Body Rock

Working at the Local Spelunking Club has made one of my pet peeves blatently obvious: Women who are afraid of their bodies. Or more specifically, afraid to use their bodies. Frailty is not sexy.

Spelunking is a very technical sport, requiring coordination, sureness, and strength through the entire body in order to perform at any level of proficiency. It requires pushing your body to its limits in terms of reach and flexibility, and moving confidently between those points. Above all, it requires working with your body and the equipment, and trusting both of those things to work at an optimal level in order to succeed.

Men who are new to spelunking will usually go one of two ways: either use their bodies to work with the equipment (these are the ones who “get it”), or try to muscle against it (which ends up being fairly amusing, and ultimately useless).

Women who try the sport will all too often seem afraid of their bodies, and the equipment. They have no sense of strength or confidence when trying to propel themselves, or using the equipment to do so. Their grip is light and unsure – tentatively touching things with their fingertips instead of using their hands to firmly grasp anything. Their arms and shoulders form a weak shawl around their bodies and their backs and necks curl inward, instead of adopting the strong posture that is not only required for the sport, but also shows that they believe they can stand up straight without breaking into tiny pieces (ok, the “spelunking” analogy is kindof falling apart, but just go with it).

And it’s not only in spelunking that this comes across. I see it everywhere. My old roommate who wouldn’t close her hand fully around a hammer, rendering it useless for actually driving a nail into some MDF. The girls I see around town who can’t seem to open a shop door, or whose larger-than-teacup-sized dogs seem to be walking them. Or the ones who shun any sort of activity where dirt may be involved, because “Ew – I don’t do messy, I might break a nail.”

Yah, it all annoys me – but most of all it disappoints me. Who taught these women that they and their bodies are anything less than capable of being strong and confident? Being a woman is not synonymous with being weak. In fact, I would suggest it’s anything but. A real woman has the strength to open the door for herself, and the grace to have it opened for her. The “Girl Power” movement started in the mid-90’s, and has been going strong ever since, so who’s still perpetuating the myth that girl = powerless?

But every once in a while I’m lucky enough to see a woman come into a Learn to Spelunk class who knows exactly what her body is capable of, and pushes it to achieve that. She intinctively feels the flow of movement, and her body and the equipment move in absolute sync. And she is a goddess. And my faith is restored.

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8 thoughts on “Body Rock

  1. Karin

    I wanna restore your faith! I still have no idea what “spelunking” is (I know what spelunking for real is), although I have a guess or two, but I’d like to try whatever it is. 😀 Email me? 🙂

  2. Miranda

    Your post reminds me of some of the women we photograph. I’m continually blown away by the fact that more than once I’ve asked someone to lean against a tree or sit down on something other than perfectly manicured lawn during a photoshoot and they’ve refused because there might be bugs or dirt. It’s not the clothing factor either – I had a girl who wouldn’t put her hand on a tree during a shoot for fear an ant might find her way to her. A tree! A Hand!

    Then, similarly to your experience, I’ll have women who will jump at the chance to climb a tree or sit down in mud for the perfect shot if that’s what it takes, and I’ll realize that I’m not alone 🙂

  3. Sue

    I hate the women who come to spelunking classes and don’t realize that in order to lift the spelunking equipment, they may have to actually flex a muscle. They’ve all been “cardio’d” to death and are afraid of actually having a bicep. And then more experienced spelunkers are forced to carry the weight of their spelunking equipment for them. *grumble*.

  4. EEB

    I think you should take more note of some of the fantastic women around the spelunking club who are extremely confident about themselves and their bodies, and who do flex a muscle.

  5. peechie Post author

    Oh I definitely take note of them – they’re inspiring. My post was mostly about the LTS group and what I see filtering through there.

    Unfortunately, while I admire the female spelunkers at the club, they seem to be rare birds compared the population at large.

  6. gillian

    One pet peeve of mine to add to what you’ve said so far is that a lot of women are afraid to weight train because they think they’ll (oh no!) add bunk to their bodies. What a completely stupid notion. Except for a very small few, most women can’t get that much bigger without going into extreme training (hours every day).

    They don’t realize how good muscle looks on women. It’s really too bad.

  7. knemesis

    I hate women like this. I find them horrifyingly unattractive.

    What i find worse though is men who will instinctively treat all women as if they are incapable of using their bodies or having muscle or capable of doing anything other than standing there looking daft. It gets even worse, in my opinion, when men treat women who DO *NOT* LOOK LIKE BALLERINA FLUFF like this.

    I cannot count the times that men around me have been surprised when i have had to do things like shove them out of the way to pick up 14 year old girls to rush them to the first aid office because they could’t lift 110 lbs, or lifted my end of a railway tie without wavering. It’s surprising to me because i’m a very *solid* looking fat girl, this should be a no brainer.

    That said, women in proper spelunking form are really truely sexy women.

  8. hup

    I’m attracted to those kinds of women. Not sure why they get your panties in a knot. They’re not physical people, so what? Honestly, I think those people are stupid for thinking they should try spelunking in the first place. Its obviously not their thing. Hope you’re big enough to handle them with grace.

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