Friday, September 23, 2011

Yoga and androcentrism

So, dolls, it seems I unintentionally took the summer off from blogging. Marathon training and working and heading north to the mountains as much as possible has left very little time for much else.

It doesn't matter. I am here and I am snarky as ever.

I've mentioned before that the trend of adding the suffix “-ista” to certain words to make them somehow more "female" really irks me. Well, by the same token, seeing the prefix "bro-" added on to every last word is equally stupid and tiresome. Which is why I felt compelled to comment on an email I received yesterday morning from Active.com's daily deals service, Schwaggle: a 50% discount for five sessions of Broga. Here’s what the Broga website says about its service:
Broga is a yoga class geared for men. Strong, energetic, and challenging, it uses traditional yoga postures and fitness movements for an amazing workout.
So, basically, what you'd get from traditional power yoga, except you won't like, go homo or anything, dude.

The problem here isn't Broga itself. Broga is a business that's capitalizing on a marketing opportunity. The problem is that fitness is so damn gendered in the first place. I mean, I hope you heard my sarcasm in the previous paragraph, but unfortunately this is how many men are taught to think.

Broga is also, according to their website, "geared for men, but open to all." Which is wonderful. But since traditional yoga studios are largely "open to all" as well, what's so unique about a bro-branded studio? Is yoga really that different for men than for women? Do you burp out your Namaste? I'm kidding. Sort of.

This brings to mind a little concept called androcentrism. Basically, it means that society allows women to be "like men" (to a point), but men are not allowed to be what society has deemed "feminine." Yoga, likely due to its popularity with women, has become too "girly"; thus the need for a bro-ed up brand. The words used on the studio's About page says it all: strong, challenging, pumped-up; not the type of language you'd typically see in yoga marketing, which tends to focus on balance and physical and spiritual centering. Broga even refers to their programs as "brograms."

It reminds me of a movie quote I heard a few months back, immortalized in a song by Madonna (the video is badass, I strongly recommend watching it):
Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short/Wear shirts and boots/Because it’s okay to be a boy/But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading/Because you think being a girl is degrading.
Broga ia not the issue. It's the fact that we as a society need Broga is what's bothersome.


Recommended reading: Androcentrism: It’s Okay to Be a Boy, but Being a Girl… [The Society Pages]