Strong, Beautiful Women: Handle It.

 

We are entering a year that is predicted to be THE YEAR of women’s power rising. I strongly believe that. Yet, for as true as that may be, we are still fighting antiquated ideals and perceptions. One of them that has really been triggering something in me is how often the line between being complimentary and downright inappropriate still happens. I know this happens to men just as often as it does to women but for the sake of this blog, I’m referring primarily to men being inappropriate with women. It is also specific to social media. There are so many turns this subject can take, but for now, this is where my outrage, confusion and disgust are originating from.

Somewhere along the way as we celebrate women for their triumphs, their journeys, their fitness, and their bodies, there are men who seem to believe that those photos and videos that are posted on social media are personal invitations to warrant sending sexual messages. And this disturbs me on many levels.

I realize that as a society and culture we do have an unhealthy fixation on our physical appearances and a whole lot of body image issues to support that. The thing is though, there is so much campaigning against this that shows itself in so many forms. Women of all  shapes and sizes are sharing their stories which takes damn courage and bravery to do.  Scroll through your social media feed and notice how everyone looks different. We are no longer just paging through magazines where everyone seems to be the same or fitting into a mold that fashion dictates. We have this amazing ability with social media to showcase strength, beauty and vulnerabilities.  We have the ability to see what every day people are doing and not just celebrities and models.

My point is that all this celebrating should be just that: celebrating. It should not be an incitement for anyone to perceive that women are looking for sexual advances. And for anyone who says it is a shared responsibility between the person who posts and the people who view, I agree we should use discretion and we should be cognizant of the messages we are sending. Yet, this does not mean that it is ok for men to be downright creepy.

I can speak to personal experience based on what I post, and I can assure you I am never promoting sex or provocation. I am promoting myself, fitness, CrossFit, my story, my challenges, even ketones. Nowhere in there is a hint or suggestion that I appreciate messages from men telling me that they love how I look in yoga pants or to send them a picture of me doing a handstand in a bikini (and then he will buy what I am selling. Not a ketone slut, thanks). This shit really happens and I have NEVER insinuated that is the attention I want. If someone were to tell me I was “asking for it” or I have to expect that, I would strongly encourage them to rethink that.  For the majority of my audience, they are respectful. They even get inspiration from my posts and photos. This is the point. Most can handle a bicep flex or an amateur bathroom selfie of abs without taking that to mean I am being provocative. Why do I need to change my behavior? Why can’t the men who think they have free reign to say whatever insulting things they want, change their behavior?  And again, my “behavior” is not scandalous. I post with respect for myself and others.

I also get many comments and messages from men who know how to pay a compliment without me wanting to throw my laptop at them. It is quite easy to be respectful. Men can tell a woman she is pretty or that her fitness is inspiring or she looks great. And leave it at that. As most do. (Thank you to the good ones out there!)

So to be crystal clear, it is one thing to be complimentary and tell a woman you think she has a pretty smile or she looks strong or has great eyes. It is another thing to send a woman a message telling her you think she is sexy as fuck or asking if it is ok to send inappropriate photos.

Women are getting messages and comments from men with graphic photos, crude comments and slimy solicitations. And for the record (for those who ever think a woman is “asking for it” with her choices in clothing), it is not always what a woman is wearing or not wearing that leads to inappropriate messages. Women can post pictures in sweatshirts and baggy pants with a messy bun and men will still tell them they like their curves or want to know what they look like underneath all those clothes.

I used to joke that a job hazard of mine was getting sexually harassed every day, but I realize now it is not actually funny. Because it happens a lot. And not just to me. Women should be able to do their thing without fearing the response they get. I personally do not ever want to hear a post of mine “was asking for it” or that I have to expect the responses that I receive. I absolutely DO NOT. The solution should not be that women, tasteful respectful women, should have to censor themselves. The solution should instead involve that the men who think it is acceptable to be downright  bad-mannered, insolent creeps should be schooled to know it is not ok.

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