Monday, November 03, 2008

NaBloPoMo: Muscles

Well I have been challenged! Until this morning I had never heard of something called NaBloPoMo (or National Blog Posting Month for those of us living in the dark). This NaBloPoMo asks us each to post at least once a day for a month and PghRugbyAngel has challenged me to post meaningfully.

So here goes.

I am going to start with muscles. I have them. Big ones. They may have an ever-growing layer of padding outside them, but I have muscles I grew on purpose for rugby. They are large, bulge out of clothing in the trendy sections of stores, consume lots of fuel, and have been used to physically hit other human beings again and again and again.

If I have learned one thing since 1999 when I began playing rugby it's that the human body is amazingly strong and durable. I have been railed by other people's muscles and not suffered real damage. Just last weekend, I got punched in the face--literally punched by accident in a scrum (flanking) and I didn't even get a black eye. Muscles can do amazing things.

But there is so much pressure all around us for women to not have these muscles. Starting with the clothes available for us to cover our bodies and continuing through men who refuse to believe that we have them, we women are still incredulously envisioned as dainty and soft.

I'm still not sure how much I'm allowed to write about working on the EMHE construction site, but I will say the experience showed me that feminism still has a very, very long way to go if those hundreds of men are ever going to make space in the world for strong women. I really wish I had kept an actual talley of the times men said to me, "Are you ok with that?" "Careful with that, sweetie. It's heavy." "Whoah, honey! That door's a big one!"

Some of the objects were heavy. The doors I lugged up stairs all night long? They weighed a ton and my arms were sore the next day. But if I couldn't safely carry it up the stairs, I would have asked for assistance. I felt so belittled and infantized by that group of men. Nothing has made me that angry for many years. It was no secret that we were the rugby players, that the 20 or so volunteers Tuesday night came from the rugby team. We had muscles and were there to put them to use.

We might as well have worn heels and short skirts and gone around giving back rubs. I'd like to say that our astounding strength overpowered them and taught them a lesson in the end, but no matter how many of us carried bags of mortar on our own without flinching, the men inside and outside the loading trucks still didn't see us as anything but breakable.

I want to know how big and strong I have to get to be visible, to be SEEN not as a helpless person in need of rescue, but as a person worthy of work.


Em said...

I look forward to a month of daily posts!

PeaceLoveMath said...

I bet it wasn't just that those men thought you were dainty, but that they thought you WANTED to hear them say those things, that you would be flattered or something. And/or they are just fulfilling the gender roles they see for themselves. So I'm not defending them, I'm just expanding the frame a little. Know what I mean?