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. 

1 comment:

  1. When you look at this in terms of social economics -- who made the stink, and what were the costs and benefits to various stakeholders?

    As far as I can tell, the entire controversy was the result of Chris Chavez making a ridiculous, indignant tweet. Chavez is among many publicity hounds who operates more as a lifestyle blogger than as a sports journalist and wants his work to be known more than he wants it to be good. So he cast this bad idea out there and the requisite characters jumped on is, exposing their hypocrisy in the process.

    A couple weeks later and it turns out the only one I know of who was ever fundamentally upset about the announcer's remarks, and he wasn't anyway, is Chris Chavez. His manufactured dismay was picked up and propagated my mindless, high-profile runners and hangers-on like the Crouse monstrosity. And in the end, the net result was upsetting -- OK, "triggering" -- countless Twitter runners with raging body and food issues who didn't even bother to check was was actually said, just expressed a great deal of blind rage. You can blame Chavez and the other "OMG!" weasels in the chain, not the announcer, for this.

    Pro running deserves to be the shitshow it now is with these self-congratulatory and stupid assholes mucking it up.

    Since no one really cares about running as a sport and no sensible writer expects to earn either a good living or high social status from climbing to the top of that heap, the door is wide open to any idiot willing to seek a large following and turn up the bullhorn loud enough to keep the yutzes in thrall.