In October of 2021, Brooklyn College Associate Professor of Anthropology Katherine (Katie Rose) Hejtmanek joined colleagues Melissa Forbis, adjunct professor of anthropology at Brooklyn College, and Noelle Brigden, associate professor of political science at Marquette University along with eight other women scholars to take part in a three-day workshop, “Strong A(s) F(eminist): Power in Strength Sports” hosted by the University of Notre Dame.
“Strength sports have been conventionally connected to masculinity,” says Hejtmanek. “We are critiquing those sports—power lifting, weightlifting, strongman, and CrossFit—from a feminist perspective.” With the lion’s share of the scholarship focusing on female as well as transgender experiences, the contributions come from a range of disciplines, including gender studies, English and rhetoric, political science, kinesiology, and anthropology. For example, Cara Ocobock, assistant professor of Anthropology and affiliated faculty in Gender Studies at Notre Dame, is a biological anthropologist who studies human extremes.
A forthcoming volume of the same name as the conference will include the scholarship—reviewed and edited at the workshop—by the 11 conference participants. Hejtmanek’s contribution is as an editor and the co-author of the introduction and conclusion, as well a chapter on masculinity, U.S. militarism, and branded functional fitness. “In CrossFit there is something called a Hero Workout of the Day (WOD), which is a tribute to a member of the military who died in the line of duty, mostly men and many in the war on terror,” says Hejtmanek. “So instead of running a 5k or playing a basketball game or whatever, you’re doing “Murph” [for your workout].”