T Nation

Sexism in Powerlifting

My gym is mainly the training location for a powerlifting crew that is part of a larger membership based club around the country. As a newbie and a 123/132 class, teen/junior division, female powerlifter, I was of course at first intimidated by these men who were all in 200+ lbs and often lifted geared. However, I soon became accustomed to their music and antics and worked hard to prove myself strong.

However, they recently declared a “no girls” rule for their club, though I would be the only potential female member, and other chapters of the club allow women. They also prevented me from storing my belt and various lifting shoes at the gym, forcing me to carry everything with me.

It’s hard not to take personally when it all seems so personal… has anyone else dealt with this sort of sexism in powerlifting or in the gym in general? My boyfriend and a few male friends of mine are part of the group, but this decision was made without their input and they disagree with it, though they did not voice these concerns.

Lot of powerlifters at my gym, male and female, and they’ve always been encouraging to each other and friendly to others. Sounds your gym has a bunch of shitty people at it.

Either ride it out, or find a new gym…

…but definitely find a new boyfriend.


So few people want to powerlift that idea of a club excluding members seems really goofy.

I have never witnessed sexism in powerlifting. The few meets I’ve been to, the female lifters were cheered as loudly for as the males.

If you’re feeling particularly litigious, if this gym is part of a larger chapter and affiliated with a federation, you could most likely contact the corporate offices of the federation and let them know about their exclusionary practices. They will most likely lose their charter.


As a male…why wouldn’t I want to train with females? :joy:


I think it had something to do with a previous girlfriend of the VP and their dramatic relationship, but that all occurred before I even started lifting :woman_shrugging:t2:

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I’ve never witnessed anything like this, the worst I’ve seen is the occasional time that guys do the guy thing and start ripping on each other (all in good fun) until it escalates to the point that I could see the stuff being said being intimidating to a female that is not familiar with the nature of the antics. But nothing blatantly intentional like that. That said, my recommendations…

  1. Absolutely report this to the gym, higher club officials, and any other authority that could be over the club. I’m not a woman, so I’m not even going to pretend to understand any peacemaker “not wanting to stir the pot” kind of feelings you might feel, but you really need to do this. Silence just allows this type of behavior to perpetuate.

  2. Do not associate with this group/club any more, even if they get a slap on the wrist and have to allow you to be part of the club. They’ve already shown their true colors and for me personally, that’s not something I would want to be a part of.

Again, just my recommendations and I’m sure there’s a lot more details to the situation, but at the end of the day blatant, intentional sexism like this should not be tolerated.


How many pairs of shoes were you trying to leave laying around?


I have no idea why they would do that. Most large lifters are the same, regardless of sport. Strongman, PLing, O-lifting. The bigger the guys, the nicer they are. The music and attitude go with the lifting, but it’s been rare that I have run into guys that are actually anything but nice and friendly. It’s usually the little guys and insecure wannabe’s that are a pain.


Exactly it’s usually little guys not doing sports, who are insecure in their own masculinity, that are afraid of women who lift. I find it weird a behavior amongst powerlifters


Usually one pair, at most two


I think he’s being tongue in cheek here, as in a joke about women and shoes in the middle of a “they’re being sexist” thread.


A few of the gyms in my area are mostly female. But yeah, if you find something off with this, definitely find a new gym. People are too grown to be in the Little Rascals He-Man Woman Haters Club.

Sounds like a bunch of wankers that prefer wanking goats over women. shrug

Nate nailed this here. Make a fuss. Then after the dust settles, tell them to eff off and go your own way.

I was thinking the same thing. They must all be gay.

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Maybe you and them should look into starting a new club.

But how come your boyfriend didn’t say anything?

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My wife has lifted on and off over the years With me and if I was told we couldn’t lift together for whatever reason I’d find a new place to lift. This seems stupid in my opinion. I don’t know if they’re acting like it’s making them more “hard core” but there are plenty of hard core lifters that have been around for years trading with women.

If one woman or man is causing drama, sure exclude that person, but not the whole gender.

Hope this all resolved for you. And I think what Nate said is the the way to go.

I’ve seen this sort of thing before. A sports club got shot of a female physio because she was “female”. The players complained that a woman in the mix changed the “dynamic” of the locker room. What this really meant was they could not act like degenerates any more and she wouldn’t sleep with any of them.
This could be the case. They don’t want you around as all of a sudden they are reminded that its not the 1970’s and there are somethings you can’t say / do. Its not fair or good and I don;t agree with it. But its real. I feel I should somehow apologies on behalf of “men”.

Oh and because its been mentioned:
Your boyfriend and other male friends that have kind of gone along with this - not really your mates. No one lets there mates get treated like this unchallenged.

Unfortunately the club basically runs the gym, and it is the only gym in my tiny town with the equipment for powerlifting, plus a rate for students which is about all I can afford as a broke college kid. My boyfriend offered to say something, but I didn’t think it would be smart in case they reacted negatively and kicked him out. Then we would lose the storage they allow him at the gym, and have no place to put his multiple barbells and other equipment… it’s really just a big, not fun situation.

Find a new gym not full of shitty assholes. You and your boyfriend/friends deserve better