“Girl Press-ups”

When I was in PE class at school, we would spend one term doing gym or circuit training. As most of the boys were at different stages of puberty, there were a range of body types and sizes, with some lads growing a lot stronger and/or taller than others. This meant these sorts of PE lessons were a haven for toxic masculinity, joking and bullying – mainly referred to under the umbrella term of “banter” at the time.

One of the many exercises was a press/push-up. For those who weren’t strong enough to do a full or “proper” press-up, they were told to drop to their knees and do a half press-up. I don’t think my teacher specifically called it the following name, but chatting to friends recently and in particular girls, this half press-up was often referred to as a “Girl Press-up”.

Let that sink in for a moment: “Girl Press-ups”.

I don’t think I realised how sexist this was at the time, but it’s yet another example of everyday sexism – how we somehow, ignorantly and misogynistically, equate weakness with femininity.

Sadly, after speaking with friends, they said that even their female PE teachers referred to this form as a “Girl Press-ups”.

Was this an example of Everyday Sexism when you were at school? Were their others that come to mind?