Learning Curve

This movie is best enjoyed with   hallucinogenic popcorn.

I am sitting in a café, resting my weary lats and delts after having them pounded by my new trainer—what I mean is, from the workout she provided; I would have to pay extra for an actual beating—reading about vermin, one of my favourite topics. Here is a learning highlight: during the 1960s, entomologist Paul W. Riegert observed the mating habits of grasshoppers, noting that ‘virgin females laid several egg-pods even though these eggs had never been fertilized. In keeping with other insects about five per cent of these unfertilized eggs hatched, the embryos being formed by a process known as “pathenogenesis.” All of these hatchlings were female.’ Oh fuck yeah, an Amazonian race of lady grasshoppers! Send that script to Joan Collins right now! What a dystopian nightmare for the men’s movement though, confirming the irrelevance of male parts and man fluids. While those Robert Bly guys are in the woods shaving each other and sincerely asking ‘Who’s your daddy?’ I will be placing my own egg sacks in the shallow square planters behind the condo building, rubbing hindparts into the dirt while flexing mandibles. My current fantasy life—it changes weekly—cycles between this scenario and a more entrepreneurial one inspired by Cupcake Wars. In that alternate dream sequence I develop, market, and brand FFG Power muffins, waffles and bars, without rubbing my hindparts in any way. Wouldn’t you rather purchase a high-protein, sugar-free, low-fat ‘Ogre Cake’ instead of that pecan tart at the Second Cup? My custom combination of protein powder, flaxseed meal, wheat bran, and splenda is surprisingly delicious as MW, my number one guinea pig, can attest.

In addition to reading about grasshoppers and invading-queen bees this week, I learned some workout skills from my new trainer. Yes, it’s true that DYT has moved on to other things. Sob. Luckily I will still see her in revs class every Friday and Saturday. Mistress New-to-Me does not yet have a code name, but she is equally delightful, in addition to being well educated in anatomy and physiology, plus sporty to boot. Highly Certified Sporty Sporty Spot Spot [HCSSSS]? No that’s SHIT, with too many caps. This first stab was inspired by my partner, who the other day referred to himself as ‘Fatty Fatty Dump Dumps,’ making me laugh out loud and adore him even more. In any case, She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-Until-Next-Week immediately tested my fitness level with ‘Filthy Fifties,’ a timed circuit requiring participants to perform movements, like weighted shoulder presses, chin ups, and box jumps, fifty times as quickly as possible before moving on to the next one. The ten sets of fifty are, however, difficult to motor through without resting, making them ‘filthy’ rather than clean and tidy. During my final set—fifty jumping burpees complete with tits to floor pushups—I began to lag. Villainess X encouraged me with the following phrase ‘Go hard and you might even beat the time of my iron man.’ Picturing a chiseled and arrogant swim-run-biker, I pushed to new heights, feeling great satisfaction as I emasculated him. That’s right, the ultimate goal of feminism is to de-testicalize men; I can hide my agenda no longer. Later that week, I saw said iron man at the gym. He was actually supine inside an iron lung. Oops my bad. ‘I still beat your lazy ass, bitch,’ I seethed. I think he gave me the finger inside his outdated breathing machine. Some people are poor losers, don’t you think? ‘Those tight biker shorts make your package look small,’ I pettily remarked, turning on my heel, sore chest swollen with accomplishment.

The entire week was a smorgasboard of education, for I also launched into my Can-Fit-Pro Personal Training course. I was struck by this organization’s definition of mental health—considered one of the many benefits of exercise—as ‘the ability to learn and grow intellectually. Life experiences as well as more formal structures (e.g., school) enhance mental health.’ Firstly, do I have to know that for the exam? It’s quite fun to be an annoying little student-shit again. Secondly, could I love this definition more? It confirms my suspicion that closed- and narrow-minded people committed to the status quo are in fact insane as well as stupid. Intelligence is linked with flexible modes of thought, not the attainment of degrees or certificates. My response to people is based on their ability to engage with an array of subjects, pursue novelty, and observe the world around them. For instance, when I asked a friend-of-a-friend to manage the liquor provision at my Cajun feast in early July, he researched authentic Sazerac cocktails, read about the history and classification of bitters, and then tracked down an American source for the Peychaud brand. Now that is a relentlessly curious friend worth cultivating! Plus the somewhat lethal results were delicious. Such a healthy quest for knowledge could never be measured by a freakin’ IQ test, a recent point of debate between MW and myself. Though hardly the first to do so, I contend that IQ tests are bound to reinforce class based, gendered, ethnic, and cultural differences, rewarding those who have been encouraged to display proudly their intellectual abilities (i.e., the kind of display not usually valued in either women or minorities). When my partner was regaling me with tales from his recent Las Vegas trip, I also realized that it takes a certain kind of smarts to play poker well. While at the table, he must rationally calculate pot odds, remain alert while appearing relaxed, interpret diverse personalities, respond to shifting social situations, and slurp Singapore Noodles. Think that’s easy? Hell no. Then again, he confessed to losing one hand to a swarthy tourist who had in fact fallen asleep. 

My PT course is being taught by Dean Somerset and I encourage you to check out his informative blog site: http://deansomerset.com/. OMG, I just double checked this url, happily discovering that Dean has featured FFG in his most recent post. Thanks! And for the record I had already decided to promote you before you promoted me. He previously discussed an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, called ‘State Intervention in Life-Threatening Childhood Obesity.’ The authors conclude that in extreme cases temporary foster placements or other forms of state action may be mandated, with childhood obesity considered a form of abuse by parents. Hmmm. Guess I had better stop baking those Southern Buttermilk Biscuits with hot jalapeno jelly for my partner before he gets a restraining order against me, or demands some kind of lifetime disability pay. But seriously, North American children are not expected to have a longer lifespan than their parents, and 26 per cent of Canadian children between the ages of 2 and 17 are currently overweight or obese. As a cultural critic, I know that I am supposed to draw on my historical and theoretical training to analyze the invention of the category of obesity, noting that it articulates—yes I am invoking Stuart Hall—health with fat loss in unprecedented ways that legitimate increased governmental control and social scrutiny while enforcing an ideal vision of parenthood and insisting on white middle-class bodies for all. At the same time, these kids are really fat and it’s hard to see anything good about that. Maybe government intervention could be formed in a positive rather than a punitive fashion, providing tax rebates for improved BMI scores. Or else new policies could support ‘lifestyle interventions,’ encouraging me to retool as an intervention planner instead of a volunteer personal trainer. So when your family and friends surprise you at home, set fire to your fat pants, and prepare to haul you off to boot camp, I would be there to finalize the seating arrangements and cater the event with Ogre Cakes, Dump Dump Fibre Bars, and Parthenogenic Protein Waffles: No need to add syrup, just pop them in the toaster and they will expand on their own. I will schedule your first dance with Jamie Oliver and make sure the hired photographer takes pictures of the cake that you are no longer allowed to eat being smashed in your face, and close-ups of your squishy thigh being squeezed with calipers. Oh you thought a frilly garter would be involved? Those days are gone, fatty. Long gone. FFG, Joan Collins, Stephen Colbert, and a group of single-breasted grasshoppers have taken over. As you feel your body slowly fill with wheat bran, you cease to resist. Gassy and limp, you resign yourself to this brave new world.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Learning Curve

  1. I tried to read this, but the first bit about grasshopper eggs got to me and I had to stop. Earlier today, I was researching a spider I found in our new house and the one I think it might have been (can’t remember which one, maybe a Parsons spider) is (supposedly) harmless (mostly) but a bit disgusting in that is you decide to smack a plump one with a shoe you will kill it but it will at the same time give birth to a huge litter of little annoying arachnids, scurrying around their now smushed mommy. Freaky. And creepy. And somewhat disgusting. You would probably like them! Haven’t told vampirella about this yet.

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