Thanks (but no thanks…)

I was overwhelmed by the response I received regarding last night’s documentary! The sheer amount of people who watched it was one thing, but the amount of tweets and messages wishing me luck and cheering the whole team on was absolutely incredible. For the three of us featured in the show, the fact that we, three female British weightlifters, made it to a mainstream TV channel for doing the sport we love is amazing. A few years ago the idea of that would’ve been unthinkable, which really shows how far the sport has come in such a short space of time. While it is still very much a minority sport, the amount of both participants and supporters is growing rapidly.We’ve even had a few people tell us we’ve inspired them to try weightlifting, which means the absolute world to us.

At the risk of sounding slightly up myself, I’d love to be able to personally reply to every lovely message each one of you have sent, but there were so many I’d be sat on my laptop sending messages for the next year! (And I kind of have that thing to do next week…) Basically, what I’m trying to say is if you watched – thank you! And if you didn’t, it will be on BBC 3 more or less daily for the next week I think, and it’s also on iPlayer. So you really don’t have an excuse now. Wink.

While we can’t get enough of the supportive messages (seriously, keep ‘em coming, I think I speak for all of us when I say my self-esteem is currently at an all-time high), what we aren’t so crazy about is the few ignorant twerps making rude comments. We did a quick search on Twitter for the title of the programme, ‘weightlifting’ and our names (it isn’t every day you’re on telly for an hour, so of course you’d be interested to see what people are thinking!), and the majority response was still very positive. But there were of course a very small percentage of idiots who seemed to have missed the entire point of the documentary. However after reading for a while it became more and more obvious that these people had never done a moment of exercise in their life, or had the intelligence of a potato.

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 generalisation, but most of the people that do think like this seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the fact 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.

Oh but wait, you aren’t. This may be shocking to you, but we actually would rather be attractive to people who aren’t closed-minded and ignorant. Crazy, eh?! We, as any women with an ounce of self-confidence would, prefer our men to be confident enough in themselves to not feel emasculated by the fact that we aren’t weak and feeble.
And here’s some food for thought – maybe you should broaden your criteria for what you consider ‘attractive’ anyway, because these perfect, feminine women you speak of probably have no interest in you either. 

What makes me sad is that some girls had this opinion too! How ironic that the title of the show was Girl Power. You’d think that young women around the same age as us would commend us for doing something different and with our lives, and putting 100% effort into it in order to make something of ourselves. But apparently we’re ‘weird’ for not constantly eating crap, binge drinking regularly and wearing the shortest, tightest dresses that the high street has to offer. Sigh…

Anyway, that’s all I can be bothered to say for now as it’s probably a lost cause. It’s the first sunny day we’ve had in weeks, and I have loads of summer clothes that I bought ages ago that I’ve not had a chance to wear yet. It is going to take me hours to decide which to wear first! See, I can do girly…

465 thoughts on “Thanks (but no thanks…)

  1. An unfortunate side effect of making the internet more readily available to the masses is that it has given idiots, morons and close minded bigots a voice!! I think what you three are doing is highly commendable! The fact you are flying the flag for not only your country but for a sport that is not in the public eye as others! With ambassadors such as yourself I would not be surprised to see the sports popularity soar, much like cycling after the successes of Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins!! (2012 New Years Honours list – Dame Zoe Smith anyone?)

    (Now myself being a complete random on the internet and given the reputation of random blokes on the internet this next bit is a wee bit tricky to tackle without coming across like one of them weird-o types!)

    Anyway, I think you are very attractive and not just in looks although you are very cute! (Damn, see now I sound like one of those weird-o types!!) Anyway…. its your strength that makes you attractive! Your strength of character to give whatever it takes to achieve, and reading the above article, the strength of your convictions and your general confidence!! I think it is this strength that the aforementioned Idiots find intimidating and feel the need to belittle and what the woman are jealous of!!

    Personally I will be following your progress very closely during the Olympics and wishing you all the luck for this and future successes!!

    Good Luck!!

  2. I like this blog. I strongly believe you and Hannah will be a very big influence in times to come, Especially Hannah because she is so tiny :)
    Sadly there is a lot of chauvinism and sexism around but my sister is pretty high up in the feminist community so luckily she can help lol. What has helped is that Girl Power documentary and i believe great things could happen to the weightlifting world in terms of the younger generation, perhaps soon they could teach weightlifting in schools and colleges more. Weightlifting would no longer be a minority sport but a majority! (probs won’t be bigger than football though aha!)

    I could honestly name nobody in weightlifting, not even the champs. But since i first saw you winning the Bronze at the commonwealth and have actually became interested in weightlifting, i have started working out more too (i was too scrawny and unfit lol)

    Although 2 years ago i had absolutely no care for weightlifting, Since learning about it i think you lifters are amazing. When i saw your Clean and Jerk PB of 122kg i thought, wow that looks kinda heavy! The i googled ‘122kg into pounds/stone’ Then i realised how damn strong you are lol. Its awesome how you can lift just over 19 stone over your head, where as i can’t even give my 16st fatass friend a piggyback ride lmao.

    Hannah Powell really has some potential, don’t you think? Is she going to stick at it and go for 2016? Because i don’t think her physical strength let her down, she had injuries. I hope she bounces back, Cuz i think pound for pound she is almost as strong as you ;) she just needs to build up so that she’s not too small for her weight category, then she can work on lifts / strength. I really think you can both win medals at 2016, i guess she wasn’t ready this time for London. Please make sure she sticks to it :P

    Helen seemed so lovely and I felt very sad for her watching the documentary last night, she put so much hard work in and i admired that :)

    You 3 have inspired myself and many others =]

    [Please excuse any bad grammar here though lol]

    • Thank you for all your support! It’s always nice to hear that you’ve inspired someone’s interest in something, so thank you for commenting :)
      I agree, Hannah is quite a talent! She’s been lifting 2 years longer than I have so I can’t see her giving up any time soon, I can promise you that. We are both on track for doing the nation proud in Rio!
      I think everyone felt for Helen, she works harder than most people I know and it was very unfortunate timing with her injury. You can’t knock her dedication, she’s fantastic.

      Thanks again for all your nice comments!

  3. I have to echo views expressed previously. The internet,whilst being a useful tool for garnering information and enabling contact with people you never thought possible,also allows numptys to boost their egos,shout their mouths off and be generally unpleasant to the rest of us.
    I also feel there is nothing unfeminine about you or your team mates.
    Whilst I admit I’m not over enthused by the Olympics,as I feel it is too much of a corporate event, as a fellow resident of Greenwich Borough,I wish you luck for the Games. And by the way,have you ever thought about playing Rugby Union,as Blackheath Womens team are always on the lookout for players.
    Good luck,

  4. well said, all of it!

    all three of you are inspirational to me, a fat 40 yr ex-rower who even in my ‘prime’ (cough) would never have been able to lift what you do…. I cried a little bit watching the telly last night and will be cheering for you when you’re competing – good luck!!!

  5. Zoe as much as I think women weightlifting is a fantastic thing and yourself Hannah and Helen are a fantastic advertisement for young females to get into the sport, I have to admit though that the female weightlifters I have met have either been chocoholics or sexual predators well that’s just the ones that I know and I’m sure you can put the appropriate tags to the lifters most suited, and as for the blokes saying women belong in the kitchen they are wrong, especially about you as your cooking was hardly Michelin star quality (unlike mine) but you did knock up a good pasta and pesto from time to time! :-)
    Good luck at the games and you might see me waving in the crowd,
    The master of chop!

  6. I actually came here to be supportive and say how much I enjoyed the documentary, Zoe, but this blog post changed my mind. Personally, I have nothing but praise for all athletes representing Great Britain, even in sports I’m not particularly interested in. However, the Girl Power documentary actually MADE me interested in Female Weightlifting … and this blog post did a great job of eliminating any and all interest I had in it.

    Zoe, to be blunt, I think you come across as incredibly childish. Victoria Coren wrote a newspaper article back when Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director about how the best way to acknowledge it … was to not acknowledge it (because the presenter of the award, who I think was Liza Minelli, said “it’s finally happened!” triumphantly). However, you not only do the opposite of that, you go a step further. You give your sweeping statement about chauvinistic men and then express shock, horror and disbelief that women — those gentle, innocent flowers who wouldn’t dream of insulting one of their sisters — would take issue with female bodybuilders too. Now, I agree that they’re in the wrong and I actually find physical strength to be an attractive quality in a woman, but didn’t the fact that women criticised you too tell you that it wasn’t guys and you felt the need to say “oh, what, is it ’cause I’m a WOMAN that you have a problem with this!?” You mention your response to the guy who replied to you with “get back in the kitchen” … but given your close to misandrist statements in the blog post above — assuming it would obviously only be those dastardly men who spouted the insults and never the angelic women — I can’t be sure that you didn’t say something sexist to him first that made him respond in kind (and I suspect you’ve deleted the tweets in question).

    So colour me disappointed. If you wanted to be some kind of a beacon for female athlete’s, that’s fine. I can only hope you don’t inspire other sportswomen to be just as condescending and arrogant.

    • The fact that I come across as childish might have something to do with the fact that I’m pretty much a kid! While it is easy enough for someone from the outside looking in to tell us to turn a blind eye to criticism, people fail to realise that the three of us in the documentary are just normal people who can can take offence, rather than just faceless figureheads for weightlifting.
      Firstly, I never said anyone had an issue with female bodybuilders. Bodybuilding is a completely different thing to weightlifting.
      I’m not making an assumption that the said people are being sexist – they’ve actually expressed these views. You assume that I provoked someone to tell me to ‘get back in the kitchen’. I assure you that I have never deleted any of my tweets – as you can see I’m quite happy for people to see what I think of them! I can also assure you that I am no sort of bra-burning feminist type myself, so unless I personally am provoked, would feel no need to pick on someone purely for being a ‘man’ (and I use the term loosely). If somebody made rude comments about you, would you sit back and let them?
      I also never said that women are all ‘angelic’ – in fact, being one myself, I know that we are quite the opposite :D I just think it is saddening to see other girls thinking that they have to look and be a certain way to be considered ‘attractive’ for men as if it is the be all and end all, and anyone that doesn’t fit that bill is weird. One comment (by a girl) actually said it was ‘making her feel sick’ – direct quote.
      Anyway, I’m not entirely 100% sure exactly what you’re trying to get at, but I’m sorry that my personal opinion has changed your outlook on an entire sport. I’m learning that you can’t please everyone – one man’s condescending and arrogant is another man’s funny. Not that I care about what men think. Cause obviously they are ALL horrid misogynists. And so are women. Is she joking, isn’t she..?! Who knows. (Hint: I am).

      • Zoe you are awesome and such an inspiration!!
        What you’ve said is SPOT ON and your confidence is infectious!! :)
        Keep it up and don’t back down!
        Good luck with everything!! x
        ( #HatersGonnaHate… amirite?!)

      • Great post Zoe!
        And great rebuttal too!
        Well-written, and love your sense of humour. Good luck, and I’ll be cheering you on! :)
        Don’t let any negatives get your spirits down. And the girls that say negative things are just jealous and insecure about themselves (maybe even the boys as well).

        @Stephen Smith – I think sometimes it’s good to not acknowledge something, but not always. It depends on the situation. And sometimes, it’s just good to vent your frustrations, instead of letting it nibble away at you.

      • Way to completely miss the point. Well done. The funniest thing about this comment is how it completely reinforces *everything* Zoe says. She’s a better woman than me to dignify you with a response.

      • Zoe your blog post and this rebuttal (to the frankly ridiculous and whiney post above it) are so full of awesome. I wish I had had confidence like this when I was 18. All power to you!

      • Awesome post, Zoe, and great response here.

        I just want to mention that I’m a man, and I proudly call myself a feminist; I certainly don’t have a bra to burn! In my experience, feminists are not man-haters any more than non-feminists are. The “bra-burning feminist” stereotype was imposed on women by men — men who don’t like the idea that women can define themselves without deferring to men. (Sound familiar?)

        Anyway, best of luck to you!

      • Stephen, the only one being childish here is you. Zoe took down the neanderthals in style and honestly–if you have a problem with that, then that’s…well…your problem.

        Zoe, you did a good job–best of luck in the Games! :)

      • “Misandrist”? At no point did Zoe express a distaste for ALL men, just for sexist jerks.

        Maybe you think that all men are sexist jerks.

        If so, that makes YOU a misandrist.

      • Don’t knock feminists, we’re cool and stuff… – not to drag this into a feminist debate, but feminism is not about hating men! It’s about eliminating double-standards, and making it ok for women to have agency and choice in their life… like choosing to lift, or choosing to go out in a short dress.

        Great response nevertheless, I do powerlifting myself, and I loved loved loved the documentary. Would have liked to see more training stuff, but obviously that would have been more of a niche thing to watch. In any case, was mirin squats :)

      • You’re great! I only read about all this because a strong woman friend of mine shared the thinkprogress link. I do a little Olympic weightlifting myself and am impressed, amazed, motivated by those of you that are so good at it. The women especially motivate me because as a guy that can’t lift as much as you, and not just by percentage of bodyweight but the actual weight (I outweigh you by 60 pounds, you out lift me by 50 pounds), when I think of quitting I think that there are women out there warming up with my max :)

        Love the line that you might be a little childish because you’re a kid! You seem mature beyond your young age to me. I’m more than twice as old as you and would not have responded as eloquently as you have.

        Last little comment. Strong is sexy!

      • I’m not really sure how that dude came to the conclusions he did; I think he may be a special boy with special needs (or just a troll looking for a reaction). I thought your post was excellent and your reply to that comment even better. Were there not an ocean between us I would likely club you over the head so I could claim you as mine and bring you back to my cave as my forefathers have for generations.

      • didn’t the fact that women criticised you too tell you that it wasn’t guys and you felt the need to say “oh, what, is it ’cause I’m a WOMAN that you have a problem with this!?”

        Implying men & women can’t hold the same opinions for different reasons.

        Victoria Coren wrote a newspaper article back when Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director about how the best way to acknowledge it … was to not acknowledge it

        Implying that weightlifting is the same as filmmaking, and ignoring the fact that because weightlifting is a sport that necessitates public displays of strength it’s a complimentary process to display mental strength as well.

        Zoe, to be blunt, I think you come across as incredibly childish.

        Ad-hominem.

        I can’t be sure that you didn’t say something sexist to him first that made him respond in kind

        Baseless suspicion.

        I can only hope you don’t inspire other sportswomen to be just as condescending and arrogant.

        Another ad-hominem, and implying that condescension and arrogance are never warranted. Some people are just better than others, and this is less about how much weight you can throw above your head and more about how you respond to threats to your character and self-definition. Zoe has responded to these threats far better than her detractors, and as such I would argue she is simply a better person.

      • There wasn’t actually any bra-burning feminist. There was an event back in the 60s or 70s that was completely misconstrued by critics of the feminist movement but the bra-burning bit is a myth. Don’t be afraid of that particular F word, much as people like Stephen would like you to run from it.

      • i think your response wasn’t childish at all, and you shouldn’t sell yourself short by saying you’re pretty much just a kid. you’re clearly very mature, and let’s be realistic, it’s not like you’re 8 years old. to be honest, when i was your age, if someone had said to me what has been said to and about you on the great wide interwebs, i would have probably have been so insecure about everything that i would have stopped eating and never picked up a bar again. your response to those sexist idiots was just what it should have been: their problem is themselves, not you. and it’s certainly not misandrist to call someone out for being a sexist dickwad – on the contrary, it’s the right thing to do, and people should do more of it. i wish more young women had the confidence and maturity to realise that they’re not the problem in these situations: we spend so much of our lives being told that the problem is something wrong with us, with our bodies, when most of the time that’s not the case at all. and just for the record, i suspect stephen smith was never really a supporter anyway: just someone who came up with a more creative way to try and put you down for having the gall to stand up for yourself.

        i watched the documentary in australia and i was really impressed with all of you – and infinitely jealous that i wasn’t as tough or resilient as you. i hope your future endeavours go well, because you really are an amazing human being.

    • Not talking about sexism doesn’t make it disappear you dolt. Shout it from the rooftops, blokes who demean women for not being their perfect breeder are creeps and the whole world owes them a sum total of nothing when they aren’t weak and sexy. It’s not about you, Stephen, and Zoe isn’t the voice for ALL WOMEN EVER either. If, somehow, one person ruined a whole new adventure into weightlifting for you perhaps your feeble mindedness will be better put to use elsewhere, not typing up your self serving opinion on the net. Women can be misogynists too and Zoe was pretty much on point with it. Did you miss the part where she talked about how some folks conform to short skirts, boozing, and starving? She doesn’t think they’re “gentle, innocent flowers”. Pretty sure she gets they’re hateful too!
      Can’t handle hearing about the evils that exist today? Why not stop fussing over a young lady’s opinion of it and go to the source! Tell people to stop being such titty babies over women standing up for themselves. Otherwise go stick your thumbs up your bumhole and put your hands to better use than getting onto one gal for ruining EVERYTHING IN YOUR LIFE WEEEEHHHHH

    • Mr. Smith,
      What “sweeping statement about chauvinistic men” or otherwise “misandric statements” do you have in mind? I just read through the original blog post a second time to check and found nothing of the sort. I did find lots of quite narrow, specific statements about chauvinistic men, like “the few ignorant twerps,” “a very small percentage of idiots,” and “the likes of men like that,” all of which indicate that Zoe was referring to a small subset of men who are “chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated,” rather than to all men categorically. As a man who tries not to be a “chauvinistic, pigheaded bloke” I think that’s an important distinction.

      The only “childishness” involved here is that of overaged boys who take any reference to male sexism and misogyny as an attack on them personally. Boys who aspire to be men need to recognize that being a man means (among other things) respecting women, and that respecting women means (among other things) recognizing that a whole lot of overaged boys out there disrespect women to an alarming degree, and most of the time do it without receiving any criticism. If you don’t want to be one of those boys, don’t slam a woman for demanding no more than the respect she (and all of us) deserve.

    • Yep, a girl saying she doesnt care about a man’s unsolicited view on her body is SO close-to-misandristic. Give your head a shake, Stephen.

    • This blog post eliminated “any and all interest” you had in the sport? Really? Either you are a weak person, changing opinions with the breeze, or you really did not come here with anything positive in mind, in the first place. In fact, you seem quite invested in seeing (or, rather, finding) potential for the negative, here. There’s plenty of that around; quite common, indeed. In short, it’s boring.

    • The women who object to it are STILL objecting to it BECAUSE she is a woman. Lot’s of people throughout history are complicit in their own oppression, to use an extreme phrasing. Women voted against suffrage. They didn’t think they themselves should have equal rights.

      And then you claim Zoe must have done something to provoke the men who commented.

      You make no point, sir. And your grammar is appalling.

    • I am not really sure what you’re trying to tell her here. On the other hand, I can say I loved this article and that I am actually proud someone expressed this in a very clear way.

      I don’t know if you have any idea of what it is to practice a sport you LOVE but having people trying to get to stop you because it will make you look “unattractive”.

      I think it is very, very sad that in this day and age women (or men) still keep themselves from trying things they would probably LOVE because of the appearance it can give them.

      When I first started lifting weights I actually thought about stopping after a certain weight, and not go higher to not get bulky. What does that mean? That means I would’ve stopped improving myself in something I loved because for others, I would not be attractive any more.

      Well time passed, and I discovered that I’d rather surpass myself than looking good to aaaaalllllll those people that keep telling you how unfeminine I would look. Turns out that now I find women with muscles much more pretty than those skinny girls media are trying to push down our troats all day long.

      I am extremely tired of having people trying to do what exactly? Hurt the self confidence? Trying to make us stop doing what we love? Whatever their objective is, I am tired to see in 2012, people who STILL believe appearance is the most important thing.

      I am also pretty shocked to see someone who dares to tell her she is condescending and arrogant while all she did was defend herself against people who were just mean. Mean and idiot, is the only thing those people are in those cases, because there is no good reason to say these kind of things.

    • If you don’t want us to assume it’s normal for men to hate on women for our accomplishments, here’s a novel idea: quit hating on women for our accomplishments. If you have decided to quit supporting bodybuilder women because of Zoe’s comments then you never supported them in the first place.

      Just as Zoe doesn’t lift to be attractive to Twitter cretins, she doesn’t write blog posts so that you will come along and support the feminist cause. Either you do or you don’t. If we have to work that hard to persuade you, you never would have been persuaded.

      Just don’t come crying to us in twenty years when society is still laughing at you for wanting to stay home with the kids.

    • “close to misandrist statements…”?? Seriously? Where exactly was the misandry in Zoe’s post? Something to keep in mind: just because you don’t agree with something Zoe said doesn’t make it misandry. Just because Zoe won’t be what YOU want her to be doesn’t make her a misandrist. Seriously, I’m fed up with idiots like you representing my sex. Evolve, for fuck’s sake, or just go die off somewhere. Please. For all of us.

    • Pretty wild that someone would chastize someone as being childish whose main interests on his Facebook page are wrestling groups. Grow up Stephen Smith.

  7. Being a photographer of sport for the past 6 years I found the doc quiet informative. In the lead up to these games I have had to cover many so called “minority sports ” to in fact each sport has their following and supporters it’s just that some sports get more coverage than others. So i wasn’t as shocked and opinionated as others. as there are other people in the same boat that suddenly after x years of countless hours in the gym and training and not being noticed are getting a lot of media attention, and quite rightly so. So i am glad that weightlifting is getting the attention it deserves. What people don’t see is what someone goes through to make a weight, or what rehab it takes to compete again. Well done to all you 3 for doing it and all the best for the games

    • Yeah … you know what, now that a few days have passed, I’m not quite sure what I was getting at either. And I’m sorry about the bodybuilding/weightlifting confusion. I think the sweeping generalisation annoyed me but I also think I overreacted to it, so I’m sorry. I’m also sorry that I put an apostrophe in “athletes” when it was meant to be plural, what was I thinking … ?

      One final thing on this though, Zoe; if something like this ever comes up again and some irritating idiot spouts off about you or weightlifting on Twitter, do you think you’ll leave it alone? I mean, I’m at the wise old age of 23, so I’ve had experience in these matters, but it’s clear that the people criticising you and the other girls in the documentary hadn’t even watched it because you do NOT look like men. As if I even needed to write that last bit. The thing is, I’ve probably complained about stuff I’ve never seen before but never to that extent. For example, I might’ve said I don’t watch Glee because “musicals aren’t very good” (and I criticised you for a sweeping generalisation. The cheek of it!) but not because, say, the high school that it’s set in looks more like a mortuary. That’s pretty much the level of idiocy at work with the people who insulted you, so wasn’t it easier to ignore because the insults were so ridiculous?

      • How about Zoe decides what to do about it and doesn’t have to answer to you? Maybe when you’re stopped imagining that at 23 you know about life,and stop telling women what to do, you’ll stop whining about how unfair it is when they object to you doing it.
        I’m 51 by the way. Boy.

      • 1) Whether or not they look like men isn’t the point. People of all looks/sizes/genders/etc have stories to tell, and we shouldn’t be silencing them based on their looks. Saying “that’s silly, you don’t look like men” is just doing the same thing – making this about their appearance and not their talent and abilities.

        2) your Glee comparison is really off-base. People were blasting a group of teenagers about their looks when they were on TV to celebrate ther incredible accomplishments. Women are constantly told we arent pretty enough, are too manly, too fat/skinny/tall/etc. we are told this daily by our peers, the media, and everyone.
        For Zoe, as a teenage girl who was called these things when she went on TV for something that was presumably pretty exciting and important to her, to get those reactions and be able to come up with such an eloquent, informed rebuttal is amazing. And while I’d never ask her to make herself the martyr and be a poster child for the cause, I hope her post will be well received (aside from the occasional pouty man who gets his feelings hurt by a woman not caring what he thinks) and in the future she’ll continue to stand up for herself against sexists and jerks.

      • Again,

        1. There was no sweeping generalization. Read more carefully, perhaps after removing the chip from your shoulder.

        2. The whole “shouldn’t you just ignore the idiocy” argument would make sense if such idiocy were truly rare. Sadly, it is not. If anything, these days misogyny is on the rise. And it thrives because both men and women either buy into it or simply tolerate it because they “don’t want to make a big deal” and come across like a “raging bra-burning feminist.” We’ve gotten to the point where misogynistic insults often get laughed off, but any woman who replies to such insults with a radical statement like, “men should respect women” gets pilloried as a man-hating harpy. In this environment, disregarding the insults only allows the problem to fester. Zoe was absolutely right to stand up for herself in this way, and I hope she continues to do so. In the process, she’ll set an important example for both women and men.

      • You’ve got a brass neck responding at all after this outrageous piece of libel:

        “You mention your response to the guy who replied to you with “get back in the kitchen” … but given your close to misandrist statements in the blog post above — assuming it would obviously only be those dastardly men who spouted the insults and never the angelic women — I can’t be sure that you didn’t say something sexist to him first that made him respond in kind (and I suspect you’ve deleted the tweets in question).”

        You truly ought to be ashamed.

      • Zoe has achieved a remarkable feat.

        She got some stupid comments from misogynist dipsticks on Twitter and she’s just pwned them in an intelligent and articulate fashion – so how is that misandrist?

        She was simply defending herself. I mean if someone accused you of completely screwing up replying to a blog post, I’m sure you’d fight back.

        Oh wait a minute – you just did!

      • “I mean, I’m at the wise old age of 23, so I’ve had experience in these matters.”

        I’m 25… that doesn’t make me wiser than you. You may be 23, but that doesn’t “necessarily” make you wiser than her.

        The “adult” is a physical condition, not a form of enlightenment or the biological key to maturity. Only a child sees it as anything more, as children attempt to mimic what they falsely perceive to be “adult behaviour”. The attaining of subjective wisdom is a multi-factorial, idiosyncratic mental process that one has to develop within themselves.

    • VQ says:
      July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm
      Great post Zoe! And great rebuttal too!

      Seconded.

      I think you are doing a fantastic job at both the sports and articulating yourself. It is great to see real opinons and reactions rather than pr cleaned non-comments.

      I run a cabaret night that celebrates all shapes and sizes for men and women. I think we need to move away from set ideas of what is “right” for men and women and start being a little more accepting and body positive. You do this in a really great way leading by example, which is very impressive. Especially insightful for someone who is “pretty much a kid!” Grin.

  8. Zoe, you’re a fantastic person and I love a lot of what you’ve said here. I especially identify with the frustration at those men who feel the need to loudly share their opinion on whether a woman is attractive to them as if we’re supposed to care. Kind of sad about the ‘bra burning feminist’ comment though. Even if bra burning wasn’t a myth I fail to see what would have been so bad about doing it. Should you want to meet any actual feminists at any point, rather than believing the tired old propaganda put about by the sort of men who are desperate to hang on to their male privilege because they know they’d struggle in the real world without it, look some of us up.

    • Haha, ah don’t take that in a bad way. I’m completely in favour of feminism – just meant I don’t take it to an extreme level of hating all men basically (which is what I’m sure a lot of them actually think feminism means). Promise you I don’t think every feminist is that way :) ps, I don’t like the idea of bra burning cause some bras are really pretty. I recently spent a small fortune on some. The idea of destroying them physically pains me! ;)

      • Sadly a lot of people do seem to think feminism, or some extreme of it, means hating men. Which makes no sense at all when you think about it because the extreme version of equality would be really really equal, not some sort of role reversal of the current inequalities.
        On the subject of bra-burning, the idea of burning the thing that enables me to run and jump around without giving myself a black eye really doesn’t strike me as that feminist.

      • Zoe, google bra burning urban myth. It’s a myth.

        What’s with the guy who told you to go back in the kitchen and make a sandwich? Why are antifeminists so obsessed with sandwiches?

      • “Bra burning” is an old lie put about by anti-feminists: never happened, not even once, jsyk. Bit like “man-hater”. Take no notice, Zoe, and all power to your elbow ( or is it knees?” :-))

      • I thought it would be cool to note that bras were pretty much the best thing ever when they were invented(by a feminist) because the alternative at the time was corsets, restrictive, uncomfortable breath-stealing corsets.
        I also don’t think there ever has been a real feminist bra-burning event, stereotypes are fun! :B

      • Zoe, I can assure you that the man-hating feminists are a small minority–most actual feminists can’t stand that type either (for one thing, they give the rest of us a bad name).

        While some people have seen the bra as a symbol of oppression, widespread bra-burning never actually took place–see the snopes article on it here: http://www.snopes.com/history/american/burnbra.asp

        Anyway, thanks for being an inspiration!

      • Thanks for clearing that up. It’s so strange how many people think feminism means hating men. These women do exist, but to me they are as sexist and misguided as these kinda macho men who think you don’t like the way they’d want you to look (or do the things they want you to do and not to follow your heart). I just try not to even think of them as feminists, because they’re clearly not about equality.

        It is strange that, for me, even just playing football for fun is met with hostility. I get criticized for having footballer’s legs, so I’d hate to think what it must be like to be on public display doing a more (perceived as) “manly” sport and get these crappy comments. I loved your reaction to it! So articulate, too.

        (And it is odd how old you make me feel when I’m 23…)

    • Zoe, great job. As a woman and a feminist I know that any time you excel and especially if your excellence challenges gender stereotypes, people who aren’t comfortable with that are going to criticize you and try to make you feel like a freak for not living up (or down!) to their expectations. Stephen Smith – if emphasis on physical attractiveness wasn’t such a toxic and pervasive part of culture, and if it wasn’t used to demean and marginalize other outlets for women to find value and excellence in themselves – their intelligence, wit, athletic prowess, business acumen: – all taking a distant second seat to attractiveness and by extension sexual value – I would wholeheartedly agree with your suggestion to rise above the fray by refusing to acknowledge it. But sadly it is so pervasive. Politicians like Hilary Clinton make headlines for looking “tired and worn” as well as for being Secretary of state. Other Olympians like Gabby Douglas get criticized for their hair. It’s part of a very destructive message that no matter what a woman does, if she doesn’t look great doing it, her value is less. That message, or social conversation, if you will, is not going to change by itself. People like Zoe who aren’t afraid to call the haters out – they help change it. It’s unpleasant, but necessary, in order to make people understand the nature of the conversation, and eventually change the topic altogether. Again, great job, Zoe.
      Daryle Brown, Campus Organizer, UniteWomen

    • “Kind of sad about the ‘bra burning feminist’ comment though. Even if bra burning wasn’t a myth I fail to see what would have been so bad about doing it.”

      Ugh. Don’t surreptitiously implicate subjective sentiments as objective ones, it’s utterly repulsive.

      “Should you want to meet any actual feminists at any point, rather than believing the tired old propaganda put about by the sort of men who are desperate to hang on to their male privilege because they know they’d struggle in the real world without it, look some of us up.”

      Why do you assume the “propaganda” to be exclusively evoked by men? I’ve discoursed with women that dislike the label of “feminist”, as it carries many implications.

      • “Which makes no sense at all when you think about it because the extreme version of equality would be really really equal, not some sort of role reversal of the current inequalities.”

        Yeah, that’s what “defines” feminism, but then feministic sentiments are infinitely multi-factorial. Feminists can potentially conflict with eachother based on opposing viewpoints of what sincerely “constitutes” feminism.

        A perfect example pertaining to feministic conflict would be sl*t-shaming. If you haven’t heard of it, Google it.

  9. Zoe, all power to your elbow. I’ve really enjoyed all the documentaries covering different athletes’ hurdles and challenges to get the the games. Ignore the ignorant comments – you’ve achieved something most others could only have dreamed of and because some don’t have the talent, they belittle those that have as they know deep down they haven’t got what it takes to succeed.

    I felt for Hannah and Helen who both failed to achieve something they’d set their hearts on for so long, but it shows how much success depends not just on the physicality but also your ‘head’ being in the right place at the right time. I put in the ballot for the Women’s Weightlifting and I took a gamble that you’d go for the 58kg division as my friend and I wanted to come and support you as you’re a local girl. We got tickets but I’d really like to know if I’ve got the right session – are you in Group A or Group B?

    I’m sooooo up for the Olympics – having this worldwide event in my home city is something I and many others will never experience again in our lifetimes, so I wish you and all the GB Olympians every success – I’ll be screaming and shouting at the TV in support of you all! :D

    • To Zoe;
      While we’re on the subject; I’ve been a feminist about all my adult life. I’ve also been happily married for 32 years to a *real* man that respects women, have an adult son who is the apple of my eye & as far as I can tell, treats women with the same respect his father does. Point is; feminism does *not* translate into “hating men”. And, trust me, while I may have gotten away with burning my bra at 18, at 52, I’m holding on to it ; )
      BTW, when my son does settle down & gets married, I sincerely hope its to a strong, intelligent young lady much like yourself ! Kudos !

  10. After reading what a lot of people have said to you on twatter then all i can say is fair play to you. You really handled yourself well on their. As a man im not jealous of the fact that your weightlifters, im in awe of how much all you girls can actually lift. Oh and as for you looking like men, well when you have tripe like the only way is essex, desperate scousewives and big brother, society seems to think that women should be airheads and as fake as one of those waxworks in madame tussauds. Besides, i havent seen many healthy men with breasts but thats just me.

  11. I just read the ridiculous negative comments lobbed at GB women’s weightlifters and found them repugnant. You are all amazing women at the top of your sport preparing to wear your national colors. Anybody who can neither meet nor admire that standard is not worthy of a negative comment. The issue of physical appearance is so mind-numbingly superficial and I hope you all realize that the vast majority of viewers and fans are inspired by your passion for excellence. You all look great through and through. To paraphrase Happy Gilmour, “Harness the good, block out the bad!” Don’t let the bastards get you down.

  12. Women weightlifters are awesome. Major props to anyone who takes the sport seriously but women especially face a lot of disinformation and societal pressure regarding weights: low weight high reps, ‘toning’, ‘getting all disgusting and muscle-y’ and so forth. I’m always glad to see females who powerlift or similar, and it is definitely attractive even if that’s not the point of learning it. To paraphrase Rippetoe, strength is more important than we’d like to admit and I admire anyone pursuing it. Good luck in the Olympics!

  13. Awesome post Zoe. More power to you. Unfortunately, the myths surrounding women and lifting weights are still too prevalent. However, there are some people like myself in the fitness industry who are trying to counter these. Keep up the good work and good luck in the competition.

  14. Rock on Zoe!

    Feminism is all about us women having CHOICES. Whether we choose to be stay-at-home moms, career women, pilots, athletes – it doesn’t matter. We have the freedom to live our own lives, and no one should judge us for our choices.

    Embrace your choices and your dreams, and don’t apologize for that!

  15. Zoe, you rock. You make my paltry maximum lift look like a toothpick. I loved Going for Gold because not only was it showcasing great British athletes and the pain they go through to get to the Olympics, but because it showed girls after my own heart. I’m sure there are loads of women like us who ditch the lettuce diets and treadmill in favour actually working at trying to achieve more. I can be feminine, I think I am feminine. Just not in the gym. I know there are loads of women who use emery boards for something other than filing off their callouses before they rip off. But it doesn’t automatically make us butch, ugly or unattractive to men. In fact my boyfriend and I sat filing the callouses off our hands together the other night, I like that! Although I loved the ‘girl power’-ness of the programme, and it makes me feel all warm inside to know that the world is waking up to women being able to compete in any event, it shouldn’t detract from the fact that you are competing in the biggest sporting event for years, until the next one. You might be a girl, we all might be proud of you for that, but even greater is that you’re an Olympic Athlete. Go Zoe, go TEAM GB!

  16. I sobbed like a baby after watching that bbc show. Tears of joy and relief for you and disappointment and sadness for Hannah and Helen. The three of you are so inspiring and motivating to all athletes. I hope Hannah and Helen are still fighting and competing and not going to give up! Zoe, I really admire what you were able to achieve and look forward to cheering for you in the Olympics (even though I am Canadian-heehee).

  17. Thank you for this wonderful post against swole shaming. I’m sure you’re already aware that people everywhere have to contend with this sort of thing, being told that they’re “too muscular” or that “lifting all that weight can’t be good for you”. The people who make that sort of comment always seem to believe that we lift and train in order for them to have something to look at. I can only hope that one day they will accept our relationship with the iron, even if they might not understand it.

  18. Stay strong. I used to powerlift (max bench 278 lb; I’m forty, I was thirty-seven when I went to world’s) and I got the same ignorant shit, “a woman should not be stronger than a man” and so forth. Weak people are threatened by strength, especially when the weakness is between their ears.

    I also agree with previous commentors that it’s best not to engage. You end up spending way too much time thinking about the haters. Just dismiss it and move on to another personal best. Trophies are the best revenge. ;-)

    • Congratulations on your lifts. A 278 bench is great (20 pounds more than my max, currently). Seriously though, any guy should be able to outlift that with some training and dedication. If you are stronger than a guy, it’s his own fault for being lazy and weak.

  19. Zoe, greetings from a Brit in Switzerland who will be supporting you 100% from my sofa during the Games. I’m a huge weightlfting fan and it is great to see GB sending so many lifters to the Games. I think you are doing a fantastic job of promoting the sport at home for men and women. I’m a gym owner and constantly battle the old myths and cliches that women should not lift weights or be strong. I’m going to send a link to this blog to all my members. I really think they will find it inspirational.
    Best of luck at the Games!
    Jon

  20. Weak men are threatened by strong women. In more ways than muscle. The way you are handling your critics is enviable and anyone who’s ever been bullied in any way can really salute you.

    Good luck Zoe, now that I’ve seen the documentary am trés disappointed we won’t be seeing your event but excited to see some of the women’s weightlifting competition. Girl power indeed!

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  22. Zoe,
    Read about you here across the pond. Best of luck to you. Pay no attention to the assholes, they are something you scrape off the bottom of your shoe.

    And you definitely rock.

  23. I watched the documentary, and was very impressed by all three of you ladies.All beautiful and an inspiration ..I hear you have received some flax….Now you will realize that many in this world of lazy idle lay abouts hate success, and like to knock down those who succeed. I think its a British trait which is deplorable and I know you will not be phased by it..After the program I will now be looking out for you and willing you on…Well done stylish and gorgeous lady.

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  26. What a brilliant statement, well said young lady! I hope you draw inspiration from all the positive support and in turn inspire the next generation to dare to be different and give it a go! Go Team GB!

  27. Zoe, it was love at first sight. I’d read of your exploits, saw some pix of you looking wicked and, since I love weightlifting more than any other Olympic sport, I made sure I watched you today. Fantastic, especially that last C&J. Your grin charmed the pants off me. You have entertained this sexagenarian and former hockey player hugely today with your strength, determination, technique and smile. Thanks, very well done, and I look forward to you medalling in Rio. You’re my Olympic poster girl this week!!

    Allan x x

  28. Zoe I was already in awe of you for your amazing achievement today but this is just the cherry on top of the cake! Massive respect.

    Only thing I would say is that women have the right to wear short skirts if they choose without getting judged as well. In fact some of those wankers who tell you to get back in the kitchen would probably call those women sluts as well, and that’s not very nice either.

    Anyway I thought you might enjoy this quote from another fashionable woman, Coco Chanel:

    ‘Women must tell men always that they are the strong ones. They are the big, the strong, the wonderful. In truth, women are the strong ones.’

    Keep being you.

  29. You’re an inspiration, and you show what people can do when they push themselves and show drive, determination and skill.

    Now go forth and crush your opponents. :D

  30. You are amazing. Truly inspiring.
    I’d love to hear you talk somewhere, Someone get this woman a podium!!!
    I love every word you have just written, Yes! Yes! Yes!
    You are Britain 2012.
    You are 2012’s Emmeline Pankhurst. The 21st Century Mary Wollstonecraft.
    I watched you in the competition earlier and thought, I like her, than someone tweeted this into my timeline and I’m so glad!!
    Proud feminist, I salute you.
    You are Britain’s pride.
    It’s people like you who put the Great in Great Britain.

  31. We watched and enjoyed the documentary and I just saw you compete today, WELL DONE.

    Absolutely brilliant that you have made me appreciate and understand your sport better and brilliant that you have answered those few negative people so eloquently. The Games are so inspiring, regardless of which sport, people living and competing at the highest level is incredible to watch.

    Looking forward to following your progress in the coming years and watching you achieve even greater as you develop and gain experience..

    Thanks again, joe

  32. You’re amazing. I knew nothing about powerlifting before I watched that show – yet was totally hooked and have been following todays olympic events. You were all so inspiring and empowering – and I hope some men will have felt the same as women like me. I don’t know what will make narrow minded morons like this change their view, maybe just time and more examples – we didn’t get from the Mad Men era views of women to where we are overnight – but thank you for contibuting to that shift, making it high profile and challenging them so publically.

    Just don’t let it get you down. There are so many more people right behind you and we’re so proud after today :-)

  33. Strong, beautiful and intelligent. Is there anything you can’t do?! You’re fricking awesome Zoe! It’s so refreshing to hear young girls speaking like this. Inspirational. I, for one, have always contended that you don’t have to be one way or the other, that strong can’t mix with feminine and you are a perfect example of this- you go girl! #thisisrealGIRLPOWER!!

  34. Hi Zoe, I remember watching a different programme about you from a few years back, you were determined to get to the games and you have achieved it and even lifted a new GB record, well done you have shown exactly what can be achieved with the right attitude. And youre right two fingers to those who bad mouth any of you, be very proud of all your achievements.

  35. I love this blog :-)

    Good on ya Zoe.

    Understanding is the key thing when it comes to dealing with people with tiny minds. You have to understand that the men with tiny minds (and other tiny things) will end up with the women with tiny minds (who have a future of disappointment, obviously), and they’ll slowly evolve out of the gene-pool. It’s not much help in our lifetime unfortunately, but that’s the best way to look at it. If nothing else, it makes you feel better knowing your DNA is a little better than theirs… ;-)

    I could bore you with the arguments I’ve had with the 20-year old girl in work who thinks anybody who isn’t married with kids by the age of 25 is defective, but I’ll save you that one. Needless to say she isn’t interested in the Olympics…

    Hmmm, just as I’m typing this, you’ve appeared on the telly again, so now it’s my turn to join Jon Hart in sounding like a dirty old man and tell you a simple truth. You’re lovely – it’s as simple as that – muscles an’ all. And that’s from an extremely fussy, old-fashioned, grumpy, slightly sexist old fart like me… ;-)

    There. That’s my two penn’eth.

    Good luck Zoe. I shall follow your career with interest :-)

  36. Congrats zoe on breaking the GB record today- so unbelievable what you achieved. I watched your doc last week and was shocked at some of the responses on twitter. These bullies have no idea of the hard work and commitment you apply into training and competitions.
    Me and my boyfriend thought you look fantastic and any negativity is due to jealousy.
    I think you are a fantastic role model for girls and i will be using you as an example during my pe

  37. Zoe, you are awesome and the way you have dealt with all of this is a total credit to you – I believe in standing up for yourself online as it brings such issues to light and shows up the offenders for what they are. Just because someone is in the spotlight doesn’t mean they are not a real person, and being easily accessible online is not a license for arseholes to feel any sense of entitlement towards you. Some people have forgotten how to behave.

    When I was growing up, I often felt self-conscious about my body type – even though I could always exercise more (must try harder!) I am very tall for an ethnic Chinese woman and have a broad-shouldered, slim-hipped, athletic build – when I flex my arms, my bicep/tricep size rivals my own husband’s, and several of my male friends. They’ve gone down over the past couple of years as I’ve lost a bit of weight, but during my Tae Kwon-do days they were proper muscles. I’m starting to do a few workouts at home now to tone up those arms again because I’ve realised as I got older that I love seeing lean muscle on women’s arms :) My personal favourite look is a cross between kickboxers and ballet dancers, but all strong women are beautiful.

    And I liked the earrings you were wearing when you broke that British record. Unfeminine? My arse. You’ve got style :)

  38. Congratulations Zoe on your performance today. Great start to your Olympic career as just 18, which I’m sure will include medals in the future. Ignore the Twitter trolls and carrying on inspiring female athletes!

  39. Zoe what a star you are !! A truly inspirational intelligent young woman ;) …. I watched you with my teenaged boys today, we were simply amazed by your talent and determination. Keep up the hard work you have an amazing future ahead of you am sure … , ignore the idiots, they are not worth a second thought, however I loved reading your response to the moronic critics … Go girl!!

    You have earned a whole family of new fans here ;)

    All the very best wishes

    Sharron x

  40. You are amazing. For several reasons, but well done being you above everything else. It’s a cheesy thing to say, but that’s all I’ve got. Thank you.

  41. Hey Zoe i watched you today at the Olympics and thought you were amazing, my dad turned round and was like she is lifting the same weight as me!!! and he is a big guy i was like :O, i really want to give it a go but im not sure how to get into it, got any ideas?

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