Activism in Powerlifting

*This is my narrative as a cis minority young woman. This is written to provoke thought and discussion; to challenge gender binaries in the white culture community I live in. This is written in hopes we can reevaluate society's gender roles and expectations of people who are curious about or hold place in the strength space.*

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As a coach, I always hear the uninviting notion of "Oh, but you're small and attractive and female and nice so you're an approachable powerlifter so you're easier to work with." How about "I am qualified." I don't show up to my career to fish for reasons of why you're insecure. 

As an athlete, I struggle with the concept of being a "female" powerlifter. My efforts to become the best athlete I can be does not align with that (usually unconscious) comparison of a mans ventures. I am a powerlifter, period. 

Historically, women who are categorized as "fit" are white, lean, and often hold a status of wealth. What about "strong"? 

As a young girl, I remember only watching male athletes because that's who was paid attention to. In elementary, athleticism was never something the girls were exposed to the way boys were. From an early age, the boys were taught to be bigger, faster and stronger and it always blossomed with sports. Can you imagine if me and my girlfriends got the same opportunity as boys when it came to after school activities such as football or soccer? How would that world look? This idea that boys are more able, more successful at said sports echoes the devastating reminder that women do not belong in the athletic space. 

I am an intersectional feminist who competes in the powerlifting community as a Mexican American artist and I'm here to defy your biased gender roles. 

Part of the big reason I have emmersed myself into a sport I believe in is because the justice powerlifting serves aligns with my values. Powerlifting, unlike other independently existing passions, diminishes the focus on "looking a certain way" and reconnects our participants, women specifically, and the iron to find our full potential that weve been subjected from. Powerlifters dont look ONE way. We can be as diverse as we want, weigh as much as we want and are rich in resilience. 

The benefits of powerlifting for me have been endless. Aside from lifting more than most of my friends, I am allowed to show up in the world and demand respect. I chose to work on myself, body and mind alike, through strength training. I have every right to struggle in training and in life and by doing so I give myself permission to show up day after day in the world to do better thus my passion being a feminist act. The sport I chose for me means me against myself, I don't need anyone else to give me my success. The only person I can let down is myself and I ain't got time for that.

I want to connect with more people like myself who have the goal or curiosity of strength. I want us to have a bigger population, louder than the one we have rising, showing up for those that are unaware or unable. I want to constantly move and to be moved- to push and pull and fight and win. I will fight for the voiceless on my platform and bring equality into the strength world.

-Maria Rodriguez

Maria Rodriguez