Zoe Smith, 18, is a weightlifter. This weekend, she competes for Britain in the Olympics. She can clean and jerk nearly 260 lbs. Her Olympic qualifying total was 211 kg, or about 465 lbs. That alone should be enough to make the wise person disinclined to mess with her.
But there are always unwise people around to make the world a shittier place, and a number of them took to Twitter after the BBC aired Girl Power – Going For Gold, a documentary about Smith and her teammates Hannah Powell and Helen Jewel. “They’re probably lesbians anyway,” and “I’d think you were a bloke and so would 9 out of 10 lads,” and of course the classic “Now piss off back to the kitchen.”
Smith held her own on Twitter, and then she elaborated further in a post on her blog.
The obvious choice of slander when talking about female weightlifting is “how unfeminine, girls shouldn’t be strong or have muscles, this is wrong”. And maybe they’re right… in the Victorian era. To think people still think like this is laughable, we’re in 2012! This may sound like a sweeping generalization, but most of the people that do think like this seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the face that we, three small, fairly feminine girls, are stronger than them. Simple as that. I confronted one guy that said “we’re probably all lesbians and look like blokes”, purely to explain the fact that his opinion is invalid cause he’s a moron. And wrong. He came up with the original comeback that I should get back in the kitchen. I laughed.
As Hannah pointed out earlier, we don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive? What do you want us to do? Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favourably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?! Cause you are clearly the kindest, most attractive type of man to grace the earth with your presence.
Weightlifting events start this Saturday; competitors in Smith’s class, Women’s 58kg, lift the equivalent of a grown man over their heads starting Monday.