Monthly Archives: October 2012

Misogyny and the Gym

Some of my friends may know that I’m a regular gym-goer. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I don’t like it so much, but generally I hate not going to the gym more than going. This isn’t the forum to talk about why I go; instead I want to talk about the culture at gyms themselves.

Mostly, the atmosphere at the gyms I’ve attended is kind of okay. But then I’m a reasonably-in-shape male, so presumably all the total dickheads out there see me as one of their own. Which is a good thing, I guess.

But on the occasions I see someone who doesn’t fit into their stereotype of a gym person (i.e. not male), the seething among the olympic lifters begins. I want to make clear that it’s not a majority of people who act like awful fucks, but there’s definitely more than in the outside world (and if I did a scientific study, I’m pretty sure the difference would be statistically significant).

Just yesterday for example, I was in the middle of a… No, wait, k’know what? I’m going to write this blog post in the voice of a fitness blogger. I’ll start again. Oh, and imagine I’m speaking like Johnnie Vaughan would if he took a cocktail of anabolic steroids.

SO, yesterday is was hitting the weights HARD. And I mean HARD. I was fucking beasting my way through a SERIOUSLY hardcore set when some other dude heads on over my way and asks if the Smith machine is free. This rookie wanted to bench on a Smith machine – hitting big numbers on a machine like this won’t end up getting you that ROCK-HARD body you always wanted, as you won’t get it with a restricted ROM.

He’s asking me this shit in the middle of a CRAZY fucking set. I mean, I am in the ZONE. And the worst thing was, he has to walk past this CHICK to come and ask me. Good for her that she’s working out and getting herself TOGETHER – the real men out there won’t TAKE a girl in unless she’s got TIGHT abs and great ti-

Yeah, I can’t carry on doing this. It’s giving me a headache. I’m going back to my normal voice – if you haven’t heard it, it’s smooth, sultry, and slightly annoying after the first few sentences.

Basically I was in the middle of something, and a guy asked whether a specific piece of equipment was free. Which is kind of annoying, but kind of understandable. Unless there’s someone standing right next to me (and nearer him), not wearing headphones, and taking a rest between sets. Then, surely, it’s worth asking the other person.

Why didn’t he? Personally, I think it’s because she was a woman, and he didn’t think she belonged. Why do I think that? First, he was wearing a T-shirt which read “Read this while I stare at your tits”, second he decided not to ask her in the first place, and third, he ignored her when she answered his question anyway. He just pretended she was invisible and inaudible and waited for me to answer instead.

I know it sounds a bit petty, but this everyday misogyny can so easily fade into the background unless someone comments. There’s just this general vibe I get from some people at the gym that it’s a guy’s space, which men graciously allow women to use sometimes. From men telling women to stop using equipment so they can, to the arse-staring and creepshots whenever a woman walks past in stretchy workout gear.

My least favourite event was a woman walking into the free-weights area (that most manly of places) and look around for a second. She could have been looking for anything: a free bench, the dumbbell rack, a squat rack, anything at all. But no, one guy realised she must be completely lost. Why would a girl want to work out with free weights, he wondered to himself. What came out his mouth was: “The cross-trainers are on the other side of the gym, love”.

That’s a gym I never went back to.

I remember some guys complaining in a changing rooms about women’s-only branches of Fitness First which have opened around London. Where are the men’s-only gyms? These morons asked that question over and over, while I shook my head silently knowing the real answer: they’re fucking everywhere.


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Filed under Feminism, Fitness

Feminists: Debasing Marriage Since Never

I caught this blog post through a long chain of bigots, and people reporting on bigots. What begins as a discussing on Isaac Newton’s brilliant invention of the milled edge coin quickly descends into a poorly structured metaphor about how feminists are destroying marriage.

How? You may ask. Our intrepid reporter explains:

Men looking to marry face the same kind of dilemma ancient merchants used to face.  Feminists and their enablers have slowly shaved off the value of marriage for men.  Marriage for men no longer means: 

  • Being the legally and socially recognized head of the household.
  • An expectation of regular sex.
  • Legal rights to children.
  • Lifetime commitment.

Well, if this is the destruction of marriage, count me in. Being in a somewhat equal relationship (sometime we watch TV I don’t like, sometimes I pretend to be an aeroplane in public just to be annoying, I’m pretty sure the power roughly balances out).

And he hits all the standard dick-swinging woman-hating lonely-old-man tropes. Mischaracterisation of abuse as female histrionics:

 Oh, and we also have some new laws which assume you are an abuser if your wife decides she needs some drama or extra leverage against you. 

Then there’s the attempt to paint all women as serial sluts:

It took her so long to find you that you can’t reasonably expect her chastity to be perfectly in tact.  I mean, it’s mostly there, but it suffered a ding or two.  Her virginity was gone to her first boyfriend, but don’t worry it was very romantic and she still has fond memories of that special time.  Not too long after that those jerks at the frat house did a number on her pride, but you can’t hold that against her.   

There are more, I’m sure. But I have a headache and want to sit in the corner.

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Filed under Feminism

A Tale of Two Letters

Since I’ve been walking to walk for the last month, I’ve unsurprisingly stopped reading the Evening Standard. And a good thing that is too, being as it is the printed minutes of Boris Johnson’s campaign headquarters. But on Monday I did pick up a copy – a shitty journey back from Guildford left me feeling like catching the fastest tube back home rather than bothering to walk.

A couple of “opinions” on the letters page caught my eye. Why am I only writing about these now? Only the voices in my head know why. And they won’t tell me.

Here they are [emphasis mine]:

Light entertainment at the BBC in the Eighties was a very different place from today – with a culture centred on the bar, full of characters and an almost anarchic sense of fun, with the producers themselves often larking about. 

I recall the rumours about Savile but they also flew around about lots of other people, including BBC executives. Isn’t there the risk of everyone with an axe to grind now jumping on the bandwagon? A well-known actor threw a bacon roll at me once: should I launch into print and say in hindsight it was an assault? And how can George Entwistle, a director-general who has been in post five minutes, chair an enquiry on the issue?

The BBC has been showing us how Britain fed itself during the war. I can only assume this is government propaganda bracing us for the shortage of land caused by its reckless immigration policy.

I play a game called “Two a Day” with the Metro and the Standard. Every single day there are two letters (or texts) which are so far to the right they’re off the lunatic fringe. And Monday was no exception. But it was special in how hard these two people had to work to get their absurd ideas out.

Jeanette Eccles from N7 had to compare child molestation to having a bacon sandwich thrown at her in order to dismiss the possibility of investigating the Saville affair. And Vanessa of no permanent address had to spend the last few years ignoring the fact that net immigration is negative (that is: more people are leaving than coming in) just in order to hold on to her opinion for this long. Then she had to come up with one of the most awesome non sequiturs I’ve seen in the Standard since they had Theresa May write an opinion piece about terrorists.

Congratulations Jeanette and Vanessa. Your prize for today’s piece of gibbering, frothy-mouthed hatred is my ire. Go wallow in it.

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Filed under Journalism, Politics, Racism

British Transport Police miss the point

This BBC article is currently kicking around in the ‘Most Read’ section of the website. I, for one, fully support these little acts of resistance: they’re witty, non-violent and hopefully make people think. All the things low-level subversion should be.

They are also marrying my two somewhat-contradictory thoughts on the Tube: Love public transport, can’t stand TfL and how they manage the Tube. They’re like any good parody: they mock their subject matter while making their affections for it clear.

Take the following examples:


“No eye contact. Penalty £200.”
“We apologise for any incontinence caused during these engineering works.”
“Peak hours may necessitate you let other people sit on your lap.”

But, as always, the plod miss the point. And the fun:

BTP said graffiti was “unwanted vandalism that causes criminal damage” and “will not be tolerated”.
“It is a blight on our society and becomes an eyesore for many residents who overlook the railway,” a BTP spokesman added.

Wait, what? Putting stickers inside tube carriages and tube stations “becomes an eyesore for many residents who overlook the railway”. It’s almost like there is another kind of graffiti which basically everyone agrees should stop: spray paint on buildings by railways. If the police pretend all graffiti is the specific kind of graffiti it’s easy to oppose then, why, they don’t need to think about criminality with any kind of nuance or critical thinking at all.

Graffiti: bad. Always. Even if it’s not an eyesore for anyone who overlooks a railway.

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Filed under Law, Politics, Travel

My Snidey Sense is Tingling

I follow a couple of fitness bloggers. Mostly because it’s easy to injure yourself doing any resistance training with bad form, and regular videos on good form stop me getting in to bad habits. But, as is always the case with fitness, what few useful (and true) pieces of information come my way  are almost universally drowned out by mountains of utter bull.

I’d thought I’d finally found a set of blogs which don’t get into too much of the bullshit, after hours of shit-sifting. Then I was pointed to StrongLifts, and in particular, one of their reviews of a fitness books. The link was titled: The Fitness Holy Grail. I was getting some serious bullshit vibes off of this. You might even say I smelled bullshit. And I was right. The entire review is covered in lines like “Outlaw Bodybuilder From New Jersey Reveals Amazing Secret Diet That Replaces Steroids And Forces Your Fat To Melt Like Butter In A Microwave!” and “most people – even the “experts” – will tell you it’s impossible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time unless you’re born with superhuman genetics…”

It has everything, all of the pseudoscience alarm bells: promising impossible change, representing the discoverer as a regular guy, denigrating the “experts”. God, those experts, eh? What do they know?

But my favourite line is this:

Here’s how: few guys know this but muscle size is directly related to strength gains. This is not only a scientific fact, but also an anecdotal one: 7x Mr Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger could Deadlift 710lb. Well, the fastest way humanly possible to gain rock-hard muscle is using my StrongLifts 5×5 program.

That’s some rock-hard scientific understanding he’s got going on there.

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Filed under Fitness, Scepticism, Science

Crazy People Think Black People Can Get Away with Murder

Ah, Right Wing Watch. The staff there have the unenviable job of tracking everything that the crazy wingnut far-right of America say or do. Mostly so that there’s a record of every incitement to violence, or mental conspiracy theory, or boycott, or outright racism.

Falling into the last of those categories is Brian Tashman’s post Horowitz: Obama ‘Would Never Be President if He Weren’t Black’. Yes, there are the obvious statements of unremitting hatred, the lies and the conspiracies in there – go read for yourself – but one comment of Horowitz’s did catch my eye [emphasis mine]:

Cornel West is just symbolic of the corruption of our culture and not unlike Obama who would never be president if he weren’t black, no white person with his resume and his thoughts and curious background and radicalism would ever have been nominated, let alone elected president if he weren’t black. So Cornel West is an empty suit who has twenty honorary degrees and he’s taught at all these prestigious universities but is basically an airhead, most people who’ve seen him on TV they’ve noticed. Part of the racism of our society is if you’re black you can get away with murder.

If you were looking for an explanation for why he hasn’t been indicted yet over those drone strikes in Pakistan…

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Filed under Ethics, Politics, Racism