Sunday, November 1, 2009

Why Is The Female Version Always So Complicated?

Out of idle curiosity the other day I was googling "female body building." OK it wasn't just idle curiosity but you know what I mean. The first thing I learned is that the short history of female body building has been fraught with controversy over the following question: should female bodybuilders be judged on relatively objective measures like size and symmetry, as men are, or should they get extra points for femininity?

Well, color me shocked. I guess at first the competitions were judged like the mens, and then some really big women started winning, and of course some people didn't like that, so something had to be done, so there were points for not-being-too-masculine, and of course that made a lot of people mad, and so now it's all really complicated.

I know things for men are sucky in certain ways. Like in bodybuilding you have this problem about steroid use and health and so on. Big problem. What's distinctive about the suckiness for women though is that it so often has this sort of non-straightforward, divided, on two sides of the fence business.

Steroid use may be a problem but if anything it's a problem with too much straightforwardness: everyone wants the same thing, and wants to be best; everyone judges according to roughly the same criteria, leading to a classic arms race situation.

When women get involved, there's always this weird non-straightforwardness to things: We want you to be this way but could you also be, at the same time, this totally different way? And could you please work out what the perfect compromise would be -- the compromise we would like best? And could you then please instantiate just that perfect compromise? Because otherwise we're going to feel all conflicted. KTHX.

Drives me nuts.


Daniel said...

That's CRAZY! What is wrong with people? I think bobybuilders are scary all around, but my god, the weird (maybe homophobic? or at least heterosexist?) qualification for femininity is just nuts.

Patricia said...

You know, Daniel, I think it is homophobic as well as homosexist, though I'm not sure exactly how the mechanisms work. But it really is nuts: how can you have a competition that based on being muscular but not too muscular? Bizarre!