Sthenolagnia and Cratolagnia

Sthenolagnia can be defined as “the sexual arousal from the presentation of muscles or strength.” Cratolagnia is described as “arousal from the performance or demonstration of strength.” These two sexual fetishes are not the same. Sthenolagnia puts more emphasis on the appearance of muscles. The assumption is the larger the muscle mass equates to being stronger. That is not always true in some instances.Both men and women can have this sexual fetish. People with different sexual orientations can have this fetish also. This is not a recent phenomenon. Words were just developed to describe something that has existed for many years. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) a German sexologist and physician who coined these terms in the 20th century, described what had existed for many centuries. Mainstream society considers this “strange” or “unusual.” This seems to be an exaggeration, when examining more harmful dimensions of other sexual fetishes. Misunderstandings can emerge because there is little scholarship on sthenolagnia and cratolagnia.


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A visual difference of sthenolagnia and cratolagnia. The woman above is demonstrating her strength. However, her muscles are nothing compared to bodybuilder Susan Smith’s development.

     One question that is asked is why such an attraction? There are multiple explanations for this.  The first could be that some men desire ( at least temporarily) a role reversal. Men in many societies are expected to take on numerous responsibilities, be leaders, breadwinners, work as diligently as possible, and express little emotion. Men put extra stress on themselves, because they are the pillars of society and community. Some of this responsibility has been shared with women during times of crisis. Since women’s liberation they are taking roles in the public sphere. The role reversal element in regards to the physically strong woman can be attractive to some men. Here is a woman you do not have to carry bags for or open jars. The male protector role has distorted gender roles not only for women, but men. Maybe it is not role reversal, but a move toward equality. Another explanation is the more obvious preference for a particular body type. This can vary widely among individuals. Some men just like the look of muscles on a female body. To an extent the human body is fetishized. Fitness advertisement put emphasis on women’s lower bodies and weight. The body itself is not lascivious by nature, but is made that way by a cultural context. The traditional areas of female beauty are enlarged in the muscular woman ( legs and posterior). Then there is the aspect of confidence projected by the strong woman. The conjecture is that men are attracted to women who are secure with themselves. Normally, women are not taught to be confident in themselves or show pride in their skills. The physically strong woman shows both confidence in her skills and body. This is not  a part of accepted cultural mores, but they do it regardless.


Being attracted to a woman with strength or muscle is no different than being attracted to any other type of woman. 

The woman athlete cannot doubt herself, especially during competition. She must have full belief that her diligence will lead to victory. Many women to their own admission say they developed more confidence with their new found strength.

        Cratolagnia  has more to do with action of the body.The reason for such attraction could be based on the fact that women’s bodies have been restrained for so long. Through out history women have had very little control over their bodies. These women retake control by molding it into a different model.Demonstrations of strength from a woman can be something unique. There can be pulchritude in rarity. Women in the traditionalist view are meant to expose their bodies or imply that they have a sexuality. The strong woman not only displays a body, but presents it with pride. It is not only for show, but it can do something. Seeing a female body work and exert force can be amazing. This enticing feeling maybe linked to the ancient past. Before polytheistic and monotheistic religions, humankind worshiped mother Earth. A goddess that was powerful and controlled all of nature. That is the origin of the phrase mother nature. The love of the strong woman could be a subconscious return to the mother goddess. This is speculative, but may have some truth. There is beauty in seeing the raw power of a muscular woman. It can be like looking at a sequoia tree or a mountain range ;you are in awe of the combination of power and beauty.


This woman projects a type confidence, because of her strength. This can be a positive attribute for some men. 

          There is another aspect to sthenolagnia and cratolagnia know as female muscle growth. This term is used to describe stories, cartoons, and other entertainment materials that relate to sthenolagnia and cratolagnia. This has grown to something immense due to the internet. Generally, these stories will either feature a woman gaining strength or muscle through scientific, magical, or alternative means. The woman can either be a protagonist or antagonist in such stories. Male characters are either allies or enemies. Sometimes they end with the strong woman comparing her strength to the male. These stories in some cases are close to being erotic in manner. Other times fans will produce art of particular cartoon characters with muscle. There are artists over the internet who focus solely on fmg art. The traffic for these websites are high. There possibly could be many followers, but an exact number would be difficult to calculate precisely.


An example of female muscle growth 

Fmg artists usually like to make superheroines  the subject of their work. This makes sense because in comics women are portrayed with an athletic or muscular body type. She Hulk and Wonder Woman are the favorites for fan art. Original creations are popular as well such as David C. Matthews’ Tetsuko.


This is an original creation by David C. Matthews. The webcomic has generated a huge following .

The female muscle growth phenomenon is another extension of cratolagnia and sthenolagnia. Fmg is nothing new. LH-Art produced comics related to fmg before internet access was available to the majority of the public. It continues today online producing fmg comics and stories. The internet now has made a small niche even bigger. A multitude of sites have been established that focus on female muscle growth.

       A common misconception is that these fetishes are sadomasochistic. This is not true, because sadomasochism is an entirely different classification. This involves inflicting pain on a person to induce some form of sexual gratification. Men or women who have sthenolagnia and cratolagnia may or may not have sadomasochistic tendencies. BSDM functions on a dominant partner and a submissive counterpart. Dominant and submissive behavior is not an element in stenolagnia and cratolagnia. The focus is on the structure of the body and its physical capabilities. The only reason people would associate two different classifications is because of prejudice. The physically strong woman is viewed by the closed minded as aggressive, out of control, unfeminine, and domineering. Such backward thinking does not represent reality. Many women athletes are just like other women; they just happen to be strong. This fetish may seem peculiar to some, but it is harmless.

Sthenolagnia and Cratolagnia

The Beauty of Female Muscle

Modern society in the West has valued the thin body. There are some who like alternatives. The one type of body for a woman that generates controversy is one of developed musculature. There has been some acceptance to a certain level, of some muscle on women.  Fitness magazines do feature women with some muscle. Female muscle can be beautiful. Highly developed muscular development may be unattractive to the mainstream society , but there is a unique aesthetic to it. Society needs to value different forms of beauty.

One type of beauty mark is the shape  and size of the buttocks. This accentuates the hourglass figure. With the muscular woman the gluteus maximus is highly developed. Muscular women have fantastic size and shape in this area of the body. The large size of the bottom is a traditional beauty mark, but in this case it is magnified. The bigger that area the more attractive it becomes. As for shape it takes on a round or oval shape. This round and pert shape is something that some women strive for ( even if they do not want to become muscular).

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The results of training are the round shaped buttocks or and oval. Lenda Murray has a rounder bottom, while  Cindy Phillips and Mavi Gioia contain oval shaped. 

The mainstream media has obsessed over kim Kardasian’s posterior. Yet, women athletes have developed posteriors that surpass her physique.  They had Kim Kardasian bottoms before they were popular. The difference between them and her is they actually do something. Many fitness magazine encourage women to add shape to their lower body. These women take that to the maximum. The posterior presents a firm and solid structure, while appearing soft.

Another attribute of female beauty are the legs. This is another area athletic and muscular women build nicely. Track and field athletes from their sport form powerful legs. They have a wonderful shape, that came from hours of training. The interesting aspect about this is that the mainstream seem to be acceptable of women having stronger legs. The reason for this could be that the lower body is associated more with feminine attributes. Women naturally have wider hips and that is also valued. Detractors and critics claim that women’s hips disappear from athletic training. That is not possible, because the bone structure will still be present. Phrases like “she has no hips” are anatomically incorrect. If anything the training with weights would add to the bone mass of the body. Muscular legs can make the hips look wider.

2012 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials - Day 2b2b653c2b7b8e8d533d0e8a52a1dd22b


The women in these photos have not “lost their hips” but developed excellent lower bodies. These two Shape Magazines are promoting leaner legs.

This should not be rejected. Yet, some believe that the thinner the woman, the more attractive she is. Having muscular legs can sometimes be acceptable by the mainstream. Some magazines even provide tips for forming leaner legs. They are not as muscular as a sprinter’s or a bodybuilder’s, but it at least encourages to add some mass.

One area of the body that creates a new aesthetic is the development of  the abdominals. This is another area in which women can build, but not face intense criticism. At one time the flat stomach was desirable, but that is gradually changing. A rock hard stomach can be cute. On women with a lower levels of muscle it can be lovely. For larger women it looks even more amazing. The women with lower levels of muscularity will appear on magazines. This at least means there is some progress. It is not full acceptance, but slight negotiation.

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The magazines as shown above are encouraging women to develop abdominals. However, they would never put on their cover women developed as much as Isabelle Turrell  or Donna Bramble. Their abdominals are so defined they look like stones. 

The hyper-muscular woman seeks the highest possible development of all muscle groups. Mainstream magazines only encourage it now to a certain degree. There is nothing wrong with defined abdominals, even at a high level. What is normal flesh becomes a living and breathing statue. The body becomes like a work of art. It is sculpted and molded to create something new. The powerful midsection is a new form of beauty. It is one that is radiating strength and power.

The upper body mass of  some women is incredible. People who hold the traditionalist view see upper body development and mass as a male only characteristic. The muscular woman has made it into a unique model. Mainstream fitness magazines encourage women to build “toned” arms ( which means some muscle). Muscular arms can still be a pleasing attribute even at a high degree. Many times men object to this with statements like “her biceps are bigger than mine!” or ” she is disgusting.” These rude and closed minded criticisms fail to see other alternatives of beauty. It is  probably rooted in the fact that men hate to feel small. Seeing a woman much more powerful, then creates negative reactions. These are ludicrous reactions, because these women are not doing this to threaten men. A new type of power is created with a feminine touch.It is both gracious and majestic. It can be simultaneously  bold and dynamic.


The upper body development is excellent on these two women. It actually exaggerates the hour glass figure. 

Sometimes it appears as if the muscular woman is a superhero come to life. This muscular body combines both power and pulchritude. Well rounded muscle is sculpted into a form the exudes magnificence. The chest of the muscular woman is another area of fascination. Cleavage, just like the posterior is another beauty mark. Unfortunately, western society values large breasts as an beauty component. Being large chested or flat chested should not matter. Some women feel pressure to get breast implants ( many female athletes do this too). A muscular chest on a woman can still be visibly pleasing. Breasts are mostly fat, but the mammary glands do not vanish. This is not a male aesthetic, but a new female one. The pectoralis major  developed on women creates a wonderful structure.  Muscles that cover a womanly chest.


The women in these photos have highly developed pectorals. Their cleavage is more pronounced 

What happens is that the intermammary cleft  is accentuated.  The cleavage becomes more pronounced between large slabs of muscle. Cleavage has been a traditional beauty attribute, but in this instance it is combined with a recently created model. There can be great beauty in difference.

         The body shape of the muscular woman and come in many types. The charming display can be one of both curves and voluptuousness. During competition, the athletic woman and or muscular woman will carry very little fat on her body. This creates are more lean appearance. When the athletes are in the off season a level of fat returns to the body. This creates a very curvy and luscious body. People who criticize this look never see the women in their off season. They can look quite astounding. When the athletic woman is in her off season she will still fit into the common female body types.


These are the traditional body types of women according to western standards. Women even at the highest levels of physical development can still fit into these categories. 

Female bodybuilding an example of  women developed to the maximum still aim for the hourglass figure. Other athletic women can be categorized as banana, apple, and pear shaped. The idea that muscles form a male physique becomes erroneous. Men just have more muscle mass composition. Women’s bodies do not become “man-like”  due to the fact their female frame ( the skeleton) will not be altered.


The apple shape displays a highly pronounced upper body. The hips are not as wide. 

banna shape

The banana shape is more balanced between the upper or lower body. Neither is larger. 


The hourglass figure presents a woman with a very small waist. This exaggerates the size of the hips.


The pear shape shows a figure with greater leg and hip development. 

As one can see from the pictures above the muscular women do follow the body model types. They just have a stronger looking body. When fat levels comeback, the body appears a little softer and less defined. At this point, no one can question their appearance, because they look like healthy women. The era of mass media has given the population a distorted view of beauty. People convinced themselves that it only comes in one form. This is subjective and can vary from individual. The model of beauty also changes with time. The larger and plumper body was valued in the West up until the 19th century. Then there was the emphasis on the hourglass figure. The extremely thin body ideal was ushered in by the fashion industry. Lesley Lawson ( Twiggy) was a British model and actress who popularized this look. It has remained since, but there is another beauty model emerging. This model encourages the development of some muscle (“toning”). Not to the extent of a professional athlete, but some weight. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are alternatives, but you have to be willing to see it.

The Beauty of Female Muscle

Sexism in Twirling?

A huge controversy has emerged about sexism in tennis. A commentator asked Eugenie Bouchard to do a twirl after a tennis match. Now, there are claims of sexism in what seems like a harmless act. This “controversy” seems to be yet another invention of social media users and Third Wave Feminists. True, it is a double standard because a male tennis player would never be asked to do such a act. This however, has become an overreaction. If your real concern is sexism, why not address the wage disparity between female and  male athletes? The fact that women athletes make less than their male counterparts is a blatant display of sexism. Another issue in regards to tennis is the fact that athletes perceived as more “attractive” get more endorsements and acclaim. It rarely has anything to do with her talent or  athletic ability.  Twirling  in this case is only minor.

Sexism in Twirling?

Carmelita Jeter

Carmelita Jeter is a sprinter. She was born in the United States in 1979. Before becoming a three time Olympic medalist her interest was in basketball. During high school she played the sport, but it was soon realized that she had skills in sprinting. She is considered the second  fastest woman in the 100m (the  Florence Griffith Joyner record still holds ).  The Shanghai Grand Pix record was 10.64 seconds. Jeter’s  winning streak  was in the World Championships.  She won a total of three gold metals between 2007 and 2011. During the 2012 London Olympics she won gold, bronze, and silver medals. The fastest running speed she achieved was 6.84 seconds in a 55 meter event. Jeter is truly an accomplished athlete.



Carmelita Jeter

Is there really such a Thing as “too much” ?

Women who choose to develop their musculature face harsh criticism. Epithets and ostracism become prevalent in a society that is filled with double standards. Men who develop their muscles are not faced with such vituperation. Traditional gender roles, sexism, and fear of different people can explain these attitudes and behaviors. Aesthetic values of course play a role. The phrases “she is too much,” or “she crossed the line” reveals much. Saying that a woman is too muscular is ludicrous if she is an athlete or just naturally strong.

Traditional gender roles put woman as homemaker. The  cult of domesticity was a dominant cultural norm in the West. Women were expected within this role to be obedient, modest, and never show anger. They were to show submission to a man.Women were not seen as people, but property.Men were the protectors, because it was believed women were too weak physically and mentally to take care of themselves. This was not true when the discriminatory and cultural barriers were dismantled. How this relates to athletic and muscular women is it challenged the male protector role of women.


This advertisement features a muscular woman. We should wonder if the same question would be asked if there was a man in the advertisement. 

Women proved they could develop strength. This meant they would be a less reliant on male “protection.”  A level of independence was gained for women in a sense. Traditionalist men viewed this as a violation against nature. Gender roles they were convinced should be rigid and enforced. A woman should not challenge a man on a mental field and definitely not a physical one. Women managed to do both and the reaction got vicious. Talented women athletes were either called “mannish”  or had their sexuality questioned ( which  extends to another issue of homophobia in sport).  These attitudes lead to a more serious problem.

Sexism has been a part of sports for most of its history. Sexists believe that man has physical superiority over women. Sports may be the only realm they can fully dominate women. That changed with Title IX giving women access to better training and competition. More women were participating in athletics and developing powerful physiques. This challenged the idea of men’s monopoly on physical strength.




Women have competed in all types of sports and have shown how strong they can get. They are not given the same praise or respect as their male counterparts. 

Detractors say that women who do engage in sport become “unfeminine.” This claim demonstrates a gender bias. The idea that female equals weak has been used to control women. Sexists would argue that seeing as men are stronger, that gives them the right to dominate women. When women started to develop physical strength, some men felt they lost a part of their masculine identity. A strong body symbolized power, subjugation, and mastery of one’s environment. Women who have power are viewed as either out of control or attempting to imitate men. Women who attain a muscular or athletic build do not change their biological sex. Traditionalists want gender appropriateness to be enforced at all levels of society. The most blatant display of this  is in body image.

Aesthetics play a role in this question of how much is too much. Women are put under extra scrutiny in regards to body image. Women’s bodies are constantly under criticism. Being thin is viewed as a beauty ideal. This constant promotion from mass media, advertisement, and fashion industry marginalizes women of different body types (larger women and muscular ones). The muscular woman represents a unique case. She is either considered “too big” or abnormal by mainstream society. The truth is “too big” does not exist. This phrase basically supports the belief that women should limit themselves.Those who are slightly open minded state “toned is okay to a certain level.” While people have different tastes, it is unreasonable to dictate what an individual does to their body. Their is a desire to impose a form of body image conformity. The muscular male physique is praised, because it fits into a gender role paradigm. The muscular woman physique is disparaged due to the fact it challenges weakness of women. Negative comments from detractors  usually state “muscular women look like men.” This is a ludicrous idea. If that logic were used then men without highly developed muscles would be considered women. The double standard is obvious.

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These two women are not bad looking. However, The more muscular of the two would be considered “too much.” It’s not only men who say this, but some women as well. 

Some women contribute to the enforcement of body image conformity. Weight loss becomes an obsession for some women. A whole fitness industry has directed its self to selling fad diets. Sometimes it can even lead to eating disorders. This is an extreme case. Society must learn to value women more than just for their looks. Women should have full control of their bodies. That means they should develop themselves if they want or choose not to. The rush to make yourself thinner is unhealthy. Women should not fear some muscle or a little fat.


The after photo she looks a little bit healthier 

There is nothing wrong with a strong woman.  The question of “too much” is not a reasonable one.Ultimately it is the woman’s decision how much she wants to develop her musculature. No one should call them ugly or unfeminine for what they love to do. They developed those bodies from the sports they played. They deserve respect. There can be beauty in bigness.

Is there really such a Thing as “too much” ?

The Benefits of Weight Lifting for Women


  • Strengthens bones and acts as a preventive measure against osteoporosis
  • Physical strength will increase ( a huge one too, 30% to 50%)
  • Exercise can improve your  mood
  • Weight lifting can burn fat more effectively
  • Joint stability will improve reducing the risk of joint injury and possibly arthritis
  • Cardiovascular health will improve and protect against heart disease
  • Recent research reveals that weight lifting can help the body better utilize glucose. This can protect you from diabetes
  • Women gain high self-esteem and confidence from gaining strength
  • Adds shape to your body
  • When you age it will protect you from chronic illness
The Benefits of Weight Lifting for Women