Ethnographic Research Project
The gymnasium has always been a better place where one can go and prove their masculinity and femininity. The level of stereotype and gender roles within the gym is exaggerated more than the way it is portrayed in the media. In the gym, one will notice women trying to working out on cardio machines with an aim of toning and slimming down while a group of men is busy bodybuilding with heavy free weights. One is distinctively able to see how gender roles has been divided within the in the gym. The gender roles within the society have extrapolated up to the gymnasium, and it inclines to determine the goals aimed at by women gender. Consequently, the repercussion of the stereotype has led into classifying specific activities of working out, dressing code, behavior, and the objectives of working out among the women, which has significantly defined gender roles and social assignments.
Working out has become a common activity for many grownups in the United States over the recent years. The physicians have contributed to an overwhelming number of people flocking up in the gym, which has also seen a rise in the number of gymnasium facilities. The middle-aged people between the ages of 35-45 are encouraged by their physicians to workout with an aim of attaining a healthy lifestyle. However, the fashion industry has also been piling pressure especially on women to work out if they want to fit in the constant trending fashions. The women develop the expectation of physical beauty and choose to hit the gym in other attain the body size that graces the covers of fashion magazines and billboards advertising women products. As much as the ad placed in magazines and billboards tries to promote physical fitness, it also accentuates the association between physical fitness with femininity, beauty and gender roles. In comparison with the 90s period, nowadays the women gender have seen more needs of working out and staying fit rather than for healthy purpose only (Sclar, 2004). Stereotyping originates from cultural understanding by analyzing the social interaction among, which is the foundation of individual drawing their perception on serotyping. The contemporary society has even placed more pressure on women demanding them to have sleek and toned muscles. It has become a social standard and men tend to prefer slender women than their plump counterparts. Women introduction in the gymnasium has consequently paved a way for cases of women stereotyping at the gym. Gender roles and stereotypes stem from the Sociological Reflection theory that reflects the underlying social structures (LeCompte & Schensul, 2010).
Lifestyle of Women Who Goes To the Gym
Women who go to the gym face a series of challenges and controversies regardless of the purpose of their visit. The interview carried out during the month of August, and November on women who attends Powerhouse Gym in Chatsworth revealed the actual lifestyle of women who goes to the gym. For instance, a young woman called Kyler said she has been facing pressure from her mother who keeps on worrying of her lifting the free weights (Malin, 2012). Her mother has been asking her why she wants to appear manly, which amount to an aspect of stereotyping where some people in the society believe women who go to the gym will attain manly attributes. Another challenge is the completion and pace set by male counterparts in the facility. Men often approximately ten times harder than women and this will prompt women to add extra effort to match men’s rate of working out. The women said it is even harder to exercise regularly if one has small kids at home because managing the gym time together with kid’s time becomes harder. The males always have plenty of time to workout at the because they take it as fun, unlike women who does self-sacrifice to secure time for the gym (Malin, 2012).
Whenever women choose to visit the gym, people assume those women are struggling with weight and have visited the gym ton up calories and slim down. At some point, the case is true but judging the women regarding the type of exercise they are doing is odd. According to feminist Anne Fausto-Sterling, the human interaction regardless of the gender should not judge individual’s capacity basing on biological traits and social, environmental influences. Prejudices have made gym instructors to perceive women as less serious ad limit attentions on them. Approximately half of the women who attend gymnasium in the United States feel unwelcomed. Women who might want to work out with heavy weights cannot do it because men often over dominate the section and they are likely to feel uncomfortable. When some newbies men visit the gym and start exercising with cardio machines, other men tease them with jokes suggesting that the cardio is for women (University of South Carolina, 2006). The women roles are often perceived as weak and unfocused and lack willpower or determination needed in a tough workout. The perception can be very wrong in the case where women who are athletes in boxing and wrestling might visit to use the heavy weights machines. The muscles targeted by women during the workouts tends to differ with the one targeted by men. Women devote much time on lengthening and firming up their targeted muscles with an aim of having their clothes fit. Feminism theory suggests that women will thrive to acquire sexual confidence when they are almost acquiring the level of an ideal woman (Bolin & Granskog, 2012).
The women section is even fitted with mirrors all around because they like checking themselves out while exercising. Women are often portrayed as incompetent in the gym because they pay more attention to maintaining their sexuality and appearance rather than putting more effort in exercises and workouts in the gym. According to feminist theory and gender studies, seduction behavior from women is inevitable but it can be minimized. Gender sociologist believes that women have to act appropriately to fill and enhance their roles properly and the way women behave as feminine tend to boost the social interactions. (Sclar, 2004) Men got would switch from their section and stand to stare at women while they are working out with cardio. A gym instructor from Powerhouse Gym in Chatsworth said that some men even could go to an extent of filming women while working out on treadmills. The behavior as facilitated by the nation picked by men that women who come to the gym are always ready to mingle (University of South Carolina, 2006).
Another stereotypical nation for women in the gym sees them easily distracted and slow learning gender. Men find it ridiculous when women show some housekeeping procedures such rearranging the racks and wiping down machines after use. However, women will stick training with a single machine before being allowed to use a different one for a different one. The trainers assume women are slow learners, and they will need to work out with a single machine before switching to another. Powerhouse Gym in Chatsworth has also contributed in assuming women are slow learners by setting up a long, tedious program to guide the newbies women. The assumption can be true but because gender explicitly includes reference to biological differences, which suggest that the women gender have a stronger brain compared to their fellow counterparts (Bolin & Granskog, 2012).
Additionally, women are treated with more favors and privileges from the gym instructors and even the male group in the gym. The favors are extended to women because they are perceived a weak gender. The women’s demand for care prompts the extra attention from instructors with many instructors assigned to the women section. The newbies will always clueless on how to use the machines and will bide their time to wait for assistance from a trainer. For example, Ashly, a 30-year woman who attends Powerhouse Gym in Chatsworth performs her cardio frequently to about five times a week. At the initial stages, Ashly could only do the runs and other cardio related routines but now she has started attending spin classes and doing weight lifting with an aid an instructor. A man who of the same age with Ashly can decide to engage in weight lifting without the need for getting help from an instructor (Malin, 2012).
Another aspect of women stereotyping is the ratio of male to female in the gym facility. The men number is always higher when compared to the female number. The men are also leading in the ratio of male to female trainers. According to an instructor in Powerhouse Gym in Chatsworth, over dominance of men in the facilities usually makes the women uncomfortable because they find the males’ stares quite irritating. The small numbers of women who have attempted to visit the gym are sometimes perceived as women with tomboy’s lifestyle (Sclar, 2004). Men end up believing that women who work out possess men attributes, which makes some men to avoid dating them because they have sleeked muscles and cannot be submissive. Evidenced in Powerhouse Gym, the low women to male ratio is facilitated by the fewer number of machines situated in the women section. The facility has heavily invested in male’s equipment due to an overwhelming number of men frequently visiting the Powerhouse Gym facilities. The perception will even prevent an increase in the number of women to the facility in future. The issue of having fewer female trainers is because women are unlikely to work under women trainers (Bolin & Granskog, 2012).
The pictures put on the walls of the gym in the women sections also portrays a stereotypical aspect. The pictures always show images of women with perfect body shape and size who have achieved a sleeker shape and toned muscle. The steadfast manifestation and emphasis on perfect shapes show the society that women apparently go to the gym to attain the ideal shape of a woman. The assumption is incorrect because not all women come to gain the shape of a model or a starlet woman. Other women come to the gym for healthy and athletic purposes (Murchison, 2010). However, the as much as the images can motivate and encourage women to thrive and acquire the desired attributes; still it poses negative impacts that exert pressure on women in the program and those at home. Additionally, the women choice of training attires is attached to some element of stereotyping. The yoga pants put on by women are quite revealing and flexible to enhance the performance of lightweight routines. The clothes are designed to enhance the muscle tones theirs by giving women the reason for working out (Malin, 2012).
Women bullying at the gym is also rampant and facilitated by the stereotyping notion from men who perceive women as sexual objects. During the interview, many women respondent complained of being a victim of bullying from men. Men incline to stare openly at women while thy are working out and women termed this as disrespectful and unpleasant. Additionally, other respondents suggested that they found it difficult to mingle in one section with the male gender because they find it uncomfortable and would prefer working out in women the only gymnasium. The Powerhouse Gym‘s instructor also added that, if a woman is not good looking, men will give her a bad look if they want to use a machine she is using. Men constantly disturb women by flirting them out thereby causing them to lose concentration. The act of bullying is offensive and depicts the perpetrators of bullying cave dwellers who still have an element of chauvinism (University of South Carolina, 2006).
Social, cultural and gender studies are trending topics, which keeps on evolving basing on the demands origination from the dynamic society. The way women are stereotyped in the day-to-day activities also crosses to the gym. The women gender has been always under looked and always associated with gender roles that are less demanding. At the gym, men perceive women as weak and classify them to routines that are it too masculine during the workouts. Women might want to escape from the gym, but the sociological interactions generate pressure that obliges the women to attend gym session to enjoy the trending fashion available in the market. The stereotype of women at the gym can be mitigated by adopting women only gymnasium and educate the society to eliminate an elements of sexism and caveman perception within the male population. The gymnasium management ought to lead by example by ensuring equity within the facility regarding women to men ration of both customers and staff trainers. Studies indicate that gender disparity is highly influenced social pressure that is picked rather than biological classification.