The Lady Area

Okay, first things first, try to calm down. I know you are hoping that I will discuss a certain part of the female anatomy. Or maybe explain the answer to my recent google query: ‘why is my lady area so puffy after taking tribulus?’ Sorry to disappoint, filthy beggars, but this week I am intrigued by the ‘women only’ zone in the gym. You know, that place where no man has gone before. That windowless L-shaped mystery room at the back, into which women of all shapes and sizes come and go. What the fuck happens in there?   

If you had pictured a sexcapades dyke room in 1970s Los Angeles, I am sorry to reveal that the lady area is instead filled with older weight machines, a few bosus, some balance balls, and uselessly light dumbbells. For the most part, I use this gender-specific region for stretching. When laying flat on my back with legs wide open or bending over to brandish a sweaty butt crack—the kind that leaves vagina prints on the black vinyl benches—I like to have a little privacy. Aside for clueless men: remember in kindergarten when you carved potatoes, dipped them in paint, and decorated Easter baskets for your mom? Vagina prints are similar, but involve sweaty labia folds pressing through underwearless Lululemon buttock-lifting pants. If the CSI team sprayed v-print finder all around the gym, it would locate hundreds of them. Again, I must ask you to calm down, and just breathe, slowly. That’s right. Good. But wait, a question has suddenly occurred to me: do man sacks leave marks too? One more query: how do you guys walk around with those things dangling there, so vulnerable, so soft, so cute?

Some gyms take the lady area to the extreme and exclude men altogether. Curves advertises ‘no men, no mirrors,’ apparently to reassure female patrons who fear being looked at and judged (and who are also afraid to work out longer than 30 minutes a day). Makes sense, though I am not sure why such gyms are opposed to hiring educated trainers, preferring to have ‘average’ women there to support clients. Is it intimidating to be in the presence of greatness? That could be it because G-Smash reports that when she and other magnificently muscular women use the lady area, they are often made to feel unwelcome by those inside, as if the She-Hulks had rejected their classification as women and were thus trespassing. I am wracking my brain to understand this reaction, and can only think that the glaring lady-area users envy the accomplishments of the Wonder-Women-meat-sacks, or else somehow feel like ‘less’ around them. I have seen heavy unfit women glance up at me, exhausted, during a training session, with an expression that I find hard to decipher. Do they imagine that I, in my new state of what G-Smash calls ‘distance ripped’—jacked from afar but soft up close—am looking down on them? If so, they couldn’t be more wrong. Anyone who works their muscles to failure in a public gym will get only one thing from me: respect.    

In The Beauty Myth (see my previous post), Noami Wolf argues that women can resist and refuse the oppressive norms of beauty—norms designed to preoccupy and separate women from each other—by cultivating a non-competitive atmosphere amongst themselves. She is a fan of friendships between older and younger women, and to that I say, go DYT! Go G-Smash! It is difficult to be conventionally beautiful, according to Wolf, and, based on my recent observations of several gorgeous young women, this is true. Men treat them quite badly in relationships, and many unknown males provide continual unwanted attention. I received some insight the other day, while heading home from the gym. I live near a hospital, and an 80-year-old-man who was shuffling slowly on the icy sidewalk, labouriously leaning on his walker, suddenly stopped dead in his tracks, blocking my path, to give me the once-over. On one hand, his frank sexual assessment of me was laughable, since it was obvious that his man parts no longer functioned. On the other hand, I had to wonder: ‘why in the hell does he think it is his privilege, his male right, to look at me in this way, even in his state of decrepitude?’ I could have snapped his neck with one swoosh of the tight muscle in my forearm, you know, the one that makes my elbows crack during preacher curls.

So ladies, let’s learn from my encounter with this ‘unquestioned sense of entitlement oldster,’ and agree not to gaze at other women in the same manner. I hereby vow to compliment or address friendily (I just made that word up) at least one unknown woman every day, as a late new year’s resolution. I also vow to make all my own birthday cards from now on, decorating them with v-prints. Limited editions will soon be on sale on this site. Get ready to celebrate.

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About feministfiguregirl

I am a 51-year-old professor named Lianne McTavish who receives as much satisfaction from working out at the gym as from publishing my academic research. About eight years ago, I decided to combine my two primary identities (scholar/gym rat) to create "Feminist Figure Girl," a fictional character who both analyzes and participates in bodybuilding. I competed in my first figure show in June of 2011, and then wrote a book inspired by the process, published by SUNY Press in February 2015. In this blog I will write about and consider my ongoing research on the body, while regularly making fun of myself. I recommend that you start reading my first post from August 2010 (available on the home page), instead of backwards from the most recent one, in order to get the full FFG effect.

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