Vice: Inside The Lucrative World of Female Muscle Worship

Muscle Worship

Vice is a digital media and broadcasting company, which was founded in 1994. The media company distinguishes itself by producing numerous documentaries and having a vast internet and social media presence. Vice has taken a different direction since it founding focusing on a youth demographic. The millenial generation they target specifically with their content. However, their various documentaries and written articles can amuse and engage wider audiences. The Vice model may be the future of news and reporting when the 24 hour cable news industry begins to decline. Older viewers still get their news and a majority of information from television or traditional print newspapers. The problem with this is that editors may remove certain stories or ignore certain events that may be important or interesting to consumers. The internet and social media allows for more exploration  into various cultures and places that the mainstream media would not even consider covering. Never afraid of controversy, Vice covers various subcultures. This time, it explores an element of female muscle fandom specifically muscle worship. “Inside The Lucrative World of Female Muscle Worship” provides an excellent explanation into a rarely discussed subculture and activity. However, it fails to clarify certain details. Media coverage of the physically strong woman is most of the time negative or depicted as an anomaly. This report attempts to be neutral. The love of  muscular female form is not new nor is the existence of  the physically strong woman.

           There have been muscular women prior to the rise of  modern sports and fitness. Dr. Niall Richardson at the University of Sussex has studied the relation between women and the bodybuilding culture. Myth and stories have featured women who were either warriors or strong. Dr. Richardson reveals that the love of the muscular woman has a long tradition in history and popular culture. Amazons are warrior women of ancient Greek myth and continue to  have influence on contemporary entertainment. The most popular amazon many recognize is Wonder Woman.  Valkyries were figures in Norse mythology. These women decided who lived and who died on the battlefield. These strong women in myth had a presence in cultural consciousness since the ancient world.It is clear that this started prior to the 13th century, yet one could say that there was a revived interest. From a perspective of iconography at least the idea of the strong woman was suggested through the warrior woman archetype.

The problem with Dr. Richardson’s analysis is that he claims it is only now that the idea of the physically strong woman has become a reality. Muscular women did exist in the past,but their opportunities to display their talents were limited. They would either be performing in circuses, a street performers, or vaudeville houses. Documentation goes as far back as the late 1700s. Strongwomen acts were not like the female bodybuilding competitions of today. Here is the major difference. The muscular woman is nothing new, rather the fact the no time in history have women reach such a level of strength and physical power. This is no just regulated to a single country, it is spreading. More women are competing in sports and it is not unusual to see women from various nations compete in the Olympics. The hyper-muscular woman has become a phenomenon. The advancement in exercise physiology, supplements, and in some cases performance enhancing drugs has created a new type of female physique. D. Richardson forgot to mention that diet, specific training regimens, and genetics contribute to women’s physiques. The new breed of female athlete is bigger and stronger than ever before.

The Weaker Sex?
The strongwomen of the 19th to mid 20th century.

The reason some fans refer to female bodybuilders as goddesses is that it relates back to ancient myths. Prior to monotheism, female goddesses were worshiped. Athena, Venus, and Ishtar are just a few examples of goddesses of the ancient world. They could either be goddesses of fertility, war, wisdom, or civilization.  Athena was the goddess of courage, strength, law, civilization, justice, crafts, and skill. While these goddesses are part of the imagination there were cases in which warrior women appeared in history. Armenian women were involved in uprisings against the Ottoman Empire. The Mino warriors defended Dahomey against French invasion. Sychthians and Sammartians  probably did have women warriors for which the Greeks may have based their amazon myths on. This fighting spirit that these women warriors exhibited at various points in history indicate a level of strength. A strong constitution does not display itself visually, however it was a revolutionary leap when women started showing more physical strength.

The image  becomes an empowering one. It generates either positive or negative responses. Yet there is a growing enthusiasm coming form the most supportive hyper-fans known as schmoes. Dr. Richardson explains “that there has always been a certain level of exultation, but also erotic fascination with these muscular women.” This should not be a surprise. Women who are different will get attention. The amazing phenomenon is that more women are developing their bodies to the maximum. Only recently have scholars and members of the public have taken notice of the physically strong woman.While there has been some consciousness about such women, the subculture remains a mystery to the mainstream. Various misconceptions are presented, but rarely actual facts. The vice report makes this mistake to a degree.

           Lucus Oakeley discusses schmoes. These are the men who are into session wrestling and muscle worship. One man profiled is Johnny a 37 year old British Army technical trainer. At first it seems the text was shocked that Johnny was consider handsome in the conventional sense and liked strong women. The image of the schmoe is normally based in stereotypes or exaggerations. The first is either a paradigm of a sexual deviant or predator. The other image is either that of a pathetic or helpless man who merely is using these women as an extension of mama’s boy tendencies. There also is the image of the socially awkward nerd, who is an obsessive fan. The reality is that schmoes could be men as well as women from all walks of life. They could be of diverse religious, ethnic, political, racial, and class backgrounds. It should be no shock that male athletes and specifically male bodybuilders may be the biggest schmoes of them all. The assumption would be that men of great strength would not want women like this. The stereotype in this regard is that such men would want absolute control of women. This is not true,mainly because such men like women who share their fitness passion.

It would make sense that men who compete would also be schmoes as well. 

A serious male athlete may find it difficult to balance a relationship along with training, other obligations, and arranging sponsorship with fitness or supplement companies. A woman not involved in the fitness culture would not have an understanding as to why a man would dedicate so much time to a sport. The extent to which men involved in bodybuilding go to sessions is unknown. Seeing as they are closer to the culture than the general session goer it may be higher than assumed. It is true that some schmoes are not proud of their fetish and normally hide it from family and friends. Johnny admitted in the article he does not tell his girlfriend of his desires for muscular women. Some are so furtive about their love of female muscle they choose to remain anonymous. A schmoe interviewed in this article who gave the name Kirok  came from a very conservative area of the Midwest of the US. He chooses to remain anonymous so no one who knew him would find out. There are numerous reasons why men hide their love of the physically strong woman. The main reason has to do with social pressure and fear of ostracism. Generally,people are not honest about their fetishes or kinks, because people have difficultly understanding sexuality and sexual expression. It is not certain how many schmoes are in existence, but it appears as if they are keeping a struggling sport alive.

          The hyper muscular woman generates controversy. Female bodybuilding presents the most developed physiques in terms of muscular development, which challenges gender role cultural convictions. Tanya Bushnell who wrote Strong And Hard Bodies : An Ethnography  of Female Bodybuilding explained that  muscles have been a signifier of masculinity. Strength and power are not associated with women in some people’s minds. Women’s bodies and constitutions were associated with weakness. The problem with her analysis in the text is that she believes the schmoe and female bodybuilder relationship is based solely on a dominance and subordinate role. Women’s motivations for doing muscle worship may not even be financial based or the desire to dominate men in some way. They may enjoy the physical challenge, because wrestling takes more effort. Muscle worship may not always involve session wrestling. Women who do this not for the money, are clearly doing it the same reason the men are. It is a form of sexual expression which could be either a kink or a fetish. Female bodybuilders may also like the admiration and meeting different people. Some women are able to travel all around the world doing muscle worship. It is also possible that friendships or more intimate relationships develop out of this. The simple act of wrestling could just be fun for them.  Johnny claims that some of his sessions ended with physical intimacy. The majority of sessions do not involve sexual intercourse, but this does not mean it does not happen. This leads some to assume this is nothing more than a different type of prostitution. It is not, the main purpose of the service is to witness a muscular in person and have them demonstrate their physical prowess. Describing the relations between men and women in this activity as dominator and subordinate roles enforces the sexist notion that one sex needs to be controlled.Women who gain power are seen as out of control and that they need stern male guidance.

This dated concept of strict gender roles, clearly is eroding yet there is still marginalization and stigmatization of the hyper muscular woman. This not merely due to difference in taste or opinion, rather sexist prejudice and misogyny. There is a view that women should be docile, motherly, and obedient. Male authority should not be questioned and women should merely follow. The muscular woman challenges these sexist stereotypes and expectations. Men do not have sole domain over physical prowess and strength. It used to be that muscles are for men. However, women are muscling in on sports and their seems to be a wider following due to social media networks. While women have greater control of their bodies, there remain objections from the traditionalists and those who advocate one paradigm of beauty. Women cannot be stopped from participation in fitness and sports, but there are still barriers that attempt to control them. There is a the the parameters of acceptable muscularity which Bushnell articulates. There is the hashtag “strong is the new skinny” which celebrates strong women and the image as represented in popular culture. Yet a woman can be strong just not too strong. The hyper-muscular woman does not get as much visibility compared to the more fitness level or toned physiques. Bushnell cites that in 2017’s Wonder Woman film that Gal Godat physique was not that muscular to be playing the iconic amazon superhero.  This position is valid, yet the film should be praised for including a number of female athletes who had athletic physiques. Not to the degree of female bodybuilders, but it does show a paradigm shift. Gal Godat should not be criticized for her appearance relative to the DC character. She stands at a mighty 5’10”.  If anything she presented the amazon of ancient art.

What iconography shows is that the amazon of the past was represented as a statuesque woman rather than the modern muscular one. If we are going off the comics, Wonder Woman’s  physique has been alternating between the two images of the amazon.There are rare occasions in which Wonder Woman appears very muscular depending on the artists drawing her. The image of female heroine is very prevalent in modern popular culture, yet the image of a hyper-muscular woman still is not entirely accepted in the mainstream. The idea of being “too much” or “too muscular” remains a double standard in regards to female body image. Women who are advocates of fitness and sports even have trepidation about getting muscular . There could be other factions that view this differently. Some argue that developing muscle should just not be for presentation, rather utility. Some female bodybuilders switch to crossfit or weightlifting because they just do not want to only look strong; they want to be strong.

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Lenda Murray’s Appearance in a Wendy’s commercial (2016) . It seems more progressive compared to how female bodybuilders are normally presented in media. 

Competing in something other than just posing and subjective judging creates an atmosphere in which female muscle can propagate to other areas.  The muscular woman is not completely condemned to obscurity. They are not depicted always in a positive light. There are times in which it is either neutral or somewhat based on stereotype. It would be assumed that the hyper-muscular woman would be more accepted in their own fitness industry and culture. This is not the case. A male dominated fitness and sports world keeps women at a disadvantage. Despite these obstacles, women have developed an impressive lucrative business and market.

         The cancellation of the Ms.Olympia and Ms. International female bodybuilding competitions was a massive disappointment. Cynics cited this as the death of female bodybuilding and the extinction of the hyper-muscular woman. There has been a reversal with female bodybuilding being more fan supported and women having larger control of the movement of funds. The Rising Phoenix competition has shown as long as there is talent out there, the sport will be fine. This is an evolution in terms of aesthetics and women’s involvement in fitness. The article claims that more bikini competitions are taking over, but there are other classes women have entered. Figure, fitness, and physique are other bodybuilding categories women can compete in. The IFBB seems to want to phase out heavy weight female bodybuilding, even though there is a market for it as shown by die hard fans and the schmoes. Female bodybuilding may even return in a way that many would not expect. The physique class has the muscularity level of  middleweight female bodybuilders, while figure competitors have the image of the lightweight female bodybuilders. Some women realize they enjoy making gains may switch to another class. Gradually, bikini competitors may come with more cut and ripped looks. What the IFBB was attempting to phase out may just return again. The women seem to have more classes compared to men.

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The platforms for larger women to compete are shrinking. This gradually is being reversed and it mainly has to do with a shift in business model. The large female bodybuilder has to find another means for income and a place for competition. The athletes go directly to their fans and supporters without going through a corporate gatekeeper. This makes the community closer and allows the structure to be tailored to fans and athletes. The women are gaining more control of the financial aspect and female bodybuilding itself. There may be a possibility that as the years progress, the IFBB may see how profitable this new structure is and ask the much larger women to return. Although there are positive developments, female bodybuilders struggle just like other female athletes. Wendy Mcready interviewed in the article stated that sponsorship opportunities are extremely limited. She has been competing for 22 years and is a professional athlete. Professionals like her do not need to do sessions to maintain an income, but amateurs or women just entering the sport may have to do this. Getting a full time job would not be possible considering the time for training, travel, and competition to be a professional bodybuilder. There has been constant blame that women caused the decline of the sport due to “being too extreme.” There have also been accusations that women’s bodies were getting too close to the male aesthetic. These accusations lack cogency. The idea of being “too extreme” is relative. To some any woman who is not there idealized version of beauty is extreme. The hyper-muscular women that people claim are “too big” really are not as large as they appear. The large women on stage may not even be more than 150 lbs. Males are larger on average and the males in competition could reach up to the 200 lbs mark. The concept that women have become large like men is a hyperbole.

   Seeing as these arguments can be discredited, the root of them is the conviction have no right to be part of certain aspects of the sport. The future cannot be predicted, but it seems obvious that muscular women are not going anywhere. There could be a dramatic increase in muscular women. It seem strange that the original source of origin has been struggling while the image of female muscle goes further into the mainstream. There are some women out there who now view muscles as a fashion accessory and seem them as something of  to be proud of. Such a shift shows that women are gaining more opportunities to go in to areas that were restricted to them.

              Lucus Oakeley should be able to distinguish the difference between muscle worship and  session wrestling. This is not made clear by the text, but there are some similarities. Session wrestling focuses mostly on the physical contest. Muscle worship is about the client either feeling the muscle or watching the woman pose. The line becomes blurred. Session wrestling can involve muscle worship, However, it is not always a fixture in sessions. This can be confusing to someone who just has been told about the culture surrounding female muscle. There are other specifics that are not mentioned entirely. Schmoes are really enthusiastic fans and female muscle fans just like women with any level of muscle. Schmoes favor women with massive muscles and specifically female bodybuilders because they have the most developed musculature. This was not described as well as it could have been in the text. The challenge with attempting to document a subculture is that scholarly research is not widely available.

This is why error or falsehoods can spread in media outlets. There just may not be enough information to provide an accurate account of an event or topic, The wonderful aspect about Vice is that it does true investigative journalism, rather than opinion based pieces. People who are different or have an ideology that deviates from popular opinion normally are either present as abnormal or negatively. At the most extreme level there is either scapegoating or a moral panic induced by a media frenzy. The situation with female bodybuilders is that they are more misunderstood and the culture surrounding it more so. The best way to extract information is to do interviews of the athletes and fans as well. The Vice Sports presentation “Last of The Swole Sisters” did this well by asking athletes about their involvement in the sport. The presentation did not automatically present the women as weird or anomalies. Oakeley’s article tries to give readers a bigger picture of this microcosm, yet there remain some knowledge gaps.

            A large part of the female muscle fandom is a large online based community. The impressive part about this Vice article was that it mentioned Herbiceps.com and Saradas. To any female muscle fan these are common sites that are visited. Forums, websites, and blogs provide users with instant access to muscular women. Prior to the internet the only way to see such women was either on television, in a magazine, or a gym itself. Online private chats with athletes have become popular. One might assume that web session are similar to session wrestling in person. The conversations are mostly regular events like the weather or work life. Saradas is a place were fans can connect and talk with one another. There are exchanges of pictures, videos, and updates on the sport. The concern is that file sharing could reduce profit to athletes sites. So far, members are still willing to buy videos, even it they have seen it free on other video streaming sites. Such videos cannot be found anywhere else, Webcam chats have expanded into a large business empire with Herbiceps.com, which would not have been imaginable decades ago.   Michael Eckstut is the CEO of  Herbiceps.com and revealed that he merely started the site as a way to meet muscular women. He has become the Mark Zukerberg of the female muscle world. The likes on Facebook for Herbiceps has reached 80,000 can counting and it will not stop there. Customers flock to get webcam sessions or view pictures and videos.

Muscular women are appearing in more places than a gym or a stage. 

Fans do not have to wait to go to bodybuilding shows or fitness expos to see women of high muscular development. The success of Herbicpes.com  is related to micro-transactions. There is the issue of profit and how much the models receive. Eckstut states women get at least 50% of the earnings. Emma Switch, longtime session wrestler sates that it really is 52%. Some women prefer to organize sessions or photo shoots on their own and make more than going to a website like Herbiceps.com. There is a level of danger meeting strangers and travelling by yourself. Some women have report that the men they have wrestled may have gotten too rough (yet it’s nothing they could not handle). There could be the risk of being harmed or kidnapped. So far, nothing like this has happened. Hopefully it never will. There also remains the issue of what are the options for athletes in terms of private sessions or working under a website. A female bodybuilder can organize sessions on her own site or go to one. Some reluctantly do sessions to finance their dreams.     Vladislava Galagan a new competitor to the female bodybuilding scene says she only does sessions to fund her training and to pay her coach. If she gains enough income she stated she will stop. There is the image of women being victimized or being forced into this due to a misogynist or sex obsessed culture, but the opposite is true. Galagan revealed that ”  some women do it because they like it, others like me just do it because they need the extra income.” It should be no surprise that women have fetishes and that squeezing men with their legs may be one of them.

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Vladislava Galagan posing for a photo. 

Often when this topic of fetish or sexuality is discussed women are not mentioned. Women have fetishes and sexual urges just like men. The difference is that many cultures have tried to rigidly control female sexual impulses. The sexual revolution liberated women from such restrictions. The reason this was imposed on women was the notion they needed to be controlled in all aspects of their life and the fear of female sexual power. A muscular woman not only induces the fear of female sexual power, but adds a insuperable physical force behind it. Even from female muscle fans these mixed feelings can be experienced. This may be a reason for why many rather view such women on the internet rather than in person. For others it is not good enough. Experiences have to be felt in the flesh. Women may also like the fact there is for a period a role reversal occurs in which women have complete control. The majority of the women are stronger or as strong as the men they wrestle, so in this regard they have control. This is not exactly a dominatrix or BSDM rather a woman embracing a sense of power. Men can do this without criticism; women are ostracized if they show too much competitiveness, strength,independence,  or assertiveness. A private setting frees both men and women from dated gender roles. The internet community provides a private space free from the normally closed minded majority opinion.

              There are more women who are coming to this female muscle worship industry. Fitness, figure, bikini, and physique athletes have appeared in mixed wrestling videos, even though they do not do session wrestling. Mixed wrestling by its denotation is just a man and a woman wrestling one another. This has occurred in professional wrestling seen by a wider audience. The other classes seem to be doing better compared to the heavy weight female bodybuilding class, but they are doing mixed wrestling videos . A figure model or fitness model would probably be making more than the disappearing class of the IFBB. The women realize that there is a demand for muscular women among a particular demographic and other bodybuilding classes have followed suit. Some women do not even have bodybuilding backgrounds, rather they are MMa fighters or weightlifters.Although it was common to see hyper-muscular women only in such videos, now there are women of multiple fitness levels. The interesting aspect is that the videos are doing more.

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Female bodybuilder Colette Nelson has a mixed wrestling match with a man.  She is not a session wrestler, but did appear in wrestling videos. 

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This Figure Competitor may not be as large as a bodybuilder, but knows enough wrestling moves to do mixed wrestling. 

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Bikini competition is the latest addition to the bodybuilding sports for women. It should be no shock that bikini competitors appear in mixed wrestling videos too. 

Some video sites like Awefilms create stories to their muscle worship or mixed wrestling presentations. Most videos are simple normally involving the woman pulverizing the man with minimal effort. Other sometimes have the men win a match occasionally. While they follow the same formula, producers may attempt to do something different to maintain interest of consumers. Schmoes as the text exposes may have saved female bodybuilding from complete extinction. This proves that athletes can survive without IFBB support. Women are embracing the change. Women competing were cast in the shadow of men during major competitions. The Rising Phoenix now places athletes in a venue focused solely on them and gives them quality accommodations. The conditions seem better compared to the past with women who win the Rising Phoenix getting a total of $ 50.000. Female athletes are paid less compared to their male counterparts and this information seems like good news. This love of female muscle also presents itself in more artistic ways. Art, written stories, or various media produced by fans has rapidly spread over the internet. It cannot be denied that there was for a moment a decline in female bodybuilding. Now there seems to be the beginnings of a revival.

            The psychology of the lovers of female muscle fans is more complex than previously thought.  William Marston developed DISC theory. He was the creator of Wonder Woman and it is obvious that he too might have had a similar fetish. Marston’s theory stated that people demonstrated their emotions using particular behavior types. These types were dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. This may explain why men may gravitate to women who strong in any sense of the word. Marston explained the sexual appeal as follows : “Give [men] an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to and they’ll be proud to become her willing slaves.” The DISC theory would be difficult to prove under the test of the scientific method. Emotions and behavior is a complex interaction between the nervous system, culture, biology, environment, and genetics. The text claims that Marston was only partially right. This does not mean every female muscle fan wants to be dominated by a strong woman. Attraction can be based on particular preferences. There are men who like lager women or thinner women,but there reasons are not questioned on a psychological basis. Men who like female muscle are also opened to women of various body types.

The body image diversity movement has embraced women who are larger and have curves. It is perplexing why the muscular woman still remains isolated. 

People’s preferences may be larger than previously thought. It is just the media promotes one image of beauty and expects  everyone to adhere to that standard. Female muscle fans may not want women to beat them up. The DISC theory seems to work off a suggestion of constitutional psychology. It seems to assume that a woman with any type of power would just be a dominant personality. Women competing in the sport may not have the dominant personalities one would assume with such physical stature. There stereotype or false notion is that a physically stronger person would automatically be more dominant. Just like other people, their emotions and behavior changes depending on the situation. The reason a female muscle fan is attracted to such a look also has to do with exposure from an early age. Children are exposed to more media such as television, the internet, and multiple social media platforms. Many who have this female muscle love state that they either saw an image or an actual muscular women in their childhood or adolescence. Maybe a boy read a Wonder Woman comic, which induced a strong woman fascination for life. Gradually, the interest grows as one ages.

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Margie Martin competing in 2018. 

The love of female muscle may not be so rare or strange. Clearly as shown in myth and folklore the image of the strong woman has been there. The common idiom “behind every strong man is a strong woman” may be taking on a more literal meaning. Psychology continues to study the mind, yet it has only been recently that it has begun to incorporate sexology into studies. There is more to learn about the science of copulation and sexual behavior. The motivation for following the female muscle fan culture is not entirely sexual. Fans have iterated that they are impressed with the amount of dedication and diligence these athletes have. They are unique and that is enticing. Not every woman can lift a grown man like he’s an infant or bench twice her body weight. It makes a bold statement about women’s capabilities and what they can achieve.

           The bodybuilding sports are not mainstream compared to football, basketball, or soccer. Yet, many athletes use the same training techniques that bodybuilders pioneered. It is not unusual to see athletes incorporate weightlifting into their training regimens. Women’s sports have to struggle for coverage, funding, and recognition. Sports that are not mainstream, such as bodybuilding face a challenge that more popular sports do not. Relevance to the general public has been a goal of the sport since its birth. Women have an even tougher time with a general public that does not understand them and a fitness industry that wants to have them isolated. The athletes then looked to a new business model to save their sport. Muscle worship and session wrestling have made female bodybuilding of the 21st century more fan supported than ever before. The most important aspect about this is that it challenges the idea that the female athlete is not marketable or appealing to audiences. So far, it seems the claim muscular women are not marketable lacks cogency. There are both loyal and enthusiastic fans willing to spend a considerable amount of money to see contests, do sessions, or be members of pay sites. The use of the internet and social media can serve as model for women in other sports attempting to promote their organizations or themselves. With change comes objections.  Those with more puritanical mindsets believe muscle worship is awful for the sport. They think it is immoral, lascivious, and   sleazy. Others make attempt to object to it based on a feminist argument that women are just be manipulated and exploited by men. These arguments have a weak basis. As established before session wrestling or love of female muscle is not entirely sexual. It is natural for human beings to have some form of sexual expression or desire. Women are not being exploited. This seems like a mutually beneficial partnership between athlete and fan. If there is any exploitation it was with the Weider Corporation and  wider fitness industry that put women in a secondary status. Doubtless of what one thinks of muscle worship or the physically strong woman they are not going anywhere anytime soon.

Vice: Inside The Lucrative World of Female Muscle Worship

A Female Muscle Fetish Might Not Actually Be a Fetish- Ryan Takashi

A Female Muscle Fetish May Not Be A Fetish

This blog post by Ryan Takashi explains the concept of female muscle fetish and why the denotation my not be precise. There are fans of female muscle and there is the fetish element. To a degree there are a number of fetishes that people can have that are either physiologically, biologically, and culturally based. Beauty standards are rapidly changing and have based on a system of body image. The physically strong muscular woman crates a new paradigm. It is an image of power and to devotees beauty. However, there are people of different taste and opinion. Simply not liking the look is not substantial evidence of sexism, however disparaging women’s appearance indicates gender bias. People with opposite views can at least admit the impressive athletic accomplishments and physical feats. The more closed minded are more vituperative in their objections. Ostracism also directed at fans or admirers. Despite such negativity that does not stop women from developing their bodies or men from liking them. The denotation of fetish can be described as ”  a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body.” Connotations can have multiple meanings. The word fetish as Takashi reveals can be the victim of malapropism. Normally, it is used in a negative connotation due to certain biases, limitations of the understanding of human sexuality, and sexism. Sexologists and psychologists now  realize that fetishes could be part of sexual expression. Some who specialize in the field of sexology even distinguish between a kink and a fetish.

           According to sexologists there is a difference between a kink and fetish. There can be overlap, but the sexual fetish focuses on a particular body part. This could be the posterior, feet, or any other structure of the human body. It may also be a sexual fixation on an object. The kink as some sexologists refer to it encompasses a number of sexual interests and activities. A man might have a fetish for women with strong biceps, which would count as partialism. However, the kink may be that he has a predilection for doing mixed wrestling with a muscular woman.Simply liking a woman with muscle would not be a fetish by itself. That would be more of a preference.

People and their body shapes would not be classified as fetishes. Just being a muscular woman does not make that person a sexual fetish or a person liking muscular women does not make it a fetish either. There was a tendency to classify fetishes as abnormal, but that simply is not the case. The fixation only becomes unhealthy if it interferes with daily life and  function of the individual. The reason the word has become a negative connotation is that people depending on their culture are more conservative in their discussions of human sexuality. Many times the topic is rarely discussed. It is a private matter, which may be the reason. Feelings of embarrassment about certain attractions or kinks are induced by peer pressure. The sexual revolution change the way people viewed sex and sexuality, yet there are still people who want to keep such studies in the realm of the unknown. The work of sexologists and psychologists have shown that human beings have a individual and unique form of sexual expression. This can be seen in fetishes and kinks .

       There are stereotypes or falsehoods that lovers of female muscle get associated with.The most prevalent one is being a fetishist. Detractors normally use the word in a negative connotation as a pejorative as a way of presenting female muscle fans as perverts. Such claims are hyperbole and extreme exaggeration. Most female muscle fans would not consider themselves fetishists and they would not be designated sexual predators. Many are just average men of various walks of life, class, religious, and ethic backgrounds. There is also the claim female muscle fans are so obsessed that it hinders the function of their daily lives. While obsessions or addictions can do this, female muscle is not drug. Substance abuse or mental disorders can hinder function in daily life and female muscle fandom would hardly be classified under that. An interest in muscular women does not constitute a need for therapy or counseling.

The image of the physically strong woman makes a powerful statement in regards to sex politics.

Ostracism over support may create a level of discomfort if family and friends talk about a person’s support without them being comfortable about it. This explains why some female muscle fans  are very furtive about their love of the physically strong woman. They may collect images, magazines,books, and videos keeping them hidden. When discovered there may be a level of panic or they are forced to explain themselves. If this does happen it can provide some relief and acceptance. It has become better with a new body image acceptance movement and a more open minded individualistic culture. There is also the myth that female muscle fans only like women who are muscular and reject others. This is not true. Female muscle fans could have a multitude of preferences that even would overlap with detractors. Society has a narrow definition of beauty, however people have wider preferences compared to the promoted paradigm.

These women are just as beautiful as the strong ones. 

Slowly, society is coming to the realization that there are different forms of beauty. The beauty standards continue to change through out history, yet is should be noted that with more media people have access to a myriad of images. The internet has mad it so that with a click of a button certain images can be seen immediately. It may be in the distant future that the idea of a muscular woman will not seem strange to people. There is another misconception that Takashi mentions, which is that female muscle fans have some form of low self-esteem. Their insecurities as the theory goes are projected in a manner in which they want to be dominated by a stronger person. This is a generalization and it would be difficult to know the conditions of self perception of every female muscle fan. This argument of insecurity seems to be a better description for opponents. This objectors are not disagreeing on the basis of preference. It can be easily understood why certain images may not be attractive to an individual and that particular tastes differ. They  insult and attack women who look different normally with sexist or homophobic overtones. It either masks their personal inadequacies or misogyny. The insults are almost similar to one another. They are either “she looks like a man” or “she’s ugly.” Some comments written online display users insecurities indirectly. Phrases like ” I would never date a woman stronger than me” or ” who would want to marry her” demonstrate male insecurity in masculinity. There are men ho believe the only measure of a real man is how well they can control and subjugate women. A strong woman becomes a threat to this type of man’s narrow definition of masculinity. The worse form of insecurity projection is intimidation. Some men are literally afraid of women who are this strong.

The female muscle fan is not a person that is deviant, a sexual predator, or dangerous. They are merely fans of women who are not mainstream. Yet, this has changed to a degree. A man ( or woman ) can have a healthy relationship if the have a preference or a particular fetish and kink. Many times couples may not be fully satisfied, because they are not honest about their sexual expression.

        There is the notion that such female muscle  fandom is weird. Rayan Takashi even states “admittedly it is unusual for a guy to really dig bi buff women… but it is not rare.”  One should question why this would be considered strange. Very few people would question a person’s preference for thin women or larger women. As stated before, female muscle fans like multiple types of women. There could be even more men that like the strong woman than previously thought. It should be no surprise that husbands and boyfriends may hide this form their significant others. The reason could be the fear of repudiation from their wife or girlfriend. The weird or strange label is another way for detractors to discredit what they do not understand. This normally is done with people from different cultures. The West for example likes to consider itself a default for normalcy and the whole of humanity labeling other cultures as “exotic” or in a more racist overtone “backward.”  People who advocate rigid conformity adhere to condemning anything that deviates from what they consider “normal.” Normalcy is a relative term and it depends on who you ask. To some women with power in any sense of the world would be considered abnormal. Few question the abnormal conditions of gender oppression or sex discrimination. This seems more like an acceptable anomaly. There are many behaviors that are abnormal that are acceptable to the wider society. Being ultra patriotic without question or accepting certain cultural values that may be ethically questionable  are examples of this rigid conformist behavior. Relevant to sex politics, there is a subtle message that all women should behave and look a certain way. The muscular woman is not weird and liking them is not bizarre. They are just different from your average woman.

            Female muscle fandom  has elements of keen interest and fetishism. The fetish element is related to mixed wrestling, cartolagnia, and sthenolagnia. Specifically, the fetish is cartolagnia and sthenolagnia not a female muscle fetish. There are female muscle fans, but they rather not attempt to wrestle a strong woman. Others that is their motivation. There are men who like not only to look at pictures, rather they want to see strong women demonstrate their strength. Muscle worship is another extension of cartolagnia and sthenolagnia. There should be an general understanding of what an unhealthy obsession is. A fixation only becomes unhealthy when it causes mental or physical distress. An extreme case is that it causes harm to an individual or others. Cartolagnia or sthenolagnia could hardly be classified as obsessive compulsive disorders.

There are women who may not have the physiques of bodybuilders, but participate in mixed wrestling. Although session wrestling started with the female bodybuilding community, women who are martial artists, wrestlers, or generally athletic have become involved. It is unknown the exact number of men and women participating in mixed wrestling, but it could be larger than previously thought. Sometimes such mixed wrestling is not just for the purpose of fetish fulfillment. There are people who just want to play as if they were children. This may seem strange, yet the act of play can be seen in other mammal species. Lions and apes engage in some degree of frivolous play with one another. Animals have various behaviors according to a sociobiological script. Play teaches the young social customs and behaviors that will  be used in adulthood. The human animal at a certain stage is based on a cultural system to leave such play behind for greater responsibility. It does not disappear completely. Parties, public events, or general celebrations are examples of play in the the adult stages. The carefree and random acts of play are abandoned with maturity. A wrestling session recaptures that feeling of childhood play.

The term female muscle fetish may not specifically describe the motivations or intentions of the people involved. The reason there is a debate over semantics is due to the fact terminology helps describe objects or actions. Jargon may either confuse or become cumbersome when dealing with a complex or unknown topic. That is why certain topics and either be out in another classification. Lift and carry can be considered a stand alone type of fetish. It is closely related to  cartolagnia and sthenolagnia. These are not the same  thing. One is based on the display of  strength or muscles. The other is based on presentation through demonstration of that strength. There may be people who just are interested in being lifted and carried, but being muscular is not a requirement.   Sthenolagnia, cartolagnia, lift and carry are fetishes. Female muscle by itself is not a fetish. There could be a general female muscle fetish, but liking female muscle would not make all supporters fetishists. Female muscle fandom is a keen interest as Takashi articulates.

        The female muscle fandom is a large and growing subculture. It can encompass material and non-material culture. Art and writing have become a part of it. Drawings, paintings, digital art, and fan art regularly depict the muscular female form in the community. Female muscle growth is part of this, yet it appears writers and artists go beyond the erotic or fetish writing. Stories and art depict muscular or physically strong women as heroes or main protagonists. Writing can range anywhere from the science fiction to fantasy genre. The female muscle fandom also supports female athletes outside of the bodybuilding and fitness community. The female athlete has more exposure giving female muscle a mainstream platform. The female muscle fandom communicates with one another through forums, social media, and websites. Normally, they talk about  their favorite athletes, contests or sporting events, and developments in the fitness industry. Collecting is also a huge part of the fandom. Fans like to collect pictures, videos, and various memorabilia. Videos can either be posing videos, mixed wrestling videos, or interviews of athletes. Picture collecting involves either buying original content from the athletes themselves, gathering them from websites, or candid pictures they took themselves at contests or expos.

There does seem to be a level of evolution. As more and more women begin to become seriously involved in fitness, what was once subcultural could become mad available to the wider public. There is a division within this group of fans. There are fans who only like female bodybuilding competitions  or embrace any woman with a certain amount of muscle. The hardcore female bodybuilding fan just like women who fit into that specific aesthetic. The general female muscle fan embraces female bodybuilding, fitness, figure, physique, and women in all other sports. The embrace the strength and skill of the female athlete. Many just assume because it is men paying extra attention to women it has to be solely sexual. This is not the case.Many fans admire the women’s tenacity and diligence under pressure. Societal ostracism and even mistreatment from the fitness industry itself does not stop them. Fans like this determination and resilience. It is a very admirable quality. The female muscle fandom continues to grow. What they call themselves can vary, but they are united by their fascination with the physically strong woman.

         There are several pieces of information that can be extracted from observations of Ryan Takashi. Liking muscular women does not mean a person has a fetish. People would accept that liking thin women or larger women would not be a fetish. The only reason people would see it as deviant or abnormal is that it does that fit their gender role script. There are some men who believe that women should not have any power what so ever. Physical power and prowess many still think should be a man’s domain. Thankfully, attitudes about what women can do and should be are changing. There should be no contradiction between women and strength. While there can be a general female muscle fetish, it should be specifically to cratolagnia  and sthenolagnia. Mixed and session wrestling can be a part of this. Muscle worship lift and carry are also related to this as well.

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There is a section of fans sometimes called schmoes who only like session wrestling and the biggest female bodybuilders. The general female muscle fan will enjoy strong women of various sports and fitness levels. What Ryan Takashi described was not the female muscle fetish, rather female muscle fandom. This a misunderstood phenomenon and relatively recent. It would not have expanded to the height it is now without the internet and various social media platforms. There have been muscular women in the past. The revolutionary development is that there has never been a point in history in which women have gain so much muscularity and strength. This makes a profound and perspicacious  statement. Women are gaining more power and are going to have more influence in various areas of life. There will be backlash, but this will not reverse changes. Over the past fifty years there has been a dramatic shift in the way men and women view copulation and human sexuality. The sexual revolution discarded the old customs and mores . Fetish should not be considered a “strong word” rather a part of human sexual behavior. Sexual kinks are also a part of this. As the science of sexology grow humanity will learn more about sexual behavior. Being a lover of female muscle is not a medical or psychological condition. It is another body type that men may like, which may be gaining more of a following.

 

A Female Muscle Fetish Might Not Actually Be a Fetish- Ryan Takashi

Constitutional Psychology: The Pseudoscience of William Sheldon

Psychology is a science that focuses on behavior and the study of mental processes. However, this did not mean that the academic discipline was immune from pseudoscience or incorrect theories. Science is not a completely unbiased enterprise. It can be prone to errors or falsehoods. This is why the scientific method has an immense amount of importance. It seeks to investigate and confirm facts. William Sheldon was a psychologist in the 20th century who used techniques of physiognomy and anthropometry  to produce the concept of constitutional psychology. Sheldon argued that one could predict personality and behavior based on body type. Constitutional psychology represented an example of confirmation bias. Pseudopyschology describes the practices in the science that could not be proven, but were accepted as fact. Pseudopyschology does not involve critical thinking skills or utilizes the steps of the scientific method. There were certain procedures done to people based on pseudopsychological foundations. The lobotomy was performed as a cure for mental illness or behavior based issues. This procedure of psychosurgery  did not improve the health or well being of people, rather it left them in a vegetative condition. That was an extreme example of pseudopsychology. William Sheldon’s constitutional psychology can be considered pseudoscience even though at the time it was given credibility. Such ideas do not disappear, but reemerge in a different form.

          Willima Sheldon was born in 1898. The American psychologist and physician attended the  University of Chicago were he received his Ph.D. in psychology. Later in 1933 he would receive his MD. Most of his career was spent working at the University of Oregon Medical School. There he was director of the constitution clinic. Sheldon by 1951 became director of the Biological Humanics Foundation. Sheldon also studied relations between physical characteristics and disease up until his retirement in 1970. Sheldon would pass away in 1977, with only a few followers of his work. William Sheldon was the developer of the somatotype classification, which is still used in fitness lexicon. This term refers to shape and structure of a person’s physique. There are three general types that Sheldon formulated. This includes the endomorphic (fat) , ectomorphic(slim) , and mesomorphic (muscular)   somatotypes. Human bodies vary so he developed a scale. The three digit value would describe the level of endomorphy (first digit), ectomorphy (third digit), and mesomorphy(second digit). The digit scale would go from 1 to 7.  An extreme mesomorph would be 171 and an extreme endomorph would be 711. This simplistic scaling seems off due to the fact it is not precise. There could be people if classified under the constitutional psychology somatotype could fall between scale values. The scale claims that most fall between a value of 444  which means they have a balance between extremes.

Sheldon’s classification system was based on the idea that physiology and psychology were interlinked. The problem with his theory is that body types he associated with particular traits and personalities. Ectomorphs he proclaimed were most likely to be introverted, thoughtful and sensitive. The term William Sheldon used was cerebrotonic. The mesomorphs were somatonic meaning they were aggressive, assertive, and active. Endomorphs  were viscerotonic meaning they were relaxed and extroverted. These were nothing more than making judgments based on physical appearance. Sheldon published his ideas in several book including The Varieties of Human Physique and The Varieties of Temperament . Personality, traits, and emotions are complex psychological, social, and neurological interactions. William Sheldon even linked mesomorphy to juvenile delinquency. When observing such individuals it was clear is mistook correlation for causation. This was an egregious error in scientific procedure.

            Psychology just like any other science has to have a method of study. The scientific method  was designed to confirm facts through experimentation and observable variables. Psychology uses various methods to generate research. This includes experiments, surveys, naturalistic observations, case studies, and correlation studies. The only research method that constitutional psychology could fit into would be naturalistic observation and correlation studies. Both these methods would demonstrate that constitutional psychology had no scientific basis.

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Naturalistic observations are difficult,because one wants to see behavior and conduct without inference.  The subject being observed have to not be fully conscious that they are being watched,because it may effect the outcomes of the study. Sheldon did do this with teenagers in juvenile detention, but the environment and behavior could have been altered so that it would effect the outcome of the study. Natural history and zoology use this technique for other species of the animal kingdom, however there is a limitation for observation of the human animal. Human behavior can change based on a number of factors. They could be either genetic, environmental, or a sudden acclimation to a particular situation.There are three types of correlations. These include negative, positive,and no correlation related to particular variables. A positive correlation indicates that variables change at the same time. This means that as one variable becomes more prominent the other may become more diminutive. Negative correlations are the opposite meaning variables will be altered in opposite directions. Body type and behavior would only fit into a zero correlation classification. The range of personality and emotion is too vast to make correlations between body type. If a survey method was done it would not produce the results that Sheldon desired. There is also another problem that arises that is not addressed from constitutional psychology.

            William Sheldon’s work mostly focused on men. He did intend to produce a work that would apply his theories to women’s bodies. Sheldon collected photographs and measurements of female students, but abandoned the project. Psychology does have a history of sexism, but one can extrapolate it from particular theories even though it is not blatant. Most women would either fall under the ectomorphic or endomorphic classification. This means women would naturally be the more sensitive and less assertive compared to more dominant males who would more likely fall under the mesomorphic classification. Such claims would mean women are naturally submissive, because of their smaller and softer bodies. This does not represent the reality of how much individuals and women in particular vary. If Sheldon’s theories were rigorously tested, replication would not be possible.

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According to Sheldon’s work women should not be aggressive at all. It would be a solely male only trait. This is not rue,because women can display aggression. Normally it may not be physical in nature. Sports does require a level of aggression, which women do demonstrate in competition. Sheldon’s theories can be challenged by examining certain sports. If it were true that mesomorphs are more aggressive this would mean that bodybuilders would be more aggressive compared to mixed martial artists. Watching a mixed martial arts match shows a level of aggression that is non-existent on a bodybuilding competition.

fbb It should be obvious who would be the better fighter. Individually among these subjects aggression levels vary depending on multiple factors. What would be the explanation for other people with certain body types having tendencies of other somatotype classifications? Such thoughts only show egregious generalizations based on physical appearance.   William Sheldon’s  constitutional psychology may not even be entirely original. History shows that there were numerous ways in which people ascribed characteristics to a person’s appearance.

           William Sheldon’s work was not completely original. It was based on physiognomy. This pseudoscience believed that character traits and psychological attributes could be revealed by one’s appearance . This merely takes human prejudice in regards to judging people by their looks and attempts to make it scientific. Initially physiognomy focused on the features of the face, but expanded to include the entire body. The earliest known study of physiognomy can be traced back to philosopher Aristotle. He was convinced that color,hair, and limb  length could tell much about a person’s personality. As time progressed and the study of anatomy became more accurate, physiognomy was gradually disappearing. It was revived in the 18th and 19th century as method of criminology. Cesare Lombroso developed anthropological criminology based on physiognomy, social darwinism, and degenation theory. His belief was that criminal behavior was inherited and that a criminal could be determined by appearance. This was the positivist school of criminology. Lombroso  also made the claim that women have less anatomical variation compared to men and that female criminals were defective representations of their sex. The masculinity hypothesis  was a concept in which female criminals were women who exhibited male features and mannerisms.  These theories cannot survive the test of the scientific method.

There nothing that you could extract personality wise by looking at these individuals. 

There can be no information extracted about personality from the face or body type. Appearance can give some indirect indication of health condition, Even that is not completely reliable, because a person may appear to be well yet internally there could be issues  related to particular organ systems. William Sheldon had with his theories merely taken ideas that Lombroso produced in the 1800s. The measurement of skulls,noses, and body parts was a way for eugenicists and pseudoscientists to prove that there were inferior groups of people. Such theories were developed during the age of colonial European imperialism seeking to justify their violence and conquest against African, Asian, and Latin American peoples. Such pseudoscience was not only racist, but was used to discriminate against people of lower socioeconomic status. This view held that the poor were failures because of their inferior  genes. Many of these discredited theories are still around today, but are articulated in another manner. William Sheldon just was able to take elements of physiognomy and update it for the 20th century.

          William Sheldon’s theories are very similar to another contemporary  scientist. Ernst Kretschmer was a professor of psychiatry at the University of Tubingen. The German psychiatrist during the Interwar period developed biopsychological constitutional topology. Kretschmer was attempting to make the connection between body build and personality. Sheldon was not the first to do somatotyping, even though many associate him with being the primary developer. The somatotypology of Krechmer revolved around three body types associated with particular personality attributes. The cycloid was a larger body in terms of weight associated with changes in normality to abnormality. Schizoids were the more athletic body types and were more violent. The displastics were thinner, but lacked basic self control. Kretschmer was a psychiatrist, not a psychologist. This means he took a medical perspective of the mind, with the belief that mental illness can be cured. Psychology seeks to study the mind and mental processes. William Sheldon just took the work of Kretschmer and embellished  the theoretical framework. Sheldon just relied on more antropometrical measurements. William Sheldon’s work was salvaged by studies done Eleanor Glueck and Sheldon Glueck. They released their report on the constitutional studies of juvenile delinquents. Criminologists by trade, they also employed theories of psychology into their work. They compared youth who engaged in criminal behavior compared to non-delinquent youth. The sample size was 500 in total for both groups. The groups were both matched in age, ethnic background, place of residence, and general intelligence. They came to the conclusion that mesomorphy was associated with delinquency.

These individuals have never shown any signs of criminality. Even if they had mesomorphic body types as children, that is no indication that they would become criminals in the future. 

The problem with this study is that it has a confirmation bias. The Gluecks may have wanted the result to come out in a particular way. If this were to be scientific fact, the experiment should be reproducible. The sample is large, but it should hold constant with small sample sizes. Their study most likely ignored the sociological factors that also contributed to delinquency. Some of these children could have come from unstable homes, victims of abuse, or may have had behavioral issues that were induced by harsh environments. Maybe the reason  the delinquents were mesomorphic was due to the fact that more strength could be useful in the violent atmosphere of juvenile hall. Building muscle may have been a means of self defense and protection from other aggressive individuals. If this were actually fact, then that would mean every mesomorphic person would be a criminal. Criminals or people with malevolent intent can come in all sizes, shapes, and colors.   Gradually, as the 20th century progressed Sheldon’s theories were ignored. While the terminology remains present in fitness literature, the pseudopsychology has been regulated to a historical footnote.

           Constitutional psychology holds an important lesson for the public. One should not believe any theory with out rigorous questioning of the findings. Science is not an unbiased enterprise and can be prone to errors. There have been multiple occasions in which there were accepted theories that were incorrect. Epicycles, the theory of humors, and aether in relation to physics were proven false. The question a scientist or layman  should ask themselves  can the theory be tested and survive the scientific method. Constitutional psychology would not be able to withstand serious testing. The results would most likely not be the same depending on experimental methods. This is why it also pivotal  to question the experts of a scientific field. William Sheldon was a respected academic in his time period, but was promoting ideas that were mendacious and eugenic. There are people who promote certain agendas for some ulterior motive and use science as a justification. If ideas are presented in an authoritative manner and articulated in complex terminology the public will accept anything. The reason scientific literacy has become essential is that it can prevent the spread or incorrect information. The appearance of pseudoscientific theories comes in cycles. Physiognomy appeared in the ancient world, then being revived with criminology. Psychology adopted the elements and William Sheldon merely took previously existing ideas and transformed them into a larger  pseudoscience. There is a possibility constitutional psychology could reemerge in another form with followers who are academics and among the credulous.

 

References

Schmaller, Frank. Criminology Today : An Integrative Approach . New York : Printice Hill,           2006.

Zimbardo, Phillip. Psychology   Core Concepts . New York: Pearson Education , 2009.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Somatotype.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 19 Oct. 2015, http://www.britannica.com/science/somatotype.

Bernard, Thomas J. “William Sheldon.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 29 Jan. 2015, http://www.britannica.com/biography/William-Sheldon.

Constitutional Psychology: The Pseudoscience of William Sheldon