The Social Dynamics of the Weight Room

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The Social Dynamics of the Weight Room

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As I walk down the streets of Hollywood, I can’t help but notice all the billboards advertising numerous products. The symbols of these products are beautiful young people with rock hard, chizzled bodies. It is interesting to note what defines a female as beautiful and a male as beautiful. The females seem to look extremely thin with tight arms, stomachs and buttocks’. These models for “Levi’s” or “Banana Republic” don’t have all the curves, but look feminine in a rather boyish manner. When viewing males on these billboards, you will notice that they are often times cut, trim, and more curvy than the female. They commonly shave their bodies for companies like “J-Crew” and “Abercrombie and Fitch”. We can see that there may be a possibility of gender crossings (males looking more feminine and females looking more masculine). These images represent beauty and are seen as cultural icons of appearance in our culture. The media seems to determine and drive the social stigma of society. Looking for the effects of these icons in our culture, I decided that it would be beneficial to explore the source of the image building…a fitness gym.

Weight lifting has many connotations for social interaction. The purpose of this ethnography is to discover possible explanations to lifting weights, how lifting weights personifies masculine and feminine gender roles, to understand the social interactions within the weight room, and to investigate how much the media plays into the development of the masculine and feminine image. The weight room is a culture in its own that represents the masculine and feminine image of our culture.

When I first entered the “Muscle Madness ...

... middle of paper ... not heterosexual at all, but homosexual: not only is she ‘unnatural,’ but the female boldybuilder possesses the power to invert normal male sexuality. Since Bev Francis [female bodybuilder] looks and moves ‘like a man,’ homophobic patriarchal ideology whispers that men who find her attractive must be gay, and, further, that women who find her attractive must be lesbians. Bev’s muscles, dress, heavy facial features, and ‘unfemine’ body language evoke the stereotype of what a lesbian looks like: the butch, the lesbaian who is immediately recognizable as such, visibly different….gay men are assumed to be wimps who worship ‘he-men,’ while lesbians are assumed to be women who are ‘he men’ or women who worship ‘he/she men’. …sexuality is surreptitiously linked with sex and gender in such a way as to support heterosexual and patriarchal ideologies. (Holmund, 150-51)
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