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Beating Sexism One Chin-Up at a Time

Backstory

In 2012, a couple of male bloggers had an unofficial chin-up competition at the Financial Blogger Conference 2012 (FinCon12).  At FinCon13 last week, this became an official FinCon competition, and around 10 male bloggers jumped up in front of the crowd and showed their chin-up stuff.  Women were welcome to participate too, but the few of us who could do any chin-ups at all were all sick or recovering, so no women participated.

I was totally fine with this…until one guy decided to get up and say something like, “That wraps up this contest.  Don’t worry ladies, the beauty competition is later this afternoon.”

Yeah, he probably didn’t mean anything by it, but for anybody who doesn’t understand why that was a temporarily idiotic thing to say, let’s boil it down really quickly:

Men = Grrrr, manly, physical prowess
Women = Pretty, wussy, boobs

At least, that is what every female in the room heard.  Heck, most of the men in relationships heard that too.  I swear, there was a group cringe.

Side note, later that day, four of us women had an impromptu push-up competition.  I know that at 26-27 push-ups, we were showing some grrr too.  I don’t mind admitting that men are built stronger than women overall.  I also don’t mind saying that I think women are generally better looking than males.  What I minded was some random dude deciding that all women could do was be pretty (or at least saying something that sounded that way to all of us).

Men have more going on for themselves than just muscles.  And women have more going on than just their looks.  I would have been absolutely fine with the whole situation if that one guy hadn’t said anything.  Heck, even his comment didn’t take away from the fun for me, but it did lead to a challenge.

The Gauntlet was Thrown Down and Picked Up

That said, Kathleen from Frugal Portland, immediately Tweeted her outrage and many started Tweeting back with similar reactions.  I made the comment that instead of being angry about, we should just get even.  The gauntlet was thrown, and Kathleen and I challenged ourselves to our own chin-up competition at FinCon14.

There are two rules:

1.  No steroids.  ;-)
2.  We each need to be able to achieve at least 10 chin-ups by this time next year in order to compete.  We want to represent properly.  :-)

My First Step in Training

So far, my first main step to training is to find a solid place to practice chin-ups.  There is no little bar to practice on in my house, and I don’t have a gym membership.

My husband suggested monkey bars, which seemed genius to me.  I scoped out the kiddie parks around our house – NO MONKEY BARS!!!  Those poor children!!!  That seems wrong.  Just slides, a playhouse, and swings.  What’s a play park without monkey bars and a see-saw?!  Anyway, moving on…

For now, I will be using the top bar of the sideways ladder leading into the kids playhouse area.  If I pull myself up all of the way, I still have a few inches of clearance before my head hits the bottom of the playhouse floor.

Wish us both luck!  Have you ever had a similar reaction to sexism/racism/etc.?  Just want to prove them sooooo wrong?

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17 comments to Beating Sexism One Chin-Up at a Time

  • Yikes. Not a good comment to make in front of a room full of very intelligent women! I would have reacted the same way. Sadly, though, I can’t do a single chin-up. I have achieved one in my entire lifetime and I’m convinced that I was only able to do it because I only weight 112 lbs at the time. Lol. Can’t wait to hear about y’all kicking butt next year!

  • I saw the pull up contest, but I didn’t hear the comment….but I agree in it’s “boneheadedness.” Not only because it’s sexist, but because as an avid gym rat it’s just plain WRONG. I see women on a daily basis that have more GRRRR than most men will ever have. Also, being able to do a lot of pull ups or chin ups has nothing to do with being a man or women. Do men *typically* have more upper body strength? yes, but that doesn’t mean you can do pull ups or chin ups until the cows come home. I workout 7 days a week – strength training 4-5 of those days. I have a lot of upper body strength….and I SUCK at pull ups. I don’t know what it is…I really want to do them, but I just can’t. And when I do, my shoulder hurts with a fierce “Why do you keep doing this to me!!!” kind of ache for a week. The other problem I had with the contest (and yes I’m over analyzing something that was just supposed to be a quick, fun sort of event…but the competitor and type A personality in me refuses to be suppressed). There were almost as many techniques as there were contestants. Wide grip, narrow grip, overhand grip, reverse grip, people swinging their body wildly to get momentum. Come on guys, there has to be some kind of uniform standard as to what you’re measuring – otherwise it’s not apples to apples. :) (Seriously, I’m having a bit of fun here, sort of…lol)

    So more power to you, Crystal – get your GRRR on – if you can do 10 by next year you’ll most likely beat me.

    Oh, and you can buy a pull up bar at your local Walmart or Target for like $20 that will attach quickly to a door frame. No Monkey bars needed. :)

  • You are only required to do 3 pull-ups to pass the Marine Corps physical fitness test (as a Male). The Ladies do a flexed arm hang for the Marine Corp PT test.

    If you are able to knock out 10 true pull-ups, I would say you could surpass 95% of men out there!

  • I have a chin up bar in my home so I will attempt to be able to do 10 by FinCon 2014. Right now I can’t even do part of 1.

    Have they announced the location of FinCon 2014? I will be finished with debt by then and it could be my big treat to myself if it isn’t too far from southern Ontario.

  • Good luck with this one! Chinups are soo awesome, but so difficult. I suck at them. It’s pretty embarrassing to be honest.

    The park is usually the best place. You can also buy a bar for like $15 for your door. This is pretty fun to have around the house. You can bust out a chinup or two when brewing coffee.

    @Jane where in SO are you?

  • I am outside of Toronto but my employer has a very strict social media policy so I can’t reveal my exact location.

    Right now I can’t even get my chin close to the bar so I have a lot of work to do.

  • You go girl! I would love to participate but there is no chance I’m ever going to get to 10 pull ups. You rock.

  • JoeTaxpayer

    Sexism isn’t dead yet. I think we are getting closer, there’s no excuse for this kind of remark, but until that moment, we were on track for four days in which I heard nothing at all that was either racist or sexist.
    From the “one remark” archives – last year we had the female spouse of a blogger who declared that women by nature are supposed to be subservient to their husbands. What an odd moment for me. I found myself arguing with a woman, telling her that my wife was my equal, and that we respect each other as equals. I was in a no win discussion, and couldn’t help but think that a hundred years of women fighting for equality was suddenly missing from the table I was sitting at. Compared to this discussion last year, which went on for nearly an hour, the one stupid remark appears to be progress. “zero in 14″ I hope.

  • That was a very dumb thing to say. Was there ever any sort of apology? I can’t do a pull up to save my life, but I hope you rock it.

  • retired

    When in 6th grade I won the flex arm hang at 1 minute 15 s, or something like that. No person in the small schpol, K thru 12, could beat my record while I attended. Every guy in class tried and failed. It lead to some horrible after school rivalry, but a 90 lb girl beat the football squad.
    That guy was just pushing buttons in the name of fun. I have seen some very pretty guys in my life and some very strong ones. Why is it the jerks that gets to embarrass the entire gender. I would host a beauty contest for the guys in his name. I mean, what do you have to prove. He should have to prove his versatality, not you. Sounds like you outdid yourself at the conference anyways. Congratz!

  • Henry

    Sexist? Hardly!

    Much ado about nothing!

    People are so super-sensitive these days and media exacerbates this to the point of the “wussafication” of our country. Guys almost have to walk on eggshells to keep feminists happy.

    I love women and am married to one (even that comment probably wouldn’t pass muster with some) but I will not feminize myself as a act of pennace for some past wrongs, legitimate or imagined, committed against women. I am a man and I make no appologies for it nor will I try and make women men. Humans are both what the Lord made us. We are different. Males are different than females and I am thankful for that. I don’t expect my wife to do everything a man does and she doesn’t expect me to try an do those things that women can do and excel in and I like the fact that she could be in a beauty contest and I wouldn’t dare.

    Physicaly, if put to a test, most men would best women in the strength department. It doesn’t mean women therefore are inferior, and here it goes with an undoudtedly “sexist” comment, they are women.

    I don’t care of what political persuasion you are, what sex you are or want to be, what country you belong to, what special interest group you belong to, or if you like chocolate or not, there are and always will be differences in the sex’s and most people used to celebrate that fact until it became fashionable to question everything. And one would hardly dare to mention their belief in a God that created us male and female and said that is “was good!”

    So to the man who said such a “terrible” thing I say “Right on buddy!”

  • Elle Navorski

    Nice piece, Crystal. Thanks to joetaxpayer for suggesting this at his site. For what it is worth, the women around whom I hang are pretty serious about the low representation of women in the industry. Those of us in my circle having Fidelity accounts now routinely demand a woman rep, for one. Fidelity is great insofar as accommodating these requests. I say name the guy who made the sexist remark at the bloggers convention. Let’s see if he likes the loss of females in his readership.

    I was doing five pullups from a deadhang about two years ago. Guys would come up to me and say how impressed they were, even with my much lower body weight. I stopped due to old age and injuries kicking in. I do not think it’s a good exercise for any woman over 40.

    Maybe challenge the guys to a breathholding contest. First guy to keel over wins. ;-)

  • Betsy Muse

    I would like to suggest another challenge and see how well the men do. They should have to push an 8 pound, 21 inch long being with appendages out of the orifice of their choice….without anesthesia.

    Seriously, if that’s the kind of frat boy BS that goes on at FinCon, I’m not so sorry I missed it. I don’t mind fun and games but I was under the impression that FinCon attracted adult attendees.

  • Ahh, now I see what all the tweets were about. I had just missed the contest but I read some of the reactions on Twitter about it being sexist. I sort of felt an opposite outrage that people were calling it machismo junk but I see now where it was coming from.

    Like Joe says above “sexism isn’t dead.” Heck, in this day and age a lot of -isms that should be dead aren’t yet.

    I’m looking forward to taking part if there’s a contest next year and I hope anyone that wants to compete does.

    @ Betsy Muse – At least from what I saw there wasn’t any “frat boy BS” going on (sorry if that offends any fraternity folk out there). If anything the running joke of the weekend was how we were all pretty much nerds of one shape or form.

  • Betsy Muse

    Glenn…I just thought that was nicer than saying High School BS. My daughters are 18 and 20 and that’s the kind of embarrassing mess the boys they hung out with in high school would do.

  • @Christine, we’ll see. :-)

    @Travis, thanks for chiming in! And yes, I will be getting one of those bars.

    @DJ, coolness!

    @Jane, not announced yet. Hope I get to meet you!

    @Martin, I might suck at them too. Don’t know yet. ;-)

    @Ashley, lol. We’ll see if I can. :-)

    @Joe, I missed that remark last year. I think I would have started laughing and wouldn’t have been able to stop…

    @Kim, nah, and I don’t think an apology is needed or necessary. I like my mom’s idea of hosting a beauty contest in Steve’s name. With lots of guys…

    @retired, I love that idea! We definitely should have a pageant in his name.

    @Henry, yes, men and women are different and have different innate abilities. I just think the beauty contest statement was an unnecessary slap at women. I blew it off almost immediately, but it ticked off a lot of women and men. Then I thought that out-shining him would be a better way to retaliate than just whining about it.

    @Elle, I liked my mom’s idea to hold a beauty pageant in his name…with lots of funny entries like men with hairy legs…

    @Betsy, I loved FinCon every year. One sexist comment would never make me judge the whole convention. It’s 99.9% amazingly fun people to hang out with!

    @Glen, yeah, my friend Jason didn’t know what the crazy was about either. I thought it was fun overall. I do not mind physical competition – it revs me up to exercise more. It was just one, silly person that could have kept his mouth shut, lol. And I agree, most of FinCon is just having fun hanging with nerds and geeks like me. :-)

    @Betsy, the women had a pop-up push-up contest later. I don’t think physical contests of strength are just man-centric. But it definitely wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I was actually surprised by how much venom the contest itself drew from some people. It didn’t seem to have any bad intentions overall.

  • Well, we couldn’t have done the pull-ups anyway because we were all having our periods, right???
    Something else I’d like to point out (that others have already touched on): Not all MEN can do pull-ups, whether it’s due to being slightly out of shape or having some kind of invisible disability (e.g., arthritis, early-stage MS). Does that mean they are somehow inferior?
    Jeez. Maybe next year the guys should just whip them out and measure them. (Not to perpetuate another stereotypical assumption.)