FEMINISM | MeToo in the gym: Thousands of women denounce their harassers on social networks under the hashtag #GymCreep
A girl performs concentrated squats while recording a video for social networks. Behind, a man does not stop looking at her. Shamelessly. intimidating. He even interrupts her to give her unsolicited advice. After politely rejecting him, the girl continues with her exercise. But the man is still there, looking at her. The awkwardness of the situation is felt even through the screen. He is a ‘gymcreep’ (a gym peeper) and she, unfortunately, is not an isolated case. Like her, thousands of women have begun to publicly expose the harassment to which they are subjected in the gym on social networks under the hashtags #GymCreep or #GymWeirdo.
A few years ago, the male gender almost exclusively inhabited the dark free weight areas of gyms. The female presence in that space was rare, almost non-existent. The liturgy that surrounds the lifting of irons, the grunts and the testosteronic environment acted as a natural barrier, almost as a repellent, for many women. The rise of fitness, of the healthy lifestyle, the entry of muscular female bodies into the canons of beauty and the banishment of sterile and unfounded myths about the effects of weight training on the female body have led to the access of each more and more athletes in these spaces.
“Ten years ago it was rarer to see women in the gym beyond dance classes or gymnastics. TOtime is normal. Even so, in society there are still social gender roles in which men for many years have seen themselves above women and that leads them to have inappropriate behaviors & rdquor;, explains Anna Vilanova, sports sociologist at INEFC Barcelona.
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Empowerment in social networks
It has been with the rise of social networks and the empowerment that many girls have begun to share content on the internet about their workouts and routines. They record their workouts and share them on social networks like Instagram, YouTube or TikTok to motivate other people and drag them into an active life. This public exposure has also brought to the fore a series of behaviors that many women suffered in silence until now: harassment in the gym.
“This harassment is a reflection of today’s society in which there continues to be sexual violence and this is transferred to all areas, including the gym,” says Vilanova. Harassment is one more symptom that shows that society is still patriarchalas when by the simple fact of being a woman who trains, some men feel the need to correct or give advice. “Paternalistic behavior while training is another symbol of patriarchy & rdquor;sums up the sociologist.
The hashtags #GymCreep and #GymWeirdo accumulate tens of thousands of videos. They have become a kind of wall of complaints for many girls in which it is revealed that harassment and sexualization are still a reality today in public spaces such as the gym and sports practice. “The fact that more and more women choose to publicly expose these situations it’s partly due to the MeToo movement, that has caused voices to be raised against these attitudes that previously could even be normalized& rdquor;, argues Vilanova.
In this sense, much work remains to be done to raise awareness. Since the networks also house the opposite model with mocking videos of this phenomenon alleging that “There is nothing wrong with looking & rdquor ;.
In this case, the video is recorded in a humorous tone. Of mockery A guy trains his biceps sitting on a bench when suddenly a girl starts training in front of him. She covers her face with her hood until she can’t see. “It is not going to be that I say that I look at her & rdquor ;, she says in a hesitant tone. Complaints to onlookers seem like a lie. A feminist exaggeration. It is most likely even one of those who watch.“It is unjustifiable. If it bothers you, your rights come into play and that person has no right to look at you. You must be able to ask him not to do it & rdquor ;, she assures. “Breaking the silence is the way to stop the violence & rdquor ;, ditch Vilanova.