Yes, that is a real quote from my son…it’s a long story.
Anyway, after writing and discussing last week’s blog with people it occurred to me that female athletes seem to be more likely to downplay themselves. I had the opportunity to chat about the confidence/humility balance with a multiple-Games competitor and she mentioned that it was something that had impacted her as well. I started thinking about women in sports specifically and women in general and how we socialize our boys and girls to behave- I would say girls are often expected to be more reserved and gracious and less aggressive and assertive than males.
This socialization makes us into a different breed of athlete than men are. Of course men and women are different and that’s great, I just hate to think that the way we’ve been socialized could get in the way of being fully self-confident athletes and proudly claiming our athleticism. Many doors are open to women athletes both at the collegiate and professional levels, but there seems to be more drama involved with women’s athletics than exists on the men’s side. When I was in college there was always talk about women athlete’s sexual orientation, especially those who played certain sports. Then we have things like the lingerie football league, which, from everything I gather is made up of some women who are legit athletes, but why do they have to play half naked to draw an audience? Hide your children, this video represents numerous things I have problem with.
Ok, Crossfitters are half naked too, but you get my point. The reference above is just one example, there are plenty of others, like the pole dancing fitness classes and such. Although our athletes are at times scantily clad, overall the Crossfit community does so much that advances women in sport. First, we are teaching our kids through words and action that women are athletes. The family friendly atmosphere that’s created in our boxes facilitates this. I have yet to visit a box that doesn’t welcome kids. Crossfit children have the opportunity to regularly see women working hard, sweating, and picking up barbells, which sets the stage for these kids to expect women to be athletes and capable of performing physical tasks. My personal experience is that my son could not care less about me competing in Crossfit (although he is a Cherie Chan fan), but I know it’s all rubbing off on him. I’ve caught him checking out my arms and then respond by showing me his muscles. He apparently thinks I’m infinitely strong because he can see me carrying 200 pounds of groceries up three flights of stairs and still ask, “will you carry me?” He has named his Lego people things like “Push-up” and “Burpee”. He regularly sees strong women of every shape, size and age doing real work and I love that! Perhaps he is a budding feminist (despite the previous quote). I’ve even heard him refer to God as “Her”. But I digress. Even without delving into the fantastic program that is Crossfit Kids, just by being around it our kids are being indoctrinated with Crossfit culture and one of our beliefs is that women are strong, capable athletes.
Crossfit is also providing a platform for women to make an impact on the business side of athletics. There are many strong female affiliate owners, headquarters trainers, coaches, Crossfit media personnel and entrepreneurs in a variety of Crossfit related endeavors from equipment, to apparel to non-profit organizations. Totally inspiring! I don’t know what kind of female presence there is within the headquarters leadership. I would be curious to know that, as well as what the numbers look like gender-wise with affiliate ownership, who’s getting certed, etc. (Maybe if I were a real writer I would research it and try to find out).
I have heard, however, that male Crossfit athletes are a bigger spectator draw. I was surprised to hear that, it never occurred to me, but there’s some evidence it may be true. For example, I think there are more male sponsored athletes than female. Also in the Games final the men competed last so maybe that was the “main event”. Do you guys think male Crossfitters more exciting to watch? Are they more inspiring? Are both equally entertaining? Just curious…
I think it’s very meaningful that the prize money at the Games is the same across the board. You don’t see that in every sport. Achieving parity is not a given- Fortune 500 Companies, the Government, educational institutions and other sports can’t seem to do it, but perhaps as a new and developing sport/industry Crossfit can.
Oh, and stay tuned, we’ll be tackling race and class soon so as to complete the requisite race, class and gender trifecta.
“I can kill the spider above my bed/although it’s hard because I’m scared.”- Jill Scott