I’m lucky that I haven't experienced gender inequality as much as other women, even in my own family, but I know that it exists and I'm sensitive to it. I want to do everything a man can do, but I want to do it better. I speculate that part of the reason I want to be muscular is so that I don't need a man with muscles because I have them for myself. (Although I’m still into what my dad calls “muscle-y” dudes.) It frustrates me endlessly that men are naturally stronger. I see scrawny high school boys squatting 1.5 times as much as me, and it makes me upset that they're lifting more as a beginner than I ever will. I get so excited about a personal record of 120 lbs on front squat just for my boyfriend to warm up with 120 before continuing into the 200s for sets.
Despite my desire to be a completely independent woman, it’s comical how much it means to me when someone (a man) comes up to me and compliments the weight I’m lifting. I usually assume that people are genuine and get excited that someone is appreciates my progress. More often than not, the compliment morphs into some comment about my body, and it turns out that it was an excuse to start a conversation with me. So why do I get so excited that the comment might be sincere? I feel like a strong woman when others recognize me as a strong woman and think that I'm as capable as a man. I hope you think this is ridiculous, because it is, but this is how I've been conditioned by society.
I want to be strong and high achieving in the gym, my social life and career. I want to fit society's beauty standards for women while also being "one of the boys" at work and with friends. I want men to accept me as one of them AND be the kind of woman they want. By definition this is impossible, because I'm not a guy, but I haven't given up (figuratively, not literally). How else can I show men that I'm capable if I don't speak bro language?