Okay, watch this first. It will make your whole day. I promise!
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Do you remember the first time you were catcalled? I was in fifth grade, walking past the boys bathroom when a group of boys suddenly yelled (sung?) that line from a Michael Jackson song “Hey pretty baby, with the high heels on!” while hip thrusting and making awooooga! noises. One of them grabbed me around the waist and tried to, I assume, make some kind of lewd gesture. In reality it was more like the do-si-do we’d just been practicing in gym class. It was one of the most bizarre moments of my life.
First, I was wearing my white Keds (like every other girl in the late 80’s/early 90’s) not high heels so they weren’t even accurate. Second, I’d never really identified as pretty — already by that age I knew I wasn’t one of the pretty people. (I had big plastic hipster glasses back when they were still just nerdy. Does that make me retroactively cool? Let’s say yes.) Third, it was upsetting. My first reaction was to want to cry (HSP for life, yo!) but just as quickly I felt ashamed of my reaction. On one hand, weren’t they giving me a compliment? Kind of? But I felt a shaken, the way anyone would if someone jumped out of nowhere and yelled Michael Jackson at them. (Rule of life: You should only invoke the King of Pop when confronted by zombies or Pepsi.)
Have you ever played rugby? I haven’t. I had the chance once. The super rad Jen Sinkler (you may know her as the strong-woman who coined the phrase, “How do I get my cardio? I lift weights faster.”) once invited me to play with her team. Actually I think she invited me like five or six times. Yet despite my whole shtick being trying new athletic stuff I balked at rugby. I’ll be honest: they were some of the most super-fit ladies I’ve ever seen and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up at all. I’m not usually one to mind public humiliation but I was really intimidated. I mean, it’s rugby.
At the time all I knew about rugby was that it had really complicated rules, people got hurt a lot and it most closely resembles American football, the sport I most detest. (Yell at me if you want but for me watching football is worse than watching my cat lick her biz. The players only move for 11 minutes out of 3+ hours of game time – the rest is just watching people yell at each other without being able to hear what they’re saying. How is that fun??)
From the inimitable Jen Sinkler
Being a woman who lifts weights automatically makes you open to weird comments (as does being a mom of “a lot” of kids) and over the last decade (!!!) of hoisting iron, I’ve got more than my fair share. Here are some of my personal favorites:
“Are you a lady Marine?” (No, but thank you!)
“You used to have such a cute little runner’s body! Do you miss it?” (Are you calling me big?)
“I think it’s cool that you lift, just don’t turn into a dude okay?” (No sex change operation says no worries on that front)
“Haha I’d hate it if my girlfriend was stronger than me hahaha!” (Hahah I’d hate it if I were your girlfriend too, hahaha!)
“Don’t want to run into you in a dark alley!” (Good. Don’t.)
“You’re going to hurt yourself.” (Distinct possibility with this girl!)
“You must be a bodybuilder.” (There are reasons for a girl to lift weights besides being a competitive body builder.)
“Weight lifting doesn’t burn enough calories to count as a real workout.” (Erm, calorie burn is not the best nor even the only measure of a quality workout.)
“I bet you’re the kind of girl who doesn’t really get a long with other girls.” He said it so coolly that my high-school self immediately knew the correct answer. “Oh yeah, all my best friends are boys,” I said obligingly. That wasn’t even remotely true but even my then-self knew that we women are supposed borrow a friend’s lipstick in the bathroom and then use that same shade to mark her man in the bedroom. I added, “I’m not crazy like those other girls.” What I meant, of course, was that I was low-maintenance (lie), no-drama (lie) and that I’d be comfortable with burping, farting and sex jokes (lies, all of it!).The boy in question was a crush and I wanted to impress him, even if it meant throwing another girl – or my gender entirely – under the bus. Indeed all my best friends were then, and are still now, girls. Not that I don’t love and adore the men in my life but so much of my life revolves around my sisters, those who share my DNA and those who don’t.