BBC Future: “What If Women Were Stronger Than Men ?”

What If Women Were Physically Stronger Than Men ?

BBC Future is a section posted on there website discusses topics in regards to science, health, and technology. Its mission statement is ” making you smarter everyday.” It claims not to be a futurology based website, yet it seems to have elements of it. Predictions  that can be borderline outrageous are common with a sensational touch. BBC Future in its own words wants to be ” a guide to how to live more intelligently in a fast changing world.” Although most articles focus on technology and science, there was one that poses a question that can only be formulated through conjecture. Rachel Nuwer wrote the article “What If Women Were Stronger than Men ?”  consulting researchers and experts. There are some claims that seem incorrect.There are times in which experts make errors in assessments.This writing does not seem to be the most scientifically based. There are some facts about biology the should be reexamined. Also if this scenario were to occur it would either have to happen by means of evolution or sports medicine. The text recognizes that inequality is not sustained by physical strength, but fails to realize the phenomenon of organized mass violence as a means of oppression. Then there has to be an understanding of aggression levels between men and women. Would the relations between the sexes be different in terms of relationships? possibly and maybe not as one would expect. Society would of course change in some respects,but not in the way that the industrial revolution, sexual revolution, or decolonization changed the world.

         The only way women could possibly  end up being stronger than men is by biological evolution, genetic engineering, or mutation. There could be advances in exercise physiology or sports medicine that could alter women’s bodies.The article proposes “what would happen if women became stronger than men without thousands of years of evolution?” and expounds further the biological implications. Human evolution took 8 million years. Homo sapiens have only been around for 200,000 years.

Changes do not happen instantly in evolution. Walking upright or developing shorter intestines took millions of years. It was only six million years ago that bipedalism was demonstrated in the human species. Human beings vary in body shape and size. There are variations in muscle, adipose tissue, and skin.However,the skeleton can vary. People can either be tall or short. Sexual dimorphism was an environmental adaptation to environment. Our hominin ancestors would have struggled if they had a gestation similar to that of fish or reptiles. Terrestrial vertebrates do not produce thousands of eggs.A majority of species on the Earth show that females are larger for carrying offspring. Natural history demonstrates that there are major roles played by sex selection and natural selection in the process. Early primates just like today had different mating strategies. Species with smaller levels of sexual dimorphism tend to have multiple mates.Gibbons are known to do this practice. Gorillas have a higher level of sexual dimorphism meaning they would fight for mates. There also is a hierarchy related to this. Male gorillas rule over a group of female gorillas they mate with. This is termed a harem. Sex selection would involve females choosing the male that was deemed worthy for offspring. Natural selection would favor certain traits in an organism to be passed down through heredity. The body changes in response to environment and genetics. The human lineage saw legs of the body become longer and the arms reduce in length.

2 3 1_Family Tree 50_1000 Humanity is the last surviving species of the genus homo. The dramatic   shift in body proportions came around the period of 2.5 to 1.5 million years ago. The homo erectus developed a long legged body. This marked s change in the digestive system allowing metabolic energy to be used in other areas of the body. This was most beneficial to the brain and nervous system. Digestion of food could be done in a couple of hours, rather than days compared to other primates on a herbivorous diet. Environment plays a role and bodies that were tall as well as having long limbs were better adapted to warm weather. There is an interesting shift in strength that occurred in the genus homo. Humans developed lighter skeletons compared the much more powerful homo heidelbergensis and neanderthals. This is a mystery why homo sapiens did not inherit this feature of stronger bodies. One theory was that a more nurturing appearance may have stimulated  caring among kinship groups. Another reason was that physical strength was not as useful as brain power. Modern humans developed tools, language, and trading networks. Neanderthals may have lagged behind in these areas and thus did not survive. With the change in life style to permanent settlement and farming there was a reduction in physical activity. The life style went from being more rugged to more tame.  The sex differences between men and women remained  for the sake of sexual reproduction. While female size still remained smaller to male body size,there is obvious variation between individuals.

The Neanderthals had thicker bones and stronger bodies compared to modern day humans. 

Genetics are the reason why there is variation in populations. Genes are expressed and multiple ones can be responsible for certain phenotypic attributes. It was only in 2017 in which certain genes related to strength were identified. Both men and women can be carriers of these genes. This means if this trait is favored it can be transferred to offspring of men and women. However, environment is still a factor. A person with the ability to build great strength, but does not will not be the next athletic star. Then there is the factor of the MSTN gene which is responsible producing myostatin. It is a critical protein for regulating growth of skeletal muscle. People with lower levels will find it easier to build muscle. Genetic engineering could alter this protein enabling women to become stronger. This is more part of the realm of science fiction. Mutations do not occur by engineering; that happen naturally. A mutation such as IVS1+5G>A on the MSTN gene causes low production of myostatin. The mutation causes a disruption in the instructions used to produce myostatin. As a result it causes the body to have more muscle mass and strength. The over growth is not a cancer, because cell growth continues as normal. If this rare type of mutation were to become common in women it would result in strength gain. This shift would not require an understanding of genetics or epigenetics. Women becoming stronger than men would require millions of years of evolution and genetic drift.

            The factors that determine strength are also essential to producing a realistic scenario. The text states “while physical differences between genders has been narrowing women are catching up to men in some athletic endeavors especially ultra-marathon events.”  Women have produced impressive athletic performances, yet this does not mean the differences are narrowing in terms of physiology. When examining the muscular system, respiratory system, skeletal system, and cardio vascular system it is clear that the differences are still present even with the most physical fit women and men. Prior to puberty there is very little difference in physical fitness capacity. The strength spurt that boys get after 13 is due to changes in endocrinology. Testosterone allows for muscular hypertrophy to a greater extent. Testosterone is not the only factor in determining strength levels. If women were to become stronger it does not mean they would need an increase of androgens. While sex is a factor,body composition, muscle fiber distribution, height, and somatotype are important. It should also be clear in this scenario men do not change genetically or in regards to hormones. The SRY gene is responsible for male characteristics. This could happen without women lowering their estrogen. Women with mesomorphic body types could build considerable strength with training, because their physique allows for more results in strength gains. Simply having large muscles does not equate to strength. It depends on the total distribution of type II and type I muscle fibers as well as body composition. Fat does not contribute to strength. Height can be a factor, because a larger skeleton would mean room for muscle. Type II muscle fiber is designed for more explosive power compared to the more endurance base type I.

Naomi Kutin was just 10, when she lifted 215 lbs. Her muscles are not bigger than Margie Martin’s. This is the difference between training for strength or training for hypertrophy.     

Strength may not be dependent entirely on a person’s size. There are athletes who are smaller, but still are able to attain strength through a particular training method. It is possible to have the appearance of large muscles,but not have as much functional strength. Training for hypertrophy is commonly called bodybuilding.This increases the size of the tendons,ligaments, including the stabilizer muscles.Ligaments and tendons are strengthen at a slower pace compared to the muscles, which explains when lifting heavy why joint issues are a concern. Strength training allows the nervous system to make the muscles use the most force in collaboration with the skeletal system.

The article makes a mistake saying that basically a major hormonal shift would have to happen. The law of nature as they describe it has made women the reproducer of offspring. This means that either human beings would either just reproduce asexually or biological sex would disappear. Women could be stronger while having hormonal fluctuations  in progesterone and estrogen required to reproduce children. Strength between the sexes follows a bell curve. The average man has 10 kg more muscle mass and 40% more upper body strength. Although women are closer to men in lower body the percentage is estimated 33% as strong. These estimates are for men and women of various sizes. When the size is constant it estimated that women women can be 80% as strong. The reason why the estimate is not 100 % when the size is constant is due to the differences in the upper body. Men’s shoulders are broader meaning they can house more muscle on the section of the body. The writing does state women would have to increase skeletal structure to be strong and therefore would have to see in increase in growth. This means women would have to have broader shoulders. Bone density aids in strength.

Without those conditions women would not be stronger. There would have to be a change in physiology rather than endocrinology. The reason the athletic performance gap remains is due to this. Also, there are sociological factors that do hinder progress. Many women do not have the opportunity or access to training facilities. Living in a war zone or a society that does not give women the same rights can negatively effect their health. There also has to be a consideration that most of the scientific studies on exercise physiology are conducted on men. This does not tell us the full extent of women’s physical capabilities. What is known is extracted from sports records and other data. Since 1983 women’s sports records have remained stable.There is a 10% difference in athletic performance between males and females. Considering the anatomical and physiological differences between men and women that is relatively small. There is obviously a chance women’s records will improve. There could be individual women who reach high levels that revival their male counterparts. It may not impossible to say that women could become as strong as men, maybe not stronger. When examining cross sectional area of muscle between the sexes they seem to exert the same amount of force. The science of strength is still being explored and it is not know what the full extent of human limits are.

       If women were  did become stronger than men, it does not automatically men that that society  would become a matriarchy. Daphnie Fairbirin’s assessment is incorrect saying that it would also result in having men look after children. The reason human beings may not produce large amounts of offspring is because both the roles of the parents are important to the offspring. Unlike other animals the growth process for primates is slow. An infant is very dependent on their parents for food and protection. It is most likely the division of labor came about for ensuring the survival of offspring. Patriarchy is more sociological rather than biological. The rise of permanent settlement and property put women at a disadvantage. Framing also put the hunter gatherers at a disadvantage as well considering they could not make a food surplus. The whole basis of women being subjugated was not due to men’s greater strength, but the fact women did not have the same rights and opportunities. One problem was that women did not have control of their own bodies or lives. The rise of contraception and abortion have women more freedom than ever before. That is why reproductive rights are so essential to women’s liberation. Matriarchy is defined as ” a social system in which women hold the major positions of power.”  There have thus so far, never been matriarchal societies in pre-history or  the modern era. There has been cases of matrilineal  inheritance, but societies were still male dominated. There have been feminists who advocate some form of matriarchy to replace patriarchy. This theme has been common in feminist literature and was born out of cultural feminism in the 19th century. It found new life in power feminism. This faction cl;aims they want equality, but that is simply not true. They want a society were women dominate in which both the legal and political system favor them. To extent in the West, it seems to be moving that way in terms of alimony, child support, and divorce. The neoliberal capitalist system has indirectly caused conflict between the sexes in the labor force. Patriarchy is supported by a power structure through a social,legal, and political system. Equal rights and the rule of law can eliminate such disparities.

         There could be psychological changes in women that become physically stronger. Rachel Nuwer makes the mistake on relying on a ludicrous study by political scientist Micheal Petersen. His claim was that men with more upper body strength favored hierarchy and far-right political views. This claim seems false when analyzing the data. Their sample size included only hundreds of people from Argentina, Denmark, and the United States. African and Asian countries were not included. The researchers from the Aarhus University study found no link or correlation in women. This study is not really scientific at all. There is a link between political views, socioeconomic status, and ethnic background. The less educated and more closed minded individual tends to favor far-right views. Although left-wing politics would benefit the poor, they tend to favor right-wing views even though it could be detrimental  to them. Different ethnic and women may  favor either side of the political spectrum. What molds a person ideology occurs early in life and based around cultural or social factors. A child raised in a conservative or liberal home will most likely adopt those values. The body type does not influence thought, it is the sense of self. It would be silly to say that women who are physically stronger would be more conservative. The only demonstration of this study reveals is how people value artificial hierarchies.

    According that study this woman should be more conservative than this man. Assuming this would be ridiculous 

A ruling class justifies oppression by blaming awful conditions on the oppressed. Arguments range from biology to claims that the oppressed are just natural failures. Relevant to women, sex differences are used as a justification for unequal treatment and status. The differences do not indicate inferiority, but pseudo-scientific explanations have been used to make such statements. The idea that men are better and more powerful is enough to psychologically induce a sense of entitlement. Women who have engaged in some form of strength training say they are more confident. This new sense of self spreads to other areas of life. Gaining the full power of one’s body and skill gives women a new sense of independence. Women becoming physically stronger does not mean automatically they would be more aggressive. This theory proposed by the Aarhus University is nothing more than theories that were proposed by William Sheldon a psychologist in the 20th century. He attempted to correlate behavior to body type. Theories of constitutional psychology are discredited mainly because of its eugenic roots and inconsistent data. Although the term somatotype is still used in fitness and health circles, Sheldon classified mesopmorphs are being rugged, assertive, and dominant. Sheldon’s ideas were nothing more than an extended version of Francis Galton’s anthropometric studies.   There tends to be a false belief that if women gain too much power they will abuse it. Behavior is more complex from a psychological perspective. It is not just rooted in biology; there is a major sociological component.

         There is a difference in aggressiveness and competitiveness between the sexes. This is rooted in biological evolution and sociology. It is incorrect to say that men are just more naturally violent and women are more peace loving. Aggressiveness and competitiveness were defense mechanism in the evolutionary past. Early  hominins had to fight to either avoid predators and collaborate to survive the wilderness.These two traits are not exclusively male. Women can have aggressive behavior or be competitive depending on environment. If these traits are favored in a society, most living there will adopt it. It would be erroneous to say that the world would be more peaceful if women ruled the world. Female leaders have been known to favor war, just like their male counterparts. Margaret Thatcher favored the Falklands War, Condoleeza Rice was involved in the Iraq War, and Susan Rice advocated strikes in Libya. These women obviously did not have peace loving nature.

Hillary Clinton if she became president of the US would have followed the same aggressive war policy. Politics is a competitive environment and requires a level of aggressive thought. Women have shown that they can be just as calculating, deceptive, and skillful as men when it comes to political power. The reason why more women may not be in politics is because many may not be encouraged to have these ambitions. Even the most progressive societies still retain dated beliefs about women’s roles. The concept of the mother as the only identity a woman can have is still exalted. Women with “too much ambition” are seen as ruthless career-women. The same criticisms are not directed at men. An assertive and take charge woman is seen as either “difficult” or “overbearing.”  It is clear there are double standards and biases with in cultures in regards to women in power. The question doe not come down to either nature versus nurture. These two factors interact with one another. Sociobiology gives consideration to how natural selection influences behavior. Aggressiveness and competitiveness may be traits that were favored for human survival. At the same time excessive violence can lead to destruction of civilization.

             Violence has been a method to oppress many people. If women were stronger than men, it is not very likely violence against then would decline. Rape or domestic violence would not decline dramatically. Jackson Katz makes this claim who is president of MVP Strategies a company that works in developing programs for prevention of gender based violence. Mentors in Violence Prevention offers training and wants to change attitudes that promote such behaviors. Crime is a problem of every society, but it occurs for a reason. Violence against women is a means to forcibly put them back in a subordinate position. Organized mass violence is a phenomenon of civilization. When the first armed forces emerged the became the highest form of violence. While violence on an individual level is unacceptable ( one person murdering another), mass violence is embraced when it is controlled. Armies are an example of acceptable  mass violence , even when the actions are still murder.Women if they live in a society that does not value them will be subject to mass violence. The only way physical strength would be helpful is for basic defense, but if there is no legal or political protection this would be useless. Rape does not always involve an assailant physically beating  their victim. Alcohol or drugging of victims seems to be a common method of criminals of college campuses. What creates this atmosphere of sexual assault and violence is cultural attitudes. If society views women as nothing more than sex objects, this distorts men’s views of women. If the laws do not punish criminals or are lenient then it creates a system that works against women. Some observers calls this rape culture. While some points are legitimate, the feminist argument  that “men are taught to rape” lacks cogency. Calling this a rape culture may not even be the best description; it is a culture of misogyny. Saying that rapes would decrease if women were stronger is like saying murder would go down if more people owned guns. While a gun can provide some protection this would be negated if there were other with more or the same amount.

While this woman and man could be on the same level of strength that does not give an indication of who could be more likely to be abusive. 

Katz’s assessment is limited in terms of criminology. There is marital, acquaintance, and custodial rape. Women are not the only victims. Rape that occurs in prison does not receive that same amount of attention or outrage. There are different typologies of rapists. anger-retaliatory rapists and anger-excitation rapists are the most violent. Anger-retaliatory rapists use physical force to subdue their victims, while anger excitation rapists enjoy to a degree inflict pain on the victim. Power-assurance rapists use methods that are less physical such as drugs, stalking, or luring a victim into a place of vulnerability. Besides prevention or tougher laws, women and girls must be raised differently. Women must be taught self-defense. Girls are either taught to not assert themselves or defend themselves. Women often go around thinking ” I want to be with a guy who makes me feel safe.” Women are taught that men will protect them, when in reality they will probably be their primary abusers. This idea that women should entrust their physical protection to the men they know needs to change. Being proactive rather than just putting emphasis prevention could change the situation. Domestic violence should not be solely viewed as a women’s only problem. According to the article 19% of men report having been attacked by their partner. Women’s victim rates are higher,but physical strength is not the sole reason for that. The psychology of a partner matters. One who is overly dominant and demands compliance will most likely be more abusive. A sense of constant entitlement contributes to abusive behavior. Sexism and lack of gender equality are major factors in higher domestic abuse. There may never be completely accurate statistics on domestic violence, because victims are unwilling to seek help.

More Than 40% of Domestic Abuse Victims Are Male Report Says

The reason a person comes back to an abusive relationship and marriage  has to do with a person’s self-esteem. The victim feels as if they are nothing without the abuser. Then if they are financially dependent it makes separation more difficult. It is the unfortunate fact that through out history wife beating was not considered a criminal act. It was not until the 19th and 20th centuries did countries begin to criminalize such a practice. There is a long tradition of men having authority over women, even in intimate relationships. Some men do not abuse women simply because they can; they are allowed and encouraged to do so. Only when there is a change in this system can violence against women can be reduced.

          There would definitely be a change in gender relations in regards to interpersonal associations. Women being stronger would alters dynamics in terms of amorous relationships.Men would have to use something other than strength to define their identity. This has happened in a sense, through their careers yet that is also not healthy. Work could be unfulfilling or not available depending on the state of the economy. This explains why men have more psychological distress when they are unemployed. Resources are a method of attracting the opposite sex and have replaced physical confrontation a means for competing for women like our hominin ancestors did. Strength would not replace physical attractiveness it would just become part of it. There are today women who are very physically strong and attractive . One the ways women were able to navigate male dominated societies was to use their feminine charm or sexuality  against men. Manipulation was a useful tactic for women who did not have political or social power. To an extent physical attractiveness gave women some form of bargaining power.  Now that their is a level of financial and social independence there has been a shift in gender relations.

Men are in the West and in particular America are struggling to figure out how to create a stable life for themselves in the changing  dynamic. If man is no longer a provider or father what purpose does he serve?  Women who are well off in terms of finance may be looking for stable relationships, but cannot establish one. Men and women are still functioning on dated gender roles even when society has changed. Even women of independence are still seeking a man to “take care of them,”   while men still think they need to bear all of the responsibilities and hardships  without complaint, even if it is deleterious.Status has become the main way of determining relationships. Selecting one’s partner was not a personal choice in the past. Most marriages were arranged and they still are some countries. Marriage was historically a property arrangement; marrying for love is a recent phenomenon. The lugubrious reality is that when one’s spouse earns more it does cause a level of tension. The problem is too many people view marriage as a subordinate follower and a dominant controller dynamic. Women who make more money in the marriage may generate jealousy from their husbands. If physical strength were added there would be conflict. There are men who think that women have taken something from them and physical strength is their last bastion.

 Feminism did challenge and defeat major injustices, but it also created some negative consequences. Radical feminism and third wave feminism in particular presented all men as enemies. The idea that women should just seek power and not equality has somewhat caused tension between men and women in America. Family law favors women over men and although this is a double standard women do not want this reversed. People who attempt to debate the third wave feminist rhetoric are either told they “hate them because they are successful” or vituperated. Men are unfortunately either not attempting to establish relationships with the talented women out there or simply becoming more misogynistic. This explains why certain men with a traditional mind set are obsessed with sports such as football, boxing, and MMA. There is a sense that women will never have an advantage in physical prowess. Yet, women are also part of the sports world and have received negative reaction from people who believe in strict gender roles. physical strength is not a male only attribute, but when it is shown in women, the reactions are very negative or hostile. Sports is no longer a male only domain. Women being strong or stronger would make some men who are insecure feel threatened. Even the men who may like such a change who have to make adjustments.

  The common held belief is that marriage is better for men. Women actually have more to gain from marriage than a man. It is very rare that a man could find a rich woman to marry and become a stay at home dad. Women on the other hand can be a homemaker and gain relative security. A woman has more options than a man who has to be a provider. The burden of family life is not shared equally. The most visible change in women being stronger would be the household labor. Women would probably be expected to do more manual labor based chores. However, there could be a change in how women and men select who they will marry or have a long term relationship with. Women who reach a certain status will not be with men of lower status. Normally, the insecure men try to find a woman who they can easily control. Men who attempt to seek companionship with women of higher status will most likely be rejected. Endogamy is powerful and the adage “true love conquers all” may not be  an axiom. It is rare to see a woman with a PhD dating a man with a high school diploma or a woman business executive dating a janitor. There are still conflicts about people dating outside their own race or religion. This partially explains why online dating sites are so popular. People can just answer questions in relation to their biases ( or preferences or compatibility in a more euphemistic sense) and find a match. Sadly, a physically strong woman most likely would not want a man weaker than herself. If women were all stronger than men, it would mean men would have to compete harder to get female attention. Men who either have to have higher earning power, achieve a level of prominence, or do an act of physical daring.

It could be that women would be the competitors for male attention. Men have to approach women if a relationship is to get started. Assuming that women being stronger did not change particular behaviors and customs certain procedures would remain the same. The most radical adjustment would be that husbands may not feel entitled to bossing around their wives. There would be a change in attitude may be not so much daily living.

         The workforce would be altered if women were stronger than men. There would be more women in physically demanding occupations. The reason there are so few women in these fields is not only due to discrimination, but physiology. Women do not have as much physical strength. There are women who can do such physically demanding jobs, yet the numbers remain low due to differences in physical fitness capacity. Construction, firefighting, law enforcement, the military, and sports are occupations in which men have higher employment numbers. If women were to have more strength they would probably be dominant in these fields. Rachel Nuwer does explain that women who are competent at their jobs still may face a glass ceiling. The reason is that a system will always favor the ruling group. It does not matter how skilled or educated the oppressed is. They will be stopped from advancing economically, socially, and politically. If affirmative action was enforced it could negate such issues. Technology has in a way allowed women to advance when they at a disadvantage in terms of muscle power. Yet, this does not explain why more women did not enter the workforce during the industrial revolution. Women who were of the working class got employment in factories such as textiles. The upper class women were restricted more so obeying the middle class values of the cult of domesticity. The reason women were not given equal pay was that it would cause working families to advance themselves and therefore no longer be subordinate to a ruling class. Oppressors do not favor social mobility and attempt to prevent it. Men did not like women working, because it was viewed as more labor competition and it gave women more independence. Now it seems that women are in many fields that were once thought to be male only.

There would probably be mixed sports competition if women were stronger than men. There would still be divisions by weight classes in some cases. The reason sports are divided by sex is due to men’s higher fitness level. This is done to remain fair, otherwise a large portion of women would be cut out of sport. It would be difficult to image men and women playing a tackle football game, but this is only a theoretical scenario. Although it may not change the sexist attitudes in sports culture. Women have proven they are skilled, yet they are either ostracized or disparaged by the media. Women have been a part of the sports culture since ancient civilization, however there are still some who view women of such strength and endurance as abnormal. This view has fallen out of fashion as cultural mores become liberal. If women became stronger than men at this point in history it may not be as important. As technology advances there is a possibility the human work force could be replaced by robotics. Automation and artificial intelligence  is the wave of the future and it will cause certain jobs to disappear. There is no way in which a human being could physically compete with a machine in a manual labor job.  It will not get tired, it will not demand pay or vacation.

 A Robot will not suffer health or attrition problems like a human.

The solution has to be a form of universal income and extensive job training to help world populations adjust to rapid technological advancement. The majority of the world population will have to get an education beyond high school and be devoted to life long learning. There will need to be skilled workers to make such machines or information technology. Women if they want to close the wage gap must go into fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They must also go into the physically demanding occupations as well. It seems that  brain power is more pivotal than muscle power.

       The text concludes that while women suddenly becoming stronger than men is more science fiction, there is some shift underway. Women are entering politics, science, and business. The one element that is missing is how women are entering the world of fitness and sports. There is a silent revolution in this regard. Women are embracing strength and transforming their bodies to their maximum. There were muscular women in the past, but none that were as impressive as seen today. More women are competing in the Olympics now than ever before. When the modern Olympics were revived in 1896 women were banned from competition.

Women compete in most sports in the 21st century. That does not mean there is equality in the sports world with the lack of media coverage. The interesting paradigm shift is that there is a growing male fan base for physically strong women. Social media and the internet have given women with such physiques more exposure. When contemplating  this shift one realizes these women are stronger than many men. It seems women have embarked on physical empowerment. This means having control of one’s body and learning physical skills. While society has not morphed into an Amazon matriarchy, it is clear that there are a portion of women have become stronger. Technology and science are also to thank for this development. Understanding anatomy and exercise physiology helped in designing training regimens for women. Exploring nutrition and diet also contributed. Supplements and vitamins have benefited women in terms of improving performance. It seems women have reached a stage in which they are developing themselves to the maximum both mentally and physically. Humans are still evolving either by mutation or epigenetic factors. It would seem impossible that women could get stronger than men. Although there is a strong possibility that women could each an equivalent level of strength through millions of years of  biological evolution. Even if there were to be a change it would not be immediately noticeable. The global trend seems to be shifting to a more sedentary lifestyle causing increased rates of obesity and heart related illnesses. BBC Future attempted to show how society would change based on speculation, but the assessments were off. One element is clear that society and civilization have always been changing. The status of women has not always been low, but has fluctuated through out time.

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BBC Future: “What If Women Were Stronger Than Men ?”

What Military Recruiters Aren’t Telling Women: You’ll Face Disproportionate Health Risks

What military recruiters aren’t telling women: You’ll face disproportionate health risks

This is an op ed from the Los Angeles Times originally published July 25, 2017 discussing the possible health issues women could face in combat roles. While there are legitimate concerns the articles raises, it is clear that they are not supportive of women have such jobs. It reveals that the Defense Department is undergoing a campaign to increase women’s numbers in combat jobs by 10 %.  Targets may be difficult to meet based on certain physical standards that the majority of women may not be able to meet. This explains why women involved in sports and physical fitness activities are being targeted for combat jobs. They would have the physical strength and endurance to meet the fitness standards. The article claims that there has not been a precise study to examine the disproportionate health risks of women in combat and also implies that combat integration would be an awful idea. It cannot be ignored that there are physiological and anatomical differences among the sexes. However, these are averages and what the military is looking for is women with the proper qualifications. If the standards are set, training is done correctly, and male soldiers see their female colleagues as valued members women in combat can will work. There are solutions to possible health risks to soldiers.

      There is the obvious statement of facts in the article in regards to physiology and fitness. These are generalities and averages that are well know to any individual with an basic understanding of biology. The average male can produce more testosterone which allows for greater muscular hypertrophy. As stated in the by the authors “the average woman can possess 55% to 58% the upper body strength of men.”   The difference in endocrinology also effects the skeletal system making bones denser. Larger lungs and hearts as well as a different shaped pelvis means men run faster. The difference translates to 40 % greater aerobic capacity compared to women. These are averages of men and women, but there should be consideration for women who have attained a high fitness level. The average woman would obviously be at a disadvantage. The female athlete would not have such a problem. Weightlifters, swimmers, as well as  track and field athletes would possibly be overqualified for some of the physical standards. There are of course health risks from injury,but stronger women are more likely to endure.

If the average woman is seeking to enter such a physically demanding job, she will have to train prior to basic training. Seeing as there is a disadvantage in muscle power it will have to be built. If a woman does not take this step initially, injury in basic training could occur. This has to be approached from a practical  physical fitness perspective. The first question is can a woman get stronger through a training method? It is possible and it requires weight training. This type of exercise also builds muscle and bone in women. Doing this prepares the body for rigorous activity of combat positions. Besides sex, there are other factors that effect physical fitness potential. There is the current state of health ( weight and diseases), genetics, and somatotype. Women who have mesomorphic body types will find vigorous physical activity easier and will respond to a greater extent to training. A woman of endomorphic or ectomorphic body type may have to train harder to reach a fitness target. Genetics play a role in athletic potential. Women who trains on the same regimen as a man will not reach the same physical fitness level.

Muscular hypertrophy is greater in males compared to females.  

If we look at averages, many men and women who would be drafted would either have to go on a weight management program. A  portion of the American population is either obese or overweight. They would need to be trained extra to deal with this. they state that “no training system can close the gap.” While women’s strength level would not reach the highest performing male, they could meet standards through training. Women who strength taring for several months can expect to see a 20 to 40 % increase in strength. The only way this will happen is if women lift weights heavy enough to cause fatigue can build muscle. Lighter weights are better for building muscle endurance. Women as the article points out may have to use most of their maximum physical fitness capacity. It should be noted there are men who may not meet the fitness  requirements either. However, no one would question their ability to be turned into a soldier.

 Women depending on which armor unit they are in are required to lift 35 pound shells and carry 100 pound packs. This may seem like too much, but it depends on the anthropometric measurements of the woman in such a position. Lifting 35 pounds repeatedly would not be a problem for a woman who has trained in strength building exercises. A woman who is 150 pounds with low body fat could have an easier time than a woman who is 122 lbs.The more type II muscle fiber the more endurance women will have to the physical strains of combat. These types of muscle fibers during recruitment provide more explosive power. Women have these muscle fibers as well, not to the same extent as men. At the cellular level and in the process of muscular hypertrophy, there is no difference. Women can build strength; the real obstacle is increasing running speed. Despite being closer to men in the lower body, the shape of women’s pelvis would mean they would run slower.

Training does not change the structure of the pelvis in women. It is possible to increase women’s running speed. Training must be done in intervals to be effective. When training to increase distance one should run slower during training. Increasing speed would involve require shorter distances while running to build up endurance. This would from a physical fitness point of view would be more difficult than building strength. The gap in physical fitness may not be reduced. but it can be narrowed. The only information revealed by this data is that women in peak physical shape would be better performers in physical tasks. The average woman would struggle without training. This means women would probably still remain in small numbers in the marines and frontline infantry divisions. The most physically demanding combat occupational specialties even if they open to women may not have equal numbers. Just like construction, firefighting, and law enforcement women will make a small percentage.

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This explains the ads targeting women who are fit enough for such tasks. The challenge for women is the higher the intensity the more strain they will face. Close combat units as the article explains have the issue of irregular meals, sleep deprivation, and low intake of calcium and vitamin D. The access to these critical vitamins can be distributed to soldiers in their supplies. Carrying such pills would not be an extra burden in terms of supplies. There are means to prevent the conservation mode in women’s bodies. Menstrual cycles could cease  and the possibility of osteoporosis could increase. Stress fractures the article states is from conservation mode, but is really from over loaded gear. Yet they attribute that to the pelvic injuries, urinary tact injuries, and pelvic organ prolapse. Designing armor and gear to fit the female body form can reduce injury during training and in battle.  The US military has began designing such armor to fight this problem. Women must focus on upper body exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, and bicep curls to strengthen those areas. Soldier loads must be designed to be ergonomically efficient. This way soldiers will not be overloaded with gear hindering their mobility. Soldiers need armor that is strong, but does not reduce their speed. Even the strongest people can get injured if the place too much weight on their body.

This reveals why soldiers feel the health effects after service. The military is ignoring health issues and providing low quality healthcare. Women should avoid taking contraception thinking that it will enhance performance. There is a myth that the menstrual cycle reduces a woman’s physical strength and athletic performance. Women take contraception not to prevent birth in this circumstance, but think they will perform better. This comes to having accurate information about women’s bodies. Not using contraception except for what it was intended to be used for can prevent weight gain and loss of bone mineral density. To prevent such health problems it is critical to monitor soldier health and to make sure they are aware of possible health conditions .

         There is a general fitness issue of weight management that the text does not discuss. The American population struggles with either obesity or weight control. The data could be exaggerated if calculated on a body mass index scale, which has not always been the most accurate. According to the National Health and Nutrition Survey  66% of American adults are either overweight or obese. Then was an increase from 53% a generation ago. There could be numerous factors in the spike. Food labeling may not be completely honest and the use of high fructose corn syrup contributes. Foods with enormous amounts of sugar and fats also sabotage weight loss efforts. Then it could be difficult if one does have the motivation to lose weight. Some try multiple times and quit. There has to be an atmosphere of encouragement to change habits. Another problem is keeping the weight lost off. Weight issues do not only effect adults, but children and youth. What this means is that the majority of the population would not be physically fit enough to meet military standards. That means many Americans would have to lose weight prior to starting any form of basic training. Besides that, there has to be a paradigm shift in how people view exercise and physical activity. The problem is people see as a chore, rather than something fun or enjoyable. This is why physical education classes should be structured  in that manner. Not only will it teach children to be active,but it will  encourage life long healthy habits. Relevant to women there is a challenge. It is harder for them to lose weight. Higher estrogen production and differences in metabolism make explain this. Women can lose weight through the right methods. Diet alone will not be adequate; there has to be an exercise regimen to burn calories. What also must be done is altering women’s perceptions about fitness and physical activity. There still is the antiquated belief that exercise,sports, and physical activity or skill is male only. When women understand that their bodies are not biologically inferior, they gain more confidence in their physical skills. Doing this would make it easier for women entering the service. The American population has to get its weight issues under control if it wants to assemble a larger fighting force.

        This op ed does have an agenda. While it does not resort to outrageous claims as detractors of women in combat make, it does believe in the frailty myth. The idea that anything physical women will fail at. Physical skill or strength or occupations that require it are places that women are not meant to be in accord to those who believe in women’s biological inferiority. Julie Pulley a former army captain and Hugh P, Scott a Navy medical officer have credentials as military professionals, who wrote this op-ed. However, they do not offer solutions to issues of women’s health. Besides that, they ignore women who have excelled. There have been women who were physically capable, but at the time of their service combat jobs prohibited them. Alley Miesch Nie was a military service member. Looking at her photograph one would assume the 5’4 woman would not be able to handle combat or physical tasks.

blog_alley-miesch-nie_military_435x290  Despite a person’s gender bias the reality tells another story. At 141 pounds during her competitive career as an athlete she was able to 225 lbs  bench presses, 350 lbs squats, 800 lbs leg presses, and 325 lbs deadlifts. She clearly developed an impressive level of functional strength through training. Based on these statistics, how would Alley do on a particular MOS standard? These new standards are called “gender neutral” yet there is a problem with that. Using this terminology makes people think that standards are lowered for women. What it really means is that there will no longer be a fitness standard target that is lower for women. It means both men and women will have to be qualified physically depending on which occupation. The standards vary depending on the US Navy, US Army, and US Air force job. After basic training, the soldier can make the decision which MOS they want to go to.

  The year 2017 has brought some updated combat arms fitness standards. The biggest changes came to infantry and armor. The test will be in four parts. It wants to specifically target who would best fit in a particular occupational specialty. This new test is called the Occupational Physical Assessment Test which went into effect January 1st. It has only one scoring scare and adjustments are not made for sex or age. The marines did have separate standards which are now being formed into one fitness standard. It consists of four fitness events which include a medicine ball throw, standing long jump, deadlift, and interval run. The scores are classified based on the results of performance labelled in color codes . The black (heavy) score means a soldier is prepared for the physical demands. Significantly prepared is gray. The moderate range is gold, while the lowest score is white (unprepared). Soldiers who make the black category will qualify for all MOS in the US armed forces. All recruits must meet the gold category. Infantry, armor, and combat engineer are what would fall under the black category. The gray category would include tank mechanics and helicopter repair mechanics. Many combat jobs are under the moderate gold category ( army medical occupations ). Based on this information it seems that Alley would have no problem reaching the black category. Women with the least amount of fitness would fall into the unprepared category. The majority of women could fall into either moderate or some in the significantly prepared. If a recruit wants to really be part of some occupation specialty, they have to make sure they are physically prepared for the test. Another problem is that the height and weight standards will have to be adjusted.

Height        Min Weight            17-20            21-27               28-39              40+

58                 91                           119                 121                 122                 124
59                 94                           124                 125                 126                 128
60                 97                           128                 129                 131                 133
61                 100                         132                 134                 135                 137
62                 104                         136                 138                 140                 142
63                 107                         141                 143                 144                 146
64                 110                         145                 147                 149                 151
65                 114                         150                 152                 154                 156
66                 117                         155                 156                 158                 161
67                 121                         159                 161                 163                 166
68                 125                         164                 166                 168                 171
69                 128                         169                 171                 173                 176
70                 132                         174                 176                 178                 181
71                 136                         179                 181                 183                 186
72                 140                         184                 186                 188                 191
73                 144                         189                 191                 194                 197
74                 148                         194                 197                 199                 202
75                 152                         200                 202                 204                 208
76                 156                         205                 207                 210                 213
77                 160                         210                 213                 215                 219
78                 164                         216                 218                 221                 225
79                 168                         221                 224                 227                 230
80                 173                         227                 230                 233                 236

Alley because of her height would fall out of the required weight range. The ironic part is that she is not overweight. The body mass index does not account for a person who has vast amounts of lean body mass. So a woman who built up muscle would be denied the position based on the weight and height standards. The Marines realizing women were fit enough, but did not fall in the range of the body mass standards had to make a change. These standards have also effected men who just are bigger. The average Marine is bigger than in the past and this has not been accounted for. A muscular strong woman would then fall out the weight and height regulation. This would put shorter women at a disadvantage, because under the old regulations.

 The women are going to need the extra lean body mass they have built up. The maximum weight for a woman of 5’3 is 141 lbs. Short muscular women even if they are capable would then disqualified. There was the option of wavier, but this process was long and cumbersome. Women could have been reducing their physical optimum to reach the weight requirements. This only harms success. Another problem being addressed is unequal fitness standards. Women must not be given lower standards based on ideas they will perform worse. That means having them so the same exercises. One issue that arouse was three pull ups controversy in 2014. Most female Marines struggled doing three pull-ups. Detractors took that as evidence women could not meet the demands of combat. Yet, upon further investigation the problem became obvious. Women were for a long time doing the flexed arm hang rather than pull-ups. That exercise in particular will not build the most upper body strength. When women were trained to do such an exercise it was not a problem. The mass media focused on women’s failures rather than their successes.

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Women are going to need the physical strength and fitness  to be in combat positions.

The article admits “women are essential in America’s armed services” yet the author may not truly believe that. The most vocal opponents against women in combat come ironically from conservative and Republican Party groups and individuals. They have become the party of war and yet they are condemning women who enthusiastically  volunteer for service. This is why the constant slogan that they preach “support the troops” is disingenuous. The conservatives and far-right Republicans cite sex differences as evidence women are incapable or inferior in terms of combat qualification. The reality is that women have been in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan in unofficial capacities. The reason for misogynist rhetoric or behavior ( the Marine cell phone picture scandal) is that men do not want to compete with women for combat jobs. the irrational fear that women are going to take jobs away from men in the military is ludicrous. The policy of  military intervention in various nations around the world. There will be no shortage of jobs in the military. There may actually be a time in which there may not be enough men to fill these positions. It makes no sense to ban women who are qualified for a combat job. The article states that army recruiting sites or recruiters themselves do not reveal reports about the health risks. Anyone with a basic understanding or physiology or anatomy would realize physically demanding jobs to have an attrition rate. Physical attrition can happen from repetitive motion injuries and factors due to range considering the intensity of  activity. This may happen to women faster over the years. The male body may be able to sustain more trauma, but no person of sex is impervious to injury. The only solution is to reduce soldier load for ergonomic efficiency and let recruits know specific standards as well as the best methods for training. The US military must stop present the frailty myth as fact and having low expectations for women in combat positions.

        The evidence used to make the case women are not fit for combat must be questioned. The one text that they do mention “Musculoskeletal Injuries in Military Women” is credible but the authors do not mention the solutions given after the study. The 2011 report has general prevention of injury strategies that the US military is finally implementing. The solution that the report states is to have modifications in the training programs. Running mileage has to be reduced, because many injuries occurred from this. The training method should involve progressive and gradual exercise stress. The report notes that higher fitness levels mean less injury. The reason why the Brigade Combat Team placed a fitness standard for recruits to meet before training was to solve this problem of high injury rates. Women must meet the three push-ups, 17 sit-ups,  and run 10.5 minutes for one mile before they can go train for the BCT. The reason it should be done gradually is that the body must adapt to the level of intensity. The report also notes that progressive loading exercises are the best for strengthening the lower body muscles. The muscles that should be targeted are the soleus, gastrocnemius, quadriceps, hamstrings, tibialis (anterior and posterior), and gluteus medius. The report found a solution yet the authors of this op-ed do not share this information.

Some solutions are also the most simple ones. Women require better running shoes. Having the proper running shoes can allow for avoidance of knee, ankle, hip as well as the back. These running shoes should be comfortable reducing as much pressure on the foot as possible. Shoes should contain Achilles Heel relief, strong midsole, fexiable toe box,  and enforced cushioning. The toe box should provide plenty of room. These attributes of a running shoe help make the shock of running less harmful to the feet and legs. This is critical considering women’s different pelvic structure creates a more q angle. This also indicates that soldiers require shock absorbing boots. Having these will allow for less stress fractures and lower extremity injuries. “Musculoskeletal injuries in Military Women” provides prevention suggestions to common aliments that could befall female soldiers. A combination of exercise, training adjustment, and proper running shoes will vastly solve the problem of high injury rates in women. Core stabilization exercises are also recommended to women in the report. The rectus abdominis including the external and internal obliques must be strengthen to prevent spinal conditions.

The report also cites the treatment, diagnosis, and management of multiple injuries.Not only that, the 2011 report delineates proper rehabilitation from injuries.   A soldier must be aware of  lower back injuries, patellofemoral syndrome, Achilles tendinitis ( or tendinosis) , iliotibial band syndrome, ACL tears and other conditions can be prevented. The training will have to build up bone and muscle mass in women. If one reads the report thoroughly it is not arguing excluding women; it provides practical answers to the disparity in health for military women.The second source regarding women in combat the authors cite ” The Physiological and Medical Aspects That Put Women at Risk for Overuse Injuries.” The only information it provides is what could be deduced based on the 2011 report for the Army surgeon General’s office. Women have to use more of their maximum physical capacity to perform on the same level as men. The only conclusion is that women must build their core strength and upper body to lift the weights required for physically demanding combat jobs. Both of these reports show the health risks, but provide solutions, rather than using them for justifications for keeping women out of combat. They identify a problem and scientifically assess the situation and formulate a answer. The conclusion is to have women train first before attempting tests for combat positions. Physical fitness level before entry is pivotal to success. However, the text cites one of the writings of Marine Captain Katie Petronio who makes it clear that she does not favor women in combat. Most of her writings are specifically against women in the infantry. Her agenda seemed to support the conservative cause of preventing the ban from ending, but claimed on a CNN interview in 2012 : ” I’m not against women in combat.”     Then went on to explain “combat readiness is going to be effected by this.”Women who enter combat are not going to reduce combat readiness or efficiency, as long as they meet the same standards. Petronio claims that her two deployments two Afghanistan caused her health problems. The first was muscular atrophy and weight loss . The atrophy only happens when muscles are not in use. This could have been another medical issue not part of her combat experience. Sudden atrophy would indicate some form of multiple sclerosis or at least symptoms of it. She may not have had this, but it was clear that she was not training her body to maintain muscular strength.

This is Mina Mituskoa which shows her during her athletic career and after. As you can see her muscles atrophied after not doing intense training. 

When you stop exercising such gains will be lost. This happens faster with women, due to the difference in hormones. The extreme weight loss was probably induced by irregular meals. Such low body fat levels from irregular meals may have caused her infertility. Endurance issue could have just been caused by the extreme environment of Afghanistan. Maybe if her training were different, she would have been able to handle such rigors. The time in which she entered the new standards had not been established. The footwear and equipment has to be designed for the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. Petronio has in a Phyllis Schlafly fashion promoted an anti-woman sentiment in the infantry. It is ironic that a woman is the one preaching such ideas. Citing her article for the Marine Gazette does not add to the image of providing an honest opinion.

The common health problems of stress fractures and spinal cord injury can be reduced by lighter loads and improving a recruit’s physical fitness level before entry. 

The numerous health risks are well know,especially the major one of death in battle. Those injured by gunfire, shrapnel, or suffer a traumatic brain injury are not mentioned in the text. Military recruiters do not tell the truth about the US. There is also a more pressing issue that has often been ignored rape and mental illness in the US military. Women face sexual violence from their male colleagues. Women also suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Hardship and witness the carnage of war makes it difficult to adjust to civilian life.

        The military has another health crisis of rape and sexual assault. According to the Pentagon statistics reports of sexual assault have reached an enormous high. Service members reported a total of 6,172 cases in 2016. This does not account for the women and men who do not report attacks.  The Pentagon also reported that 58% of victims said they faced some form of reprisal for exposing their attacker. Sexual misconduct is ubiquitous in the armed services. Only recently has the US military taken action, but this may not be enough. Sex based violence is a threat to health and personal security of the women and men who serve. Many times commanding officers may be involved, but are not brought to trial by a civilian court. A military court is more likely to be more lenient. The only way this scourge of violence can be stopped is if punishments are more severe. The problem is not just in attitudes; it is institutionally based. The Marines have this problem with online harassment. It had to deal with a Facebook group known as “Marines United” which often spread misogynist and lascivious commentary about women in the armed forces. There is a hostile work environment that requires dramatic human resources action. If not, this will hinder military effectiveness and productivity overall. A culture of mistrust is growing at a period when it is required to function as a unified fighting force. There has to be a way to challenge the strange hazing culture that is present in the US military. This involves fraternity like antics, which involves the harassment of women. It is no secret that the US military has an unwritten policy of rape of the populations they invade. From World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam War US soldiers have assaulted populations with sex violence. With Iraq and Afghanistan the numbers could be much higher. America now has a declining global image, due to the damage of aggressive and unprovoked war. The authors should realize this is just as much of a health risk to women as combat itself.

        Soldiers may leave the service without any physical injuries, but mental health can also be effected. Many soldiers are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. This could also put them at risk for depression. The challenge is there is still stigma surrounding mental illness. This is why  people do not seek the help they need. There is nothing wrong with a person seeking help. A study conducted by the US military revealed that soldiers have higher rates of mental illness than the civilian population. The worst case result after service is possible suicide. There are explanations for higher rates of mental illness among military personnel. It could be some had it prior to entry into the US military.  Data collected from the Study To Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members revealed that soldiers had six times as high episode of intermittent explosive disorder. This is a mental disorder when rage cannot be controlled and impulse is difficult to manage. The study surveyed 5,500 soldiers. There is the possibility of multiple tours of duty causing the problem. Younger soldiers are more at risk for mental illness. The reasons could be that they become home sick, stressed, or do not have the emotional support system.

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The military must take into consideration what multiple deployments will do to military families. It is critical for a soldier’s well being to stay connected to friends and family.

There needs to be an honest description of the hardships that will follow military service. However, it is not the case of false advertising. Some people like the idea of danger and adventure as well as possible risk. They want to explore the world, but do not have the means to travel. The military in some ways provides that opportunity for some who are economically disadvantaged. The shock of being in a new environment and acclimating can be difficult. There are reasons for the suicides, which are elucidated by particular experiences. It has been known soldiers may be forced to do unspeakable and unethical acts that were ordered by their commanders. If if violates protocol or basic rules of warfare. The guilt and controversy will eventually get to people engaging in such acts. Killing one’s self is an escape from some from constant mental anguish. Soldiers and the military must realize that getting help or consulting someone is not weakness. The military trained soldiers to be tough and self reliant, but even the strongest people need emotional support.

       There are certain realities that the US military has to come to terms with. Women are going to be a part of the fighting force and resisting this change will only hinder operation. Just like African Americans becoming integrated into the US military it will happen. The US armed forces are becoming more diverse and represent the demographic shift in America. The US will have to reevaluate its foreign policy strategy.  Women have a harder time due to the fact their ability is put into question. The frailty myth or the idea women just cannot be physically capable is still disseminated through out the mass media. Conservative outlets are the most vituperative. Their argument is that “you don’t see women playing in the NFL.” War is more violent and complex that a football game. A sports event does not involve someone being killed or imprisoned after defeat. The only concern is if a female soldier is disarmed some how. A larger man would have the advantage of strength that she is fighting. This means they would have to be reliant on martial arts skills. Judo and Krav maga are effective fighting styles that can be useful for a person who is smaller.

This is why women must be given the same hand to hand combat training. Doing so ensures women can fight out a precarious situation if disarmed. However, just being physically strong does not automatically make you a great fighter. Limited skill and maladroit movements could be more of a hindrance. Although this is a sports analogy consider this : a hand to hand fight between a MMA fighter and a bodybuilder. The more muscular person may have more strength, but did not learn fighting techniques. The MMA fighter has knowledge of these and knows how to avoid hits. This could be a decisive factor in determining who wins.

 Each fighting style has its strengths and weaknesses. As we have seen from women’s mixed martial arts and boxing they do have the ability to fight. There is the question can a woman carry a wounded man off a battlefield if the situation calls for it. The requires a significant portion of upper body strength. Women can lift men with an understanding of leverage. The approach should be to have them practice casualty drags both without gear and with their armor on. Carrying a person without gear is easier, because there is no extra weight. Having women do both can physically prepare them for the demands.

There could be simple solutions to this problem. Detaching some of the gear and removing the person could be one. Dragging the individual by there shoulders could be another. Yet, there could be situations that require medical evacuation and moving the person could cause more harm. Women who are in this situation should be able to do just fine if the passed their tests and met proper qualifications. Thus the argument “women are not strong enough” seems to lack cogency. Even ones that are qualified still are questioned about their competence. Women who work in mostly male dominated professions have to work extra hard to prove themselves. One simple mistake can be a representation of the group, which demonstrates the general sexist atmosphere in these jobs. The US military has to challenge this culture of women being less than capable. The frontline has been burred with warfare becoming more asymmetric. So, women who go to other locations around the globe may see combat without having trained for it. Physical fitness is important, however technology negates this in some regards. Muscles are of little protection against tanks, jets, bombs, guns, drones, biological, nuclear, and chemical weapons. A physically fit military is essential, however a state must have the technology and tactics to ultimately triumph in conflict.  Other nations are also allowing women to serve on the frontline. The UK and India are now in the process of allowing women to fight in combat roles. It is only a matter of time before more countries start doing the same.

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Countries that allow women in combat. This was a map produced in 2013. This however does not include women who fight in an unofficial capacity .

There are women who fight in unofficial capacities. This could be in paramilitary groups, liberation movement causes, or other armed insurgencies. The peshmerga and YPG has female fighters operating in Iraq and Syria. The Kurds do not have their own state,but seem to be attempting to carve out one after the battle against ISIS ends. It is clear that women will be a part of that fight as well. The Tamil Tigers also mobilized women in war during the civil war in Sri Lanka from 1983 to 2009. FARC  when it was fighting the Colombian government did the same. These places were not states so that is why on the data of women in combat. It seems more women are involved in combat than previously thought.  A majority of Northern European countries allow women in combat. Australia and New Zealand are the only countries in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.

It seems people if inspired enough will pick up arms if they deem a cause worthy. Women who are born in countries with less resources do not have the same the training as the US military women and still fight effectively. There is no reason that women in the US cannot do the same. The biggest question is how physically strong can a woman get in order to meet the qualifications of certain military occupational specialties ? A sample from women’s weightlifting  scores could provide a hypothesized answer. The women who fall in a fitness category of advanced and elite would be more likely to handle more manual labor compared to the beginner or intermediate fitness level. This may complicate implementing a draft. Women would take longer to reach fitness targets.

female-strength-chart

The only solution is too either adjust the total goal target of the number women you want to serve or have a fitness program in place. This can be done, but another issue must be addressed. Women should register for the selective service. The fact that one preaches equality means that you also accept the responsibility that comes with it. Men do not have a choice, because they are forced to register. The option of being a conscientious objector is available, yet this may be ignored by a military that is becoming more desperate for a victory in a series of failing military engagements. There should be no objection from any advocate for women in combat to reject women being part of the selective service. By this same line of reasoning, this is not license to end a volunteer army system. So far, it has worked well sense the end of the Vietnam War and allowed  for higher skilled and higher paid positions to become available. Americans will not tolerate being drafted for wars that are either imperialist in objective or futile in execution. The point the US military is for security. The United States is more and far beyond capable of defending itself. Most of America’s military engagements have nothing to do with security at all. They either advance a business agenda or a geopolitical strategy of keeping America as the world’s sole superpower. Americans have been taught that its military fights for freedom and human rights when this is a fabrication. If there is a concern about military recruiters being extremely dishonest, this is the part that should also cause concern.

            There have been exaggerated claims that allowing women in combat will result in failure in US military operations. Women entering combat will not do this, because the US is continued a path that could lead to major social and political issues. Take the role of policeman of the world has caused much anger and distrust of the US throughout the world. The end of the Cold War gave the US immense power which it has abused. Without the Soviet Union,there was little justification for a large military. This did not stop interventions in Somalia, Iraq, or Yugoslavia. NATO and the US struck Kosovo not for humanitarian reasons,but to dismantle Yugoslavia further. Civil war and ethnic conflict was already tearing the country apart, intervention by other Western European nations furthered the disintegration. The US wants to maintain global hegemony even if it conflates into wider regional conflicts. China and Russia are clearly world powers and the US sees them as a threat. This may not be the case, if diplomacy was utilized. Instead there is a network of shadow wars and wars of proxy occurring between the US, China, and Russia. All these powers use the false narrative of fighting the War on Terror as a justification for reducing freedoms or initiating wars. North Korea, Ukraine, and Syria are countries that find themselves caught up in the nexus of wars of proxy. The United States must accept the that the world is moving to a multipolar  world power system.Military recruiters will never be honest about what America is really doing. They will never tell of the numerous atrocities, corruption in the Department of Defense, or the neoconservative war agenda for various countries. To say that women are being more so manipulated by being recruited for certain jobs is no more exploitative than any other aspect of the US military. Opening combat roles to women in a way was a public relations technique to improve the image of the US military. lost wars, war crimes, and the abuses of the military industrial complex have tarnish the institution’s image. Maybe a new generation of  leadership in the US military can reverse this. Women should not seek to be just combat soldiers; they should also aim to be generals of the highest rank.

Women should become part of the leadership and maybe with new perspectives some problems can be addressed from a different approach. There has to be also a change in political leadership. The system of world politics should adopt another mode of operation. There should not be preparations for war, rather a sustainable peace. All nation-states are guilty of competing with one another for military dominance of the globe. There are nations that carve out and become power centers in a particular region often bullying smaller nations. On a larger scale world powers bully the entire globe. The US-EU block has done such actions to Libya, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria. It has to be understood that liberal democracy or another governance system cannot be imposed upon people. The US military is an apparatus for security, not nation building. A complexus of skilled diplomacy can prevent war; intervention should be the last resort. These ideas are practical, but with more women and others joining the US military the possibility of peace seems hopeless.

           There were rumors that Donald Trump was going to reverse the Obama era measure allowing women in combat. It has not happened, but there is a possibility. He has already targeted transgender service members  who do not make up much of the US military. Blatant acts of discrimination are common in  America. Even if the individual is qualified hate and the status quo is favored. There are numerous examples that show women are capable.

Although women have proven that they can be capable, there will always be doubts and hatred directed at them for being in jobs that were male only. If combat integration is to be successful there has to be a massive human resources effort. Sexual harassment and assault should be punished quickly and severely. The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs must work to provide a higher standard of healthcare . Veterans too often are not getting high quality care that should be every citizen’s right.If not the US could face a major public health crisis. Soldier health should incorporate mental and physical well being. While there is a movement to improving the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries, the care in regards to PTSD and depression are not adequate. Military recruiters should be honest about the health risks and the challenges involved. Honesty about the military should not discourage individuals with a strong desire to serve. Women should not be discouraged from serving just as long as they know what they are signing up for. A military health maintenance program can solve certain problems and reduce medical discharges.

Further Reading

  Reuters. “Sexual Assault Reports in U.S. Military Reach Record High: Pentagon.”NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 1 May 2017, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/sexual-assault-reports-u-s-military-reach-record-high-pentagon-n753566.

Healy, Melissa. “As Obesity Keeps Rising, More Americans Are Just Giving Up.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 7 Mar. 2017, http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-fewer-americans-diet-20170308-story.html.

Myers, Meghann. “New in 2017: New Fitness Assessment to Go Combat Arms.” Army Times, Army Times, 18 Oct. 2017, http://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2016/12/19/new-in-2017-new-fitness-assessment-to-go-combat-arms/.
Willingham, Val. “Study: Rates of Many Mental Disorders Much Higher in Soldiers.” CNN, Cable News Network, 4 Mar. 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/03/health/jama-military-mental-health/index.html.
What Military Recruiters Aren’t Telling Women: You’ll Face Disproportionate Health Risks

The Sociological Factors That Effect Women’s Athletic Performance

It is obvious that there are reasons for differences in athletic performance between the sexes. The first one is biological. Sexual dimorphism does have an effect on athletic performance.  There are some sports physiologists who claim this is the sole reason for the difference in performance. The problem is that this ignores sociological factors that could effect women. There are many issues that the male athlete will never have to confront. The challenge of gender bias and concepts of femininity still hound women in this profession. Access to equal training and talent development is limited. At an early age women are not taught to be physically skillful. Economic factors also play a role in how much time women can devote to sport. There have been instances in which women have been banned from a particular sport when they upset the gender norm order. It has only been recently that women have been allowed to compete on a professional level. The fact is performance has both biological and sociological factors working in conjunction. Biological determinism fails to realize this and reduces everything solely to the genes. The other end of the spectrum focuses on environment. It is not one or the other, but both. Examining the sociological factors reveals legacies of discrimination and lack of opportunity. While these challenges have been addressed, they are still present and effect women’s athletic performance.  Sociological factors cannot be ignored, even though they are not immediately detectable.

      Body image has at some point effected women’s lives. The ideal  standard of  beauty is obsessive over the image of  thin body type. Even female athletes are not immune from this social and cultural pressure. Fear of violating the dated gender norm hinders women’s chances for improved performance. The trepidation of getting too muscular holds women back. Femininity has been defined in terms of delicateness or frailty. Muscle, strength, power, and skill were traditionally thought to be male only. This is not true, but when women display this they are criticized as being masculine or unfeminine. Skill and a level of aggression is necessary in sport, yet these attributes are praised in men. Women are forced to sometimes walk a tight rope in terms of body image, even though they have sculpted impressive physiques. There is subtle message of being toned, but not too muscular. Women’s bodies vary in size and shape depending on the sport they play so it is strange that their remains body image conformity. This also projects itself in eating disorders, which female athletes are also susceptible to. Some female athletes will not train as hard for fear of becoming more muscular. Weight training can dramatically improve performance, but some female athletes avoid it to prevent becoming muscular. It should be understood that women come in all shapes and sizes. The athletic body is not always a muscular one. It could larger or lithe.

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The modern fitness industry does not help with improving body image. Most marketing is directed at weight loss and diets. It does not emphasize other workout routines in a serious manner in men’s magazines. There is an emphasis on tone for women and building strength for men. There has been a shift which has emerged from a movement against body shaming. Yet, this movement seems to be solely focused on women who are “curvy.” There is also a movement in the fitness community that believes “strong is the new skinny.” The problem with these movements is that they could just be swapping another body image conformity standard with another. The only solution to this is for women themselves to define what version of beauty is acceptable, rather than having it dictated to them. Body image seems to be a tool in which women are controlled. Female athletes violate this standard, by offering an alternative. It becomes a threat, because it challenges the old convictions about women’s roles and false notions of biological inferiority.

There are men who see a strong woman as a threat or an aberration. This to a great extent is influenced by mass media representations that people are exposed to during childhood and adulthood. If one image is presented as how all women should be, this creates a level of prejudice against people who do not fit such a paradigm.  Women who are very muscular have to deal with negative  commentary form the public and the media. Serena Williams has been attacked unjustly about her body built form hours on the tennis court. Female bodybuilders are also attacked and ostracized for large musculature. They have the largest musculature of all causing trepidation in some.  Such behavior shows that body shaming is a bullying tactic to isolate women who do not submit to the cultural body ideals.  Body image goes beyond just having a preference is is linked to sexist attitudes.

 Women in sports and their supporters believe that there is no contradiction between women’s muscular strength and femininity. There is not a contradiction, but it demonstrates who limited a woman can be defined in a sociological context. Body image pressure continues to be a persistent problem that could harm women’s athletic performance. Competition is just not a physical task, but a mental one. Stress and an uninviting atmosphere can cause issues. Men do not have to deal with such body image pressure in the sports world.

        Barriers exist for women in terms of sexist discrimination and misogyny. When one views sporting events, one question that comes up is why are there not more female athletes? This relates back to socioeconomic status, cultural attitudes, and how girls are raised. There could be talented women out there would just do not have the opportunity to compete. There are nations that still view women as being merely property or just wives and mothers. There roles should not extend outside the domestic sphere. Culturally, girls are not taught physical skills like boys are. One of the bonding experiences between a father and son is  teaching is child how to throw. Rarely do fathers do this with their daughters. Rough and tumble play is not considered appropriate for girls. This has changed in some countries. The US passed Title IX, which in many ways changed the way girls and women viewed physical activity. It is not strange for a girl to show interest in or want to play a sport. There is a gap in the amount of physical skills taught to girls. Physical education may to an extent be watered down for girls. The fitness targets and exercises are lower for girls, even when the physiological changes from puberty have not occurred. That means their ate no distinct physical advantages so sex segregated physical education classes would make no sense. This indicates their is a bias, but a process of socialization into  cultural based gender norms. Women when examined in the context of the history of physical education were not expected to play games or sports in the same manner. The female model was to be less competitive and more of moderate level of activity. Women should not in this pedagogy of physical education not strain themselves or become competitive.

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A physical education class with female students from 1956 shows students listening to the teacher’s directions. Women who did have talent would have limited opportunities at this time to participate in professional sports or be a part of fitness culture.

   Girls in other countries may get the least amount of schooling, which explains some of the gender inequality globally. Obviously, not being school means they would not have physical education. Some countries have only just begun to offer it to girls. Saudi Arabia has done so as part of its Vision 2030 program. Conservative cultural convictions prevent women from becoming active participants in sports and fitness. Socioeconomic barriers also hinder both sexes. Poverty means less resources to participate in sports that require more equipment or related materials. Playing sports is a leisure activity, which is out of reach for the working poor. This doe not mean a person can not work their way to competitive ranks, but it shows how class has a major impact on life even in a society in which social mobility can be attainable. Women have been a part of sports since the ancient world. Women athletes have been documented in Ancient Greek civilization and indications of female participation in Ancient Egyptian civilization.

 Women faced the same type of prejudiced attitudes and sometimes to an even larger extreme. Women were banned from watching the Olympic games and could be executed if they attempted to do so in ancient Greece. Even if women were athletes, there has been a long tradition of  prohibiting or excluding women from sport. To say that the female athlete is an anomaly or a new phenomenon is incorrect. The peculiar dynamic is why sex discrimination has persisted for so long. While the numbers of women in sports are still lower compared to men, there has been a dramatic increase in total of women athletes. Sex discrimination exposes itself in a number of ways through unequal pay or limited media coverage. Another problem is just not having a venue or platform to compete. There are no professional  leagues for women’s baseball or limited opportunities for women’s tackle football. There are some sports that remain limited for women. because the opportunity is not there.

Women have never  been welcomed in sport and there is a culture of misogyny. To a more closed minded individual sports should be male only and women athletes are by nature “abnormal.”  Women who perform at high levels are either accused of being mannish or having their sexuality questioned. This mix of homophobia and hetero sexism discourages women from being active in sport. The culture of exclusion  is designed to alienate people of different sexual orientations, races, or religions. This type of  exclusion does not only seek alienate, but erase history. It is common in sports historiography and entertainment to ignore non-white peoples. When discussing sports history the discourse mainly focuses on a Western narrative excluding other areas of the globe. China during the Ming dynasty had women as players in Cuju. The Nuba peoples of Sudan have a long tradition of wrestling dating back to the ancient world.

 There have been women athletes all over the world. It is just now they have more venues to compete both at the amateur and professional level. There is a reason why women’s numbers are lower in sports and it is not always unintentional. Women traditionally were expected to give up personal ambitions for the sake of motherhood and marriage. Women had to present themselves as being lady like in the context of a conservative culture. This meant being passive, demure, and responding to male demands. Sports involve a level of confidence and assertiveness that at one time was seen as male only. This has changed over the years as more women challenge ridged gender roles. Sexism extends to a homophobia as well. Women who play sports well are often have their sexuality attacked. They are accused of being lesbians or masculine, because the wider culture has narrow definitions of what men and women can be. Simultaneously people of different sexual orientations are excluded and ostracized. Racism also intersects with exclusionary behavior. Normally white is considered the default presentation in media of the athlete. It ignore the fact that different races and women are part of the sports world. Black, Asian, and South American women have to deal with not only the burden of sexism, but race prejudice. White women do not have to deal with such a challenge. There are social as well as cultural barriers, but there are also institutional challenges.

           Sex verification tests are an example of  institutional barriers harming women’s athletic performance. These tests are given to women and not men which demonstrates a double standard. Slowly they have been eliminated, however they have remained in the form of testing testosterone levels. Women who are deemed to have “too much” testosterone in their system are expected to take hormone therapy to reach what is considered an acceptable level. There is a problem with this. The first is that if a woman’s natural level just happens to be high that just an advantage unique to her physiology. The other possibility is that the athlete in question is either using a performance enhancing substance, which can be tested for. The other case relates to a condition known as hyperandronism in which high levels of testosterone are produced in the body. This condition is rare occurring in about at least 5% to 10% of women. The regulation in regards to unique physiology demonstrates the  IAAF  is uncomfortable with women competing in sports. It was not until 1992 that the IAAF ended sex testing. Sex verification tests have for most of their existence been unscientific. They do not account for genetic variation among women and fail to understand the nature of intersex people. The IOC and IAAF  claim sex testing is done to protect women form men posing as women in contests. To date their has been few men captured posing as a woman in the Olympics.  The only case of this was Dora Ratjen  in the 1936 Olympics.  Dora was actually a man in disguise hoping that he could win more medals for Nazi Germany. Sex verification became more prevalent when women got more involved in sports. International athletics officials standardized gender testing by having athletes present themselves in nude parades. Female athletes would be examine by doctors (specifically their genitalia)  for male organs. This was a violation of privacy and then another test was created that examined chromosomes. This also created complications because human genetics and sex are more complicated than thought. The ruling on testosterone levels is another means of policing gender in sports. A natural physical advantage should not exclude women from sport. The argument is about fairness, however women with such advantage are discouraged form competing. Caster Semneya and Dutee Chand were either forced to take sex verification tests or be banned from competition.

 After legal action, both athletes were able to return to competition. They have talent and a natural advantage, so there is no reason to exclude them based on endocrinology. Detractors claim that they are not “real” women and if they compete it is unfair to other athletes. If it were true that their bodies were more male like, then their performances would match that of male track athletes. They do not seeing as they still have women’s physiques in the structural and physiological sense. Wider pelvises, smaller hearts, and lungs means that their performances would not match a male track athlete. This exposes the problem with sex verification tests. Gender is a social construction and used in this context sex verification is in a pseudoscientific manner is defining what a proper woman should be. Biological sex is the product of millions of years of human evolution with genes interacting with the environment by means of natural and sex selection. The genetics of women can vary. The only purpose of sex verification is to create an uncomfortable atmosphere for women and humiliate them. It is impossible to ban women from sport, but there are mechanisms at the institutional level to stop progress.Sex verification tests are a symbol of that problem.

        One challenge involves the science of exercise physiology. The problem is that most studies focus on male athletes, yet there are few done on female athletes as a whole. When women want to train seriously for a sport, they have limited information. Methods and techniques are still debated. Women are obviously physiologically different from men and in some case may have to have a training regimen adjusted to meet there physical fitness targets. It may still be more to discover about women’s full physical capabilities. There are few women in the exercise sciences and kinesiology , which exacerbates the the issue of lack of information. Sports medicine is slow to catch up in the study of effective training for female athletes. There has to be consideration in terms of endocrinology, the musculoskeletal structure, and metabolism. These vary between men and women including between an individual’s unique physiology. Studies have shown that carbohydrate loading may not have the same effect on women as it does on men. According to a study conducted by the University of Massey at the Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Human Health women utilize only half of the carbohydrates in their muscles. The experiment was examining recovery after exercise having subjects engage in cycling. The results were different for men and women, but this was only one study produced in 2010. There needs to be more done with female athletes, rather than using males as the default for exercise science investigation. Doing so can help discard incorrect myths about women’s performance during menstruation, physical capability, and biomechanics.

       Access to training facilities is also critical to performance. Gyms or tracks are beneficial to an athlete trying to maintain fitness and improve performance. Women were for a long time denied access to particular fitness facilities. The reason the Soviet Union’s women athletes  were outperforming the US in 1956 was  because they provided them with training facilities. The only schools at the university level that did that in America was the Historically black colleges such as Howard University and Hampton University. It was not until Title IX did women in the US get access to gyms and training space. Normally when women entered these spaces they were faced wit intimidation and common sexist prejudice. This is also tied to class. Women who are in a lower socioeconomic bracket do not have the same opportunities to enjoy sports activities. A gym membership can be expensive. The cost to compete depending on what sport can be immense. The income of the female athlete is lower and many may have to have several jobs just to keep playing the sport they love. The financial struggle may cause some to quit. Access to particular facilities could be a problem coming from a country with limited resources. Nations that are unstable, war torn, or economically unstable put women in horrible situations. While biology, anatomy, and physiology demonstrate whay there is a difference in athletic performance, sociological factors are also important. Barriers and discrimination or conservative cultural attitudes still hold women back in sports. Once these issues are challenged, women can truly excel.

 

References

 Reynolds, Gretchen. “Phys Ed: What Exercise Science Doesn’t Know About Women.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 June 2010, well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/30/phys-ed-what-exercise-science-doesnt-know-about-women/.

Markula, Pirkko. “Is There Feminine Muscularity?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 29 Mar. 2017, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fit-femininity/201703/is-there-feminine-muscularity.

Markula, Pirkko. “Muscle Tone Is Sexy, But You Don’t Want To Look Too Buff.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 12 Nov. 2016, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fit-femininity/201611/muscle-tone-is-sexy-you-don-t-want-look-too-buff.

Padawer, Ruth. “The Humiliating Practice of Sex-Testing Female Athletes.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 28 June 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/03/magazine/the-humiliating-practice-of-sex-testing-female-athletes.html.

East, Susie. “Should a Woman’s Testosterone Level Matter in Sports?” CNN, Cable News Network, 12 Aug. 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/12/health/testosterone-and-hyperandrogenism-in-female-athletes/index.html.

The Sociological Factors That Effect Women’s Athletic Performance

Marcie Simmons : Schmoes Versus Fans

This is another Marcie Simmons video describing from her point of view the difference between schmoes and fans. It is clear that she does not hold the schmoes in high regard. One reason is that there is the problem of  online piracy in regards to athlete’s content and online harassment. This harassment can either be sexual or stalker like in nature. Such behavior is intolerable and should be condemned. Yet, all schmoes should not be condemned. Marcie may not be condemning them all, but just the section that she calls aggressive schmoes. The prevalence of sexual harassment is being exposed more now than ever and has dominated mass media conversation. It can occur anywhere and anytime. While this is a legitimate concern, female athletes should remember that schmoes are keeping female bodybuilding alive. They are the ones who come and buy tickets to shows. They pay even more money to engage in session wrestling, which is more or less an open secret. Without them, female bodybuilding would not have a financial pillar. Casual fans or former fans may not be as loyal as one would think. The audiences have shrunk and so has coverage. Many former fans say that the women got too extreme, but schmoes still loyally remain part of the fan base. The major part of the problem is how social media is used by people.

       Marcie describes fans as mostly being supporters. However, schmoes are more so hardcore fans. Due to the behavior of some they are either stereotyped as fetishists, eccentrics, or potential sexual predators. Marcie explains it is about semantics, but it should be known schmoes like the most muscular women. The average fan likes women of any athletic shape. Schmoe continues to be a pejorative when it should not be. Schmoes almost resemble groupies in relation to rock stars. Within fandom, there are always fans who become too obsessed or too aggressive with their beloved famous person.

The Marcie Madness Channel

Watch more videos there and become a subscriber. 

There should not be condemnation of schmoes. They seem to be the last people who find extremely muscular women a positive and attractive thing. They are a part of the female bodybuilding subculture. Female bodybuilding may never go mainstream so the demographic outreach will be small in an economic sense. Sexist prejudice and traditional gender role beliefs stop the sport from reach wider public. This mean the maintenance of  a loyal fan base is critical. The idea that a woman can have six pack abs and big biceps does not seem like an unusual concept the the schmoe. This video seems to be a stark contrast from her other presentation ” The Importance of Schmoes to Female Bodybuilding.” They do provide a significant financial support as Marcie articulated. She has stated this is not a horrible thing to have schmoes being a part of the culture.

The female bodybuilding category is shrinking with a limited number of contests for athletes to compete in. It is essential now more than ever to get as many allies and supporters as possible.Schmoes were there from the beginning and were the first supporters. When female body appeared many did not accept it even within the fitness industry itself. Schmoes embraced the new female mesomorph with enthusiasm. The feelings were not reciprocated. Many women in the sport have a negative view of schmoes or look down upon them. Considering they do provide financial support one would think the athletes would be more appreciative. Instead athletes call schmoes “demanding” or “entitled.”  If women are going to keep this sport alive that means they will have to use some public relations skills. Showing appreciation for your moderate and hardcore fans will improve the state of the sport. If not, fans will simply leave. Most schmoes do not do the activities Marcie is describing. A section do, but may be they should not be classified in that terminology.

             The aggressive schmoe is not a hardcore fan, but is sexual harasser. Women face sexual harassment in the workplace, public spaces,  and even in educational settings. The vast world of the internet and social media has expanded the problem. Marcie exposes that stalking has occurred to athletes both on and offline. Social media accounts of athletes are flooded with messages with inappropriate lascivious and explicit statements. Normally one thinks that such powerful women would not be victim to such behavior. This can happen to anyone. The reason such behavior continues is because it goes unreported or is just not punished. This explains why Harvey Weinstein  was able to engage in sexual misconduct for decades. There is nothing that can be taught  in sensitivity training that could fix men like  that. The only solution is to either isolate or contain them. There has to be a change in how men view women. Unfortunately, society views women as sex objects rather than people which encourages this type of behavior. Living in a society that values women’s appearance or sexual capital distorts men’s views of women. The idea that is projected is that women are pleasure objects for men and thus sexual misconduct is just “boys being boys.” Such convictions and behavior should not be tolerated. While it could be easier to stop such behavior in public spaces, online harassment is more difficult to tackle. To what extent should companies act on social media platforms without damaging free speech or expression? This is not a simple answer, but there are blocking  mechanisms in place. Athletes relevant to this discussion should not be afraid to do so when they are harassed. Exposing unacceptable behavior, strict rules and laws, and enforcement can counter the rise of sexual harassment.

        Before schmoes are cast as predators it should be remembered that they are a financial pillar. These men are willing to pay large amounts of money for autographed material and memorabilia. They come to contests when total audience size is decreasing. Women have found them to be a unique business opportunity. There are women who get sponsorship from them as Marice  stated before. However women can get more money by doing session wrestling sometimes amounting to more than they would get for competing in a contest. A one hour session could range from $900 or more depending on the type of wrestling. A female bodybuilder has to consider that training, competing, and travel will  cost a lot of money. Some competitors may even stop, because they can no longer afford to keep up. The sport does not provide large financial gains for women and many have careers outside fitness. Wrestling a schmoe enables  them to make a profit and continue to compete. This money from session wrestling is obviously not taxed, because it is not the traditional business. Muscle worship does not even require much physical effort. There are men who pay large amounts of money and women gain the support. It is not just female bodybuilders that do this; fitness women, physique competitors, figure models, and women in top physical shape are also involved.

There are women who are just associated with session wrestling itself. The reality is athletes do foster the atmosphere of schmoes. To hate them for taking part in services seems ludicrous. If there is tension women are also responsible for it. Women have to extent used their feminine charms on men to get from them something they want. Traditionally this was a method used to manipulate men in societies that either limited their freedom or navigation. it explains why the gold digger or the femme fatale are a persistent image in society and popular culture. Men with power are more susceptible to this type of sex based manipulation. The case with schmoes is that to a degree they are manipulated by these women. So it is hard to say that women doing this are completely victims of a patriarchal power structure. It seems that the the power dynamic shifts in favor of women. Not only do they have the traditional feminine charm it is combined with physical power. This also linked with the fact women control the rates and conditions of their session business. Schmoes are exploited financially and are devoted followers so it seems unfair for female bodybuilders to be vexed with them. There are those who fit the stereotypes, but there are schmoes from different races, religions, class backgrounds, and nations. Saying all schmoes are malevolent or harming the sport is just an exaggeration. There are portion of schmoes who are secretive about their love of  female bodybuilders. They may not even go to wrestling session at all simply out of nervousness.  Criticism and stigma are something they want to avoid. Schmoes do help in terms of support. Women in sports normally have to find alternatives to support themselves and continue competing. Some of the burden is at least reduced. Supplements, food, gym membership, and athletic clothing are considerations women have to work into their budget. The labor and routine is intense leading up to being on stage.

This can be stressful especially in an industry and sport that does not respect women or their contributions. Foe some women, the admiration from a hardcore fan is a psychological boost from an atmosphere of negativity. While people harshly criticize women for doing sessions and building up schmoe culture no one takes time to figure out what is the motivation. The financial and business aspect is clear, but there may be another reason women do this. There are women who also have fetishes and it its seems obvious men are not the only ones with them. The idea that a woman can easily control a man physically may be arousing to women. There are women who compete who do sessions who do not need financial support. It is not about sexual expression all the time either. Some women like the challenge of testing their physical power against male opponents. It may remind them of a time of simple childhood play that one cannot do as an adult. This a setting so private that women of this stature can display their muscle and power without ostracism or condemnation from the fitness community or general public. There is a level of freedom they experience that does not restrict them to gender appropriate social mores. Thanks to schmoes there are more websites covering muscular women than magazines, exposing them to a wider audience. Fan forums such as Saradas get a bad reputation, but often it provides information on athletes you may not find anywhere. Upcoming contests or  industry news in regards to women circulates there. The piracy issue continues to be a persistent problem. This does not stop large numbers of people from buying content. Gene X Magazine ( http://tour.ftvideo.com/genex.php) provides detailed coverage. photography,  and videos to users. He would definitely be considered a schmoe. His online publication has been around since the 1990s and provided his signature high quality photography.

Britt and Kristy

Marcie does not hate schmoes or think they are all terrible. As she eloquently described the situation : “Just like anything else there is good and bad.” She articulated “The good ones show love and support and the bad ones wank around and act like malicious trolls.”The hope there are more good people than awful ones. The issue she touches upon is how social media is used. This is a new type of media and form of communication, which poses various problems.

        Social media such as Twitter and  Facebook have become such a part of people’s lives. It has the power to reach anyone across the world and be an efficient organizing tool.  The problem is how people use this platform. It either enables cyber bullying or harassment. The colloquial term of trolling has entered mainstream lexicon describing those who go online to start flame wars and insult people without punishment or repercussion. It emboldens certain people to say offensive and rude comments that they would be too timid to say in real life. Women just like other people online do face harassment, but there is a level of responsibility on the user. If someone wants to keep their life private they should consider what they post online. Once a photo or a comment is posted it is pretty much out in cyberspace forever. It would seem strange that an athlete would complain about people commenting on the pictures that they post. People may post images that are displaying themselves nude or could violate the terms of use. The simple rule to go by is think before you post or write anything.

It is hard to convince people you do not want them to look at particular photos, when the most outrageous or suggestive ones are posted. If  one truly values their privacy, they should be mindful of the information posted. The other alternative is just not use social media at all. Then as Marcie says there is a difference between admiration and being an obsessive stalker. There is nothing wrong with collecting photos, but an obsession extends to trying to find out about an athlete’s home address, relationships, and place of employment. Athletes must understand that what once you post something it basically becomes public. So it seems rather peculiar that a person would get vexed if certain photos appear on other sites or forums. If an athlete is making a social media presence they have to decide what type it will be. If it is a professional one it should only be related to business inquiries only. That should display skill and work credentials. A personal social media presence should just be for friends and family. This should have the private setting so that only people in that small circle can have access. A social media presence for fans of an athlete should include photos, upcoming events, and links to other sites the athlete is associated with. There can also be information on how fans can contribute to sponsorship. Instagram could be a way for some athletes to get modeling contracts for athletic clothing, by posting some of their own pictures. Social media is not all terrible; it can be a method of promoting one’s self in the fitness and sports world in which media coverage is limited for women. The public must learn to use new technologies responsibly. Etiquette and manners still apply online just as the do in real life. Athletes deserve respect not harassment. Schmoes and female bodybuilders are connected.They should seek a firm alliance because the relationship is symbiotic. There are sexual harassers among the ranks, but they should not be the representation of all schmoes. Together maybe athlete and fan can help the sport grow and flourish.

Marcie Simmons : Schmoes Versus Fans

Happy Halloween

Around October adults and children dress up as either monsters, cartoon characters, or film characters for Halloween. It has become a major annual tradition to hold parties, have children trick or treat,  or to enjoy horror movie marathons on TV. This year is different however. More girls and women are not dressing up in the stereotypical princess or cat lady. The sale of Wonder Woman costumes have increased dramatically. This is due to the popular film that was released during the summer. Yet, it has more of a significance. It shows that female protagonist characters can be popular and have an enduring impact on popular culture. It is important that  there is a diverse range in female characters in fiction to challenge dated stereotypes and sexist beliefs. Besides a change in perspectives it is always fun to see well made costumes. There are some women who look more Wonder Woman than you could possibly imagine.

Happy Halloween