A vast majority of men reject women who are physically strong. There are numerous reasons that explain this irrational behavior. Strength has been a maker for masculine identity for so long, that women who display such a quality are considered to violate gender norms. There are also men who fear physically strong women. As ridiculous as this seems, they consider them a threat. Other men are disgusted by their appearance. The reason is they do not fit into the aesthetic model society values. Men are not always the culprits, but women themselves. There are women who also reject this idea of physically powerful woman. At the root of these negative feeling are sexist conventions that are still prevalent in society.
Strength has been a symbol of masculine identity. It ties into the idea of provider and protector. Femininity is the opposite, presented as dependence and weakness. This is an old fashioned view of gender roles and gender norms. Not all men are built like Hercules and not all women are helpless Disney princesses. When women play sports they challenge these roles. When they do this the “natural” order is upset. Women with bulging biceps, strong legs, and powerful mid-sections make a statement. They do not need men to survive. This ruins the idea of chivalry. At first it seems harmless, but in reality it perpetuates the idea of female incompetence. The world is too dangerous for women, so they must be protected. Men must be in charge of their safety. This notion puts women in a position of being prisoners to men. Women are capable of defending themselves, if they are willing to.
Another issue is men’s fear of women’s strength. Many times when seeing such visibly strong women a number of responses are exposed. One for example is “she could beat me up ” or “her biceps are bigger than mine.” Then there are more vitriolic responses in the line of “she’s a man” or questioning her sexuality. These sexist and homophobic demonstrate some men’s fear of women’s strength. Some men cannot handle the idea of a strong woman. This is a piece of clip art. Although meant to be humorous, it does represent some fear men have
The reason that fear emerges is that it makes some men question what it means to be a man. Insecurity is a hard enemy to defeat. A man insecure with his masculinity will behave in odd ways. One way is to disparage or degrade women in general, not only strong women. Sometimes it is not insecurity at all, but fear of the unknown. It is rare that men would meet a woman that could challenge them in some form of physical contest. Seeing something new like that could be overwhelming at first. A woman with such a powerful physique can produce such awe struck reaction. Another dynamic to the fear element is that there is a perception that women are going to take revenge on men for centuries poor treatment. This at first seems comical, but there are men out there who believe this. Just because a woman has physical strength does not mean she will use it to abuse men. This prejudiced assumption is that stronger women are more violent and would be willing to use force. It is interesting because women through out most of their lives have to take into consideration of the possibility of physical abuse from their boyfriend or husband. Here the tables are turned.
There will not be Amazon woman take over anytime soon
There is no reason to be fearful. The only thing it means is that women are allowed to participate in activities that were once restricted to them. When women started advancing in education and the professional world men did get nervous. Sports was seen as the last male dominated domain, but that has been eroded.
The other reason men object to women’s strength is related to ideals of beauty. The current mainstream ideal of beauty for women is a thin figure. The mass media, fitness industry and fashion industry continually present this ideal as normal or the standard. Yet, it is an unrealistic beauty standard. It excludes larger women, muscular women, and even average looking women. Men raised in this type of culture get a distorted view of body image. The subtle message is that women are suppose to be one body type. Women even encourage this as well, by excessive dieting and attempting to slenderize constantly. Women will even avoid weight training for fear of looking “bulky.” One should ask what is wrong with bulky? The idea is that it makes a woman “mannish.” More liberal minded people have challenged this, but do not go far enough. They rephrase weight training as “toning” or “body sculpting” so women will not be afraid of weights. The reality is the process still involves building muscle. Normally, women will not become massive, but some have the ability to do so. They should not be shunned.
At the root of this body obsession is man making women in an image more pleasing to himself. The woman on the right represents in the mainstream view an acceptable level of fitness. Past that level the woman on the left is no longer considered normal in the traditional perspective of femininity. Such attitudes reduce women to objects only valued for their physical appearance. Men reject the idea of muscular woman, because it means the woman is no longer a controllable and passive object. Also, they challenge the traditional conformity in regards to gender roles.
The root of this rejection is based in sexist and misogynistic attitudes. Phrases like “you throw like a girl” reveal much about a particular mind set. It shows that some men think of women as less than, weak or not human. They will always be second rate compared to men. This has been proven false, as women advance in society. These attitudes must change. Men need to have a more positive view of women in non-traditional fields.Women should be allowed to engage and develop there talents to the fullest.