Some Observations In Regards to The 2015 Women’s World Cup

The 2015 Women’s World Cup saw the US win an astounding victory. There was praise for the athletes, yet there were still issues present that are still too common in women’s sports. Beyond that, some behaviors exposed some vicious hatreds and social ills. The obvious problem was the fact that the Women’s World cup received little coverage.Women’s sports do not get the same level of respect or coverage as the men’s event. It seems to be a missed opportunity for media outlets. Social media does have positive aspects, but it has a malicious element. Users posted racist comments in response to Japan’s loss and America’s victory. There is a level of ethnic hatred that is present in international sports competition. Besides that social ill, women were subjected to one of the most blatant acts of sexism: gender verification tests. While this will go down as a milestone in women’s sports history, these problems cannot be ignored.

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The Women’s World Cup received little coverage or fanfare. This is nothing new because for a longtime women’s sports have been given less support. The professional sports world is still highly male dominated, even with this generation that benefited from Title IX. Detractors claim women’s sports cannot be interesting and that the public will not watch. This is not true due to the fact that the Women’s World Cup broke ratings records. The World Cup final captured a U.S audience of 22.6 million viewers. This is significant. Americans normally do not take an interest in soccer and this victory could have the potential to popularize the sport . The ratings prove that women’s sports can be a draw, if allowed to flourish. Marketing and public relations are essential, but there has to be a will to do it. Both the US and Japan played well and viewers responded. It is ludicrous that FIFA  does not utilize this new interest in women’s soccer. During the games the coverage was so minimal. There is a belief that the women’s event is not “serious” enough and that the men’s event is better. Detractors claim women are not as strong, fast, or fun to watch. While it is true that there are performance differences, this does not subtract from the excitement of the game. The only problem some people have is that women are playing what they perceive as a “man’s game.”Sexism has never gone away in sport, but has expressed itself in other ways.

         Women soccer players face a certain level of sexism. One example is the use of artificial grass on the playing field. Men do get a field with real grass. The artificial grass has been known to cause injuries and effect player performance. The obvious reason for doing this is to show disrespect. It is not possible for FIFA to prohibit women from sport, but they can at least make the atmosphere uncomfortable.

This is meant to humiliate and discourage women from competition. However, women players are not deterred. Their love of the sport is too strong. Artificial turf is horrible enough, but even worse is that sex verification was required of players. FIFA once claimed that it was also going to do this for its male athletes. That 2011 ruling has never been implemented. There was an attempt to make this appear “fair” by doing random selection. The idea is that women who are deemed “too masculine” should not be allowed to compete. This is discrimination directed at women. Ever since the Women’s World Cup began, there have been no cases of men disguising themselves as women to play on teams. This argument of protecting women from unfair advantage lacks cogency. Some women may have natural advantage, but that does not make them less of a female. Hyperandronism a condition which allows some women to produce more testosterone may not enhance athletic performance. Having more testosterone would not automatically make a person stronger. It is the portion of free testosterone in the body. It is unclear that this condition would make a woman a better soccer player. They should not be banned from competition, because biologically they are still female. These policies are designed to control women and create a hostile environment.

         Another disturbing element that occurred after the games were racist reactions from fans. Twitter and other social media outlets were filled with racist jokes about Japan’s women’s team. This is no surprise, because there was also a hateful reaction to Japan’s victory a few years ago. This time there were inappropriate comments about Pearl Harbor, the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This reveals the psychology of a superpower. Not only does the country think its above others, but it views other nations as inferior.Sports are more than just games, they are political tools. International competitions such as these are an extension of that. It seems that foot ball hooliganism will gradually become international. Foot ball fans from Europe are notorious for their racism both in the arena and online. America has never been a friendly place for non-whites either. Soccer is not popular enough in the US to form a hooligan culture, but the hate and prejudice is there. The US media did not discuss these disturbing comments, but instead turned the women’s victory into a patriotic publicity stunt. The US women’s team were on many news and entertainment media outlets. This was done not to praise the women’s performance or accomplishments, but induce a psychological effect in the US population. What is being subliminally transmitted is that America is number one and it always will be. This does not represent reality, due to the fact the US is struggling economically and politically. Sports can provide a unifying force and distraction to a public uncertain about the future. Racism is  another negative attribute of sports that just will not go away.

        FIFA has become synonymous with corruption. Its image has been damaged and is in dire need of repair. The Women’s World Cup was in many ways a boost. The women could hold the key to improving FIFA’s declining reputation. Sexist discrimination will not help. Sex verification must stop. Women need to play on real grass not artificial turf. Women need to have full inclusion int he world of football. This does not mean only as players, but as coaches, managers, and FIFA officials. Gender equality should be made a top priority. Doing nothing will not solve the problem. May be it is time that women start soccer organizations of their own rather than relying on a body that clearly is criminal.

Further Reading

Chappell, Bill. “U.S. Women Shatter TV Ratings Record For Soccer With World Cup Win.”            NPR. NPR, 06 July 2015. Web. 28 July 2015.

Fagan, Kate. “FAGAN: FIFA TARGETS FEMALE PLAYERS WITH GENDER                  VERIFICATION GUIDELINES.” Espnw.com. Espnw.com, 14 June 2015. Web. 7 July 2015.

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Some Observations In Regards to The 2015 Women’s World Cup

“CAN WOMEN BE AS STRONG AS MEN?” From Lady’s Guide to Existence

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https://savetheovaries.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/can-women-be-as-strong-as-men/

This writing is from the blog Lady’s guide to Existence. It is a feminist blog discussing discussing women’s rights and sexual politics.This post is relevant to here, seeing as it is a frequent topic in regards to sports performance and physiology. The topic of physical strength is mentioned in feminists circles and does generate controversy. For a longtime women were taught that they were biologically and physically inferior. This has been disproved by medicine and physiology. Sexual dimorphism is a reality, but some feminists refuse to acknowledge this biological fact. The author unlike other feminists, uses reason to answer the question can women be as strong as men? Although it is a lucid response there are some flaws on certain points.

       It is true that on average men have more physical strength, there are women who can be strong. The author is cognizant of this. Yet, she fails to realize that people do have a problem with women of immense power. She states  “Now, I don’t think anyone on the planet would have difficulty with the fact that SOME women out there are indeed stronger than SOME men out there are,” but truth is many do. People still hold on to the notion that strength is a male only attribute.Strong women are viewed as unfeminine or ugly by some. If its not those extreme hatreds, they are viewed as an anomaly.The author mentions physique athlete Diana Lin Bailey  as an example of how women can develop strength. She even mentions her Youtube channel.Frequent visitors of the channel can clearly notice the sexist comments on her videos. Common phrases are “she looks like a man” or “women should not do this” represent that people do have a problem with physically strong women.

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Men who have a narrow definition of beauty or insecure make these comments. Some women even engage in the ostracism as well. Others make these comments due to their prejudices. It is clear that society is not accepting of women who deviate from traditional gender roles. Sex differences have been used as a justification to discriminate against women. Even if women meet qualifications for physically demanding jobs, they still face discrimination in the military, law enforcement, construction, and sports. Full acceptance has not been fully achieved as the author suggests.

       The author takes issue with the idea that any woman can become stronger. She explains in the second paragraph : “There are actually people out there who argue that ANY woman, with effort, can become as strong or stronger than ANY man, no matter what their biological or hormonal disadvantages may be.” Men and women are different, but one should not regard variation as a disadvantage. Women do respond well to weight training and certainly can be stronger than the average man. She is correct that a man that follows a similar training regimen will be stronger. However this next point is questionable : ” I wholeheartedly disagree with this notion that on the whole, women’s bodies are capable of attaining the strength that men’s bodies attain, and I don’t think it has anything to do with my clearly nonexistent belief that women are weak little vaginas, destined to a life of struggling to open jars of pickles and weeping.” The fact is being female does not limit you from becoming strong.Traditional strength training has been proven through exercise physiology studies to increase women’s muscular strength. Low velocity routines do not produce the same result.Lifting heavy loads with few repetitions dramatically increases strength. However, the low intensity group in these studies showed more improvement in muscular endurance. The difference with women is that it takes them longer to build strength. Estrogen allows for a higher level of body fat. Muscular women would still retain more body fat  as compared to men.This would mean less total type II muscle fiber to generate bursts of power. She even admits when you compare various individuals results are different. A man who does not train would find it difficult to challenge a woman in strength who weigh lifts intensely.

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Oddly, the author reverses some earlier points by saying “There are several biological reasons why women’s physiques are not built for strength the way men’s are.” This is only a half truth. One need to remember that the influence genetics in body type. A woman with a naturally mesomorphic body would have more potential for strength than a male of ectomorphic or endomorphic body type. Another aspect of this is that strength levels do change depending on certain stages of the human life cycle. Boys and girls are equal in terms of body strength. When puberty happens boys will develop more muscle and bone mass, due to the greater production of testosterone. The total amount does not determine strength level, but the amount of free testosterone. This refers to testosterone that is not bound by sex hormone binding globulin or nonspecific proteins. This not the only factor in strength. Myostatin regulates the growth of muscle tissue and it has been discovered having lower levels of this particular protein will allow an individual to build more muscle.  00179006download

As men age their testosterone level lowers. Gradually some of the muscle mass the developed during puberty will disappear. So this natural “advantage” does not seem permanent over a lifetime. Besides biology being a reason for differences in physical strength, sociological factors have to be considered. Women at a young age are not encouraged to be physically active. Women have developed a distorted body image from the mass media that presents a slim body as the only form of beauty. Women’s fitness magazines mostly discuss diets and weight loss rather than weight training. Men’s magazines encourage males to go to the weigh room and become as massive as possible.One should wonder why women’s total participation in sport is still lower than males .The reality is that sex prejudice still has a major influence on certain behaviors. The disparity would not be as wide if particular barriers were removed. Biology, endocrinology,  and physiology only account for part of the explanation. There is an element of learned weakness that women have to overcome. The author describes it best with this sentence : ” we have been told our entire lives that women are not as physically strong as men, especially in the upper body.” If you discourage young girls in certain endeavors, they will not attempt to aim for something higher. Having no confidence will negatively effect women all their lives. There has been progress, but problems still remain.

        The reason some feminists seem to be offended by the physical strength difference is they believe it endorses notions of male superiority. Physical strength is hardly evidence of biological superiority. Women can gain strength, but will not gain the same amount of muscular hypertrophy. This bothers particular feminists who basically believe that men and women should be in a hostile contest in all areas of life. It is not about equality, but women who seek to be above or “superior” to  men. At least for now, women as a whole  are lagging in the physical strength competition. This is irksome to this faction of feminists. The author even empathizes with this stance in the last paragraph:

So why does this matter, anyway? Isn’t it just a major downer to have to admit that women are almost always physically weaker than men? Well, sure, a little bit. But come on, ladies. We have a lot going for us. We live longer. More of us go to college. So what if we can’t throw around gigantic chunks of iron the same way our decidedly hairier counterparts can? It’s okay to admit that there are physical differences between men and women. It doesn’t mean that women aren’t as good as men. It doesn’t mean we don’t deserve respect at the gym, on the field, in the ring or anywhere else. It means we’re not as strong. That’s all it means. It’s not sexist to say that women can’t lift as much as men; it’s true. Being a strong woman doesn’t mean making up lies to support your conclusion. You can be a feminist and still acknowledge what is fact.”

It should not be a “downer” that on average men are stronger. The author seems to forget that the term average does not mean all. Considering women have to work harder to become strong makes it more impressive. Athletic ability is not natural to every man.Few men fall into the he-man archetype that was part of traditional images of masculinity.

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The myth that the female body is by nature frail has slowly unraveled.So the feminist anger is misguided. It is not sexist to say on average men have more strength ( specifically in the upper body, in the lower body women are closer), but when you say women are weak it is. This debate becomes at times a ludicrous school yard squabble. This should not be a battle of  the sexes contest to determine who’s “superior.” The author lists what ladies have “going for them” which does not seem necessary. The truth is women have been “throwing chucks of iron” as she says earlier than people think. Strong women acts were popular in circuses and in vaudeville during the 19th to mid 20th century. Sadly, these athletic women had limited venues to display their physical prowess. Women involved in such rigorous activity certainly will not be “always weaker than men.”

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I do not know which “lies” feminists promote, but is clear that some do not accept facts. As much as feminists hate to admit it, it is rare that the physically strongest woman will be stronger than the strongest male. The conclusion should not be one of biological determinism. The author suggests that efforts at improving women’s physical fitness are futile due to hormones. Training and environment can reverse some of the gap in physical strength. There should be other considerations as well. Women’s participation in sport and intense physical activity is relatively new. It is still uncertain the limits of female physical capability. The answer to the question “can women be as strong as men?” depends on the individuals you are comparing. As a whole women would not be stronger, but among sections or groups it could be possible.

References

 Ohio University. “Best Bet For Boosting Brawn In Women Is Traditional Strength Training.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080520210700.htm>.

Chee, Rosie. “Breaking The Myth – Women Who Lift Heavy Will Look Like Men!”Bodybuilding.com. N.p., 31 July 2014. Web. 12 July 2015.

“CAN WOMEN BE AS STRONG AS MEN?” From Lady’s Guide to Existence

Session Wrestling

Session wrestling refers to wrestlers who are paid to wrestle a client in private. This does not only include wrestlers, but bodybuilders. Women are mostly involved in this practice. For the culture of bodybuilding, sessions have been around probably as long as the sport itself. It is difficult to pinpoint its origins, because mixed wrestling existed prior to session wrestling.Mixed wrestling should not be confused with session wrestling. Mixed wrestling involved competition between a male and female challenger. Session wrestling involves a athletic and muscular woman providing a fee for the service. Women could carter to males or females. This is a subculture of the female bodybuilding and physique sports. Even among fans and athletes it generates controversy.Detractors claim it gives a negative image to the sport. Supporters say it is harmless. It is more or less an open secret within the community. Little information or academic materials exist on the subject. Based on some accounts a picture can slowly be pieced together. There. It is an intersection or gender politics, human sexuality, and capitalist enterprise. are different reasons why men participate and why women engage in session wrestling.

    Men have other reasons for paying for sessions. Some love muscular women so much they would like to see one up close. It is rare that one can just find a muscular woman or female bodybuilder anywhere. Male clients get see their favorite athlete for autographs and chats. This may seem odd to some, but imagine if you could be around Tom Brady or Lebron James. For wrestling session fans that is the equivalent.

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 It seems like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Some men also enjoy the physical challenge. Normally, the muscular woman would be by comparison much stronger. The client would attempt to win, but may not succeed. It may seem strange that a man wants to wrestle a woman, but it is rooted to an earlier phase in life. Before puberty, boys and girls can compete equally on athletic terms. Once boys reach thirteen, they are too strong to play athletically with girls. There was that brief time in life when boys could arm wrestle girls, play basketball, soccer, wrestle ,and football with them. The average man could harm the  average woman in athletic contest such as wrestling due to the strength difference. That period of fun and play does not seem to be recaptured. It is however with a session wrestler. The strength difference is reversed and that period of life is recaptured. Men and women can play around on a physical level, just like when they were kids. Silly horse play can be done with no harm to the woman.Another reason that men pay for sessions is to fulfill a type of sexual fantasy. Even though sessions do this, they do not involve sex acts. A common misconception is that they do. The client wants not only to be wrestled, but feel the power of the woman’s body strength.

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This desire is clearly a fetish. These fetishes could be classified under two terms known as stentholagnia and cartolagnia. It is arousal from the display of strength or the display of muscle. Biceps are a mark of beauty and strength is an attractive attribute. Seeing as women at this level of physical fitness are rare, this becomes a cherished experience. These are just a few motivations for men paying for wrestling sessions. It is a common assumption that the other reasons men do this are related to trauma. It is believed that men do this because they were victims of child abuse or physical harm. The desire to be some what harmed by a stronger woman may be a way to work out a past issue. Certainly not all men who participate have this problem. A more accurate explanation could be that it a stress reliever. Men do have enormous pressure on them in their communities. It requires that you be a leader, a breadwinner, and be constantly diligent. When faced with a multitude of responsibilities, this can be overwhelming for some and they react in different ways. Session wrestling could be an outlet for some. This relieves pressure putting the individual in a subordinate position. For a moment there are no worries.

       The men who regularly engage in sessions come from various ethnic, religious, and class backgrounds. These men could be anything from lawyers, teachers, and other professions. The age range is vast. Men from ages 20 to 80 are the major demographic. The stereotypical image that is represented is that of the schmoe . This refers to fans of female bodybuilders who are considered deviant, socially awkward, or strange. Yet, not all men fit into this category. This is one of many misconceptions. Although the term schmoe has negative connotations, it is commonly used to refer to male fans of female bodybuilding. Some of the men who pay for sessions are actually involved in weight training themselves.

The common image of the schmoe. 

This should be no new revelation. Being surrounded by a gym culture would give some closer access to women of this type. Clients say their love of muscular women started in their early teens and grew. It could start even earlier with some event. Some session wrestling fans say reading comics, which regularly have women with muscular physiques started the spark. Other refer to a time in their adolescence when they first saw a muscular woman. This is not the only type of woman the men like. It appears their standards of beauty are numerous and more opened. Society promotes one version of beauty, when many versions exist.

This is what happens during a wrestling session. 

These men would put Lenda Murray and Halle Barry on the same level of being desirable. Even though in some societies a difference in opinion is promoted, there still is a desire to impose a level of conformity.  This is evident in beauty standards, particularly in western countries. Anyone who opposes the standard is considered peculiar or an outcast. The reason behind the secretive nature of the love of female muscle is ostracism. Men face negative criticism for this support of this type of aesthetic. That is why female muscle fans hide their support. Friends and family may not know about it. This is why it is difficult to determine just how many men engage in the practice.

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There is less data on women who seek to worship the body of the muscular female . Most academic writings  focus on session wrestling from a heterosexual male perspective. So in a sense, that aspect is unknown. Recent research seems to be focusing on women more.

       The women who do session wrestling are fascinating to elements of gender politics. Their reasons and motivations are different from than their male clients. The first reason is financial circumstances. Female bodybuilding has been struggling financially since the late 1990s. Women were paid less than their male counterparts. Faced with this dilemma, the women began to plan another way to increase income to compete and survive. Session wrestling was a way that some could get the money they needed. This was a way it seems of challenging the blatant sexism that exists in the bodybuilding and fitness community. Even  some figure, fitness, and physique competitors were doing session wrestling. These strength sport categories were more popular and were doing well financially, but women were still paid less. The fact was the revenue was there, but the corporate gatekeepers were not willing to pay women more. It seemed as if session wrestling allowed women to circumvent sexist discrimination in pay. Women could make more money with sessions than they could with the prize money of a contest. The feminist argument is that women are still subjugated in this scenario, because they are still dependent on man’s money.While it is true that it does still seem to place women in a subordinate position, they have monetary resources come directly to them. There are women who do session wrestling not out of necessity, but enjoyment. Some women gain a sense of empowerment that they have never experienced before. Women who develop this level of physical strength seem to gain a huge amount of confidence. Women for most of their lives are raised to have low self-esteem. Body image is an area in which females are taught to have the lowest self-esteem. Women by achieving athletic feats seem to gain a more positive attitude about their bodies. The sessions are a positive reinforcement  in a society and fitness industry that rejects the muscular woman. Besides that, the vast difference in strength gives women a new sense of power and control.

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It is rare that a woman could challenge a man on a physical level. This instance changes that and in a way there is a role reversal. The woman becomes dominant and the man submissive. Although these are dated gender role stereotypes, some women session wrestlers are thrilled by the fact they could overpower most men. When empowerment is discussed in a feminist context it refers to women’s advancement in education, public life, political rights, and other spheres of society. Here this is a literal empowerment of the body.The idea that woman equals weak is brushed away. This can be gratifying to some women. Another important aspect of this is an area of acceptance. Muscular women face negative criticism constantly. Female bodybuilders may not even have the support of their family or friends in their pursuits.Session wrestling provides some positive reinforcement. Not all women think that this is empowering and are judgmental of the practice. They hold that this is a negative image for the sport of female bodybuilding. Others make the outrageous exaggerations saying it is the equivalent to prostitution. This is not true, because its about wrestling. It cannot be ignored that there is some sexual element to it. The clients are not paying for sex, but to see a muscular woman in person. Women who look down on session wrestlers could be engaging in some subtle form of slut shaming. The reason this is interesting is that it demonstrates how women must navigate between worlds of traditional gender roles and unconventional ones. They must constantly defend their choices. Session wrestling provides an escape from hostility.

        Wrestling sessions can be classified into three major categories. The first would be fantasy. This involves the wrestler roleplaying  or acting out a particular scenario. These do have sexual overtones, but do not involve sex acts. It is unknown if it does for some. This should not be confused with the work of a dominatrix. Although some wrestling matches involve aspects of domination, this is not designed to be sadomasochistic.

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The second type of wrestling match is semi-competitive. The client makes some effort to resist, but has no desire to win. The interest of the client is to be put in numerous wrestling holds. This could include headscissors, camel clutch, body scissors, and headlocks. Wrestling moves are not the only act performed, but other feats of strength. Lift and carry, armwrestling, including overhead lifts are done. The point is for the wrestler to demonstrate their physical power. The tap out is still used to let the wrestler know that she is getting too rough.

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Competitive wrestling is when a match is done with maximum effort. Both opponents attempt to win. This requires large space, mats, and involves the Greco-Roman style of wrestling. This type is not usually done, because of the possibility of injury. Some women are too strong for the men they wrestle. The opposite end of that could be there are strong men who could possibly harm the woman. Normally, it is the woman who has the strength advantage in this situation, but guaranteeing the safety of the client is critical. These wrestling matches last about an hour or more. The fees vary depending on what type of wrestling category is done.

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Wrestlers will either travel internationally to meet with clients or operate within a certain region. Sessions are booked from various websites and through personal correspondence through e-mail. Appointment dates are scheduled and there are agreed locations for the session. The locations of matches are either hotels or motels. For competitive matches it would require a larger space or a type of gymnasium. There is another element to sessions besides wrestling.

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Muscle worship is sometimes done during these wrestling sessions. The client will admire the body of the wrestler by either rubbing and touching their well developed muscles. The client wants to look and admire the wrestlers body. It is true that this has a sexual aspect, but does not involve an act. It exposes an interesting element of human sexual behavior. Various attributes can induce arousal. This appeals to people of different sexual orientations. Mostly heterosexual males engage in session wrestling, but it is not impossible that men of other sexual orientations also participate. There is less data on women who seek wrestling sessions. Male bodybuilders also engage in session wrestling mostly for women. This is also an unexplored topic. Some women do not do session wrestling out of monetary gain, but the fun of it. This is a psychological surge of well being to some wrestlers. Another dynamic that is reveal is that power can be sexy. It was once said that women are only attracted to strong men. One should wonder why men should not be attracted to strong women. This should not seem anomalous. Man’s love of the physically powerful woman could be linked back to an ancient time.

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Before the rise of monotheistic religion and civilization humankind worshiped nature in the form of the mother goddess. Nature was both beautiful, powerful, and the giver of life. There was a respect for women as givers of life. Although there was a division of labor in hunter gather societies that respect was maintained. With the rise of agriculture this changed and women were reduced to a subordinate role. This act of muscle worship seems like an attempt to rediscover that majestic power of the mother goddess. However, this is a speculative explanation.

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A more clear and simple hypothesis is that men just love the aesthetic. Many fans describe the muscular woman’s body as a work of art.

       This practice is an example of how capitalist enterprise can be used, when financial resources are lacking. Supplement companies, bodybuilding federations, and magazines do not support female bodybuilders. The women then go into business for themselves. Besides regular sessions, athletes produce websites, dvds, and printed material. Pay sites generate much income and web traffic. There could possibly be more men who like this, but an aggregate would be difficult to calculate. These websites feature mixed wrestling videos. These are usually scripted, but sometimes feature competitive matches. The lugubrious element is that the women make more from this than from winning a contest. Seeing as this is so profitable, it is strange that the fitness industry does not get involved. The trepidation from a marketing aspect is that promoting this seems too subcultural and sleazy. The fact is to an extent sex does sell and the fitness industry does use this concept. Saying session wrestling is wrong or inappropriate seems to be an extreme exaggeration.

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Websites like Utopia Entertainment videos produce mixed wrestling matches. Visitors can buy videos and watch free .clips.http://www.utopiaentertainment.com/

Session wrestling can be view just like any other business. There are consumers and producers. The commodity is their body and athletic talent. The revenue goes to posing suits, supplements, and the cost of competing. Being a female bodybuilder is expensive and the fitness industry simply does not pay them enough. They found a model that solves this problem. People with limited options usually find creative solutions. The women realized there was a demand for this and provided a service.

        Session wrestling has been part of the female bodybuilding subculture. A faction claim it is a negative characteristic, because of how it depicts the image of the sport.Supporters claim it is not as horrible as detractors state. The truth is session wrestling does not harm the sport. It is so secretive that it would not have an impact. As long as it is not doing damage to people,no one has a right to be judgmental about the practice. This does allow women to advance themselves financially in a sport that has abandoned them. There are claims that female bodybuilding is dying, but it seems session wrestling has become a lifeline. The multitude of online traffic proves that there are a large portion of female muscle fans. The fitness industry could care less about this demographic, which proves they are not interested in their female athletes. This is probably for the better, because the women seized the opportunity. A problem does arise from this. This does border on a level of sexual objectification, so much so that a woman doing this could be dehumanized. Love it or hate it, session wrestling is here to stay. It is a tight rope between controversy, sexual politics, and women navigating and responding to a male dominated fitness industry.

Further Reading

Sohn, Amy. “Squeeze Play.” Http://nymag.com/. N.p., 6 June 2014. Web. 7 July 2015.

Bunsell,Tanya. Strong and Hard Women An Ethnography Of Female Bodybuilding.

         New York:Routledge,2013.

Session Wrestling

Do Transgender Women Have a Physical Advantage ?

There has been a controversy over whether it is appropriate to allow transgender women to compete in women’s divisions of sport. It is believed that women who were formally men still retain some physical advantages. This is not true once sex reassignment surgery is completed. There are several factors that have to be considered. If the surgery was done before puberty or after it does make a difference. Sex hormones are significant to  athletic performance. With the change that comes with hormone therapy, it should make performance more equal if testosterone is reduced. Transgender women would not have a major advantage athletically. Detractors claim that it is an unfair for women to compete with transgender women.Some believe they have no right to compete at all. These claims are baseless, due to physiological changes. There is limited concern when transgender men compete. This could be some form of gender bias, because it is assumed men would naturally be the better athletes. Examining this from a biological, physiological, and endocrinological perspective provides another answer. Transgender women would not retain the physical strength of their former sex.

Sexual reassignment surgery requires a number processes. The use of hormone replacement therapy is critical. For men transitioning into women estrogen needs to be increased to produce female secondary sex characteristics.Prior to surgery it is recommended that the transitioning individual live as their desired sex for a number of years. Estrogen is not induced at high dosages, but gradually increased over a period of time. Male to female transgender people will notice a change in body composition. Muscle and bone mass will decrease due to  hormonal changes. Another part of the transition requires orchietomy. The removal of the testicles allows for less production of androgens and testosterone. The process does not end with hormone treatments, but with vaginoplasty. The male genitals are reconstructed to form female anatomy. A transwoman does not have a uterus or ovaries. The hypothalamus will still release gonadtropin releasing hormone which produce the LH and FSH hormones. This is responsible for sex steroids and transwomen continue hormone therapy. GnHR analogues are used to prevent the reaction of testicular function. Antiandrogens are used as well in cross sex hormone therapy. At the end of the process a former male will have competed the process of feminization .

Transwomen would not after full transition have a strength advantage. One reason is that testosterone levels would not be at the same level before surgery. Testosterone has an anabolic effect on bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The reason men are on average stronger is due to endocrinology and total body mass composition. Estrogen produces more fat as compared to testosterone. A Transwoman would actually lose some muscle mass due to the hormonal transition. Hormones are only one factor in strength. A Transwoman could have some advantage if their body is naturally mesomorphic. Muscle mass would still be lost.

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This is Chris Tina Bruce. He is now a woman and still competes in bodybuilding. It is clear after the surgery a certain amount of muscle mass was lost.Therefore there would not be a physical advantage. 

Strength levels would be reduced to that of an average woman. Transathetes would have to train as hard as other women to see physical fitness progress. Muscle is not the only thing effected, but done density. Even if a transwoman stopped hormone therapy, testosterone would not reemerge. Small amounts could be produced by the adrenal glands, but not enough to enhance athletic performance. It is more difficult for women to build strength and transwomen will find it difficult also. The biggest gap is strength between men and women is in the upper body. After the completion of sexual reassignment surgery this would decrease as well.

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Fallon  Fox has generated much controversy entering MMA. Leading SRS surgeons agree that she would not have physical advantage. 

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Fallon Fox for example would not be able to compete with males as a female. If we were to take her previous male self and compete in a physical contest now, it is obvious her male self would win. Reducing the amount of testosterone radically alters athletic performance. Although there are exceptions, women who engage in the same exercise regimen as a man will not become stronger than that man. Testosterone allows for a greater extent of protein synthesis.

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Men and women who train the same would still result in men being stronger. The reason has to do with endocrinology. 

If reducing testosterone can have an effect adding it can change body composition as well.

     Female  to male  transexuals are rarely given considerations to how fair athletic competition is for them. A transman could have an athletic disadvantage to an extent. Having higher testosterone will not always make one stronger by default. A majority of testosterone is bound by sex hormone binding globulin or non-specific proteins. The level of free testosterone is critical, which men have more of. A transman might have difficulty competing with a male in sport. Being previously female, their body would not produce the same amount of testosterone. Hormone therapy could reverse this. Transmen do not have testicles producing the same amount of testosterone. The odd double standard is that the female to male transgender would not have a physical advantage. This is rooted in the idea that men are naturally superior and testosterone is the reason. This sexism still remains in sports and is the main reason why they obsessively focus on transwomen. It disrupts the traditional gender binary. Even though the science of endocrinology, medicine, and physiology prove there is no physical advantage there still are objections to transgender and transsexual participation in sports.

       There also remains the question of how sexual reassignment would effect athletes before or after puberty. The International Olympic Committee permits transsexuals to undergo hormone therapy before puberty. After puberty the IOC requires at least two years of hormone therapy. The reason is puberty is the point in which strength levels begin to differ.By age thirteen boys will see the development of muscle mass and greater strength. This is gradual, because at a period girls start their growth sooner. Although males body growth is slow soon they will surpass women in height and body mass. Testosterone levels will peak around age twenty and gradually decline.

                                                               image003 Doing the surgery after would be possibly more difficult. Doing the surgery before the development of puberty would not allow for physical advantage. The same would be correct even after puberty, when hormone therapy is done. There is the question of chromosomes. Seeing as SRS has not advanced to a point in which chromosomes can be changed, people wonder if the y chromosome adds physical advantage. Genetically it could be claimed that is the remaining male part of a transwoman. As far as it is known, this would not allow for added physical advantage.

        Ultimately there is a  conclusion that there are no physical advantages of a transwoman athlete. Based on endocrinology, estrogen would not allow them to retain the physical strength they once had. Hormone therapy would drastically alter the bone density and body composition. The decrease in body size  would effect oxygen consumption. This means a transwoman’s vo2 max would lower. So, it appears there are no significant advantages that would make competition unfair. Even with this information, intense prejudice remains. Many in the professional sports community want to ban transsexuals and transgender athletes from competition. Women athletes look at them as threats or repudiate them completely. Others have an irrational fear of competing with them. Their claim is that they still have physical strength retained from when they were male, which would put them at risk of serious harm. This argument lacks cogency when examining the physiological, biological, and hormonal evidence. Only when the medical evidence is presented can these myths be discredited.

Further Reading

“Transsexual Athletes OK for Athens.” CNN.com. N.p., 18 May 2004. Web. 7 July 2015.

Chee, Rosie. “Breaking The Myth – Women Who Lift Heavy Will Look Like Men!” Bodybuilding.com. N.p., 31 July 2014. Web. 12 July 2015.

Do Transgender Women Have a Physical Advantage ?

The Ms.Olympia Contest (1980-2014)

The Ms.Olympia was one of the most prestigious female bodybuilding competitions held by the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB). This contest displayed the most physically developed women athletes from around the world. As the years progressed the physiques became more muscular, more powerful, and more astounding than ever before. The women proved that they were capable of building impressive bodies, but this generated controversy. When the women got bigger traditionalists, detractors, and some within the fitness community objected to the new aesthetic.Opposition was not the only challenge, but limited financial resources. There were fans, but the audience shrank. Despite these obstacles the competitors performed with a high level of excellence.

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The Ms.Olympia contest was developed by Joe Weider and Ben Weider. These two businessmen built up an entire fitness industry empire. Their businesses consisted of supplement products, fitness magazines, and fitness equipment. Prior to the Weider brothers acquiring the rights to the MS.Olympia it was owned by George Snyder. He held in 1977  the first IFBB sanctioned contest known as The Best Contest in the World. This was the harbinger to the Ms.Olympia. It almost resembled a beauty pageant, rather than a bodybuilding contest. Athletes were selected and did not have to win other competitions to receive an invitation. Snyder would have contestants send in resumes and photos that he would review. If he thought they could be marketable to the public, they could compete. This was not much of a competition, but this changed by 1980.

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Joe Wieder with Lenda Murray 

Now female athletes could do the same poses men did. At first it was not allowed for women to do clenched fist poses or most muscular poses. It was once required that the women had to wear high heels.

       The first Ms. Olympia contest saw the rise of Rachel Mclish. Her physique was not the type that is seen today on stage. It was a sleeker, with modest muscle on her frame. Most competitors of the era were of this body type with some definition. Rachel Mclish got her athletic start working at a health club. Her early inspiration to engage in fitness came from seeing Lisa Lyon. She was one of the earlier pioneers of female bodybuilding. Mclish had a very short competitive career. It lasted from 1980 to 1984. She lost the 1981 Ms.Olympia to Kike Elomaa. The judging was inconsistent for these early contests and would continue to be through out the existence of the Ms.Olympia. The debate over overall appearance and size was an issue. Just how should the muscular female body be judged? The question became even more complicated when cultural perceptions of femininity were added to the discourse. Mclish won the 1982 Ms.Olympia, but another competitor Carla Dunlap was more muscular. Although not the largest competitor, Mclish did much to get female bodybuilding media attention.

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Three winners of the Ms.Olympia from left to right Rachel Mclish, Kike Eloma, and Carla Dunlap.

This was helpful in breaking down some negative perceptions. A golden age had began and there was no turning back. As the decades progressed competitors would train harder and push their bodies to the maximum.

       Carla Dunlap was the first African American Ms.Olympia. This was significant because black women were not given as much recognition for athletic accomplishments. Besides that achievement, Carla’s physique produced another model. It was a body a bit bigger than other competitors. While being a little larger, she managed to present symmetry that the judges were looking for. This could be considered the stage in which women started to push the size barrier.

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Magazine page discussing Carla’s 1983 win.

Her competitive career lasted from 1979 to 1993. She had amazing longevity in the bodybuilding circuit. Besides doing bodybuilding she also did color commentary for ESPN, ABC, and NBC. She also has the distinction of being the only female bodybuilder to compete for three decades. She was there from the beginning and saw many changes. More developments were coming with the arrival of two competitors who decided the aesthetic need revision.

       Cory Everson  and Bev Francis shifted the paradigm for the Ms.Olympia physique. Cory Everson was the first woman to win the Ms.Olympia multiple times. From 1984 to 1989 she would dominate the competition. The 1980s was the era of Everson. She never lost an Olympia contest during her career. One reason was her extensive athletic background in track and field, gymnastics, and badminton. These activities allowed her to build a muscular physique. Bodybuilding was perfect for her and she saw rapid success. Her body had defined muscles, along with bigger size closer to Carla Dunlap, and powerful legs. It seemed as if women were no longer afraid of getting “too big.” Women who were even involved in the sport had their fears about this. Cory Everson demonstrated that women can have muscle and will not be considered “too big.” Bev Francis pushed  the model further.

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Cory Everson never lost an Olympia.

Bev Francis was an Australian shout putter and powerlifter. Before entering bodybuilding she set world records in powerlifting. At the 1981 World Powerlifting Championships she bench pressed 330 pounds. She was the first woman to accomplish this feat. Her body was naturally muscular and one would have assumed she would have won contests. The judges did not like her physique, even though it was impressive. They were concerned about vague definitions of femininity in the judging standards. Clearly they were misguided by traditional convictions about women. Bev Francis was a fan favorite and was popular at contests. She attempted to conform to the judges standards and found herself getting frustrated. She lost some size and dyed her hair blonde. This did not guarantee her victory. After a while she refused to conform and decided to go all out for muscle size. It was no longer about winning a contest. As Bev once stated “I wanted to show them just how muscular a woman could be.”

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Bev Francis change in appearance from 1983 to 1988. 

This was a bold move, considering the criticism she faced. She did pioneer the larger physique that would later appear in the 1990s. After being disappointed with her placing in the 1990 Ms. Olympia, Bev decided to build a physique more tremendous than anything any fan had seen before. Lenda Murray would win her first in a long list of victories in the Ms.Olympia. Most important development was that their was a paradigm shift among competitors. Women competing were no longer afraid of having large muscles.

        The 1991 Ms.Olympia was a major turning point. The issue of women and muscle size seemed to have created two major factions in female bodybuilding. The first was the one that wanted women with some muscle, but emphasizing “femininity.” It seemed to want to make it a beauty pageant with women in moderately good shape. The opposing side wanted to be strictly about athletic endeavor and muscular size.

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The muscle size issue has been debated through out female bodybuilding circles since its inception. This magazine page is from the 1980s.

Bev Francis lost again, but amazed the audience. She was bigger than any woman the crowd had ever seen. Lenda Murray was back to defend her tile and won. The competitors were much larger than they had been in the past. The female bodybuilding physique was becoming more powerful. The question of “how much is too much?” was seriously brought up within the sport after the 1991 Ms.Olympia. Bev Francis retired from the sport, but had a lasting impact. She proved that women could build large muscle and be good at it. As the years progressed her physique would be more common on stage.

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Bev Francis competing in the 1991 Ms.Olympia.

Her competition was challenging, because Lenda Murray also was coming into the contest bigger. Lenda’s body would also serve as model for which competitors would be judged. Large upper body combined with a small waist was the aesthetic. Many competitors became frustrated with inconsistent judging standards. Vacillation and indecision hindered a standard judging criteria. Bev Francis dared to defy the hegemony of IFBB judging criteria and made her body as muscular as possible.

The routine that changed everything.  

Even though Bev Francis did not win the Ms.Olympia, she was one of the best bodybuilders . The 1990s would progress producing more high quality athletes.

       Lenda Murray would be a dominant  force in the 1990s and even into the early 2000s. There were formidable challengers to her title.From 1990 to 1995 she would decimate the competition. Her physique had an hour glass like figure packed with large muscles. A highly developed lower body and a developed upper body gave her an edge on competition. Her posing and grace made her very popular among the Olympia attendees. She became highly regarded in the fitness community and broke Cory Everson’s record. Lenda did something that was not done before.

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Lenda Murray set a record for Olympia wins. 

Competitors like Lenda, were getting bigger. Fans who opposed the new aesthetic defected to developing fitness contests. Fitness contests involved women performing gymnastics and doing some posing in swim suits. Critics claimed that this was way to limit the exposure of larger women competing. Others claimed that it was another option for women who had difficulty acquiring muscle size. Some believed it was a reactionary backlash against women’s advancement in the sport. It was not as if women were awful at bodybuilding, it was that they were too good at it. Traditionalists and people with one dimensional perspectives on what women should be or do decided to stop the progression. Bodybuilding became the only sport in which women were judged on “femininity.” This double standard exposed the blatant sexism that exists in the sport. Men were never subject to judging criteria on masculinity. As vague and ludicrous as these demands were the women continued to perform. Lenda Murray was able to balance these often unreasonable requests. Every year to her admission it became more challenging to present a body the judges were looking for.

        Lenda Murray soon confronted a challenger that would dethrone her. Kim Chizevsky brought in a body of massive size, definition, and impressive symmetry. Her body looked like a living statue. She would be Ms.Olympia from 1996 to 1999. She was the first to win the Ms.International and Ms.Olympia in the same year. At her most muscular she was an incredible 157 pounds in competition in 1997. She was one of the best bodybuilders. The bodybuilding category was facing some issues by the late 1990s. Fitness competitions were becoming more popular. Chizevsky despite her victories was still frustrated with the judging standards. After the 1999 Ms.Olympia, Kim decided to retire from bodybuilding. It seemed also that women were defecting to the fitness category. Kim Chizevsky even came out of retirement to compete in the fitness category( subsequently in figure as well).

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This change in category seems to parallel the Bev Francis situation.  

Women were not being supported. The prize money for women competitors was lower than that of their male counterparts. Even promoters and heads of the fitness industry were not supportive of these talented athletes. Ben Weider seemed to differ with his brother in terms of the bodybuilding aesthetic form women. Ben held the extreme traditionalist perspective that women should not build strength to a maximum, but limit themselves in a manner that is acceptable to standard gender roles. Joe Weider seemed to have a more tolerant view of the female bodybuilder.The environment was hostile to the women in general.

A summery and evolution of female bodybuilding from the 1980s to early 2000s. Ben Weider’s comments reveal a subtle sexism that is present in the fitness industry.

Many people said the women were too big. Some blamed the use of performance enhancing drugs or women’s lack of conventional beauty. Questions of beauty seemed irrelevant seeing as these were athletic competitions not beauty pageants. The issue of performance enhancing drugs became more of a problem, when the Weiders attempted to make bodybuilding an Olympic sport. That required to be more conscious about what substances athletes used. No sport is completely drug free, but bodybuilding has a reputation for anabolic steroid use. This image was something the Weiders attempted dismantle, but were unsuccessful. Presently, it seems very unlikely that bodybuilding would become an Olympic sport. Steroids do not make champions and to say that was the only reason for women’s advance is ludicrous. Without correct training and diet one could not progress far in this sport . The another development that added to questions of looks was the introduction of figure. Figure was different from fitness in the sense that women needed to be slightly more muscular. Gymnastic routines were not required. It was a better alternative to women who could not achieve the size of a Ms.Olympia champion.

        The rule changes were at times erratic. The judgement on femininity was officially put in place by 1992. The next major change was in the year 2000. Contestants now were judged on their make-up, face, and skin tone. They needed to have a “healthy” appearance.  Weight classes were introduced for the first time. Competitors were still encouraged to not be “too extreme.” This like other elements of the sport are subjective. What is extreme for another person may seem normal for others. Men did not have to worry about being too big or standards of attractiveness. It was clear that the atmosphere was not welcoming to women competitors. Even with this level of double standards, the women performed even better. Andrulla Blanchette would win the lightweight class, while Valentina Chepiga took the heavyweights.

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This was the only year there was no overall winner, but two Ms.Olympia champions in different weight categories. 

The development of weight class may not have been a negative change. It did give women with a relatively smaller build to remain competitive. Juliette Bergmann was able to compete in the lightweight category with more success. Before she took the overall tile in the 2001 Ms.Olympia. Dayana Cadeau  would also see victory in the lightweight class in 2004. Even when she did not win, in most of her competitions she placed in the top three. Lenda Murray would return winning both the 2002 and 2003 Ms.Olympia. She would lose to Iris Kyle who would dominate the Ms.Olympia to the end.

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The two lightweight category champions Dayana Cadeau and Juliette Bergmann.

Iris Kyle was the best Ms.Olympia and the number of wins is evidence. She broke both Lenda Murray’s record and Cory Everson’s record. She has to be one of the most successful bodybuilders. She did have formidable opponents. First Lenda Murray was a challenge and after two tries she defeated her in 2004. Iris Kyle then lost in 2005 to Yaxeni Oriquen Garcia who also was a very accomplished competitor. Her competitive longevity was a useful asset. Learning from other competitions she improved her training methods to be the 2005 Ms.Olympia.

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Two great champions Iris Kyle and Yaxeni Oriquen Garcia.

However, Iris Kyle would be resurgent and would continue to win until the last Ms.Olympia in 2014. This is an example of a remarkable athletic career. Yet, like her other women she was not given praise for her accomplishments.

      The problem with the Ms.Olympia contest was that the Weiders did not attempt to market it as much as the Mr.Olympia. There were financial issues due to low ticket sales. The 1999 Ms.Olympia was nearly cancelled. Flex Magazine donated funds to the contest and it went ahead as scheduled. Just like other sports men were paid more, but in the bodybuilding community the wage gap was egregious. The Weider fitness empire was worth billions by the 2000s. It is odd that pay could not be adjusted for women athletes. The Weider brothers may have thought that muscular women were not marketable. This argument lacks cogency, because there were fans who would pay to access sites devoted to a particular athlete. Female bodybuilders by the 2000s began making members web sites with exclusive content. This was very helpful, because it provided extra funds that would go directly to the athletes. It seems like it was a lost business opportunity that Weiders missed out on.

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Joe and Ben Weider did much to promote women’s bodybuilding, but did not give it the same respect as the men’s.

The Weider publishing empire was still functioning on the model “sex sells.” Readers they believed did not care about a woman’s athletic performance, but appearance. Ms.Olympia was regulated to a secondary status next to fitness competitions. It is uncertain what the latest effect physique competitions will have. This is a new category and the women are more muscular than figure competitors. It could easily be mistaken for lightweight bodybuilding. Some say that the disappearance of the Ms.Olympia signals the death of female bodybuilding.

       It was announced that there would no longer be a Ms.Olympia in 2015. This was a major shock for fans and supporters. The Ms.Olympia contest was an important part of women’s sports history. It was the sport that developed during the second wave feminist movement and early Title IX era. The contest showed just how far the female body could be developed. Athletes performed magnificently under societal pressure, ostracism, and prejudice. Although there is no more Ms.Olympia, muscular women will not be disappearing anytime soon. There is another professional contest opened to athletes known as The Wings of Strength. This looks like a successor, but it will never be anything like the Ms.Olympia.

The Ms.Olympia Contest (1980-2014)