have been telling us for years that this sort of thing only happens to women.

    WHAT MADNESS IS THIS??

  • http://siryouarebeingmocked.tumblr.com/ SYABM

    I love how her evidence that women are more often shut out of places is a blog that collects only instances of women “shut out of” places. And by shut out of, she means women aren’t found there. Of course, women’s choices are downplayed as much as possible; women are much less likely than men to spend ten years sacrificing their personal life to try to get a corner office.

  • Schala

    DOB, your avatar makes me think of this char:

    http://www.nautiljon.com/persos/ranma+%C2%BD/mr+king.html

    Although he’s a cheater and assholes, and I don’t mean you are – using the King’s european avatar on playing cards will refer to him somewhat.

  • Schala

    meant SOB, and asshole singular. Being drunk screws my grammar.

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    What ‘thick-necked musclemen’ go ‘EAAAAAAGGGGGH’ when they lift? I’ve certainly never made that noise lifting weights, and I’ve never heard anything like it in a year of daily visits to the gym. If she is attempting to describe a grunt of exertion, then I would suggest that she is being incredibly dishonest in her use of onomatopoeia, because the one she uses suggests a much greater volume than that of the actual noise. Alternatively, she may accidentally have walked in on a karate class.

    Furthermore, I would assert that, if it is only men making sounds of exertion, then it is because the women have no idea what they are doing. A huge number of women seem to have the bizarre fear that lifting weights will turn them into Schwarzenegger and spend all their time on cardio and calisthenics, which are pretty much always inferior to programs including lifting (especially with free weights), even if the goal is just simple weight-loss (lifting will generally do more to help promote metabolism and burn fat than a session on a treadmill or, god forbid, an elliptical machine). Anyway, it’s basically a request for an institution devoted to physical exertion to privilege her laziness over people who are actually working their hardest. Alternatively, it may be the case that the women are also grunting in exertion, which is hardly a uniquely male behavior, and she is merely oblivious to her own reflexive responses.

  • Snake Oil Baron

    Schala on 2013-04-26 at 10:02 pm said:
    “meant SOB, and asshole singular. Being drunk screws my grammar.”

    Your lucky. Being drunk only gives me delusions of grandeur and makes me witty and charming–right up to the point when I’m naked and vomiting on dandelions far from the city limits. That’s usually the part of an evening when things start going wrong.

    But that king looks a bit like some of my relatives. Nervous and shifty looking. I shall have to see if he is part of my family.

  • Snake Oil Baron

    “What ‘thick-necked musclemen’ go ‘EAAAAAAGGGGGH’ when they lift?”

    She has probably seen weight lifting on the Olympics when the guys are trying for world records and she is projecting that on the odd person who may have exhaled in an unapproved manned in her presence. Or maybe they had ladies’ tennis on the TV when she was there once and assumed the screaming was from the weight trainers.

    EAAAAAAGGGGGH!

    I think I actually made that noise once but it had more to do with the preceding two days of really spicy food than with physical activity. TMI, I know.