My good friend (and awesome photographer) Lillith Leda posted an interesting question on Facebook – as she is wont from time to time. This time, her status read: “Would you? Is this really appealing?” with no further expansion, other than an accompanying picture… (right).
Cue a mix of responses, some predictable, others pleasantly surprising. The ones that rankled me are the ones I wanted to respond to, not for any reason other than to explain why they indeed rankle me.
I do not know the posters personally and it’s not a personal response to them, but more to the general gut reaction from me. In fact, many of the responders on Lillith’s post were very much to my own way of thinking:
“I think she looks great. What she’s achieved there isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. It takes time, hard work and dedication. She gets my respect just for that. I also like the idea of women bulking up instead of trying to be as small as humanly possible.” Said Natalie.
While others disagreed:
“No its disgusting.” said Roz.
“Def no. Great body for a man. Not a woman, gross!” said Jo-Anne.
Now let’s take a step back here and declare that what Lillith was asking wasn’t sexually-inclined – as in: “Would you date/go out with/shag this woman?” It was actually, as Lillith explains, a question about whether women she knew would go to the trouble of getting bulked and ripped to that degree. Puts a different spin on the responses, but doesn’t really dodge the bullet for those responders when it comes to the question as it relates to gender issues. I think the vagueness of Lillith’s initial question inadvertently drew some intriguing, assumptive comments. Good question. Interesting answers. And me with my big mouth.
I’m still freaked out by responses that offer those tired tropes: “I’m afraid she’ll do this or that to me” or “looks like a man”… these make me uncomfortable because I’m generally not into that established gender role thing.
Firstly, most men don’t look like that anyway.
Secondly, they (the statements in question) infer that men and women are (grouped as) some sort of polar opposite, as opposed to individuals who have individual tendencies, interests and genetic and social makeups. Case in point: Chyna – “the ninth wonder of the world” (pictured here in her WWE heyday) – who after years of being terrorized because of her choice to build her body underwent surgery to “make her jaw more feminine”.
That’s bullying in my book, by statements like the above on a mass media scale.
Which drew from Dennis: “It’s grotesque, in my opinion…a woma(n) can be toned and still look feminine, that does not look feminine at all…but hey if she’s happy looking like a steroid bunny what the heck!” … which kinda missed my point.
Still, a potentially interesting talk over steak and wine.