No games for women with ‘too much’ testosterone

This is a Stream broadcast from September of 2014. The Aljazeera program covers news and current events with an emphasis on social media. The panel discusses the new IOC policy of banning women who have naturally high testosterone levels from Olympic competition. The argument is that they have an “unfair” advantage. The argument lacks cogency in regards to several factors. While testosterone does have an anabolic effect on  bone and muscle tissue, this does not automatically give an athlete an advantage. Factors such as training, diet, and genetics play critical roles in athletic performance. Basic endocrinology dictates that it is not the total amount of testosterone in the body, but the level of free testosterone. Any  average man would not be able to beat an elite female athlete. It would take a male of equal training to surpass her level. While an untrained male produces more testosterone, a female athlete can be physically stronger. Another important aspect is the total distribution of total type II muscle fibers. This fibers are pivotal for explosive power .This follows the same argument that it is protect women for men disguised as women competing or creating a level playing field.

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The man may be producing more testosterone, but that does not mean he would automatically beat Zoe Smith at weightlifting.

The cases of men disguising themselves as women has been rare in Olympic history. There were athletes who were intersexed based on chromosome analysis. However, this did not give them an athletic edge. Many times when athletes took sex verification tests, the only thing it proved was that some women were carrying extra chromosomes that did not effect their performance or health at all. This IOC policy is nothing more than a revival of sex verification tests. Officially ended in 1996, the IOC still has the right to conduct them, even though it is an act of discrimination. Men are not required to verify their sex, because it is believed they are naturally the better athletes. Other observers cite that this also is designed to target transexuals and transgender women in sport. Even though there is the requirement of hormone therapy, the IOC  is not satisfied. It is not possible to ban women, transexuals, and transgender people from sport. The IOC can make an uncomfortable atmosphere for groups it does not want to see participate. This is a violation of bioethics, due to the fact women with higher testosterone levels are forced to also undergone hormone therapy if they want to compete. No one makes the argument that a person is too tall for basket ball or too muscular for bodybuilding. This just is a natural attribute that some women have. If this is done for women, then why can’t stronger males with high testosterone asked to reduce theirs ? If one ponders long enough, this would be “fair” for weaker males competing. This ruling has nothing to do with fairness, but another method to control women in sport.

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No games for women with ‘too much’ testosterone

Brigita Brezovac

Brigita Brezovac is  an IFBB  professional bodybuilder and personal trainer. She was born in 1979 in Ptuji, Slovenia. At the time of her birth Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia. Competitive for a decade, she was one of the top ranking IFBB bodybuilders. She was raised in Ljutomer during the 1980s. Brigita became involved in bodybuilding when she saw pictures of Cory Everson and Anja Langer. Brigita has also said that  “my role model is Lenda Murray because she was the best representative of female bodybuilding; she joined beautiful body, nice face and great personality with some glowing charm…and she is still a beauty.” During her teens her boyfriend had a small gym in his home. This was when she got exposure to the fitness culture. Besides becoming interested in bodybuilding she took an interest in karate. The main reason she started lifting weights was to make herself stronger for her martial arts. Brigita started this around age 14. As Brigita described : “I’ve been training karate for eight years; I have a black belt and I was a national champion in fights for a few years.” Physical injuries and her studies halted athletic pursuits, but she did not stop training. She would later graduate from the University of Maribor. Brigita also has experience in boxing and  taekwondo. She also is fluent in Croatian, English, Serbian, and German.

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Brigita is notable in the sense she was one of the few Slovenian bodybuilders. As she admitted herself  it is a small country and few competitions locally. She is still based in the country were she was born traveling between Slovenia and the US. Besides her passion for bodybuilding she states ” I enjoy the yoga classes to stretch my body and keep it flexible, I like reading books, lately more philosophical and biography type, and I love shopping and fashion.” Brigita also enjoys travelling. She believes it opens up new experiences and perspectives. Her favorite part about being a bodybuilder she said was ” I like that I’m different from the average person.” Brigita is in many ways. It is not every day you run into a black belt Slovenian bodybuilder fluent in multiple languages. She admits she does love the attention. Many female bodybuilders receive negative criticism for their looks, Brigita counters this with a positive attitude. Her philosophy is ” don’t get affected by negative comments, respect everyone’s opinion as we are all different and try not to judge, help others and the most important accept yourself.”

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Obviously, negative comments should not effect her, because of her many accomplishments. Her best wins include the 2004 World Championship, the 2005 European Championship, 2006 World Championship Universe. This was followed by successes in the Grand Prix (2007 and 2009), the Tampa Pro (2010), The IFBB Europa (2010), and the Toronto Pro Super Show (2011). Brigita also started off as a fitness competitor in the early 2000s. She won the Slovenian Open (2002)  and the World Championships (2003). Judges at the 2004 World Championship disqualified her for being too muscular for the fitness category. This is the category in which she remained until she retired from active competition in 2013.

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Although not on stage, she still has a presence in the bodybuilding community. she still runs her website Brigita Brezovac.com and writes her blog. They include commentary and events of the fitness industry. This time, she only goes as a spectator. There is that myth that when athletes retire they “let themselves go.” Brigita still actively trains and while not as massive as she used to be, it looks like she could go compete in a physique competition. She has a great genetic base. At her ultimate physical  peak she 143 lbs in competition weight and 154 lbs in the off season. At 5 ft 4 in she is a tiny power house ( in the sense of height, not brawn).

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Brigita as she appears now and a photo from 2008. She still is in great shape. 

Brigita has described herself as a tomboy as a child. Yet, she still loves certain things that appeal to women. She does enjoy fashion and clothing. One her least favorite aspects about being a bodybuilder is finding cloths in her size. She has said ” I see some fashion piece of clothes but cannot wear it because of my size;that bothers me the most.” Many women have this problem, because many of women’s cloths are designed for very thin bodies or ones that are emaciated. Besides that issue Brigita also hated the amount of injuries she got from training.

Brigita as she appears post-competitive years. It seems that strength did not dissipate. 

Her training regimen was to always train heavy. Her method included strict form and she never went under eight reps. Brigita explained during the off season “I train only once per day, 5-6 times per week and instead of cardio I do boxing twice per week while during the contest preparation I train 10 times per week and add regular cardio which goes up to 90 min per day.” This allowed her to build a powerful and balanced physique.

      Seeing as Brigita has a background in martial arts, she was not afraid to mixed wrestling. She would do it competitively and few men could challenge her. Often mixed wrestling is faked for entertainment value with women have no real skill. Brigita was actually skilled and genuine in her fighting capability. She appeared in numerous videos for Utopia Entertainment and Anetha 2.net. While other female bodybuilders do wrestling for financial reasons, Brigita likes the competitive nature of it.

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It seems mixed wrestling allows her to go back to a fun time in childhood. A period in which girls could be tomboys and not be ostracized for their physical prowess. Brigita does have some favorite moves she likes to use when she wrestles. That includes headscissors ( also reversed) and the rear necked choke. When you see her wrestle in a video, you can tell it is painful for her opponent. Looking at her strength level, it is not a surprise. Her best lifts were 110 kg bench press, dead lift 160 kg, and  160 kg for squats.

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Follow her on her blog : Brigita’s Blog.

Brigita does not compete in martial arts tournaments anymore, but mixed wrestling was a place were just could demonstrate against opponents. Many female bodybuilders avoid competitive matches because of risk of injury. Others figure that men are just too strong to wrestle. Brigita says she does not like injuries, but she does not fear them. As for the strength department hers is so immense, it looks like she would inflict the injuries. Seeing as she is both a bodybuilder and a martial artist she is probably conscious to hold back. She exhibits the great attributes of athletics: Strength and skill. Twelve years she had a competitive career and she sure has left a lasting impact with fans. Brigita Brezovac will be remembered as one of the great bodybuilders of the 2000s.

Brigita Brezovac

Rebuttal to John Romano’s “The Death of Women’s Bodybuilding Did “Ugly” Kill Female Pro Bodybuilding?”

The Death of Women’s Bodybuilding Did “Ugly” Kill Female Pro Bodybuilding?

There have been many reasons for why female bodybuilding is struggling to survive. John Romano is a personal trainer and gym owner. He has been involved in the fitness industry for years and also writes for various fitness magazines including being a regular contributor to the T Nation Forums. He pontificates the reasons for female bodybuilding’s slow decline. These arguments lack cogency and thoughtful analysis. Romano’s claim is that female bodybuilding declined due to lack of femininity, what he refers to as “man face” ( colloquial term for virilization), and the subculture of schmoes that emerged in the sport. John Romano’s claims can be challenged with facts. Female bodybuilding during its early stages was never fully accepted by the mainstream. Women’s sports have in general never been accepted by the public. Bodybuilding has in general never been a mainstream sport. Yet, women still cannot escape the culture of sexism that exists in sport. Their presence was never wanted or appreciated. While there are competitors who do use drugs, not all do. If this is such a problem then one should question why the IFFB does not have a vigorous drug testing policy. The statement that the sport is a beauty contest is inaccurate. John Romero seems to not respect the sport or the fans. He ignores the gender bias that still remains in the industry. The sport still has a fan base that the corporate gatekeepers do not target in marketing. Female bodybuilding is not dying, but going through a decline. It is not because the women were incapable of being great athletes, but they were too good. This is unacceptable in an atmosphere that devalues women and their accomplishments.

        The major problem with bodybuilding in general is that it is not a mainstream sport. It does not have the same level financial investment as the NFL or Major League Baseball. It is small niche in the sports world. Men who compete would never make as much as a football player. Men do have the opportunities to get supplement contracts. Women are on the other hand at a disadvantage. Bodybuilding as a sport is already underground and women’s sports in general get little attention or coverage. ESPN used to cover both men and women’s events. It is rare that a major cable channel covers bodybuilding events. Women were usually regulated to a secondary status next to their male counterparts. Even when the Ms.Olympia was at its height, when it was broadcast on TV it seemed like a form of charity for the women. It was a side event compared to the more important men’s event. Being an underground sport does not help women. Usually, they will be further marginalized because they are entering a male dominated activity. This underground atmosphere gives bodybuilding a unique  subcultural atmosphere that makes it interesting. The problem is it is cut off from the benefit of mainstream consumption. Bodybuilding survives by being connected to the fitness industry through supplement companies, exercise equipment, and magazine publishing. Women have been present in the sport, but they still face prejudice.

         Sexism has been a part of sports since its existence. Bodybuilding continues to be the sport most blatant in their intolerance of women. During the golden age of women’s bodybuilding muscle was never accepted on women. Currently, there are many who object to this, but it was worse in the early years. Women stated entering contests in the 1970s and even judges were questioning whether women should be there.

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The same arguments appeared back then are often spoken today. Statements such as the women were too big or they were mannish were uttered vociferously. This mainly came from the general public who still believed in rigid gender roles. Men are suppose to demonstrate power, while women are to be fragile and delicate. Rachel Mclish became the first Ms.Olympia exhibiting a physique that was muscular, but not large. As the 1980s progressed the size issue became a problem for women. Women according to IFBB judges needed to have muscle, but not too much. This was not a problem for men, because it was assumed they would be the better athletes. The traditional convention was that women should not be more powerful than a man. Women showing physical strength caused discomfort among traditionalists and people who did not want to see women involved. Some women challenged the vacillating judging criteria and shifted the aesthetic. Bev Francis decide she was going to put on as much muscle as possible. Bev Francis never won a Ms.Olympia even though she was a great bodybuilder in terms of size and symmetry. If she were a man, she have been awarded and praised. Yet, in a male dominated sport she was condemned. downloadShe was considered too huge to be feminine. The judging criteria after 1991 started focusing on femininity. This was a ludicrous decision considering there was never a masculinity criteria for males. This was in a sense policing gender. None of the women changed their  biological sex by becoming athletes. The fact that women were becoming skilled at strength sports bothered more of the conservative elements. The Weider Corporation wanted not to present woman as athlete, but sexualized  commodity. The goal was to sell magazines with women who were attractive to the general public. Portraying women as sex objects was and continues to be more profitable to corporate gatekeepers. The gatekeepers realized portraying women as accomplished athletes would not suit their purpose. This emphasis on femininity was a way to control women who were showing themselves as capable athletes in the sport.  Bev Francis’ impact already influenced other female bodybuilders. Women continued to gain size despite sexist attitudes. Lenda Murray went on  to break Cory Everson’s  record. Romano mentions Corey Everson as the ideal saying that it was femininity that brought fans. He states “when Corey Everson was Ms. Olympia from 1984 to 1989, the contest was often held in Madison Square Garden in front of a sellout crowd of screaming fans.” Here he is implying that the audience was not impressed with an athlete, but looking merely for a sexual thrill. John Romano reduces her to a sex object and ignores her accomplishments. Fans loved Corey, because she was the first to win the Ms.Olympia on multiple occasions. Six times she was victorious and retired undefeated.

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It cannot be ignored that she is an attractive woman, but that is not why she is a great athlete. She inspired many female bodybuilders who emerge in the 1990s and 2000s. Besides only valuing women for their looks or as objects , rather than people he forgets other important Ms.Olympia winners. Lenda Murray broke Corey’s six Olympia win, but he does not mention her as a model of beauty. It would be presumptuous to say that their is an ethnic bias here, but a reader would have to wonder. Lenda besides displaying a powerful physique  is also  a woman of high pulchritude. It is odd that the writer does not use some visuals of her to demonstrate his point. The only concern to John Romano is that the women are attractive based on his standards ( whatever that maybe), not that they are great athletes. This claim is the most revealing : “issues of femininity aside, a female bodybuilder, even with extraordinary muscle, could be hot as hell if her face weren’t busted.” What one’s face looks like has little relevance, considering the muscles of the face are not being judged.At this point readers now understand that this man only values women as pieces of meat. He has a sexist perspective, but denies that he has a prejudice.

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Doubles standards are prevalent in the sport. Never on any occasion is a man asked how handsome he is. Femininity becomes as issue only when people are view through a system of binary opposites. Here woman is defined in relation to men. Woman is defined as less than and femininity is constructed culturally. This is the element of gender appropriateness and it puts extra restriction on females. Women showing strength ( physical or mental ) is not proper in this context. This has changed in certain places around the globe, because like culture definitions of masculinity and femininity transform. Then Romano makes one of the biggest generalizations :” now, obviously, there’s a general consensus of what we find feminine, attractive, admirable, etc. It is those attributes that attract an audience willing to support women’s bodybuilding.” If he means there is a media constructed paradigm of what is presented as attractive, that has validity. A thin body type is valued more in western culture and is presented constantly through mass media outlets such as television, advertising, and film. What is feminine or attractive varies from culture to culture. Large breasts can be a mark of beauty in American culture, but not in Japanese culture. Being feminine in more traditional cultures would be women being passive and obeying a male figure ( husband, father, or boyfriend). The Middle Eastern nations like Saudi Arabia differ on views of women and femininity  compared with countries like the UK. It was at one time considered unfeminine for women to focus on their careers or get an education. Relevant to this conversation, most people believe bodybuilding is an activity women should not do.

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While Romano mentions that during the golden era it was easy to sell out a Ms.Olympia, he ignores the negative aspects. Women received little financial gain in terms of prize money. They did not get much press coverage like their male counterparts. Only a select few magazines focused on women’s bodybuilding. Women’s Physique World  and Female Bodybuilding Magazine were a few publications available to a wider reading public women not getting that media exposure put them at a disadvantage. So from the beginning, the Weider brothers failed to promote a product that was popular and had a fan base. Investment was meager in female bodybuilding compared to the men’s division. This was only setting the sport up for decline.

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 The rise of the internet however gave women another outlet and exposed the sport to  a larger audience. Athletes now have personal websites, others are devoted to photography, and commentary including competition results. There is a fan base present, but the corporate gatekeepers do not want to utilize it. Limited financial reward, double standards, and limited exposure contribute to a culture of sexism. This institutional prejudice is a major reason for the sports decline. Romano seems to indirectly suggest that is the women’s fault.

       Another topic expressed is the concept of beauty. According to John Romano, if the women were more beautiful the sport would not be in decline. This argument is flawed on multiple dimensions. Beauty has different meanings to people. Aesthetics have changed dramatically in the evolution of bodybuilding. Among fans there is not consensus. Some prefer the lager hyper-muscular body as a model. Others are convinced that a moderate mid-range middle weight body is the ideal. More tend to like the sleeker, yet “toned” ( for lack of a better term) appearance. A significant portion favor all of these models of female muscular development. That is the an example among factions between fans of the sport. When examining the wider society the concept branches off further.

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An example of the wide range of muscular development.

The mainstream media tells people that being thin is the ideal for women.Some people reject this and decide for themselves the ideal. We have been told that curvy and being plus sized is a positive attribute. There is still resistance to women with muscle. They are still viewed as anomalies. Even though who preach the new fitness fad of “strong is the new skinny” have their doubts. While the fad promotes women to engage in strength training it assures them they will not become “too muscular.” The question here should be asked is why a muscular body is such an aberration? The reason is a woman with power ( in this case physical power ) is viewed as unfeminine or unattractive. Misogynists believe that only men should have power and authority. While their has been advancement in terms of women’s rights this notion is still prevalent. This explains why Romano’s theory that female bodybuilding would be more popular if the women more attractive lacks cogency. He asserts  “if the top ten of the Ms. Olympia sported a row of faces that looked like the bikini division, Ms. Olympia would probably be alive and well today.” This is false, because even in the golden age women faced severe vituperation for their physical appearance. The women who by Romano’s standards were beautiful still faced insults questioning their femininity and womanhood. He conveniently ignores the fact there are very muscular women who meet his standards, but are still ostracized. The fact is a woman of a certain physical size will not be accepted by the mainstream. They could have the most pretty and full faces, but will be repudiated. Common statements are ” she’s pretty, but she is too big” or “her biceps are too large for a woman.” These comments and reactions come from men and women not familiar with the sport. At times they are contradictory and conflicting when spoken. They see a woman who can be considered attractive, but are conflicted when seeing a woman exit the boundaries of traditional gender roles.

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These women do not have “busted faces” as Romano puts it, yet are still marginalized in and outside of the sport.   

The idea that a woman could challenge a man on a physical level is unsettling to some. Men who feel threatened by women’s advancement in society, feel that the physical domain is the only area they have left. Women who enter this activity or other sports in general challenge this notion. This is an explanation to the negative reaction to the muscular female body. Women athletes who do not even have the same level of muscularity as bodybuilders still face scrutiny. The New York Times  published an article stating famous tennis champion Serena Williams was “built like a man.” This rude and ignorant statement seems to be a common belief in the sports world. It is the notion that muscles are male only and sports are designed solely for men. The disturbing aspect of this is the subtle message it sends. Women are here to only be useful or serve men and the most important thing for a female is to look good, based on a distorted body image paradigm.

Serena Williams poses with cake celebrating her 400th career win after she defeated Sabine Lisicki during their quarterfinal match at the Miami Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, April 1, 2015, in Key Biscayne, Fla. Williams won the match 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-3. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The public has a warped view of beauty. There is nothing positive about starving one’s self to a size zero.  John Romano then states ” “It’s not a beauty contest,” we hear them say” and expounds further to say that is not true. Then claims ” bodybuilding is all about beauty.” Then another error is expressed in the text:  “It’s when we get away from beauty that we get compromised aesthetics, bad symmetry, and big guts.” Bodybuilding is a sport and a form of athletic competition. A beauty pageant does not involve athletic contest. While both do judge physical attributes, a pageant  has a section with talent performance, with judgement points for personality and dress. This is mainly rating women on how attractive they are based on conventional  beauty standards. There is no form of physical activity. Bodybuilding involves competitors to develop posing routines and poses multiple times on stage with others. While muscle size, shape, and symmetry are pivotal to points, the posing routine is essential. This is physically demanding considering many competitors do this on very little water. It should be lucid to Romano that bodybuilding is a sport, not a beauty contest. Many have articulated that bodybuilding was the male version of a beauty contest. This is inaccurate, because bodybuilding was the product of weightlifting. Bodybuilding aesthetics have been rapidly changing, so saying it has been “compromised” is not a descriptive assessment. It is an evolving process.

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Examples of women who are involved in beauty contests. If you compared these two with the bodybuilders the beauty pageant contestants would not be considered athletes. 

Female competitors become frustrated with the lack of clarification among judges. Either they want the women lean, less lean, or to reduce size. This confusion and indecision harmed female bodybuilding in a way. The twenty percent rule, which required all competitors to cut back muscle size is a representation of this. A less muscular woman in their view would make a more acceptable female bodybuilder. No such rule was applied to men, who were becoming more massive and almost caricature like. Romano claims that women were acquiring “large guts” and “bad symmetry,”  but when examining some contest this does not seem to be corroborated. The top three competitors of the last two Olympias did not have enlarge stomachs or minimal symmetry. This is more common among the male contestants who prefer size over symmetry.

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Iris Kyle has won numerous contest, because of her symmetry and the balance in her physique. She broke Lenda Murrya’s record for a reason. Iris has faced an unjust amount of criticism for her appearance. Lenda Murray once said that “she sacrificed her look as a woman.” This was a ludicrous comment, due to the fact their physiques were vary similar. There was a slight difference in upper body development. Iris had a bigger upper body compared to Lenda’s.  It seems that even women who are involved in the sport have issues with large muscles on women.

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This was the period when Iris Kyle rose to prominence (2003-2004). Developing her upper body more specifically the trapezius allowed he to beat Lenda Murray.

To say that female bodybuilding should be transformed into a beauty pageant only displays the level of intense sexism present on the sport. Beauty being described as one definite model is a falsehood that has infected every aspect of society. People have been brainwashed into one perspective, repudiating possible alternatives.

         The use of anabolic steroids was discussed in the article. Not so much their dangers, but the side effects, such as virilization. While performance enhancing drug use is prevalent in sports, when done by women it adds extra complications. When men do use them, it is seen as acceptable. When women do it they are viewed as an abomination. The  double standard is obvious. Even though men who use exhibit negative side effects that the general public would find repugnant, it is accepted because “it is a male hormone.” The fact is women produce small amounts of testosterone and other women could possibly produce more naturally. The only concern people have is that women who are using will “destroy” their appearance. Romano makes it clear that is his only concern. If steroid use is to blame for the decline of women’s bodybuilding, why has the IFBB instituted stricter drug testing? The answer is lucid. They condone use as long as it is not publicly admitted to. This could be damaging to their publishing empire. While Romano states that female bodybuilders are abusing drugs, he fails to mention that it also occurs in figure, fitness, bikini, and physique divisions. This was why natural competitions emerged as an alternative for competitors who did not want to take substances to be competitive. Romano does not mention the women who compete in drug free contests and how they are still marginalized. As much as this exaggerated as a serious problem, men account for the largest number of users. Depending on the type of steroid and the dosage used women may not experience virilization.

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Marion Jones used performance enhancing drugs, but never showed signs of virilization.

Romano forgets to mention that some women use estrogen blockers. This can add to the appearance of secondary male characteristics. Some believe that steroid use induced a decline in the sport. This cannot be true, due to the fact that use was probably happening even in the 1980s. Fans who are devoted seem to care little about an athlete’s use or non-use.  Drugs being the problem masks other  issues.

       Romano makes it no secret that he really does not care for the fans of the sport. The real devoted and fanatic ones referred to as schmoes, he had contempt for. John said that the current situation made him reverse previous positions. The Rising Phoenix Contest  showed what fan support could accomplish. Margie Martin’s performance also made a great impression. The IFBB could have made Ms.Olympia like this, but they chose not to. Schmoes as Romano realizes are keep the sport going financially. They are the ones going to shows, becoming members on sites, and doing sessions ( controversial to many). Women have few financial avenues and session wrestling provides extra money. Schmoes should not be viewed with disdain. They are a part of the subculture  and seem to be initiating fan supported contest. Not all schmoes are extreme fetishists, but men who love muscular women very much. Romano lumps them all together in his article.

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Numerous men meet muscular women in private, because it would not be socially acceptable to praise them in public. Judgmental peers pressure the fan of female muscle to hide their support and  admiration. A private setting allows the fan to express that respect without repercussions. The peculiar part of this is that Romano never disparages the IFBB, but use to view schmoes as “having a perverse nature.”  The truth is schmoes come from a variety of backgrounds and occupations. It could be males between the ages 24 to 80. There are even schmoes who are regular gym goers. This is no surprise seeing as this is a place where they are likely to see women such as this. The reality is schmoes are a part of the fan base, so they should not be excluded.

        Romano’s last remarks are rather disingenuous.  The last paragraph includes these thoughts: “we all deserve the opportunity to pursue our dreams and aspirations”  and ” it’s always nice to have a venue in which to showcase and be rewarded and recognized for your effort.” It is unfortunate that bodybuilding and the sports world do not think this way in regards to women. Romano concludes the article by articulating that if the sport remains fan supported, then it proves it is not a beauty contest. It was never a beauty contest in the first place. The general public never supported female bodybuilding and the fitness industry never supported women. This has been for a longtime a fan driven sport. The IFBB was an obstruction in may respects. They did not target hardcore fans. This opened the door for others to capitalize. Female bodybuilding is not dying, but has gone on a decline and sudden evolution. The other divisions are seeing more muscular women. Rachel Mclish probably would not be able to compete with a fitness figure, bikini, or physique competitor even in her top physical condition. Most of the physique competitors could easily be confused for lightweight or middle weight bodybuilders. Where ever this evolution of the sport goes, it is certain that the muscular woman will never disappear.

Rebuttal to John Romano’s “The Death of Women’s Bodybuilding Did “Ugly” Kill Female Pro Bodybuilding?”

The Anatomical and Physiological Reasons for Differences in Performance Between Female and Male Athletes

Men tend to have higher levels of athletic performance than women. There are sociological factors that play a role. Boys at an early age are encouraged to engage in physical activity. The opposite is true for girls. Women may not have the same opportunities to develop physical skills as men. Before puberty, there is no gap in athletic performance. Boys and girls are at equal levels of strength and speed.While some of the discriminatory barriers have been removed, the difference in performance cannot be solely environmental or sociological. There are anatomical and physiological factors that effect athletic performance. Elite female athletes would not be able on average, to compete with with elite male athletes. When men and women are given the same training regimen, on average men perform at higher levels. However, this does not mean there cannot be a small sample of women who overlap with some males in terms  of performance. The difference in biology, physiology, anatomy, and endocrinology contribute to the gap in athletic performance.

One factor that effects athletic performance is body structure. Women and men’s bodies differ in particular attributes. Secondary sex characteristics do influence athletic performance. Men have broader shoulders and more upper body strength. Having broader shoulders means more space to build muscle on that section of the body.

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This would give men more advantage in sports that require upper body strength  like boxing or weightlifting. Women would have to work harder to gain strength in the upper body. Women have wider pelvises, which effects running speed. However, women are closer to men in lower body strength, so it is not impossible for a woman to outrun a man. Women have a smaller waist  and smaller shoulders, which means limited space for muscle mass. Women are normally shorter in height and weigh less than males. The difference between body composition occurs after puberty, with males developing more muscle mass and women more fat. Women’s fat is concentrated more so in the buttocks, thighs, and hips. Men have larger feet and hands. This could be useful to an athlete depending on what sport. Women have lower bone mass as compared to males. The difference in body structure is due to endocrinology.

        The endocrine system plays a major role in athletic performance. Specifically endocrinology refers to the study of hormones, the organ system itself, and the diseases that could befall it. The hormones that are relevant to performance are testosterone and estrogen . Although estrogen produces fat, there are advantages.

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The functions of the endocrine system.

Estrogen-B has an effect on the speed of contractile tissue, but  it means the muscle is more fatigue resistant. This is critical for recovery after work outs. Exercise physiologists in the past just assumed that males had all the advantages, due to sex biases. Testosterone on the other hand, allows for greater muscle mass. It does not only just effect muscle, but bones ligaments, and tendons. Testosterone also produces more red blood cells. That means men would have higher anerobic capacity. Estrogen and progesterone are sex hormones that have other functions. Estrogen like testosterone is responsible for secondary sex characteristics in females. Progesterone is responsible for preparing the female  body for pregnancy. The endocrine system metabolizes nutrients differently in a woman’s body. Women will have higher subcutaneous fat levels. Fat is needed for ovulation and menstruation. Even the most muscular woman will retain higher body fat than a male. Marathon runners have low body fat percentages, but males are usually at four percent  while women have eight percent.

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Testosterone allows men to have more muscle mass. Women do produce this hormone, but in smaller amounts. Women produce at least one-tenth the amount of testosterone of males .Hormonal levels do vary among individuals, so it is not impossible that a woman producing more testosterone naturally could be exceptionally athletic. Testosterone contributes to protein synthesis which will aid in how muscle will respond to an exercise regimen. This means males will achieve a higher level of muscular hypertrophy. However, hormones are not the only factor in strength. The testis are not the only pace in the male body in which testosterone is produced. The pituitary gland also contributes. The hormone will bind to skeletal fibers as well has having an effect on proteins.   A man could have more testosterone, but not stronger than a particular woman.

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The assumption is that the man would be stronger, because of higher testosterone production.  The testes produce more of the hormone in males, but that does not mean every man would be stronger than every woman.  There is no doubt that the woman in the photo could have more strength than the man. 

The amount of free testosterone is a major factor in muscular hypertrophy. The majority of testosterone is bounded to sex hormone binding gloubin  or non-specific proteins. While it seems that testosterone has all the advantages, estrogen also contributes  to something vital. Estrogen plays a role in protecting bones, the heart, and the brain. Women when they produce estrogen allow for the creation of osteoblasts. This type of cell is what bones are made of. Estrogen will then collaborate with calcium, vitamin D, and other hormones to maintain proper bone health. Recent medical studies have shown that estrogen can protect the brain. This was discovered by examining pre-menopausal  women who had their ovaries removed. This is sometimes done when there is a high cancer risk. Hormone therapy is done to maintain good endocrine health. Estrogen helps the heart by relaxing dilated blood vessels contributing to increased blood flow. The hormone can also maintain and manage high density  lipoprotein, which is essential to having good cholesterol. The endocrine system performs many functions, but the muscular system is also pivotal to athletic performance.

         Muscle and strength are two elements an athlete needs to be successful. When examining this organ system, there is little difference between females and males. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as “girls muscles” or ” man muscles.”  At the cellular level, the fibers are the same.

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Men and Women have the same muscles. 

The difference is revealed in the distribution of certain types of muscle fiber. Hormones do play a role as previously explained, but that is not entire reason for the strength difference. Males have a greater amount of fast twitch muscles fibers. These types of muscle fibers allow for greater bursts of physical out put. Women have more slow twitch muscle fibers, which means they have more endurance. This is the reason why women’s muscles would be more fatigue resistant. Women can develop fast twitch fibers through weight training, but men have more to start off with. According to some exercise physiologists, male’s muscle fibers may actually be bigger. Women are closer to men in lower body strength.

muscle fibersMen still at equal levels of training surpass women in the lower body. Women who go train the same will rarely surpass their male counterparts. Women produce at least two thirds the physical strength of a man. Another important consideration is muscular endurance. This describes the ability of a muscle group to contract over a long period of time. Men could not have more muscular endurance, just because they have more muscle tissue. Training and genetics seem to be essential factors. Muscle activation, blood flow, and metabolism play a role. When examining muscle activation women had more endurance, because they fatigued less quickly and recruited more synergistic muscle groups. Women were found to utilize blood flow better, which aids to muscular endurance. Men and women can have similar levels of muscular endurance. Although weight training can address some disparities in absolute strength, usually the strongest male is stronger than the strongest female. Males during puberty go through a “strength spurt.” This occurs during the later stages of puberty. This strength gain can even continue into adulthood, when testosterone levels reach their peak. The strength spurt describes the pace of  muscular hypertrophy and is a attained one year after the initial peak rate.

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Zoe Smith most likely followed the same training regimen as her male counterpart. However, he has the advantage of more upper body strength. 

While it is true men have more absolute strength, when comparing men and women of a similar size the disparity is not as large. When examining cross sectional area of muscle it would appear that male and female muscle are equal in strength. Women respond just the same to weight training, but there are some hormonal and histological  factors that could limit physical gains.

       Bones and the skeletal structure are also a reason for athletic performance differences.  The Skeleton’s various tendons and ligaments contribute to biomechanical   function. Women have smaller bones as compared to men. Larger bones on the male body allow for greater articular surface and extra leverage. A large frame means more of an opportunity to hold muscle. Women’s ligaments are looser, which means they have to be mindful of injuries. A wider pelvis means that a woman’s running speed would be slower than a man’s. This does give an advantage in balance, which is required in sports such as gymnastics. Women involved in sports do suffer a higher rate of musculoskeletal injuries. Joints, shoulders, and knees are major points of injury. Even though this statistic is high, building up particular muscles can prevent such damage. Looser joints allows for greater flexibility in women.

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Muscle is not the only player in strength, but bone mass is as well. Men larger bone structure adds to the strength of the lean body mass. Men’s greater height would give them advantage in sports like basket ball or volleyball. More bone mass means the body can withstand more trauma. However, injuries such as concussions can effect men and women both negatively. This is why it is more pivotal for women to build up their bone mass as much as possible.

        There is a difference in levels of cardiovascular fitness. Women have smaller lungs and hearts, which effect how oxygen is utilized. The Vo2 max describes how oxygen is transported to the muscles during exercise. Women have lower levels of hemoglobin and would have less aerobic capacity. Muscles take the oxygen transported and used it to produce adenosine triphosphate which is essential for muscular contraction. This describe the general processing of aerobic power. The aerobic power of males is about 50% greater. This is due to certain factors. A larger heart means there is more blood to pump into the body .Larger lungs allow to fully oxygenate the blood coming from other body tissues.  The role of hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to other tissues of the body.

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The body is really an impressive organic machine. While cardio vascular fitness is important element of athletic performance endurance is necessary.

         Endurance can be described as the ability to resist fatigue under periods of physical exertion. Endurance can be determined by how efficiently the body convert calories into energy. Women have an easier time converting glycogen into energy. When glucose levels drop, glycogen acts as a secondary power source. This may explain why women excel at ultra running events. Women’s endurance could be related to estrogen. The hormone seems to have a protective role in regards to the muscles after workouts. There is some indication that estrogen could also control fatigue by inducing a level of serotonin production. There still is more research done to find out the exact role of estrogen in athletic performance.

      These are the average differences between men and women in terms of physiology and anatomy. However. when examining the elite male and female athletes there still is a gap in performance. The gap has remained stable since 1983 according to Olympic records. Generally, there is an estimated ten percent difference in all events. The data could be skewed a little, due to the fact there are still countries that do not let women compete in the Olympics. Women do not participate at the same levels at males do and it has only been recent that women were allowed to engage in serious competition. Although it is a small sample size it still provides an accurate assessment , but no precise.

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Estimates of athletic performance gaps 

Sports such as equestrian events and shooting men and women are close to equal in performance.Given the difference in skeletal and muscle mass one would assume that the gap would be larger. These are averages, but when individuals are examined their is a level of overlap. Some enthusiastically believed that women would catch up to men in performance in the 21st century. This has not occurred and many are doubtful it can happen. While it seems a little presumptuous to say it would never happen, it just may not be in this century. Humans could still be evolving and their is a possibility that women could change as well. This process takes millions of years. Seeing as we have not mastered time travel, this prediction remains speculative. Another problem is related to training methods. Women may not be performing at their very best, due to certain cultural mores. Some women, even ones in sport are afraid of developing muscular bodies. Jessica Ennis famed track athlete had sated she had to overcome that trepidation. Women if they are going to be successful in their sport are going to have to embrace muscular strength. The gap would not be fully closed, but narrowed.

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Women can gain strength, but males have the advantage more type II muscle fibers.

 There is a period in which male and female physical performance is equal.Boys and girls have not fully matured or grown. At this period, strength levels and body composition are the same. Aerobic capacity is even similar.Women do not gain extra strength, unless they train vigorously. Girls will as they mature develop a menstrual cycle. This does not hinder athletic performance. Studies show that athletic performance is not changed during the 28 day cycle. Many myths and old wives tales have surrounded the function of women’s bodies.It was once believed that women lose half their strength during their menstrual cycle. This has been proven erroneous.

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Muscles are not the only contributors to strength, but the skeleton. The three major sex differences in the skeleton are the ribcage, pelvis, and skull.  

This myth was developed around the 19th century based on eugenic foundations. It was assumed that the female body was too weak for strenuous activity and the menstrual cycle was used as proof. The medical professionals of the West said that girls upon reaching puberty, needed a rest cure. This meant doing as little physical activity and protecting the body for child birth. When women began playing sports, this put to rest these ideas. Examining the records it seems that physiology, biology, and anatomy do influence performance.

       After looking at these facts many would assume that males are the better athletes. This is an incorrect conclusion. While male records are higher, individual women athletes have proven extremely skilled. What makes are great athlete is persistence in training regimen, diligence, genetics, and  the rate in which they can master physical skills. When examining those factors biological sex does not seem like a factor. Even though sexual dimorphism is a major factor in athletic performance, the sociological factors cannot be ignored. Women are recent neophytes to the world of professional sports. Women still have to deal with body image issues and traditional gender norms imposed by society. Inequality and discrimination are still present  in terms of access to training facilities, pay, and media coverage. This explains that differences in performance are not always biological, but can be environmental.

References

Doctor, Vanessa. “Is There a Difference Between Female and Male Muscles?” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 12 Sept. 2015. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/355987-female-male-muscles/&gt;.

Mich, Hannah. “Muscular Endurance Men Vs. Women.” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 15 Jan. 2014. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/286883-muscular-endurance-men-vs-women/&gt;.

Latham, Andrew. “Physiological Differences Between Male and Female Athletes.” Chron.com. N.p., 9 Oct. 2015. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. <http://work.chron.com/physiological-differences-between-male-female-athletes-20627.html&gt;.

Lee, Lexa. “How Do Men and Women Differ Athletically?”LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 08 Feb. 2014. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/347443-athletic-differences-between-men-women/&gt;.

The Anatomical and Physiological Reasons for Differences in Performance Between Female and Male Athletes

National Hispanic Heritage Month and The Forgotten Latino Women in Sport

National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the history and culture of one of America’s fastest growing ethnic groups. The celebration was first started in 1968. Then it was refered to as Hispanic Heritage Week. It was recognized through an act of legislation sponsored by Representative Estebon Torres (D). This was later expanded into a month in 1988. The date of  September 15th was chosen, because it was the time in which a number of Latin American states gained their independence. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua declared independence in 1821. Mexico, Chile, and Belize would follow afterwords. The relevance to women in sports is an essential one. Latino women are becoming more visible in sports and this is a positive development. Unfortunately, the media gives an abnormal amount of attention to white women athletes. Here are some photographs that captures their contributions and successes.

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Marlen Esparza 

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Denise Masino 

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Brenda Villa 

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Yaxeni  Oriquen – Garcia 

1980: The Olympic Champion Maria Colon of Cuba in action during the Javelin event at an athletics meeting in Los Angeles, USA. Mandatory Credit: Tony Duffy/Allsport

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Maria Colon 

National Hispanic Heritage Month and The Forgotten Latino Women in Sport

The Williams Sisters

Venus and Serena Williams are two sisters who dominate the sport of tennis. These women will be remembered as some of the most talented players in the history of the sport. Venus was born in 1980 in Lynwood, California. Venus her younger sister was born in 1981 in Sagniaw, Michigan. Venus and Serena started playing tennis at an early age. Serena stated learning tennis at the age of three. When Venus was ten, the family relocated to West Palm Beach Florida to attend the Rick Macci Tennis Academy. These young girls demonstrated talent and their father wanted to nurture it. That early encouragement is pivotal to athletes.

Serena Williams of the U.S. confers with her sister, Venus Williams (L), in the women's doubles tennis gold medal match against Czech Republic's Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka at the London Olympic Games, August 5, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT TENNIS)
The Williams sisters

There is a question among tennis fans who would be the better player. Both have extraordinary skills and it would certainly be some form of draw. However, it looks as if the young Serena could be the better player. Since 1998, they have played a total of twenty-seven professional matches against one another. Serena seems to beat her sister on most occasions, with great struggle. Just because they are sisters does not mean they will go easy on each other on the court. Both have a powerful enthusiasm and competitive nature, which drove them to the top of their sport. Serena became a professional tennis player in 1995. She was only fourteen years of age. Serena by the late 1990s  was gradually rising to prominence . She won her first singles title at the Open Gaz de France. Like her sister she was finding much success  in the sport. Her best wins include the 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and ,2015  Australian Open (singles). Her wins for Wimbledon  (singles )were in 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2015.

(FILES) US Serena Williams returns a ball to Russia's Vera Zvonareva in the women's grand final of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in southwest London, on July 3, 2010. Williams, a former world number one and 13-time Grand Slam singles champion, has undergone surgery to remove a blood clot from her lungs, a representative for the tennis star said March 2, 2011. Nicole Chabot told People magazine that the 29-year-old American underwent an emergency operation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Monday and continues to be monitored by doctors.

Serena Williams 

Her highest ranking was number one in both 2002 and holds this ranking currently. Her statistics for doubles also shows great success. Serena also competed in the 2000, 2008, and 2012 Olympics. Although she makes more money competing in Tennis contests, and the Olympics do not provide prize money, she does it to test her skills. She has the opportunity to compete with the best tennis players from around the globe.

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Venus Williams 

Venus Williams has won four gold medals from the Olympics. She turned professional around the same time as her sister. Together they became a dominant force in tennis from the 2000s onward. He best wins were the Wimbledon (singles)  in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, and 2008. The Australian Open was another victory in 2003 and she previously found success in the French Open in 2002. She also was in excellent form in the US Open in 2000 and 2001. There are multitudes of matches both the sisters have won. The secret to their success is technique, diligence, and talent. Both do have different playing styles. Her serves are fast, for which she holds a record in. She uses her quick agile moves to attack opponents relentlessly. Serena utilizes powerful backhand swings and groundstrokes.

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Their playing styles could be explained by their body types.

When looking at the sisters, you can see they have different body types. Serena has more of the mesomorphic body, which is suited more for power. Venus has more of an ectomorphic body designed for speed. Together it makes for a fascinating tennis match. The two sisters playing doubles are quite formidable. However, Serena more muscular body gives her an extra advantage in matches, which could possibly explain why she can beat her sister. Venus ‘ speed could wear down her sister, but this advantage takes time. The media attempt to say these women are in a state of extreme rivalry, but they are very close. They are just like any other sisters they may fight sometimes, have sibling rivalry, but through it all they love and support one another. Both sisters have been playing since the 1990s and they will be playing for a longtime. The Williams sisters are true treasures of women’s sports.

The Williams Sisters

The Problem With Lolo Jones: Racism,Colorism, Sexism, and The Mass Marketing of Sports

These videos were found on Youtube under the channel Black Truth Forever. They explain why the media is obsessed with LoLo Jones.Lolo Jones was given an abnormal amount of media coverage during the Olympics. It was not because of her athletic accomplishments. Her track and field record was so poor, she switched over to bob sledding stating once “I’m so desperate for a gold medal.”  The reason for Lolo mania was based on racism, colorism, sexism, and the mass marketing of sports. The racist element was the most visible. Dawn Harper Nelson the gold medalist in the 2012 London Games was ignored by the media. Her fellow teammate Kellie Wells was also ignored . The only attention they got even though they were the winners, was backlash from them criticizing Lolo Jones. Even though Lolo Jones is also black, she is favored because of her lighter complexion. This is colorism an extension of white supremacy. The more non-whites look closer to Europeans the better treatment they will receive. This white standard of beauty has poisoned the minds of many inducing inferiority complexes in non-white societies. The media promotes this to maintain a status quo of racial domination.

Nelson and Wells pointed out this racial bias. This created backlash, because it exposed the hideous face of racism in America. The notion that is exposed is women with dark skin women are not marketable. This lie is the psychological projection of  the white media’s racial prejudice against African Americans. There is an element of sexism that is also present. LoLo Jones was given attention due to the fact that she was considered “beautiful.” Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Yet, the media attempts to brainwash people into a particular type of beauty.

This concept of beauty should not have anything to do with sports. The lugubrious fact is most societies only value women for their appearance, rather than their character. Women athletes are either sexually objectified on magazines or commercials. There are even women who claim this is “empowering.” This statement seems ludicrous, when women have limited control over sports media, coaching, or team ownership in professional sports.

Sports are gradually becoming a mirror of the negative aspects of Hollywood culture. Hedonism,  uncontrolled lascivious behavior, narcissism, and ostentatious conduct have infected the sports world. Sports and the game its self almost becomes secondary. The focus is directed at the outrageous behavior of athletes.

One major problem with professional sports is the corporate dominance of it. Contracts, salaries, and endorsements become more important the game or athletic performance. The population seems to like this development, because they live in a hyper consumerist society. The media will keep producing this celebrity  material culture as long as people keep consuming it. The mass marketing of sports seems to be working against it. Athletes who want to be serious about their sport, now have to consider public relations elements and the cult of celebrity. This could drive away talented athletes who do not to be involved in these negative elements. The fact that Lolo Jones is put on a pedestal, demonstrates the intersection of racism, colorism, sexism, and the negative elements of mass marketing in US society.

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The Problem With Lolo Jones: Racism,Colorism, Sexism, and The Mass Marketing of Sports