The New Pin-up: Why Gentlemen Prefer Buff

Gentlemen Prefer Buff

This was an article published in 2013 documenting the rise of fitness women and their popularity on social networking sites. For fans who have been familiar with female muscle, this is nothing new. What is interesting about the news piece is the mainstream media treatment about it. The text cannot be considered completely full of praise, but it is not negative. This is rare considering how the subject of muscular and athletic women are viewed by mainstream society. Normally the media in both print or on television present something different as bizarre or deviant. The case with the New York Post article  is that it profiles the women and gives their perspectives. The men also are given reasons for their love and support of muscular women. It seems in a way that female muscle is going mainstream or that the idea of the muscular woman is not subcultural. The peculiar element of this is that female bodybuilding has been struggling, but more women are either lifting weights or becoming part of the culture. The power of social media demonstrates how fan bases can be joined together and that it is a great tool for self promotion. It also demonstrates that there are more admirers of female muscle than previously thought.

         The average American man may not favor a woman who has a muscular body. However, there is a growing fan base of social media users who are discovering the the beauty of female muscle. The thin body type has been presented as the ideal, but subsequently has been challenged by a body positive movement embracing women of larger size. Simultaneously, there is a new zeitgeist that is embracing the idea ” strong is the new skinny.” Although there are different ideas and views about what is attractive, there are a large number of men who are loving the look of a physically strong woman. The article presents this as a recent development. The lovers of female muscle were around since the inception of women’s strength sports and fitness.

Gentlemen prefer buff

Female bodybuilding dates back to the 1970s and with it came a unique subculture. Male fans would not only buy tickets to contests, but would buy magazines and videos of their favorite athletes. The real hardcore admirers are schmoes and they have had a presence since the start of the sport. The article cites quotes from male fans. Johnathan Montes who is an amausement park worker stated : ” I’m specifically into the more bulky professional female bodybuilder type — there’s just something about a massively built woman that I find very attractive and alluring.”Amare Stoudemire basketball star athlete explained his love as follows : “It reflects you worked hard for it, no money can buy it. “Steve Rivers a radio personality quoted ” there is nothing more attractive than seeing an attractive woman working out.”  The men surveyed for the article were mostly in their 20s or 30s. It seems the idea of the muscular and physically strong woman appeals to younger men more. This may be a result of being raised in a generation in which women are seen as equals and that women can doing certain activities that were once thought to be male only. A more progressive attitude in regards to women and the change in body standards may explain this sudden shift. There is division among supporters.

The larger female bodybuilders may not be included in the category the article is talking about. The mainstream acceptance of muscular women has shown the image of the toned woman or woman with some definition , rather than the bigger female bodybuilders. Fans of female muscle disagree about aesthetics.There are four camps that fans fall into. The first is that women should have some muscle, but not “too much.” The second perspective is one in which there should be some moderate level ( figure or physique division build). The other favors the traditional bodybuilding with an emphasis on size. The fourth perspective is that any level of muscle is suitable for women. Lita Lewis, Massiel Aris, and Sohee Lee fall into the first two aesthetic paradigms. They are not bodybuilders, rather fitness models. The bigger female bodybuilder would have difficulty getting mainstream acceptance and the moderately muscular female body is just getting it currently. There may be an acceptance of muscularity on a woman to a certain extent, but not to the degree that gender appropriateness deems unsuitable. This demonstrates there still is a long way to go for women in fitness.

The problem is that people still retain the view that women with muscles are not feminine. While the fitness industry likes women who are in shape, they do not promote the image of the very hyper muscular woman. The female bodybuilder of a particular size is absent from mainstream fitness magazines. This does not mean there are not large portions of fans. Schmoes go as far as to book private sessions that involve wrestling or posing demonstrations. Gentlemen preferring buff is hardly a recent development. There was a point in which the only way for the female muscle fan to see a muscular woman was to go to a contest, possibly see them on TV, or go to a gym. There were magazines such as Women’s Physique World and Female Bodybuilding Magazine that provided many images. The rise of session wrestling and muscle worship actually came about from devoted fans wanting to see more muscular women up close and women’s need to finance their sport. Although schmoe has negative connotations and some may view them with disdain, they make the shrinking division of female bodybuilding sustainable.

Even during the golden age of female bodybuilding women were still paid less. It is an expensive sport, but women were and continue to generate money for the fitness industry. Fans keep consuming, while publishers, supplement companies, and the producers of exercise equipment continue to make large profits. Women do not get the full benefit of revenue generation, because they are blocked by corporate gatekeepers. Fans and athletes were circumventing them in a way by organizing their own activities and culture. Mixed wrestling videos have been a source of entertainment which has been pioneered by Bill Wick. Art ranging from realistic renditions to cartoons are produced in the form of female muscle growth (fmg).



These cartoons are classified as female muscle growth. 

Artists like to do realistic renditions of their favorite athletes.

Mixed Wresting and session wrestling are common practices in the female bodybuilding subculture. 

Forums and websites are areas in which fans discuss contests and the performance of competitors. This fan base consists of men who have been following muscular women for a longtime or younger men who have just dis covered it. The stereotype is that they are all fetishists and have some form of perversion. liking muscular women  is not a perversion or paraphilia. The mainstream media attempts to present it in that manner, but it does not fit the clinical definition. Paraphilia can be defined as ” abnormal sexual desires that express themselves through extreme or dangerous activity.”Sthenolagnia has been classified as a paraphilia, but hardly can be considered severe condition. It is a fetish and to a degree everyone has one. It hardly counts as one if defined by a strictly psychological definition of disorder. No one ever says a person has a thin woman fetish. There is a level of bias that female muscle fans face from the general public that does not understand the women or culture. The mainstream tends to sensationalize elements or subjects that are not general knowledge. There is a world of female muscle fandom and it has gotten some mainstream media exposure. The men who form this fan base are neither intimidated or repulsed by women’s strength. Such a paradigm shift reveals that there has been ( although small ) progress in terms of what women can be and do. There still is backlash within the fitness industry, in the public, and online.

An example of the sexist beliefs some still have directed at women who have muscular physiques. 

This does not seem unusual. When ever an oppressed group gains power there has been backlash from the conservative or traditional elements. Women who are in sports and fitness are clearly making their presence known. Detractors claim that women only do this to invade or disrupt male spaces. That is not the objective of the female athletes. They want to enjoy and make the culture flourish. It is difficult to say just how large the female muscle fandom is. There could be a large portion of men who hide their support or love. The internet allows one to be anonymous so it remains a mystery. There is no doubt that their is a following of fit and muscular women of all types through social media.

        The internet and social media demonstrate how female athletes can use a platform to their advantage to promote their sport. If television or magazines do not cover women’s sports , social media could be a better solution. It is obvious that print media like newspapers and magazines are struggling to keep up in a world of rapidly changing information. Sources that are fast receive more attention. Television will most likely become like the radio. It still is present, but not as powerful as an entertainment medium when television was made widely available. Relevant to the the discussion of female muscle, it gives users access 24 hours and a huge mass of content. Up and coming athletes can introduce themselves to fans without having to go through the fitness corporate structure. There is the threat that the FCC poses which stuck down Obama administration era net neutrality rules. The power was given back to the service providers rather than the users. This means service providers could block particular websites or slow down speeds in certain areas. Net neutrality must be preserved to maintain a free and open internet. Without it, many female athletes would not get any exposure. Mainstream media outlets fail to realize the economic potential of women’s sports and fitness. There is a claim that the muscular woman is not marketable, but the existence of athletes’ pay sites contradict such pronouncements. There is the challenge of online piracy, which may effect sales. Online piracy has not stopped sites from selling content or gaining profits. it may actually just be free advertisement. To those who honestly purchase materials such as videos and photographs they become dedicated collectors.

Social media and the internet have also allowed fans to connect with each other more so than just attending sporting events. This technology is the wave of the future and some companies are slow to adopt it. The athletes are more savvy by doing self-promotion rather than depending on the traditional corporate structure of the fitness industry. This a positive development because women gain some control of the industry or and circumvent people who are an obstruction. There have always been men who like muscular women, now they can be appealed to as a demographic. Athlete’s producing their own content prevents entertainment from being stale and repetitive. This explains the sudden phenomenon of popularity on social media sites of female fitness personalities.

         The rise of the muscular woman is in a sense a type of silent revolution. There have been muscular women in the past, but nowhere in history have women developed themselves physically to this extent. People cite women’s rise in business and politics as a remarkable paradigm shift. Yet they forget that women are also making progress in particular areas. The muscular woman changes and challenges the perception of the female body. It is not long seen as soft, weak, or inferior. This new paradigm of muscular female body is new. Strength and physical power were thought to male only attributes, but this is no longer the case. There are multiple forms of beauty, but here women are defining it form themselves. The women who pursue fitness with high enthusiasm are not afraid of the ostracism of the society in which they live.


The image is a powerful statement. It does have feminist overtones, however third wave feminist hardly give the fitness woman any serious investigation. There are also women who engage in the same amount of criticism of the muscular woman just like men. Instead of being supportive they either internalize society’s sexism or cling to the notion of strict gender roles.  It is not uncommon for women to say “I would never want to look like them”  or state that the muscular woman is “mannish.” Women do not help women as a whole if they are putting each other down. Women come in different shapes and sizes so there is no reason to be pejorative to women who do not fit in to a person’s concept of beauty. The problem is that women are valued more for their appearance, rather than their character or accomplishments as individuals. These attitudes must change. Even though their are some who do not like or approve the look of female muscle, they can at least respect the women as accomplished athletes. Such a development is a positive step in the right direction.

Women do not only want to look strong, they want to demonstrate it. Exercising with weights is no longer considered a male only activity. Women are using them and absorbing the fitness culture. This is not confined to one country either. Women who live in Africa, Latin America,  and Asia are now becoming involved in fitness and strength sports. Fitness has taken a global perspective. This has also been enabled by the internet, in which communication across continents is faster than ever. The fitness culture has also disseminated into larger areas of the sports world. Female athletes who compete in track, weightlifting, rugby, or other sports incorporate weights into their training. Doing so increases performance and prevents injury.

The emphasis is not about appearance, rather what the body can do. Women who are serious athletes and fitness enthusiasts have found a competitive drive. They not only want to become stronger they want to be the best at their sport of choice. The life style of hard training and heavy lifting seems to be more popular with women than in previous generations.   Women who are no athletes are lifting and older women are becoming engaged to improve their health. The most significant element of this movement is that it is perfectly acceptable to be strong and a woman. Although there is embrace, there are also complications that come with promotion of this image.

        There is a sex symbol stereotype that has emerged from the rise of social media fitness personalities. Women who are not competing, but train become popular not for their athletic accomplishments rather, their image. This relates to issues of sexual objectification and what is the line between compliment or admiration. Some do not see it as an issue, however it does become one if their is online abuse. The rude comments are one dynamic, but sexual ones are another problem women face. Sohee Lee states :”I’ve seen crude comments on the pages of other fitness models.” She expounds further ” I just think that if you’re flexing in booty shorts you could be kind of asking for [that kind of attention],” says Lee.”There is a problem with this view point. It seems to blame the individual, rather than the conduct of the sexual harasser. Athletes would probably still have such comments directed at them even if they did not display their bodies.

These statements seem strange considering the point of social media is to interact. Sohee claims she wants to keep things tasteful, but looking at her websites and social media it is clear she does similar behaviors. Being a bikini, fitness, figure, physique, or bodybuilder competitor means you will be displaying your body. The sport is attention based when on stage and off stage. Women who pose in limited amounts of clothing are going to generate attention. That is no excuse or reason to behave in an uncivil manner. Few would harass women or catcall them on stage,but would write such feelings on their social media. Men may feel they can do something like that online, because there is no chance of it having immediate repercussion. Behavior must change and a code of online etiquette must be promoted. Like every technology, social media has a negative aspect. It has become a place in which users project their insecurities, prejudices, and hatreds. It also has become an area that promotes controversy when an event is not that serious.

'Fit mom' Maria Kang recreates infamous 'What's your excuse' photo five years later

Maria Kang another fitness personality was criticized on social media for her advertisement of  “what’s your excuse ? ” Some how a portion of users convinced themselves this was an example of fat shaming. The illogical conclusion and overreaction to a simple phrase or sentence causes flame wars across social media. Kang later posted another ad on her website saying “what’s your reason?” Granted from a public relations perspective a more motivational phase could have been employed. It could have been “this can be done with the right plan”  or “with enough focus all things are possible.”   Encouraging women or other people to exercise is not fat shaming. The rise in obesity in the US has become a serious health concern. The logic according to social media is to exaggerate a claim or statement and somehow force an apology. Social media’s negative consequence this that it has created a place for people with extreme views or distorted thoughts or reasoning. There are the arm chair activist social justice warriors and the far-right racist conservatives. Between these two groups are people who focus on cultural or social issues. These user may discuss race, sexual politics, or media. Pseudo-feminists ( preach the ideology, but have no understanding of its true meaning) fall into this group claiming any criticism of women is sexism. They claim to support women and proceed to attack those they deem oppressive. Kang was criticized by this group, however you never see them involved in body positive image promotion in regards to the muscular woman.

The movement that promotes women with curves, does not seem to be very accepting of the strong woman. There is nothing wrong with larger or curvy women, but its seems contradictory if the same women fit shame. The issue is that to an extent social media has made it so that some people see themselves as perpetual victims. This should not be a mindset to organize around. Hashtag movements will inevitably fail, because people have not come to a state of philosophical, social, and political consciousness. The positive body image movement could fall into this trap. Change will only come when women change their behavior in regards to one another and come to a new sense of self. A new beauty standard should not be the objective, rather there should be an acceptance that women all look different. That could be a solution to the sex symbol stereotype that is present in the fitness social media realm.

           There is a difference between admiration and obvious online sexual harassment. The unfortunate reality is that some female athletes can not distinguish the difference. The reason being it may be difficult to do so with thousands of messages either being negative or ambiguously suggestive in nature. The best way to understand what admiration is. Compliments or congratulating an athlete is an example of admiration. The user is showing respect for their accomplishments. Sexual objectification or harassment projects itself in crude and or lascivious comments. Actions such as sexting are examples of inappropriate conduct. Objectification happens when a viewer only focuses on the appearance of the athlete rather than her athletic accomplishments. Such attitudes imply women only exist to be attractive to men or be servants to them. Such attitudes are repulsive, yet remain prevalent. Men and male fans must have a code of internet and social media etiquette to combat these sexually charged comments. Most social media sites have blocking mechanisms to comment sections, but it remains a constant irritant. The attitudes some men have in regards to women must change.

       The athletes also have a responsibility to be mindful of what they post. Nudes or any other materials may not be a wise decision to post online. There are some athletes who may leave the fitness industry completely and may not want it to be known they had done particular photo shoots. Information can spread rapidly on the internet and what is posted can be seen by millions of people. Employers even search social media pages. Although they should be looking at the qualifications you have for a job, a social media presence could effect their decisions. The photographs posted or what you say could be used against you. Being reckless in this regard could cause problems. Donald Trump writes messages on Twitter before consulting his secretary of the press, resulting in diplomatic and political backlash. This is a catastrophe from a public relations view, because Twitter becomes the White House’s area of official statements. Poor image management can be detrimental. Users must understand when they post, they present an image. It may not represent complete truth, but to readers it may be. Athletes being public figures should be mindful of these facts. Doing so can prevent issues.

         There are gentlemen who do prefer buff. However, it is based to a certain degree. Some enjoy a woman with some muscle, others women who are considered in shape. That is a broad definition or description. Women face criticism for bring “too big” or “too much.”  This is relative based on preference and culture. Women and men even go as far as to use different terminology to describe the muscular physique. Women rather “tone” or men would rather “bulk.” This is nothing more than gender based terms for muscle. There is a double standard when it comes to women and strength. The maxim among the fitness circles is for women be strong, but not too strong.

There is no reason why women of various muscularity levels cannot be accepted. Whatever level a woman wants to take their bodies, they should be allowed to. No one demands of a painter to produce less art or a writer to produce less novels.An athlete should strive to reach their highest level of potential. It does not matter if there are detractors who disagree to what women are doing to their bodies. There may be condemnation, yet there are a good portion of supporters. It can be disputed that the fitness woman is a new pin-up. To some men who have followed women’s strength sports and fitness they were already pin-ups. What started out of the bodybuilding subculture expanded into various branches. Fitness culture infiltrated sports, health, and popular culture. There are celebrities in Hollywood that have their own personal trainers. The difference now is that the muscular woman has more exposure compared to the past. What might have been considered rare or an oddity is gaining normalization. The mainstream is gradually catching up to the subculture that had existed since the 1970s. That was the period of female bodybuilding’s birth and it progressed from there. There now is crossfit, powerlifing, weightlifting, and a multitude of bodybuilding divisions women can compete in. The past four decades has seen a revolution in terms of women’s involvement in physical culture. The amazing aspect of this cultural evolution is that the legion of male fans continue to increase. This is a remarkable paradigm shift because it is being aided by technology and changing attitudes of younger men.

The New Pin-up: Why Gentlemen Prefer Buff

Hidden Obsessions & Female Muscle

Hidden Obsession

There may be more admirers of the muscular and athletic physique than previously thought. These fans and supporters do not openly admit there appreciation. They tend to remain anonymous going on to forums, websites, and social media. There is a new culture that has emerged from the internet. This article from  describes the lurker. This type of internet user goes online specifically to search or collect materials that are related to an interest they do not want anyone to know they support. Lori Braun wrote this article to explain this phenomenon. It has been suggested that lurkers make up to 90% of internet groups( Nonnecke & Preece 2000). It actually could be more, because this survey may only be a small sample of  a population. The internet is infinite and global. One subject that is still taboo is that of the muscular woman. The image invokes feelings of either objection, support, or lust. There is no reason why the muscular woman should be seen as abnormal or taboo. It does reveal the misogynist  and conformist nature of society. It is one that is exclusionary and hates anything that is different. Such animosity that women face reveals how rigid beauty standards encourage sexist prejudice. Simultaneously, it forces men to either conform to a conviction or system that they may not agree with. The fear of fetish seems to be one stigma, but this may not be so bizarre itself. Lurkers and portions of female muscle fans hide their love of the strong woman physique due to pressure, conformity, and the fear of sexual expression.

           Images that are absorbed through media and culture do impact our believe system. These value that are transmitted or memes spread. Beauty concepts are no different. Thinness has been valued as the ideal for women’s bodies. The thin body image is constantly presented as ideal and normal, even when in reality women vary in body type. When women do not conform to this standard, they face pressure from the community or wider society. The muscular woman challenges notions about the capability of women’s bodies and what they can achieve. These women face pressure to look a certain way that is valued by the society. The pressure also works in another way in regards to male supporters. Men who are more vocal about their love of muscular women face the same ostracism. Criticism can come from friends or family. Athletes face the same type of treatment. Many ask ” why would a woman do this to herself ?” or “what type of man would be with a woman like that ?” Such rude question demonstrate that the community or group is attempting to pressure men and women to behave and act in a certain way. The pressure is designed to have men in this case like the same ideal.

A man who says he likes muscular faces harsh criticism form the majority. There is also the pressure to have a support stop liking what they have a genuine interest in. The pressure to like one type or version ob beauty is pervasive. Some refuse to acknowledge that there are multiple aesthetics. The secret admirers of female muscle are pressured to not like it by either being insulted or shunned. Pressure is powerful in groups. This is a reason men hide their love of female muscle. Female muscle fans do not present the muscular woman as the sole version of beauty. They like other types of women, not just strong ones. The common misconception is that men prefer one type of beauty.This is one explanation why the internet provides a relatively private space to enjoy something taboo.

The female muscle fan would probably find many types of women attractive.  

Peer pressure does not only effect adolescents, but it carries over into adulthood. This unfortunately forces people to behave in ways they may not like or do certain actions they do not want to gain approval in a community.   Men hiding their love of female muscle is a means of avoiding backlash.

      Conformity has in general made the majority of female muscle fans silent supporters. Female muscle and more specifically, female bodybuilding is not a mainstream sport or activity.  A subculture can either generate fear or confusion among the mainstream, which promotes conformity in a dominant culture. Those who do not conform are either outcasts or regulated to that of the bizarre. The fans are also put into this category. Such attitudes even reveal particular biases. The attacks on female muscle fans either are directed at their sexuality . Men are accused of being gay when, they are merely just attracted to women who are strong. This is a projection of homophobia, because the accusation is used as an insult. There is nothing wrong with having a different sexual orientation, however it is used to insult heterosexuals also exposing  sexism. Those who project such  vituperation  are also saying that a physically strong woman is not feminine. This is false, but they still function on the idea that men are strong and women are weak. When this is proved incorrect negative reactions occur. The fan of female muscle may not want to deal with such vituperation and ignorance generated by the closed minded.

There has been a shift some what to accepting larger women. There are plus sized models and women who refer to themselves as curvy. Some call this an outgrowth of fat acceptance. Whatever the case, this does show that the level of body conformity has been weakened. Supporters of this movement do not embrace women of physical fitness. The opposite of this is the strong is the new skinny zeitgeist. So there are some supporters that are not completely in a lurker stage. Women with some muscle are getting exposure and sometimes lauded. Fitness modeling, crossfit, and a generation of much stronger female athlete are responsible for the sudden change. To an extent the female athletic figure has gained some mainstream exposure.

There are some who say they like the look of the athletic woman’s body, yet they have a limit. As long as they do not “cross the line” coded language for getting too big it is accepted by some. Although there is preference and different tastes, there is no reason a woman should limit herself or potential. While large muscles on the female frame may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is their choice. They are not doing this to please people; it is done for themselves. There is no such thing as too much or too big. Oddly, even the hyper muscular woman can be rejected in the sports world. They were the first to show that it was okay for a woman to be physically powerful. That simple act changed the way women thought about themselves in sports and fitness.

It also changed some men’s perceptions about women to a degree. The physically powerful woman is not a threat or grotesque. To the female muscle fan she is another model of beauty. Conformity and the demands of it make fans of female muscle rare reveal their strong approval. Some will even deny it when asked. The internet also becomes a safe space were the female muscle fan can enjoy their interest without questioning or judgement.

       It is no surprise that fascination with such women is more than just their athletic feats and records. There is obviously a level of attraction for the muscular woman. This goes beyond just look at pictures. There are men who pay to see women flex and even test their immense strength against them. Schmoes are a part of the female bodybuilding culture and they are not open about their participation of sessions. Some feel embarrassed by their love of muscular women. This extreme female muscle fan is either viewed as a pervert, sexual deviant, or predator. The truth is these are men of various ethnic, class, and religious backgrounds who engage in sessions. There could be a possibility that if society was more accepting men would not have to go to sessions in secret. Many men who do engage in sessions do not talk about it to their friends or family. There are men who are even married who participate in sessions. Having a fetish is not strange, because it is a part of human sexual expression.

There are fetishes related to strong and muscular women. Sthenolagnia and cratolagnia are common among female muscle fans. However, that does not automatically mean that every single female muscle fan has this fetish. They may simply like the look, but not be active in sessions. There may be fans who have a desire to do sessions, yet erroneously associate it with prostitution. There is another smaller element of that that has developed in the bodybuilding subculture. This is a recent phenomenon, compared to the longer existence of sessions and mixed wrestling.

Some athletes go to extremes to finance their sport endeavors. It seems tragic that some athletes are forced to do this when they are participants in a lucrative fitness industry. These elements make some female muscle fans more reluctant to be vocal about their support.  It should be understood that sessions are not prostitution. Arm wrestling, mixed wrestling, muscle worship, lift and carry are normally part of sessions. The intent is not copulation( this does not mean it does not occur) . This association between sessions and prostitution although two different practices is another reason there are men who hide their fetish. The problem is that society has an issue with human sexuality and nature. It either attempts to suppress it too much or be extremely puritanical. There is not a healthy balance and it causes people to behave in unusual ways. Being secretive about the love of female muscle seem unnecessary.

        The internet has allowed female athletes to gain more exposure, when television has failed to do so. Yet there is a negative consequence. Online abuse and cyberbullying seem to be a common problem the muscular woman or female athlete faces. Rude comments and insults appear on social media or comment sections of various websites. These range from sexist, racist, or homophobic attacks. They even are transphobic with comments stating ‘these women look like men”  or ” that is a tranny.” Cyberbullies and what are colloquially referred to as trolls have a platform to spew their hatreds and prejudices without any repercussion. Suzanne Germano for example said she once read a comment about herself  that read as follows ” sleeping with her would be like sleeping with a man.”

 While this comment demonstrates an intense ignorance and lack of intelligence it also shows how prevalent sexist attitudes are. The author of the online abuse comment shows that they only value women for their appearance and or for sex. There is also another phenomenon that has emerged from the internet. Those people who deliberately attack women such as these to hide their own love of them. Doing this just reveals they cannot accept the fact they like them. Some people are more susceptible to peer pressure and this lack of constitution projects itself in that manner. There are those who are vocal about their opposition, but are not exactly trying to do online abuse. They may say “this is weird ” or “women should not be allowed to do this .” They justify their objections and judgments by saying they are merely expressing their opinions. True, you so have the right to free expression, but that does not give you the right to be rude. Then from a point of logic why post comments on videos or sites in which you do not care for or like ? This is obviously an attempt at attention. Being anonymous online emboldens people who want to act in unacceptable ways, but are stopped in a real life social setting. There is a positive note. For all the cyberbullies, there may be even more supporters.

       There is a way that the stigma of female muscle can be overcome. One solution is exposure. The internet has helped in the sense that more people and see that they do exist. This helps normalize the idea and people will not be so shocked when they see them. The public must get used to the idea women can look different from what they have seen in media and other materials. The most important change that needs to happen is that fans of female muscle must be more supportive and not keep their love a secret. Become members of the athlete’s websites and social media. Defend your support when some one questions or criticizes you about it. That change can help break some of the cycle. Do not be afraid to say what you like. People must learn to accept that women and be different and multifaceted. There are women heads of state, CEOs,  and women in STEM related fields. These were thought to be male only sectors, but that has changed. So if women can have political and economic power, there is no reason why physical power cannot be a part of that. It is possible with time, the muscular female may get a level of acceptance. Cultural beliefs and perceptions about women will have to change.

Hidden Obsessions & Female Muscle

Marcie Simmons : Schmoes Versus Fans

This is another Marcie Simmons video describing from her point of view the difference between schmoes and fans. It is clear that she does not hold the schmoes in high regard. One reason is that there is the problem of  online piracy in regards to athlete’s content and online harassment. This harassment can either be sexual or stalker like in nature. Such behavior is intolerable and should be condemned. Yet, all schmoes should not be condemned. Marcie may not be condemning them all, but just the section that she calls aggressive schmoes. The prevalence of sexual harassment is being exposed more now than ever and has dominated mass media conversation. It can occur anywhere and anytime. While this is a legitimate concern, female athletes should remember that schmoes are keeping female bodybuilding alive. They are the ones who come and buy tickets to shows. They pay even more money to engage in session wrestling, which is more or less an open secret. Without them, female bodybuilding would not have a financial pillar. Casual fans or former fans may not be as loyal as one would think. The audiences have shrunk and so has coverage. Many former fans say that the women got too extreme, but schmoes still loyally remain part of the fan base. The major part of the problem is how social media is used by people.

       Marcie describes fans as mostly being supporters. However, schmoes are more so hardcore fans. Due to the behavior of some they are either stereotyped as fetishists, eccentrics, or potential sexual predators. Marcie explains it is about semantics, but it should be known schmoes like the most muscular women. The average fan likes women of any athletic shape. Schmoe continues to be a pejorative when it should not be. Schmoes almost resemble groupies in relation to rock stars. Within fandom, there are always fans who become too obsessed or too aggressive with their beloved famous person.

The Marcie Madness Channel

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There should not be condemnation of schmoes. They seem to be the last people who find extremely muscular women a positive and attractive thing. They are a part of the female bodybuilding subculture. Female bodybuilding may never go mainstream so the demographic outreach will be small in an economic sense. Sexist prejudice and traditional gender role beliefs stop the sport from reach wider public. This mean the maintenance of  a loyal fan base is critical. The idea that a woman can have six pack abs and big biceps does not seem like an unusual concept the the schmoe. This video seems to be a stark contrast from her other presentation ” The Importance of Schmoes to Female Bodybuilding.” They do provide a significant financial support as Marcie articulated. She has stated this is not a horrible thing to have schmoes being a part of the culture.

The female bodybuilding category is shrinking with a limited number of contests for athletes to compete in. It is essential now more than ever to get as many allies and supporters as possible.Schmoes were there from the beginning and were the first supporters. When female body appeared many did not accept it even within the fitness industry itself. Schmoes embraced the new female mesomorph with enthusiasm. The feelings were not reciprocated. Many women in the sport have a negative view of schmoes or look down upon them. Considering they do provide financial support one would think the athletes would be more appreciative. Instead athletes call schmoes “demanding” or “entitled.”  If women are going to keep this sport alive that means they will have to use some public relations skills. Showing appreciation for your moderate and hardcore fans will improve the state of the sport. If not, fans will simply leave. Most schmoes do not do the activities Marcie is describing. A section do, but may be they should not be classified in that terminology.

             The aggressive schmoe is not a hardcore fan, but is sexual harasser. Women face sexual harassment in the workplace, public spaces,  and even in educational settings. The vast world of the internet and social media has expanded the problem. Marcie exposes that stalking has occurred to athletes both on and offline. Social media accounts of athletes are flooded with messages with inappropriate lascivious and explicit statements. Normally one thinks that such powerful women would not be victim to such behavior. This can happen to anyone. The reason such behavior continues is because it goes unreported or is just not punished. This explains why Harvey Weinstein  was able to engage in sexual misconduct for decades. There is nothing that can be taught  in sensitivity training that could fix men like  that. The only solution is to either isolate or contain them. There has to be a change in how men view women. Unfortunately, society views women as sex objects rather than people which encourages this type of behavior. Living in a society that values women’s appearance or sexual capital distorts men’s views of women. The idea that is projected is that women are pleasure objects for men and thus sexual misconduct is just “boys being boys.” Such convictions and behavior should not be tolerated. While it could be easier to stop such behavior in public spaces, online harassment is more difficult to tackle. To what extent should companies act on social media platforms without damaging free speech or expression? This is not a simple answer, but there are blocking  mechanisms in place. Athletes relevant to this discussion should not be afraid to do so when they are harassed. Exposing unacceptable behavior, strict rules and laws, and enforcement can counter the rise of sexual harassment.

        Before schmoes are cast as predators it should be remembered that they are a financial pillar. These men are willing to pay large amounts of money for autographed material and memorabilia. They come to contests when total audience size is decreasing. Women have found them to be a unique business opportunity. There are women who get sponsorship from them as Marice  stated before. However women can get more money by doing session wrestling sometimes amounting to more than they would get for competing in a contest. A one hour session could range from $900 or more depending on the type of wrestling. A female bodybuilder has to consider that training, competing, and travel will  cost a lot of money. Some competitors may even stop, because they can no longer afford to keep up. The sport does not provide large financial gains for women and many have careers outside fitness. Wrestling a schmoe enables  them to make a profit and continue to compete. This money from session wrestling is obviously not taxed, because it is not the traditional business. Muscle worship does not even require much physical effort. There are men who pay large amounts of money and women gain the support. It is not just female bodybuilders that do this; fitness women, physique competitors, figure models, and women in top physical shape are also involved.

There are women who are just associated with session wrestling itself. The reality is athletes do foster the atmosphere of schmoes. To hate them for taking part in services seems ludicrous. If there is tension women are also responsible for it. Women have to extent used their feminine charms on men to get from them something they want. Traditionally this was a method used to manipulate men in societies that either limited their freedom or navigation. it explains why the gold digger or the femme fatale are a persistent image in society and popular culture. Men with power are more susceptible to this type of sex based manipulation. The case with schmoes is that to a degree they are manipulated by these women. So it is hard to say that women doing this are completely victims of a patriarchal power structure. It seems that the the power dynamic shifts in favor of women. Not only do they have the traditional feminine charm it is combined with physical power. This also linked with the fact women control the rates and conditions of their session business. Schmoes are exploited financially and are devoted followers so it seems unfair for female bodybuilders to be vexed with them. There are those who fit the stereotypes, but there are schmoes from different races, religions, class backgrounds, and nations. Saying all schmoes are malevolent or harming the sport is just an exaggeration. There are portion of schmoes who are secretive about their love of  female bodybuilders. They may not even go to wrestling session at all simply out of nervousness.  Criticism and stigma are something they want to avoid. Schmoes do help in terms of support. Women in sports normally have to find alternatives to support themselves and continue competing. Some of the burden is at least reduced. Supplements, food, gym membership, and athletic clothing are considerations women have to work into their budget. The labor and routine is intense leading up to being on stage.

This can be stressful especially in an industry and sport that does not respect women or their contributions. Foe some women, the admiration from a hardcore fan is a psychological boost from an atmosphere of negativity. While people harshly criticize women for doing sessions and building up schmoe culture no one takes time to figure out what is the motivation. The financial and business aspect is clear, but there may be another reason women do this. There are women who also have fetishes and it its seems obvious men are not the only ones with them. The idea that a woman can easily control a man physically may be arousing to women. There are women who compete who do sessions who do not need financial support. It is not about sexual expression all the time either. Some women like the challenge of testing their physical power against male opponents. It may remind them of a time of simple childhood play that one cannot do as an adult. This a setting so private that women of this stature can display their muscle and power without ostracism or condemnation from the fitness community or general public. There is a level of freedom they experience that does not restrict them to gender appropriate social mores. Thanks to schmoes there are more websites covering muscular women than magazines, exposing them to a wider audience. Fan forums such as Saradas get a bad reputation, but often it provides information on athletes you may not find anywhere. Upcoming contests or  industry news in regards to women circulates there. The piracy issue continues to be a persistent problem. This does not stop large numbers of people from buying content. Gene X Magazine ( provides detailed coverage. photography,  and videos to users. He would definitely be considered a schmoe. His online publication has been around since the 1990s and provided his signature high quality photography.

Britt and Kristy

Marcie does not hate schmoes or think they are all terrible. As she eloquently described the situation : “Just like anything else there is good and bad.” She articulated “The good ones show love and support and the bad ones wank around and act like malicious trolls.”The hope there are more good people than awful ones. The issue she touches upon is how social media is used. This is a new type of media and form of communication, which poses various problems.

        Social media such as Twitter and  Facebook have become such a part of people’s lives. It has the power to reach anyone across the world and be an efficient organizing tool.  The problem is how people use this platform. It either enables cyber bullying or harassment. The colloquial term of trolling has entered mainstream lexicon describing those who go online to start flame wars and insult people without punishment or repercussion. It emboldens certain people to say offensive and rude comments that they would be too timid to say in real life. Women just like other people online do face harassment, but there is a level of responsibility on the user. If someone wants to keep their life private they should consider what they post online. Once a photo or a comment is posted it is pretty much out in cyberspace forever. It would seem strange that an athlete would complain about people commenting on the pictures that they post. People may post images that are displaying themselves nude or could violate the terms of use. The simple rule to go by is think before you post or write anything.

It is hard to convince people you do not want them to look at particular photos, when the most outrageous or suggestive ones are posted. If  one truly values their privacy, they should be mindful of the information posted. The other alternative is just not use social media at all. Then as Marcie says there is a difference between admiration and being an obsessive stalker. There is nothing wrong with collecting photos, but an obsession extends to trying to find out about an athlete’s home address, relationships, and place of employment. Athletes must understand that what once you post something it basically becomes public. So it seems rather peculiar that a person would get vexed if certain photos appear on other sites or forums. If an athlete is making a social media presence they have to decide what type it will be. If it is a professional one it should only be related to business inquiries only. That should display skill and work credentials. A personal social media presence should just be for friends and family. This should have the private setting so that only people in that small circle can have access. A social media presence for fans of an athlete should include photos, upcoming events, and links to other sites the athlete is associated with. There can also be information on how fans can contribute to sponsorship. Instagram could be a way for some athletes to get modeling contracts for athletic clothing, by posting some of their own pictures. Social media is not all terrible; it can be a method of promoting one’s self in the fitness and sports world in which media coverage is limited for women. The public must learn to use new technologies responsibly. Etiquette and manners still apply online just as the do in real life. Athletes deserve respect not harassment. Schmoes and female bodybuilders are connected.They should seek a firm alliance because the relationship is symbiotic. There are sexual harassers among the ranks, but they should not be the representation of all schmoes. Together maybe athlete and fan can help the sport grow and flourish.

Marcie Simmons : Schmoes Versus Fans