The Frailty Myth: Can Colette Dowling’s Monograph Sustain the Tests of Biological, Physiological, and Anatomical Science ?

The Frailty Myth is a monograph written by Colette Dowling that states two questions “can women be equal to men as long as men are physically stronger ?” and “are men in fact stronger?” Dowling claims that the answer is that “strength and physical skill for all women is only a matter of learning and training.” She states that the strength gap and performance gap can close when ” when women and men are matched in size and level of training.” Her reasoning is not exactly correct. She is right that physical prowess and athleticism is not male only. There have been plenty of skilled and talent athletes that have emerged in various sports over the years. There are sociological issues that prevent women in many ways from reaching higher in the sports world. many women simply do not have the opportunity to do so. It is clear that environment does play a role. This does not mean biology does not play a role. The third wave feminist argument is to base such differences on environment only. Dowling’s  work it states almost women could have sports performance levels equal to men. There are biological, anatomical, and physiological reasons why there is a performance gap. This gap will most likely shrink with sociological barriers and stigmas are eliminated. When that occurs the records may not equal men’s. Unless there is some radical change in human evolution or physiology millions of years from now, there may in our life  times no significant change. If she wanted to make the best argument, her writing should have had more sources from exercise physiology journals. Without them, the text has less cogency when tested against biological, anatomical, and physiological science.

           Dowling states there should be a new way of assessing performance. It does raise a legitimate question. Who and what is being compared ? Obviously the comparison is between men and women at high physical fitness levels. Comparing a female athlete to an out of shape man does not prove the argument. The assessment here should examine both male and female athletes of the same training level. The comparisons must be of women and men involved in the same sports.

Besides the biological, physiological, and anatomical differences there has to be an account for individual variation.  The variation in natural physique can differ among people no matter what their biological sex is. Certain body types people are born with. Other body types are better suited for particular sports. Long distance runners are more on the ectomorphic side, compared to weightlifters. Comparisons should be of women and men who are both the same height and weight. Accurate record keeping is comparatively new to the history of sports. Since it has began, human performance has improved. The reason could be a great understanding of the human body, training methods, and improve healthcare. There is also the factor of performance enhancing drug use, which can distort data. Women too have improved, but there remains a 10% difference in performance. Granted women had to overcome ( and still do) barriers in the sports world their rise has become rapid. It is however doubtful that women would be competing with men in mixed categories in certain sports.

           There are some biological differences that explain performances level variation. These differences are influenced by genes. Men contain XY chromosomes, while females just contain XX chromosomes . The difference can be seen on the 23rd pair. The SRY gene in men produces sex determining region Y protein. This protein is responsible for male characteristics. This causes the development of the testes  in the fetus. This will later have an impact on the physiques of  men. Women do not have this have this happen. They develop ovaries. The gonads will produce different hormones and have an effect on the endocrine system during puberty. The primary biological difference between the sexes is the reproductive system. This is also connected to hormonal differences in relation to the varying levels of testosterone and estrogen. Androgens do provide men an athletic advantage, but estrogen contributes to athletic performance. Estrogen can aid in muscle recovery after work out sessions. Some research suggests that it acts as an antioxidant prevent possible inflammation. Colette Dowling is correct in stating that this sex hormone does not put women at a disadvantage.

  The female athlete has to take into considerations specific health issues. These are related to concussions, ligament or tendon injuries, or menstrual irregularities. If a woman over trains hypoestronic amenorrhoea can occur. This is a condition in which estrogen is low and periods cease. The menstrual cycle itself is not a disadvantage to women athletes, yet their still is an effect on the body. The factors that could cause female athletes to be susceptible to   irregularities  include low body fat, late menarche,  immature reproductive axis, and poor nutrition. Biological differences do influence physical fitness capacity.

         Anatomy the science of body structure also explains gaps in athletic performance. The skeleton has morphological differences between the sexes. Women’s skeleton’s are less dense .Women have a wider pelvis which effects running speed.  The thoracic cage also differs in women. It tends to be rounder and not as large. A larger skeleton means that there is more room to house muscle on the body. The structure of the pelvis also makes the legs of women form what is called a Q angle. This is one reason why the fastest woman would not be able to out run the fastest man. Denser and large bones add to a biomechanical advantage. The muscular structure does not differ. Women have the same muscles, yet total amount causes the difference in absolute strength. Men have less body fat to begin with and a higher percentage of muscle. Women can still build muscle mass, yet retain a higher body fat percentage. Men have more upper body strength and women come closer to the lower body. Some researchers even believe that men’s muscle fibers might even be larger. This combined with a larger portion of type II muscle fibers allow for more power. The respiratory system of men and women also play a role in athletic performance. Women have smaller hearts and lungs, which means total aerobic capacity could be lower.

Oxygen and blood work together to provide the body energy during intense physical activity. The lungs engage in gas exchange taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. The heart technically is a muscle that pumps blood. The tissue of the body requires oxygen for function. The nervous system is also active in the process of movement both voluntary and involuntary. The anatomical structures do influence performance, but function is critical as well.

          Physiology describes the function of and mechanisms of  an organism. The Frailty Myth would benefit from having  greater explanations into sports medicine and sports science. The physiological differences also account for athletic performance gap. Oxygen has to be transported to the muscles so that it can produce adenosine triphosphate. This allows for muscular contractions. Men’s aerobic power is greater due to the fact they have higher hemoglobin levels. This makes oxygen get to the tissues faster compared to the function in a woman’s body. The greater amount of testosterone men have allows for greater protein synthesis. receptors bind to muscle cells initiating the process. This androgen also increase growth hormone which is released during exercise. It should be understood this is only one factor that is involved in muscular hypertrophy. Growth factors also contribute which include insulin, insulin like growth factor 1, heptocyte growth factor, and fibroblast growth factor. The biggest factor is metabolic function. Women metabolized food differently meaning more of it could be converted into fat stores.

Frailty Myth Book Review

Training is critical to any athlete, but diet cannot be ignored. The physiological differences in women must be accounted for  if a training regimen is to be designed for maximum performance. There is still much to be learned, because most of the exercise physiology studies have been done on male athletes. Although the monograph suggest another technique of  measuring performance in terms of biomechanics ( using height ), it still is clear that there is a gap. Ellis Cashmore’s mathematics is correct when measuring relative velocity between Florence Griffith Joyner and Carl Lewis. However, it is unlikely she would have reached  his exact speed or surpassed  it.

Dowling was quoting a ports  sociologist, however the assessments of Per-Olof  Astrand seem more accurate. There is room for improvement in women’s records. Overtime there will be improvement when more is discovered about the human body’s exact physiological functions. The anatomical, physiological, and biological factors are explanations for differences in performance. Yet its should be realized that other factors are playing a role in outcomes.

        If the idea that women could reach physical performance levels equal to men were to be experimented, some conditions would have to change. Colette Dowling provides a great explanation of how performance is effected by sociological factors. There has been many medical myth surrounding women’s bodies and exercise. Psuedoscience  from  19th century Victorian medicine was designed to discourage women from using their bodies. During that period women were thought to need a rest cure, before they entered puberty. Too much exercise was though in some circles of the medical community to cause “genital decay.” The medical community, eugenicists, and physical educators believed the only purpose a woman had was to reproduce children. The idea the female body was too weak for strenuous activity was common place. When this was disproved there were still efforts to exclude women from the sports world.

While today it has become better. it is not an equal playing field. Girls are not taught physical skills to the same degree as boys at a young age. Physical education is not taught the same way to girls. Skills such as running and throwing are not normally passed on to girls. Besides strength and speed, skill is also important to athletic performance. Boys do not naturally throw better at a young age, they are taught to. Girls rarely get that type of training from their fathers. From ages one to thirteen there is no difference in physiological capacity between girls and boys, yet the physical education standards are different. As girls mature into women, they face extreme body image pressure. The woman who wants to pursue athletic endeavors may not have access to the best training facilities. The goal of an experiment is to have the most precise measurements. These sociological factors effect measurements. Until this changes, records will only be accurate. Women have come far considering in just a short period of time. The question how much they can improve athletically is still a mystery. It would be too presumptuous to say that improvement  never happen.

           The concept of physical equality that Dowling proposes is a peculiar one. She states that” strength and physical skill for all women is only a matter  of learning and training.” The physical capabilities of individuals vary. There are obviously men stronger than other men. Using the term physical equality implies that women are by default in a state of physical inferiority. Nature does not create organisms that are inferior. According to such logic, certain organisms should not be extinct. Neanderthals were much stronger than the homo sapiens, but failed to acclimate to a rapidly changing environment. Thus using physical strength as a basis of measuring “superiority” or “inferiority” has no scientific basis. How strong a woman can get depends on certain factors. Genetics, body type,diet, and training method account to the extent of total strength capacity.Men just on average have the ability to be physically stronger.

Sexual dimorphism is the result of millions of years of primate evolution. It has been theorized that it developed out of the specific needs of the environment and the process of sex selection.  The average size and height difference between men and women relates to an emphasis on male competition for females in the human evolutionary past. If  there was not such an emphasis, men and women would be of a similar size. That does not mean there cannot be variation within the human species. There is phenotypic and genotypic combinations that make individuals unique while still being part of the same species. Height, weight, and skin color vary among human populations. Being female does not automatically mean weak. Women have to train harder  to reach a particular physical fitness level. This means if a woman is attempting to perform on the same physical level as a man she would have to use more of her physical power reserve.

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This is a test done by NASA for physical fitness capabilities  in relation to space travel  it sates:”Female strength as a percentage of male strength for different conditions. The vertical line within each shaded bar indicates the mean percentage difference. The end points of the shaded bars indicate the range.” Human Capabilities

Strength is harder for women to attain, but it can be done. It is still debatable whether or not women should train like men or have a program tailored to them. The best approach is to load bearing exercises to allow for enough micro-trauma to cause muscular growth.  Smaller weights may not be as effective.

A 132 pound woman untrained should be according to rough estimates able to bench at least 64 pounds. If training remains consistent in a few months could reach 82 pounds. Jennifer Thompson who is an elite weightlifter benched 300 lbs only weighing a total of  132 herself. The average male weightlifter novice’s bench press can be 135 lbs. Women can reach a male novice lifting strength level or intermediate. Others like Jennifer Thompson could  possibly overlap ( 290 lbs is the highest range for bench press). The conclusion that could be drawn follows a model of  Gaussian distribution. This graphically shows the function of probability. The middle of such a graph shows the common average ( men are stronger than women )  while there are opposite ends of the graph showing showing other variables ( women stronger than men or weaker men ). Normal distribution is a useful too in statistics and analysis of data.

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An example of overlap in a population.
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The representation of normal distribution sometimes referred to as a bell curve.

 What can be drawn from this is that women at elite levels will not perform exactly like their male counterparts. The strongest woman will not be as strong as the strongest man. The weakest woman would be weaker than the weakest man. Through training a woman can at least reach or come close to average male strength.

An Experiment that measures hand grip strength. Looking at the pictures below it gives an idea of where men and women would fall in terms of physical strength. 

The strongest women and the weakest men. Obviously them being male does not  automatically make them stronger. 

The strongest men and the weakest women. Men have a higher potential at gaining more strength. 

It is rare that women surpass men in strength given the same training regimen. There are unique exceptions that can exist. Here is another problem with Dowling’s concept of physical equality. There are women who have surpassed men in physical strength already. The goal seems to have been reached when comparing a man of a low or average fitness level. Colette Dowling’s approach to her argument is not based on a scientific method.

        The scientific method functions on particular methods to reach facts. She states her hypothesis the first step in the process. The athletic performance of both men and women is both testable and observable. It does not have compatibility with other hypothesis, although it is a newly investigated question. The claim that the strength gap will close can go through a process of experimentation. The women would be the independent variable. To get precise data one would either have to examine  Olympic records or make this a controlled experiment among selected subjects. Observation has been an important part of the sciences. A controlled setting can reveal more than attempting to do this at an actual sporting event. After observation the data must be analyzed then possible conclusions can be made. The experiments must be done again to prove that the hypothesis is correct. Only then can it be called scientific fact. Men and women of the same height and weight are not equivalent in all areas of  body strength. Women who are the same height and weight of a man can be estimated to have at least 80% absolute strength. What accounts for the difference is upper body size. This explains why men’s records are higher in weightlifting and shot put. Women’s records have remained stable since 1983. There remains a 10% difference in athletic performance.

 CAN WOMEN CLOSE THE ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE GAP?

When’s performance falls with in the range of a 90% ratio. This indicates that their is the possibility that women’s athletic performance can increase. There are athletic advantages women have in terms of flexibility and the utilization of fat. Looser joints aid in figure skating and gymnastics. Women may have an advantage in distance  swimming due  fat. This may allow for higher bouncy and reduce drag in water. It has been theorized that women may have more muscular endurance compared to their male counterparts. Women have physical advantages, it is only now that they are being examined. The conclusion is very different from Dowling’s. Women will not close the performance gap, but narrow it. It is correct to say that the female body is not biologically inferior or frail. Peak physical fitness levels  are higher in men based anatomical, biological, and physiological factors. However, this does not stop women from achieving high levels of performance. As more women enter the exercise physiology field and sports science there may be new discoveries into the extent of women’s physical fitness capacity. Dowling’s work only partially withstands a scientific investigation.

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The Frailty Myth: Can Colette Dowling’s Monograph Sustain the Tests of Biological, Physiological, and Anatomical Science ?

Are Women Physically Fit Enough For Space Travel ?

As astronomers and astrophysicists discover more about outer space and the universe as a whole, there is the possibility that in the future humanity will regularly explore space. There could be chances in which humankind will engage in terraforming. There does exist exoplanets that may be Earth like. There will of course be the need for astronauts in the movement for wider space exploration. Such a journey either to reach a star or another planet would have a level of danger. Humanity reached the moon in 1969, which was the product of the Space Race during the Cold War. At that time most of the astronauts were men. Gradually, women began to become astronauts. There was and continues to be a common myth held that women are not physically fit enough for space travel. This is scientifically incorrect, yet there are still some considerations in terms of physiology and biology of a female space traveler . The environment of space can effect human health and the body. Some changes are sex specific and others occur in both. radiation, weightlessness, and effects on fertility are hazards. There are also other variables to consider for a long journey into space.

     There are particular requirements to be an astronaut. Education wise astronauts must have a master’s degree or higher in a science that could include mathematics, engineering, astronomy, biology or chemistry. There are many with very diverse scientific backgrounds on ships. There is a physical an astronaut must pass. Applicants must be in the best physical condition. One requirement is that a person has 20/20 vision. Candidates must be able to handle pressure on their bodies. Under water exercise has to be done to acclimate them to the pressure of space. They must be able to swim three laps in a 25 metre pool. This has to be done without stopping. Then the same action is performed with the space suit.

The Women pioneers of space exploration as shown above include Mae Jemison, Valentina Tereshkova, Sally K. Ride, and Liu Yang. 

Astronauts are basically given a scuba diving instruction. There are points in which water landing could occur and water survival training is critical. There is a height requirement which demands you be 190 cm tall to be a commander or pilot astronaut. Being a mission specialist the height requirement is less ranging from 149 to 193 cm. This may be the hardest obstacle for women,because on average they are shorter than men. This could be negated one day when spacecraft becomes more advanced. An astrouat’s routine fitness regimen involves running, biking, and weightlifting the are  most essential. Endurance is required to handle the weight of space suits weighing close to 300 lbs (136 kg) .   There has to be an exercise regimen while in space to prevent bone and muscle loss in space.  The lack of gravitation does not give the body the work that the skeletal and muscular system need. There also has to consideration for the circulatory system. One requirement is that an applicant must have a  blood pressure  of 140/90. This has to be at the reading when sitting. There are situations in which face low and high levels of barometric pressure. There also involves training in reduced gravity aircraft. This contributes to a space explorer getting acclimated to microgravity environments.

These requirements need an individual to be in great shape and health. Applicants must also have some flying experience. Flying experience is only required if you want to be a commander or an astronaut pilot. The training for astronauts has become more efficient compare to when it began in the 20th century. When the simulations began in 1957, applicants had to get in planes, while sustaining the aircraft’s sinusoidal or parabolic maneuvers. A colloquial phrase for reduced gravity aircraft became the “vomit comet.”  Around 1973 NASA took supervision of the the training program from the US Air Force. Then by 2008 a private company known as Zero G Corp became responsible for training. Flying in a wave pattern and reaching the midpoint of the parabolic motion allows the passenger to experience weightlessness. During this period weightlessness only lasts about 25 seconds. This will have to be done consistently to adequately prepare space travelers. This can make people ill with changes in motion.  A person with extreme motion sickness may find it difficult to become an astronaut. These requirements do not seem as intense as other physically demanding occupations, but are still rigorous.

         There must be a consideration of sex differences in physiology and biology. The muscular and skeletal structure are important to physical fitness. Men have on average more muscular strength compared to women. This does vary depending on health condition, age, and genetics. Men have a larger portion of upper body strength estimates vary women contain at least 40% less skeletal muscle in the upper body and 33% less in the lower body.

The reason for this is based on endocrine function. Women produce more estrogen and progesterone allowing for more body fat. Even the most muscular woman is carrying more body fat compared to a man. Androgens and specifically testosterone allow for a greater amount of muscular hypertrophy. This does not mean women cannot build muscle or strength. When a training regimen is the same for both men and women it would still result in men having a higher physical fitness level. The gap has to do also with staring point. If men have more muscle mass prior to the training regimen the gains would be higher. Weight training still has the same effect on a woman’s body, just not to the same extent. Men have more type II fast twitch muscle fibers. However, the body does switch been the more endurance based type I and  the more powerful type II muscle fiber. Strength doe not only depend on the actual muscle, but the neuromuscular activity. The rate of muscular contraction is critical to exerting force. Women do experience muscular hypertrophy in which muscle grows and repairs after exercise. Relevant to space travel for extended periods of time, it women do not exercise they would experience atrophy at a faster rate.

      To counter this it is essential that women build up as much strength as they can to prepare for a microgravity environment. The more musculoskeletal strength the more suited an individual is to space and longer travel. Women have lower bone density. This explains why they could be more susceptible to osteoporosis. The female skeleton has a wider pelvis and smaller thorax compared to the male skeletal structure. The reason men have an upper body advantage is that wider shoulders can allow more muscle to be housed there. More muscle correlates to more fibers being recruited to produce force. The skeleton is the frame that holds the body together, while ligaments and tendons contribute to movement as wells well as acting as structural support.

Cardiovascular fitness is also pivotal. Women have smaller hearts and lungs which effects how Vo2 max functions. Oxygen is transported to muscles to aid in the production of adenosine triphosphate for muscle contraction. A larger heart means that more blood is going to the tissues. Women have lower levels of hemoglobin which means their aerobic power is lower. Hemoglobin is a protein that must transport oxygen from the lungs to other tissues. Besides the muscular, skeletal, and respiratory system there are also considerations related to the reproductive system. Menstruation is not an issue or a hindrance. The only difference is that hygiene will have to be performed in a different manner. The more threatening waste management problems that involve urination and defecation. Gynecological health will not be effected from being on a space ship. However, there is a concern relevant to both men and women in regards to radiation in space. This could cause fertility issues, which explains why most female astronauts wait before having children. It possible for humans to procreate in outer space, but no such experiment has been attempted. It is unknown how a baby would develop in a space environment. This is why there are some restrictions on what female astronauts can do while pregnant. Female astronauts cannot do neutral buoyancy training while pregnant. Underwater dives which could last to eight hours could have negative effects on a developing child. There are some differences in how men and women react to extremes in the outer space. Reduction in oxygen supply (hypoxia), varying temperatures, acceleration, isolation,  and impact are examples of sex differences. These are minor and vary depending on the individual.

         There has not been an extensive study of female astronauts in terms of  health and physical performance. The reality is that there have been few female  long duration astronauts. The few that exist are individuals and such a small sample would not reveal anything about a much larger group of women. Female astronauts could be at higher risk for ovarian and breast cancer. Urinary tract infections are also another health concern for female astronauts. Even bacteria on women’s bodies can be altered during spaceflight. Another observation is that some astronauts suffer vision loss. There are many problems that can occur to the organ systems of the body in space. If bone is shed too much this will  lead to kidney stones. This is a health problem that effects more men rather than women. There needs to be more studies of female astronauts and more in general. If humanity is seeking to colonize space or other planets women have to be a part of the process. There is obviously a gender bias in the sciences and space exploration. NASA conducted tests from 1960 to 1961 to see if women could handle the rigors of space travel. Jerrie Cobb who was a pilot who did the same medical and physical tests for Mercury astronauts at NASA. Her score placed her in the top two percent of qualified candidates. Yet, it was a period of sexist prejudice and NASA was simply not looking for female astronauts. Such barriers are being broken, but there still needs to be improvement.

 Staying in space would have long term effects on health and the human body. The reason has to do with how humans evolved. Our ancestors developed in an environment with gravity and space has a zero gravity environment. That is why bones and muscles are effected from a sudden change in environment. Human beings are just like other animals in the sense that their biome is essential to their survival. Outer space is a more rough terrain than any desert, polar ice cap, or ocean. The health effects can only be fully understood when one stays in space for a period of time.

          Remaining in space can cause a change in the human body. The semimotor system gets disrupted to a degree. The inner ear is responsible for balance an when this is disturbed one can get nausea. Sinuses could get clogged due to the fluids of the body floating upward. The skeleton can lose mass and it is possible for astronauts to lose about 1 percent each month. Muscles can atrophy from not being used in a microgarvity environment. There is a solution to such problems which include taking vitamin D supplements and exercising 2 hours and 30 minutes six days a week. The cerebrospinal fluid may be effected by the microgravity, which results in changes in vision. Although there is the possibility of changes in physical health, mental health is also given attention. Being with a small crew away from larger populations can effect emotional states. This information can reveal much about how women would fare in long term space exploration. Seeing as their muscle and bone mass is lower it would be wise to do strength training prior to training as a astronaut. The rate of muscular atrophy would be faster compared to men. Men and women with ectomorphic body types may be more vulnerable to bone and muscle loss.

Doubtless of sex each person could react differently to space. Long journeys are complicated by radiation and the fact that the magnetic field of Earth protects us from such hazards. Going further into space would require more technology to maintain a healthy body. Even with exercise equipment, muscles of astronauts can lose up to 40% of their capacity for work. Planning an expedition to Mars would be vary precarious. The Journal of Physiology conducted a study in regards to the effect of weightlessness on muscles. The results showed that astronauts lost about 35% of their muscle fiber force. NASA has estimated it would take at least 10 months to reach Mars and 10 months to get back for one mission. Space does pose health hazards, but it is an unexplored wilderness still filled with unknown possibilities. There are exoplanets, blackholes, stars, nebula formations, and dark matter.

The solution to the threat to muscular health was to develop the Advanced Resistance Exercise Device. It is unknown if this new technology would be as effective in combating muscular atrophy. The only way to know with certainty is to measure the amount of muscle loss astronauts sustained when coming back from space. This exercise technology has been around since 2008, prior to that there was very little effective workout equipment for training the muscles. Exercise and high quality diet can prevent health issues on flights.

       NASA did conduct a study in which it examined how men and women handle spaceflight. The problem is the study only contained about 57 female astronauts. There were more men representing a total of 477. The records were examined between 2013 to 2017. The report showed that men had a greater tolerance for spaceflight in particular categories. Women were less likely to have hearing loss or vision impairment. Women according to the study lose more blood plasma and have a higher heart rate under stressful situations. There is very little difference in immune system response to space. Both men and women suffer from motion sickness during space travel. It happens at different times. Women experience it when arriving in space, while men have it coming back to Earth. The overall leading heath risk seems to be visual impairment intracranial pressure syndrome. NASA and the International Space Station want to extend missions beyond six months to a year .

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The different effects of spaceflight on female and male astronauts. 

The conclusion that one would automatically come to is that women do not make quality astronauts. This is not true, but it reveals how possible solutions can be developed. More women are need for such studies to ensure precision in experiments. Spacecraft will have to either increase in speed or navigate in a manner in which one can easily travel from one point of space to another instantly. This has been theorized by astrophysicists in which traversable wormholes could be used to go long distances. Doing so would allow humanity to avoid certain health hazards. Distance is the biggest obstacle. Alpha Centari another closest to Earth is 4.4 lightyears away. This means it would take light 4.4 years to reach Alpha Centari  from Earth. One astronomical unit is equal to 150 million km ( 93 million miles ). Humanity will have to go far to reach something of interest. NASA must then study the problem of long term spaceflight from perspectives of exercise physiology, health science, biology, aeronautical engineering. and the general astrophysics of space.

          Women are capable enough to handle spaceflight. There are some considerations that should be taken into account in terms of physiology and fitness. Muscle atrophy and bone loss are serious concerns. They can be negated to an extent through training and technology. There are sex specific health related issues that must be examined. Some wonder why explore space at all. There are legitimate and practical reasons. The first reason  is that it part of human nature to be curious and explore. Since the first hominins migrated off the continent of Africa humanity has been colonized the Earth. The Bantu migrations, the Polynesian migrations, the Turko-Mongol nomads, and the Age of Exploration prove humanity does not remain still. The next step will be to go into space. Another reason for space exploration is to find and colonize Earth like planets. Seeing as the Earth is being destroyed by climate change and disregard for the preservation of the environment that would be more reasonable. There will be more exploration in the future and it will only be a matter of time before masses of people will travel through space. Hopefully a generation of female astronauts will be contributors to this project.

 

References

 MailOnline, Jonathan O’Callaghan for. “Battle of the Sexes in SPACE: Nasa Studies Medical Records to Discover Which Gender Fares Better in Zero-Gravity Conditions.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 20 Nov. 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2842813/Who-makes-better-astronauts-men-women-Females-suffer-vision-loss-males-deal-stress-better-study-claims.htm

McNally, Jess. “Astronaut Muscles Would Wither by Mars.” Wired, Conde Nast, 4 June 2017, http://www.wired.com/2010/08/astronaut-muscle-waste/.

Monaghan, Sheila. “NASA ASTRONAUTS ARE INCREDIBLY FIT.” Furthermore from Equinox, Furthermore from Equinox, 5 May 2017, furthermore.equinox.com/articles/2017/05/nasa-astronauts-workout.
Koren, Marina. “What One Year of Space Travel Does to the Human Body.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 1 Mar. 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/03/scott-kelly-mikhail-kornienko/471717/.
Lunau, Kate. “Why We Desperately Need to Study More Female Astronauts.” Motherboard, Motherboard , 19 Apr. 2016, motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/4xa38j/why-we-desperately-need-to-study-more-female-astronauts-NASA-Sally-Ride.
Sivasubramanian , Shami. “The 7 Requirements to Be an Astronaut.” SBS, SBS, 15 July 2016, http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/science/space/article/2016/07/15/7-requirements-be-astronaut.

 Juan 28 Jul 2006 at 12:18 tweet_btn(), Stephen. “What Issues Are There for Women in Space?” The Register® – Biting the Hand That Feeds IT, The Register , 28 July 2006, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/28/the_odd_body_women_in_space/.

Spencer, Henry. “Why NASA Barred Women Astronauts.” New Scientist, New Scientist , 8 Oct. 2009, http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2009/10/why-nasa-barred-women-astronau.html.
Taylor, Nola. “Vomit Comet: Training Flights for Astronauts.” Space.com, Space.com , 25 Aug. 2017, http://www.space.com/37942-vomit-comet.html.
Are Women Physically Fit Enough For Space Travel ?

“In The Future, All Women Will Be Amazons” From The Smithsonian

In The Future Women Will Be Amazons

This article written Matt Novak explores an newspaper released published in 1950. The name of it was “How Experts Think We Will Live in the Year 2000 A.D.”  and it makes predictions based on thoughts from the editors. Futurology and future studies became popular in the 20th century due to rapid technological and sociological change. When the Associated Press ran this piece, two World Wars had happened, cars, airplanes were in use and computers were gradually developing into what they are today. Futurism and futurology more specifically attempts to postulate possible outcomes , perspectives  or futures. It these academic fields are more related to the social sciences. What this branch of study seeks to do is understand why the world changes and the probability of change. To the futurologist there is a pattern in past and present. This method however has its limits. The problem with prediction is that it almost becomes the equivalent to a person reading tarot cards. Some cases these prediction about human society can be completely wrong. There was a time in which humanity was excited about the future. There was an idea that technology, progress,  and the elimination of conflict would create societal utopia. Some believed that by the 21st century humanity would have mastered interstellar travel and cured most diseases. This has not happened. While humankind has reached the moon, there are still the some sociological problems plaguing the world. There has been some advancement in terms of human rights, public health, and the availability of education. War, poverty, and racism threaten human advancement. When discussing the state of women there is a fluctuation. Dorothy Roe one of the editors of the article, described what the typical woman would be like in the year 2000. Her prediction about women entering the world of business and government has occurred. Roe states that the average woman will be six feet tall, wear a size 11 shoe, and have muscles like a truck driver.” It is now the year 2017 and the average woman does not have the muscles of truck driver or is above six feet tall. There are obviously stronger and faster women athletes who fit this description. Her futurist prediction was partly off, yet not entirely wrong. Examining this futurist prediction from a sociological, anatomical, biological, and physiological method could have provided a more precise picture.

      Women have been in some instances in a  subordinate role through out human history. This however was not always the case. Before the rise of long lasting human civilization hunter gatherer societies in some respects were more equal. The rise of agriculture, land ownership, and property created the inequality that is present in modern society. Men had access to more property and land. Simultaneously, women were denied education, equal rights, or full employment. This did not mean women simply accepted oppression. Before feminism, there were female leaders, scientists, and mover’s of history. The tragic element was that historians did not think enough of women to include their narratives. Thankfully, women’s history seeks to reverse this mistake. Historical figures such as Hatshetpsut, Nzinga, Queen Elizabeth I, and Joan of Arc are notable women who had risen to prominence in male dominated societies.

The news piece states the amazon of the future “may even be president.” The way in which that though was expressed made it seem as if a female leader was a new concept. The futurist prediction only examines that world through an American perspective. Other countries have female leaders, but at that time it was far less. Now it has increased across the world. Some female leaders have left their mark on history for good or bad, but have shown they have mastered the art of politics. The United States has not yet elected a female president, despite its rhetoric of supporting women’s rights. Although Hillary Clinton lost, it encouraged more women to run for political office. Women have even been leaders in countries, which do not value them as citizens or protect their rights. Benazir Bhutto and Indira Gandhi  governed nations in which had an ultraconservative view of women’s roles. Benazir  Bhutto was the first female leader of a majority Muslim nation, while Indira Gandhi was the first female Prime Minister of India. The US still lags behind compared with the UK which has had two Prime Ministers to date which included Margaret Thatcher and currently Theresa May. The irony is that their policies are not in alignment with women’s rights or causes. Ellen Sirlef  of Liberia and Tsai Ing Wen of Taiwan represent a new female leader of the 21st century. They vary in political ideology, do not refer to themselves as feminists, and are tactical.

One cannot not say women are not capable politicians. Largely a culture of misogyny has kept women out of politics. There have been biological explanations for why men have domination of society. These theories normally just are designed to justify sexist convictions. History disproves this, because women have been involved in science, politics, warfare, and the building of civilization. The gender gap is still present even when women make progress. The world of business and finance is a place where women have reached a glass ceiling. Discrimination, unequal pay, and sexual harassment are the sociological reasons why women may not advance in certain fields. Even under these unfavorable conditions women are present in occupations that were thought to be male only. Law enforcement, firefighting, the military, construction,  and sports are physically demanding occupations. Due to differences in physiological and fitness capacity women would remain small in number in these occupations. However, despite such obstacles women have become part of these professions. While sociological factors are relevant, biological factors cannot be ignored entirely.

If a society has less technology a majority of jobs would be manual labor based. This could theoretically exclude many women, beside the obvious prejudice. The rise of the industrial revolution saw the replacement of brawn power with machine power. This should have benefited women the most, but cultural mores and gender roles prevented it. Women were regulated to the domestic sphere excluded from public life and participation in it. The working classes had women in menial occupations, with even less independence. Women’s status and roles have fluctuated through out history. There were periods in which they had some freedom and as time passed society degenerated. Ancient Egyptian civilization allowed women to own property and have some legal rights to it. They were not burdened by male guardianship and navigate freely, which Greek historian Herodotus called unnatural. As monotheistic religion emerged, women’s status was then lowered. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam demanded that women have a subordinate role in their religious texts and belief system. Women were regulated to property and not people. The rise of the suffrage movement in the 19th century evolved in the feminist movement of the 20th century. Women then gradually regained their status as free people, while facing  backlash to change. The sudden change in women’s status is part of a consistent pattern in human history. There may come a time in which women create large corporations and companies of their own. Society and civilization is never static it is always evolving.

        The article predicts that the average woman in the year 2000 will have proportions that are perfect though amazonian, because “science will have perfected a  balanced  ration of vitamins, minerals, and proteins that will produce the maximum bodily efficiency and a minimum of fat. ” Dorthy Roe then says “she will compete in all types of sports- probably compete with men athletes in football, baseball, wrestling  and prize fighting.” There is no denying that women in sports and athletics have become very strong, but competing with men on average seems to be inaccurate.

Women now compete in most sports, however there are no organized teams for baseball. Women have teams for softball, but there remains work to be done in some areas. Women do have organized football teams, yet they do not have the coverage comparative to the NFL. The strength sports thought to be out of women’s physiological capabilities, are active in. Mixed martial arts, bodybuilding, weightlifting, track and field are areas in which women are showing their talents. Women’s participation in sport has increased, yet mixed competition has not occurred. The reason is anatomical. There exists an athletic performance gap between the sexes due to anatomical factors. Men on average have broader shoulders and more upper body strength. Generally men grow taller than women. While the muscular and skeletal cells are the same their structure changes athletic outcomes. Denser bones and larger muscle fibers mean males would have more absolute strength. The smaller hearts and lungs of women mean that their aerobic capacity would be lower. The major organ systems that contribute to athletic performance include the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, the nervous system, endocrine system, and the musculoskeletal  system. Movement is not just dependent on muscle, but the impulses of the nervous system. The hormones produced by the endocrine system do influence athletic performance. Testosterone allows for greater muscular hypertrophy. Women with lighter bones and smaller muscle mass in comparison means they are more susceptible to injury the more intense the physical competition. There is a point in which absolute strength levels are equal. Prior to puberty boys and girls do not differ in physical strength. Girls may experience thier growth spurt earlier compared to boys. When gondadotropin releasing hormone is produced by the pituitary gland it then signals the production of lutienizing  and follicle producing hormone. Thus begins the production of sex hormones and growth hormone. Estrogen makes the female body retain more fat. Even the most muscular woman and the thinnest woman still retain a higher fat percentage compared to a man of a similar physical fitness level.

Tendons and ligaments are also contributors to body strength. Women’s tendons may not respond the same way to training, but their looser joints make them more flexible. This means women would dominate gymnastics and figure skating even if their was mixed competition. A wider pelvis and lower aerobic capacity means that women would struggle to keep up with male speeds. Contrary to popular belief women do not have stronger legs than men, but are relative closer in strength in that area. However, despite these differences, women can still acquire physical strength through training. Genetics do play a role giving women of a mesomorphic body type more of an advantage. The average woman has not morphed into an amazon quite yet, but there is a group that could fall into Roe’s description. While nutrition has improved, there is the problem of abundance. Foods high in sugar, fats, and high fructose corn syrup have created a problem with obesity and weight related diseases. Women are particularly effected more by this, considering it is more of a challenge for them to lose weight. The modern age has produce a very sedentary lifestyle, with limited physical activity. As a result heart disease, diabetes, and weight management issues have increased. This has not only happened in the United States, but is spreading across the globe. A low vegetable, fruit, and protein diet can result in poor health. It seems if this is not addressed the average woman and man will look similar to blobs. This can be reversed through diet, exercise, and honest nutrition labeling. Roe’s other prediction seems to have realized the effectiveness of supplements for athletes. Women can benefit as much as men from the use of vitamins and supplements. This has become a lucrative industry and has greatly benefited athletes and the general public. Recent investigations into the importance of vitamin D and it is now believed it is essential to muscular and skeletal function.

The women who are involved in athletic competition, not only have to focus on training but maintain a strict diet. This requires a good knowledge base of of nutrition. From the early 20th century to present exercise physiologists have figured out the role of nutrition in athletic performance. Understanding that women’s metabolism functions differently has led to the structuring of  more efficient training programs. Women still must eat to feed growing muscle,but is should be understood that more of that food could be metabolized into fat. That is why activity level should be adjusted to compensate for the endocrinological function. Even though women have proven to be great athletes, male performances levels are still higher. This extends beyond anatomy, but to biology.

          The difference in physical fitness capacity is rooted in biology, through human evolution. Sexual dimorphism is the reason why on average men are stronger. Most primates demonstrate a degree of sexual dimorphism. These are attributes that are secondary sex characteristics, which exclude the reproductive system. During the course of human evolution the size and strength difference may have been a natural selection tool. Male authralopiths most likely fought each other for access to mates. Larger size and strength would have given an edge to the hominin who wanted to spread his genes. The females did not have to fight, so therefore it was easier to just pick a victor in a struggle. While it is hard to test this theory, it can be seen in mating strategies of modern primates. Gorillas function with a male who heads a harem of females. When another gorilla challenges him he will fight to maintain dominance. So, over time the strength and size genes continued to be propagated in the primates species. A changes in environment can influence evolution. When our early ancestors got access to more protein based diets, endocranial  volume increased. Between six and two million years ago brain size increased. Around 17,000 years ago homo sapiens became the only survivor on the evolutionary tree. Evolution was not a linear progression, but a series of branches that came from divergence.

human-evolution-family-tree-with-skulls-graphic-hero

Humanity occupies the homo branch, with the other species becoming extinct. Relevant to the future woman is it possible that given the right conditions that average woman can become stronger? Evolution has the power to change the body structure of organisms so it would seem like a possibility. During the process of human evolution the body went from being heavily built to adapt to colder climates ( 400,000 years ago) to a lighter body ( 50,000 to 20,000 years ago ). Internally the intestines became shorter to accommodate an omnivorous diet. Assuming what is known about human evolution is correct, theoretically it could take millions of years for women to change their physiology. This certainly could not be witness in our current lifetime. Still with a sudden change it will also effect men as well. The article predicted that women’s height would increase. If women changed it would men could see an increase in height as well due to the genetic attributes of sexual dimorphism.

If men already have the genetic trait for more  height, it is likely it would not disappear because natural selection has favored it. Only when it is no longer favored will it disappear. It should also be understood  many elements of a species can be adaptable. There are women who are stronger than men and taller. They are not the average, but have inherited traits that have been passed down generations. The reason that certain species survive is that they have a variation in genetic information, can acclimate to various environments, and pass on genes through offspring to ensure survival. The phrase “survival of the fittest ” is not a correct description. By all standards homo neanderthalensis should have survived based on the fact it was physically stronger. They survived a colder climate. but died out after 30,000 years ago. They could not adapt to the changing environment. Homo sapiens did mainly due to their increased reasoning skills. Nature favored brains over brawn and humanity began to spread through out the Earth, except Antarctica. Sexual dimorphism continues to be a physical trait that proves human evolution. Humanity and other organisms continue to evolve depending on the condition of their environment. Humanity has acquire such a vast knowledge of science it will be possible to manipulate our own biology. This could be done through genetic engineering, surgery, and technology itself.

            There are physiological difference that exist that products of sexual dimorphism. Men have more type II muscle fibers, while women have more type I. Muscular contraction is essential for movement or any athletic performance. Muscular endurance describes how long the muscular contraction can last. Men  and women can have similar levels of muscular endurance. Women may have more, because they fatigue slower. When comparing men and women of a similar size men would still have more upper body strength. When the size is held constant it is estimated that women could be at least 80% as strong. The remaining percentage points account for the upper body disparity.  Cardiovascular physiology  plays a role in oxygen transport. During exercise oxygen is transported to the muscles to form adenosine triphosphate. This then provides energy for muscular contraction. Hemoglobin housed within red blood cells has to transport oxygen from the lungs to other tissues of the body. Larger lungs and hearts contribute to men’s 50% greater aerobic power. Women however may have an easier time converting glycogen into energy, which aids in endurance. Women’s higher fat levels are useful in long distance swimming and running, because it can aids in metabolism. Estrogen-B could also be responsible for fatigue resistance during muscular contraction in women. A combination of biological, anatomical, and physiological factors explain the gap in athletic performance. There can also be overlap, but this is explained by unique physiology of particular individuals.

Women's growth

Tall
Women have grown taller, but the average height is not six feet tall. 

Dorthy Roe’s prediction make the mistake of not taking into account particular factors. If this were to be average as she claimed it would mean that every woman would have to have the same nutrition and access to certain opportunities. Then genetics plays a role in the possible maximum physical potential. Then it also has to do with choice. How many women would actually want to achieve that level strength? The hilarious aspect of this prediction was the statement “muscles of a truck driver.” Driving a truck requires little physical strength. The job is mostly sedentary and therefore would not be the best for your health. Sitting too long for extended periods of time has been linked to heart related and weight issues. The question remains why are there not more women truck drivers? Again, discrimination is an obvious answer, but personal choice is another. Job seekers will only go to jobs that could benefit them the most economically. Companies may just not try to recruit women, even if they have positions opened. Despite this, there are women who are involved in trucking.

The only difference is that the truck has to be ergonomically designed to suit the female driver. All trucks have to in order to make the seat comfortable for the driver. Driving long periods of time in one particular position could cause back and neck issues. Part of the problem is that people still think their are men’s jobs and women’s jobs in the workforce. This dated concept not only harms women, but could be hindering economic growth. A functional economy must have a low unemployment rate to keep consumption up. Women must be part of the workforce to maintain economic stability. There are some occupations in which women’s numbers may still remain smaller relative to men’s due to differences in maximum physiological capacity. This does not mean there will not be any women in those positions. There are women who, even with the noted sex differences can outperform many men.

The female athlete will be in better shape or either just as strong or stronger than the average man depending on which training regimen is used. So, in this sense the prediction was only a part truth. A group of women have become stronger physically across the world who compete in both local and  international sports competition. The total number of women on Earth have not become physically stronger. Health has improved as indicated by women’s increased life expectancy . Women have the edge in terms of durational strength, living longer in most cases. The wonderful element about humanity is that it is diverse and can be flexible with its environments.

There can be strong women who are short. Tall women who are not the strongest or women of average build. The same can also be with men as well. The genetic variation protects the human species from genetically inherited diseases. That diversity helps, but has not completely eliminated such ailments. The article does not say that the average woman will become physiologically similar to a man, just that she will reach at higher fitness level. The implication that women will be able to compete en mass with men in mixed competition does not seem probable. However, there is a possibility that individual elite female athletes could beat an elite male athlete. There it would be presumptuous to say that it could never happen. It is just at the moment is not happening in the future Dorthy Roe predicted. A hypothesis should not be a mere prediction, but thoughtful estimation of probable outcomes.

Women still have to work harder to attain a high level of physical fitness. While their are women who have more natural strength than others, they are a unique exception. More training just enhances their physical potential. There is a new phenomenon. Women are now competing in sports at larger numbers compared to the past. Women’s involvement in sports dates back to the ancient world being documented in Greek and Egyptian civilization. There has never been a period in history to date in which women have embrace sports and physical fitness to this extent. Not only that, but women are seeking to build as much muscle and strength for their particular sports. While their is traditional backlash and divide in public opinion there is a portion of people who are embracing this change. The physiques that women display across various sports would be inconceivable  to many 200 years ago. Some women it seems have become the amazons of the future.

       It is clear that women have enter areas that sole were male domains. The change in women’s status is spreading not just in the West, but in the Global South. Status and progress in a society depends on the historical, sociological, and political situation. There is a possibility that civilization could collapse from mass global warfare, dramatic climate change, pandemics, or economic instability. Such events would mean the reversal of progress and even the end of humanity itself. When the fabric of society is unstable women and other marginalized groups suffer the most. Women could lose the little rights and opportunities they have if there were a change in political regime. Active organizing and vigilance can prevent such occurrences. A faction of futurist believe that in the coming years the world will become a better place. Like the utopian science fiction of the early 20th century, it seems out of reach. Both World Wars and the following Cold War proved that The Jetsons like future seems more imaginary. There is more advanced technology, but with it comes other problems. Roe’s predictions fall into the more utopia version of futurism. Her predictions would not seem so outrageous if she did not say that the average woman would be an amazon in terms of physique. As for height, women have not on average reached the six foot range. The tallest women in the world live in Latvia and the Netherlands. When Roe was writing this, she was only thinking about America.

Height chart

The US does not place in the current record of tallest men and women. This does not mean we do not have our own tall people. It should be no surprise that experts writing this in 1950 were off. They did not have a vast body of knowledge to base predictions on and human evolution was still though of as a linear progression rather than a series of branches coming from a root. The more precise assessment that could have been stated is that women of the future would greatly enhance their physical fitness capacity. Title IX was and continues to be an important law that allowed for many American women to become active in sports. Those women who first benefited from it went on to be top performing Olympic athletes and  the law still continues to make this possible. That is an example of how when barriers are removed  the numbers increased. Then another development happened that was not just in the US, but seems to be spreading around the world. Women who are enthusiastic about weightlifting are becoming serious competitors. It was not until the year 2000 that women’s weightlifting was added to the Olympic Games. Maybe the prediction of Roe’s amazons was not entirely incorrect.

Prior to women’s weightlifting, women had worked out with weights. This was mainly in bodybuilding, which had its origins in the 1970s. The early pioneers of women’s strength sports worked out with weight even when the gyms tried to prevent them from going to such sections and faced harsh ostracism. Now, it does not seem so abnormal to see even the average woman doing some weight training. Their intent may not be to be a professional athlete, but to simply maintain and control body weight. Women are no longer afraid to show physical strength or actual muscular development. Dorothy Roe may have predicted accurately what the average female athlete would be like. The average woman could vary between ectomorphic, endomorphic, and mesomorphic body structure. Height as well will vary as seen from sets of data. The conclusion would thus have to be modified. The average woman will be participating in various fields in the future. Improved health, physical activity, and nutrition will mean some women will reach physiological capacities greater than previously thought. Technology although helpful may cause adverse health effects that lead to a sedentary life style. The tendency for futurologists to be sensationalist leads to imprecise conclusions. To make precise assessments, one most take a rational method of analysis.

“In The Future, All Women Will Be Amazons” From The Smithsonian

A General Introduction To The Muscular System

The muscular system is responsible for movement in collaboration with the nervous system to form impulses for motion. Muscles also contribute to internal functions of the human body which include motion in the intestines and circulatory system. Exercise of this organ system is critical to prevent wasting from age or the possibility of disease. Muscles are placed under the body’s skin sorted in overlapping layers on the skeletal system. All muscle is not the same and be placed into three different types. This includes smooth, skeletal, and cardiac muscle. The human body can contain up to a range of 640 to 650 voluntary muscles. Like other organ systems of the human body, it functions almost like a machine. Various parts and structures perform a role to produce an output.The human body is capable of complex movements due to various organ systems . The muscular system also serves an essential role in athletic performance.

         All muscle is not the same. There are three major muscle tissue types responsible for various functions. The muscles that are the most recognizable are the skeletal muscles. These are connected to bone and produce movement. These muscles can sometimes be referred to as voluntary muscles. Under the microscope they appear striated. Skeletal muscle contains multiple cell nuclei located around the periphery of the cell. Not all skeletal muscle is under voluntary control. The chest wall of the body is automatic to allow for breathing.

Skeletal muscle
Skeletal Muscle ( microscopic image)

Smooth muscle often referred to as non-voluntary is responsible for actions of the nervous system. An example of this would be the dilating and constriction of arteries or movement in the stomach. These actions require automatic response to assist other organ systems. The smooth muscle cells have spindle like shapes. Narrow at a point to both ends attaching to one nucleus in the cells center.

Smooth_muscle_tissue
Smooth Muscle (microscopic image)

Cardiac muscle is the most essential. The responsibility of this tissue is to transmit electric messages fast and in the most efficient manner. Heart muscle is designed to be branched out. The heart needs this type of muscle tissue to ensure it beats correctly. Cardiac muscle can have two or more nuclei at the center of each cell. This demonstrates that organ systems do not work in isolation, but in a coordinated effort.

Cardiac muscle

Muscle cells are the smallest units of the muscular system. Together they form part of the human body mass. Muscle can account for close to 50% of total body mass. This depends on the physical fitness level of the individual and the amount of fat that is also stored in the body. There is a difference in muscle mass between men and women. Men’s muscle fibers are slightly larger in size. Women have higher body fat levels which can range on average 11%, which is higher than men’s range. At the cellular level, there is no difference between male and female muscle.

      Muscles can have a superficial layer and others are deep with in the body. The names of muscles do correspond to their shape. The trapezius obviously takes its name from trapezoid. The muscle that rotates the shoulder blade has that distinct shape. The human body contains many muscles from the face down to the lower body.

Muscle anatomy

Muscular anatomy 2

Each muscle moves are particular part of the body. The muscles of the arm include the deltoid, biceps brachii, triceps, flexor carpi radialis, and barchiordalis. The biceps brachii flexes the forearm at the elbow and can pull the palm upward. The deltoid is capable of moving the away from the body to the front, side. or rear. The triceps have a medial head which covers the forearm at the elbow and can straighten it. There is also a long head of the triceps that allows for straightening of the the forearm. The brachialis brings the forearm to the shoulder. The arm when flexed at the elbow happens due to movement by the brachiordalis. When the hand is flexed at the wrist it is done by the flexor carpi  radialis.

The trunk of the body aids in the movement of the neck and other limbs branching out from the human body. The pectoralis major moves the shoulder blade. The internal intercostal pulls adjacent ribs together while the external intercostal elevates them. The scalenus has to maintain proper assistance in breathing and  the flexing of the neck. The rectus admoninius  flexes the spinal cord, while directing the pelvis forward. The linea  alba separates divides the abdominal muscles .The serratus anterior has to pull shoulder blades away from the spine. Despite its long name the sternocledomastoid only serves the function of tilting and moving parts of the neck.

There are also muscles of the back. It should be noted that while muscles are named in accordance with shape, sometimes names come from the bones they are connected with. The illocostalis runs from the one back muscle to the ribs reaching ilium. The tres major and minor contribute to lifting the arm and stabilizing the shoulder. The infraspinatus allows for rotation of the arm the stabilization of the shoulder joint. The supraspinatus can raise the arm when needed. The rhomboideus major and minor are designed to retract the shoulder blade and return it to a rest position. For the spine to be straightened it require the use of the erector spinae. This muscle is made of three other muscles, which include the spinalis, longissimus, and  illocostalis. The latissimus dorsi rotates arms and pulls shoulders back. It has the largest surface area of any muscle in the human body.  the obliques assist in breathing and abdominal wall stabilization. Internal obliques must focus on pressure inside the abdomen. Obliques both internal and external have the ability to flex and rotate the trunk.

Continuing further there are muscles of the lower body and legs. When humans became bipedal during the course of evolution, this was a major milestone. Humankind is the only primate species that can walk upright. The hamstring consists of three muscles which include the biceps femoris ( rotates the leg ), semitendinosus ( extends thigh, hip and flexes the knee), and semimembranosus (extends thigh, rotates leg and flexes the knee). The hips get stabilization from the quadratus femoris. The muscle also allows for rotation. The gluteus maximus has to straighten the hip by pulling the thighs back in the event of running, walking or jumping. The muscle is not alone in the locomotion process; the soleus has to flex the foot when walking happens. The gastrocnemius which is a calf muscle must contract to flex the ankle and pull the heel up. This is done when standing on a tip-toe position. There is a muscle that also gives the leg thrust when walking called the flexor hallucis longus. The toes and foot itself need control and that function falls on the flexor digitorum longus. The knee also has more assistance with movement with the popliteus. The adductor brevis  rotates thighs in toward the body, while the adductor longus draws into the body. Gracilis also flexes and rotates that leg as needed. There are also muscles in your face which aid in expressions you make. Whether it is a smile or grimace muscle once again work together.

The muscles of the face can be either attached to bone or connective tissues known as aponeuroses. The presence of this fibrous and sheet structured tissue means that facial muscles are connected to one another. The muscles of the head and neck interact to produce facial expressions, which can vary depending on emotional state. The facial muscles are controlled by a nerve known as cranial VII. If damage is inflicted on this nerve facial mobility would be lost, making it difficult to communicate. The structures such as the occipitofrontalis raise the eye brows and zygomaticus major pulls the corner of the mouth up and out. The sternohyoid depresses the larynx, while the platysma  lowers the mandible and covers the mouth. The muscles of the face and neck are critical for speech and even a function as simple as chewing. Facial muscles can fill the role as sphincters ( such as the orbicularis oculi  that allows your eyes to close). The function of sphincter is to open and close a particular orifice. Besides basic functions of eating, talking, or drinking the head must be balanced on the body. The average adult head weights about 5kg ( 11 lbs). Muscles of the neck , back and shoulders must act as a stabilizing force. They are active in a constant fashion tensing and contracting based on particular movements.

The rectus capitis posterior( minor and major) ,  oblique (inferior and superior) , levator scapulae, semispinalis captis and splenius captis are needed for balance of the head on the body. When moving the face and the neck it is hard to image such labor has to be put in to make a simple action possible. Chewing requires the force of the masseter muscle. Without it the mouth could not close the mandible when eating. This is only a general delineation of the structure of the muscular system. While the estimate of skeletal muscles is placed at 650, more could be classified as such. This depends on if a muscle is classified individually or part of a much larger skeletal muscle.

         Skeletal muscle tends to be the majority of the muscular system, when compared to cardiac and smooth muscle. Skeletal muscles have extra classification based on their unique shape. The two bellied parallel muscle contains two separate muscles separated by an intersection of sinew. Three headed parallel muscle is designed to attached to three different places. The quadrate muscle forma a flat four sided shape, which acts more like protective covering.  The straight muscles run parallel converging at a tendon point. Orbiculars are muscles that function like  sphincters and triangular muscles form a fan shape. The reason for this is to allow for the maximum force of contraction. These muscle also have a common site of attachment. Two headed parallel muscle splits at a point nearest to the body. Flat muscles serve mostly as a covering. The abdominal wall would be considered a flat muscle. Fusiform muscles have fibers that are positioned parallel to each other in the middle then meet to form a tendon at one or two ends. These muscles are responsible for moving the fingers, specifically the flexor pollicus longus. The last type of skeletal muscle is the pennate muscles. They contain strong muscle fibers, but fatigue quickly. They have a feather like appearance.

      The physiology of the muscular system is just as impressive as its numerous structures. The skeletal muscle is connected to tendons, which means they can only pull when contracting. During this process they shorten. Muscle in a controlled setting can achieve a threshold stimuli and can respond to the next stimulus without relaxing completely. Tetanus happens when full sustained contraction is achieved. The tetanic contraction happens when muscles are actively used. Even when there is no active motion muscles still exhibit tone. Muscle tone refers to fibers still contracting while at rest. if this did not happen during rest the body could collapse around the neck, trunk, and legs.

Muscle tone is the key to maintaining good posture. The muscle fibers are packed into bundles. The muscle fiber cell has various components. There is a plasma membrane known as the sarcolemma, which forms a transverse system. The T tubules move down into the cell making contact with the sarcoplasmic reticulum. There are storage sites present for calcium. The sarcoplasmic reticulum is home to thousands of myofibrilis which are contractile muscle fiber tissue. The myofibril has sarcomeres which are contractile units. The myofibrils are cylinder shaped and can be as long as the muscle fiber. On the tissue itself are striations, which are formed by the sarcomeres. When in a state of rest dark lines known as Z lines. What should be understood is that the muscle fiber functions on different protein filaments. Actin filaments slide past myosin, which induces contraction. Myosin pulls the actin through cross bridges including split ATP. The process can be described as the sliding filament model.

1022_Muscle_Fibers_small

P49xp
Adenosine Triphosphate  (ATP)

The sarcomeres shortens causing the actin filaments to slide past the myosin filaments. The I band will shorten and the H zone disappears. This is how muscle contractions behaves. Like two people doing a short of tug of war, this shows how the filaments move. Besides ATP, myoglobin stores oxygen and phosphocreatine helps with energy needs. Phosphocreatine does not directly get involved in muscle contraction, but has the ability to anaerobically regenerate ATP.  This helps supply enough energy for muscular contraction. Once the phosphocreatine is depleted the mitochondria can produce enough ATP for muscular contraction to proceed. Another method for supplying energy is fermentation. This does not require oxygen, but can happen during strenuous exercise. ATP can only be supplied for a short period. Lactate then amasses and there will be fatigue. Lactate may not cause muscles to ache, but rather act as a protective measure to prevent harm to the muscle.

This explains why at some point when exercising intensely muscles will fatigue. Breathing patterns even change during long term intense exercise. The oxygen debt has to be restored. This means cells must return to their original energy state. The intake of oxygen must complete the metabolic process for lactate. The lactate must be transported to the liver, where it will be broken down into carbon dioxide and water ( 20% ) . There will be ATP gained from respiration, in which 80% of the lactate will be converted into glucose. People who consistently train ( athletes for example ) the number of mitochondria increases which decreases reliance on fermentation. As a result ATP is produced more efficiently and there is less of both lactate and oxygen debt.

        While there is very little difference in structure and function of the muscular system between the sexes, there is one aspect that effects athletic performance. Men have more type II muscle fibers. Fast twitch muscle fibers generate more power, but fatigue at a faster rate. They are not oxygen dependent. Women have more type I muscle fibers which are more resistant to fatigue and can contract for longer periods. The slow twitch fibers get their energy for contraction  from the break down fat from blood, muscle cells, and adipose tissue. This explains why women have more of these muscle fibers, because estrogen means women will have higher body fat percentages. Fat breakdown needs only oxygen and some glycogen . Fast twitch requires phosphocreatine and glycogen reserves in the muscle itself. Glucose remains stored in the blood and glycogen in the liver. Sex is not the only factor in muscle fiber composition. It can be based on either genetics or physical fitness training. Marathon runners would have more type I muscle fibers, compared to the type II weightlifters. The difference in physical strength is not just due to the size of the muscle fiber, but endocrinology. Men produce higher levels of testosterone which allows for a greater amount of muscular hypertrophy. This explains why a man and a woman who do the exact same training regimen, it is more likely the man will have more absolute strength.

It is not just the difference in size of the muscles or endocrinology. The difference in absolute strength comes also from the nervous system. Men’s nervous system signals faster when muscle contraction is occurring. The common misconception is that women would not benefit from weight lifting because they have smaller muscles. Women’s muscles still can experience hypertrophy. The difference appears to be mostly in quantity, rather than quality of the muscular structure. Then one must considered starting point. If men have lower body fat levels and more muscle mass to begin with their total strength would be higher. Women would gain more relative to their size, seeing as their natural strength levels are lower. People with mesomorphic body types will have a natural advantage when engaging in a train regimen. The female body is capable of developing strength. The muscular system is almost like a multilayered puppet with tendons and muscles working in collaboration. This organ system is pivotal to athletic performance and overall health.

 References

Mader, Sylvia. Biology. New York : McGraw-Hill, 2007.

Parker, Steve. The Human Body Book. New York: DK Publishing, 2013.

Brewer, Sarah. The Human Body: A Visual Guide to Anatomy. London: Quercus, 2012.

 

A General Introduction To The Muscular System

Can Women Meet the Physical Demands of the Navy SEALs?

When the ban on women in combat was lifted, many were asking if this was to include elite special forces. Eventually, the ban was lifted on the Navy SEALs. This fighting force of the United States military is known for its tough demeanor and aggressiveness. The training is considered extremely difficult both physically and mentally. When it comes to women in physically demanding occupations, there are physiological and biological considerations. The standards cannot be lowered, for this would cause reduced combat effectiveness.Navy SEALS must be proficient in scuba diving, parachuting, close quarters combat, and demolition. The question remains does a woman have the  strength and endurance to meet the physical demands of the Navy SEALs?To answer this question one must look at the problem from the context of the standards and peak physical fitness. That approach will reveal if this can be possible.

        Before examining the physical demands, one should understand exactly what the Navy SEALS are. The US Navy Sea Land and Air teams are a special operations force created in 1962.  The special operations force was created under the John F. Kennedy administration. Its intent was to combat guerrilla warfare being used in Vietnam. Although US troops were not there yet, there were military advisers in South Vietnam. The Navy SEALS saw combat in 1966 in Vietnam mostly focusing on riverine operations. The Navy SEALS were then attached to other American special forces under US Special Operations Command in 1987. The changing nature of warfare has made Navy SEAL roles indistinguishable from other special forces. The ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have contributed to this shift. The land and air element was more prevalent in these conflicts, rather than water based operations. There were also cases in which the conventional US army was called in to support the Navy SEALS during the 2003 Iraq invasion. The tasks assigned to Navy SEALS involve finding downed pilots, reconnaissance, sabotage, hostage extraction, counter-terrorism operations and counter-drug operations. The Navy SEALS have more rigorous responsibilities compared to other branches.

             The Navy SEALs physical fitness test contains certain measures that a candidate must meet to get selected for combat. There are minimum standards, but it is recommended an applicant strive for the highest scores. This involves a 500 yard swim, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and a 1.5 mile run. All recruits go through basic training and from there select a military occupational specialty (MOS).

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500 yard swim – minimum score :12:30 minutes  maximum score : 8 minutes
DOWELL CRAMER
Pull-ups- minimum score :10 maximum score: 15-20
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Push ups- minimum score :50 maximum score: 80-100
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Sit-ups- minimum score : 50 maximum score : 80-100
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1.5 mile run – minimum score: 10:30 minutes maximum score : 9-10 minutes

These are examples of the physical screening tests. The target should to get the highest scores to increase the likelihood of successful completion. Competitive scores give an applicant a better  chance also of being noticed for career advancement. There is also an EOD physical and  a fleet diver physical. Some of the exercises are timed. Sit-ups must be done in two minutes ( with two minute rests in between)  in the EOD physical. Looking at these standards, there may be some areas women would have challenges with. If there is a woman applicant who wants to join there are considerations that must be taken into account. Women should seek to go above the minimum standards.

      There are anatomical differences that could make this more difficult for women. The difference in muscular strength and specifically for the upper body could pose problems. Women have less upper body strength compared   to there male counterparts. The difference in strength is in part due to men’s higher testosterone levels allowing for more pronounced mass in the arms and chest. Estimates show that women have 50% less upper body strength in total. It should be noted that with training women still can gain strength. There is also a genetic factor with some women having a mesomorphic body type, which can be an advantage. However, if a woman and a man are given the same training regimen it is likely the man will be stronger. Women still experience muscular hypertrophy, but not to the same extent as a man. Muscle is not the only contributor to physical strength, it is the skeleton and tendons. Women have lower bone density. Their shoulders are more narrow which means a smaller area to house muscle mass on the upper body. This means even upper body development is hard for female athletes.

  The cells of men and women’s muscles do not differ. There is a difference in the amount of type II fast twitch muscle fibers. These are essential for explosive physical force and recruitment. Men have more of these muscle fibers, while women contain more of the endurance based type I muscle fibers.The approach here should be to know the standards before hand and have a high physical fitness level before entry. The only way for women to be successful is to do weight training. This can build bone and muscular strength. Gains however depend on several factors. These factors include age, sex, diet, body type, and fitness program utilized. Women can through weight training can gain at least 40% muscular strength according to the American Council on Exercise. If women have lower upper body strength, they should focus on exercises that increase the muscles of that area. Bicep curls, dumbbell kickbacks,and overhead  triceps extensions are effective at increasing upper body strength. There can be an alternation between weights and machines, because it has not been fully determined which is the most effective. Deltoid  strength is critical to shoulder enforcement. Peck deck machines and help with targeting the muscles of the chest.

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An official chart of standards

 The skeleton strength is also essential. Lower bone mass means women would be more susceptible to muscolskeletal injuries. This has been the case with women in other branches in the military. Injury rates are higher for women compared to men. Soldiers of all sexes are suffering higher injury rates due to heavier armor. Stress fractures can happen while marching under load.Not only does overloaded armor cause health problems, but it decreases mobility. Lower bone mass in women explains why they are more vulnerable to diseases such as osteoporosis. Bone mass can be built and strengthened through weight training. The difference in the male and female skeleton also effects other areas of physical fitness. The shape of the pelvis and angle of the legs mean women’s running speed will be effected. This also makes the possibility of anterior cruciate  ligament tears higher. ACL tears are prevalent in high performing female athletes. Training safely and understanding the musculoskeletal differences can prevent such injuries.

   Women’s skeletons have an increased  Q angle  along with greater spinal curvature. The frontal and temporal bones are smaller in size. Women also have shorter long bones which include the arms and legs as well as the clavicle. The strength factor includes the skeleton, muscular system,tendons, and ligaments. While it is clear that the physical fitness level of these organ systems can be increased, strengthening tendons could be more difficult.

      Men and women may differ in response to loading on tendons. Women can sustain higher connective tissue injuries. This could have roots in estradiol, which does hinder collagen formation. Oestrogen receptor activity is regulated by estradiol. Exercise for a period time should induced tendons to strengthen. Women when they exercise may not see increased hypertrophy in terms of tendon growth. Connective tissue formation could be lower in women on average. Oestrogen could be an inhibitor to collagen synthesis in tendons during exercise. This would mean that total mechanical strength would be lower. This could mean that tendon strength is also related to hormones. Knowing this sex specific difference a solution can be formulated.

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The differences in tendon hypertrophy :The adaptability of tendon to loading differs in men and women

 There are still exercises that are effective and if done correctly can strengthen tendons. Exercise must be done to increase circulation of blood. This also requires some stretching for the health of the tendon. Aerobic exercise should also be incorporated to allow for more circulation of blood. The tendons are not as vascular as the muscles, which can lead to injury during intense exercise regimens. Working all muscle groups ensures tendons will be safe. A small warm-up before stretching will help the muscles and tendons. This also contributes to flexibility . Ten minutes of running in place or using a treadmill will help with preparing for stretching. After work out regimens, there should be time for recovery. Tendons can still grow in women if they follow a consistent regimen.

         Aerobic capacity also should be taken into consideration. Women have smaller hearts and lungs compared to their male counterparts. This means their total running speed would be slower. Besides that physiological consideration, there is an anatomical one. The pelvis is much wider, which reduces speed. This essential if one needs to be in a certain area at a particular time. There could arise a situation that battlefield victory is not in reach and retreat is the only option. When considering hemoglobin concentration, it is critical the transport of oxygen to tissues. Hemoglobin is a protein that resides in red blood cells responsible for getting oxygen to the lungs, then the muscles. Women have 10% lower hemoglobin levels This results in about 10% less lower oxygen transport. The heart’s size also plays a role in cardiovascular fitness. The ratio of heart volume to body mass ratio  in women is 15 % lower. This means maximum cardiac out put and maximal stroke volume are lower in comparison to men. The maximal stroke volume describes the largest volume of blood pumped per beat, while cardiac output reveals the total amount of blood pumped from the heart per minute.

 That means a woman who is a Navy SEAL would have to push beyond their regular physical capacity. The aerobic fitness element may be the more challenging than building muscular strength. Women can experience muscular hypertrophy, but cardiovascular fitness training with not later the size of the heart or hemoglobin levels of women. This means women would have to do overload to the cardiovascular system to see results improve. Jogging, swimming, and cycling are activities that can be done in relation to circuit training.

        Considering this group of elite soldiers involves the Navy, swimming abilities should be examined. It is obvious that women have the ability to swim. Women do seem to perform well in open water swimming. Marathon swims show that women are capable of skilled performance. However, men still are faster in terms of times. Yet, if you look at the women’s records they could easily meet the demands of the swimming standards of the Navy SEALs. Women could have an advantage in distance swimming due to higher fat levels. This may enhance buoyancy and drag in the water. Fat could also insulate a woman’s body better during ultra-long distance swims. Women during swims may be more efficient at the crawl stroke. Their pull was deeper an narrower in comparison with their male counterparts. Arm power was beneficial to males, but longer arm length was not as helpful.

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Looking at these averages women are still behind. The margins are not so astronomically large as one would assume given the biological differences.

Women have shown they can be capable swimmers. Alison Streeter had swam the English Channel 43 times in 2005. Clearly, being female does not limit physical capability. The challenge is it will be harder to reach a higher peak physical fitness level, given certain differences in physiology. There are women swimmers who would be over qualified for certain naval positions.

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These pieces of data only demonstrate averages. Individuals can vary in terms of physical fitness level across the spectrum. Taking into account muscular strength, aerobic capacity, and swimming ability are essential in relation to standards. The criteria should not be lowered. There are women who can meet the physical demands. Lower standards means the quality of the fighting force would be reduced. This would create hostility towards women thinking that the job was just given to them. The women who do make it through will still face physically demanding challenges.

         When a person is in a physically demanding position, overtime there will be physical strain. This comes in the the form of repetitive motion injuries and stress fractures. One argument of keeping women out of combat has been the potential medical costs. Men have injuries being combat soldiers and the effects on women could be higher in special operations. Muscle and bone mass can protect from such problems. This means women who are built are going to have an easier time handling physical demands. The question emerges is what is the attrition rate for a female combat soldier? The attrition rate describes a point in which a soldier can no longer endure the physically demanding tasks. There has not been a specific study in regards to women so the answer is unknown. Although people make conclusions without data as support.

Jessie Jane Duff made a conclusion on CNN in 2015. She appeared on Brooke Baldwin’s program discussing the decision to lift the ban on women being Navy SEALs. Duff is a retired Marine gunnery sergeant and senior fellow for the London Center of Policy Research. While she does state facts about physiological differences, its clear what her position is. She uses the fact that not a single woman has passed the infantry officer course and asks a somewhat rhetorical question of “are we setting them up for failure?” Just because a woman has not passed the infantry officer course yet, does not mean it will not happen in the future. If the standards are lucid and women know how to train their bodies for it, this  should not be an issue. Baldwin’s rebuttal is that not all women are the same. Some will just be naturally stronger than others. Watching the news segment longer one can see that it may not be women’s fault. US soldiers are being overloaded with gear so much that it is causing an increase in musculoskeletal injuries. This does not only harm health, but reduces mobility on the battlefield. So far, there has been improvements to women’s armor and the process is still on going. Her closing statement was “it is not about equality its about biology.” Women have been thrown into combat seeing as there is no longer frontlines  in the wars America currently fights.

Women of a high physical fitness level would have slower attrition rates. Women less prepared for physical demands would have more health issues. 

The Army Ranger school cadets demonstrated there do exist women who can meet certain standards. The unusual aspect of this news segment was that Duff only sighted cases in  the marines and regular army. These branches are not the same as the Navy SEALs. The problem is these are based off of averages. The point is not to get average candidates, but women who are qualified for these positions. This means women who can get competitive scores on the physical fitness examination. The fact of the matter banning women from combat jobs has limited justification if there are women who meet such standards. Jessie Duff makes it seem as if every man is qualified for combat positions. What sense would it make to ban a qualified woman in favor of a less qualified man? The only logical reason is sex discrimination and dated attitudes in regards to gender. The right-wing has a poor record on women’s rights and is known to divide the population against one another on the basis of class and race to win elections. Women in combat will soon become a long standing wedge issue like abortion, gun control, and the tax code. Intense opposition mobilizes the Republican base, even though the party tries to present itself as pro-military. Not afraid of being hypocritical, it shows such low character directing hatred at women who volunteer to do such work. If integration is to work women will have to have a sizable fitness level before entry.

This should be done even before basic training to prevent possible injuries. One should be mindful that men who attempt Navy SEALs training have a high drop out rate. There is talk of “hells week” in which the training becomes the most intense. This is vary dangerous at times if training is not done properly. James Derreck Lovelace died during training and this has been now ruled a homicide reported by CNN. There is not only physical stress; there is also mental strain as well. There is little emphasis on mental health in the military. This must be made a priority with suicide rates and cases of post-traumatic stress disorder increasing. This is why the Department of Veterans Affairs has to be reformed to fix long doctor wait times and a general decline in healthcare for US soldiers. Attrition rates can be reduced by more ergonomic armor, mental health services, and keeping a high physical fitness level.

      The Navy SEALs are an elite fighting force. Many men have tried and the drop out rate is high. Women have the opportunity to become Navy SEALs, but none have attempted the program thus so far. There are women who can meet these demands. The numbers would be small. An Olympic woman athlete is not the average woman. They would seem to have a better chance of passing the physical fitness requirements. This means women would still be a minority in special operations units. A female trainee would have to face unpleasant realities of media publicity, hostility from her male peers, and expectations of failure. There seems to be more negativity generating in the US military against women as new positions open to them. The first harbingers will certainly face challenging obstacles both in environment and instruction. Women becoming Navy SEALs seems to be more difficult. It will take longer for women to have a presence in the  Navy SEALs. This does not seem like an impossibility that a woman can successful join one day. Currently it seems women are gaining more access to combat jobs in the army, air force, and  general navy. The reality is women are now part of combat and it is time to efficiently integrate them into combat occupations. For the women who successfully become Navy SEALs, they are an elite and capable group of soldiers.

References

Spencer, Sharon. Weapon a Visual History of Arms and Armor. New York: Covent Garden

     Books, 2006.

Guthrie, Sharon and Costa Margaret. Women and Sport Interdisciplinary Perspectives .

        Champaign: Human Kinetics, 1994.

Mcdonagh, Eileen and Pappano Laura.  Playing With the Boys Why Separate Is Not 

      Equal in Sports. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Steele, Jeanette. “Navy SEALs: Can Women Cut It?” Sandiegouniontribune.com. San Diego Union Tribune, 22 June 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2017. <http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/military/sdut-navy-seals-women-physical-standards-2013jun22-htmlstory.html&gt;.

Frumentarius. “10 Realities the First Female Navy SEAL Trainee Will Face.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 08 Feb. 2016. Web. 12 Apr. 2017. <http://www.businessinsider.com/10-realities-the-first-female-navy-seal-trainee-will-face-2016-2&gt;.

Can Women Meet the Physical Demands of the Navy SEALs?

Even the IDF Agrees: Men Are Better Suited Than Women For Military Combat

Even the IDF Agrees: Men Are Better Suited Than Women For Military Combat

This blog post from Big Bad Uber Mother Hen gives the reasons why women in their view are not suited for combat. It was originally published in 2013 when the Pentagon announced that women were no longer banned from military occupational specialties. Women have been in combat before this announcement, because the nature of warfare is changing. The frontline has disappeared and conventional warfare may no longer be the standard. Women have fought in both Afghanistan and Iraq with little recognition. While it is clear physiology and sexual dimorphism can be a factor in combat performance, the argument to maintain the ban or exclude women completely lacks a forceful basis. The author seem to want to prevent women from at least even trying. The ironic part about this is that this post was written by a woman.  She state “while there are undoubtedly some women who are quite capable of performing combat duty, men are better suited to combat duty.” Then goes on to say  “It’s not a matter of discrimination, it’s a matter physiology.” There are been numerous cases through out history that women have served in combat roles across the globe. Being female does not make you a less effective soldier. Training and strategy are essential in producing a functioning military.

           The evidence she provides is accurate in terms of physiological capability. The problem is she uses it to distort information in favor of her position. The muscular strength difference is apparent even in equally trained men and women. The approximations given by physiology academic papers show women were 52 % as strong in the upper body and 66% as strong in the lower body. The difference in skeletal mass is also greater in men. Men can have up to 33 kg, while women have 21 kg in absolute terms. When the weight is the same or relative it can be estimated 38.4% (men) and 30.6% (women). Endocrinology is a factor, because testosterone allows for more protein synthesis. Type II muscles fibers are larger in men, which are responsible for more explosive power. The author fails to recognize that women can gain strength through a weight training regimen. The amount of strength a woman can gain through weight training depends age, fitness level, diet, and specific exercise program.

Mesomorphic body types will have an easier time doing tasks that require strength. Ectomorphs may not be able to build large muscles. They can still build strength through weight lifting. Women and men’s muscles at the cellular level are identical. This means they still respond similarly to microtrauma induced by weight lifting. The training must be consistent to be effective. The rate of gain documents the total muscle mass accumulated from exercise. The American Council on Exercise has reported a woman can gain 40% muscular strength after months of weight training. It is possible for a person to accumulate a half pound of muscle per week. Diet is critical as well from gaining strength. Protein, unsaturated fats, whole grains, and fresh produce contribute to muscular hypertrophy. Sugars, processed foods, trans-fat, and saturated fats will cause the increase in fat. Women seeing as they produce more estrogen, need to pay extra attention to diet. Training must be conducted in a specific manner. Women must lift heavy enough to cause fatigue. This has to be done in 8 to 12 repetitions. Lighter weights will only improve muscular endurance, rather than muscular strength.

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Adding new exercises and gradually increasing the weight will help in improving strength. Increasing the weight every 4 to 6 weeks will help stimulate the muscle and allow for greater hypertrophy. If women are seeking to get into a military occupational specialty, they should look at the physical standards and design an exercise regimen specific to the job. Even before basic training women should exercise prior to entry. The author presents an the frailty myth in a new way, attempting to be objective. It has been discovered that women’s involvement in resistance training  allows for significant gain in strength. Proportionally, their muscular strength gains are greater. Men are still stronger, but comparatively further muscle strength gains are lower. The reason for this may be that women have lower strength levels initially, which makes the data seem immense. Then again, it could be genetic uniqueness specific to certain women.

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The influence of periodized resistance training on strength changes in men and women.

Having the right training and exercise plan can reduce physiological barriers. The author wants to make a convincing argument but never mentions other elements of physiology.

        aerobic capacity she failed to mention. Oxygen consumption helps tissues during work. This also is essential in running. There are physical standards in which women have to run at a certain distance and time, which could be a bigger challenge. Women have smaller hearts and lungs than their male counterparts. The heart allows for the transport of blood and oxygen to transported to muscles of the body. This means their aerobic power is lower. It is established that women have legs muscles that are closer to men in strength. The assumption would be that they could run just as fast. The structure of the pelvis makes women’s running speeds slower as well. The heart is a muscle and through aerobic training it can increase in size. Males see greater increase in heart size through aerobic training. This also has a risk of cardiac arrhythmia with increase in heart size. This seems to be a physiological difference that may no be overcome as easy as strength gain. One method is to tailor training specific for women. Knowing these differences can help design such programs. Lactate threshold training allows a runner to store enough energy to run at a maximal pace. Interval training with a lactate threshold pace 10 to 15 seconds per mile can improve performance.

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A woman does not have to be Elaine Thompson to meet the running requirements. Training like her could benefit women planning to enter military service. She was not born a runner, she had to work her way to gain Olympic accomplishment. Part of the problem is that exercise physiology mostly has focused on the male body. Women’s bodies through out medical history were either considered too taboo to examine or were not worthy of investigation. This has only changed in the last decades.

           Physical strength has been used as a justification to keep women out of combat occupations. These similar arguments were used by fire fighting departments, police, and construction. The common argument is that a woman does not have the strength to lift a grown man. There are women who can perform a fire man’s carry and it can be easily learned. The issue also is combat armor and gear. This has caused a high number of musculoskeletal injuries.

Detractors use this as evidence of  why women should be banned from certain MOS. Women have higher injury rates, because they have less natural strength. Men’s injury rates are higher now due to the fact the gear weighs more. This by all ergonomic standards is not healthy and is causing osteoarthritis in many soldiers. Armor has to be reduced in weight so it does not effect mobility or bone health. Women must pay extra attention to their joints considering they are looser in comparison to their male counterparts.

ACL tears should be prevented through training. One solution to this issue is that women must train also to gain as much upper body strength. There is a limit. Men have broader shoulders allowing for more muscles to placed there. That means more muscle tissue for recruitment. The disparity can even be seen in men and women of similar size. Women will have to work harder to achieve certain results. Women must acquire enough strength so that they can perform casualty drags, while not fatiguing quickly.

 The added weight of gear and the combination of poorly fitting armor are a problem for the US military. The production of armor that fits the female frame better has been going on since 2011. Armor that actually fits will prevent injury and reduce weight burden. If weight load is too much the result will be a stress fracture. The good news is that progress has been made now that women are entering combat jobs. The vests needed a redesign especially. The upper body section was so wide in the Kelvar vests women when they sat down it could rise up ti their chin. A colloquial term known as turtling  was developed by female soldiers to describe the phenomenon. The torso length had to be adjusted as well. The update means the shoulders are narrow on the armor and the torso fixed. This redesign has gotten praise from women in the military. Armor that fits has allowed them to run faster and do it efficiently through obstacle courses. This will reduce injury rates. This distribution of armor will take time. As more women enter the military, the rate of production will have to drastically increase.

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A notch will be added to accommodate the bun and pony tail women wear, while securing the helmet. Hip injuries from armor will end due to two inches being removed from the waist line. The waistline was also an issue. Women’s waistlines are not as large as men’s. The waistline in this version of armor has fewer plates. They will weigh about 25 lbs each. They are lighter than previous versions and that will take strain off the body. It will fit tighter in the structure of the darting.  It will be built into several sections of the vest. These improvements are welcome and should be lauded. Technology is helping soldiers in new ways. This is only in an experimental phase, but is possible that wearable technologies would solve the overload in terms of military gear. The Natick Soldier Development and Engineering Center are continuing to explore various technologies. What sounds like something out of science fiction will become a reality. This is known as soldier-borne  energy harvesting technologies.  The Bionic Power’s Knee Harvester collects kinetic energy. It makes of the loss from walking. That is not the only capability, but it can recharge electronic devices. It will help with communications equipment, sensors,  and battlefield situational displays. This technology was first shown to US government officials on Fort Devens, Massachusetts in April of 2014. Marching under load can be less of a strain for the average soldier. This becomes more of a problem for women. The gear that that they carry is close to their body weight. Hip and leg fractures are common in the Marine corps  experiments in 2015. Marine corps jobs include armor, artillery, and infantry. Soldiers are expected to carry up to a 100 lbs or more.

  Women who are smaller may be at a disadvantage. However, some solutions involve shifting the weight of the pack off the hips and closer to the shoulders. This means the upper body would need significant conditioning. Doing so would reduce injury rates. Women who are used to intense exercise or have athletic backgrounds would probably perform better than the average woman. The numbers will most likely be lower, but that does not mean there are few women out there would could be capable combat soldiers.

         It should be noted there is a level of biomechanic skill in lifting a person. The fire man’s carry does not require mass amounts of strength. The there are other methods, which would be less comfortable for the person injured. There are cases in which a soldier could be so badly injured ( neck or spinal cord damage) moving them would do more harm than good. Sliding a person on to the shoulder takes minimal effort. The over the shoulder method puts more pressure on the rib cage of the person injured. Depending on the nature of the wound it could cause an exacerbation of condition.

Using one shoulder, just puts more strain on that shoulder and the neck. Distributing the weight is the only way to prevent injury. That is why the fireman’s carry is preferred. It places weight on both shoulders.  This way one arm is not doing all the work. Narrow shoulders means it will less space to house weight when a woman is performing a casualty drag.

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The ability to lift someone in a particular situation depends on certain factors. The weight and height of a person should be considered. A larger person will not struggle carrying a smaller person. A short person carrying a tall person could pose problems of its own. The legs and arms of the tall person could end up being dragged stifling movement. Weight needs to be considered to. If the person is so large and outweighs the person who is lifting it make beyond their physical ability. The Marines are concerned about weight. The US has a physical fitness issues with obesity and weight problems at record levels. Most Americans would probably require a weight management program before basic training. The body fat percentages are being adjusted so that women can have higher weight. When women stated doing weight training it caused them to gain more lean body mass, but disqualified them because they fell out of the acceptable weight range for women . These weight ranges are dated. People are much larger now, women included. They should not penalized for gaining extra muscle that will help them doing physical task.

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Cindy Phillips ( from Canada, which allows women in combat positions) would be cut even though she appears to be physically capable. Her weight would be considered too high for her height read here : Marines Permit Women to Bulk Up.

This has to be practiced several times, so it is almost ingrained into muscle memory. Women would therefore need to have enough strength so that they do not utilize reserve strength in their bodies.  Maximum strength is the total force the body can generate from the recruitment of muscle fibers. If a woman has to use all her maximum strength, she will fatigue quickly. Holding enough reserve strength will allow this. Once the biomechanics of the evacuation are understood, women can be more effective as combat soldiers.

         The author discusses endocrinology, but does it in the context of gender stereotypes. It cannot be denied that sex hormones do influence behavior. They have an immense influence on the body after puberty. What the author says is that women and men are emotionally different and that women may not be able to handle stressful or precarious situations. She indicates that indirectly that men are more aggressive due to their testosterone levels and that aggression in women is lacking. Aggression is needed to be a combat soldier. It is true that testosterone could cause men to seek dominance in social circles. This is not really aggression, but establishing status. Competition is more of a psychological need to accomplish a goal rather than a product of endocrinology. The desire and motivation are mentally based. Testosterone is not the sole factor in aggression. Violence cannot solely be explained by high testosterone levels. Violence can be learned and taught to children. A combination of biology and environment create the differences in the sexes in regards to aggression. Boys at a young age are taught that fighting and anger is normal for them.Girls are taught that fighting or expressing discontent is inappropriate. Sex hormones fluctuate through life and it is now understood. Testosterone levels rise in responses to certain situations in men. This can happen even to women in positions of authority or competitive environments. The idea that women cannot be violent and that nurturing is natural to them is based on a sex stereotype.

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There are women who can be aggressive and men who are peaceful. The best way to explain this phenomenon is through fight or flight response. Military training is designed to deal with such a psychological response. Women going through military training will not be peaceful. Hand to hand combat and weapons training are part of every soldiers program. The argument women are not emotionally stable enough seems to be lacking considering women have been in combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

          Through out history, women have served in combat. Although recently scholarship has uncovered this often ignored fact. This brings into question of men being better combat soldiers. If training and determination are of high quality there are women who can handle it. There are examples of women warriors in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. This starts from the ancient world to the contemporary period. Queen Zabbi ruled Palmyra (modern Syria) and led her troops into battle against Rome. She ruled the Palmyrene Empire from 267 to 272 C.E. and refused to be Rome’s client. During her rule, Palmyra’s territory expanded. Nzingha  was another warrior queen who ruled Ndongo and Matamba ( modern Angola) from 1631 to 1633. She successfully fought the Portuguese, while using the alliance with the Dutch to her advantage. When she died, their was nothing stopping  Portuguese  colonization. Africa and the Middle East have had  long traditions of warrior queens.

Boudicea and Joan of Arc were European women warriors who are well known to historians . Boudica  was  the queen of the Iceni tribe that rebelled against Rome. This tribe in what is now the UK  decided to turn against Rome, when the kingdom was gradually being annexed. Boudica’s  husband died and Roman legions came. Boudica was according to accounts flogged and her daughters raped. She then waged a campaign to punish Rome and take back the kingdom. Joan of Arc was known for her service in the Hundred Years War between England and France.

These are only individuals, but women have served in combat units. The mino warriors, were fierce soldiers of the Kingdom of Dahomey ( modern Benin). Women were formidable and in the 19th century they were instrumental in expanding holdings of the kingdom. King Ghezo was confident in their abilities to fight and undermine his enemies. The Dahomey amazons a name they would later be called were critical to his success. The Oyo Empire was defeated by Ghezo and his newly expanded armies. The Dahomey amazons were initially place guards, but Ghezo wanted their full loyalty to prevent internal dissent and coups. Abeokuta was never fully subdued, but that never stopped the Dahomey amazons.

ahosi-or-mino-dahomey-amazons During the 20th century, women still fought in wars. The Soviet Union had women in combat as snipers and in the air force. Soviet Russia faced the worst onslaught by Nazi Germany compared to the other Allied powers. Their loses were immense an the vexation grew. Soviet women could no longer watch their land be destroyed and got involved in combat.The Yugoslav partisans had women fight in their ranks. Nazi Germany invaded in 1941 and a resistance movement emerged. Just like the Russians the outrage of occupation by German and Italian forces induced action. The wars in Indochina (1945-1975) saw women fighting on both sides of  the Cold War conflict. The Indochina war included the countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

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Women fought in the Sandinista uprising against the Somoza regime in Nicaragua. It was estimated that they composed 30% of their fighting force. Women in Latin America were also involved in the wars of independence in the 1820s. Women served as spies and messengers in Argentina, Peru, Columbia, and Brazil. Women were more active in wars of liberation and revolution. Women have been in combat at multiple points in history. It should be understood that this history has been either ignored or forgotten. Only in recent decades has military history taken an interest in the women warriors of the past. Women warriors are not just something of legend, they are around the world. The Peshmerga has been fighting ISIS since 2014. What is not known to the general public is that the Kurdish force mobilizes women. The Kurds have faced ethnic cleansing  during various periods in Iraq. The recent outbreak came from ISIS seeking to take over Iraq.

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The Peshmerga appears to be doing more of the fighting against ISIS. The US is arming factions of ISIS a way to depose Bashar Al-Assad of Syria. Once again ,US foreign policy has destabilized an entire region.

 The Kurdish women in a similar manner of the Russians and Yugoslavs decided to arm themselves to challenge what could escalate to a larger genocide. This is fascinating for a number of reasons. While the United States constantly questions women’s competence, the Peshmerga has no problem having women fight ISIS. The West normally looks down on these nations and people as being backward or misogynistic, yet they are fixing a mess created by military intervention. Iraq’s army and militias have been weakened since the fall of Saddam Hussein. They are ineffective and have limited progress. These women of the Peshmerga are fighting and well against an extremist movement.Murder,oppression, and violence is what ISIS spreads. They are a dangerous fighting force and certainly it takes great courage to confront them. These women fight, because there is the hope it will lead to a better future. The a Kurdish nation  is a longtime aspiration. Combat takes many forms and modern warfare has reached a new apex.

          The author has a limited understanding of combat. She attempts to use the fact that women’s low numbers in the IDF mean that women are horrible at combat positions. The reasons for low numbers are part sociological and biological. Women have been banned from certain occupations on the basis of legal protectionism. This meant even if a woman was qualified for a particular occupation, she would still be banned. The idea was that women needed too be protected from the harsh realities of the world. This was more so an excuse for sex discrimination and to guarantee men would not have to compete for jobs with women. There were also cultural beliefs. Women were not expected to do anything physically demanding or have dexterous skill. Biologically, men have more natural physical strength. Having more type II muscle fibers, denser bones, and more height give men an advantage. The average woman has a smaller frame and less upper body strength. Low numbers do not mean there are not women who can fight. The author provides statistics  at the time of the post(2013). She says “only 3% combat soldiers are women.” Since that time 7 % of women serve in a combat role in the IDF. There are a total 2,100 women serving in combat roles as of August 2016. That is a 400% increase in comparison to the previous decades. When the Defense Services Law ruled in favor of women having the right to serve in combat in the year 2000, the numbers increased. Women fought in the Anglo-Jewish War, but after 1948 were banned from combat. Israel is not progressive on women’s rights and  being an extremely religious country it does not believe in them having wider roles. When legal barriers are broken, nothing can stop people from achieving their potential. This data shows it. If progress is not reversed the numbers may go up. The US could learn from this model, if it can swallow its pride. War involves fights from the land, air, sea, and in the modern age cyberspace. Hacking and cyberwarfare are going to be conducted against belligerent nations in the future.

              When the author tries to undermine the positions of combat it demonstrates a lack of knowledge. She claims certain roles, which involve fighting are “hardly combat.” Air force pilots are more imperative than   ever. One US strategy is to bomb selective targets such as military installations and communication centers to undermine a country’s ability to fight. When that is done ground troops are deployed. Air power can be an alternative, if ground invasion is too much of a risk. Dogfights and secret missions are the common form of combat an air force pilot will see. During World War II  when Germany lost control of its air space its factories became vulnerable. American, British, and Soviet bombers hit war production plants essential to Germany’s war effort. Striking targets degrades a nation’s ability to fight. Air power is just as pivotal as sea power. A nation cannot be a powerful military force without a Navy. Controlling the sea means having access to strategic trade routes and areas. The reason the British Empire was so potent was that it dominated the sea. Through their navy they were able to have colonies in Asia, Africa, North America, and Oceania. When Germany started to build its Navy to compete with the British Empire in 1900, this caused alarm. The air force, navy, marines, army, and special forces work together in a synergy in combat. Wars are also going to be engaged in cyberwarfare. The wars fought will not only be fought in physical space, but on the internet. Hacking will become a standard in warfare. It is in a prototypical phase as the US, China, and Russia attempt to hack one another to steal intelligence secrets. The definition of combat has expanded as warfare has become more intense.

          The author does not understand the importance of the combat divisions. The units have specific jobs, which are still dangerous. The labor is distributed differently depending on the situation. The Caracal Battalion’s role has expanded with the political changes in Egypt. The Sinai insurgency could spill over the border, which the battalion has to guard. The fall of Hosni Mubarack  caused mass destabilization and armed groups are becoming bold. What is fueling the insurgency is the discrimination against Bedouin. Simultaneously, the Palestinian people are resisting Israeli occupation in the West Bank and attacks in the Gaza Strip. This battalion will clearly be engaging in conflicts in Egypt and Palestine. Their responsibility is to patrol the border, but if Israel continues an anti-Arab foreign policy and general belligerence this will conflate.

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Women in the IDF are held to the same standards as men. They have tour requirements of 36 months.

     The Snapir units are critical, because the attack on naval bases could undermine war efforts. OKetz functions more like a police force searching and arresting enemy combatants. The 76th Battillion of the Combat Engineering Brigade have the task of disabling unconventional weapons in the battlefield. ABC weapons are the major target for destruction. This makes it difficult to resist Israeli aggression. Opening up these positions to women just allows for more soldiers in the Israeli military. The author then in a condescending manner states : ”  all these jobs are considered ‘combat’ by the Israeli army, and many of these jobs are already available to women in the U.S. military.” Women before 2013, were excluded from 22,000 combat jobs in the US military. This does not make sense. Since 1978 women entered the US military in an official capacity. There is no reason to ban a woman who is qualified from a combat job. This obvious discrimination was legally challenged. The author sees that these occupations are part of combat, but then says its not genuine due to her bias. The roles both support  and direct fighting are part of waging war. It is a mass collaborative, coordinated,and  meticulously panned event. That means all soldiers must do their part to make it function. Then the most contradictory statement comes in the conclusion : “Jobs should be assigned by who can perform the job better, not because someone wants to do the job and it would be politically incorrect or discriminatory not to give it to someone because of gender. ” The women who apply and meet the standards are not doing this for the sake of political correctness. Women will not be handed these jobs, without qualifications. Ray Marbus Secretary of the Navy said he was not looking for average women to enter these jobs, but those who meet the physical demands. Jobs are not given in a workforce they are selected out of pool of applicants. The conservative or traditional perspective has an argument lacking factual support. Israel is used by both the American left and right to justify their stances on women in combat occupational specialties. The left says it is model that should be replicated, while the right  says that is an unrealistic assessment. These two perspectives do not fully grasp the rapid changes occurring. Warfare will become more technological and expansive. Israel is one of the most powerful regional players in the Middle East, but it will struggle not because it allowed women in combat. It continues to fight wars of aggression and expansion in the Middle East. It will fall into wars of attrition and the Israeli public will no longer stand for it. A nation can have high performing soldiers and still lose wars if their strategy is flawed.

           The physical strength argument is used by detractors constantly,but one must consider other factors. It is important in these occupations including a high level of physical fitness. The only problem is that muscles become worthless when fire arms are involved. Assuming a stronger person could yank away a rifle fast enough, before the trigger is pulled, the situation is still precarious. Physical strength is almost impotent compared to the power of tanks, bombs, grenades, mortars, fighter jets, artillery cannons,  assault rifles, chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. No longer do armies fight with simple swords or chariots. It is more efficient to kill with weapons rather than with one’s bare hands.

A smaller person with little strength could still kill a stronger person. The scenario women would be rendered helpless without weapons does not hold merit. If they go through the same training in hand to hand combat, this would not be a problem. Training is being updated to reflect these changes in procedures. West Point finally allows women to take boxing as a requirement. When women first entered West Point it was not offered to them .   Women face women in matches during these classes. There is also sparring between men in women in a controlled setting. Learning to punch and take them is essential for women. The same principles that are emphasized in self-defense courses are implemented into training. The more aggressive the better chance of a woman soldier fighting off a male combatant. Women’s punches can still hurt if they are taught how to do it effectively.The martial arts such as karate, judo, and aikido are useful fighting styles that should be incorporated into training. This can help in narrowing some of the strength gap if a woman soldier finds herself disarmed and in confrontation with a combatant.

It should be noted simply being strong does not make a great fighter. Skills and body movements can make a difference in the outcome of a physical confrontation. A bodybuilder may have more muscle, but they would have trouble fighting a boxer in a ring. These two types of athletes would both have trouble fighting a mixed martial artists. The physical skill set is different. What the US military can do is teach soldiers multiple fighting styles in hand to hand combat, which can be utilized by a soldier given a particular scenario.

        The only rational statement in the writing is what readers already know. She states “If the United States is going to allow women in combat roles, those women must pass muster with men equally.” The author then expounds further: “they need to perform the job as well and not be allowed to perform on a lower scale than her male counter-part.” Standards should not be lowered. They are normally adjusted overtime to the specifics of battlefield conditions. Technology also alters training overtime. There are a minority who want the standards to lower for the sake of equality. There is a problem with this for two reasons.The first problem is that it creates a group of under performing workers. As a result the fighting force will be less effective. It also is an insult and a disservice to women who can meet the existing standards. The only way physical tests could be discriminatory to women is if the standards are immensely high. Many times occupations such as firefighting and law enforcement would do this to stop women from getting jobs. This eventually backfired, because they made physical standards so high  that many men were excluded as well. The argument that standards need to be lowered lacks logical basis. Kristen Geist was one of the first women to graduate from Army Ranger School. She participated in the same training and obstacle courses as her male counterparts.

0615rangers-630x473 She will now be serving as an infantry officer. Officer Geist was able to meet these standards, but if the ban were still in place that talent would have been lost. Then there are restrictions in the US military that are now being lifted. People who have tattoos, are slightly out of the BMI requirement, or have some drugs in their system could be accepted for service. The military is targeting women and other ethnic groups in the United States for recruitment. The unfortunate aspect is that the poor mostly are going into the military, so they can get access to a university education. The white men of the US military despise the presence of women and non-whites. When ever an oppressed group enters an occupation that has been historically guaranteed to white men there is both fear and hate. They fear that women and non-whites are taking their jobs. The hate comes from a pathological racism that views anyone different from them as lower beings. People will no longer be restrained by dated intolerance. If anything, it is a vast improvement to the US military. Citizens of various backgrounds can enter and decide a military career.

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Marcia Anderson became the first African American woman major general in the US Army.

Doubtless of what the author believes women are not performing at a lower scale. Their numbers have been increasing in various branches in the US military. The air force, navy, marines, and army have seen more women in their ranks in the past decades. Although the ban was lifted in combat jobs, the numbers may not be that large. This depends on several factors. Choice is an element and whether or not these occupations are positions women want entering the military.Then there are smaller pools of women in the US military, which also gives a limited amount for women in certain military occupational specialties. Recruiting efforts have to reached the same levels like males. Then the biggest challenge is finding women who can handle the physical fitness standards. The average man may find it easier to handle tasks of physical strength. Women would either have to train before basic training  to be successful. It should also be understood that gender integration will take some time.

          Given the long history of women’s participation in warfare, it is not accurate to say women are not as high quality as males in combat. The changing nature of warfare means that women will be a part of it. Frontlines are disappearing and world powers are readjusting to erratic shifts in the geopolitical climate. Maintaining sexist or traditional values in the military is unrealistic. Individuals regardless of sex can be capable combat soldiers. What makes a great combat soldier is a person who is intrepid, resilient, resourceful. and  tenacious. If low quality soldiers are able to reach high levels in the military, then training must be adjusted to screen for better candidates. Instead of disparaging women in the military, they should be encouraged. Integration of the US armed forces has always been a difficult challenge from desegregation of the races to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Women’s entry into combat jobs is just another saga. It will happen and be a success, if it is conducted in the correct manner. The US military has the ability to adopt and acclimate its self to rapidly changing environments. Women entering combat will just be another addition in a powerful military machine.

 References

Jones, David. Women Warriors. Washington D.C. : Potomac Books, Inc., 2005.

Nanos, Janelle. “Armor All: New Body Armor Issued for Women in the Military.” Boston Magazine. N.p., 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/article/2013/09/26/new-body-armor-women-military/&gt;.

Sisto, Jeff. “Soldiers of the Future Will Generate Their Own Power .” Soldiers of the Future Will Generate Their Own Power |. N.p., 4 July 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://armytechnology.armylive.dodlive.mil/index.php/2014/10/31/wearable-technology/&gt;.

“Women of the Israel Defense Forces: History in Combat Units.” History of Women in IDF Combat Units. N.p., 16 Oct. 2016. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/femcom.html&gt;.

Cespedes, Andrea. “How Much Muscle Can a Woman Gain With Strength Training?” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 28 Oct. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/198318-how-much-muscle-can-a-woman-gain-with-strength-training/&gt;.

Even the IDF Agrees: Men Are Better Suited Than Women For Military Combat

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

Women “not strong enough for combat”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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