I get it- it’s 2015, Hillary Clinton is amazing, Beyoncé has a whole song about it, and recently news coverage touts how far feminism has come as a movement- but really?
After my most recent experience at the gym, I say we’re still coming up short.
I am not a super athletic person. However, I really like doughnuts and don’t feel like buying bigger pants- these two facts have forced me to frequent my local gym, hitting the treadmill in attempt to condition my non-running mindset into one that embraces the miles, yearns for the open road or whatever bullshit my Nike app keeps telling me.
In order to limit exposing my novice strides to a few people as possible, and because I don’t like sweating in close proximity to others, I tend to visit my gym after 8pm, when there’s little to no other people and I can have an almost empty treadmill row. With just a little personal space, I feel free to sweat and generally zone out.
So yesterday, when there were seven out of ten treadmills open, and an older man wearing non athletic khakis chooses the one next to me and starts walking- I got a little angry.
When he started staring at my chest and glancing over at me every two minutes- my workout was officially ruined.
It’s a gym- not a club. I am not asking you to stare at me while I sweat, I am not asking for you to come closer to me while I try to up my speed, I’m not posting a gym selfie to show off my ass in spandex, I’m just here to work out. All I’m asking for a just a little personal space while I burn off my vanilla sprinkle breakfast indulgence.
Is this too much too ask in a culture where we glorify Crossfit athletes on Instagram, double tapping that model’s mirror shot of his abs, and sharing numerous kale smoothies for a “bikini bod”? With the entire athletic industry highly visual in its core nature- is it now impossible for women to go to a co-ed gym without feeling objectified for how they look while doing cardio or squatting?
I’m going with No-My workout is not an invitation to stare at my body, no matter what’s bouncing or falling or sweating and until little micro-aggressions like this stop- we’re all just running in circles around real progress.