Sunday, February 01, 2009

Ms. Black Feminist Goes to the Country Club

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I have a bad left knee. I moved earlier this week, and I didn't want
my knee to look like a cauliflower, so I decided to use a
gym pass that
I had been saving for a rainy day.

I figured that a little yoga and a little steam room would help
old lefty feel better.


The gym facility was beautiful. A summer camp for adults in the
form of a gym.


This morning I was in the locker room, with affluent, older white
women to my left
and to my right and I don't remember the last time
I felt so conscious of how Black I was. The browness of my skin.

The non blondess of my hair.


I couldn't help but catch glances of other women's bodies,
the
cellulite,
thighs, muscles, amazing six packs and I began to think
of my own self consciousness around
being about 7 or 8 pounds
lighter than my normal weight.
When I get stressed out, I stop eating.

The last two months things have
been stressful, but they are
getting back to normal, thank God.
I noticed several things on
my country club field trip. The first thing
is that initially I felt
uncomfortable. I received slow glances from some
of the staff.
Then the longer I was there, and moved about the
facility
, I felt less like their glances mattered and I felt more like a member.

I also noticed the presence of entire families. During the week
in downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan it is common to see Spanish,
Caribbean and African American women with white children, on the train, on
the street in the parks. Today, it was such a sight to see so many white
men playing an active caregiving role with their
children. It dawned
on me that affluent white folks take their children to the gym with them.
I began to think about the message that it sends to young people.
I also thought about African American women, and our unwillingness
to exercise because we do not want water ANYWHERE near our
hair and the impact that this has on our health.

Finally, I was refreshed. Mascara check. Blush Check. Hat titled to the side
30 degrees, check. I prepared to leave. As I started walking out of the
facility I noticed a group of Black men in the lobby. There was a hum
in the room. My thought was "Oh there are some Cauuuties, ok, girls
look alive." Then I thought to myself, hmm, why is there a high school
basketball team practicing here and dismissed it. Then, as I walked further and
gazed at a 6 ft 7 tall drink of water, he gazed back at me, and then
I saw the purple and gold warm up suits. I realized that it
was The Lakers.

A wave of adrenaline rushed through me.

I immediately and inconspicuously started looking for Kobe,
who I noticed was on the low, wearing a hood. I walked to
the coat check lady and said "Nikki, do you see who just walked in?"

So many things rushed through my head. I thought of the power
dynamic between athletes and the women they are attracted to.
I thought about what it must feel like to be a woman who receives
attention from a person who is catered to and revered by so many
people
. As the player walked past me, me with my duffel bag, lap top
bag and Shiny Black Girl handbag, it was electric. I was myself and
still getting the eye.

I felt simultaneously like a groupie, feminist, sociologist and a writer.
I thought of Kobe's rape case and the emotional terrain
involved with hanging out and having sex with a professional
athlete. In our society, women are raised to think that "landing"
someone with Hollywood credentials is the ultimate success.
I thought about what it feels like to be a powerful man in a culture
that simultaneously resents you for your wealth and respects you
for your athletic ability. No one talks about the power dynamics
involved in dating such a person
. I thought of how historically
women who have been (allegedly) being raped by athletes and
famous men in general are typically blamed for the (alleged) rape
in the court of popular opinion.

Mike Tyson. R.Kelly. Kobe Bryant. Mystikal. 2Pac.

It is one thing to run into Hollywood folks out in the street, and something
completly different to encounter an entire basketball team comprised
mostly of Black men in a gym. Especially if it makes both me and the
team members the only Black non staff folk in the room.

Ms. Black feminist goes to the country club, gets a lesson, in class,
race, affluence and power.

Oh, and my knee feels better.

Have you felt your ethnicity, hard, recently?

Athletes, women and power, any thoughts?

10 comments:

M.Z. said...

Sounds like my gym to a degree. Except there's alot more "regular" (for lack of a better word) black folks there. But the money is still there. I will say that you do see alot of white kids hanging with their dads there. Almost more than anyplace I can think of off top of the mind.

What gym were you at? Or was it really a country club?

M.Dot. said...

I will say that you do see alot of white kids hanging with their dads there.
========
What is it about White men at the gym w/ their kids? I find this fascinating.

I will divulge the name after I visit again this afternoon.

You go to a gym like this. Its like Church meets Disneyworld. Sign me up. I had no idea such a place could elevate my day. Very few things can make me want to be an arch Capitalist again. At this gym, the thought crossed my mind.

Aunt Jackie said...

Gyms in LA are like Church, the more you pay the more you will see. There aren't many black women when I work out, especially at the gyms that cost more than $100 a month.


Gyms, like all other sport type activities are victims of the socio-economic divide. Skiing, snowboarding, surfing, golfing all cost money and which means that all of your needs have to have been met and you should be living from the surplus. Everyone isn't living in surplus.

Enjoy your gym. I'm not Laker fan but everytime I see Kobe up close I remember how stunning he is.

M.Dot. said...

Enjoy your gym. I'm not Laker fan but everytime I see Kobe up close I remember how stunning he is.
=====
He is. The odd thing about it is that he looks like my brother. Creepy, no? All three of us have the pointy beak nose.

There aren't many black women when I work out, especially at the gyms that cost more than $100 a month.
=======
I went for the last time last night (hopefully not because that place has me feeling right when I leave), and thanked god that I had to move recently, because otherwise, I wouldn't have been concerned with repairing my knee, and not compelled to go. The white PEOPLE were so friendly to me. It was incredibly off putting. I guess I was walking around with a koolaid smile too:)

Vee (Scratch) said...

Whaddup M.Dot, I'm almost sure I know the gym you're referring to. There's a whole bunch of brothers up in there. Does this gym have a full length basketball court, swimming pool and located in the city? If so, many people know of it. Maybe I'm completely off base, but the gym sounds like my current gym. Many visiting teams used their facilities for practice. I'm a bit angry that I may need to cancel my membership. My numbers just don't add up anymore. :-(

IT IS FREAKING SAD that many black women avoid gyms because of the hair issue, however I do see some in there with horrible weaves, have their hair pinned up or wrapped up. I'm not going to tell a woman to slim up to look sexy, but I will advise like the comedian Monique just be healthy and happy.

--- Ethnicity question, nah, not really. I've been really comfortable in my own skin no matter the setting. However in the presence of 6ft. mfers, I become very aware of my height. I've been told be some sisters that 5'10" is too short for a black man. (Damn, I can't win.) Btw, Baron Davis is deceptively tall but he's a cool dude. And I've seen some women act a fool or get very weak in the knees around some of the celebrities that roll through. Boris Kodjoe had women tripping. (OK, I gotta kill the gossip tidbits.)

I don't know about anybody else, but when it comes to power . .. I do feel a sense of inadequacy. I'm being honest, and I'm talking about political power and serious clout -- not celebrity recognition. I'm working on that though.

M.Dot. said...

HOLD UP.

It is the same gym, and if you are a member, then I need to be your guest...IM serious...that place makes me happy.

I'm not going to tell a woman to slim up to look sexy, but I will advise like the comedian Monique just be healthy and happy.
====
Dude...I have natural hair and that steam room turns the twists into a FRO. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL.

but when it comes to power . .. I do feel a sense of inadequacy. I'm being honest, and I'm talking about political power and serious clout -- not celebrity recognition. I'm working on that though.
=====
Thank you for your honesty.

And I am serious about that guest pass.
I kind of want a job there...but I would imagine that employees aren't allowed to play...I think I am going to call and ask.

Vee (Scratch) said...

I don't allow myself too many luxuries in life. I gave up HBO, Showtime, amongst other things but . . . yeah . . . damn, I love that spot.
You ain't lying it relaxes me and makes me happy.

I'll hit you via e-mail later this week. My membership may be temporarily suspended. Working some things out.

Model Minority said...

Vee...shhaaaawweeeet.

marquette said...

great post.

Model Minority said...

Thank you Jonnneeezzzay.

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