The Pornographication of Fitness Needs to Stop by Tosca Reno

The Pornographication of Fitness Needs to Stop

This article written by Tosca Reno points out that the fitness industry has almost turned the media publications into pornography. Reading this, there are many problems with her thesis. She claims that the fitness industry has gone through “pornographication,” but never defines what pornography is. There are times in which the definition is ambiguous or could be relative to a person’s perspective. Reno then attempts to cover the weak points of her argument in pseudo-feminist language. She then relates it to own experience, which if read closely sounds semi-narcissistic. There are other elements that she ignores completely. Women do take advantage of the sexual element. Session wrestling, magazines  published by athletes , and websites  are just a few examples. The capitalism exploits consumers and workers. Seeing as fitness is an industry, this explains why the sexualization  controversy emerged. Tosco Reno confuses sexualization with sexual objectification. These two concepts may seem similar, but the later is rooted in vicious misogyny. There are particle solutions to the problem, but Reno proposes any.

         If Reno wanted to present a solid argument, she could have defined what is pornography. The definition has been articulated as “printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.” The last part of the definition leaves questions. The appearance of a person or other materials  can stimulate an erotic feelings in a person and not be pornography. This extends to the issue of what could be considered art or erotica. There is a fine line that becomes blurred. There is that unclear boundary when looking at fitness photography. For it to be pornographic, there has to be a suggestion of sexual innuendo. There are people who are so distorted in their view of the human body, that a woman showing any part of her body is pornographic. This conviction is common among extreme conservatives and religious fanatics.

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This photograph is not pornographic. it does have the ability to induce erotic feelings.

    The human body is the product of nature and primate evolution. People made it to be an object of lasciviousness. Society at least in the West, sends mixed messages. On one hand it is so obsessed with sex to an unhealthy degree and on the other it tries to be repressive. Photography is an art and subject to this debate. The core of the controversy relates to presentation. When a subject is presented in a certain manner, the meaning of the photograph changes. Great photographers realizes this, and direct their subjects as needed. Positioning, light, and atmosphere are critical parts of producing high quality pictures. This is where Reno comes to a misunderstanding. She says “when every image displayed in fitness magazines has become one suggesting women are dressed and posed for the bedroom and not the gym, one might wonder exactly where the future of fitness is going.” These images are designed that way to sell magazines to a particular demographic. These salacious displays are targeting males 18 to 45, because they would be the largest consumers of this content. It induces an subconscious belief ( however unrealistic) that the male readers could be with or possibly get an attractive woman. Fitness magazines are doing what most sections of popular culture are doing : becoming sexualized. Popular entertainment such as television and film make fitness magazines tame in comparison. It has come to the point that the phrase “this is pornographic” is overused. There are some images that appear which could be considered borderline, but to compare them to Playboy or Hustler is an exaggeration.

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This does not depict a sexual act , but the suggestion is there. The photo however is tame by real pornographic standards.

If one is going to object to a position, it should be understood from every aspect. There is an ambiguous area in regards to what is specifically pornographic. It would not be surprising if one were to find people who wanted to censor Michelangelo’s David   or the Venus de Milo , because they depict nudity. As ludicrous as this idea is, it has its followers. Reno’s arguments just enable people such as that.

       Tosca Reno’s argument has weak foundations. At first, she sounds credible enough due to her background in fitness. She was an athlete and competitor. Reno was a fitness model, continues to write books, wrote for magazines, and appeared in a television miniseries showing the process of competing. However, she began her competition years relatively late in her life. She was 40 years old when she began and as she put it ” I was the outlier compared to the 20-somethings.” Tosca Reno explains further to the point in which it becomes ironic : ” clad in what was essentially panties and bra, standing on a fitness booth at the biggest fitness Expo in North America, The Arnold in Columbus Ohio, hawking fitness gear and the lifestyle, I felt scandalous exposing my well-toned thighs and abdomen to the general public, to say nothing of what I couldn’t see behind me.” Her descriptions of her physique take erotic overtones. Her opening statements are against pornographication are almost reversed, when she writes the description of her own body.She then brags “my glutes were well-trained, tanned and lightly oiled for sheen and properly lifted through wearing stripper shoes.”Her ego seems inflated in these proclamations, but she comes back to reality. Reno realized as she put it ” a body at 40 isn’t quite the same as a body at 20 even though I gave it a good run.” then she came to this conclusion : “but I knew that when my body ran out thanks to the aging process, at least my brain would still be there and that I would have talents that went beyond displaying my gym body in public.”

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Tosca Reno when she competed.

She claims she never depended on her physique, but her brains to be successful. Tosca seems more deceptive than anything else. It should be noted that for many women in the sport, this is an expensive hobby. Many have other occupations to finance their athletic endeavors. Athletes do have a high level of education in numerous fields. Kristy Hawkins a bodybuilder is a skilled chemist and Susan Smith who has competed in bodybuilding and figure is an  anesthesiologist. They do not fit the description of bimbo or stupid jock that Reno seems to allude to in her examples. She is merely recycling known stereotypes about the fitness world. There are women who despite challenges are able to compete due to their resourcefulness and wits. Reno states another claim that almost borders on a falsehood : ”  I can say this because I never depended on my physique to make a living in the fitness industry.” She attributes this to her intelligence, but that is not the whole story .Reno owes much of her success to her husband Robert Kennedy. Her owned a very successful publishing company started in 1974. Tosca Reno took over Robert Kennedy Publishing following his death in 2012. This would be attributed to being in the right place rather than an indication of intelligence or talent. Most of her books were published under the Robert Kennedy company. The subtle egoism is being projected in these statements and makes the argument lack cogency.

The tone of the writing becomes more disingenuous as the text proceeds. This is then cleverly disguised in the language of a social justice movement.

      Reno then continues to use the language and conviction system of feminism to reinforce a fragile position.  Reno states ”  the worry is that what women see in fitness magazines teaches them that what they are seeing is possible for them too.” It is true that all forms of media have distorted women’s perception of themselves. Body image has become something thrust upon them. However, this new image is one of strength. The opposite is one that promotes thinness as ideal. Women should not be forced to pick between the two. Women come in different shapes and sizes. People should learn to embrace this. Reno presents women as low self-esteem people seeking validation through appearance. She refers to women as “desperate” and “willing to do anything to get there.” This is an immense exaggeration. Many women enter fitness, due to the competitive nature. Most have athletic backgrounds and enjoy the challenge. They do not do this for fame or recognition, but for themselves. These are athletes who love their sport. Rewards are limited, but the women participate anyway knowing they accomplished their goals. Reno then makes more generalizations and  claims that are not entirely accurate :  “they will starve themselves to get lean enough to be able to see all muscular definition, they will experiment with recreational and pharmaceutical drugs, they will prostitute themselves to judges and more, just to make it.” Drugs have been a part of sports since the ancient world and it appears it will not disappear anytime soon. Contestants do not starve themselves, but reduce fat levels. Maintaining muscle requires a high intake of food for fueling workouts. Women only do this for competition and photo shoots, not the entire year ( the offseason allows them to replenish healthy fat levels). As for the judges, they could care less about the women. Inconsistent judging criteria and general lack of interest prove that even if women “prostituted themselves” that still would not get them anywhere. There are plenty of competitors who do none of those activities listed above, but still are ignored by the judges. The Tosca Reno clearly ascribes to victim feminism.

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Tanji Johnson is a great fitness competitor , but the judges place her low in the rankings.

This version of the ideology believes women are so victimized that they need extra protection ( either legally, politically, or socially). The reality seems to be more of a revival of the sexist concept that women are like over grown children and cannot take care of themselves. This is lucidly demonstrated in the following comment : “what are we teaching our young women who want desperately to believe that they too can be as ripped and shredded?” Reno thinks that a majority of young women do not have the critical thinking skills need to decipher facts about the fitness industry. Ultimately, she believes very few women could reach the level of Tanji Johnson or Margie Martin. Doing so she claims is so dangerous, that these naive women must be protected. This is ludicrous, because you can never predict a person’s full range of potential. Some will be successful; many may not achieve. This should not discourage a person from trying. Being adventurous, taking risks, and having new experiences are things that women can benefit from. A state of victimhood and caution is not empowering. Reno may have a point that the new “strong is the new skinny” could be just exchanging one unrealistic body ideal for another. Yet, her thesis is again questionable when she says “when will it be acceptable to lift heavy, building confidence and brainpower while strengthening your body, not concerning yourself with how cute your bottom looks in booty shorts?”Serious athletes, which these women are do not care what others think.If they did they would not continue in a sport that many feel they do not belong. If people find them sexy that’s of little relevance.  They are pushing themselves physically and mentally to the limit to be the best at their sport, not satisfy observers. Some women disregard judging criteria all together and present a physique they think best represents bodybuilding and physique sports. Bev Francis did this when she attempted to follow the judging criteria perfectly. Instead she did the opposite and presented a powerful physique which is the model for many female bodybuilders of today. For all her fake feminist rhetoric the mention of the longest version of women’s physique sports female bodybuilding is absent.

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Female bodybuilding is struggling , but you do not hear Reno defend them. She is one who believes “women have gone too far.” This is ludicrous, because one should seek to advance their skills and talent in an area to the highest level .

If you are going to talk about fitness you have to refer to all divisions. The most muscular women are either ostracized or some what excluded from the wider fitness community. Reno said that fitness needed a new direction, but the fact has been it has branches. There are regular women who workout, professional athletes, and older women improving their health. Once more she uses a generalization as a fact : “perhaps from my vantage point of 55 years of age, one willingly accepts that there is more to fitness than pornography.” Well, there has always been more to fitness than what she considers “pornography.” The microcosm of fitness involves competitions, training, commerce, and a subculture of fandom. It is evolving by the the decade raising questions about gender politics, women in sport, and how they navigate male dominated arenas. Women are doing more than as she says “barring their butts.” The facts is women have reached a level of what she refers to as functional fitness. Many athletes can run, jump, and preform tasks that require strength.Retired athletes still train even though they do not compete. Tosca Reno seems to be oblivious to the nature of the subculture. She did enter it relatively late in her life, which may explain certain perspectives. The use of feminist overtones, without actually being one is both condescending and disingenuous.

  If there is such “pornographication” occurring, then it cannot be solely blamed on men. Women have used it to their advantage in the fitness industry. Session wrestling is one of them. This is not exactly pornography or prostitution but the sexual element is there. Specifically muscle worship carters to men who have a fetish for strong or muscular women. Women make more money from this, than from competition. This was was thought to be done only by female bodybuilders, but fitness and physique models. Women who have a high level of physical power or muscle do this for money that covers competition costs, supplements, and other expenses. Opinion is divided, but women thought of a way to circumvent certain barriers in a sport that is hostile to them. Female bodybuilding has few financial avenues available to it and this practice seems to be sustaining a number of athletes. Women are paid lower than their male counterparts, so they had to get creative to remain in fitness sports. Although it is rare that sex is involved, it it clear clients come to fulfill a sexual fetish. Armwrestling, muscle worship, lift and carry could be part of the session experience. Tosca Reno may not be aware of this practice , but it is certain she would not classify it as “pornographication.” To her, its only that when men do it.

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Women would be excluded from Reno’s judgement. While session wrestling cannot be considered completely pornographic, certain websites and athlete magazines  could fall under that classification. Denise Masino publishes a magazine called Muscle Elegance. It cannot be denied that is pornographic. The magazine features muscular women in almost a Playboy like photography format. This is clearly an adult magazine and is far beyond what Reno considers pornography.She would not have a problem with this, but only because its a woman in control of it. The magazine also has an online counterpart known as Muscle Pinups.com. Feminists are divided in their perspectives to pornography. A faction believe that it encourages women to viewed solely as sex objects, others believe the opposite. Sex positive feminists are more open about the expression of human sexuality. Radical feminists even went as far as to ally themselves with the right-wing in the US in the 1980’s to ban pornography. This contradictory and ludicrous attempt eventually backfired due to the fact it restricted free speech and freedom of expression. Andrea Dworkin and Catherine Mackinnon launched this campaign. What it accomplished was the attack on feminist and LGBT publications. If this had succeed it would have given social conservatives more power to use censorship against groups that oppose them. Reno would have probably agreed with  Dworkin and Mackinnon. This would have lead to a shut down of her publications if she did. While there is a cogent argument that pornography can create a distorted perspective of women, certain attitudes would exist without it.

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The fact that there are still many who women as inferior and not worthy of equal rights, proves this point. Tosca Reno confuses sexualization with sexual objectification. They may seem similar, but the two concepts have radically different meanings. Sexual objectification is designed to be dehumanizing. The woman is reduce to a tool to be used and not an actual person. Many advertisements, magazines, and other forms of media do this. This does not mean by nature these consumed materials are sexist, but the producers of the content have misogynist convictions. Sexualization has a less negative connotation. There is s spectrum of human sexuality, which ranges from asexual, heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual. It was not until the sexual revolution that people began viewing human sexuality and copulation as a natural part of life. Although preached, but not fully practiced it was expected that copulation was solely for the reproduction of children. Pleasure should not be associated with it. This restriction was lifted in terms of cultural behavior and attitudes. Women gained more sexual freedom due to the rise of reliable birth control and paradigm shifts in sex politics. There are women who do embrace sexualization as a way to express freedom. Women for many centuries were not allowed to express such feelings or enjoy pleasure like males.

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Sexualization is the result of the relations between men and women. It almost seems inevitable in the fitness sports, because fans a seeing some of the best developed bodies on the planet. The real problem is not that fans see the women are attractive, but when that is the only aspect considered important. These women are great athletes and they should be valued for their accomplishments.

          Reno fails to realize that a capitalist system allows for the “pornographication” she speaks of. Workers and consumers are exploited in the market place, by a business class. Relevant to the fitness industry it is the publishing companies that exploit athletes and readers of the magazines. Women athletes involved in fitness do photo shoots which provide some financial reward. This is still limited, because they should be getting higher amounts of prize money for their participation in contests. Even the more popular divisions like physique, fitness, and figure still offer women less money compared to their male counterparts. Women are then dependent on photo shoots or other endorsements from corporations. They have little say in the creative production, process, and distribution of the photographs they are in. Tosca Reno seems to blame women for creating a distorted body image, when it is really various corporations. Their advertisements are designed to tap into insecurities of consumers to buy their products. Body dissatisfaction is the most profitable, because it disguised under a banner of health. Health and beauty are two different concepts. Beauty is relative to the observer, while health is determined by biomedical  status, not appearance. Various fitness magazines erroneously combine the two to increase consumption. Athletes do not benefit nor do consumers, only the business class. This is Reno’s biggest contradiction; she refuses to criticize the people who actually are responsible for the cycle. The reason becomes elucidated when we have seen her body of work.

She uses the same techniques, that she claims she condemns. What is worse is that she also is involved in the aspects of fad diets. These diets most likely do not work due to the fact everyone’s metabolism functions differently. They are usually designed for failure, so that women will keep buying these books. This only contributes to women becoming abnormally obsessed with their weight and appearance. Women are either starving themselves or develop a psychological issues concentrating on weight. At this stage, in the text the reader should no longer take her seriously : “so what then is the new direction of fitness? If you ask me, the key to fitness is being able to move your body in the way it was meant to move.” Her writings never focus on developing physical competence, but an image. Reno’s The Butt Book and The Eat Clean Diet  further illustrate Reno’s hypocritical actions. If one examines all her written works and her management of Robert Kennedy Publishing she would be part of the problem. Her analysis either is disingenuous or factually inaccurate. May be its not so much of the “pornographication” of sport, but rather the exploitation of athletes. This system of dependency that women are under can be changed. Leadership from Reno would not be a solution.

         Tosca Reno concludes with the a philosophy of functional strength and how it is beneficial to women. She exclaims ” it means you can run, jump, swim, play, bend, walk and lift with all parts of your body from joints, muscles and bones to hands and feet, all body parts working in unison.” Then delineates further :”it means that if you had to run 5K to get away from danger, if you had to swim for 20 minutes to save yourself in a flood, if you had to lift a heavy weight out of the way to free yourself, something or someone else, you could do it.” A majority of women who participate in fitness have already done and surpassed this. Crossfit is about pushing functional strength to its highest maximum. It has become popular among women and is even broadcast on ESPN. It is not about their appearance, but their athletic skill. Women who have gone into fitness sports were already participants in other sports in their youth. Lenda Murray ran track and field. Tanji Johnson also had a background in track and field. Brigita Brezovac  was competitive in martial arts. Those are but a few of the multitude of fitness involved women who do more than just pose for photos. Reno’s article then descends into a partial motivational speech, with no actual solutions. There are alternatives. It involves women starting their own publications and companies. From that stage content can be controlled to present a more positive image. Women who are involved in physique sports must all collaborate together across all divisions ( bodybuilding, fitness, figure, physique, and bikini) to ensure fair treatment in the sport. Disunity only weakens women as a whole in male dominated areas. Original content produced by athletes on the internet must continue. This allows for an increase of fans and a wider audience. The internet seems to be the wave of the future seeing as newspapers and magazines are gradually moving to being accessible online.  If these tasks are to be done, the presentation of women in fitness will improve.

The Pornographication of Fitness Needs to Stop by Tosca Reno

Althea Gibson

This is a biographical documentary about Althea Gibson (1927-2003). Narrated by Maya Angelou, it explores the barriers she broke for African Americans and women in tennis. Althea Gibson not only played tennis, but was a golfer. She had a brief singing career and even appeared on  The Ed Sullivan Show.  She also made an appearance in a John Wayne film. Sadly, women did not gain financial rewards as they do today from tennis. Althea Gibson continued to coach in her later years and inspired many women athletes.

Althea Gibson

Top Ten Reasons to Love Athletic and Muscular women

  1. They can be inspirations to other women and young girls – It is important that women and girls have a role model to look to if they decide to enter a profession that is male dominated. This is important for sports, were support is generally  limited. The athletes now will motivate future contenders to carry the torch.
  2. They embraced the “strong is the new skinny” before it was the fitness Zeitgeist – This concept has been seen as a recent fitness phenomenon, but the muscular women of sports were preaching it before it was hip. They were the true harbingers before the mass marketing fitness campaign.

     

  3. They challenge the weaker sex stereotype– Some men have used the argument that seeing as men are stronger, this gives them the right to control women. These women destroy this belief with the flex of their biceps. They may not be as strong as the strongest man, but surpass average men.

     

  4. Their athletic talents and strength feats are amazing– Considering the physiological differences, women’s accomplishments in sports are impressive. They are able to achieve strength, endurance, and speed even though  there is a difference in body composition and skeletal mass.

     

  5. They are symbolic feminist icons–  The athletic and muscular woman represents the concept of amazon feminism. This branch emphasizes that women can be physically capable and biological differences are not a limitation. 

  6. They overcome obstacles that are imposed on them– The athletic and muscular woman has to deal with certain barriers. This includes disparities in pay and training facilities. Harsh public scrutiny and ostracism does not help either. Yet, they still succeed at their profession. There has been great talents emerging over the years.
  7. There is a level of confidence among them– The athletic and muscular woman does not care what people think about their appearance. They are secure with themselves and their body image. Never do they say everyone should be like them. They are happy just playing their sport and achieving their fitness goals.

     

  8. Their diligence is admirable-  The amount of work women do to excel at their sport is something to respect. They have to work twice as hard and to see such immense results of that is an inspiration. Dedication, discipline, and focus they prove are the attributes needed to reach certain goals.

     

  9. The aesthetic is unique– There are not too many women who look like this. They are something special in that regard. Washboard abs, big biceps, and round full posteriors create a combination of curves and power.
  10. This is sexy–  There are men who like these types of women, but do not admit it. There could be more men who love physically strong women. The internet has allowed more people to get easy access to photos, when the only source use to be magazines. Power is an attractive quality and here women are displaying a version of it.

Top Ten Reasons to Love Athletic and Muscular women

Marines May Alter Rules to Permit Women to Bulk Up

Stars and Stripes

The Marines are finally catching on to training women in the physically demanding tasks of combat. Numerous detractors have stated women are not physically equipped to handle such rigorous activity that requires strength and endurance. There are women who can meet the standards, but it requires training. Sometimes failure to meet these standards is not a female enlistee’s fault. It is erroneous policies. Women and men have to meet a body mass index requirement to make themselves eligible for service. The problem of using this as a measure of physical fitness is that it categorizes muscular people as obese depending on their height relative to weight. So a muscular woman would be disqualified, even though she would be strong enough for particular tasks based on body mass index. Using this ridiculous measure is driving away qualified women. Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said to the Senate Armed Services Committee “that female marines have been lifting weights to boost their strength.” He also revealed in the meeting that the added muscle mass these female marines acquired ” placed them out of the height and weight requirements.”  General Neller should be commended for his assessment, because he realizes the problem. People are much larger in the US height and weight wise Robert Neller told the Senate Armed Services Committe. Neller asserted “that it is important that we not penalize fit marines.” It is clear this policy must be repealed if women are to be successful.

        The body composition standards need to be updated. Men are allowed to weigh more according to the body composition regulation. A man who is 5 foot 8 must be 180 pounds and men at 6 feet tall can only be 202 pounds. Women are forced to weigh less. A woman of 5 foot 3 is expected to be is 141 pounds, while tall women could ( at 5 foot 8) should be at 164 pounds. Women can have a maximum of 26% body fat, while men must have 18%. These weight constraints are not a great measure of physical fitness. Women who have a significant muscle mass could be disqualified for going over the weight limit. This can be waivered by the commander, but it is no simple process. Fitness is important to a fighting force, but the Marines are not accurately assessing physical potential.

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While measuring fat can give a rough estimate of possible physical potential, it does not precisely reveal strength, endurance, and speed. Weight can be misleading as well. Muscle does not weigh more than fat, but adding lean body mass can increase total body weight.Women are going to require more muscle to handle carrying large gear and their colleagues.That means chaining the body requirements so athletic women can serve and not be excluded because of extra muscle mass. Take for example Christy Resendes  a bodybuilder for sixteen years, who would not be allowed to serve based on the body composition requirement. At 5’5 she is a 142 pounds in her competition weight and 170 pounds off season. Even at her lowest body fat level she would still be over the required weight limit. She would fall in the male rage of total weight. This means she could be qualified for physically demanding tasks.

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The US military has been known to have strange standards such as these. There was at one time a height requirement that was set for US soldiers.  Famed American writer William Faulkner avoided service in World War I due to his short stature. That was eventually discarded and this body weight composition and or weight limit may have to go too.

      It is true that this policy was holding women back, but there other considerations. There are obviously physically powerful women, however on average men are stronger. Women who are serious and determined will advance. Men will probably continue to have a majority in front line infantry, Navy Seals, or other special operations units. The few women that enter these specialties will have to learn to cope in a predominantly male dominated atmosphere. Women who are of exceptional caliber have to demonstrate they are capable. Standards must not be lowered. That only fosters an environment of contention and suspicion. The average woman would struggle with the demands. Training can reverse this. There are limits on women’s physical  fitness due to sexual dimorphism, but that naturally athletic woman would have no problem. Simply put, it will take women built like She-Hulk and the fighting skills of  Wonder Woman to make this possible.

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One should remember average does not mean all.  Commandant Gen. Robert Neller even expressed women had raised their strength levels through weight lifting or Crossfit activities . 

      Women must focus their training on gain as much upper body strength as possible. Weight lifting can help build bone mass, which will prevent musculoskeletal injuries. Women are closer in strength to men in the lower body, so this area will not be a challenge to build up. This strength training regimen will take time and women will have to be twice as diligent. The Marines also need to change their perception of women. A common view among marines is that women are frail, helpless, and cowardly. Misogyny is ingrained in military culture, due to an emphasis on extreme machismo. These dated concepts of women must be eliminated if combat integration is to be effective.  There are also some elements of biology that cannot be changed. Women have slower running speeds due to differences in the anaerobic capacity and the shape of the pelvis. Smaller hearts and lungs mean that the amount oxygen available for long term endurance is limited for women. There are times in a combat zone in which you will have to run. Slow runners could possibly be at risk of capture or liquidation. Women must increase their running speeds to the highest level they can achieve. Besides issues of physical fitness, there are other aspects that must be addressed. If it is a matter of full equality then women must be eligible for the draft and the selective service. If this as some claim is  a “right to fight” then there should be no complaints from women. Equality does not mean special treatment. Detractors argue that there are few women who meet the fitness standards, that this would be a waste of time. This is not true, because after basic training many can apply to a military occupational specialty which they can best perform. If a woman can not meet the Marine fitness standards, there are other branches of the military which include the  US Navy,  US Air Force, or intelligence as an alternative. Women are also going to have to learn to change some of their perspectives.

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The first is not rejecting muscular development. The fear of muscular strength or appearing as such only works against women going into combat positions. Women need to understand that a stronger body will not make them masculine. Women who enter combat must love physical activity and an active fitness lifestyle.  Another attitude that needs to change is that men should do everything. Women expect men to do physically demanding tasks ( shoveling snow or moving boxes), but if it is part of the job description women should do the same. Male marines should not be expected to do the physical work that female marines do. Both should perform the same duties required of their military occupation.

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Male marines should not baby or engage in chivalrous acts toward their female associates . Carrying heavy objects for your female co-workers would be seen as condescending. Women should not expect men to treat them like queens; they should be treated as equals . This means that the high rates of sexual harassment and sexual assault must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Too many women have experienced this in the military to be ignored. Men and women should never fraternize in their units. This only causes more complications and should be strictly prohibited. Sex crimes should result in  a prison sentence and court martial. The men of the US military must realize women are not sex objects for their pleasure. When rape, discrimination, and the questions of physical fitness are addressed in a practical manner sex integration will be simple.

      Dan Lamothe’s article mentions the Marine Corps study on women in combat. Details reveal issues that were not entirely known. The only information released was that sex integrated units were least effective in combat. The report said that women had difficulty shooting accurately and had trouble carrying large loads. There were test subjects of 300 men and 100 women. Physical fitness performance of the top women were not revealed. The only physical specifications of men and women was total body weight and height. Men weighed about 178 pounds with with 28% body fat and women were on average 142 pounds at 24% body fat. People who reject women’s participation in combat cite this study, but it has a flaw. Did it document women’s physical fitness levels prior to the course? Did these women have weight training or other exercise to prepare them for the demands? What was the experience level of the males that participated? These are important questions that do not have answers in the report. There is no proof that the makers of the experiment selected women who were not fit enough to succeed. However, the Marines’ continued resistance to women in combat jobs makes it seem suspicious. There were suggestions that all female units function separately to see if they perform better. It is inconclusive that this would have an effect on the experiment.

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Women sustain more injuries than their male counterparts. The reason for this is due to the fact women have lower bone density and mass. That means women will have to condition their bodies to carry up to 100 pound loads. The top performing woman will not perform as high as the best male, but they can reach a level of fitness to meet the requirements of tank crew person, machine gunner, or reconnaissance person. A consistent regimen of exercise, high quality nutrition, and recovery days will allow women to make the most and maintain physical strength gains. Over training can be just as terrible as not training enough. Depending on the samples available this may not have given the most accurate depiction. If the women did not get proper instruction in strength building exercises their success would obviously be limited. The average woman would struggle, but the fit woman would not.

     During initial assessments of women’s capabilities, the military discovered that 50% of women could not meet the three pull-ups requirement. If looking at this statistic observers would assume that women are not physiologically capable. This was only part of the story. Up until the change, women were only allowed to do the flexed arm hang. It was done based on the idea that pull-ups were far beyond the capacity of a woman’s upper body. Women can do pull-ups if shown the proper technique. The flexed arm hang is now being discarded in favor of pull-ups. This was a case that it was not biology influencing results, but environment. The military will have to invest in women recruits, just like the men.

woman pull up

Integration of women into combat occupations will take time. Considering the amount of backlash, women are doing better than expected. When women excel, they are condemned . Women who built strength fell out of the weight requirement, due to an increase in muscle mass. The only way for them to perform certain jobs is to have as much type II fast twitch muscle fibers to exert maximum body force. Men can commonly get away with having a higher body mass. It is expected of them to be bigger. Women are on the other hand a still subject to antiquated convictions about the female body. The concept of female physical inferiority although a myth, is still prevalent. There are women who have proven they can handle the rigors of combat. Even when this happens, there still are restrictions. Two women who were the first to finish Army Ranger Training, were not allowed to serve as army rangers. There are reasons why most Americans see their government and institutions as corrupt or incompetent. The military’s failure to realize this problem only adds to that frustration felt by the public. The only logical solution now is to hire professional personal trainers to raise the physical fitness levels of women. It is clear there is no turning back, seeing as in the future there may not be enough men to fill all combat positions.

Marines May Alter Rules to Permit Women to Bulk Up