BBC Future: The Case For Renaming Women’s Body Parts

The Case For Renaming Women’s Body Parts

BBC Future published an article asking the question about whether women’s body parts should be renamed. The argument is that men named the unique anatomical structures of the female body, which demonstrate that their is possible sex bias.It is no secret that there has been sexism in the medical establishment against female professionals and the actual academic discipline. To a degree it does seem peculiar that a female body part would be named after a man. There are some obvious flaws with such an argument. To say that organ classification   misogynistic , because men named various organs would be extreme. Such assertions make it seem as if politically correct culture is attempting a war on science and sexual dimorphism. Rather than complain about the masculine language, the bigger concern is that there may not be enough women in the medical fields or studying the anatomical sciences. Patterns such as that can hinder progress in gender equality. Negative impacts can be seen on women’s health and general well being. If more women became surgeons, doctors, nurses, physicians, pediatricians, and obstetricians they can challenge the persistent myths about women’s biological inferiority. However, it should not be forgotten that women did contribute to the biomedical sciences. This is a detail that BBC Future seems to forget.

             The majority of women’s body parts are named after male anatomists. Notable men such as Gabriel Fallopian, Caspar Bartholin, James Douglas, and Ernst Grafenberg contributed to uncovering the structure of women’s bodies. While it seems simple to condemn these men, it should be lauded that they chose to study the female body. Doing so allowed for advancements in gynecology and women’s health. Science for a longtime did not give women serious consideration in terms of the health sciences. Women’s bodies were either viewed as strange or inferior to male bodies. Eugenics and pseudoscience produced theories about the female body that were false, but commonly accepted. Women who exerted themselves too much physically or mentally those in the medical establishment thought would lose the ability to become pregnant. This was an excuse to exclude women from higher education, exercise,  and sports.

female anatomy.png

Genital decay was proven to be false condition that many doctors and medical professionals thought would happen in the 19th century. It should be noted that names for particular anatomical structures or organisms have changed overtime depending on the writers of academic texts.  The fallopian tubes are now referred to as uterine tubes. Terminology can be adjusted depending on the time period or new information based on certain research. The argument lacks cogency that “men have names over women’s bodies.” The  science of anatomy has a long history, but there is still more to learn. There are even new organs being discovered. There is even debate on whether new structures of the body could be even classified as organs.  The interstitum has been added to the list of new structures of the human body. There is debate on whether it can be given the classification of organ. The name for this new structure could even change depending on its physiological nature.


If there is to be any type of name change it should be done for the sake of making a more lucid classification or explanation of physiological function. The texts cites the interesting explanation for the origin of the name hymen. Hymen was the Greek god of marriage and the anatomical term derives from hyalos. The word means in Greek means membrane. The connections between the etymology and marriage has numerous implications related to sex politics. The name was given with the assumption that women would remain chaste until matrimony. Women were denied access to knowledge or control of their own bodies throughout human history. This was not reversed until the 20th century when women gained reproductive rights, experienced the sexual revolution, and had access to reliable contraception. When examining the simple use of terms and names, it only seems like a minor problem. It is important to realize what the female body can do and how it functions.

 There remains a huge amount of ignorance about women’s bodies, especially among men. Sex education is not only critical for health, but also for a strong understanding of anatomy. The sex organs create life through copulation. Each month an egg that is ripe goes from the ovaries to the uterus. If the egg gets fertilized then this allows for development of an embryo and the formation of a fetus. Eggs are not produced after birth of a female; they are born with a full set. At puberty the ovaries begin to produce gametes and girls mature into women. Women will begin their menstrual cycles. An ovary can have thousands of immature egg cells. During the menstrual cycle follicle stimulating hormone causes one egg to enter a stage of development. This happens in the primary follicle, which will enlarge with fluid. It becomes a secondary follicle and relocates to the ovary’s surface. This results in the production of more estrogen. Lutienizing hormone causes the follicle to rupture. This entire process is known as ovulation. Very few people can give an accurate description of women’s physiological and anatomical function due to lack of scientific literacy. The more troubling aspect of this debate is the lack of knowledge of medical history.

         While there are complaints about men naming anatomical structures of the body, the text seems to forget women’s contributions to biomedical science. Dr. Jane C. Wright was a pioneer in cancer research and chemotherapy techniques. She traveled the globe treating cancer patients. Her method was to use cell biopsies and test drugs on the tissue. Wright had pioneered precision medicine. Rosalind Franklin was a chemist and x-ray crytsallographer  who contributed to the understanding of the molecular structure of DNA and RNA. It should come as no shock that women were involved in the study of anatomy prior to the 20th century. Anna Morandi Manzolini  was one of the few female anatomists that got notoriety during her life time. Besides being a scientist, she was an artist who produced wax models of  human anatomical structure. She was doing her work during the 18th century, when many women did not have the same career or educational opportunities.

Alessandra Giliani was the first documented female anatomist in the Western Hemisphere. Giliani served as prosector of dissections at the University of Bologna. This was during the Medieval Age, when anatomical science was becoming a serious disciple of study. During the 1300s many women were excluded from higher education in Italy, but she managed to earn her degree and the respect of colleagues. Women are certainly not neophytes to science; they have always been there. Complaining about names of body parts seems insignificant compared to the fact many great figures are forgotten in the historical narrative. It is worse enough that there is scientific illiteracy, but historical distortion poses another major problem. While women were excluded from academic medicine this did not mean women did not become doctors or medical professionals. BBC Future and the author Leah Kaminsky  do not realize that men did not have sole ownership of anatomical and medical discovery. The scientific fields were male dominated, yet women were contributors. Some  third wave feminists want to cast science as a tool of patriarchy and present it as anti-woman. A claim such as this is false. The irony is that science proves that women are not biological inferiors. Remembering the past and history is pivotal to the understanding of sex politics. Kaminsky most likely favors renaming women’s body parts probably because she associates science with patriarchy. Myths like this will only propagate, if the public does not have the ability to comprehend history.

            Language can be a complex means of  controlling or excluding groups. Simple terminology or jargon does not create oppression. The problem can be seen in coded language as a whole. What Leah  Kaminsky does not understand is that coded language is designed as an indirect means of people with the same prejudices, hatreds, and biases communicating with one another. When blatant racism or sexism is no longer acceptable, bigotry becomes covert. Coded language aids in being an organizing force of disparaging or undermining a particular group. This seems more dangerous than particular names for organs. Phrases like “lady cop” or ” woman fireman”  when used are designed to show that the user of such language thinks women are less capable at their jobs. Changing the names of women’s body parts will not stop sexism or misogyny in the medical profession. The only solution is to get women involved in the biomedical sciences and to gain more power in the academic discipline. Policing language also creates complications with free speech. Compelled speech would stifle debate and academic freedom. If anything science needs more debate and rigorous investigation. If other body parts can be renamed, it certainly would not stop other changes. Should the pectoralis major be renamed on the basis to could sound too masculine? Should the gluteus maximus be renamed on the basis that this body part induces lascivious thoughts ? There could be numerous reasons to rename certain body parts or anatomical structures.

Although a simple name change  would not be so serious, compelled speech can pose a problem. Censorship or compelled speech does not have a place in science. It may not be that language shapes thought, rather thought shapes language. Words are means of communication generated from the neurons within our brain. Broca’s area specifically focuses on speech production. Our thoughts are series of complex actions generated from the neo cortex. This is the biological and physiological element of language, but its should not be underestimated the impact of cultural factors. The cultural factors  that emerge in various communities and societies explain why there may be biases or unconscious prejudice. Language changes depending on the historical time period or socio-cultural conditions. Terminology should not be demonized, considering other matters that are more egregious.

         There is sex and gender bias in the teaching of anatomy. The male body was the primary focus in which it was presented as a normal standard in textbooks. A 2013 study conducted by Susan Morgan showed that men were represented more in diagrams and charts and women were represented less in non-reproductive anatomy. The only time women were shown in medical textbooks was to display difference. The female body has been for a longtime viewed as biologically inferior or not worth investigation by academics. This is partly influenced by the frailty myth. The male body was thought to be built better. The female nature according to dated pseudoscience was naturally weak and lacking strong constitution. The reason military terminology was used and continues to be in regards to disease is based on the idea that men are tougher. Women were thought to be both weak mentally and physically. Victorian Age medicine thought women needed to restrict physical activity and that most of their health concerns should be directed at bearing children.  These attitudes also made it seem that natural functions of the female body were disgusting. The menstrual cycle and specifically menstrual bleeding has been treated in such a manner.This idea of menstrual bleeding as being unclean or a curse may have roots in Paleolithic and Neolithic ages. This can be seen in some tribal societies of the contemporary period. Female puberty rituals were based around superstition. There was a belief that spirits entered a woman’s body and if ceremonies were not performed during menarche, evil spirits could take over. Many societies globally would separate menstruating women for a certain period of time. Women who were menstruating were seen as “unclean.” Such ideas may persist in particular parts of the globe or there could just be a general taboo about the subject.

m cycle Certainly there is nothing unclean about what the human body naturally does. However, a superstition and a level of ignorance has framed women’s natural functions in such a context. Difference related to body function does not imply inferiority.Some of the trepidation that comes from studying the female body is related to how it is perceived. The female body has been described in sexual or lascivious terms. Sexual objectification was even present in medicine and anatomical studies. Women’s bodies were either simply baby makers or objects of male sexual desire. It will take more time to overturn these negative convictions that persist in various communities. Terminology can be debated, there are some facts that advocates should acknowledge.

          Sexual dimorphism seems controversial to some. The argument that pointing out difference creates a system of othering normally is the argument of some third wave feminists. The primary and secondary sex characteristics are product of human biological evolution. While there is indication that more male models are used in medical textbooks, many organ systems of the human body are similar between the sexes. The muscular system and skeletal system do not differ between the sexes. The nervous system is not that radically different either or the cardiovascular system.   There is a difference in size with certain variation. The female pelvis is wider to accommodate childbirth. Male shoulders are broader. Muscle fiber type can vary, but men tend to have more type II fast twitch muscle fiber and women contain more type I muscle fiber.This partly explains the difference in physical strength between the sexes. The unusual aspect is that depictions of the muscular system normally feature men in medical textbooks. Women obviously have muscle.

The genetics of men and women differ in terms of the X and Y chromosomes. Differences are not just phenotypic; they are also genotypic. The faction of third wave feminists seem to want to reject or ignore sexual dimorphism. The reproductive  and endocrine system are different between the sexes, which also relate to sexual dimorphism. What certain third wave feminists advocate is sameness feminism, because either they do not like the idea of women being different or that some how nature made a mistake in the evolutionary path. Arguments for male biological superiority lack cogency, but normally sexists cite men’s greater physical strength as a indication of how the male body is better. This argument is also a ludicrous one considering women can increase strength levels through training and that sexual dimorphism can be flexible in this regard. So, it seems the sameness feminists and their arguments against biology and physiology are misdirected. The only reason to focus on this would be that their is a desire to compete with men for the sake of gender antagonism. This is not about equality, but women adopting an extreme power feminist stance with the intent to place men in a secondary stance. Women can compete with many on many levels, but the one area they cannot is in pure brute physical strength.


The myth is that men used their greater physical strength to control women throughout history. The reality was that gender inequality arose from the unequal distribution of property,  education, and employment opportunities. Another problem was that women were not considered citizens of the states or nations they resided in rather, property of their husbands. Thankfully, this has been reversed in the 20th century and progress continues in other areas of the world in the 21st century. There are women who are stronger than men, so in this regard  the feminists argument in this regard seems irrelevant. The female body is capable of  amazing  feats, yet the connection between women and weakness remains part of  the public’s  general concepts. Hysteria illustrates this problem. Hysteria also had a mental element. The reason that many presumed that women were hysterical was that they lacked strong psychological constitutions. The idea of women being naturally fearful or lacking courage has been a persistent sexist prejudice. When the concept of hysteria appeared in Egyptian medical  discourse in 1900 B.C.E it articulated that there was a unique mental disorder that only effected women. The Greeks took their biological sexism further by suggesting the uterus produced toxic fumes, which produced this condition. The only cure in their mind was marriage. Hysteria persisted in terms of psychology. The reason was to present women as hyper emotional and unstable. Mental illness or disorders can effect both men and women. Sexist stereotypes continue to have a larger negative impact on women’s health rather than anatomical terminology. Trying to deny sexual dimorphism or sex difference in the name of a notion of equality seems drastic.

              The terminology and language can change. However, this would mean that other organ systems may also be subject to change. The nervous system may have to change, because it represents an oppressive hierarchy. The roots of words or terms do have sexist or implied misogynistic overtones. Vagina originates from the Latin language meaning sheath. The sheath is a cover for swords and knifes, which implies phallic action. Clitoris has its etymology based  on the ancient Greek    kleitorís. kleíein can be defined as to shut away.

Female Human Body Diagram Of Organs Human Body Inner Diagram Anatomy Human Body

The attempt to make everything gender neutral could pose problems when biological examination displays difference. Each individual is unique in terms of height, somatotype, skin color, facial features, hair,  and physiological fitness capacity.  This does not mean some people are biologically superior; it means humanity has a vast genetic diversity and variation. Which ever term used for women’s anatomical structures does not change the fact both men and women are the same species. When scholars and the general public discuss women, their health, or anatomy they speak as if they are another type of animal. A problem like this needs to be addressed immediately. Changing hymen to vaginal corona is not going to alter the condition of women or women in the medical profession. More women need to be involved in research, professional projects, and writing medical literature and textbooks. Only then can such issues be addressed. Men must also change their attitudes about women’s bodies. There is a tendency to sexualize  the female body, which makes objectification acceptable. Then there is also another extreme of fear of women’s bodies. Male medical professionals may have difficulty studying such topics about women’s bodies because of  dated social or cultural taboos surrounding functions related to the female body. The subjects of  pregnancy, copulation, and  the menstrual cycle  were not given as much attention  in the medical professions. The rise of gynecology, sexology, and a new focus on women’s health have reversed and challenged the myths as well as old wives tales. Merely making a change to language will not stop discrimination, prejudice, racism, class conflict, homophobia, religious persecution ,  or sexism. Oppressed groups must size power and ensure more opportunities. Relevant to women, they should conduct their own research on the female body, while simultaneously educating the general public. Women were a part of the anatomical and medical sciences; they continue to be contributors to the present  day. Women’s involvement in the biomedical fields would also contribute to combating scientific illiteracy. The public’s knowledge of anatomy, biology, physiology, and biomedical science is limited. Having basic knowledge can improve health outcomes for the world population. Changing the names of women’s body parts  appears to be an empty jester to a field that has a larger problem of institutional sexism.

BBC Future: The Case For Renaming Women’s Body Parts

ESSOP Vs. Women’s Strength Training

Essop Merrick produced videos giving an analysis of women’s strength training. These are mostly instructional with some exercise physiology in the content. While his knowledge is extensive, there are some elements that are critical that are missing from the videos. It is true that men and women can learn from one another when it comes to training. Method is critical when designing a training program. Also anatomical and physiological differences must be accounted for in certain approaches. Simply acknowledging differences does not constitute sexism. Essop stresses that point, but makes general statements about feminism. Not all feminists are power feminists or sameness feminist. The problem as he points out is that they think sameness equates to true equality. Everyone is different and this is not an indication of inferiority or superiority. It is not a stereotype that men are stronger than women; it is biological and physiological fact. That being understood physical fitness capacity can vary among individuals regardless of sex . There are numerous factors that determine physical strength and the video makes the mistake of saying it is primarily testosterone. Genetics, body type, body composition, and muscle fibers play essential roles. If a person is to be scientific in their analysis, one  should do more research. It is not about “defining   strength in a different way”  or “being strong in a different way.” It it is about reaching maximal physical fitness capacity. When men and women train on the same regimen male physical fitness capacity will be higher. This does not mean women cannot reach a level that is high relative to their size and anatomical structure.

            There are multiple factors that contribute to physical strength. Age does play a role in muscular strength. The best period for maximum growth is between the ages ten to 20. As a person ages their muscle mass will decrease if they do not exercise. obviously, as children grow into adults, there strength level increases due to larger body size. Puberty is the period in which males have a dramatic change in endocrinology. Testosterone levels increase causing denser bones, ligaments, tendons, and more muscle mass. Women do not get a strength spurt, rather estrogen and progesterone allow for more storage of fat.

However ,somatotype is also important. While a man may produce more testosterone a man with an ectomorphic or endomorphic body type may struggle to build muscle like a mesomorphic woman. This is independent of endocrinology and sex. Male and female muscles do not differ in terms of histology. Male and female muscles can respond to training and function in a similar manner. There is a difference in the total amount of muscle mass even with highly trained female athletes. Women have a higher body fat percentage even when reaching upper levels of muscular development. Fat does not contribute to strength generation.

Sexual dimorphism effects physical fitness capacity.

 Then there is also the factor of muscle fiber type. This must be clarified before discussing muscular hypertrophy. There are different types of muscle fibers. Fast twitch muscle fibers generate more power, but have less endurance. Slow twitch fibers do not have the same level of power compared to type II fast twitch. Although the type of muscle fibers vary among sex, men on average have more type II muscle fibers compared to women’s more endurance based type I muscle fibers. If an athlete is training for pure strength, type II muscle fibers would be the most helpful. So it is possible for a woman with more type II muscle fibers to have more strength, even if a man is producing more testosterone. Strength and power training is the most effective method for recruiting the most muscle fibers for strength.





The skeleton also is a factor.Bone density is higher in men. The skeleton acts as a support system for organs and houses muscles connected by ligaments and tendons.Limb length also can aid strength. People with shorter limbs can have an advantage in lifting due to leverage factors.  Longer limbs mean more space for muscle compared to shorter limbs. Tendons can provide biomechanical advantage relative to point of tendon insertion. There also remains a difference in upper and lower body strength between men and women partially influenced by skeletal structure. Men have broader shoulders, which means that there is more area for muscle. A woman can build significant strength in the upper body, but smaller shoulder width and size would not allow for muscular levels of the male upper body. Men have an estimated 50% greater upper body strength. There is even a strength difference in the lower body estimated at 30%. Women are closer to men in the lower body.

Genetics and the function of the nervous system also have major roles to play in physical strength. There have been genes that have been identified associated with strength. These genes include PEX14, ACTG1, TGFA, and SRYT1. These genes are responsible for muscle fiber function and the nervous system communication between them. Women are also the carriers of these genes. There are most likely more genes that contribute to muscular strength. The MSTN gene provides directions to myostatin a protein responsible for regulating muscular growth. If an a person has low myostatin levels, then building muscle would be easier. These factors are independent of biological sex and endocrinology. Sexual dimorphism can be flexible in this regard. Neural adaptation is also important to strength. If the motor cortex can be trained to efficiently recruit muscle fibers, this means the body can reach a certain strength potential. The motor neurons are classified as efferent neurons  which working through the spinal cord produces muscle contraction producing  proprioceptive sensitivity. The nervous system has to be included in this discussion of strength.

Motor neurons

Neuromuscular efficiency has to be considered when making strength assessments. This explains why someone who appears to be bigger may not be as strong as someone who has trained differently.  Testosterone is a major help in protein synthesis, which allows for more hypertrophy. is  not the sole factor in physical strength.

          Strength depends on which training method is used and the type of muscular hypertrophy it causes. Exercise increases physical fitness levels. There are no women’s exercises or men’s exercises. If the muscular and skeletal system are similar in terms of physiology any exercise should work to produce stimuli.

Even using the term “women’s strength training” seems somewhat inaccurate. Strength training is strength training no matter what a person’s sex is.  The major factors related to it come down to sarcoplasmic and myofibular hypertrophy. The video gives a general explanation of both. Myofibular hypertrophy requires high intensity, low reps, and medium sets. Myofibrils are formed from bundles of myofilaments. Each muscle cell contains these myofibrils and they are responsive to load stimulus. This means micro-trauma must be applied to  the individual fibers inducing repair during a recovery period. Overload must be maintained to see muscular hypertrophy occur. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy involves medium intensity, higher reps and sets. Sarcoplasm is the energy sources that encase the myofibirls. This includes ATP, glycogen, creatine phosphate, and water. This involves scaroplasmic expansion. The problem is that it would be premature to say which type of hypertrophy favors women. Other factors involved in strength must be realized when considering this.


It may appear that sarcoplasmic hypertrophy favors women more in terms of  the disparity in intensity, but there has never been an experimental basis for this. This question relates to whether or not women should train like men or try another method. The best answer is designing a program specific to a person’s unique physiology. There are women who are at various fitness levels and will see more results compared to others. While some methods are not interchangeable   with men and women it can apply to various individuals regardless of sex.

There is a difference is total absolute strength gains. The chart that was made for the presentation gives a least an general estimation of physical capabilities. However there has to be a level of precision. Weightlifting records show  the the total aggregate of fitness capacity.  Crossfit records also provide a more accurate assessment. Weight and height add an advantage.  The performance range differs between novice lifters and advanced ones.


Weightlifting World Records (men and women)

Strength level wise women can reach the level of an untrained male. Their strength could be slightly more than an untrained male given the trained woman’s size and total weight. This also depends on training method. If a woman only does cardiovascular exercise, this will not dramatically increase physical strength. The act of getting strong is not sexist. The process from going from weak to strong is the increase in fitness. As data shows, women can improve their performance like men if they train, consume the proper diet, and focus on periods of recovery. The major challenge is that for women it is a trial and error method, because very few exercise physiology studies focus on women. The majority of these studies are conducted on men. This causes confusion about how women should best train for maximum performance. Also interpretation of data is important. These are totals of each athletes’ performance. This could mean that there may be a level of overlap in performance when comparing individual male and female athletes.  Women’s athletic performance should not be considered as poor, rather a representation of weight class. Weight class was designed to give smaller people and extremely large people opportunities to compete in sports on an equal basis. Seeing as women are smaller their performance is a representation of their weight class. No one ever says that smaller male athletes are inferior. They are admired for their skill, yet women do not get such accolades.




Women can improve their performance, but they have a harder time reaching higher fitness levels. Less muscle means more work has to be done. The difference in metabolism means that women have to be careful with the diet. Activity level most be high enough so that food does not metabolize into fat. Calorie intake needs to be the right amount to provide energy and feed the growing muscles. It is not just biology that influences athletic performance; there are sociological factors.

          There has been for a longtime sexism in sports. The problems does not stem from ignoring the differences or “celebrating the good in one of the groups.” Discrimination stems from bias and prejudice as well as the conviction that certain groups do not deserve the same rights or opportunities. Such thought believes that certain groups should not have access even to the same leisure activities. The reason so few women are present in serious strength training gyms is because they have been excluded in the past. Although women’s numbers have increased in sports it still is below the participation level of males. Cultural standards of beauty and restriction to training facilities kept many women out of sports. The passage of Title IX changed this allowing girls in school the opportunity to play sports. From 1972 onward there would be a dramatic increase in female athletic participation. This a demonstration of how public policy can change a social ill if implemented correctly.


There are many who want to reverse such changes. Claims of  “reverse discrimination” or attempts to bring down other groups of another are made by conservatives. This is nothing more than an attempt to reimpose the old order. It is too late to keep women out of sports, but there are numerous attempts to undermine it. Limited television broadcast, lack of sponsorship, or sex discrimination are the most notable methods. Gender verification tests, no competitive venues, and public ostracism made it difficult for women to compete professionally in sport. When the modern day Olympics came into existence in 1896, it was a male only event. Although women participated in sports since the ancient world 19th century cultural sensibilities rejected the idea of a physically strong woman.

Fight It was not until 1991 that the IOC  ruled that any new sport introduced to the games had to include women. Despite these gains, women around the world do not have the same opportunity for athletic competition.  Women may be faced with extreme poverty, lack of reproductive rights, or limited education. If a ruling group does not want to share power and continues to oppress, then it must be taken down. So far, certain institutional structures have changed for the better for women competitors. Considering the past women’s advancement in sport is impressive. These obstacles demonstrate why many are still trying to catch up in the sports world.

           Exercise does not differ between men and women. There are no “girl exercises” or “men’s exercises.” This can be described best with the squat and the deadlift. Essop articulates it as a movement pattern. Training with correct form and avoiding injury can create a safe as well as effective workout. The notion that strength and physical prowess was a male only attribute has created a bias against women. The frailty myth was created by 19th century pseudoscience with the conviction that the female body was biologically inferior. Many thought that if women became too strong this would harm their ability to become pregnant. This was proven false in the 20th century and women began to enter the world of sports and fitness.

Strength training is strength training no matter who does it. So saying there is a “women’s strength training” makes no sense. Exercise like the deadlift or squat can best be seen as a movement pattern. Men can even learn many techniques from women in terms of lower body strength training. Women have an advantage in terms of deep squats because of their pelvic structure. Knowing differences between the sexes allows for a more efficient training program that can meet an athletes needs. Intensity and volume can be inversely proportional. That means the heavier the weight, the less time one can lift it. The lighter the weight the more time you have to lift it. Volume can either be adjusted to promote growth or more physical strength. This can to an extent be fluid rather than a set quantitative value. There may be a way theoretically to reconcile the difference in maximal strength between men and women Essop suggests. The approach may be by increasing volume. Splitting such a task into sets reduces the labor or possible strain. This may counter the intensity by equalizing the workload. The variety of exercise can also effect performance outcomes. Women’s looser joints and flexibility  also provide an advantage in particular ranges of motion. Squat, bend, and lunge are the movement patterns for the hips.

There are also three planes of movement which include frontal, transverse, and sagittal. Other exercises also involved in the movement pattern include step ups and hyper extensions. Variety when done will challenge the muscle and allow for significant increase in total amount of weight lifted. There is the question about whether free weights or machines are better. To date there has not been a conclusive study to prove which one is better. The conjecture is that both are best to use, but there is no official verification of that. Women’s recovery from training gives them a benefit, which men do not have. While male absolute strength allows for more intensity, this means recovery periods would be longer. Doing high intensity workouts in such a manner also increases the risk of injury. Women can build immense core strength if they understand that the nervous system is stimulated by the activation by that section of the body. It is not by isolation.


Using this particular approach can help athletes avoid over training. This still does not eliminate the absolute strength difference between men and women on a similar program. Sexual dimorphism is flexible in particular aspects. Core strength demonstrates through training that some elements one show a small physical performance difference. Elite men and women it is bigger in absolute strength. Becca Swanson is stronger than many men, but would not be stronger than the strongest man.

Her range of strength would even surpass trained males. What can be extrapolated from this information is that being female does not limit athletic potential. Women are neophytes to the professional sports world and developing training programs is an experimental process. There are numerous training programs and  fitness advisory websites, but this can be confusing to a person just starting. There has to be a framework to follow for success.

         Essop reduces the process of strength training regimen to certain steps. The first step requires stimulating the muscles. That would be the exercising process that follows after that . This follows recovery allowing the body to repair and get ready for the next training period. Super compensation is the diet and rest in total. This should be repeated and be consistent.

Essop’s view is that it should be retrospective in function rather that a set schedule. The problem with being set on one exercise, then correct form, and then progressive overload. This may not work for everyone and may just be too restrictive. The objective should be to enhance the body through variety and challenge it. The standard operation of the personal trainer system may be too limited for higher physical fitness targets. The problem is being too focused on one exercise. The emphasis should not be the form its self rather the movement pattern and its particular features. The squat can have the neutral neck, thoracic extension, as well as external rotation of the hands and feet. The femurs of the body will be going back and the hips will be lateral during the hip hinge.

Generally, Essop calls this women’s workload training. It involves several steps. The first step involves selecting a movement pattern. This can either be the squat, lunge, or bend. The second part involves either the two foot, one foot, or split stance. Then comes the question of adding weight loads and which part of the body should this be done to. Starting off one should learn the basic patterns. When the basics are mastered, then one can move on to more advanced movements. This can result in simple training progression. Having higher range in motion can lead to more activation of muscles with less weight. This will result in muscular  hypertrophy just the same as lifting heavy. The only difference may be is that this method would be less strenuous and efficient compared to a longer training program. There are simple exercises that one must remember that exist on a spectrum. These include the bend, squats, and, lunges. These exercises are dependent on which joint is moved first and ultimately effect total activation. The exercises as the video argues is that it functions on a spectrum. The movements are part of this spectrum and doing them a specific way in a rigid fashion may not be the best approach. Having correct form can prevent injury, but it should be understood that exercises are more similar than previously thought. Essop makes cogent arguments, but it must be realized women still need to be studied more in terms of exercise physiology. It cannot be stated with complete certainty what is the full extent of women’s physical fitness capacity.

ESSOP Vs. Women’s Strength Training

The Biomechanics of Women in Combat

The Biomechanics of Women in Combat

Dr. Pamela McCauley is a biomechanics and ergonomics expert who is also professor and director of the Ergonomics Laboratory in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems at the University of Central Florida.She applies her knowledge to the question of women in combat. If it is known that women are physiologically, anatomically, and biologically different this means training will have to be adjusted. She approaches the problem from a biomechanics and physical fitness perspective. Ergonomics also serves a use from preventing long term injuries or medical discharges from the US military. Combat position ban were lifted, which means women can serve in the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. Physically demanding jobs may be harder for women who on average have less physical strength and speed. This fitness requirements can be met, without lowering standards. However, gender parity in all branches may not be possible. This text was originally published in 2014, a year after the ban was lifted on women in combat. The US military was using the physical readiness test. Currently there is a shift to make the physical fitness testing be more relevant to the military occupation specialties. Dr. Mccauley’s assessments are mostly correct, but there may be some jobs that women would struggle to get because the physical demands are high.

           To understand Dr. McCauley ‘s perspective one must have an understanding of biomechanics and ergonomics. Biomechanics is the examination of biological systems related to their motion putting emphasis on structure as well as function. This subject of science dates back to the Italian Renaissance when Giovanni Alfonso Borelli pioneered it as an academic discipline. The Italian physiologist was the first to describe muscular movement in terms of dynamics and statics. He also studied other body functions and physiological phenomena of the human body. Biomechanics has become a multidisciplinary science incorporating biology, medicine, engineering, and physiology. There are multiple branches which include sport, human movement, occupational, cell, and cardiovascular biomechanics. Relevant to the discussion of women in combat, this would be classified under human movement and occupational biomechanics. A soldier on the battlefield will be doing the physical requirements of a job and various movements when fighting. It could be argued that some techniques from sports biomechanics can be utilized as well.

Sports biomechanics may help in enhancing women’s physical fitness performance, by understanding the function of the female body under physical activity. Ergonomics also has a relation to biomechanics. It is an applied science which objects are designed so that people can use certain machines or other objects safely as well as efficiently. The goal of ergonomics is to reduce the risk of injury in the workplace. This discipline also examines how workers interact with systems. Ergonomics can sometimes be referred to as human factors engineering.  The US military is in dire need of ergonomic redesign. This is more of an issue with body armor, which has been a culprit in high rates of musculoskeletal injuries. Overloaded gear could cause joint and knee injuries. There is also the problem of poorly fitted armor. This problem is specific to women. If there are mostly men in the branch of the military, the armor produced was mostly for males. Women had to wear male sized armor, which did not fit. This was changed a few years ago when women began receiving properly fitting body armor. This could have been avoided if there was an ergonomic approach. Biomechanics and ergonomics must be applied to combat and training to decrease injury rates.

         The sex difference in physical fitness capacity must be considered. It was revealed  by Dr.  Pamela McCauley  that 55% of women failed the upper body strength testing in marine boot camp. It would be erroneous to take this as evidence that women can not be capable combat soldiers. If the frailty myth were true, then no woman would be able to pass. Another aspect of this would be that the failure rate should be much higher. The 55% statistic would  have to be 90% or higher to make such a general statement that women would make terrible combat soldiers. The physical fitness level of a person matters depending on which branch of the US military is going to serve in. The Air force, Navy, Coast Guard, Army, and Marine Corps have a different set of physical fitness standards.

airforce standards
The updated fitness standards for the US Air Force.

The average male at maximum can have up to 57 lbs of muscle compared to women’s 33 lbs. The average male depending on their health condition and fitness  can carry close to twice his weight. The average woman can carry half of hers. There is not just a difference in muscle mass, but weight. An average man can be 10% heavier than the average female. The average male body is estimated  to be 30% stronger than the average  female body. Dr.McCauley acknowledges in her statement ”   women tend to have less skeletal muscle mass than men, especially in the upper body (arms, shoulders and chest) though there are conflicting research studies on whether or not skeletal muscle mass alone is actually the best indicator of performance.” Bigger muscles do not automatically mean more strength. Mass does protect from physical trauma. This explains why women experience more injury marching under load. Lower bone density and mass would make marching with 80 lbs  or more difficult for a smaller person. Muscular mass is relevant, but not as significant as muscular strength.  Women must focus on both building strength and mass to prevent injury. Specifically building the mass of type II muscle fibers, which are designed for explosive power.

 Sex differences

Relevant sex difference that could effect combat performance .

 The question becomes here is how physically strong can a woman become with training. Women can experience muscular hypertrophy and gain in muscular strength through weight training. This is the best method to increasing physical strength. Seeing as the average man has more muscle and bone mass their natural strength is higher. Natural strength is the power that can be generated without training. This means women would be starting at a lower physical fitness level in terms of muscular strength. If they lift heavy their strength levels could be equivalent or slightly above that of an average man.

Women rarely reach the same physical fitness capacity as an equally trained man. It is true as Dr. McCauley articulated one does not need to be an elite professional athlete, but certain military occupational specialties require a certain level of physical fitness.  An elite female athlete would not have a problem meeting certain standards compared to the average woman. Women have to train harder to reach a particular fitness level.Physical fitness indicators such as muscular strength are not equivalent among the sexes. The largest disparity is in the upper body. Men have broader shoulders which means they have more space to house more muscle on the upper body. Dr. McCauley has the solution based on physical fitness prior to entry and making assessments match the occupation at hand. Physical fitness would have to be at a particular level for women before they even attempt basic training. Doing this would prepare them for the physical demands of combat.

The average woman would struggle more compared to the physically trained women. This means it would take longer for an average woman to meet particular fitness standards depending on the military occupational specialty. Men who are unfit or out of shape would even struggle with physical tasks. It would be erroneous to believe that every man in the United States would be a capable soldier.  Even with elite female athletes it takes a number of years for them to perform at top levels.

          The difference in muscular strength is significant. Seeing as women’s shoulder joints would be looser compared to men’s this is a greater risk for injury. Strength can be dependent on certain factors which include genetics, age, sex, and endocrinology. Women have less muscle fiber in their upper bodies and produce lower amounts of testosterone, which can be a contributor to muscular hypertrophy. Building upper body strength would be more of a challenge. This requires an understanding of the anatomy of the muscles and bones.

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The muscles of the arms. Such limbs will be important in shooting and hand to hand combat.

 The muscles of the upper body include the pectoralis major, trapezius, deltoid, triceps brachii, brachioradialis, rhomboids, rotator cuffs, abdominal external obliques, pronator teres , and the iliopsoas. Women have these same muscles. A the cellular level there is no difference between male and female muscle. Women are working with a smaller amount of total lean body mass. This would mean that a consistent weight training program would be need to be taken before basic training. This would ensure a higher score on the Army Basic Training  Physical Fitness Test. The goal should be to enhance muscular strength to be able to perform tasks, without using maximum energy reserve.


Muscles Of The Trunk 17 Best Images About Shoulder Examination On Pinterest | Magnetic
The muscles of  the upper body and thorax.

Muscular hypertrophy does result from an exercise regimen. Men’s muscles may be more fatigue prone considering type II muscle fibers are not built for long term endurance.Women may have more of endurance advantage with type I muscle fibers. It should be noted that the composition of muscle fiber type and vary depending on genetics and exercise regimens used. The female body can respond to training. Men will find it easier due to the hormonal difference and their size. Male muscle is bigger, but not of higher quality when examined from a perspective of cross sectional area. If a fit woman can reach the strength level of an untrained man or a little higher, it would seem as if this is a realistic target. The muscular system of men and women is similar enough in which training can have an effect on it. Strength is not only based in the muscular system, it involves neural activity. Nerves throughout the body control movement. Muscle memory does have a basis in the brain and how efficiently muscles can produce power output.Building strength can prevent hospitalizations. According to the US Army musculoskeletal injuries accounted for 31% of hospitalizations for both male and female soldiers. Congress did conduct a study in 1994 looking at the ergonomic,biomechanical, and fitness issues effecting women in the US military. This led to improvements to prevent injuries, but more must be done to maintain the health of the soldiers. Women must engage in upper body exercises. This would include lateral raises, pull-ups, bench presses, triceps extensions, and biceps curls. The entire body would have to be challenged with progressive overload.

          While technology has reduced the complete reliance o physical strength, fitness is still necessary. There may be cases in which a soldier id disarmed of weapons and would need use hand to hand combat.  Guns are in a sense a great equalizer, including planes and other combat related vehicles. If a military does not have these items, the will not be as powerful.

Hand to hand combat is taught to all soldiers just in case of the event that their fists are the only weapon they have. Women are at a disadvantage in terms of  size and brawn. Male brute strength surpasses female physical force.  Men tend to be more physically aggressive. Women’s aggression is more verbal compared to a more physically violent response. The reasons are part biological and sociological. It has been hypothesized this difference are the attributes of the human evolutionary past in which hominids had to fight for mates and hunt. What emerged was sexual dimorphism. Women will have to be trained to be as aggressive as possible and undue both the social and biological restraints. Women can build strength, but they must be good fighters. Learning martial arts can enhance women’s combat ability. Women must be taught how to fight and master a high level of skill to counter attacks that do not involve weapons. It should also be noted that training is a simulation of what battle might be like. The environment is controlled, so that recruits can learn skills.

The battlefield is more unpredictable. There could be a circumstance in which one must literally fight to the death to survive. This is why having fighting skills is essential to soldier training.Simply being physically strong does not make one the best fighter, if they do not have skill. These overlap with similar principles governing self-defense. One does not have to be large to defend themselves. Judging your opponent, learning certain moves, and avoiding freezing during attack are essential elements in combat.

Dr. McCauley states that pull-ups and flexed arm hangs are a good measure of upper body strength. Pull-ups can be, but the flexed arm hangs are not. This was an alternative offered to women, because at one time it was thought that pull-ups were not physically possible for them. Physical fitness standards were different for both men and women on the assumption that women could not meet higher standards. This is why with the movement for a uniform standard is underway. It will eliminate training that does not pertain to requirements to an military occupational specialty and reduce total training time. If women do not meet the same standards and requirements this will only cause a reduction in quality of the armed forces. The standards should not be lowered to merely add more women to particular branches of the military. Dr. Mc Cauley agrees with such an assessment. The increased risk of death an injury would result in a less effective armed force. This would only cause a human resources issue with more anger directed at women as a whole. Women must show they can fight and be competent in their occupational position. This means women have to challenge the long held frailty myth, which continues to be used to keep them out of physically demanding occupations.

          There are some aspects of the female physiology and anatomy  that will not be changed through training.  Running and aerobic capacity will not be drastically altered. The female pelvis is much wider, which reduces total running speed. When women run the rotation of their legs differs. From a biomechanical perspective, a male pelvis is more suited to faster running speeds. The disparity in upper body strength can be addressed easier compared to the difference is total running speed.

Although women are closer to men in the lower body, it is not just the difference in muscle size that effects running speed. The heart and lung play a role in running as well as other physical activities. Women have lower hemoglobin levels compared to men. Smaller hearts and lungs mean that there is less oxygen being transported to energize the muscles. This aspect of fitness may require that women train similar to a professional athlete. Knowing these facts about biology,physiology, and anatomy reveal several points of interest. A portion of women would need to engaging in exercise and physical activity prior to even attempting basic training. Another complication is that America in general struggles with weight related issues and illnesses. Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are becoming public health concerns, which would exclude many from possible military service. A large section of the American population would have to go on a weight management program. Women would be effected more seeing as body composition and endocrinology makes it more difficult for them to lose weight. Women would have a harder time reaching a particular physical fitness target, even if they were not overweight. There is no exercise or method to increase female lung and heart size to make them faster runners. Such differences lead to other considerations.

          Strength in diversity has become a new maxim in the American workplace. This seems to be more of a token and superficial image promoted rather than evidence of progress. There still remains discrimination, social stratification, sexism, homophobia   and intense racial hatreds. The lugubrious reality is no matter how well women perform they will always be treated with hostility or viewed as inferior by their male counterparts. Tokenism should not be evidence that the US Military values diversity or all who serve. The Trump administration has attempted to ban transgender service members. Such a blatant act of discrimination could later be extended to other groups. Such attitudes make integration of the armed forces even more difficult. The introduction of women into US combat positions will not reduce effectiveness. The only reason it would fail is if US Military leaders deliberately sabotage it.

The real failure comes from policy from the government and the military. The United States was not designed to be an imperial power, but has been moving in that direction ever since the Louisiana Purchase. The thirteen colonies expanded across the North American continent growing bigger with the Mexican War. The American Civil War halted expansion for a brief period and then it resumed. The Spanish American War marked the the rise of American empire. Ever since 1898, the US has been invading or intervening  in  various countries around the globe. This behavior will be the undoing of the nation. Financially it is not sustainable and has already cause political strain. Diversity of the US Military does not hide the flaws or sinister intentions of particular leaders. A nation has the right to defend itself, but not the right to wage aggressive war. Women who do enter these positions should not be used as pawns or propaganda. Women and men should join the US Military with the intention of defending the nation, not being foot soldiers to a successor British Empire. The ideological direction must change in military ranks and US foreign policy. Anti-discrimination should be the goal in hiring and employment related to the US Military. Token chants of diversity will only be reduced to filling quota targets. Doing that would mean two possible scenarios. Standards would be lowered to accommodate larger numbers of women or less physically demanding positions be created. The first option would be a terrible idea, the other may develop due to the changing nature of warfare. Cyber warfare will be common place with hacking being used as a means of espionage and attacks. There is one factor that also effects women’s total numbers in combat occupations. Personal choice is a large factor. Many women are not interested in such jobs or they do not want to take risks. Women may not like manual labor or occupations that involve being physical.

While training can increase women’s physical fitness capacity, there may be some areas too demanding physically. The Navy SEALS have a high training drop out rate. If it is hard for an all male unit, it would be more challenging for women. Attrition rates do effect all soldiers depending on the level of physical activity and exertion involved. This also complicates a draft of women, if a majority are not in the physical condition or shape to even complete basic training. If there is to be true equality, then women should be required to register for the draft. Every male has done so and there is little justification not to do so. Women would need a specialized fitness program to get them in proper fighting condition. However, even with such programs the numbers of women in combat arms would not equal that of men. Men have been a part of the institution since its establishment and women were officially recognized as members of the armed forces in 1978. The combat ban was only lifted in 2013. Attempting to increase numbers rapidly would only lead to disappointment; there should be gradual increases as well as recruitment efforts. Only with a biomechanical approach to training and a rational affirmative action policy can the integration of women into combat positions be successful.


The Biomechanics of Women in Combat