The Science Says Putting Women Into Combat Endangers National Security

Women In Combat Debate

The article published from The Federalist written by Travis Scott in 2016 questions women’s ability to meet physical fitness standards for combat positions. While sexual dimorphism, biology, physiology, and physical fitness are factors to the success of combat integration, Travis Scott makes it clear he is no advocate of women in combat roles. The Federalist has a conservative perspective and the majority of such political orientation are opposed to women in combat. It seems odd that conservatives and a Republican Party in particular holds women in such enmity who merely volunteer for service. They are thought to be the political group with a strong emphasis on national security and being pro-military. The reality is the opposite. Service members would have a worse time under conservative administrations that follow flawed foreign policy and engaging in aggressive war. Scott argues that it is possible that presence of women could effect military effectiveness. His reasoning is that women are not physically capable of being effective combat soldiers based on sex differences. Science does not state women are less capable, it only shows that men and women have a different physical fitness capacity. The only reason women in combat would not work is that women are given a lower standard resulting in the men doing more labor for the sake of women being in such military occupational specialties. Travis Scott states ” feelings don’t matter, effectiveness does” but his argument is based on emotion. Through out history women have been involved in combat in various societies and nations around the globe. While males on average men have a higher physical fitness capacity, it is not impossible for women to meet standards if instructed in the proper manner. Women who fight will not endanger national security, rather perpetual warfare, a belligerent foreign policy, and a corrupt political system.

          Before one just uses the term science the definition should be comprehended. Science can be defined as the “exploration and study of the natural world through observation and experiment.” How this is done is through the scientific method. Under this system a hypothesis established, an experiment is conducted, and data is then collected. The experiment is observed for particular characteristics. At the end of the process, a conclusion is produced.  The experiment must be reproducible and then it can be considered fact or scientific law. Travis Scott’s position that women are not suitable for combat is not based on science, rather a confirmation bias. First it goes off the assumption that no women could possibly meet the physical standards. The second problem is that also assumes that all men are at high level of physical prowess. If such an experiment were to be developed to see how mixed gender combat integration could work several conditions would have to be met.

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The women would need physical fitness  training prior to even attempting. The mixed combat Marine study had issues because women were coming in volunteering for the experiment at various fitness levels. According to the study the women volunteering had too meet only the minimal male standard to be part of the experiment in 2015. They were compared with experienced all male units. The problem was that it did not take inexperienced men and women and see how performance develops. The problem is that men and women for training on different physical fitness standards. That is why a unified fitness standard needs to be established that meets the demands of a particular occupation. There reality is that women have fought in wars both past and present. Certain women may be able to perform at a level higher than some men. Women have been in combat seeing as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had no distinguishable front line.

        It is obvious that sexual dimorphism is a factor in physical fitness performance. Travis Scott basically uses the difference between male and female bodies to indirectly say that women are low quality soldiers. This assumes that all women are weaker than all men. Men are on average taller, denser bones, more muscle mass, and stronger tendons. This also include more strength in the ligaments of the body. Not all men are built like Rambo, which is why physical fitness before entry is the key.  If women’s fitness level is lower, it would mean they would need to train prior to even entering basic training. There are several factors that contribute to physical strength. Sex and endocrinology are two of them. Muscle fiber type is essential. Type II muscle fiber is more suited for physical strength and men on average have more of this type, but the distribution between various muscle fibers vary among individuals. Genetics can also play a role in somatotype. A mesomorphic woman will have an easier time developing strength compared to an ectomorphic woman. Size can also be a factor in muscular strength. A larger skeletal frame means more area to house muscle on the body. Men and women have the same muscles and they can respond to training. They will not reach the same fitness level of a man who does the same training regimen. These factors are important,but not the only element essential to combat. Other skills and knowledge are also required for a modern military.

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The Navy, Army, and Air Force have a specific set of standards that are not just physical fitness. Soldiers have to have an education beyond that of high school and be in good health. This does not mean physical fitness is not important. The higher injury rates women sustain in the US military are due to particular factors. One common problem is that their physical fitness level is low prior to entry. Women would have to build enough strength and endurance before basic training, then prepare for their military occupational specialty. Every person who enters will not perform to the highest level. Travis Scott give the impression that the US Military is full of super soldiers.  Women at the time of the study were not fitted in the correct body armor. Knowing that female and male bodies are different a change was made to make female body armor more ergonomic. Gradually, improvements have been made to correct such problems.

 

 

The strongest women will not be as strong as the strongest men. This does not mean you have to be a top performing athlete to be a soldier. Women need weight training programs to build their strength. The problem with Scott’s sports analogy is that sports are also separated by weight class for both sexes. When soldiers meet in combat they do not organize themselves based on weight classes when confronting one another. While warfare and sports have similarities in terms of collaboration and strategy, there is a major difference. It is about killing and defeating enemy combatants. Sports has rules that regulate unfair play or general fouls in a game. The Geneva Convention is designed to prevent abuse by armed forces adhering to certain rules of war. The issue is there is no enforcement of it and certainly no sports like referee to ensure fairness in terms of conduct. Jobs that require a higher level physical activity do cause attrition rates. Both men and women can fall victim to it. Many soldiers get knee and various joint injuries because they are overloaded with gear. This has to be adjusted to prevent high rates of medical discharge or veterans who are in poor health. Even the most physically fit soldiers return with either joint or head injury trauma. This can be stopped with the engineering armor that is strong and light as well as reducing soldier carry load.

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The US soldier is put under unnecessary physical strain, when the strenuous activity should be mostly done in the actual fighting. Too many are getting injured during training. The American population has an overall lower level of physical fitness. Sedentary life styles and obesity could complicate recruitment efforts. There may come a time in which women are needed, because there are not enough men to fill such positions. The US military has was not able to meet its recruitment targets in 2017. The US birthrate has been declining and the trend may continue. These are considerations that must be accounted for in the coming decades. Even if there are men who do not have weight related issues or poor health, they may not be in the physical fitness condition to meet particular standards for a job. It would make no sense to ban women who are qualified simply on the basis it makes some men uncomfortable.

 

 

The frailty myth still seems to be present in general thought in regards to women in physically demanding occupations. This falsehood is repeat multiple times : ” women who physically exert themselves too much over extended periods of time will be subject to muscular atrophy and other biological complications.” Female athletes do exert themselves to a higher degree, but their bodies do not just collapse. Women are vulnerable to the female athlete triad, ACL tears, and too low levels of body fat can effect the menstrual cycle. Male bodies can deteriorate depending on intensity, it is just slower due to size and body composition. Saying that women’s bodies were not equipped for combat seems ludicrous. There are female fire fighters, police officers, and construction workers who have too meet a physical fitness standard. The same arguments were used against women in these professions was they were not physically capable. After such discrimination was challenged women began appearing more in these professions. It has been proven with female athlete women can increase their strength and with proper knowledge can prevent injury. The issue of muscle power can be negated to an extent through exercise and nutrition, yet there is one element that may not be changed through an exercise regimen. Running speed depends on the size of the heart and lungs. Women’s pelvic structure is wider which does not contribute to speed. Oddly enough, Travis Scott does not mention this.

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Scott does admit that even if women were to meet the standards, he claims the victory would be short lived. Attrition becomes an issue for all soldiers, but it can be addressed with proper medical care and an emphasis on maintaining health. Women may have to train in a manner which increases their upper body strength. If they are closer to men in the lower body, this should be an easier task in comparison.  Sex differences do not mean women are not capable of certain jobs; it means that the most physically demanding would be harder for them. Reaching a certain physical fitness level for a female athlete can be a difficult task. It is possible, but it will take longer compared to males. This comes down to the stages of physical development during puberty. Prior to this, the sexes are equal in terms of physical strength. The male strength spurt occurs around age thirteen in which there is a divergence. Muscle cells and muscular hypertrophy operates the same in women which means they can be responsive to stimuli induced by exercise.

The question about whether or not combat integration is possible has to be answered relative to the standards of various branches of the US military. The position that women are not good combat soldiers ” because science says so” is faulty reasoning. The foundation of science is that it uses logic and reasoning to come to a conclusion about a problem. Travis Scott has a confirmation bias, rather than a genuine inquiry. Biology and physiology cannot be ignored in this equation, but there is a deliberate distortion of history in other sections of his position of women in combat.

        The only way women in combat will be successful is if women meet the same physical demands and requirements. The approach has been a practical one in which a  unified physical fitness  standard shall be used . The Marines are  attempting to devise a revision to the  physical fitness test  . This discarded the flexed arm hang and required that female recruits do pull-ups. Scoring was adjusted as well. There was a dip in performance, but this was to be expected considering it is harder for new Marines to adjust to these standards. This time around more women performed better on pull-ups than years past. The new standards are not lower, rather that are designed to be specific and focus on functional fitness. The US military had introduced a new test called the Occupational Physical Assessment. When it was introduced it reduced injury rates during basic training. This has helped soldiers immensely. Not only does it reduce the cost of dealing with such injuries, it improves soldier fitness by a more efficient method. Women still had higher injury rates. However, there was another problem holding women back. Women needed to meet weight requirements. Some women who engaged in weightlifting exercise gained weight that was muscle, but under use of the body mass index it would classify them as overweight. Women gained mass from training, but fell out of the requirement based on their height.

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a sample of Army weight and height requirements. This would put women at a disadvantage when they build muscle, because the BMI does not distinguish it from fat.

The problem was addressed and change has occurred slowly. The Army Combat Readiness Test will replace the Army Physical Fitness Test. The Army Combat Readiness Test measures muscular strength, explosive strength, and agility. The test wants to simulate combat tasks rather than making it a series of workout sessions. Fighting is different from simply going to a gym or competing is a sports event. This is why the old standards must be abandoned. A separate standard based on sex , does create resentment among male soldiers who think women have it easier. The are seen as less competent or qualified. These prejudices can be challenged with a unified fitness standard. Lowering standards is not the solution. This has been avoided so far.

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The physical fitness standards are now being changed to train recruits to meet the exact criteria for various occupations. Although it is based an decades of research, the battlefield is unpredictable. The nature of global politics has changed dramatically.

          War has been erroneously been called a male only affair. History proves otherwise. There have been multiple times in which women took up arms and fought in various wars. Scythian civilization, Celts, the Iceni  and Arab civilization had women warriors. The West tends to only think of a warrior as male. This had not been true for ancient history or the contemporary period. The Soviet Union had female soldiers who served as snipers, fighter pilots, and were involved in combat operations during World War II. Dahomey ( Benin ) during the 19th century had women warriors. During the wars in Indochina (1945-1975) women fought in both North and South Vietnam. The unfortunate aspect of this is that the women who fought in war have been lost in history. Only recently women’s history has attempted to rectify such a narrow view of history.

 

 

Women in combat is certainly nothing new. It also is nothing new to America. During the American Civil War women disguised themselves as men to fight in the conflict. They did this both for the Union and Confederacy. There are also cases of women being active in the American Revolutionary War. Mary Hays McCauley fought in the Pennsylvania State Regiment of Artillery. She fought alongside her husband, loading cannons, and distributing water to other soldiers.  She acquired a nickname which became something of American legend : Molly Pitcher.  McCauley was not the only woman to serve. Women would appear in combat and the military onward. Cathy Williams was the only African American female Buffalo soldier. She served from 1866 to 1868 and was only discharged when her sex was discovered. Although Williams was denied recognition during her service, a monument stands in her honor at the National Infantry Museum. The major shift came when women could officially work for the US Army under the Women’s Army Corps. This women’s branch of the US military began in 1942 and was disbanded in 1978 when women became fully integrated with male units. It would seem that the next logical step would be opening combat jobs to women. Although the Gulf War ( 1990-1991) saw women taking part in particular operations a combat ban was imposed in 1994.

 

 

The woman warrior can be found in various places and points in human history. 

This ban was not because women were incompetent soldiers. It was designed to keep them out of particular occupations. Claims of incompetence or inferiority were used as justification for discrimination in the US military. When the US military became integrated African Americans were face with vicious hostility. When Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed there was conservative backlash. Under the Donald Trump administration there are attempts to ban transgender service members. The hostility women face in the US military is just another part of a long legacy of institutional intolerance and prejudice. So far, the increased diversity of the armed forces has not caused a break down in US military strength.

 

 

Today women are fighting in conflicts just not in an official capacity. FARC, the Peshmerga, and the Tamil Tigers had female combat soldiers. Rebel groups or insurgent groups across the globe may use women as fighters. They fight with less resources and aid compared to women soldiers from the US. This is why the thesis ”   Everyone up to this point in history has understood why: If the fighting were left in the hands of women, this country’s spaces for freedom and the pursuit of happiness we hold so dear would not exist ” is a flawed analysis of history. The only reason freedom or liberty can exist is if government power and military force is restrained. The Posse Commitatus Act limits the power of the federal government using the armed forces to enforce domestic policies or law. Law enforcement is left to police officers, not generals. This is also why there are three branches of government to regulate political power. Travis also distorts another element in history saying “ideas of fairness and equality are social constructs that are upheld solely by the might of men.”  This is incorrect, because such concepts are enforced by constitutions and the rule of law. It is the over emphasis on might and the obsession with power that enables authoritarian systems.  This is why the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movement was important.

 

It made sure that civil rights and civil liberties were for all citizens of the United States. This comes to another problem with this mode in thinking when Travis says :   “if  women receive fair treatment in public or civil life, it is because strong men have provided safe arenas so society can grant this to them. ”  If women waited for men to make society safe for them they would have never gotten the right to vote, own property, or have equal education. Violence against women is prevalent in the West as well and women had to resist to improve their status. Saying that men gave them rights is ludicrous. If America waited for independence from Britain it would have still been a colony. Rights and freedom must be fought for, because an oppressor will never give them willingly.  Women have been motivated in multiple points in history to engage in armed conflict if they felt the cause was important enough.

            There is a concern that physical differences could have an effect on close quarters combat and unarmed combat . Normally, the conservative argument is that women are not good fighters. The focus them comes to muscular strength. The detractors are convinced that there no women who could beat a man in fight ever. The difference in strength can be closed to an extent,but there is more to being a good fighter than having strength. Skill can be an equalizer and particular martial arts like judo can be utilized to overcome larger opponents. Women are not taught to fight or defend themselves. They are not even taught basic physical skills. Physical education courses have different standards, even when there is limited strength difference between boys and girls. There is a bias that is shown, which believes women are physically inferior. when women of high physical skill display their talents they are ostracized as anomalies.  Travis Scott holds this position: ”  There are anomalous handfuls of females who, with sufficient training in hand-to-hand combat, can handle themselves in and around their weight class, or effectively fend off larger assailants who do not know how to actually fight. ” He then articulates the following : ” Also, there are probably biological markers for why these woman have such a physical capacity in the first place, which most women lack.” Travis Scott argues that women not be great fighters compared to men with the same training or in a similar weight class. Men who are smaller would be at a disadvantage in hand to hand combat, but no one attributes that to their sex. The military teaches soldiers of all sizes how to fight effectively with hand to hand combat techniques. This should work just the same for women.While it is true men can women in pure brute strength fighting skills can give women an advantage.

 

 

The problem is a fitness and fighting skills issue. To solve this problem one must ask the question how strong can a woman get through training? This depends on the factors related to physical strength and the specific occupation task. The average woman with a consistent weight training regimen can attain at least a 40% increase in muscular strength within months of training  according to studies on the American Council on Exercise. This is less than half, but it is a significant gain. What this means it will take women longer to reach a fitness goal. Lifting heavy will increase strength, while lighter weights are more effective at endurance. Women will have a harder time build upper body strength, which is an area that should be focused on. A smaller rib cage and narrow shoulders mean there is less room to house muscle. However, it can still be built. Women have the same muscles as men, which do not radically differ anatomically.

Muscles Of The Trunk 17 Best Images About Shoulder Examination On Pinterest | Magnetic
The muscular system of  trunk of the body.

Women have to make fitness their top priority if they want to be part of combat units. While long range weapons make hand to hand combat seem dated, there are times when it is necessary. A soldier could be disarmed or run out of ammunition. Unarmed combat is different from hand to hand combat, because no weapons are involved. Hand to hand combat would refer to weapons such a daggers, spears, or batons used in battle.

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Female soldier learns Krav Maga

Krav Maga has been used by the IDF in Israel as an effective hand to hand combat fighting technique. Women also learn this in the IDF also with their males counterparts. The US Navy, Marines, and Army have various hand to hand combat training systems. If women can punch and kick nothing should hinder their success. The one element in physical fitness capacity regarding strength difference could be a challenge. Differences are not an indication of inferiority. Travis Scott’s assertions become more bizarre when emphasizing that war is a man’s job: “The vast majority of women (if not literally every woman you know) will boast that they can do everything a man can do—until it involves fists. ” If  vast wars could be solved with simple fist fights maybe so many people would not die. Wars are fought with guns, planes, tanks, bombs, and it is even going into cyberspace. He further pontificates “women retreat from this domain, falling back on some moral code that says, while woman are “equal” in the highest ideological way, they are not physically equal to men.” All people are not of the same strength, intelligence, or skill level,but this did not stop armies from drafting different types of men. While men are on average stronger than women, there are women who can be stronger than men.When a person enters the military they have to molded to be a soldier. There has to be an expectation that all will succeed with their training otherwise make functioning units will not be possible.

 

 

A person does not need to be physically strong to kill. It must also be noted that ” biological realities constantly reinforce the physical inequality of men and women.” Women were traditionally excluded from certain occupations due to discrimination, strict gender roles, and cultural pressure. While sexual dimorphism can be an explanation of why there are few women in manual labor jobs, it is not the only one. The author seems to believe in the gender stereotype that women are more peaceful. While men are more aggressive which has a biological and social basis, there are cases in which women show aggression. Men express it in a physical way compared to women. However, this does not mean women will not use their fists in some instances. Although it is a smaller statistic, women do engage in domestic abuse.

These cases are often overlooked and not taken seriously. This is due to the notion that some how female equals victim, which does not represent the entire situation. Travis Scott ignores this by stating “from here many will infer that it is a man’s moral imperative not to strike women, ever, because it would be sadistic, evil, and “unfair.” This is not an ethical imperative it is based on dated chivalry and gender stereotypes. It is wrong for a person to assault anyone, but if a woman does it to a man there is no repercussion. A woman being an attacker or aggressor breaks the gender role script. Women are suppose to be helpless and dependent on men for protection in this frame of thought.

 

 

These women look like they could take on some guys in a fight. 

This is why many are still trying to accept the fact women have been in combat in both the past and present. The only reason more women were not involved in certain areas of public life was that they lived in cultural and political restriction. There were individual women who overcame such obstacles and there periods of history in which women’s status was higher. While lack of opportunity can be to blame, there are certain realities that must be noted. Women’s numbers may never be equal to men’s numbers in the US military. There has been dramatic increase in numbers of women in various branches, but there may be some areas in which women will be a very small minority. The Navy SEALS has a high drop out rate for its vigorous training program.

Weightlifting World Records (men and women)
Doubtless about what the common held belief is, women are not weak. Women and women of exceptional ability can attain high levels of physical strength : How Strong Are Female Bodybuilders Compared To Men.

If men are having a difficult time with that it would be twice as hard for women. Making a quota based system adds a level of complication. A rational target goal of recruits for military branches would have to be done if numbers are to increase. Even the fittest woman could struggle with the training in elite special forces units. These only make a small portion of the US military. There have been thousands of combat jobs open to women that were once closed to them. The solution to the fitness issues related to women in combat is follow certain health recommendations. Women must build their upper body strength. They need to train in a manner that prevents joint related injuries. All the sex differences will not be eliminated through training, but it can make women into competent combat soldiers.

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It is not a medical or biological impossibility that a woman can be stronger than a man :  Can A Woman Be As Strong As A Man ?

Scott’s assessment lacks credibility when he says ”   In the past, more often than not a society would send little boys off to die at war before they would send women,and adds “This is because even grown women are not as physically reliable as adolescent males.”  The reason child soldiers in the past and present are mostly boys is due to the idea that man’s sole function is to be protector and fighter of the community. There was the shared belief that men should be happy to go off and die no matter what the cause of the conflict or reason. This idea of male sacrifice has put men in unfavorable positions. Adolescent males are not on the same strength level as a fully grown woman. Only with their last strength spurt and added height by age 20 does a man reach his full muscular strength. Puberty is slower in males relative to growth. Women do not get a strength spurt, yet reach their full height by age 16.

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A chart showing the grip strength difference between boys and girls of different age groups. It can be seen here that the strength spurt changes the male body dramatically around age 15.

 The muscular strength  level of an average woman would be higher than a teenage boy. It is at the age of 20, that the gap is vast. A woman who trains can reach the strength level of a man who is average or slightly above that level. There is advantage in terms of women’s higher fatigue resistant type I muscle fibers.The strongest women would not have problems with the physical tasks required of a combat force. Sex differences or the presence of women will not put the US military at risk. The United States has pursued a policy that enables danger and a series of foreign policy failures.

         The United States wants to remain the dominant world power. Doing this has caused numerous conflicts around the world. The US has taken on the role of world policemen, except this is not about the enforcement of justice. The wars Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Somalia have degraded the health of the nation in a political and military sense. The War on Terror is nothing more the excuse to wage perpetual warfare across the globe. The challenge is not insurgency or terrorism, rather a military industrial complex. America’s economy has been centered around permanent warfare. Without it, there could be harmful economic consequences. There is no way for this to logically continue without resulting in economic, political, and social turmoil. Functioning on a imperial system, while engaging in large power competition will cause collapse in the future. The US is functioning on a system of Cold War policies in which it believes it needs to contain an ideology or a nation.The string of military bases and presence in foreign lands has nothing to do with national security. The objective is to have economic and political domination of the world. The US is more than capable of defending itself against any country.

Military bases
Financially this will not be sustainable unless federal income tax is increased.

The US wants to stop a multipolar power system in world politics. This means that the US could no longer impose its will on countries that disagree with its policies or wage aggressive war. It explains why there is sudden belligerence against Russia and China. China is becoming a more powerful country both economically and militarily. Russia has reemerged on the international stage.  There is no evidence that these countries want to destroy the United States, but that are presented as menaces. The US seeks to interfere with various regions globally on the grounds of human rights and democracy promotion. This myth is constantly presented to the American public, which justifies war crimes and aggression. The NATO-US invasion and subsequent assassination of Muammar Qaddafi induced the refugee crisis and many still continue to flee an unstable North African region to Europe. The removal of Saddam Hussein caused the rise of terrorism in Iraq with Al-Quadea being active in Iraq and the creation of ISIS. ISIS became active in Syria along with other rebel groups. The US, the EU countries, and the gulf monarchies are seeking the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad. If this is to happen there will be more terrorism, regional instability, and an immense influx of refugees to Europe. What these past and current conflicts demonstrate is that neoconservative foreign policy has endangered national security. Polices of regime change and nation building are not logical or safe. The US loses its wars not because of its soldiers. It has some of the best trained fighters among the world’s armed forces. Adding women to combat will not result in failure relative to military conflicts. Aggressive war, misguided foreign policy, and large power competition will ultimately cause the downfall of the United States. Hopefully, politicians and military leaders reverse such policies are reorient America in a rapidly changing world.

            What should be understood about war is that it emphasizes technology, tactics, and a comprehensive strategy. Travis Scott is correct to say that war is more complicated than just exploding targets. While women coming on to combat units is a major change, it may not be large enough to cause a disruption. The only reason such a problem would occur would be from the backlash coming from male soldiers who despise them. The US military has to be prepared for this backlash. Israel is an example of how a military can successfully integrate women into combat units.

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Israeli soldiers training.  Israelis of  Somali, Sudanese, Eritrean, and Arab descent serve in the armed forces of Israel, but receive little respect or praise.  Racism can hinder effectiveness of a combat unit. Sexist attitudes also cause problems. Soldiers need to understand combat is a collective and teamwork based activity. The mission comes first above anything else.

As of 2018 mixed sex units are increasing in Israel according to the IDF. Scott’s assertions that the statistics are exaggerated are not entirely accurate. The women of the IDF are serving in the army as pilots, naval combat officers, combat intelligence, and the artillery corps. Their solution to getting women fit is to give them a training program that focuses on building upper body strength. Nutrition is also the focus in which women get a iron and carbohydrate rich diet. Women’s numbers have increased, but this has not cause the IDF to be less effective. The reason Israel continues to win most of its wars has to do with its ability to change and acclimate. Along with the financial backing of the US it remains one of the most powerful nations in the Middle East. The problem with Israel is that it seeks an expansionist policy in the West Bank, blockades Gaza, keeps African immigrant in detention centers,  and could be seeking war with Iran. Here the only solution is a diplomatic one, not war.  Israel’s comprehensive strategy was to fight defensive wars against its neighbors. It began embarking on expansionist ones with the Six Day War in 1967.  Besides strategy, technology continues to have a dramatic impact on warfare. Killing machines have become more sophisticated. Tanks, guns, drones, fighter jets, naval ships, and nuclear weapons almost render the physical strength of soldiers worthless.

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The tank first made its appearance during World War I. The first ones were prone to mechanical failure and were slower than later models, but it was engineered to be more lethal.
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Since 1945 nuclear weapons have been a concern. The US was the only country to use them in a war. 
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Drones do not even require a human in the aircraft. It can be controlled remotely.
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The gun is a common weapon of any army. Before the rise of the gun warriors fought with swords and before that clubs.

Technology does work in women’s favor if brawn power is lacking. This still does not reduce the importance of physical fitness. There  is a level of strength required for being on a tank operation crew. Combat vehicles require the loading of shells and missiles. Many of the early physical tests involved simulating battlefield tasks. The testing that occurred at Fort Stewart had women do casualty drags and barrels of mounted guns on to Bradley vehicles. These experiments were simulations of battle and required a level of strength. What can be concluded is that women can be successful if training is done in the right way.

Women In Combat

Women In Combat

The women here are lifting guns and barrels that are 65 pounds and over.

Although it is the weapons that do the work, a soldier has to be strong enough to load artillery shells and move guns. Strength is pivotal in that regard. The Navy also requires that sailors be proficient in swimming. The air force also requires its fighters to be in shape. From a logical perspective there seems no reason for qualified women to be excluded from combat positions. Tactics are also important to warfare. The United States still fights wars in a frontline environment, when the shift is going in the direction of asymmetric warfare. When the US acts as an occupying force in places like Afghanistan guerrilla warfare is used to build attrition of forces. The United States has never gotten over its defeat in Vietnam and it constantly haunts the country. The invasion of Grenada and the Gulf War the US gained in a sense its military confidence back. It then thought it was impervious to defeat and began going off in quests of military adventurism. Somalia was attacked in 1993, Iraq was struck once more in 1998, and Kosovo was bombed in 1999. When the Iraq War occurred in 2003, it shattered the illusion that the US was invincible. The only way to have true national security is with a dramatic change in America’s approach to international affairs. The new tactics that should be employed is diplomatic strategies and the reduction of US presence in multiple regions. If this does not change America will continue to see a string of military defeats.

          What can be concluded is that science does not say women in combat is an impossibility. History proves that women have been a part of warfare for a long period of time. This is why the assertion ” we have enough information to say the government is currently making decisions  based on political correctness and feminist policies, rather than mission effectiveness and scientific data” is a spurious claim. The US military has been upgrading its standards and conducting experiments to make women in combat be successful. The reason the US has a great fighting force is due to the fact it is able to solve problems and meet the demands of various challenges. Women in combat can be successful, if the military and the political  wants it to be. There should be realistic expectations. The left will have to accept that the numbers may never be equal due to the difference in physical fitness capacity and personal choice. There may be more qualified women, yet they may not show interest in a combat occupation. The right has to acknowledge that women are going to be a large part of society and the wider public sphere.

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The muscular system of women does not differ so radically from men. It can respond to training stimuli and functions the same at the cellular level.

Keeping women out of the military or combat jobs is no longer the status quo. If the third wave feminists really value equality, they should support women registering for the selective service. That is a double standard that should not remain. Otherwise what they really want is the presentation of equality, but with special privileges. There is no conspiracy of  “political correctness” or ” social experiments.” The world is changing and so is the US military. Using buzzwords or neologisms does not hide the fact that there are people who want to exclude women from combat jobs no matter how skilled or competent they are. Detractors cite science as the reason , however if they actually did research, it discredits them. What biology, physiology, and anatomy tells us is that men and women differ in total physical fitness capacity. Women can increase their fitness levels through training. One can hold the view that women fighting wars is not appropriate as their opinion. Yet, opinions are not facts. No one denies that there are biological differences, the problem is saying that those differences automatically mean women will fail as combat soldiers. When science makes a claim, it has to formulate a hypothesis based on known inferences. When Travis Scott states ” we know all female units are less effective than all male units” or that ” mixed sex units are less effective”  there is limited or no data to make this credible. The Marine Corps study would have to be replicated and produce the same results to be designated scientific fact. There has not been any through study of the performance of an all female unit. Science must be rational and objective, two attributes that are lacking in studies of women in combat.

The Science Says Putting Women Into Combat Endangers National Security

Wisecrack: Will Drugs Make You Super-Human ?

Wisecrak is a website that examines philosophy, humanities, science, and analyzes popular entertainment from an academic  perspective. They also produce videos for their youtube channel. Eight Bit Philosophy examines questions of science, ethics, and human society. A particular video of interest is the question of drug use an the manipulation of the human body. Simply put, can drugs make a person super human? To answer this question one must figure out what it means to be human. If this such a biological feat was to be possible it would have to be done through genetic engineering. The only thing drugs do is alter organ systems rather than changing the genetic foundation of the human body. This also raises questions about transhumanism and what is natural. Human biological evolution has been changing for millions of years and could radically change in the distant future. There is always the fear with new developments and technologies, that humankind is “playing God.” The reality is that such advancements are inevitable. Like computers, automobiles, and more lethal weapons they are a part of human civilization. The Francis Fukuyama  position is flawed on several points. It assumes that such advancements would threaten democracy and goes off the assumption that inequality has a biological basis. The rise of transhumanism is occurring, but only with careful thought and supervision can this not became a dystopian nightmare.

       There needs to be an exact definition of what is superhuman. The definition of such a word and concept means abilities that would exceed far beyond what the body is physically and mentally capable of. The term superhuman can also be associated with human enhancement which means that physiological or biological limitations can be overcome  by means of artificial or natural means. Drugs could be classified as a form of human enhancement technology . While the medical use can be extensive it can be used to improve human abilities far beyond what would be in unchanged  perimeters.

The superhuman concept used be something of pure science fiction. The idea of being as strong as Wonder Woman or being a real life Super Girl would be considered comedic farce. However as the 21st century progresses there is a greater understanding of biology, physiology, anatomy, and the health sciences. Human enhancement technologies now include reproductive technologies, which can allow the infertile to conceive. People can change their behavior and mental state through ritalin, adderall, and neurostimulation. The most visible display of human enhancement is the dramatic change in appearance people are capable of to their bodies. Plastic surgery, medical implants, prosthesis, and performance enhancing drugs can alter the body in a multitude of ways. Strength training can alter the body not just through exercise, but by means of supplementation and diet. Nanotechnology , neurotechnology and information technology will certainly be a part of this transhuman revolution.

The women here have changed their bodies through training, diet, use of supplements, and a knowledge of the human body. This is an example of human enhancement at a rudimentary level.  

While genetic engineering is still in its infancy, it is only a matter of time before in will further human enhancement. This will be to a greater extent beyond what can be achieved through training or diligence.  Future superhumans could be made with genetic engineering rather than drugs. The problem with drugs is that their effect can be temporary and the side effects could do long term damage if abused. Genetic expression can influence behavior, abilities, and phenotype. A superhuman would have high intelligence, physical strength, and speed according to what would be conceived scientifically. The abilities of  mythology, comics, and popular culture would be come reality.

It may be possible to engineer  the human body to a set of specific attributes. One could be engineered to have the intelligence Mae Jemison  or Maryam Mirzakhani. The athletic talent of certain sports stars could also be engineered through genetic manipulation. This  could be what the possible superhuman would be like, if ever engineered. The objection to this is normally that doing such a thing would be unnatural or have questionable ethic motives. Many believe it would destroy what makes us human. What it means to be human would have to be answered first before exploring larger questions.

         Philosophy and science have attempted to answer the question what it means to be human. The question is does not have a complete answer. Biologically we are the last of a primate species and the descendants from a common genetic ancestor shared with other  hominids. Philosophers have argued humankind’s ability for rational thought distinguishes them from other species. The essence of humanity other argued is human emotion and social interaction made us distinct. There may not be one answer to what makes a person human. It has now been theorized that early homo sapiens could have mated with neanderthals and denisovans. There did exist subspecies of archaic humans that became extinct.  Modern humans are the last surviving species of the genus homo. Interbreeding may have been a common practice.

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When the term natural is used people mistake it for normalcy. The fact is nature can be strange and human evolution has resulted in strange biological developments. The rise of bipedalism, the increase in endocranial volume, the variation in sexual size  dimorphism  and the change in social communication behavior in comparison to other primates was not normal. There are multitude of bizarre organisms on planet Earth and more that may not have been discovered. Paleontology and anthropology are demonstrating that the origins and behavior of mankind is more complex than previously thought. The fossil record keeps getting larger not just for primates, but other organisms that were present during the Cenozoic, Mesozoic, and Paleozoic Eras. Naturalists, Paleontologists, anthropologists, and biologists have to act as detectives of a distant past.

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Homo naledi was added to the human biological evolution classification.

   The only way to make sense of these findings to to eventually find the common genetic ancestor of all primates. Doing so will provide genetic information, which will allow the question of what it means to be human. More information is needed to actually answer the question of what it means to be human from a biological perspective. This is why the concept that altering the human body is abnormal  seems to lack cogency. Nature can be erratic and unpredictable depending on the environment. Ideas of what is normal or abnormal do not have relevance when it comes to natural selection.

         The problem with such enhancements by either pharmaceutical or genetic means is that it could hold the potential for abuse. As the Eight Bit Philosophy video  articulates, there could be a possibility that individual differences could be wiped out in favor of one paradigm of humanity. People could create designer babies. This almost sounds like society similar to A Brave New World in which a scientific dictatorship. The worse abuse also could be the rise of sate sponsored eugenics. Selective breeding, serialization, euthanasia  or discriminatory social and legal policies were the result of the eugenics movement of the early to mid-20th century. The worse abuse came from Nazi Germany resulting in  genocide. Ever since 1945, science that either focused on genetics or genetic difference has caused controversy.

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A poster for a eugenics propaganda film Are You Fit To Marry (1927)demonstrates the racism of this pseudoscientific movement. America enacted serialization laws in twenty seven states of the union. Nazi Germany took their eugenics programs and used it as an excuse for genocide directed at Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, leftists, gays, and Afro-Germans.  

The rise of neo-eugenics also creates another problem. The issue is that it focuses on the profit motive in regards to human and genetic enhancement. Unlike the negative eugenics of the past, it wants to see more people reproduce. This type of liberal eugenics can be seen in fertility clinics in which couples can get sperm or eggs from men and women who match attributes they believe are desirable. Gene therapy, artificial insemination, and egg donation are a few examples of liberal eugenics. While it may not seem awful for someone to have a child if they are not capable or alter genes to combat disease, the problem arises when only one group has access to this technology and biological enhancement. The upper class of society will most likely have more access to such technology. This will not only create more social inequality it will also happen at a biological level. If superhumans do become a reality resistance would be futile. There would be vast divide between the enhanced and the non-enhanced. Besides negative social developments there may be a point in which such human enhancement technologies may go too far.

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Humankind could create its own living monsters. This has not happened yet, but it should be taken into consideration, if this scientific advancement is to continue. There must be some form of regulation to prevent  the rise of possible man made abominations or possible medical harm to people. Mary Shelly’s  novel Frankenstein   was not only a warning about  the abuse of scientific knowledge, but the need of  having an understanding of  it. The more knowledge humanity obtains the more there is a need to utilize it responsibly.

       Francis Fukuyama a prominent political scientist and political economist has been known to be solicitous about the rise of transhumanism. He claims that this could be a threat to liberal democracy. This is more of an exaggeration considering the other problems with such a political system. There has been drug abuse to some degree or another in  various societies, but it has never been the sole factor in the collapse of civilization or a political system. Human being still do not what the exact definition of being human is. So the argument that such drugs like addearall  or ritalin could threaten what it means to be human seems to be a hyperbole. The real issue is that normal human traits such as being tired or needing a period of rest could be described as being a condition that requires medicine. The problem may not be the existence of the drugs themselves, rather the over prescribing of such medications.

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It is implied that the roots of inequality in society are biologically based. There are people who are more intelligent than others, physically stronger, or in better health. This does not explain why there is a pyramid structure in various nations globally. The roots are sociological not biological. The rise of property, food surpluses,  and permanent settlement cause a divide among people that had not existed in hunter gather societies. A settlements grew into villages they would grow into cities. This required a government that could impose order by force. Women’s status was not because of their sex difference  or other biological differences , rather the fact that in particular areas of the world they were denied access to education, employment, and equality under the law.  If people were all the equal at a physiological and physical level that would not change the sociological structure. Race, class, national origin, religion and gender would still be used as an excuse to exclude groups that are not part of a ruling hierarchy or dominant group. The fact is that there is no equality under the law in liberal democracies. The rich and powerful will dominate government no matter what political system is in place. The reason liberal democracy struggles is that it requires an informed, educated, and active citizenry. The End of History thesis does not take into account that other forms of government could rise that are not liberal democracy. The collapse of the Soviet Union was not evidence that liberal democracy is a triumphant system, rather its competitor failed to produce improvement for its people. Liberal democracy may meet the same fate. It fails to challenge poverty, racism, sexism, or address economic instability. While the free market is associated with liberal democracy it will also be its downfall. Neoliberal capitalism is not interested in freedom or justice, rather the objective of profit maximization. This has relevance to the increasing influence of pharmaceutical corporations who gain more power through lobbying congress. This could effect the public with drugs that are not safe getting FDA approval. This makes Fukuyama’s argument contradictory, because there should be nothing wrong with drugs as long as they advance the free market which he supports.

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Five Hour Energy may not be as safe for human consumption as one might think. Seeing as it makes a huge profit, the company will not be challenged.

    Neoliberal capitalism is a threat to democracy, because it could possibly lead to a version of fascistic corporatism.  Big business and powerful government form an alliance to run a country. Those who control the government and business will be the masters of the public. This frightening scenario shows people will be reduced to compliant and obsequious consumers who do not question authority or the status quo. Drugs altering human nature would be the least  of civilizations problems if such a system were to evolve. Human nature can be both compassionate and cruel. Technology or in this case drugs are not terrible. It depends on how they are used and how they are managed.

          What needs to be understood is that there may be no line between humanity altering drug or simple supplement. Both are  inducing changes in the body beyond what would be the standard physical limitation. The idea of normal or normal state could have different meanings. If a person were to be completely natural meaning not taking any drugs at all this would mean they would have to not consume genetically modified organisms,  medicine, or change their body through exercise and supplements. During the course of one’s lifetime, it is possible to alter your body with drugs, supplements, and foods that would not be considered normal. Normal or natural does not apply to the animal kingdom. Evolution demonstrates genotype and phenotype can change with environment as well as mutation, genetic drift, or gene expression. The idea of normal may just be imaginary considering how strange biology can be. It can be flexible as well. Women who train their bodies to the highest level are altering them beyond what would be by certain standards a natural state. Supplements and exercise can push women’s physical strength to greater levels than if not done at all. Performance enhancing drugs can boost strength and speed, but they still do not make a person superhuman. Drugs can only alter certain organ systems for a period of time depending on dosage and the length of long term use. When use ends, the effects will not cause permanent change. There could be lasting side effects from abuse.

Coffee or Whey  do alter the body from a normal state. Substances or drugs only become an issue when addiction occurs. This is the problem with addearall. The opioid crisis arose when doctors prescribed too many of these drugs and patients gradually got more addicted. Criminalizing drugs has created a number of problems. The War on Drugs increased the number of people in prison, targeted low income and African American communities, and remains the foundation of the prison industrial complex. There should be no fear of drugs altering humanity. It has been done since the first herbalist began exploring the medicinal properties of plants during the Paleolithic era. Various substances that we consume are not found in nature. Humanity is moving to a new era in which it can control its own biology and even possibly its own evolution through biomedical science as well as technology.

        Drugs would not create superhumans. The gains made from drugs would only be temporary human enhancements. Francis Fukuyama is incorrect in saying that pharmaceutical developments could push humanity to transhumanism before genetic engineering. This type of biotechnology would be long lasting through manipulation of various genes. Drugs can only change the function of the physiology of organ systems,but not alter gene expression or sequence of DNA . There are multiple genes that are responsible for certain traits. So far, there are at least 15 different genes responsible for iris color of the eye. Certain genes can be “switched on” causing an expression. Theoretically a certain combination of genes could be switched on or off to alter a person. If the  ACTN3  gene and the genes of chromosome 12 were manipulated it is very possible to create the ultimate athlete. Anabolic steroids or erythropoietin  could become obsolete in the future. Gene doping may become something very common in professional sports or  for recreational. Some state this creates an uneven field of competition for those who would rather not enhance themselves through drugs or genetic engineering. This could potential force some people and the wider public to remain competitive with enhanced superhumans. The position has a flaw, because our different body types make the playing field uneven. There are people who are taller, stronger, or more intelligent than others. It would seem the people who have less of these attributes would benefit more. The repercussion of this would be destroying individuality in favor of an identical conformist mob. Genetic engineering of humanity will happen,but there are serious bioethical questions that should be answered first. Technology can be either used for positive or malevolent purposes. Only when it is used responsibility possible dystopian futures be avoided.

Wisecrack: Will Drugs Make You Super-Human ?

Why Do We Have Butts ?

Why We Have Butts

I09 is a website that focuses on science, popular culture, and science fiction. It produces a series of articles known as Giz Asks in which queries related to science are answered. Those who work in the sciences provide answers. This question asks why do human beings have posteriors. This appendage must have some type evolutionary advantage or purpose. Human anatomy has changed dramatically over the course of biological evolution. Bipedalism and the increase in endocranial volume were the must significant anatomical changes in human evolution. Possible reasons for the development of a prominent backside   are provided by biologists, anatomists, and, evolutionary anatomists, paleontologists . Kirsten Brown. Jason Bourke, Francois Therrien, Susan Larson, Jason M. Organ, Steven Churhill, and Daniel Lieberman provide explanations that are based around health science, human evolution, anatomy, and biology. The posterior and lower body is given vary little study in  the evolution of the human body. The body even its most simple structure has a story based in millions of years of evolution.

       The posterior has an structure like other body parts. What colloquially is referred to as the butt are formed from gluteal  muscles. This consists of the gluteus minimus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus maximus. The gluteus maximus is what give the bottom its notable shape. The gluteus maximus originates from a line starting from the upper ilium ending at the coccyx. The muscle itself attaches close to the femur. This muscle is important to running or physical tasks related to legs.  As Jason Bourke states “It’s the powerhouse muscle we call upon whenever we need to perform major postural changes, or when we need to move our legs fast.”  This explains why particular athletes have such this highly developed : ” that’s why sprinters, and weightlifters that do heavy-weighted squats tend to have very round and firm buttocks.”

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Seeing as the muscle has a small space to work with, it requires that a good amount of force needs to be produced to cause locomotion. The muscle extends outwards seeing as there is a limit on space. The shape of the posterior is a unique feature of the human body compare to other animals. The pelvis had to be readjusted in the evolutionary change to accommodate for the weight of the torso. This was done to cope with humanity’s unique manner of walking. The muscles of the illium had to be reoriented to meet the demands of walking upright. Basically the gluteus maximus muscle hangs off the pelvis giving it the presentation of leg extensor. Horses have posteriors and are the few animals that contain one. The difference is that the gluteus medius muscle is extended in such an ungulate.

The manner in which human beings walk requires are particular structure. While the anatomy is understood, there is an evolutionary basis for human body structure.

        The reason for our particular anatomy and physiology has a basis in millions of years of evolution. The first four legged animals made their appearance on land approximately 350 million years ago. These organisms had large tails. The one attribute that these organisms had was a muscle known as the caudofemoralis. It would attach the femur to the base of the tail and this would be helpful to swimming. Francois Therrien explains : “Through evolution, this muscle was retained in later animals and is still being used by a vast group of animals alive today, such as amphibians and reptiles.” They require large tails and caudofemoralis to be ambulatory. The major shift occurred  300 million years ago with the rise of the synapsids. These were the ancestral linage of what would later be mammals. The tail as an anatomical structure over time disappeared and was replaced with gluteal muscles as a means of movement. The tail reduced in size gradually, while the buttock grew larger on these organisms.  Therrien articulates this change : “Over the course of millions of years, the tail of synapsids became smaller and smaller through evolution as the caudofemoralis muscle was no longer involved in walking (by the time the first mammals evolved over 200 million years ago, the tail was very small in comparison to their body and was no longer used for locomoion) while the gluteal muscles increased in size and formed the rump.”

This is why there are no  posteriors in dinosaurs or non-human mammals.  It was six million years ago that our human ancestors began to walk upright. Forelimbs were no long needed for locomotion. The fatty pads that emerged were designed for protection and cushioning. This prevents gluteal muscles from rubbing against the illium.

       Human beings are bipedal primates. Gorillas and Chimpanzees can be bipedal for a short period of time, but humans are bipedal the majority of the time. One of the markers of early childhood development is when an infant begins to walk. The bone structure effects the function of the muscles and therefore movement of the body. Human pelvises are best described as being flared. the ilia are positioned on the side of the body. Primates such as Gorillas or chimpanzees are located more to the back. Walking with two legs requires alternating between one leg and two leg support. Muscles are needed to provide stable support during the walking process. The gluteus maximus has to decelerate the lower limb and stabilize the trunk of the body.

The gluteal abductors of the body have the duty to prevent possible pelvic tilt. This is why injury to such muscles could cause health issues. One such example is Trendelenberg gait. Nerve damage to the muscles effect movement. People are able to maintain a stable pelvis on one leg. Individuals with the Trendelenberg gait are not. That is why the trunk of the body is important, because it and shift the weight over.

        It does seem strange that the buttocks is shaped in such a way that is not seen in other primates. There has to be a reason for such a development in anatomy. The possible reason for the expansion of the cranium and brain size was that  social interaction and intelligence was needed for survival. The reduction in the intestine size made a digestive system more suited for protein diets, which may have resulted sifting the energy of body function more to the nervous system. The most pivotal function the largest muscle in the body serves is providing enough force for running. This was critical to the survival of early humans. Early humankind did not have claws or the physical power of large predators. Intelligence and bipedalism along with running were most likely defense mechanisms. Susan Larson who is professor of anatomical sciences at Stony Brook University suggests that a rounded buttocks could be a marker for sexual selection. It is hard to prove, but does not seem to be a ludicrous notion. Throughout the animal kingdom there are features related to sexual dimorphism which play a role in mate choice. Peacock birds who’s males have colorful tail feathers use it to attract mates. The mane of male lions may also be a type of sexual selection marker.

The buttocks carries a level of fat, which may be an indirect indirect indicator to males of female human fertility. While biology can be an explanation, there are sociological factors to what people find attractive. The ideal female body has changed over the centuries from being a much larger one to a slimmer body and with the rise of women in sports a more athletic and toned body. Visual media also influences what people find attractive. If one were exposed to a single image through visual media, that could end up being their standard of beauty,because it is the most familiar. Also, some individuals may have a wider and more diverse beauty standard. These differences in anatomy may reveal why sexual dimorphism exists.

The reason men evolved to be larger than women was that they have to fight for access to females. While sexual size dimorphism has reduced in modern human  species compared to our ancestors it was much more pronounced. This could mean that natural selection was more difficult on both an individual and group level. Fighting for mates may have been common among hominids. This can still be seen in primate species such as gorillas. This is one method of reproductive strategy in which a male gorilla has a harem of females. Compared to gibbons they have multiple mates without going through a large scale confrontation. The difference is size between gibbons is minimal. The sex differences and our anatomy are proof of the evolutionary past. The reason homo erectus had to develop endurance running ability two million years ago was to capture smaller game. Earlier hominids may have had primarily vegetarian diets, which explains longer intestines.  Steven Churchill an evolutionary anthropologist articulates the role of  bottoms as this : ” as our ancestors evolved to become proficient bipeds (that is, proficient at walking on two legs), the pelvis became shorter and wider so that the two small gluteal muscles (“butt muscles,” so to speak), gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, migrated around to the sides to help us stabilize the pelvis when we balance on one leg as we swing the other leg forward. ”  Professor Churchill says the posterior serves a propulsion role.

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Daniel Lieberman  professor of biological sciences of Harvard University adds to this by stating : “the other key component of our butts is fat, and even the skinniest humans are fat compared to other mammals because we need more fat for our expensive reproductive and energetic strategy.” Fat is also important to the human body. The reason humans developed a unique posterior was to accommodate bipedalism and endurance running. This did come at a price. Back and knee problems would increase with this change. The human body is in a way a documentary of biological evolution over millions of years. Depending on the environment, organisms can still be evolving. Knowing this it would be interesting  imagine what human beings would look like ( if they survive) millions of years from now.

 

Why Do We Have Butts ?

Britt Miller

Britt Miller was a bodybuilder active between the years of 1999 to 2012. She was born in Salisbury, North Carolina in 1984. Her first competition was at the age of 14 and as a child she was very active in sports.  Britt Miller studied nursing at East Carolina University and graduated in 2006. Britt Miller has said “I have played sports my whole  life.” She admits she was a tomboy in her youth and began bodybuilding following in the footsteps of her brothers. Miller’s brothers were her role models and wanted to emulate them. Britt has stated ” I looked up to them and wanted to do everything they did.” Britt made her way on stage at when she was in high school. Being that young and neophyte she did not place high. This did not discourage her new found bodybuilding pursuit. When she came back to the stage it was at a local show and placed better than her previous attempt. At the time she was only in the 11th grade and made third place as a light weight. Britt Miller revealed that being a bodybuilding high school student always generated some looks. She claimed ” I was always picked out of the normal high school crowd and given the “oh my god look” and I loved that look.” There can be a level amusement seeing that a teenage girls could probably beat a high school  quarterback at arm wrestling. Britt Miller had claimed she used to be insecure, but she gradually grew out of it. Her accomplishments in the sport improved her confidence.

 Her best wins in competition include the 2005 Collegiate Nationals, 2005 USA’s, and  2006 Nationals. The first competition she won was at 19 years old at the 2004 NC States. Britt Miller stated in 2009 that she would be retiring from bodybuilding, however made a return as a physique competitor. During this period, she was also working as a nurse. Britt competed in the NC states as a figure competitor. This was a dramatic transformation form the physique that Britt normally presented. She still wanted to get her pro-card, but juggling a medical career and other obligations can be difficult. It is uncertain if she will compete again, but if she never makes another competitive appearance, she did have an impact of the fandom. Some female bodybuilders may not win as many contests like Iris Kyle or Lenda Murray, but gain a wide following in the fan community.

        When Britt began training it was a series of experiments. Britt Miller credited her mother and two brothers with her success on stage. Chris would provide her exercise and training advice, while Brandon would help her with her school work. Britt’s training regimen includes five days of workout sessions and two days of rest. Her training week would follow legs first, the following day would be chest, and then back. The last day would be the training of shoulders.  This would span from Sunday to Friday.  Her stats include 585 lbs leg press for sets 12 to 15. Britt during her physical prime could curl 150 lbs  for one rep and squat 315 lbs lbs for 4 reps.

Britt was very enthusiastic about her muscular appearance. She has said ” I love the the tightness and hardness of my muscles.” Britt explained further that “I love the striations and the whole look.” Women who enter the sport say they always enjoy gaining strength and power. Britt Miller’s least favorite part about training was cardio. To her training she explained ” was the best when you are getting a pump and all the veins were popping out everywhere.” Britt Miller’s favorite part about the off season was that she could eat large portions of food. Offseason she enjoyed due to the fact she did not have to do as much cardio.

Britt Miller’s Website : Britt Miller

Britt Miller stated that she loved seeing her improvements year to year. She has articulated “I love being different from the average American.” Truly dedicated during her years as a student of nursing she was very active. Her day would start at 5:00 am eating and getting ready for the day. She would attend class get home by 7:00 pm go to the gym and afterwards do homework. Britt was able to balance school and a competitive athletic career. Her diligence was rewarded with a balanced and symmetrical physique. During the mid-2000s Britt was gaining a following with her appearance in numerous fitness magazines.

       Britt Miller announced on her website in 2009 that she was going to take a break from bodybuilding. It was clear that the young athlete was feeling a level of burn out after becoming a nurse and competing. Britt claimed that she was not going to say she would never compete again and the idea of a pro-card was still in her mind. It was no surprise that in 2012 she comeback as a physique competitor.  She competed at 113 pounds and was at the time moving. Since then, she has not made any competitive appearances and her website has not been updated. It does not mean she is retired, but may just appear every once in a while. As of 2018 it seems that she may not be returning, but fans still have fond memories of her competitive years of  2002 to 2012. Britt Miller and Cindy Phillips during the mid-2000s were the fresh faces of bodybuilding that gave the sport a new energy.

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It has been constantly been uttered that female bodybuilding is dying, but competitors like this disprove that notion. As long as women continue to show interest and compete the sport will be fine. It is always important to have positive ambassadors to the sport. Britt Miller was a good one. They showed the sport was still alive, even during the post golden age. Her physique that she presented on stage was similar to the late 1980s early 1990s era. Britt when she was at her competitive peak competed at 125 lbs. Her forearms were 11.5”  and had 14” biceps when flexed. Britt Miller also has a love of basketball. She played the sport while she was in high school and was intending to continue in college. Britt Miller also played softball. She only did this her senior year. Her priorities changed with her becoming more focused on weightlifting and bodybuilding. Such athletes are what truly make the sport great. Enthusiasm, energy, and a positive drive was what Britt  Miller brought to the bodybuilding stage.

Britt Miller

100 Women : Thai Woman Fights Stigma To Become A Bodybuilder

100 Women : Thai Woman Bodybuilder

Penpraghai Tiangngok  was the subject of a BBC report in 2017. To fans of female bodybuilding this athlete is familiar and is known better as Fon in her video work as well as competition appearances . This was significant because women athletes, especially ones in subculture like sports do not get much coverage in mainstream outlets.  Female bodybuilders and muscular women in general are not presented positively by the mainstream press. This report is different and at times seems to laud her accomplishments. Tiangngok is the first Southeast Asian woman to compete in the Olympia, one of the most prestigious of all bodybuilding competitions. The report discusses the struggles Penpraghai  has being the one of  very few female bodybuilders living in Thailand. It is a cross section between sexism and subtle racism. Being a pioneer adds pressure when dispelling old stereotypes. The 100 women series spotlighted women making strides in various fields. The series wants to introduce readers to women who are inspirational and influential, while asking them questions related to the challenges women face in the 21st century. This could range from the glass ceiling, sexual harassment, disparity in education, or sexism in sports. Penpraghai Tiangngok  is the subject of  women in a sport not widely embraced by Thai society.

       Thailand is an Southeast Asian nation that for the past decades been in a state of political turbulence. Coups and political factionalism have been persistent problems including racism. Thailand has either been discriminatory to hill tribes or had xenophobic attitudes in regards to foreigners. Penpraghai  stated that some Thais do not speak to her when returning home assuming she is Filipino or Brazilian. Ethnocentrism has been a growing problem with Thailand. Colorism is also an issue in numerous Asian nations in which lighter skin color is preferred to darker skin.

Although being mistaken for another racial or ethnic group is not an act of racism, the behavior is an indication. Penpraghai  being treated differently demonstrates that there is an racial or foreigner related bias. There is much disunity among Asian nations with ethnic and political problems dividing them. Exposure to different types of people can challenge prejudicial attitudes. Penpraghi even states that ” when foreigners look at me they just go wow.” This could either be a voice of approval or possibly more prejudice based. Westerners may have the  racist stereotypes embedded in their minds  of weak and helpless Asian woman, dragon ladies, tiger mothers, model minorities, or china dolls. When people do not fit in either of these racially prejudiced categories  this creates a shock to the observer. Penpraghai Tiangngok’s rise or appearance should not be a shock. Asian women are becoming more involved in sports and fitness. Women becoming more involved in sports is a global phenomenon. Women from around the world are competing in various sports and have more visibility in the Olympics. This is a positive development which challenges some of the racist stereotypes that are common in media.

       The status of Thai women has been for the most part based on a traditionalist domestic family role. Thai women were raised to be either wives or mothers in the past and their legal status was not equal to men. Polygamy was practiced in Thailand and women did not have many educational opportunities. The major change came with the revolution of 1932 in which the government was transformed into a constitutional monarchy. The new constitution gave women more rights and called for the end of polygamy. Plaek Phibunsongkhram the third prime minister of Thailand made it policy to raise the status of women. He served from 1938 to 1944 and again from 1948 to 1957. Since that period women’s status has improved, but there are still conservative attitudes. Women still are underrepresented in government. There are some advancements in the workplace. Knowing the history of sexist discrimination explains why Penpraghai Tiangngok’s statement ” they are surprised of how big I am and think I look transgender.” There are some Thais that cannot accept that women are no longer following traditional gender roles. Objections do not only come from men, but also other women. Penpraghai also explains “there weren’t many women lifting weights [at the time I started], but nowadays you have both men and women.” She delineates further : “In the past, female bodybuilders looked strange in the eyes of Thai women.” There is a double standard women no matter which country they are from face when becoming physically active.

There are some nations in which the stigma is worse. Although there objections in Western countries, there are very few statements saying women should not be allowed to do such an activity. Penpraghai  says that people in her home town of Pattaya  consider her to be a “freak” and claimed when she “goes to market , I get different looks.” Sadly many are not open minded about women looking different or not following the cultural status quo. Women are taking on new roles and Thailand. They are becoming involved in the workforce due to an expanding private sector and even entrepreneurs.  Penpraghai is also an owner of a gym and a personal trainer. Women being this independent was no possible 80 years ago. Thailand even had its first Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, but was removed by a coup and court decision. Although her actions were legally questionable,  it is apparent that she will not be treated fairly in the current political climate. She is currently in exile and this was another demonstration of how transfers of power and political stability eludes Thailand. The women who are active in various sectors can be role models to young girls to make effective change.

What holds the nations back in the Global South is not allowing women to contribute to society both economically and in leadership roles. If a country wants to be competitive in the modern post-industrial  world, they must have women part of their workforce and in the public sphere. Women should enter fields and activities that are male dominated. Overtime, there may be at least some sex balance in such fields.  The most important part of this process is that attitudes must change. The idea that women only serve a domestic function must be discarded.

        The BBC report does not exclude the controversial subjects such as steroids, but did not mention others about the bodybuilding subculture . Acquiring steroids in Thailand is easier compared to other countries. The Thai press reported that Penpraghai Tiangngok had been arrested for selling steroids. She was contacted by a Thai police officer who asked her to bring them to a bus stop. Penpraghai Tiangngok was selling them and did say she was not authorized to do so. Bodybuilding gets a reputation for steroid use, but it can be found in various sports from baseball, soccer, and competitors in the Olympics. Penpraghai Tiangngok  told the BBC that drugs do not create champions : “many people ask me whether or not I use steroids.” She then continues ” I ask them why they don’t ask me how I train or how many hours I work out… I want others to know that using steroids doesn’t help you to get bigger.” Steroids may cause better recovery and some muscle gain, yet ultimately it is related to workout intensity, exercise regimen, and diet. The unfortunate part is some have such limited knowledge they automatically think that a person who is muscular must be using.  Drugs are a part of sports, but that does not mean every athlete is using them. Many fans do not even care what an athlete uses, yet there still is controversy. One controversy that the BBC report ignores is the practice of muscle worship. This is even bigger than the topic of performance enhancing drugs.

MW-61-4 MW-61-P1a Bodybuilders, physique athletes, figure and fitness models have been known to do sessions. This was not mentioned by the BBC report probably because it is the more secretive element of the female bodybuilding subculture.To an extent it was unknown to mainstream media, but has gotten more exposure with the rise of the internet as a popular entertainment medium. The public can be exposed to different people and cultures by a mere click of a button. A search on Google shows that there are more men into female muscle than previously thought. The exact number is not certain, but it may be increasing due to visibility over social media platforms and websites.

The muscular woman has become something that is in popular demand at least on the internet. Numerous athletes have their own websites and do photo shoots for others. This may get criticism from the more conservative elements of society. While a muscular female body can generate controversy, there is also the debate about the nature of these photographs and video materials. Some make the claim that fitness is becoming borderline pornographic. Such claims are spurious. Female athletes posing for photos is no different from models posing for ads or appearing on television. Whether it is film, TV, or other mediums from time to time sexuality does appear or at least a particular innuendo is implied. Women should not be criticized for posing or being in videos. Bodybuilding is a sport in which the body is assessed for certain criteria related to aesthetics.   Penpraghai Tiangngok  is a representative for Thailand in the bodybuilding sports. Sometimes having the image present can inspire other women to follow a certain path. It is important that women of other nations have a presence in various activities to encourage wider participation. Thai women are already making progress in business and education. Penpraghai Tiangngok ‘s rise in the sport’s ranks just proves Thai women can advance, doubtless of wider societal bias.

100 Women : Thai Woman Fights Stigma To Become A Bodybuilder

The Best Bet For Boosting Women’s Brawn Is Traditional Strength Training

Boosting Women’s Brawn

A study conducted by the University of Ohio performed an experiment about what was the best method for women seeking to build muscular strength and endurance. What was confirmed in this 2008 experiment was that traditional strength training was the best method. To many women athletes and consistent gym goers this is not a surprise. Normally, exercise physiology experiments are conducted on male athletes. This one was different, because it wanted to see specifically the changes in women’s bodies and how they react to training stimuli. Low velocity routines may not be as effective as strength training. A total of 34 women who were of college age were examined. Over a period of six weeks they were to perform a training program. It was once though that the female body was not designed for strength. As exercise physiology progresses, the frailty myth has been proven false through scientific evidence. Doing studies that take into account women’s physiological and anatomical differences can best allow for a more efficient training regimen to improve athletic performance. The study was published Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research .

         Sharon Rana associate professor of exercise physiology  with her colleagues conducted the experiment with a particular approach.  The traditional strength training group lifted heavier loads with fewer repetitions. The low velocity group was to lifted lighter weights with more repetitions. Professor Rana stated “what made the research a little different is that we put the various methods of resistance training all in one study and added a control group, which hadn’t been done before. The endurance group also hadn’t really been studied in conjunction with low velocity type training,”  This allows for a through examination of changes over a period.

Participants performed a number of exercises including leg presses, back squats, and knee extensions. The traditional strength training  group was able to lift 499 lbs for leg presses and 121 lbs  for squats. There was a 117 lbs for leg extensions. Compared to the traditional endurance group the lifts were lower. Their maximum lifts were 341 lbs for leg presses, 64 lbs for squats, and 48 lbs for knee extensions. The low velocity group produced 365 lbs for leg presses, 79 lbs for squats, and 55 lbs knee extensions. The subjects did three sets of each exercise during the session. A rest period for a total of five minutes was given between each set and exercise.

The women had their absolute strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, and body composition measured. What the experiment demonstrated was that the traditional strength training group gained the most physical strength. The data showed the traditional strength group increased to 61.8 % in total strength for the leg press. The low velocity group saw a 26.9 % increase and the endurance group was at 23.4%. However the traditional strength training group did not see a dramatic change in the squat exercise total. The traditional strength training group saw did see a 51.3 % increase in the knee extensions.

       There should be some considerations for possible factors that effected the outcomes of the experiment. The first is the physical fitness level of women who participated. If the women who participated were either athletes or had experience with weight training exercise, this would effect the outcomes. Women with high fitness level my make the strength gains larger or more exaggerated. The only aspect about the subjects is that they were all devoid of serious health problems. A mix of ectomorphic, endomorphic, and mesomorphic body types would produce different results. The best subjects would be women with the lowest physical fitness levels to document the effectiveness of training.

Women with more natural strength prior to the study could have caused some distortion in data. There would be a clear difference between the average woman and physically fit woman. Both would be able to gain strength, but to what extent depends on genetics and somatotype.

        The experiment showed a small decrease in body fat. This was not as significant in number compared to physical fitness improvements in muscular endurance and strength. Body composition would not dramatically change mainly due to endocrinology. Women produce more estrogen and progesterone which allows for more fat. Women need a certain level of fat to ovulate.

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Fat does not contribute to strength or muscle power. This has implications on physical fitness between men and women. The reason men have more absolute strength is due to higher free testosterone production in the testes. This hormone allows for greater protein synthesis. The thinnest woman or the most muscular woman would still carry more body fat  percentage compared to a man of similar physical fitness level. The difference in body composition means women have less total muscle mass.

Gonadal differentiation happens to developing fetuses. They appear by the sixth week not defined. The change happens by the seventh weeks when the gonads are either testes or ovaries. While this does not have an influence over the physical fitness capacity of boys and girls the shift happens during puberty. The change in endocrinology does not give women a strength spurt compared to males. Knowing this means women would have to train harder to build significant strength. This may take longer compared to men who are following a similar regimen. An approach tailored to women’s  physiology and anatomy will be the most effective training regimen.

        The experiment also demonstrated that cardiovascular endurance  did not increase significantly.  Neither group saw an increase. Professor Rana  stated her reason for focusing on this element of physical fitness : “we tested cardiovascular endurance because a lot of the lay literature, the articles you might read in magazines, said it would improve.” The experiment revealed that such claims may not be accurate. Merely lifting weights would not improve cardiovascular endurance. While strength gains would improve the power of the leg muscles, running involves the heart and lungs. This means cardio exercise would be a better method for aerobic endurance. The comparison can be seen with sprinters and marathon runners. Sprinters have more power compared to the higher endurance of the marathon runner.

Large muscles do not automatically mean a person can be skilled at any sport. This depends on the nature of physical activity and specific biomechanics involved. Kinseology is critical to understanding movements of the body and essential to developing effective training programs. It seems this assessment is correct that traditional weight training would not improve cardiovascular endurance. Although to be sure an experiment would have to be conducted to further verify. One control group could just do cardiovascular exercise, while the other engages in traditional strength training. They will then run a specific distance and the times will be recorded. The marathon results will show which group was had the most endurance. The obvious prediction is that  the subjects that did the cardiovascular exercise would have the best times.

      Low velocity training is not a pointless activity. It builds better muscular endurance. Low velocity training does provide strength gain, but it is limited compared to traditional strength training. The question depends on whether the goal is to build more strength or endurance. Sports that depend on strength like powerlifting, weightlifting,  or shotput traditional strength training would most likely be the best.

Low velocity training could have better application to endurance sports like ultramarathon or Olympic marathon  events. The selection of method depends on the particular sport. The experiment made this conclusion by Professor Rana : the low velocity training obviously helps you,” Rana said. “You can gain some strength and muscle endurance, but the traditional methods are going to do a slightly better job for those two things.” This does not only apply to the athlete trying to improve their performance. It can be beneficial to the average person. Any amount of exercise can be good for physical health. A sedentary life style can have negative effects on the circulatory system. Muscle mass gradually declines with age. Being at least moderately active can reverse some of these changes associated with aging. Women can gain more benefits from building strength. With more exercise physiology studies focused on women, female athletes can have a means to enhance their performance in their sport of choice.

The Best Bet For Boosting Women’s Brawn Is Traditional Strength Training