Is CrossFit Games coverage sexist?

In short: relatively not.

In longer form, let’s examine some facts in more detail. I hadn’t thought of the coverage as sexist AT ALL (in fact, I was touting its inclusiveness) but others have voiced some issues. Let’s think up some pros and cons. 

1. CrossFit Games gives equal coverage to men and women

Throughout Regionals and the Games, the CrossFit Games website live-streamed and archived equal numbers of events for men and women. The ESPN coverage was also approximately equal. This is unprecedented! For most sports, the only time you can even see female athletes compete at all is during the Olympics. But watch any Update Show, browse any gallery, watch any archived live event, and you’ll see women getting equal screen time and fanfare. Great!

Half marathon row event at the 2013 Games (from games.crossfit.com)

2. The fittest man and the fittest woman at the CrossFit Games get equal prize money

Rich Froning and Sam Briggs both took home novelty cheques for $275,000. Same with the athletes who placed 2nd through 10th overall, and every athlete who placed top 3 in any event. (Source) Professional athletes getting paid equally? Unique to CrossFit!

3. CrossFit promotes its male and female athletes equally

Leading up to the Games, CrossFit posted interviews (sometimes videos, sometimes articles) on every individual athlete that qualified. It made it easy to familiarize myself with each athlete and cheer all all the harder for them at the Games. Men and women’s videos and articles were of equal quality, so far as I judged. 

More exciting is that the leaderboard on the Games website usually defaults to show women! I posted about it on Facebook and it doesn’t seem that many people share my enthusiasm over this one, but I’ve grown so accustomed to men being the default, not just on sports websites, not just on all websites, but kind of systemically? I mean, even when you fill out any form online and have to choose Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss/Dr, etc., Mr is often selected as the default or at least the top option in the drop down menu. That the leaderboard defaults to women’s standings is, to me, a strong message that women are important in CrossFit and completely belong to the CrossFit community. 

GHD sit-ups at the 2013 Games (from games.crossfit.com)

 

4. About 50% of the media team are women

The Update Show desk, the interviewers, the commentators… all about 50% women. How often do you see sports media teams be 100% male? Often!

5. Men’s events were the headliner every night

I was a bit disappointed that every night, the final event for the day was the men’s final heat. Clearly the prime headlining hot spot, I would have liked to close with the women one night. Honestly, not a big deal, and on Saturday and Sunday they did men’s heats 1, 2, and 3, then all the women’s heats including the final heat, and then the men’s final heat. I think they were TRYING to balance it, or something. It seemed to be on their minds, at the very least. But still, I guess it wasn’t fully, fully equal. 

Women lining up for the Legless at the 2013 Games (from games.crossfit.com)

Women lining up for the Legless at the 2013 Games (from games.crossfit.com)

6. Official apparel was slightly disappointing

The Reebok tent sold the official t-shirts for the Games, including the ones with competitors’ names. For the most part they sold women’s names on women’s shirts and men’s names on men’s shirts, but they also sold Froning, Khalipa, and Bridges (all male athletes) names on women’s shirts. I didn’t find any women’s names on men’s shirts and when I asked an employee if there were any, he was like, “No! But you’re not the first person to ask!”

I don’t know, I saw  more than one man sporting garments with Annie Thorisdottir’s signature. I saw a sold out stadium get on their feet to watch entire women’s heats. I bet there were plenty of men who would have bought a jersey with a female athletes name! Or if not plenty, maybe a few? Maybe I’m only disappointed by this because I entered the Reebok tent so hopeful to find a woman’s name on a men’s shirt (I already had this post brewing in my mind). Oh, well. 

7. Teams are coed

In their mid-Update Show ads, CrossFit has been showing one that interviews a few people talking about how great CrossFit is for the ladies. One guy brings up the fact that athletes compete on coed teams. I guess it’s unique, but I don’t really see it has anything distinctly anti-sexist or pro-women. Just kind of cool. But I thought I’d mention it in case others agree that it should count as a pro.

So, in summary, the way the CrossFit Games has treated women is as good as it gets for female athletes. Or really, better than it has ever been. It’s a young sport with a clean slate and I think it has been doing a fantastic, though not flawless, job promoting women in sports. 

Kotex’s crotch sweat problem

This Kotex ad has been making the rounds on the feminist blogosphere today:

It’s obviously ridiculous attempt to invent a problem to shame women into buying their product. The main message is that, dear women, even when you are doing challenging, fun, adventurous, impressive things with your body while playing sports, what you look like still matters most. Even though perspiration is the way a healthy human body responds to exertion, you must hide this fact! While you are digging deep inside yourself to find the effort required to push harder and keep going, don’t forget to look cute!

A cool thing about Crossfitter is that we never make each other feel shameful for the results of working hard. Frizzy hair? Kind of smelly? Face turns really red? You leave sweat prints on the ground where you collapsed after a workout? That’s cool! Those are all indicators of an alive human being! Well done!

At my gym we have a few couches and the other day we were talking about just how gross they are due to everybody sitting on them with sweaty bums. Everybody has sweaty bums! It’s just part of pushing hard!

One suggestion in comments I’ve read is that this product is actually for people who pee a little while working out. Even then, Crossfitters are like, yeah, we sometimes pee, what of it?

Miranda! Also, “We’ve seen blood and we’ve seen urine and I guess that’s just what it takes”. COOL.

Training with a sister

Michele Letendre’s Crossfit profile warmed my little heart. Sisters. Twinsies!

I grew up playing soccer because my two older sisters played soccer, running cross-country because they both did, training for triathlons with them, and now joining Crossfit at their encouragement. I wonder how many little sisters across the country owe their athletic talent and enthusiasm to their big sisters.

My two older sisters are both very cool and very strong, and I’ll eventually interview them on this blog. I wish we could all train together like Letendre sisters, or like Leblanc-Bazinet sisters, or all the sisters that compete on teams together. Alas, we all live in different cities, but luckily I’ll see them this week at the Crossfit Games. On Thursday I head out to ol’ Carson, California to meet up with them and we’ve all got our very own gold tickets to the Games. We will all definitely be cheering for Michele!

Michelle at the 2013 Regionals.

Michele at the 2013 Regionals.

My older sisters have set some memorable benchmarks on what it means to be tough. My oldest sister, as a kid, once famously refused to go down in soccer even though she had a bloody nose. The ref had to actually make her get off the field! Because I looked up to her so much, I also internalized that about myself… that I’m also not a soccer player who goes down willy nilly. I think this toughness is something you just decide about yourself, and if my sister hadn’t put the idea in my head, I’m not sure where else I would have learned it (It would be dishonest not to admit that every time I went to the park with my sisters to play soccer as a kid, I inevitably went home crying, but that’s neither here nor there).

That same sister has also had quite a number of knee surgeries including several ACL reconstructions, yet is still really good at Crossfit. In the depths of my own post-knee surgery despair, I thought a lot about how hard she fought to get back in the game after her surgeries. I’m a little over a year post-op right now, and fitter than I ever was before I tore my ACL. I owe a lot of that to my Crossfit coaches, but a lot of it to my sister as well.

Like Ericka, I get all sorts of tips from my older sisters, who are both much more experienced than me. They teach me how to tape my hand, send me paleo recipes, show me how to use lacrosse balls on my back after deadlifts, and get excited for all my PRs. I love my older sisters so much, and I am excited for when my younger sisters start getting into Crossfit and I can help them in the same way!

Baby’s first post

Welcome to Muscles on a Lady!

I love Crossfit and I love feminism. I want to think and talk about those things together.

Lindsey Valenzuela at 2012 Crossfit Games. Picture from http://games.crossfit.com/

Lindsey Valenzuela at 2012 Crossfit Games. Picture from http://games.crossfit.com/

That’s Lindsey Valenzuela, one of my favourite Crossfit athletes. She’s very strong.

I’ve played sports forever and lifted weights on and off for years. I started Crossfit in January of this year and started training more seriously (5 to 6 days a week) about a month ago. One morning while blow drying my hair, I noticed I had grown startlingly large traps and shoulders. Svelte little toned triceps are all the rage these days but my traps and shoulders, the results of gains in true functional strength, were certainly beyond svelte. My first thought was how distinctly unfeminine I looked when flexing in that certain way and my second thought was “what the heck kind of first thought is that?”

One time I PR-ed my deadlift in front my mom, and she said, “stop that, that’s scary.”

Scary Crossfit girl is a meme.

The FAQ section of almost every Crossfit gym includes “I’m a woman. Will Crossfit make me bulky?”

The Crossfit Games gives equal coverage and equal prize money to men and women.

One time Crossfit posted a picture of a deadlifting pregnant woman and the comments were full of women and men correcting anybody who called it dangerous.

What does all this mean? I don’t know, that’s why I started this blog. To talk about muscles on a lady.