This is an actual email I had to send to my gym. I don’t want to be driven back into the grasping arms of New York Sports Club or, god forbid, Crunch, but I will if it means I get to lift weights without having to stare at porn.
I’m a new member of BaseNJ, and have been enjoying the facility a great deal — it’s a beautiful space, and staff are friendly and helpful. I was glad to find a gym that felt so welcoming in my neighborhood.
I was saddened to walk in this afternoon and see the artwork now being displayed throughout the gym. Several of the pieces are not only degrading (partially-dressed woman on all fours, next to bowl of spilled milk), but advocate violence toward woman (partially-dressed, unconscious woman bound and carried by a grinning, bloodied man).
These images are violent, demeaning, and pornographic and create a space in which women feel objectified and threatened. To be confronted with this in a place where we come to seek health and strength is doubly insulting. What’s the message you’re trying to send? While working out in the main group fitness room today, my main thought was that if becoming healthy and fit makes me more attractive to predatory men like the one displayed in that space, I’d rather stay home.
This is to say nothing of the fact that some of the problematic pieces are within full view of the path to the child-care room — what parent wants to walk their child past these images? — and that your many female employees must deal with these images in their workplace. A Playboy calendar hanging openly in an office creates a hostile work environment for women; these paintings are no different. It’s laudable that you want to support a local artist, but to display these images in this environment shows a lack of judgement.
I note that it is only women who must exercise and work in a space where they’re forced to look at degrading images of themselves; the men using the facility deal with no such thing.
I really like Base and would like to remain a member, but this artwork makes it very difficult to justify. I cannot believe I am the only person who finds this problematic, and hope this is one of many complains you will receive.