A woman at my gym was kvetching about how men don’t want to go out with her because of her strong personality. Apparently, she’d embarrassed a new guy by contradicting him in front of his boss, and consequently got the ax.
“Don’t I have the right to an opinion?” The woman asked her friend. “Men just can’t handle strong women.”
She was one of those loud, pretty blondes who probably hasn’t heard the word ‘no’ much and thus spends life bending the world to her whims. In the time it took to fill my water bottle, I learned she’d been educated at UPenn and was now raking in the cash at Citibank. On top of being foxy as a prom queen, she had one of those frighteningly fit bodies made up of chiseled angles, rippling muscle and not an ounce of body fat. You could’ve grated cheese on her abs.
Of course, I thought, men are afraid of you. A feisty, successful female who ain’t hard on the eyes. A woman with a robust sense of self, who demands what she wants. Suitors should be kneeling at your feet, you corporate Athena, but alas, you may end up alone. Will life’s injustices never cease?
The blonde was taking part in the kickboxing class I was there to attend, and as it was my first time, I stood behind her to follow her moves. The female instructor was hardcore, so enthralled by the imaginary can of whoop ass she was about to open she couldn’t even make eye contact with her students. She led us through an invigorating warm up, but once the real kickboxing began I was fairly certain I was having a massive coronary.
“How are you going to get anywhere in life with a weak punch like that?” The instructor shouted as she sprinted through the room. “Think of all the jerks in your lives. Now’s the chance, ladies. Kick ‘im where it counts.”
The blonde was pumped. The sweat dribbling from her forehead to her lips, she seemed to savor like champagne. Meanwhile, I was clutching my chest like Redd Foxx in Sanford & Son. The instructor evidently didn’t care.
“Kick the guy,” she shouted. “Knee the guy, punch the guy.”
Just as I jabbed my fist at my pretend boyfriend’s chin, I noticed another woman stretching outside the room. Back arched and arm raised in the air, she moved like a ballerina. The look on her face was serene. She seemed content in her body that was firm yet womanly. As she glided across the room I couldn’t help but admire her grace. And her strength.
“Cover your face,” the instructor shouted back on Planet Kickbox. “Never let down your guard. What are you, a bunch of girls?”
Actually, I thought, yes. I’m a girl. With curves, with soft spots, with a bit of a belly. I don’t want to look like an amateur body builder, I don’t want to kick anyone and I certainly don’t want to get yelled at while at a hundred-bucks-a-month gym.
And there was the blonde, still kicking and punching. I thought of all the wimpy men who wouldn’t approach her because they didn’t have the guts. I also thought of the solid men who wouldn’t approach her because they’d never find a way past the steely exterior. Maybe she didn’t need a man to pay her rent, but she obviously wanted one to love her. But did she realize love requires generosity? Could she ever drop those defenses long enough to let that rockin’ bod and kickin’ soul get down and dirty and naked?
As for me, I suddenly felt the need to decide what kind of “strong” I wanted to be. I could either be like the benevolent monarch who leads with kindness and resolve, or the ass-kicking tyrant who’s off with everyone’s head.
I walked out of kickboxing class and went to the pool for a swim. I considered telling Cheese Grater Abs to come with me. But she was too busy never letting down her guard.