For women, life just isn’t fair. Our culture created and perpetuates gender inequality that affects women in life-altering ways to this day. Women are too often disrespected, undervalued and exploited. Fortunately, CrossFit’s values go against the grain in some major ways. The worldwide fitness phenomenon continues to grow, and with its engagement of millions of athletes and fans, it’s creating what might be as close to a genderless community as we may ever experience. There are a few key reasons every feminist should adore the sport of functional fitness.
Breaking physical stereotypes.
The ideals surrounding female physique are changing. Embracing a healthy body is the new fad. Lean, strong bodies have lost their masculine stigma, and beauty as a concept is becoming inclusive of different shapes and sizes rather than exclusively waif-like figures. Muscles are miraculously becoming a sign of strength and confidence, and ladies who love to work toward the impossible are proving that previously assumed physical limitations are no match for women on a mission. CrossFit women aren’t just breaking physical stereotypes, but they’re also breaking records — and hearts.
Women matter as much as men.
The CrossFit industry doesn’t just include women; it requires women. While many sports have a heavy gender bias, CrossFit focuses on athletes. Men and women, old and young, fit and not fit — CrossFit doesn’t care. For that reason, at many competitions and in many boxes, the male-female ratio is close to even. Women are as much an audience and group of participants as men, and the industry reflects that through product development, organizations like Barbells for Boobs and events that highlight female and male performance equally.
Performance is the focus.
Although beautiful booties are a benefit of CrossFit, it’s not an environment highly influenced by appearance. In addition, it doesn’t matter where you came from, what ethnicity you are, how much money you make or even what affiliate you’re part of. At the end of the day (whether it’s a WOD or a competition), the only thing that matters is performance.
I have yet to attend or hear of a competition at which the male and female payouts are not identical. The CrossFit Games are a worldwide platform, and they’ve set a standard for gender equality with equal work and equal pay. And everybody else in the CrossFit world is following suit. While workers across the country still endure gender-based pay and female star athletes earn lower payouts, endorsements and incomes than men, CrossFit disregards standards and does what is right and rational.
Respect is not gender dependent.
As a woman, it’s not uncommon to walk into a globo gym and feel slightly intimidated. It seems to be standard to recognize a woman’s beauty but overlook her abilities. Assumptions about fitness suggest men lift weights and women do aerobics. References like “cute” trump ideas like “badass.” But times are a changin’. In a CrossFit gym, your trainer is as likely to be a woman as a man. The women in a class may perform faster, lift heavier and master skills more quickly than some men. The women are working hard, sweating side by side with men and are subject to the same physical tests. Walking into a box, you’re more likely to experience an overwhelming sense of respect for your fellow athletes, regardless of their gender.
As a young woman, I was fortunate enough to have parents who encouraged me to pursue anything I set my mind to. And although society is still not to the point of gender equality, we are slowly but surely making progress. Stereotypes and limitations are being dismissed daily, and doing anything “like a girl” is a point of pride. CrossFit is damn close to showcasing gender equality. Let’s keep it up.