Monday, September 28, 2020

Double Standards And Who Does More Damage

The more I look into the controversy involving a race announcer observing the fact that two ladies leading the race had more muscle mass, the more I realize just how fucked up social media is. Obviously, when injustices occur against women, I believe people should call out the perpetrator, but what happens when the people doing the calling out get it wrong? 

What's strange to me is how few people are correcting those who are pushing the absolutely false narrative that the announcer called the runners fat, and no, he wasn't joking about women's bodies or being condescending, either. Trying to force people to believe that it's a sin any time a man makes any comment about a woman's body is unhealthy. The pendulum has officially swung too far in the opposite direction when any comment made by a man, no matter how inoffensive, is considered an insult. The women in front were pacers. It's expected that they might have a different build. In true body-positive fashion, their strength and power along with all the different body types in that race should be celebrated. Imagine how hard it was and how long it took these two runners to achieve that kind of speed, power, and strength. Why is it so terrible to claim a sprinter typically looks different than a distance runner, and why is there no upset when these kinds of comments are directed at men? 

It would be great if society could shift attention away from women's bodies altogether, but the announcer's comment was more about two athletes than it was about women in particular. The conversation around what happened afterward was hardly productive, mostly because of the many individuals commenting who jumped to the wrong conclusion and also because quite a few of them post far more damaging content than a guy simply calling two fast professional athletes muscular. 

I haven't seen a response from Zdenka Seidlova saying she was upset by what the announcer said. She seemed pretty content to have been invited to participate in the race and even noted that she initially laughed and was nervous about the offer to be a pacer. Nowhere did I see any outrage on her part about the commentary. I have to side with Bill Maher here and agree that you shouldn't be more outraged than the victim, especially if that person doesn't even see herself as one, but, man, the vitriol that poured out against the announcer was shocking and really upsetting. 

I'm scratching my head at one comment I saw claiming young girls would hear the announcer's take on the situation and think "small= fast". Well, which is it? Are people upset he called the fast runner fat, or are they upset because calling faster runners muscular will make kids think it's really the thinner runners who are faster? The original comment got all kinds of mangled and twisted, so much so that it's hard to sort through all the bizarre interpretations, but I suppose it's somewhat understandable when one realizes there has been a relentless focus on women's bodies for years, something I have said before. The problem here is that the woke community keeps shooting itself in the foot, looking for outrage in all the wrong places. All this displaced anger could be put to better use and redirected toward far more damaging content. If you're really trying to protect young girls from being exposed to unhealthy ideas, why not start with the slew of individuals and runners who promote a restrictive lifestyle and make their own weight, diet, and their bodies a constant topic of discussion? I can assure you that these types do far more damage in terms of promoting unhealthy and potentially dangerous content than a guy making a comment about muscles during a track race. 

I find it far more concerning, too, that people keep pushing this incorrect narrative, that calling someone muscular is secretly calling them fat. A huge part of my own recovery included taking a look at the way my mind misinterpreted what was actually being said. It happened the other day, in fact, when a friend of a neighbor made a comment about my weight. I could have gotten upset, but the reality is that I'm pretty sure she meant no harm. I'm not going to lash out at her or lecture someone who was just trying to make conversation and maybe didn't choose the best string of words to say in a moment. 

I think it's a sign of a very sick society when a comment that was so very clearly not meant to be hurtful or critical in any way whatsoever is taken by so many people as an insult. I understand it on an emotional level, but I'm hugely disappointed to see such an extreme reaction that included wanting the guy to be fired and insulting anyone who disagreed with those who wanted to burn the whole fucking village down. I would understand the outrage more IF what the announcer had said had been negative or condescending, but it wasn't. If anything, it was a goddamn compliment. And if the solution to this kind of issue is to really take attention off women's bodies, which I'm actually for, then stop with the fucking double standards. 

For example, some critics of the announcer have Instagram accounts or blogs that include posts with images of themselves lifting up their shirts or posing in bikinis while making comments about their bodies and weight. It's the typical "Tee hee, lookie how tiny/fit/sexy I am" that's so common on social media. On the surface, these accounts might seem harmless, but if the goal is to get everyone to stop talking about women's bodies, why flaunt them and discuss size? I'm definitely not saying women should cover up here, nooooooo way; I'm just concerned and maybe a little confused about the double standard. Worse are those who feel it necessary to include "what I eat in a day" videos, before and after shots of various kinds, or "I'm thin but still have cellulite" photos, which is the kind of content that invites even more unhealthy comparisons and is definitely upsetting to a majority of individuals, especially those in the eating disorder recovery community. In 2017, a report by the Royal Society for Public Health was circulated. It reported that Instagram is the most "detrimental social networking app for young people's mental health." I have to ask, why is it OK for people to post all kinds of triggering content, content that has been shown to have a negative impact on viewers, but a man can't call a female athlete muscular and fast during a race? It just doesn't make sense. 

Don't talk about women's bodies!

Don't talk about weight!  

Don't talk about body size!

Oh, but it's OK if it's all for a few extra likes on social media.  #srongnotskinny #fitspro #whatieatinaday #fitisthenewsexy #nodaysoff   <------  #yuck 

Lastly, how many people honestly think an announcer would say "she's fat, and look how fast she is on the track! lol"? I mean, fucking hell. 

The incident has already blown past with most everyone already onto the next topic of the hour, but the lingering bad taste in my mouth from observing it will last. What strange times these are. 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Not Quite What I Meant

Recently, there was quite a lot of online outrage over a comment by a sports announcer when he said something about the two women leading the race. The way people were responding, I thought maybe he said something negative about someone's weight or commented on a woman's appearance. Instead, he simply observed that the two rabbits out in front in a track race had "much more muscle mass" than the rest of the field. Unfortunately, his giggle and hesitation might have made it seem like he was laughing at the runners, but, taken in context, this doesn't appear to be the case. 

I've been saying we need to take attention off women's bodies for years, so you might be surprised that I don't find this kind of comment as bad as people made it out to be. I agree 100 percent that the wording could have been better to make the comment less controversial, but it clearly wasn't meant to be critical or hurtful. In the moment, it's not always easy to find the absolute best way to say something. He probably should have focused on their power, speed, and strength instead of hinting at anything close to the runners’ size, but it's not like he called them bigger runners, which some feel is just fine depending on who's making the comment, or said anything derogatory, far from it. The way people reacted was extreme, and this is coming from someone who struggled for years with an eating disorder. I fully understand how sensitive anyone can be when it comes to comments about body in general, no matter what the sentiment, but this kind of outrage puts sports announcers in a difficult position, trying to make the commentary interesting and even entertaining while also trying to avoid offending anyone by merely making an observation.

This blog post addresses much of what I was thinking about the issue, so I won't go into great detail here or repeat what has already been said. 

My additional thoughts on the matter are that it's understandable why people are on edge and ready to jump at any perceived error when it comes to commentary on female runners. We've been torn apart and objectified for a long time, and there are lingering effects of the systemic abuse of women and young girls in sports. It's all too easy to jump on the minor missteps of others when the mental health of many in the sport is potentially at stake, but I caution anyone reading to choose your battles wisely. It's unproductive to call for the firing of a guy who very, very clearly meant no harm, especially when there's more than one double standard at play. THAT is dangerous and damaging and shows a complete lack of tolerance and sensitivity.