Sports Science – Can a Woman Punch as Hard as a Man?

This segment is from the program Sports Science. It asks the question can a woman punch as hard as a man? The program conducted an experiment to answer this question. The subject chosen was Lucia Rijker. She is one of the best boxers around. Rijker has often been called “the most dangerous woman in the world.” Lucia explains that it comes down to technique employed. Using more of your arm to punch is inefficient. To conduct the experiment a male boxer at the same weight ( 140 lbs) and height ( 5’6) was used to compare. Both boxers  punched martial arts trainer Julian Rush . He was blind folded and later asked if he could tell the difference between a punch from a man or woman. Rush could not distinguish from either the man or woman’s punch. The second phase of the experiment required measuring the actual force. This time a crash test dummy was used. The male boxer achieved a total of  710 lbs of force. Lucia Rijker generated 922 lbs of force. There is an explanation for this. Her technique is to accelerate her punches to compensate for lower upper body mass. Phrases like “punching like a girl” or “punching like a man” become irrelevant. Technique is just as important as strength. Men do have 20% more muscle mass, which would be an advantage. Males have more upper body strength, but boxing requires more than just that.

Sports Science – Can a Woman Punch as Hard as a Man?

A History of the Bikini

What started a simple swim wear became a type of clothing important to women’s sports. The Bikini is a two piece swimsuit for women that contains a top (bra)  and underwear that is cut below the navel. This type of clothing can range from different sizes being smaller (thong or G-string)  or a much larger model. The bikini at fist was not popular among women, but that later changed. As women entered into the sports world the bikini became a part of women’s sports wear. Sports such as volleyball, bodybuilding,  and even other athletics. The swimwear has become an icon unto itself. This type of clothing accentuates the female figure and in the beginning there was resistance from the more socially conservative elements of society. Combined with that backlash and the low popularity in the initial stages, it seemed as if the Bikini would disappear. The situation would reverse and now you can see women wearing bikinis on beaches or sporting events.

             The  modern bikini was developed  by Louis Reard (1897-1984).  He was by trade an automobile engineer and clothes designer. Reard was French, born in a period in which the nation was a colonial empire.   He took over his mother’s lingerie business in 1940. For that point he had to teach himself about designing clothes. One day going to St. Topaz he noticed women were attempting to get tans by rolling up the edges of their swimwear. Reard then got the idea that their should be a swim suit with the midriff exposed. There were other designers working on a swim suit similar to his. Jacques Heim produced what he called the “Atome” in 1946.  The name for the swim wear could have come from the South Pacific Bikini Atoll. There the US conducted tests for the first nuclear weapons. Using the name atome or bikini was a way of saying it was going to send shock waves. It appears there was not one creator. There were cases prior to 1946 in which had swimwear similar to the early bikini. There were two piece swim suits  that existed in classical antiquity.

The new ‘Bikini’ swimming costume  Micheline Bernardini was the first to model in the modern bikini .
Carrie simmons
Here Carrie Simmons poses in a bikini. Today bikini designs are more elaborate and colorful.

Some tile mosaics discovered from the period of Roman civilization show women wearing something similar to a bikini. At the very least these were two piece swim suits. If this early swim wear is to be counted as a bikini then it would technically be 1,7000 years old.  When examining the Villa Romana del Casale  it shows women exercising in what looks like bikinis. These mosaics are dated 300 AD. It was belived this was more comfortable exercising in than women’s standard wear during the classical period. At that time it did not cause a uproar. There are also archaeological finds in Anatolia ( modern Turkey) which show women in swim suits dated 5600 B.C.E  and also depict a mother goddess. Urns found from Greco-Roman civilization dated 1400 B.C.E also show women wearing bikini like garments. There is little information historians and archaeologist have on the opinions on the swim suits women wore. The level of acceptance or repudiation remains ambiguous given the limited information.  When the 20th century arrives then there was social resistance to the bikini . Religious groups and some feminist organizations. There were religious groups in the US who said it was immoral for a woman to display their body. Certain feminist organizations complained  that it objectified women. There were bikini contests that emerged and sometimes they were apart of beauty pageants. However, there were some cases in which beauty pageants banned the bikini. It was considered too lascivious for the more conservative public.



Sales of the bikini performed better in France during the mid-20th century. It took the rest of the world awhile to catch up. The exposure of women’s navel caused controversy among some people. Modesty and the covering of the female body has been promoted in more conservative societies. The female body was either at times covered or confined under the supervision of male authority. The bikini for some women became a symbol of liberation from male control of their bodies. Kelly Bensimon  has said that it was a symbol of female expression. The former model and author of the Bikini Book  stated “it gave a lot of people confidence.” She describes the clothing’s appeal as “it celebrates all people athletes, models, dancers, and real people. Benismon says the bikini has stood the test of time mainly because it was associated with scandal. Gradually, society realized that there was nothing indecent about bikinis. It takes time for society to accept new ideas or things. Bikini23

When celebrities began wearing bikinis, it gained some acceptance. Actresses ad models began wearing them in glamour shots. This became common in the 1950s with movie stars such as Mirylin  Monroe and Ester Williams.  Celebrities like it or not are trend setters and continue to influence fashion styles. Celebrities had some freedom to navigate more strict social and cultural mores. The process was slow, but the bikini became more popular. Around the 1960s   the bikini sky rocketed in popularity among women. Mainly because certain bans on the swimwear were bring lifted. Italy, Portugal, Australia, and certain states in the US had either bans or certain restrictions directed at the bikini. The National League of Decency in the US was a culprit of not only banning clothing, but other forms of entertainment in their perspective was “profane.”   Groups like that could not survive the coming of the Sexual Revolution. The relations between the sexes changed, women were gaining reproductive rights,  and women found more liberation in having control of their sexual relationships. Sex was not seen as a negative thing or just for the sake of having children. It could be for the pleasure of both men and women. The result of this was that women’s bodies were no longer viewed as “indecent.” Women could wear what they wanted without causing a moral panic.

           Some have claimed that the evolution of swimwear correlated with women’s emancipation. The earlier swimwear was more confined and designed to restrict movement. This was common for women’s clothes throughout history, because it was once considered improper for women to be involved in physical activity. The rise of the sports bra for example was revolutionary, because it allowed women to compete in sports with comfort. Women with larger bust size may have been driven away from sport prior to its creation. The bikini made it so women became more confident in the display of their bodies. Oliver Saillard a history of fashion postulated the relation between the bikini and gender politics as this : “the power of women, not the power of fashion.” He delineates it as women imposing influence on something as a representation of women’s growing power in society. Women were no longer ashamed or afraid of their bodies. The bikini seemed to be a link in not just a political emancipation, but a social and cultural one. There is the counter argument that seeing as it was made by men, it is questionable whether or not it is liberating. Even with that fact  it seems women made the swimwear their own by becoming designers themselves and ushering in new styles.

These are examples of swimwear from the late 19th century to early 20th century.
The modern day bikini reveals more of the female figure.

The bikini would not just be worn by beach goers it would later find its way into women’s sports. This seemed like a natural progression, because women were entering the world of professional sports at the international and national level. It was clear that certain clothing would be brought with them.

The bikini also has been present in women’s sports. Beach volleyball, bodybuilding, and surfing. There some instances that track and field athletes have bikini bottoms. The most common association of the bikini with sport is with bodybuilding. Muscular women oil up and tan then pose in various contests. Female bodybuilding did evolve from bikini contests. These contests were more so modeled after beauty pageants because it did not emphasize muscle size, posing, shape, or definition. These were supplements to men’s events that rook place from the 1950s to mid-1970s. Women were entering sports in larger numbers during the early Title IX era and it was a matter of time that women demanded their own competitions. The Ms.Olympia contest (1980-2014) emerged and the National Amateur Bodybuilding Association (NBBA) allowed women to compete. There are some restrictions on what type of bikini can be worn. Women are forbidden to wear thongs or t back swimsuits in contests in America. The reason is that certain contests could be filmed for television and organizations rather not face an FCC fine. However, closed events allow it, because it will not be broadcast. Europe seems to be more liberal in this regard, while America is more conservative.

Britt Miller poses in a thong. She could not get on stage with it if her contest she was in was being filmed for US television.
Yeon’s bikini falls into proper regulations set by the IFBB.

Volleyball has made the bikini as its official uniform. It was 1994 that the bikini became the official uniform for the Women’s Olympic Volleyball team. Then in 1999 the International Volleyball Federation standardized it and made it a requirement for all women in volleyball. This does have some problems. Cold weather makes it uncomfortable for women to wear and women may object to the uniforms due to religious beliefs. There were changes in 2012 allowing shorts and sleeveless shirts. There a more criticisms about the bikini being the uniform. Some sports journalists say that it distracts attention away from the actual game and just puts emphasis on how attractive the women are, rather than their athletic talent.Feminists claim it objectifies athletes and diminishes the attention on their accomplishments. This may not be due to the clothing itself, but the institutional sexism that has been a part of sport since its birth. It is odd that some feminist critics never raise similar complaints about the bodybuilding sports. Although it appears athletes like the uniforms because it gives more free range in terms of movement , others experience discomfort. Chafing and constant fiddling with bikini bottoms can cause irritation.


This problem can be solved by use of different fabrics  and adjusting the size of the bikini bottom itself. If the athletes enjoy using them as a uniform, they should remain. If it causes too much of a problem then women should bring it up as an issue. Gabrielle Reece had stated she was not content with the bikini uniform requirement, who preferred  her tights instead. Some athletes  believed that this was just done to make the uniforms look skimpier. The frustration can be understood, but other athletes in different sports have dissenting opinions. Female bodybuilders do embrace the scantily clad bikini and skimpy image, but present it in a radically different manner. They combined a new paradigm of beauty, while combining it with the older concepts of glamour. Added to that was power and grace of a posing routine. This made for a fascinating and eclectic mix of concepts.


It is amazing to think that just a simple piece of clothing can cause such reactions. The bikini has been experimented with in track and field. Florence Griffith Joyner ushered in a style in which she used both bikini bottoms and one legged tights at the 1988 Olympics. It seemed as if Joyner got more attention for her clothing selection than her 200 meter event. There are some sports organizations that specifically ban the bikini bottom and demand athletes wear shorts instead. The West Asian Games implemented this policy in 2006. Running in a bikini top would be impractical, but the bikini bottom seems to make more sense. Shorts or long pants may cause more pressure added to wind resistance when running at high speeds. A study on this subject has not been conducted, but it is a possibility. The bikini is also a common form of sports wear in surfing. Sometimes women who compete in surfing also participate in bikini contests. There is controversy in this seeing as usually more money is offered for the bikini contest.


 The bikini caused controversy with the general public and even in the sports world. Prior to the introduction in the sports arena, it was not seen as acceptable. Sports Illustrated changed this by featuring women in bikinis on its front cover 1964. Now, they have issues devoted to women in swim wear. The bikini later became the most popular piece of swim wear not just in the West, but globally.

         The 1960s and 1970s saw the bikini rise in popularity. With a golden age comes a decline. The bikini lost popularity in the 1980s. It’s original developer Reard died during that time and his company closed a couple of years after his death. Around the early 21st century there was a spike in sales again. The market was mostly teenage women and women over the age of 30. The sudden resurrection could be attributed to baby boomers increased interest in fitness. The desire to recapture youth  and improve their appearance. Baby boomers were thinking  that age was just a number. There was also a negative side to this. The concern was that the obsession with the bikini body would take a toll on women’s mental and physical health. Eating disorders or mental distress from body image was a problem growing among many young women. The bikini cannot be completely to blame for these developments. A conjecture could be that it was the product of a neoliberal capitalist consumer culture. It functions on people’s insecurities attempting to keep the public constantly buying products. Whatever  the root of the problem could be, the solution is not a simple one. The modern bikini has lasted some 70 years. Currently there are various types to choose from : sling bikini, string bikini, micro bikini, skirtiki,  bandeaukini, monokini, tankini, and trikini.

Further Reading

Westcott, Kathryn. “BBC NEWS | In Depth | The Bikini: Not a Brief Affair.”BBC News. BBC, 05 July 2006. Web. 23 June 2016. <;.

“Bikini.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 23 June 2016. <;.

Moos, Jeanne. “STYLE Bikini Blues — Beach Volleyball Makes the Swimsuit Standard.” CNN. Cable News Network, 13 Jan. 1999. Web. 23 June 2016. <;.

A History of the Bikini

2 Healthy Chicks- “Women “not strong enough for combat?”

Women “not strong enough for combat”

This blog post was originally published in 2013. The author congratulates the fact the US ban on women in combat was finally lifted. Really, women were already in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, because there was no frontline. As these states collapsed under US invasion insurgencies arose using irregular warfare. While the writing does point out the fallacy in stating no woman has the strength for combat, it ignores biological and physiological facts. The author states that she is a feminist, which to some has negative connotations. Equality is needed for a functional society, but it should not blind us to differences. Men and women are physiologically and anatomically different, it does not mean one or the other is inferior. Understanding women’s physiology can allow for a physical fitness program to make them worthy combat soldiers.If gender integration in the US military is to work, there are certain training regimens women will have to perform. This depends of the military occupational specialty. There are two extremes of this new wedge issue. The conservative perspective is that no woman can be successful and they are too weak. The liberal perspective is that any woman can be combat soldier and borrows some extreme feminist overtones that all women are super women. These two notions are not realistic. The author seems to hold the second view point. These extreme positions must be examined objectively.

              Tom Cotton a Republican representative form Arkansas stated that ” It’s nature, upper body strength and physical movements and speed and endurance…” It is true that men on average have more upper body strength and aerobic capacity, however women can increase their physical fitness level. The question of endurance is a bit harder to answer when comparing men and women. Muscular endurance describes the action of a muscle group contracting of long periods of time. Men can have more muscle mass, but this does not mean they have more endurance.Blood flow and metabolism play a role. Women fatigue less quickly in muscular endurance exercises due to less restriction of capillaries .Women may fatigue less quickly do to more recruitment of synergistic muscle groups. Cotton does not have a grasp of exercise physiology or basic science. He is part of a political party that denies human evolution and climate change. There is a way for women to acquire physical strength.


Women must have work out regimens tailored to their biological make up. Weight lifting can add strength to muscle and bone. There are two types of methods of muscular hypertrophy that can be utilized in an exercise regimen. Myofibrillar hypertrophy can be induced by lifting heavy weights and performing sets between two to eight repetitions. The lower amount of repetitions combined with heavy weight allows for the increase in size and quantity of muscle fibers. Exerting muscle this way allows for testosterone to be released  resulting in microtrauma. The muscle fiber will respond with repairing the tears with stronger tissue. Other exercise regimens sacroplasmic hypertrophy can be a method of building muscle strength. This increases fluid in the muscle cells. Circuit training involves twelve to fifteen repetitions per exercise. It requires a minute or less between exercise. Three or four exercises can be used which include incline dumbell chest press, dumbell side raises, bench dips, and chest fly. These exercises do not cause muscle fatigue and result in the body producing more growth hormone.


Besides training method diet is also a component. Rest is just as important as exercise.  It has been recommended that there be at least 48 to 72 hours between workouts. Consuming food before and after a work out session helps with muscular hypertrophy. Proteins and carbohydrates are essential to a diet. Bananas and peanut butter are examples of foods with a good source of protein. Food contributes to feeding muscle. Women do run slower than men, but that does not mean women cannot run fast. Tom Cotton must have never watched a track and field event. Carmelita Jeter  track and field athlete was able to run 55 meters in 6.84 seconds. Her running speed could very well surpass the male standard on the Army physical fitness test . It is a two mile run designed to test cardio respiratory fitness   and leg muscle endurance.

The men’s standard for the U.S. Army :

Age (17-21) – Minimum (15.54 minutes) — Maximum (13.00 minutes)
Age (22-26) – Minimum (16.36 minutes) — Maximum (13.00 minutes)
Age (27-31) – Minimum (17.00 minutes) — Maximum (13.18 minutes)


Women’s legs are closer to men’s in strength. It would be easier to add it on that section of the body compared to the upper body. Women have smaller hearts and lungs which means their aerobic capacity is lower. This is an average; it does not mean any man can just out run someone like Camelita Jeter. What also effects women speed is the structure of the pelvis. A wider pelvis alters the movement of the attached bone. However, the muscles of the legs are the same and can be responsive to weight training exercise. Tim Cotton deals in absolutes, rather than examining the entire spectrum. Depending on genetics as well, some women will be more responsive to training.

lisa bickles
This is Lisa Bickles  when she was a marine. That was before she took up weightlifting activities.  I think the after version would be the more capable soldier.

A woman who is naturally mesomorphic in body type can see more strength gains compared to one of thinner build. The assumption that the female body is inferior is false. Still there has to be consideration for physiological and biological differences

         The author’s feminism implies that of sameness feminism. This ideology believes that biological differences are “social” constructions and if we realize we are all  similar, equality will flourish. This notion seems ludicrous, because being different is not an indication of inferiority. Some even ignore basic anatomical and physiological facts. Men are physically stronger.  The author states : ” from my experience, some men enter the military as fairly scrawny men, but come out looking like they’ve been lifting weights for years.” She then states “why can’t women do the same?” to follow up. Men and women on the same training regimen result in men attaing higher levels of physical strength. Before puberty and the effects of hormones male and female strength is close to equal. Past age thirteen boys testosterone levels increase increasing muscle size and bone mass. Growth hormone activates in both sexes including insulin growth factor I. They have assistance from the sex hormones. The sex steroids will then effect physical fitness potential of the sexes. A boy 11 to 17 years old can go from 15 kg to 35 kg of muscle. Women by the age of 17 have a lean body mass of 22kg.  Reaching adulthood a male would have 150% the mass of an average female and twice the muscle cells. Males do still have fat, but women gain more due to the effects of estrogen. The skeletal structure is important to strength. Bones, tendons, and ligaments work with the muscle to produce movement and force. Men after full growth are normally taller and weigh more than women, which means they have more natural strength. Natural strength is the force the body can generate without a training regimen.

Between the ages 11 to 14 the change in body shape are developing. Men’s shoulders broaden and the upper body becomes more pronounced.

Women will have to work harder and train longer to gain substantial strength. Besides larger and more type II muscle fibers, larger bones contribute to greater male strength. Longer and larger bones means a mechanical advantage. Increased articular surface means more leverage and a larger frame to store muscle. Ligaments act as a reinforcement, which are also more robust in males. Men have more upper body strength  and  it is estimated that women can have 52% of a man’s upper body strength. Other estimates put women’s upper body strength being 40% less than a male’s. Often people make the claim women have stronger legs than men. That is not exactly correct   women are closer to men in the lower body. If it is a man and woman of a similar size a woman can have at least 80% of a man’s physical strength. Building lower body strength could be easier for women in a fitness regimen.

Contrary to popular belief women do not have stronger legs than men. Looking at Lenda Murray’s legs it is easy to make that assumption.
This does not mean women cannot build strong legs. This is Korney Olsen squeezing a water melon in half.

Endocrinology does effect training. Muscle mass volume and tendon size are basic indicators of sex hormone influence.  Smaller tendons could make women more susceptible to injury. This can be avoided by training in correct form and doing so under an experienced individual. A new trainee should not immediately do lift the heaviest weight. It should be a gradual process in which you add more overtime. This explains why women suffer higher rates of musculoskeletal injuries during combat training. While males do get them as well, they are protected mainly because of  larger size and more natural strength. Marching under load can effect the body of a woman more so. Women’s shoulder length is smaller in comparison and  total bone mass is less. That means less body support for gear that could weigh over a 100 pounds (45 kg). If the body cannot handle it it will cause a stress fracture. The fact is women would need more training before attempting to do such physically demanding tasks. Another solution the US military is working toward is reducing soldier load for the sake of health. The problem is too much load on a soldier will hinder mobility, when it is critical.


The differences in the muscular and skeletal system means that women could not just be the same as men. She almost implies  that just about every woman could do this. While it is ridiculous to say there are none that can, her example almost disproves her point. Jessie Hillenberg  is far from average. She is an IFBB pro figure competitor who has been involved in weight lifting for years. Her strength was built over a period of time and she has acquired a high level of fitness. The picture displayed in the article is an old one. Looking at her now it appears she made even more progress.

1365680821e1b3c Jessie Hilgenberg - fitness beauties - fitness female Her chances of passing the fitness test are higher than that of the average woman. She is exceptional . For the women with limited athletic talent, it will be a challenge. It showed it self in the female marine pull-ups issue and the constant debate of if a woman can carry a full grown man if injured in combat. The reason women were having problems with the pull-ups were part biological and sociological. Women were taught to do the flexed arm hang, which was in many respects pointless. Women have lower upper body strength, so that means it will be more of a challenge. It requires the force of the latimissus dorsi, biceps, triceps, and the muscles situated on the shoulders. Many women failed to do three. Proper training and practice allowed for improvement. focusing on upper body exercises changed the situation. Then there is the question of removing an injured soldier. Women are on average a smaller, which means they will have to use more of their maximum strength to carry the wounded. It’s not impossible for a woman to pick up a full grown man.

As you can see here this woman is carrying a large man multiple times. She does not even have much muscle. 

The firemen’s carry can be performed by a woman and if she has the strength it will not be a problem. If taught properly the fireman’s carry is simple to do for moving a large person. Sliding the person on to the shoulders and lifting them up is fast and efficient. There is a mechanical challenge still. Men who have broader shoulders will have more room for muscle. Even a muscular woman’s upper body strength could be lower than her male counterpart in a battlefield. This means women will have to push themselves to their physical maximum. The author should understand that women may need to train longer to adjusts their bodies to rigorous physical demands. Feminism does not eliminate biology. This does not mean women make horrible soldiers. It means that training must be developed to target the upper body. If the author is such a feminist, then she would have no problem having women register for the selective service. This topic has been debated in congress, but there are some women who are preaching equality when they do not mean it . You cannot be for women in combat and reject them not registering for the selective service. While the majority may have difficulty passing the fitness portion, there are ones who would not. Equality means treating everyone the regardless of their sex, religion, background, or race. The author points out that Israel has women in combat, so there is no reason why it cannot work in the US. Understanding the biological differences will help, not hinder women’s progress in combat performance.

                  These two opposing view points  are extreme, but they never consider an important factor. What makes a good soldier? Women have appeared in combat throughout history, so there is nothing revolutionary about this development. Women fought in the Soviet Union during World War II, North Vietnam under the NLF during the Indochina wars,  the American Civil War disguised as men, and in The Eritrean Liberation War. There was another fighting force  in Dahomey  ( now Benin)  composed of women known as the Mino warriors. They were known for there skilled battlefield prowess. Dahomey’s warriors were able to keep their kingdom independent until 1890, while surrounding states were invaded by the French. They were able to hold out longer in the face of European invasion.  These women have past conflicts did not have the same training as the modern US soldier. Skeptics about women’s capabilities need to only examine the past.

The Mino Warriors, who were sometimes called the Dahomey Amazons.
Soviet women served as snipers and flew combat missions.
Eritrean women fighting in the independence  war.

Devotion to a cause and the resilience to complete a mission ultimately make a great fighter. Being fearless and willing to sacrifice yourself for that cause also makes a quality soldier. A that stage there is a paradigm shift . This means a soldier system shifts to a warrior system. Warrior cultures have a long tradition in Japan and Dahomey for example. They have a Spartan mind set in which it is glorious to go to battle and if you come back you did not do something right. Modern warfare became more brutal with more lethal technology. The rise of tanks, drones, airplanes,better guns, and nuclear weapons has drastically altered warfare. Physical fitness still is important to the health of a soldier, but technology seems to be beating human muscle power. Wars are not won by physical strength. Technology and tactics are essential to military success. Women have been a part of warfare, only now has society began to acknowledge it. If this current phase is to be successful there must be practical actions and assessments when integrating women into a combat force.

2 Healthy Chicks- “Women “not strong enough for combat?”

Kristy Hawkins

Kristy Hawkins is a power lifting  athlete, former bodybuilder, and chemical engineer. Many professional bodybuilding fans remember her for her impressive size and massive biceps. She gathered a good following during her bodybuilding career. Besides being a talented athlete, she is a skilled scholar in the sciences. Chemistry is one subject she loves the most besides her athletic endeavors. Kristy was born in Longview, Texas in 1980. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University  and earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in 2002. Kristy Hawkins graduated summa cum laude. She also earned her a Masters Degree from California Institute of Technology in 2005. Then she acquired her her Ph.D  in chemical engineering in 2008 from Caltech as well. This challenges many stereotypes on various levels. Generally, there is a mistaken belief that bodybuilders do not have intellectual interests or limited ability in areas that require thought. There still is a belief that women cannot be successful at science or sport. Kristy Hawkins destroyed both of this false notions by her accomplishments. She truly is a combination of beauty, brains, and brawn. There were some struggles in her early life she had to overcome. Her story is an interesting one.


  Kristy has said in elementary school  that she was a child with a weight problem. She was involved in dance and became a twirler. As shocking as this information is Kristy at one time suffered from anorexia nervosa. Seeing her now, a person would think she would not have body image issues. These types of problems can effect women no matter their background is. She eventually made a change and went to a gym to restore her health. at first she started off with cardio and then switched to using weights. She attained a gym membership at age 15. When Kristy was 17 she entered her first contest. The ANPPC show held in Mississippi  was not a huge victory, but she placed third. This is impressive and it was clear that Kristy had a talent. From 1997 to 2011 Kristy would be competing as a bodybuilder. Her best wins include the AAU MS. Southwest America (1998, 1999),  the ANPPC ( 2000),  the Michigan NPC Championships (2002) , the NPC Lone Star Classic (2003), the Pittsburgh Open (2003),  the Ronnie Coleman Classic (2003), and the NPC Nationals (2007).The year 2003 was a period of rapid victories and culminated in her earning her IFBB pro-card. It was more of challenge competing on the Ms.Olympia stage. This was the time of Iris Kyle’s reign, Andrulla Blanchette, Yaxeni Garcia, and a host of great competitors. Although Kristy Hawkins did not place high, she presented a physique that was large and symmetrical. This is difficult to do. The larger muscular aesthetic has normally been condemned as being over exaggerated, but Kristy made it look attractive.


Kristy stands at 5’3 and a competition weight of 135 to 145 pounds. During the off season she can get up to a 170 pounds. She appears to be very strong and she is. Her best lifts include 457 pound squat, 537 pound dead lift, and 308 pound bench press. Tiny, but mighty it is no surprise that she would gravitate to power lifting. That strength is the product of serious training for decades.  To maintain such a body Kristy has to consume up to 3,000 calories a day. Kristy has said that “I’ve been told I can be intimidating, but I’ve really never had a negative reaction.” Although there has not been negative reactions, there has been less positive responses. Kristy claimed in an interview ” I have gotten some negative responses in the past, but overwhelmingly, the response is positive. ” Kristy  also has her family and  to thank : “My family and friends are fully supportive and the general public is respectfully inquisitive-people ask for advice more than anything!”Far from intimidating, Kristy seems to be a mild mannered personality with much ambition.

        Besides athletic pursuits Kristy has worked extensively in the chemical engineering field. She worked as an intern for Eastman Chemical Company and Soulita Inc. Kristy then worked as a chemist and engineer for Amyris. She was involved in metabolic engineering. Since 2013 she has worked for the Lygos Company working on yeast engineering. She would leave the company going on to be the co-founder of Anthenia. Kristy writes : ” Antheia uses genetically engineered yeast cells to produce natural products for pharmaceuticals.” She is not only as scientist, but is becoming a business owner. Currently based in California this is the best place to be for bodybuilding and the chemical engineering industry. Dr. Hawkins is not only a skilled athlete, but a great scientist that loves what she does. More women and broadly people like her are needed in society. Science is an amazing subject describing the natural world. It is a gift that should be shared with humanity. It is great that Kristy in a indirect way is contributing to that.Kristy has by her own admission “I’ve always been very strong at math, science, and logic problems so I was naturally drawn towards the engineering disciplines.” She expounded further : “chemical engineering turned out to be a great fit because it gave me the most flexibility in my graduate work, which was more closely related to the field of molecular biology (bioengineering).”


More women must get involved in science. The public must also embrace it and not see it as something impossible to comprehend or unimportant.May be if young girls see Kristy be successful as a scientist, it will encourage them as well.

       Kristy Hawkins love of bodybuilding and strength sports is a bit unique from her fellow competitors. Kristy revealed that “I always thought it was interesting how bodybuilding gave me the opportunity to get my hair and makeup done and feel very glamorous, do photo shoots, etc. I never would have seen myself that way otherwise.”This is the aspect or idea that is ignored by some observers. Women do feel glamorous putting on glittered bikinis, posing, and doing photo shoots for magazines. They are almost like an enhanced version of super models, displaying athletic prowess.Kristy had body image issues and suddenly now she developed a new positive  self image. Dr.Hawkins also enjoyed like most competitors how their body was able to transform. She has said in numerous interviews that her best body part was her glutes. Many fans say it is her enormous biceps.

  Looking at her photos her biceps could rival Hulk Hogan’s. They protrude like two bowling balls almost to the point of looking unreal. Her biceps could make many men jealous. The larger look works for her, because she was able to balance her upper and lower body. Competitors have trouble doing this and many times it creates a distortion when presented on stage.


 Kristy has impressive legs striated and large. This then complemented her upper body development when on stage. Overall she presented a excellent version of physique closer to the immense size of Bev Francis and the fullness of Lenda Murray. When she competed in the sport there was many formidable competitors. One of the reasons she retired was that she felt she took her physique as far as it could go.

         Kristy did make a television appearance on MSNBC’s Hooked Muscle Women. Along with other competitors the documentary examines what motivates women to get into bodybuilding. She articulates her points in a lucid manner and disprove some common myths. She tells the story of an old woman who was in the gym who told her ” no man will ever marry you looking like that.”  Kristy said that the old woman was initially talking about another female personal trainer’s biceps being “too big.” Kristy told her that her biceps were twice the size of that. The old woman did not believe her and Kristy rolled up her sleeve. She handle  what was a rude response well. Kristy said she “had men lined up.” This should be no shock, there are a portion of men who like strong muscular women. There were questions in the program about steroids. Kristy responded by saying “there are drugs in every sport with us it is more obvious.”  Kristy neither condoned or condemned use, but it is a reality. To most it is not a major problem. Ultimately, it is the competitor’s decision whether of not they want to use. Her intelligent and well though answers did a good job at dispelling negative stereotypes about the sport. Normally, mainstream media distorts many things presented, but Kristy was a great representative to a wider viewing public. At the end of the documentary she said she rather have an iron pumping addiction, than an anorexic one.

         Fans were sad to hear that Kristy went into semi-retirement from bodybuilding. However, that was not the end of her athletic pursuits. From 2011 on wards, Kristy got involved in power lifting. She now holds records in that sport. Kristy is a player for the Crossfit Oakland Team.


This seems to be the trend with any female bodybuilders is to go and compete in Crossfit. Kristy has done so many 400 pound squats, she makes it look easy.  With her Crossfit and power lifting activities it leaves some to speculate will she ever appear on a bodybuilding stage again? It seems highly unlikely, but she still maintains a muscular physique that could win competitions. If not bodybuilding, then may be the physique category. Inconsistent judging and limited opportunities drive away talented women. However, their love of the sport is what keeps them coming back. Kristy has said athletic activity is a large part of her life and something she does not want to abandon.

Kristy Hawkins

Being involved in Crossfit activities and having successful chemical engineering career makes a come back to the bodybuilding stage less likely as well. Her size and shape made the larger model of female bodybuilding look like a work of art. Like sculpture she made a body that that looked like a living statue. This should be the goal of anyone who wants to compete on a bodybuilding stage. Kristy is unique because she challenges two popular stereotypes. The first is that bodybuilders do not have much intellect or curiosity. The second is that the hyper-muscular woman cannot be attractive. The bodybuilder scientist defeated both of these myths. Even if she does not appear on a bodybuilding stage, fans can still see her lifting heavy at power lifting competitions.

Kristy Hawkins

The Women Who Get Paid to Beat Up Men and Choke Them Senseless

The Women Who Get Paid to Beat Up Men and Choke Them Senseless

This article by Gareth May explores the world of session wrestling to a mainstream internet news source known as vice. It seems that sometimes the mainstream can catch up to the subculture and then present it as a new phenomenon. For female muscle and bodybuilding fans this information is hardly new. It is interesting to see how the mainstream judges what it does not understand. That is why research  is critical. Session wrestling does have a major sexual element, because it is linked to a particular sexual  fetish. That is not the only reason women participate or men seek women to show them their physical strength. The article is a fascinating read for people unfamiliar with this microcosm, but more the more knowledgeable would have some disputes with it. It does something different and gets the female perspective. Normally, such writings focus on men’s motivations. There are some minor statements of fact that could be debated.

             The claim that “session wrestling  combines hardcore fighting with BDSM” is not entirely true. A majority of sessions involve wrestling without the hardcore BDSM. Session wrestling should not be confused with the act of muscle worship, which is another category of fetish. This does not mean elements of BDSM cannot be found in session wrestling. However BDSM specifically refers to bondage, dominance, submission, and sadomasochism.  Role play is also a part of this practice. A dominatrix has expertise in this area, where the session wrestler does not. There are some women who can be both a dominatrix and a session wrestler. Yet the two are separate categories. The article confuses the classification of fetishes.

Brigita This desire for session wrestling can either be described as sthenolagnia or cartolagnia one is arousal from the presentation or sight of muscles and the other functions on the demonstration of physical strength. This is not exactly BDSM, because pain, bondage, or dominance  is not the main purpose. The purpose is for the client to seem the full range of physical strength of  the session wrestler. The session wrestling match also involves arm wrestling, human dumbbell lifts, or lift and carry. Strength feats are just as important as the wrestling its self. Muscle worship can be involved, but not always. That is more about feeling the muscle of the woman and admiring her greater physical strength. Saying that session wrestling is equivocate to BSDM is not accurate. There is some relation and overlap , but it is not by definition similar.

Arm wrestling
The human dumbbell lift
Lift and carry

This can be confusing to a reader who knows nothing about the subculture. The article can be misleading. It makes it sound as if this rise in session wrestling is recent. Session wrestling could be as old as female bodybuilding and fitness . A precise date is unclear, but it was around even during female bodybuilding’s golden age of the late 1970s   to early 1990s. Mixed wrestling predates session wrestling, which had men and women wrestle in mainstream venues. It was rare, but there were some who made it popular. Andy Kaufman the eccentric comedian and entertainer wrestled women in the 1970s and 1980s. Intergender wrestling as it is sometimes called happened in the WWE and WWF. Chyna became notable for her matches with male opponents. If it had not been for mixed wrestling of the mainstream venues, session wrestling would not have emerged. Gradually, women and men got together to construct this subculture in fitness. Bill Wick was a pioneer shooting videos with female bodybuilding champions during the golden age. Kay Baxter his wife and also a bodybuilder made appearances in the videos he produced . These were at first just for entertainment purposes, but later women would see the financial value in it. Women who are involved in fitness sports sometimes do sessions to raise money for competing and extra income. This allowed some women to be financially independent in a sport that was underfunded and payed them less.

           The author mostly focuses on the session wrestling subculture in the UK. The United States has maintained it longer, so in the UK there session wrestling is still evolving.  There the sessions are expensive going for 150 pounds. The Submission Room is a wrestling business that seems to be making a good profit. There is a 50 pound entry fee and demand continues to be high. Men come as spectators and participants. There are matches between women that are semi-competitive that is viewed by spectators. The founder of this company goes by the stage name Pippa the Ripper. She got involved in wrestling by answering an ad in a newspaper. She said “it looked like it was fun and was intrigued by the unknown.” At the time she had student loan debt and did sessions to pay it off. Four years ago she decided to start this business. This was clever considering there is a growing fan base and demand for session wrestling.

Pipa the Ripper has become some what of a business woman in the founding of the Submission Room.

 This unique company is not like the information technology or energy sector. Many wrestlers have other professions besides their participation in the Submission Room. The article states ”  Many are personal trainers, fetish and alt models, or professional dominatrixes.” Recruitment occurs simply by word of mouth. Although by no means a traditional business, it seems like one women have firm control over.

       When discussing a topic such as this gender politics will inevitably enter the conversation. Observers claim that this is nothing more than the sexual objectification of women. Men are once again using women to satisfy personal desires. This is not true when you hear the perspective of the women themselves. Pippa the Ripper gives more insight : “ultimately, wresting is play fighting, something we did when we’re kids, and it’s really fun.”  Women get enjoyment out the physical contest. This throwback of unrestricted play brings a nostalgic feel of childhood. Then there is a new sense of empowerment. Pippa says “I like using my strength and my skill and my body to dominate a man in a wrestling sense. ” Women are finding that physical strength is not a male only characteristic and has benefits. Women have been fed the frailty myth for so long they believed it to be fact. Now it has been challenged as more women are becoming involved in sports and other physical activities. Men who are participants in sessions seem to have a respect for women’s new power. Ashley Starr who wrestles as well gives a description about the motivations for session wrestling. She says its all about “feeling a woman’s power.”Ashley Starr has wrestled men for 12 years travelling the world from Australia, Middle East, and East Asia. Through her experience she says that their is one theme that is cross cultural. The men want to feel and witness the strength of  a powerful woman. Ashley Starr says men love feeling her large biceps.

Ashley_Starr (1)

Women gain a new sense of power and confidence doing this activity. There are detractors who condemn this as perverse or say it is close to prostitution. This seems to be a distortion. This notion or feeling may have to do with misogynistic attitudes that are present in certain societies. Women defined traditionally were placed into two dichotomies known as the whore or mother. This sexist definition of womanhood was not only designed to control, but to lump women into one simple group instead of being complex individuals with different personalities. The women who do this are multifaceted and live interesting lives. Society tends to harsh to women who do not follow the status quo. The people who disparage women who do this are feeding into misogynistic attitudes . As long as it is their personal choice and they enjoy it, there is no harm.  Women as girls have a little more freedom when it comes to gender roles. As women age it becomes more strict than in childhood. The phrase “it is not ladylike to behave or do certain things” becomes more so communicated. Thankfully this has been challenged  with women’s push for equal rights and cultural changes. The women participating in session wrestling are not solely doing it for sexual reasons. The innocent act of play just like a child does can be recaptured. This is an age where there are limited gender issues that boys and girls are conscious of. It is a stage before prejudice or negative perceptions of one another develop. There is a carefree freedom that society constantly restricts. Men and women recapture it in these sessions. Examining session wrestling from that perspective elucidates many motivations.

        One question that is left out of the article is why is liking physically powerful women considered odd? Women of the 21st century are becoming a powerful force in business, international politics, and science. There are still problems of discrimination and violence , but that has not stopped their success. Women are becoming a greater presence in global leadership. The Pew Research Center reported in 2015 women increased their role as leaders around the world. With women have a place in areas traditionally dominated solely by men, there has been a major paradigm shift. Gradually, it is becoming normalized rather than an abomination as traditionalist once claimed.

A womenLeadersMapThe majority that does not hold anti-woman convictions have no problem with a female president, CEO, soldier  or scientist. Then why is it so hard to accept the physically powerful woman? Women have entered into bastions that were all male and fitness including sport is the last one.  May be the appearance of the physically powerful woman is a metaphor for women rise in society. It is celebrated at times, looked at with fear or uncertainty, or just unwelcome.Some men who are threatened by women’s growing role feel society is leaving them out. They feel as if physical prowess is the only element they have left. Seeing strong women just disturbs their sexist prejudices or hatred, which explains negative reactions. It will take time for people to accept women of this nature. There are men who already do.  The article makes it seem as a recent phenomenon, but it is much older. The tendency for sensationalism has become a common component in media. Whether written or broadcast it at times distorts or deceives events or activities. The author at least made an attempt to be objective and put emphasis on interviews from the women. However the public feels about the subculture, it seems to be getting more exposure to a wider audience  than in the past.


The Women Who Get Paid to Beat Up Men and Choke Them Senseless

RIP Muhammad Ali

The sports world awoke to lugubrious news today. Muhammad Ali one of the greatest boxers passed away at the age of 74. His life was not only amazing in terms of his athletic feats, but his humanitarian work. Besides fighting opponents in the ring, he also fought social ills. Racism, white supremacy, war, and poverty were cancers he spent most of his life combating. Ali’s refusal to serve in the Vietnam War inspired many peace activists. Muhammad Ali was a member of the Nation of Islam and supported Black Nationalism. As the years past he became a global icon. Muhammad Ali’s athletic talent boosted the international profile of the sport of boxing. Today matches are highly rated shows on television. Muhammad Ali will be remembered as one of the best athletes in history.


Laila Ali With Father Muhammad Ali


Ali king

RIP Muhammad Ali

The Moroccan warrior women beating men at their own games

Moroccan women are becoming involved in a sport traditionally reserved for men known as Fantasia. Players get onto horses riding in unison firing guns. This sport is dangerous, but these women do not show any sign of trepidation. North African Berbers have played this sport for centuries and is a unique part of their cultural heritage. The BBC normally biased against non-Western nations actually provided a quality report. The reporter makes one mistake.. She asks how Arab or Moroccans feel about her participation. Arabs and Berbers are not the same ethnic group. However, both live in the kingdom of Morocco. There is ethnic conflict, but maybe this sport can be a way to bring these two groups together in national unity. For women it can be a step for advancement in society. It is a positive image challenging the notion that women in the global south are weak and helpless needing Western “help” to liberate themselves. There still is a long way to go. Women can compete locally, but not nationally. With enough protest and objection to this measure this will soon change. Women across the globe are enjoying sport and the numbers are growing.

The Moroccan warrior women beating men at their own games