Wednesday, February 27, 2013
If you'd asked Little Jolene what she wanted to be when she grew up, you'd probably hear something having to do with horses or to be a veterinarian. I sincerely doubt that I ever suggested being a princess. And I never wanted to be a ballerina.
Ballerinas are some of the most talented and strong and fit individuals I've ever seen. I just never wanted to be one. Under most circumstances, being called a ballerina would probably not insult me. What's to be insulted about?
Last night, though, being called one broke my heart.
I hate sexism. I HATE it. I hate when a politician suggests that rape doesn't happen on college campuses.
I hate when car commercials sell their product by putting a pretty pair of breasts on screen.
I absolutely loathe and detest Michael Bay films.
I hate being told I'm strong "for a girl".
But I am not often on the receiving end of blatant discrimination. Sure, sometimes the guy bagging my groceries refuses to hand me the bag, insisting Awesome Husband carries them instead. Sure the GNC salesmen made me feel uncomfortable when I bought creatine, suggesting that I probably didn't know what I was doing with it. But these things are minor. They make me mad. But they're minor.
When direct and pointed attacks happen, a few things go on in my head.
1. I get MAD. I rise to the occasion. I get ready to go to battle.
2. Shortly thereafter, I second-guess every single thing I said and think about all the things I wish I'd said.
3. I get sad. I get disappointed with humanity. And I feel terribly hurt.
4. I sit on the couch and watch television and refuse to speak for a while.
Last night, Awesome Husband and I went to the gym. I didn't want to. I was tired and feeling lazy. But I went. I set myself on a mat and spent a good ten minutes stretching because it just felt great. During that time, the subjects of my last blog (LegPressGirl and ThirdGirl) sat down on the leg press machine and were approached by like...........four different men. It made me chuckle. It was maybe going to be the subject of my blog today. It's not.
After stretching, I went over to the dumbbell area and saw a man standing near the incline bench that I wanted. I went up to him and said, "Excuse me. May I use this?" He nodded, smiled, and moved off. At no point did he appear to be using it. He was just standing near it.
I sat down on the bench to do incline flyes and he moved over to a smith machine where someone had left a decline bench. He did not appear to want to use it because he continued to just stand there. While standing there, another man (with incredibly tall spiky hair) came up to him and asked if he was using the decline bench. His response?
"No. I'm just waiting for this f***ing ballerina over here to be done."
I had my headphones in. It is very unlikely he knew I could hear him. At this point, I was not at all certain he was talking about me. I looked around to see who he could possibly be waiting on but I came up empty.
I realized at this point that my dumbbells were too light so I got up to change them out for another set. As soon as I stood, he came over and asked if he could take the bench. That made things a little more clear. I pulled out my headphones, looked him straight in the eyes and said,
"Am I the effing ballerina??"
I said effing. Because I am not about to cuss in the gym. IT'S RUDE, YOU NEANDERTHAL.
He got flustered. He said no. He said he was waiting on some guy on the other side of the gym who was doing some move with the bar behind his neck and uh....
I nodded, slowly, reached for my weights and said, "Go ahead. Take it."
He fumbled some more, smiled a little (I'll tell you just where to put that smile, sir), and said, "No no, are you sure?" I nodded again. "Okay, it's really no problem." I continued to tell him he could take the bench.
He took it and moved away and I sat down on a flat bench to do db bench presses. I was laughing at this point. It all seemed so absurd. Awesome Husband came over and I gave him a look.
Me: I almost just got in a fight.
AH: With who?
Me: That guy.
AH: What, you mean like, the opposite of that? (He thought StupidIdiotSexistJerkFace was hitting on me and I was being sarcastic.)
Me: Oh no. I mean exactly what I said.
I waited until SISJF had walked away and then relayed the story. AH's face got very red and he said, "You want me to do something about it?"
Me: "No! He knows I'm upset. He was embarrassed. I put him in his place."
But as time went on, I didn't feel so confident. In fact, I felt sad and embarrassed. I went up to the counter and told the story to the women who work there, one of whom I know personally. Because honestly, he may have been talking about someone else. But even if that were the case, both situations are terrible.
Either A)He WAS talking about me and is a huge sexist jerk pig or B)He was referring to someone on the other side of the gym, whose workout he felt was inferior. And to insult them, he referred to them as a female dancer. So he's a sexist jerk pig.
When we left the gym, all my rage-filled adrenaline went away and I just felt heartbroken. I was shaky. I felt like I should have confronted him further. I felt like I should have whipped my thirty pound dumbbell at his big sexist jerk pig face. And I didn't. All I did was confront him for saying something he shouldn't have said because he thought I couldn't hear him.
I do not want to be made to feel like I'm not welcome in the gym. I don't need to be handed a pink dumbbell. I'm not looking for the 3 pound weights. I am sweating and working hard and often lifting more than my own body weight. BUT EVEN IF I WASNT, I will not be made to feel unwelcome. I will not be made to feel less. If I want to lift three pounds and dance around the gym listening to Britney Spears and take up a squat rack for an hour I will frakking do it and I will not apologize.
Bottom line is, though, that if SexistJerkPigs are going to consistently ruin my workout, I may just look for another gym. I love to work out. And I do not want that taken away from me. I don't want to leave the gym feeling weak because someone has diminished me so thoroughly.
And he did. I wish I could say I felt strong after that exchange. I don't. I feel SAD.