Colette Nelson Interview from The Beheld : Beauty and What It Means

Beauty and What It Means

This is a blog written by Autumn Whitefield Madrano that seeks to understand the concept of beauty and what it means in a cultural context. She seeks to in her own words engage with these questions of beauty and how to an extent it dictates the lives of women. She seems to be influenced by  The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. That book has some analytical flaws and half truths. It would be too simple to dismiss this site as another third wave feminist promotion, but there is a difference. She interviews women from all walks of life and various professions. Comedians, sex workers, and in this case female bodybuilders. Colette Nelson was interviewed for the blog in 2011. What is special about this is that blog’s that tend to be third wave feminist ignore the muscular woman or athlete. Compared to other issues and struggles, it may be low priority. However, it does offer a radical paradigm shift in how women see their bodies and what the female body is capable of.  The interview exposes readers who may not familiar to the bodybuilding world to another image of beauty. Many claim that this type of body on a woman is not beautiful. This leads to the question what is beauty? Who defines it? If an alternative is found to current standards will that be just as oppressive as the current ones? The Colette Nelson interview explores these questions.

            The definition of beauty can be stated as ” the quality aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts mind or spirit.” This becomes ambiguous when questioned. The beauty concept and be highly subjective. It should be understood beauty had become a subject of philosophy notably in aesthetics. The modern world merely associates it with physical attractiveness of a person. These concepts date back to classical Greece and the Age of Reason. Physical attractiveness is a different  concept, but closely related. This varies from culture and time period. At one time in the West a fuller figure was more accepted. Around the 20th century a thinner look was made an ideal. Now it seems there is a small, yet growing fitness fad that wants present a stronger looking form for the female body. These models and paradigms change. Colette explains her sport as follows : “bodybuilding-at least women’s bodybuilding is another way of judging beauty.” She explains further that ” for those who attend and judge women’s bodybuilding contests, the muscular woman is beautiful.” Here were getting more of an idea of the definition. Beauty can be defined in multiple forms and in this case it is a muscular one. The reason this becomes an amazing paradigm shift is that it redefines the beauty model. The muscular body was thought to be something solely of the male domain. It was contrasted with either the soft or frail body of woman.

The strong woman breaks the mold of the rigid dichotomy. It is commonly believed that the pursuit of beauty to such a degree is either based in arrogance or vanity. Colette then states: “do you consider a woman who does make up hours in front of the mirror arrogant ?” Colette’s response was no in her argument. She then says “why should we give this label to a woman who works out hard in the gym and shows results on stage?” Colette then says both are seeking their version of perfection. The reason is based in sexism. Women are held to a different standard and it is normally designed to be restrictive. When examining these definitions and connotations of beauty it becomes more complicated when femininity becomes connected. Femininity’s definition has nothing to do with beauty or physical attractiveness. It can mean simply the qualities of womanhood. Colette explains that people see contradictions between muscles, femininity, and beauty. Beauty and femininity can have multiple meanings, so there would be limited contradiction based on subjective ideas. Muscles are part of the human body. These strong women have decided to develop it to the highest level attainable.

      Femininity does not equal beauty. The definition is “the qualities of being a woman.” yet what makes a woman a woman? Gender defines it in a cultural context that could vary. These attitudes change overtime. This however should not be confused with biological sex, which is the product of human evolution and sexual dimorphism. Societies that are extremely patriarchal or male dominated dictate femininity in rigid gender lines. This is designed to be restrictive and controlling of women. When examined from the context of sports it has been said that women active in them are not feminine. Such attitudes demonstrate sexism, but have been challenged. It is no long abnormal for a woman to display strength or athletic skills. There are still limits of acceptance in the cultural atmosphere. A woman can show some strength,but not too much that it challenges the notion men have sole monopoly on physical strength. Colette says in the interview “that she wants to prove that muscle can be feminine and beautiful.” It certainly can be one form of beauty; the problem is that people have a narrow perspective of other paradigms or alternatives. Some women who do not fit the majority model of beauty may even internalize negativity. Women who alter their bodies to further extremes through drug use receive ostracism from the public and even their  their own circles.  It seems that the concern over drug use is more about a woman’s appearance rather than their health. Virilization can occur depending on how long steroids were taken and specific dosage. Colette said she was never willing to go that route, because she did not want to sacrifice her femininity. That term is  ambiguous and can mean many things depending on which culture and community you reside in. To say women who have been effected by drug use are no longer women represents the narrow space in which they can navigate in society. Colette has fought back in a sense providing make-up and hairdressing services to competitors. Colette has helped with women who have had baldness or facial hair growth. Colette articulated “it was not her place to judge or criticize these women, but should they ask for it offer my help.” If only the public and bodybuilding community could have the same conviction, women would have an easier time. A woman who does not take the drug use route still has criticism directed at them for their appearance. Colette reveals that most women would rather have the body shape of Jillian Michaels.

It appears at times that Colette even struggles with the idea of a muscular woman. Colette expresses “as a female bodybuilder you walk a fine line.” She expounds further saying ” you love muscle, yet you love being a woman at the same time.” This is not a contradiction yet many in the fitness circles still think in this manner. What bothers more traditional thinkers is that it alters their views of femininity. Women who participate in this sport have formed a new definition of femininity. This new thought not only frightens some, but its the idea that women’s bodies can be powerful. Some men do not like the like the concept of a woman being physically stronger. This intrudes on the unwritten mores of gender norms in which masculine identity has a huge emphasis on strength and dominance. The more tolerant men may find women in shape appealing . This also has a limit among supporters. A woman can be strong just not “too” strong. One coded language phrase is that a woman who is too muscular “crossed the line.” This means that the woman is no longer acceptable in terms of body type and physical attractiveness. This subtle sexist attitude does not realize these athletes are doing this for themselves not the approval of others.  There has been at least a shift were society at least accepts a woman that is in shape or has some visible muscle. However, female bodybuilders are the most muscular which in the eyes of some men are threatening.

 The threat is that it makes them realize that strength is not their sole property. One reason women have been subjugated in particular societies is due to the fact they do not have control of their own bodies. This extends to the restriction on reproductive rights and how women should look. The deviation from conformity also is threatening, mainly on the basis it could depose the status quo. Whether women choose to build their bodies by natural or pharmaceutical means it is a radical statement about what a woman is. It seems to be so controversial some feminists even reject the muscular woman or ignore them in the discourse on gender relations. There should not be a contradiction between femininity and athletics. The only reason it would be is in a society that has a limited view of what women and be and accomplish.

     How Colette Nelson acquired her respect for the muscular form is interesting. She was 12 years old when she saw pictures of  Rachel Mclish and Cory Everson and loved how they looked. When Colette was growing up female bodybuilding was in its infancy. Never before had women developed their bodies to this level in human history. There were of course muscular women prior to the sport, but this was the first time they had a platform.

Colette admits she loved bigger and muscular bodies. Oddly she also reveals that she had dissatisfaction with her own figure. As ludicrous as this sounds she claims “she never considered herself looking good” in her youth. It is clear now she is a more confident person, yet it is still prevalent that young women age taught to have a level of insecurity about their appearance. Extreme cases may result in developing eating disorders, constant dieting, and psychological issues. Colette was able to avoid these problems through exercise. This had to be done for the sake of her health considering she has type 1 diabetes. The discovery she had this disease in her own words made her feel “weak, damaged and broken.”  Colette the took the suggestion of working out and found it was an empowering experience. She became more accepting of her body and loved being strong. Women who do this do say they develop a new sense of self and greater level security in their abilities in other areas of life. There are not only physical benefits from weightlifting;there are important psychological developments that contribute to well being.

    Being diagnosed with such an illness diet and exercise are pivotal for health. Colette was expose to an alternative of beauty and decided for herself that it should be replicated. This demonstrates that images and beliefs that children are exposed to can influence their attitudes later in life. It is possible if more people were exposed to women like this early in life it would not be such a shock to them in adulthood.

         Colette did not go into bodybuilding to get attention, but people are not used to seeing a muscular woman. Living in New York, there seems to be a more open atmosphere. She does get stares and Colette even admits she likes the attention. There were times in which men would say “I want to armwrestle you.” The majority of the comments Colette Nelson receives are positive. Though its still is not unheard of to get some form of vituperation or insult from the more closed minded. There are many reasons why people would respond to the muscular or athletic woman in a certain way. Curiosity and the desire to discover something new may cause stares or questions. Their may be an attraction to such a physique and seeing it up close causes excitement.

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Colette Nelson recognizes that we are not brought up how to respond to women with muscle. Seeing as women like this are rare, it does induce some form of wonder. There now is more exposure thanks to the internet and social media. This is another challenge women have to deal with. Either it is an in between off hash criticism or sexualization. The problem with the latter is that it reduces the women to sex objects, rather than focusing on their accomplishments. It is understandable why female bodybuilders who get frustrated being seen as fetish objects for schmoes. Like it or not a woman with a muscular frame will attract  attention both negative and positive.

       Another issue arises from the development of another beauty model. Does it just remove another one and then becomes standard? Some feminists argue that bodybuilding would not be empowering on the grounds it has women obsessively pursue a particular image. The flaw with this assertion is that these women are going against mainstream convention. The most empowering act is to make your own decisions as a free individual. Here, women decide to become as physically powerful as possible doubtless of what men think. Colette Nelson describes her bodybuilding pursuit as the struggle for perfection in terms of muscular aesthetics. Colette stated “she was always  classed a pretty, but wanted more.” This is not hubris.This is competitive drive and what some bodybuilders refer to as living sculpture. Flesh is the clay and the weights become your tools of molding art. The point is not to say all women should appear a certain way, but realize they are all different. There should be room for all forms of beauty.

         While it is true there is a level of societal pressure placed on women to look and behave a certain way, there are instances in which personal decisions add to the problem. The biggest problem with the the beauty myth theory is that women do certain things to themselves in others which perpetuate a vicious cycle. Third wave feminists fail to admit this unfortunate reality. Women continue to spend large amounts of money of make -up, hair care, and anti-aging products. There is no one forcing them to do such things, but the power of advertisement and capitalist free market enterprise is powerful . When examined from this point of view, the argument that women are being oppressed by a beauty myth seems to lack credibility. Then it is no secret that other women criticize women who look different. Many female bodybuilders have said they have gotten negative comments surprisingly from other women.

Naomi Wolf.
If Naomi Wolf is convinced that the beauty myth harms women so, why does she still wear make up and engage in other behaviors that perpetuate it ?

 At some point being pressured is not a legitimate excuse.  To a feminist looks should not be of importance, because liberation is the goal. There are many contradictions of what remains of a feminist movement. Another problem is that the feminist movement refuses in its mainstream discourse to be intersectional. White women middle class feminists ignore or either do not care about the struggle against racism, homophobia,  or class conflict.  The beauty myth concept often ignores that racist element in models of beauty which  dehumanize African and Asian people. Light skin is considered” beautiful “and African American women are told to straighten their hair. Asian women are pressured into getting eye lid surgery. These changes in appearance are done to mimic the appearance of whiteness. They are designed to instill self hate, while simultaneously presenting the oppressor as a “superior being.” The fact white middle class feminists do not challenge this is because the benefit from white supremacy and white privilege.  They just do not benefit from to the maximum extent due to their sex. Besides these complicated issues of racism, there is the issue of blaming every man for women’s condition. Radical feminists claim that all men contribute to women’s oppression. This is a false assertion, considering there are men who are members of oppressed groups. African American, Native American, South American, and Asian American men have suffered under the violence of white supremacy. To say every man oppresses every woman has not factual support. Hopefully, women can learn to reject societal pressure and think for themselves what beauty means to them.

          Since this blog post was written there has been some shift. It is a small one that emerged in fitness circles with the slogan “strong is the new skinny.” While women are not attempt to reach Colette’s level, the idea that some muscle does not seem like an anathema. The rise of crossfit did contribute with women presenting not only impressive physiques, but excellent performances. The responses are positive, with the occasional detractor.

 Again, there is another conundrum. This slogan and zeitgiest seems to be mostly confined to a small circle. Although it has gotten some mainstream exposure. the concept of a woman being “too much” still lingers. There are still backward and dated notions about what women should be and do. What also is frustrating is that the mainstream treats  the sudden acceptance ( to a limited degree) of the muscular woman as a recent phenomenon. There have been male fans who have been following female bodybuilding since its inception during the 1970s. The emergence of the internet expanded the audience and led to the growth of a subculture. Now there are millions of websites, blogs , and social media venues specifically targeting female muscle fans. While it seems unlikely at this point that the muscular body will be a model of beauty for the mainstream, women have decided to make it their own. When Colette Nelson was born Title IX was only two years old and female bodybuilding did not exist. These two events radically changed how women viewed themselves and their physical capabilities. The best action women can take is to define beauty on their own terms, rather than having it dictated to them.

Colette Nelson Interview from The Beheld : Beauty and What It Means

Why Men Hide Their Love of Female Muscle

It should be no surprise that some male admirers hide their love of female muscle. There are reasons for concealing this affection. The fact that women with strength and muscle are not accepted, generates ostracism. Society always wants to impose conformity, not just in thought but in how groups should be and behave. The man who likes female muscle is subject to ridicule. Either their sexual orientation is attacked, they are labelled a sexual deviant, or an eccentric strange person. These labels and pressure from society, friends, and family may force a fan of female muscle to be secretive about their admiration. They either seek materials in print or on the internet and read them when no one is around. When asked about their interest they either deny it. This mean there could actually be more lovers of the muscular female physique than previously thought. The circumstances for this furtive conduct is an intersection between sexism and regimented views about what women should be. It also demonstrates how this views are also restrictive to men as well. Some men get tired of being silent about their love of female muscle and choose to experience it in person. This may explain the rise in sessions and muscle worship. The truth is liking a muscular woman is just a preference, not a strange or abnormal condition.

            The accusation that is directed a male female muscle lovers is that they are gay. This demonstrates a homophobic attitude of detractors. There is nothing wrong with having a different sexual orientation, but used in this context it is designed as an insult. It is designed to be offensive to men who are heterosexual, but may have doubts about their masculine identity. Doing so it dehumanizes people of different sexual orientations, while reinforcing narrow definitions of masculinity in a cultural context. This attempt at making it a pejorative also lacks logic. If the fans of  were homosexual, they would be looking at men. The muscular woman is viewed in this prejudiced mined set as no longer being a woman. They have taken a major masculine identifier as strength, breaking down their regimented socially constructed concepts of gender roles.

Women are in this perspective are suppose to be weak and submissive. Doubtless of what a closed mined view projects, muscular women are still women. The muscular woman and or female athlete challenges the idea of female biological inferiority. When the myth is challenged the negative reactions become more vituperative. Homophobia and sexism are reliant upon one another to maintain the status quo. Here it operates on the idea that men should like one particular type of woman and that women should all look a certain way. Any man or woman who deviates from this is a sexual orientation outlaw. When women began being active is sports the lesbian label was directed at them in the same manner. It was a way of degrading them by questioning their femininity. It was also done to ostracize women of various sexual orientations in sport. Gradually, society is becoming a little more tolerant. However, homophobia and sexism are still prevalent in sport. This bigoted view could be why female muscle fans usually keep silent about their support.

         The idea that female muscle fans are sexual deviants also is another negative association. When a person unfamiliar with the subculture first is exposed to it, they think about schmoes and muscle worship. These activities are related to fetishes, but hardly would count as paraphilia. Muscle worship would not even count as an unusual sex practice. Session wrestling could at times border on BDSM, but the objective is not inflicting pain. The desire is to see the full physical power of the strong woman. Some clients may just be satisfied with women just posing. It is uncertain just how many men engage in sessions and muscle worship. There are men from all walks of life who do them. They come from various ethnic, religious,  and class backgrounds. Some are married or single and seek this out without the knowledge of their wives or girlfriends. Paraphilias revolve a particular object or act. Not all female muscle fans enjoy wrestling simply because of the possibility of getting harmed. Others may enjoy simply watching a video. Then a section of fans want to actually just see contest posing.

There continue to be misconceptions that are prevalent in the subculture and the general public. There is also another misconception is that somehow the muscular woman is a dominatrix. The women who participate in session are by definition, not considered to be a dominatrix. The assumption is they automatically fit the part due to their appearance. While there could be women who are muscular who do this, that does not mean everyone does. The idea that the muscular woman is more aggressive or dominant are based on prejudices in regards to image. This is rooted in the belief that a woman with any type of power either physical or mental is either dangerous or deviant. Many times detractors say it is improper implying that ridged gender roles should be maintained. It was in the past acceptable for women to admire men’s physical strength. Now, with the rise of the female athlete and muscular woman men are starting to show admiration for these unique physiques.

The reality is gender relations have changed. This has not occurred all around the globe, but gradually it will. People are now becoming slowly accepting women as doctors, lawyers , scientists, and political leaders. It seems strange that physically strong women are still seen as an anomaly. It is not just hard on women who have this appearance, but their admirers. The men who like women such as this are either viewed as perverted or weak men. These criticisms reinforce sexist convictions. The idea that men are strong and women are weak has become a dated concept. The idea that a man liking a strong woman makes him less of a man reveals the belief that women should be controlled. Healthy relations between the sexes are based on equality. Who having the attributes of muscles and strength does not make them any less feminine.

 Physical strength has in a way become less of a male only attribute. While there is acceptance (to a limited extent), there is still none for the lover of female strength. The fear of either being labelled a fetishist or a deviant explains why some men hide their love of muscular women. This is an obvious double standard. No one would question a woman who likes a strong and or muscular man. Why then is it such a conundrum for a man to like a physically strong or muscular woman? It seems that gender roles are also restrictive to men as well, when viewed from this perspective. The lovers of female muscle may not even have cratolagnia and sthenolagnia. They may just have a predilection for a particular body type. Just for that fans are either given certain labels. The thin body type for women has for most of the 20th century seen as the ideal. However, no one ever makes the claim a person has a fetish for thin women. The reason is that society through media, culture, and entertainment has presented it as normal. The muscular woman then is a mystery to people have been raised to think in a particular way. The female muscle fan may feel as if they are an outcast and shunned. People who are different and think differently from mainstream convention are normally castigated by the wider community or society.

        The view of the female muscle fan is one of being eccentric. This expresses more ostracism. The claim is normally directed at lovers of female muscle is that they are weird .The common stereotype is that they are obsessive and have voyeuristic tendencies. There have been known in any circle that gives individuals notoriety to have a group of obsessive fans. This does not represent the majority. The collection of photographs, memorabilia, and other items of material culture is just a part of fandom. Many franchises, sports, and other forms of entertainment have a fan base. This is not seen as strange. The reason for the eccentric label is that muscular women are rare and bodybuilding itself is not mainstream. The mainstream has a tendency to present subcultures a bizarre or dangerous. Even though this is not the truth, the general public seems to accept exaggerations or falsehoods. Collecting items does not make you obsessive or a stalker;it just means you are a devoted fan.

Football fans buy Jerseys, mugs, caps and other products. This should not be any different. There does not seem to be a label to these fans. A conformist society labels anything that is different or unique as strange or abnormal. If ideas and society remained the same there would never be any advancement. This fear of being presented as an eccentric outcast is another reason why men hide their love of female muscle.

       There also is the factor of family and friends. Peer pressure can be a powerful force in an individual’s daily interactions. Family pressure can be even more influential. Young girls and boys first learn what is considered appropriate behavior from their parents. Going through a phase in which an adolescent is discovering what is sexually attractive to them makes matters more complicated. If the young man discovers he likes female muscle feelings of shame and trepidation may emerge. Their parents may not be so understanding. For the young woman who pursues sports or strength building activities, they may face negativity from their friends and family. It is not uncommon to hear statements like “your a pretty girl why are you destroying yourself ?” or “if you keep this up you’ll never find a husband.” These dated and backward notions view women as merely objects only valuable for their appearance. Friends may criticize and even tease lovers of female muscle. The rejection that could come from close social circles could be too much to handle for some. They will still seek materials related to female muscle (videos, magazines, or websites), but take extra care to hide it. Secret admirers of female muscle do this so well that not even their closest associates know. Generally, there is a discomfort when it is known that an individual has this love. Far from being a horrible secret, it almost seems ludicrous to go through all the effort to conceal.

           Men who like female muscle react different ways to such taboos. Some attempt to conceal their love by extreme measures. Worst of all, they pretend they do not like it and even engage in ridicule of muscular women as a cover. This is unfortunate mainly resulting in the person ostracizing being unhappy and perpetuating a system of sexism. There are other men who like female muscle, but articulate it in a different way. They normally state ” I like athletic women”  or “I like women with some tone.” Women athletes of today come in various shapes and sizes depending on what sport they play. However, it is not rare that you see women with muscle. These women in mainstream sports have a little more acceptance, so no one would question this preference. The term toning really means building muscle, but used in this context to a lesser degree.

The reason these phrases and terminology are used is due to the notion that muscles and women are not an acceptable combination. So, the mainstream fitness industry had to develop these concepts with out using the accurate word muscle. Men who like female muscle, but want to distinguish they do not favor a much larger look use the mainstream vernacular. Mainly, they are influenced by the negative stereotypes of female bodybuilders and weightlifters. This group like most of mainstream society thinks that women cannot be muscular and feminine. Often their criticism is that “they crossed the line.”This is coded language for a woman who is too muscular, too strong, and is no longer in the appropriate bounds of gender. These accusations are made by people who are threatened and scared by strong women in both the physical and mental sense. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with the aesthetics, but condemning or suggesting women should stop the development of their bodies is a demonstration of subtle  misogyny. This group likes physically strong women to a certain degree they find acceptable in gender boundaries. The more open minded group of female muscle fans enjoys women of all fitness levels. They could be “toned,” good shape, athlete, or hypermuscular. Any amount of muscle is considered beautiful of the female form.

e93c5bb85e30c390617748bad5f2a846   Another misconception about lovers of female muscle is that these are the only type of women they like. There are numerous body types they could be open to. It could be larger women, thinner ones, or women of a voluptuous structure that attract female muscle fans. The problem with society and its concepts of beauty is that it reduces it to one paradigm. It seems that the thin body type has been challenged, by individuals who define beauty for themselves. These fans of female muscle of various varieties do not hesitate to admit their love of it. Many times, if asked men who do like female muscle try to deny it. Even if family members and fiends find materials they collect, they still do not discuss it.

       At some point there is not reason to suppress what you are a fan of. Although society presents negative perspectives about physically strong women, they are based on biases, rather than fact. The trepidation being alienated among friends and family for the love of strong women drives men to hide it. There is no reason to hide or keep secret the admiration for such an amazing group of women. It is not a disorder, a  perversion, or abnormal paraphilia. Liking muscular women is just a body preference. The rise of professional women athletes and women being more active in physical endeavors maybe at some point the muscular and physically strong woman will not be something strange. Considering that women’s sports and female bodybuilding is struggling in particular, it is more pivotal that fans show their support. This means buying tickets to sporting events, supporting athlete’s websites, and watching  women’s sports on TV. The most important part is to admit you love female muscle and defend your position from detractors. This may help dismantle biased attitudes or prejudices against women with muscle.

Why Men Hide Their Love of Female Muscle

Marcie Simmons on Why Schmoes Don’t Marry Female Bodybuilders and How To Date A Female Bodybuilder-Muscular Female!

Love and marriage are complicated. It can be an intersection between emotions, cultural mores, and sexual politics. The intricacies go to another level when exploring men’s attraction to a particular type of woman. The muscular woman and more specifically the female bodybuilder faces complications. It is not simple for men either. There are also occurrences in the bodybuilding subculture that one would not expect. Marcie Simmons explores the issues and challenges in these videos. The first explains why schmoes do not marry female bodybuilders. This at first overturns a preconception that they would be the first candidates to propose to women of this stature. The second video gives dating advice to men who actively want to be with a muscular women. Yet, there is problem with modern dating advice and courtship in general. There are double standards, unrealistic expectations, and some negative aspects from third wave feminism that have changed the way in which courtship functions. Relations between the sexes is constantly evolving due to shifts in culture and society. This may explain why it is difficult for some to find lasting or meaningful relationships.

        The relation between female bodybuilders and schmoes seems to be unbreakable. As the sport struggles financially schmoes have contributed funds to athletes through their websites and session appointments. Such deep interactions between men and women, some would expect that it would blossom into something more intimate. Contact and communication between female bodybuilders and schmoes in common online, at contests, and even some gyms.

Marcie makes the astute observation that many of the schmoes want to keep their love of muscular women a secret. There is a level of embarrassment that these men feel about their sexual fetish and love of the muscular woman’s physique.This seems irrational considering  it is not extremely deviant or a paraphilia . Societal pressure and conformity combined with sexist views of women make these men seem like outcasts. The physically strong woman is seen as abnormal and the man who lusts after her is considered a sexual deviant. These closed minded convictions are designed to maintain rigid gender binaries. Today men and women are revolting against this type of control. Gradually, there is some acceptance of the muscular woman in the sports world. However, it is slow among the general public. This explains why schmoes rather meet muscular women in private rather than in public. Sessions occur in hotels, motels, or the homes of the client. This is in a way a non-judgmental space in which men can embrace their love of female muscle. Muscular women can get praise that often is not displayed in their own sports circle or in the public. If a schmoe was attempting to find a female bodybuilder as a companion he must be ready to be publicly accepting of his love. Every woman wants acknowledgement from her significant other. A schmoe cannot have a functional relationship if he is attempting to hide the fact he is with a muscular woman.

       Overcoming the pressure and stigma could be too difficult to do. The fact that schmoes might keep their love a secret could hinder them from starting a relationship with a female bodybuilder. Then, there should be other considerations. The men who go to sessions could be in other relationships or actually married. They may want to fulfill the fetish, but their significant other is just not physically capable of doing so. It should be understood that sessions are mostly a business activity, not speed dating. An athlete is offering a service to customers.

         The other reason why schmoes may not marry female bodybuilders has to do with appearance. Men may focus more on a woman’s appearance, rather than her personality. The common myth is that men are extremely shallow in regards to appearance. Women can be too. There are women who refuse to even consider dating men who are shorter than herself. Schmoes may get to caught up in the appearance of the women. They do not focus on their other qualities, which could be just as impressive. It is unfortunate that men and women have absorbed shallow and narrow minded attitudes about appearance. A part of this is the result of advertising  and popular media. It presents one paradigm  of what is considered to be beautiful, but excludes alternative. These are gender based standards. The model is that of muscular man and thin woman. There has been a small, but growing movement for body acceptance, but it largely ignores the fit or muscular woman. There are now plus sized models appearing to accommodate women of larger body size. While that is progress the muscular woman remains on the margins. It also appears that few advocates show their support for the muscular female.

Marcie exposes that there becomes a fine line between just attraction and sexual objectification. The fixation on body parts either the biceps, triceps, or posterior reduces the woman to a thing rather than a human being. The idea that women are objects and property has been embedded so deep in various cultures it is negatively effecting relationships. Ignoring a woman’s more positive qualities ( as Marcie said “having a good sense of humor or being a great mom”) limits the potential of a long term romantic engagement. Marcie Simmons states there needs to be some balance. There is more to a person than their physical appearance. Understanding a person’s personality  and temperament  is better for a relationship. There is more to a woman than just her body. This seems to be difficult for some men to comprehend.

       Marcie Simmons then theorizes that schmoes will not marry female bodybuilders is based on the fact that they do not want destroy their idolized image of them. Schmoes tend to have an immaculate image of the female bodybuilder. They are flawed just like everyone else. If this image of perfection is challenged it harms the schmoe’s fantasy. This could be more so a form of celebrity and idol worship. The individual may be seen as infallible ( in the mind of the fan), but if they discover their negative qualities it saddens them. The other reason is that the fetish may be ruined for the schmoe if he gets too much of a good thing. The alluring aspect about the strong and muscular women is that few exist. The uniqueness makes them almost a forbidden fruit to some admirers. If women like this were prevalent, the thrill would disappear for some schmoes. The more obvious reason is that men may want to keep their fetish separate from other parts of their lives. Getting involved with a female bodybuilder may be combining too much of a private and public element of the schmoe’s life. These meetings with muscular women too some is just to fill a primitive sexual urge.For other these session meets may not even be sexual at all. They may just enjoy the wrestling or enjoy the physical challenge. Then their is a curiosity factor. Some wonder if these women are really as powerful as they look.

While it seems that schmoes are not attempting to start any thing serious, one question remains. Why would women consider starting a relationship with schmoes? Women have the convenience of being highly selective, while men do not.  Love may not conquer all in certain circumstances.

      Another Marcie Simmons video discusses dating. Dating advice at times is either unreliable or ineffective. It goes off the assumption it will work for everyone and that women will be responsive to it. For all that feminism has done, it almost seems archaic that men have to ask women out. Why can’t women approach men ? If this is a true age of equality, the why are women just suppose to wait until a man approaches her? It seems that mores and behaviors that put women at an advantage do not disappear. Men would never ask women to equally contribute to the bill for dinner or some other form of outing. Men have to deal with rejection more often compared to women. Women normally are in more relationships during their lifetimes than men. First impressions are the most important and if that is ruined men rarely get a second chance. Men’s chances are limited compared to women for happy or lasting relationships. Chances are even more infinitesimal  if a man is attempting to start a relationship with a muscular woman. While Marcie is not a dishonest talk show host getting one’s hopes up, there are some expectations that are unrealistic.

Women may not be looking for nice guys or gentlemen. Confidence is important, but that does not guarantee success. If there is going to be support it needs to go both ways. It is best to go to areas in which it is likely you will find a muscular woman.

      One problem with seeking a muscular woman is that there are so few in existence. It is rare that you would spot a female bodybuilder anywhere.The average woman would not look like this. The amount of effort to achieve such strength and physicality is tremendous. Even what mainstream society considers beautiful is not the common body type of the average woman. The slender body type is just as hard to achieve as a muscular one. How one looks is a combination of genetics and also environment. Due to biology and endocrinology women are more likely to have a body with more fat tissue. Biology is not destiny, because appearance can be altered through exercise, surgery, drugs, and possibly genetic engineering in the future. There are women who are really dedicated to fitness who reach high levels. There are also others that have potential, but because of social pressure do not pursue such endeavors. The fear of large muscles still bothers some women. They may even avoid weights completely due to this irrational fear. Female athletes have even admitted at times they have problems with their muscular physiques. The fear of appearing “manly” has turned many women away from sports and exercise. This has changed somewhat with women becoming more interested in crossfit and other strength sports. Some women are even forming their own paradigms of beauty. These women are small group, but may be growing. Women are still underrepresented in sports and even more so in strength sports.

This means for small sport like bodybuilding, chances are reduced for relationships due to lack of numbers. It should be noted that not every woman who is muscular is a bodybuilder. The number can then be adjusted. There are women who lift, but do not compete in any sport. This would be mostly a recreational activity. This section provides more hope. They obviously are not hyper-muscular, but are in shape. Marcie Simmons does not make a distinction between female body builder and muscular woman. A female bodybuilder is a woman who develops here muscular structure to the maximum setting it to a particular standard of aesthetics. A muscular woman just a happens to have a morphic body type. If a man is looking for a muscular woman it seems a muscular woman would be easier to find than an actual female bodybuilder. More women are getting involved in sports and fitness, but the numbers are still small. This makes it more challenging for female muscle lovers.

       There has been a common saying form some women who say ” I just want a nice guy.” The reality is that they select the opposite. The well mannered and gentlemen who treats a woman with respect tends to be the last selected in a courtship. Why is it that some women tend to seek men who are less than admirable or respectful to them personally? One explanation is the allure of  the” bad boy.” He appears to be in control of most situations, rebellious, and lives dangerously. He may not respect the woman’s feelings or needs, but the charisma seems to have her comeback. Women psychologically may be seeking excitement in a relationship. This helps end the ennui of daily life. The thrill may be fun at first, but it will not be sustainable in the long term. Extreme cases may even result in abusive relationships. The problem also may be how women are raised. Women as girls are taught to be passive and pleasing to men. Assertion and a sense of self worth are concepts devoid of a girl’s upbringing. This would make them vulnerable to men who could be physically or verbally abusive. Imposing traditional gender roles does more than just stifle potential, but could be harmful to a woman’s well being. The man who some claim “acts too nice” seems like a ludicrous statement. Considering the amount of hate and rage in the world, kindness is needed in mass. Kindness should not mean being completely submissive to every whim of you partner. Too many men just become too excessive with accommodation that it harms the relationship. No one should be a door mat. Some men think that if they constantly agree with their girlfriend, even if she is wrong that will reduce tension. That only makes the situation worse. At times self assertion is necessary. The nice guy is also at a disadvantage when status is added to the equation.

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Women whether consciously or unconsciously seek status through potential boyfriends or husbands. This could either be socioeconomic status , occupation, or some other marker. If a man has limited status in society finding a relationship will be more difficult. This again could be linked to culture. Women being independent is a relatively new concept, because most societies functioned on protectionism. Now that women can have careers and live freely the idea that men should take care of them is dated. Women can achieve high status, but rarely would consider being in a relationship with a man of lower status. Relevant to men who love muscular women, it seems rare that strong women who be with men weaker than themselves.This is also similar to women who would be unwilling date men who make less income than them. As frustrating as the reality is, nice guys may actually finish last.

     Confidence is critical to any aspect of life. Confidence can secure a date or relationship, but not always. Insecurity is a negative attribute, however one can have all the confidence in the world and still have horrible luck. Women often in their selection of women confuse confidence for arrogance. This unfortunate misjudgment in character and quality can lead to unhappy endings. Many times people can be duplicitous about their true nature and intentions. False self is presented to others. A truly confident person does not need to boast or belittle others to elevate them self.This is an area in which men struggle. People tend to compare themselves to others, which makes them feel worse about the their status. A person should not focus on competition, but their positive qualities. making this qualities project can be an excellent display of confidence. The lugubrious reality is that even with such self assurance  initiating a relationship still may not be successful. There is no simple solution or method. Many times it is a myriad of trial and error. That is the flaw with dating advice that has been so common in books and online media. There are no tactics that will work in every situation. Still, confidence is helpful especially if a relationship is started.

      Support is necessary and even more so with a woman in a non-traditional activity.There will be instances in which their will be harsh ostracism and hateful vituperation.Men should be prepared to deal with the negativity. This could include extreme instances in which sexist and homophobic speech is directed at you. If you are going to be with a strong woman, you must have the fortitude to withstand the pressure from society’s closed minded views. Family and friends may not be accepting of a relationship that emerged between a female bodybuilder or muscular woman. If they are truly caring they will be accepting of  your decision. Stares or rude comments can be an unpleasant reality, but if the bond is strong between the couple it can be overcome. The women in the relationship can contribute. Be willing to defend the man if he is being teased for his love of  female muscle. Men also need to challenge any negativity directed at his lover. Other than dealing with society’s prejudice,men must understand that the sports woman is highly devoted to her goals and aspirations.

pg08_2 This does not mean she does not care about other things in her life. There may be times in which training takes away quality time. It should be understood that the relationship is not about one person. There will have to be negotiation and sacrifices in certain circumstances. Failing to come to an understanding will eventually lead to problems later on. She may not have time to see you a frequently as you like. Eating out my be difficult, because of strict dieting. Adjustments will have to be made, but as long as there is a general consensus it can work. It will be a challenge. It will be less strenuous if both are helping each other. The dynamics between couples takes effort. Another issue is the aspect of physicality. Marcie says in her video “I don’t think every female athlete would want to be with a bodybuilder.” It seems more likely women like this would. There could also be some men who enjoy the look of the muscular woman, but do not like the idea of a woman being stronger or equal to them physically. This is based on the archaic idea that men are strong and therefore have the authority to control women. The concept of woman as helpless weakling has been ingrained in various cultures and it will take many more years to challenge it.

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Marcie at first says ” men should not focus on the outer shell” then revises that statement. She claims muscular or fit women would prefer men who are “health conscious.”  Obviously this means a man in shape. Marcie just said herself ” women don’t want a slob.” This seems contradictory if one is not putting emphasis on appearance. If men should not see women as a piece of meat, women should not do it either. There is nothing wrong with having a preference; being shallow is a character flaw. A relationship needs more than just to based on  appearance or physical intimacy. If a relationship is genuine then it can transcend these elements. If support can be established then a functional relationship can last.

      If one wants to be with a muscular woman, you must go to areas where they may be. Marcie Simmons suggested gyms, health supplement stores, or possibly sporting events. One problem of modern day dating is that people have become more reliant on websites. E harmony  and similar dating sites demonstrate that people do not want to make the effort in finding someone. While this seems convenient for a person that is busy or too bashful it cuts off exposure to different people. The profiles are matched by similarities and backgrounds. There is a possibility that one could find a person compatible who is outside their background. People also may not be entirely honest in their profile. Some adopted an online persona, which could be different from how they behave in reality. Embellishment some believe will get them noticed by potential mates.The pictures displayed on profile pages or information present may not even be correct. Another problem is if you are trying to meet someone new may be you should try dating outside your ethnic, religious, class, or social group. Just because two people are different does not mean it will not work. The majority of the population prefers endogamy, however traditions do change.

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There are even dating websites that carter to endogamy  based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and personal interests.

 You have to be willing to take a chance and experiment with different approaches. There is a problem with attempting to get to know a woman in a gym. She is there to either train or just keep in moderate shape. Striking up a conversation would be difficult, because it would be an interruption to her and her focus. This would make you more of an irritation. The milieu  may not be the best place for starting a relationship or date. The best way may be to start some casual conversation and see what happens. Health food and supplement stores may be more reliable, but there is another issue. People are focused on buying products rather than the immediate environment. There are two types of customers that visit stores browsers and people who know what they are looking for. If the woman is browsing there could be an opportunity to start a conversation. The trouble is getting a woman’s attention. One wrong comment can either be interpreted as sexual harassment or intimidating. Women do not have this problem. The best option is to go to sporting events. If there is a female bodybuilding competition in your area go there. There is a chance you may run into a muscular woman who just happens to be attending. Immersing one’s self in the subculture can increase the chances of finding muscular women. It involves exploration and leaving a comfort zone.

          Feminism has impacted dating and marriage in both positive and negative ways. women’s status and equality has increased which was an important achievement. Women can get divorces and contraception has allowed more freedom. The negative aspect is that some third wave feminists claim they want full equality, while simultaneously demanding chivalrous treatment. The chivalrous treatment should not be confused with common curtsies like opening doors or pulling out chairs. It is the idea that men should take care of me, always adhere to certain demands ( no matter how unreasonable ), or agree with me always ( even if I’m wrong). These are unrealistic expectations some women have in relationships .The irony is that women who claim they are so “strong” and “independent”  find themselves with the stereotypical “bad boy.” To an extent elements of feminism have made relationships more frustrating.

There is a common complaint that there are no good men present in the dating selection. However, this group of women never attempt to change the situation or seek men of higher caliber. The rhetoric of the third wave feminist “I don’t need a man”  is preached, yet still there are women lamenting they do not have a relationship. The only way to improve a situation is to change behavior. Constantly complaining or being depressive will not solve the problem. If one is to believe in full equality, that means that their are some things women will have to do. That means sometimes paying for dinner or agreeing to compromise. Men should not be the only ones putting work into a relationship. Third wave feminists claim they want full equality, but seem to promote some freedom with privileges. You would never hear them say that women should register for the draft or equally provide child support. Then also, while there has been progress there are forces of repression in society. The attack on reproductive rights and the feminization  of poverty are examples of why feminism may still be needed. There are parts of the world in which women are more vulnerable to domestic violence or being child brides. Women who live in the West are in a more privileged position. Yet, they do take that for granted. There is a strange cross roads that has been reached after the sexual revolution and the rise of third wave feminism at the end of the 20th century. Dating and marriage ( if it even happens to some ) have become chores, rather than something enjoyable. Meeting people has become more difficult in a new erratic atmosphere.

        Dating and relationship advice may not be the most accurate or helpful. Sometimes it is best to listen to your own judgement. The difference with Marcie Simmons is that she is a bodybuilder who speaks with experience. She has been close to the subculture and is a member of it, so the information cannot fully be discredited. Granted it seems unlikely that a muscular woman would be interested in just any man, starting a relationship is hard . That explains why dating websites and dating advice books have become so popular.Many times people continue to struggle to find someone, only to be rejected constantly. They either just become bitter or quit entirely. These are not acceptable options. A person should not validate their existence relative to who they are with. Relationships come and go; marriages deteriorate over the years. Be secure with yourself and find your own happiness. Only then can you deliver it to others in a romantic engagement.May be one can find their special someone. If not it is not the end of the world.

Marcie Simmons on Why Schmoes Don’t Marry Female Bodybuilders and How To Date A Female Bodybuilder-Muscular Female!

“My, what dimorphic parents you have!” From Family Inequality Blog

My, what dimorphic parents you have!

Another post was composed on Family Inequality in regards to unrealistic body types in Disney cartoons and animated features. The author is a sociologist by trade, but still does not grasp the concept of animation and character design. The posts belong to what the author refers to as the animated gender series. The problem with this is Phillip Cohen does not care for exaggeration in character design. The whole thesis is that unrealistic images of sexual dimorphism are a projection of sexism. These images the are used as a model for how men and women should look or even act. While there is an element of truth to this argument, to blame the general character design of a particular studio is an inaccurate assessment. Too often we see the muscular man and slim woman body archetype. Yet, there are instances in animation in which it is reversed or completely different. If Cohen wants to make a cogent argument all of the Disney animated material should be examined . This could include animated series and films as well. This post is brief and he asks why the level of sexual dimorphism from the characters in Frozen. The explanation is related to character design and animation styles.

              The point of animation is to exaggerate human features. There are cases in which realistic depictions are shown in animation. Fantasia (1940) had segments that were outlandishly cartoon like to more traditional artistic presentation. Cohen then uses Moana’s parents to show how abnormal the body proportions are.  He explains in the following paragraph :

“His big toe has the same diameter as her wrist. His unflexed bicep is wider than her waist. (Sources say the voice actor for Maui has 20-inch biceps, while a real life-sized Barbie doll would have an 18-inch waist, compared with 31 inches for a typical 19-year-old woman.) Anyway, it’s ridiculous.”

The point is that the characters are suppose to look humorous or unusual. Large eyes, varying heights, weights, and general appearance makes a cartoon character memorable. Animators develop a style, which becomes their recognizable signature. Disney over the years had developed this model of large man and thin woman. The claim here is that body diversity is not present. That is not the case if one does through research. Maui and Moana’s dad are not the typical muscle man. Maui is large, but does not have the traditional male heroic physique. The author then tries to counter this fact by saying ” there are a lot of large bodied Polynesian people in societies.”Then claims it is not a sex specific pattern. Sexual dimorphism is present in every ethnic group around the world. It seems that he has some stereotypes about one group, while recognizing another common one.  He the later expounds : “If  the difference is in racial or ethnic context for the families, then maybe extreme dimorphism among parents helps signify the exoticism of the culture depicted.” If this is the case, then may be we should question whether or not this is borderline racist caricature. When Europeans colonized the islands they either depicted Polynesians as lazy, fat, exotic, or primitive in literature, film, or other media . The fact the author gets his data from wikipedia on obesity rates from the Polynesian islands seems to be a confirmation bias of a prejudice he could personally have.   That could be a more convincing argument. Cohen the realizes that black men are stereotyped as having superhuman bodies, but there are no tiny women tropes. That is not true. One notable trope relevant to discussion is the pint sized powerhouse. This could be a man or woman with large amounts of strength who just happens to be diminutive in size.  This trope appears in cartoons as well as film.

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A small woman trope as seen in Dragonball Z ( 1989-1996). Android 18 fights Tien despite her size.
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There are two stereotypes surrounding the Polynesians. The first is one of obesity and the other is the image of super human athlete.

Stereotypes appear in all media, but white men are least effected. Seeing as Phillip Cohen is white he has no understanding of this.  Which makes him less qualified to even discuss body image distortions in regards to women. He does not deny that sexual dimorphism is a fact, but cannot grasp the elements of animation. It takes features such as hands, noses, ears, and  body shapes and distorts them. Human being have to ability to change their bodies to extreme either through plastic surgery, exercise, make-up, or even sometime in the future genetic engineering. When men and women alter their bodies sex differences in size do not disappear.

 Men and women do alter their bodies to impressive degrees in some sports. The exercise and physical training in some regards makes sexual dimorphism more obvious. Men are on average taller and stronger than women. The basic Disney character design accentuates this more. The characters of Moana and Maui represent this unrealistic exaggeration. The point is to make the characters recognizable and unique in a particular style. There are some people in real life that resemble cartoon characters themselves.

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Maui is too endomorphic to be classified as being part of Herculean dimorphism.  It is a great development that a male antagonist is give a different body type.
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A woman and a man who developed their bodies to the highest level.  At first glance it would seem they both jumped out of a comic book.

The core of character design is to be outrageous in appearance. There is also a problem that arises from these depictions. Portraying women as only slim could induce body image issues in young girls. Women or girls who are muscular or larger could be made to feel ostracized or abnormal. There is a subtle form of sexism in this. It enforces a gender role that men are always more powerful and there fore should control women. These convictions can be challenged. Not only that, a repeated use of a particular character design can stifle creativity. Animation should be willing to experiment with different styles and designs. This creates an enriched and wonderful cartoon. Phillip Cohen refuses to see this in the perspective of an artist.

        The author presents small amounts of evidence. There does exist in Disney cartoons and others were the slim female body is not the model. It is not simply being a bit larger, but the presentation of a muscular and powerful body. This could be called amazonian dimorphism. This model has not appeared in Disney animated films, but more so series.Disney animated series such as Dave the Barbarian, Pepper Ann,  The Emperor’s New School , The Proud Family,  and Darkwing Duck .

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The Proud Family (2001-2005 )  features Penny Proud as a superhero in one episode.
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This is Candy from Dave the Barbarian (2004)
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Although it was just in the intro it depicted a strong woman in the show Pepper Ann (1997-2000).

One could make the guess that Disney in their TV series is more open to a different character design. Seeing as it is animation these transformations in TV programs can be either temporary or permanent. It would still be relevant to include both categories. The bodies shown on the characters deviate from the standard Disney depiction of women.If Phillip Cohen did his research of the Disney library of animation, he would see that his argument is not as potent. Then he mentions How to Train Your Dragon, when that is a Dreamworks film. If the focus is solely distorted body image models in Disney films, other media should not be mentioned. The reason he may do this is to show it is not solely a problem with Disney. However, if you continue to examine it further beyond Disney his argument then collapses. The occurrences of these muscular body types on women are rare in Disney animation, but more prevalent in others. The prevalence of comic books gives source material for animated series. Whether  it is Marvel or DC their characters have appeared in animated cartoons over the years.Characters such as Black Cat or She-Hulk would not fit the Disney Princess measurements.

Even cartoons that are comedy focused vary in body type representation occasionally.These also include one shot characters and recurring characters in animated series. Again, it should be noted that many of these representations function around tropes. This does not only occur in animation from the West, but other countries. If Phillip Cohen wanted to truly prove his point he would include animation from other nations . The West has a habit of thinking that it has a monopoly on all art forms. This ethnocentric worldview is not only prejudiced, but historically inaccurate. Many cultures have borrowed from one another and art is no exception. Japanese anime has become a global phenomenon having fans and devotees on every continent.

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Elle Ragu as she appears in Shadow Skill (1998)
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Jun Auska from  the Iron Virgin Jun OVA based on a one shot manga (1992).
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This is Genie from Rune Soldier Louie (2001)
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A one shot character as she appears in Yu-Ghi-Oh! GX (2004-2008) . She is Tania.

It seems amazonian dimorphism has a presence in animation across the globe. The evidence seems to not demonstrate that body representation is a limited as previously thought. The vast plethora of action, comedy, or adult animation series do vary in character design. This is a positive development, but also should continue. There also develops another problem of exchanging one model for another. There is a possibility that the amazonian dimorphic model could be another unrealistic standard pushed on young girls.This may not even happen seeing as appearance of women of various body types is rare. There is however gradual change. The human body has often been sexualized or racialized throughout history. Cohen admits that Black men have been stereotyped as superhuman. This is routed in the enslavement of African peoples in the Western hemisphere. The superhuman myth was designed to justify physical violence against the enslaved. Whipping or the mutilation of limbs was acceptable, because it was believed Black people could handle more pain than normal. When discussing Moana   and comparing the parents from Frozen  there is another stereotype that emerges. It shows the “civilized” European compared to the “savage” Polynesian. Either intentionally or unintentionally Disney continues the racist idea of the noble savage. Suddenly, one realizes that Phillip Cohen’s claim “I’m not sure how to interpret this” is disingenuous.

         This  fixation that some social justice advocates have on ignoring sex differences is rooted in the idea that a difference means that women are unequal. Sex differences in terms of biology are not the reason women have an unequal position in society. It is rooted in the lack of property, income, equal employment opportunities, and disparities in education. Also that lack of reproductive rights is a method to control women’s bodies. For a longtime throughout history women were considered property. It was thought that men’s greater physical strength was used to also control women. This is not a complete explanation, because access to weapons can negate this and the fact there are women who can be stronger than men.Control of laws and the economic system was more effective than brute force. Sexual dimorphism is not the culprit of inequality. Political, economic, and legal systems are. Most of these systems favor men over women and only recently are being challenged. Relevant to this discussion, it should not bother anyone that sexual dimorphism is depicted. However, there should be concern that their is not a variety of multiple body types depicted in animated subjects or films. It may influence how children think they should look and attempt to aim for an unrealistic standard. Besides this problem character design will become limited and unimaginative. Another issue is with the characters themselves. If one is  solicitous about female characters in animation, there should be questions asked. Why are there so few compared to male ones? Do they have developed personalities other than just being one dimensional stock characters such as the damsel in distress, mother, or girlfriend? These problems seem more urgent than actual appearance of the creation itself. Moana is a great character because they gave her some personality. This cannot be said of other Disney female characters of the classic era. The change really happened in The Little Mermaid   and Mulan  .  Those animated films had great examples of developed female characters. Only if the formula that Moana  has continues there can be effective change.

“My, what dimorphic parents you have!” From Family Inequality Blog

The Walking Dead Creator: Women Are ‘Generally Physically Weaker. That’s Science’

The Walking Dead Creator: Women Are ‘Generally Physically Weaker. That’s Science’

The Walking Dead is one of the highest rated show on cable. Based on the comic with the same name it has become a major success for AMC. The show and comic tell the story of a world in apocalypse. The dead have risen, but no one knows why. The zombies known as “walkers” have destroyed civilization. Rick Grimes and his small band of followers have to survive a world of walkers and dangerous people. The show and comic have great stories and action. Yet, there seems to be a problem with its female characters. The women in  The Walking Dead   are not positively presented as their male counterparts. The strong female characters seems to fall victim to “Vasquez always dies” syndrome. The strong women characters are either killed or considered to insane to be considered respectable. Robert Kirkman’s statement in an interview for The Comics Journal  may hint to why there is a problem with how women are presented in The Walking Dead . Simon Abrams asked him a question in an interview why are women portrayed in such narrow terms. His response could be, to say the least an unsatisfying answer.  Kirkman first said “I don’t mean to sound sexist, but as far as women have come over the last 40 years, you don’t really see a lot of women hunters.” Then he expounds further “they’re still in the minority in the military, and there’s not a lot of female construction workers.” The argument gets worse as he continues “I think women are as smart, resourceful, and capable in most things as any man could be … but they are generally physically weaker.” Robert Kirkman then said “it’s science.”  This excuse for lack of strong  female characters is devoid of cogency. Then his statements are only half truths. There is no denying that the show has an issue with female characters.

           Kirman’s statements display a general lack of understanding or lack of knowledge . He claims not to be sexist, but it is clear there is a level of prejudice. The statement about not seeing female hunters is not entirely true. Women are engaged in hunting and shooting more than they were in the past. The reason is that women no longer have the certain gender role restriction. Hunting was seen as something women should be restricted from. The reason women would not be involved in large numbers is because only recently they got involved. Men were already hunting in larger numbers, so obviously it would be disproportionate.

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Women and even teenage girls  are getting involved in hunting Women hunting

  Kirkman’s  idea is one that come from images of cavemen hunting in the prehistoric past .  This Flinstone  cartoon idea about humanity is hardly accurate. Humans of the Ice Age probably did not hunt mammoths on a regular basis. Smaller game and gathering were probably the best options for sustainable food. Hunting may not even be a true measure of physical strength. Tracking and trapping an animal takes a level of thought and patience. The early humans appear to have the males do most of the hunting and women perform the gathering. It was assumed that males would do hunting because there size and strength was greater. However, there could be a problem with this theory. There is a possibility that early australopithecines hunted in groups. The major change was when humanity developed simple tools. Homo erectus was a maker of tools and this gave it an advantage over other animals. As time passed spears, knives, and bludgeons  came into existence. The use of these weapons and tools require little strength. This gave humanity an edge over the larger  predators and larger toothed animals. Guns are now the ultimate hunting tool and weapon . Hunting  does not require large muscles do successfully.

           There is a reason that women are a minority in  the military and construction. Discrimination was a factor, not just elements of sexual dimorphism. Protectionism a legal mandate banned women from certain professions on the basis it was too dangerous form them and they needed to be protected. Women were even forbidden from lifting objects of a particular weight in some cases. The reason women were not in combat positions in the military was because they were prohibited from those jobs. The ban had been in place up until 2013. It should be understood it takes time to reverse injustice and wrongs of the past. Women will not automatically fill all combat positions overnight. Sexual dimorphism does not mean women cannot do physically demanding jobs. It means they are different. Men have more physical strength, which makes it easier for them to handle physically demanding task. Women if they want to be part of these professions have to train to gain strength. The average woman will not be as strong as the average man, but to say “women are generally physically weaker” is not entirely accurate. The female body is thought to be biologically inferior, but exercise physiology has proven otherwise. There is no difference between male and female muscle in terms of histological composition. Exercise and weight training can increase a woman’s strength.

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What should be considered here is magnitude. Men have denser bones, larger tendons and ligaments. Women’s muscle still responds to training, its just that total body strength will not be as high as a man who is engaged in the same training regimen. Women can be strong, but it requires more effort due to differences in endocrinology and physiology. Kirkman presents an image of weak and helpless woman being something common. Body type also determines strength. A woman with a mesomorphic body type could be strong as or stronger than an average man.

 There are women who can  be stronger than some men. If Kirkman tries to hide his prejudice by saying “it’s science.” Sexual dimorphism is the product of human evolution. Yet,  it is also related to sex selection. The reason men have more strength was for competition for mates. Males would fight one another for access to females. The early Australopiths  did this like other animal species and females would mate with the victors of these fights. The fact the male wins in terms of sexual selection, indicates health to the female. This can be seen in other primates like gorillas. When homo sapiens evolved some of traits of sexual dimorphism remained. Traits related to sexual dimorphism can be flexible in the human species. Kirkman from his comments believer in biological determinism . The truth is that we are products of both our environment and biology. Science still does not explain why Robert  Kirkman  has trouble with female characters.

           Female characters on The Walking Dead  are not portrayed well. Rick’s wife Lori is not really one of the best. Both the TV program and comic do not give her much character. The problem with her is the actions she takes. She has a relationship with Shane, Rick’s best friend out of grief. The problem with this is that it shows women as emotional wrecks under pressure  and vulnerable after the loss of a long term partner. Lori’s function in the comic seems so limited that it almost comes close to the women in refrigerators concept. This trope explains how female characters are normally placed in a story to either motivate the male character in action. They have no personality development or growth, but are there to either be killed or  lose power in some way. Fans were even dissatisfied with the character in regards to the show. Lori does give an apology for the relationship with Shane, but thing never were fully right with Rick. She dies during the Governor’s assault on the prison while giving birth. For the three seasons she was alive, she never developed as a character. There were points in which she could have been admirable, but writers kept her in a one dimensional box.

           The perplexing case of Andrea also reveals some issues on The Walking Dead  . The comic still has her living and she is a very active member of the group. The character that is in the comics should have been the one in the television show. Andrea as portrayed in the show started off giving up hope. The dead of her sister made her almost suicidal. Dale then convinces her to leave the CDC when the scientist sets it to self-destruct mode. Around season two Andrea wants to live and survive. She wanted to continue and find a better place. She even learns shooting from Shane and bonds with him. Andrea gets lost during the fall of the farm to the walker hordes. She meets Michonne  and both survive a harsh winter. Andrea show a level of independence, but when she gets involved with the Governor    that changes.  She refuses to see that he was nefarious and then attempts to speak on his behalf. Andrea went from being a powerful character, who could have been a potential leader  in the group to a dependent. There was an opportunity in which she could have killed the Governor in his sleep, but did not because she was under his charming spell. It seems the strongest women either end up dead.

thewalkingdeadandrea  Andrea’s situation could fall under another common trope of “Vazquez always dies.” This describes how even though a woman is powerful and a survivor some how she is killed violently.  The comic has not killed her ( for now), but it could happen seeing as this trope is so prevalent. Kirkman has stated that reason Andrea was killed in the show was that he wanted to make alterations for the TV show. While it is expected that characters will die in a horror genre, the reasons for Kirkman’s decision seems to lack fortitude. When it comes to women and non-whites of the show they are the ones who will die first. This could be fulfilling some subconscious desire of the mostly white male creators  who are projecting prejudice through their content. There is no definite proof, but if one analyzes both the comic and the show it may lead to these conclusions.

            The character of Michonne is one of the better female characters. There are still challenges and problems with her in both the comics and the show. Race cannot be avoided in popular media and stereotypes are inevitable product of an intolerant society. The most obvious stereotype here in the magical Negro. This racist stock character paradigm is common in American media. The black character only function was to help the white protagonist. This character could either have supernatural powers or special abilities and was merely a side kick. Michonne falls into this category in a way seeing as she is watchful of Andrea and Rick. The character is saved from being completely stock or stereotypical , by getting  development. She goes from being more loner like to a leader within Rick’s group.

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  Some argue the treatment of women in the comics seems better, but not in Michonne’s  situation. The Governor  rapes Michonne in the comics. This tragic occurrence is even more disturbing considering it happens to one of the strongest female characters in  The Walking Dead comic. Then from a historical context it becomes infuriating. The Walking Dead takes place in the US South . The enslavement of African American people involved the rape of women and children. Slave owners would sexually assault black women and the image of a white man attacking a black woman makes it more disgusting. While feminist acknowledge the the subtle sexist elements in the show and the comic, they ignore the racist ones. Non-white characters die in the most violent way at the hands of a white person. Glenn the only Asian character has his cranium smashed by Negan in the comics ( and as seen in the season six premiere of the show). Tyreese  gets beheaded in the comics( but his death in the show was by a walker). It seems as if that black and Asian people are not survivors in The Walking Dead universe.

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The show enjoys killing off black characters more and specifically black men. Noah  and Bob were killed by white characters in the show. Michonne’s survival seems to be in question at this point. There also is the problem of another racist stereotype. It is the image of the angry black woman and super strong black woman. This image of a black woman with an attitude or bad temper as been portrayed in various entertainment ad nauseum. Michonne when she first meets Rick’s group at the Prison in the series seems to be more vexed in personality. The recent seasons have attempted to reverse this and her character seems to be changing. Michonne is a great fighter, but in that portrayal comes another stereotype. The super human black woman ( and man), which comes from a positive stereotype. The positive stereotype comes from blacks being super human athletes and described as something beyond human. Positive stereotypes are not harmless,because  they derive from prejudices and hatreds. This concept of the super strong black person comes from enslavement. The African people enslaved in the New World were not considered human, but animals  or property. This falsehood was used to justify physical brutality against the enslaved on the grounds their bodies were so strong it did not harm them.  This myth continues in the form of  positive stereotype in the notion “blacks dominate sports.” Michonne when she fights in the show, almost seems like she is super human. They made a physically strong female character, but did not advance her characterization.

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An example of how positive stereotype works. It is doubtful they would have used this title with a white athlete.

 The show is still exploring Michonne’s  character. It’s uncertain where it might lead and what the relationship with Rick will do. There has been transformation to the character and at one point she explain the psychological distress of living in a collapsing civilization . The show humanizes her by getting her to help Carl cope with difficult situations. After the fall of the prison, Carl and Michonne  along with Rick say in an empty house. The great part about this is that she is given more personality than just being a killing machine. She even soon rejects the idea of being a person who just lives for survival. She wants to live for something. As Michonne said “she does not want to be seen as a monster.” This character has potential for improvement.

           Carol is  a good counter argument to the idea that walking dead cannot create strong female characters. Carol’s evolution is impressive.She went from being an abused wife to one of  the bravest fighters in Rick’s group. Carol is flawed for all her talents and her biggest error was the murder at the prison. Rick banished her from the prison without Daryl’s knowledge. Carol eventually will save the group from Terminis  and comeback with them. However, now she is in a crisis and the pressure has gotten to her. The killing and struggle have caused her to want to leave Alexandria. Her reasoning is that the group will be better off without her. Morgan tries to bring her back  almost getting himself killed in the process.

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Carol went from being passive to more aggressive, but now questions the kill or be killed mentality. What is going on with her is more a crisis of conscience. The loss of Sophia changed her to adopt a more offensive defense strategy to the world. Even though her husband was abusive the death still was a lugubrious matter to her. It was in many respects was what allowed her to develop as a person. This evolution is still happening with Carol and it is fascinating to see how it shall culminate. There are also times in which she acts as an adviser to other member’s of Rick’s group. She once said to Daryl “that his brother is bad for him.” Carol provides Maggie comfort under intense situations. The Walking Dead  got  a female character right. The article from Jezebel does not acknowledge Carol, which is bizarre. The article was written before season four in which there have been numerous changes. It should be gratifying to women viewers or feminists that a female character was given this development. Before condemning the entire show or comic examine the entire source material. It seems that there a tendency of some to condemn media by either seeing small excerpts of a source. Carol if written correctly can be a great character. That should be the model for characters on the show, rather than the one dimensional presentations.

          The discussion about survival leads to one question : how much strength do you even need to survive a zombie apocalypse? Going off  The Walking Dead  universe it would appear large muscles may not be even useful. The walkers are slow moving and lack intelligence. Physical strength would be useful in fighting off one or two. If the number exceeds twenty or even hundreds that would be insuperable. Weapons are more efficient than fists. The type of weapon has to be considered. Baseball bats,  lead pipes, spears, axes, or knifes are better than guns to an extent. Walkers are attracted to noise and gun shots do produce it at high decibels. Guns should not be discarded completely, because it helps in situation where its too many walkers to fight off at once. The biggest issue would be finding ammunition and reproducing enough to ensure protection.

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Physical strength could be useful at fighting off other people and some walkers, but weapons  are more effective.

May be muscular strength is not the element of physical fitness best equipped for a zombie apocalypse. Cardiovascular endurance would be essential. The people who had the ability to run the fastest would be in a better position. Slower runners would certainly fall victim to walkers. As Zombieland once said comically, cardio is a rule.  Fighting your way through walkers would probably not be the wisest path of action. Avoidance if possible seems to be a better strategy. Flight as opposed to fight would ensure a high level of safety. It should be assumed there would be more zombies than living people. The living would be at a disadvantage in this regard. While having at least some moderate level of physical fitness could guarantee survival, there are some biological aspects to consider.

            The problem with having large muscles is that maintaining them requires a good portion of food. Fat however stores some energy. The world of a zombie apocalypse  will for obvious reasons be short on food. A person with some fat may not feel the adverse effects of hunger as a person  with  a muscular or thin body. The average person probably would not even weigh much considering food security would be limited. Hunting or farming would have to be done to meet nutritional needs. Farming would require permanent settlement. This causes some problems. Settlements would be targets of people or zombie herds. No law or order other people are just as or even more dangerous than actual monsters. The best chance is to either be nomadic or semi-nomadic. This would only work if the group of survivors follow the game they are hunting. People who live in this type environment have to live and survive on limited food.

The person who would suffer more from lack of food is a person with less fat. 

Food is not the only challenge, but access to clean water. Water is just as important as sustenance. It seems that elements of survival in the collapse of civilization require more consideration. One unrealistic element about The Walking Dead  is that clean water seems more prevalent than it should be in certain circumstances.

           Robert Kirkman’s  excuse for lack of strong female characters lack cogency. While sexual dimorphism is a scientific reality, it does not limit women from doing certain things. Kirkman’s statements seem to reflect  what could be referred to as an enlightened sexism. It does not directly state women are inferior beings, but they are defective or incomplete human beings. A technique to hide this negative belief is to attempt to justify it through a rudimentary or sometimes incorrect understanding of science. Nature did not make women weaker or biologically inferior. It is the process of primate evolution and reproductive techniques that made the human sexes different. These differences are not an indication of inferiority, but the attributes of genes and environment. Unlike Kirkman’s view that women are not important  in the story line of the The Walking Dead needs to be changed.The Walking Dead is a great comic and television show. That being said there is room for improvement. Both the comic and show are still running so there are opportunities to improve the female characters. The possibilities are endless, if you have the imagination. There is a chance that the show can introduce interesting female characters and have existing one play a larger role. It can be done; producers and creators must be willing to do it.

The Walking Dead Creator: Women Are ‘Generally Physically Weaker. That’s Science’

The Problem with Anita Sarkeesian’s “All the Slender Ladies: Body Diversity in Video Games” Argument

Anita Sarkeesian is a media critic, blogger and public speaker who gained notoriety when she began her tropes versus  women in video games on Youtube. She claims to point out that video game culture by its nature is purely misogynistic. Ever since it seems that she has been on a crusade to attack the subculture and the gaming community itself. She is a feminist and clearly part  of the third wave. There is no denying that there is sexism in popular entertainment and video games are not immune. However, Sarkeesian’s arguments seem to condemn enthusiasts and in a subtle manner men in general. What this amounts to is a witch hunt similar to how fundamentalist Christians would condemn Dragons and Dungeons. She also has a website known as Feminist Frequency, which she expounds on her ideas. Sarkeesian claims that she does not want to censor or prohibit games, this is what it inevitably leads to. Her videos do generate many views and he sometimes outrageous pronouncements resulted in backlash. This was only in the form of vicious online comments. The mainstream media, unfamiliar with gaming culture began spreading the story and blowing it out of proportion. It is clear that there was online harassment by cyber bullies and trolls, but the media portrayed it as gamers generally hate women. Sarkeesian does not help the video game culture by her videos or efforts. Her arguments against video games either lack cogency or contain limited amounts of evidence. Simultaneously, this invigorates a small, but vocal group of sexists in the video gaming community. One of Anita’s videos “All Slender Ladies: Body Diversity in Video Games” argument lacks fortitude. She claims that all women characters have one slim body type and are not able to be more flexible like male character designs.The characters that she does mention in her video Chun li and Cammy do not follow the same slender female model. She did not bother to do research, because there have been muscular looking  women characters that have appeared in video  games. It should be understood that game design is similar to the principles of animation and is not meant to be realistic.

           The video opens with Anita praising Overwatch . She also is laudatory to the character Zarya. The majority of the female characters to have a slender body type. It is true that more variety never hurts a video game. If it is character design, setting, or game play gamers crave something new.

Then Sarkeesian provides her first part of evidence of lack of diversity in video games by discussing Street Fighter.  The error she makes here is that she does not consider Chun li  and Cammy as different from the common slender female body type.  This is not true and even she admits that Chun li has muscular legs. Cammy has a more athletic build being a soldier. If some one were to look closely enough, their bodies do resemble women competitors from the Olympics. Although her muscles are not as large as Zarya’s, over the years game  designers have made Chun Li more athletic  looking ( especially her legs). It makes sense that her legs are more exaggerated, because a majority of her attacks are kicks.

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Chun li as she appears in Street Fighter 4. Notice that her arms are a bit bigger than in previous games.
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Chun Li’s legs probably got inspiration from somewhere.

Examining the body of track and field athletes it almost appears as if they are Chun Li brought to life. It would be dishonest to say that Chun Li would fall under the thin classification. Any video game fan would know that if they have consistently played Street Fighter for many years. Cammy cannot be considered ectomorphic either. Her recent design shows her with sculpted abdominal muscles and developed legs. Cammy’s  prologue in  Street Fighter 4 shows her with an athletic physique.  The strange part is that the character design changes in the ending epilogue animation. The computer generated Cammy remains consistent in game play.

The great part about fighting games is than they at least do not depict female characters as anorexic. If Anita Sarkeesian wanted to point out the lack of body diversity in video games, using fighting games is not the best example. Her method is to take only a few paradigms, rather than examining games as a whole.

        There are games that have shown body image diversity. Yet Anita Sarkessian ignores or is either unaware of these characters that appear in various games. Power Instinct was a fighting game that had a muscular character known as Angela Beti. Most of the roster had fighters with strange quirks and in many ways it was attempting to imitate other fighting games of the 1990s. The promotional did not slim her down either.

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The game was first released in 1993. There have been sequels, but has not reached the same level of popularity as Street Fighter or Tekken. Angela’s physical appearance is not random. She is as revealed by the game a strongwoman of Italian descent. Angela is a formidable character in the game and her strength is even comparable to some men. The game is not a bad one, it just with other fighting games the competition is harder. Gamers may just prefer to play what they are most familiar with.

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Another character that breaks the thin woman body model is Ms. Arrow from F-Zero Gx  . This was one of Nintendo’s popular game titles on the Gamecube in the early 2000s. It is mostly focused on racing, but what makes it great is the characters. Ms. Arrow is another zany character that provides gamers with entertainment. The game and players do not care if she has a muscular physique. Virtua Fighter 4 has Vanessa Lewis, who is anything but skinny.  There are many more games that could be mentioned to this list. It seems that future games will do the same in terms of character design.

 These characters are do not have over exaggerated breasts or are simple stock characters. They are part of the stories in their universes. There are games that even let you choose the phenotype of your character.  Fall Out 4 allows players to select a muscular body type for both female and male characters. They can also be fat or thin. RPGs  also have a character creation feature in which attributes can be changed based on characters liking. What Sarkeesian presents is not entirely accurate. There are some characters that are sexualized for the sake of getting male players to buy more video games. Skimpy outfits and large breasts seem common place. Even with women characters who are not in the thin category are sexualized.

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Amazon from Dragon’s Crown is barely wearing clothing. Now, if she is a warrior she would need protective armor. The interesting  part about this is that, while not thin she is still presented as desirable.

This can be a problem. If female characters are to be in a video game they should not just be there to be presented as sex objects or rewards. If game developers do not change this, claims like Sarkeesian’s will be taken as fact.

          Anita Sarkeesian then says that ” male characters are free to embody whatever physique suits their personality.” This is not true. The muscular body type for men has been presented as the standard in video game design. Just like with women, on occasion you do see a change in the standard. She does not say that this standard also has damaging effects on some men. It seems she only cares about how women are and not true equality. If gamers were to do a general data collection, it appears the muscular body type for men appears more than any other type. Male characters have the same issues as women: exaggerated body ideals. This not only distorts peoples ideas of beauty, but it has them obsess over it. There are two extremes of this culturally induced obsession. The first is that there is only one form of beauty and that everyone must conform to it. This also requires that members accept it without question. The other extreme is people who try to imposes an alternative rather than letting individuals decide for themselves what aesthetic is most pleasing. She speaks of cultural influences of “who gets to be desirable,” but the fact is a person has a choice to reject these notions. If a woman objects to the beauty myth, they should not engage in it on a personal level. Sarkeesian wears make-up which in a subtle manner enforces the beauty myth. If third wave feminists are convinced that appearance should not matter, then they stop with investing so much in make-up and anti-aging products. She then is again selective in her data, saying older men in video games appear more. The majority feature young protagonists, so this is more of an example of ageism rather than sexism. Personality is more along the realm of psychology of a character not physical embodiment. What makes a great character is not just design; it is  the essence of the psyche.

        The  video continues to miss the concept of character design. Depending on the game, characters can be either cartoon like or realistic model. Street Fighter is more cartoon like in the depiction of its roster. However, it can be based of the standard structure of the human body.

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Brooke Ence looks like Cammy.
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Cammy has more of an athletic build. Anita still classifies her as thin.

Cammy has the body of a crossfit woman, but still has the more cartoon like features in terms of the face. The character designs are meant to be exaggerated in this case. It is not meant to be realistic or a body type that should be imitated. Games now are becoming more realistic at depicting the human figure and its not always the strange body dimensions that Sarkeesian has a problem with. Uncharted 4 depicted a capable female adversary ( later defected) against Drake. She does not appear helpless or waifish. Her name is Nadine Ross who acts as second in command to Rafe Alder. When Rafe becomes too obsessed and insane in his search for the treasure, Nadine makes her exit. Being the head of a mercenary organization  also is significant. She plays an important role to the story providing troops to fight Drake and is dangerous in her own right. The great part about the game is that she is not killed off and it would not be surprising to see her in other games, if the series continues.

It looks as if the crossfit  body is used again. Nadine looks like Elisabeth Akinwale.

These cases are not as large as the thin body type, but there has been change. Character designs that are the best emphasize a unique and dynamic variety. It goes beyond just body type diversity. It encompasses height, eye shape, hair style, facial structure, and posture. This gives a character life, even though the viewer knows its not real. If women are to be presented more fairly in video games, it requires more than just simple body diversity. Then a new conundrum emerges in which another unrealistic model dethrones the other one and the problem is not solved. Gaining a better grasp of creativity in character design adds to the uniqueness of a video game. The reason the Zarya from Overwatch   captivates gamers  is that she plays on certain elements. The first is it combines two common tropes known as the husky Russkie  and the amazonian beauty. The character also becomes more humorous, because in a way she is almost a reference to Vasquez from Aliens (1986).  The game took these components and formed a unique character. Fans have embraced Zarya  and it is a positive portrayal. Although most characters in the game are slim, Zarya will be remember more because of her character concept.

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Character concepts involving personality, references to other materials,  and a particular essence is what makes a great video game character. These elements are the most pivotal during creation. The physical appearance takes some consideration. Sometimes the designs match the part in which role the character plays. The heroic body type ( athletic or muscular ) is common in action adventure and fighting games. Other genres are more flexible. It depends on what the intentions of the game developers are. For some characters a larger or muscular body would not suit them.  Mario Brothers characters are more on the cartoon like design and more comedic in nature. The hero body types would seem misplaced in the game.

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Princess Peach as shown in a fan art rendition.  Mario Brothers characters do not appear like this, because its meant to be comedic. Mario is fat and Luigi is tall and thin. 

There are times in which the standard can be changed in experimentation with games. It depends on what the creator envisions. It is not always a sexist conspiracy, but a general lack of vision and imagination. It cannot be denied that video games are more harsh to women with a larger body type. Fat women are often used as jokes as Sarkessian reveals. Video games are not the major offender in this case. Films and television are much worse in terms of body diversity. Advertising and the fashion industry promote an unhealthy body image that is far worse than what video games do. These industries and entertainment media predate video games and have done far more damage. Even fitness magazines that constantly obsess over weight loss rather than actual health are culprits. It should be understood that electronic entertainment is a relatively new medium and still evolving. It can go in the right direction as long as character design remains flexible and show variety.

          What vexes video game enthusiasts about third wave feminist criticism is that it condemns the entire geek culture. It merely casts all men as being misogynists, fearful of women, or advocates of men’s rights movement . Geek culture is vast and covers many aspects of entertainment including non-material culture. It involves comics, collecting memorabilia, video games, role-playing board games, and science fiction in all forms of media. It is a devoted subculture that is mostly male. It almost seems ironic that women are attacking men that they would not pay attention to if they were attempting to start conversation. This sudden “social   justice” movement against video games parallels how fundamentalist Christians condemned Dungeons and Dragons. These movements are not designed to correct an injustice or grievance, but to keep an ideology alive. Third wave feminism  has in many was become bankrupt. It does not attempt to address the racism in its own movement or lack of solidarity. It does not address class warfare that is relentless. Attacking a medium which is gaining wide spread popularity is a way to promote and keep relevant a movement that has lost purpose. There are still many challenges ranging from reproductive rights, feminization of poverty, violence against women, and unequal pay. Some factions of third wave feminists do not want to confront these issues or the challenges facing the women of the world. These women are white and of the upper class in the United States focused on improving the conditions of their own group. There is more of a push to form more of a special interest group for women within the context of third wave feminism. This faction tends to escalate an incident of which to many would seem insignificant. Whether its the  Eugenie Bouchard twirling controversy or the backlash in regards to the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters,  it seems more facetious than a serious issue. Compared to other parts of the globe, these seem like frivolous First World problems. Relevant to the gaming world the Tracer pose controversy became a ludicrous spectacle. A few third wave feminists complained that tracer was being over sexualized by doing a over the shoulder pose. Blizzard caved into pressure and removed the pose.

 

 This image was not lascivious or suggestive, but some claimed it was reducing the character to a mere sex object. The pronouncement lacked cogency. Tracer’s pose is a bodybuilding pose you see in certain categories of the sport. Observers did not know and some did not care. They saw what they wanted to see, even though it had no basis in reality. Starting a problem when one was not present angered many. These petty and often  senseless battles only cause more of a divide among male and  female video game enthusiasts. There are games ( mostly M rated) that are far more worse in depictions of women than Tracer in Overwatch.  It would have made more sense to attack those game rather than Overwatch. Blizzard’s attempt to be politically correct could have an unintended repercussion. Companies may not have female characters in their games rather than face protests. Finding a balance will be a challenge for game developers.

       Anita Sarkeesian only states problems rather than providing solutions. There are several courses of action that can implemented. Women must enter game design and become content creators. Women being leaders and workers in the industry can counter sexist attitudes and convictions. It can also add a perspective to the industry. Game developers must be willing to be more bold with their character design. Playstation 4, X Box, and the Nintendo Wii U have great graphics.Seeing as  the systems are advanced in this attribute, they have to do more to distinguish themselves. Making characters with interesting and unique appearance will help. Investing in great storylines  and setting will enhance a gaming experience. Women should consider staring their own video game companies. The administration and business section of the industry has the most power, something individuals should not be without. This way there is more control over what content is being produced and distributed. Third wave feminists must understand that not every man is their enemy. There may actually be male allies that could help change certain practices. If change is to happen it cannot come from Anita Sarkeesian. It has to be women who have been a part of the video game community either as game designers or fans. Only then can effective progress can happen.

The Problem with Anita Sarkeesian’s “All the Slender Ladies: Body Diversity in Video Games” Argument

Women in Physically Demanding Occupations

Firefighting, construction, policing, sports,  and military occupations are very physically demanding jobs. There are more men in these positions due to physiological and sociological factors. There are arguments that women should not be in these occupations, because sex differences in human physiology and biology are too great. This argument lacks cogency due to the fact it assumes all women are the same. Physical abilities can vary from individual to individual regardless of biological sex. This means that some men and some women are qualified for these professions, but not the whole population. Then there are sociological factors holding some women back in these professions such as discriminatory practices and unequal pay. If those factors were eliminated, that would not mean that these profession would be completely gender balanced. The difference in strength, speed, and aerobic capacity make it difficult for the average woman to handle extremely physically demanding tasks. Women of exceptional ability can handle it due to the fact their genetics allow it. If women want to enter these professions they will have to train harder than a man. Besides technical issues in exercise physiology, there are other problems that must be addressed in terms of gender integration.

         The question of physical ability tests continue to generate controversy. There are two opposing views in regards to this issue. Some state that standards should be lowered to accommodate women. The other view is that standards should be tailored specifically to the tasks relevant to the occupation and women should train to meet the criteria. The most extreme view is to not even give women a chance to try or attempt.Lowering standards is impractical and only attracts people who are unqualified. Muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and  coordination of movement   are pivotal to these jobs. Movement quality also is another physical skill that cannot be ignored. Lowering standards only perpetuates the myth that  women are biological inferiors. This will create resentment among other colleagues who believe they were just given a job position, but did not earn it.Secondly, there are women through training who have increased their muscular strength. Women’s muscles do react in a similar manner to weight training, but they have less fast twitch muscle fiber. Men have more strength and cardiovascular endurance  in terms of  absolute magnitude. This is an average estimate, but studies have been conducted that included 113 research studies of firefighters, police officers, coal miners, and construction workers. Stephen H. Courtwright conducted the study for Texas A&M University. The results showed that men scored higher in strength in cardiovascular endurance. There was no difference in movement quality. Training did help women gain higher scores, but did not eliminate the gap.

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A meta-analysis of sex differences in physical ability

Women performed better on visual acuity, reaction time, and dexterity. It is rare that a woman will reach  the same strength level as a man who is on the same training regimen. This does not mean women cannot acquire enough strength to meet certain demands. The problem that emerges is that some elements of the test may not have as much relevance to the job or standards are raised so high to exclude women. When standards are raised so high, this would also exclude a number of men as well. It has been attempted by a number of police and firefighting  departments, but they have failed to keep out women. This leads to the other perspective of having tests tailored to specific tasks. If a candidate can do lifting required ( a firefighter carrying a hose or person) why should a score on a sit-up count exclude a candidate? It would seem ludicrous to deny them the job based on one element of physical fitness. There are cases in which some exercises are not useful at all. Women were allowed to do the flexed arm hang in the US military, but this was not an accurate measure of upper body strength. Having training programs designed specifically for women could violate employment laws. Training should be designed to target upper and lower body strength. The Los Angeles Police Department has been experimenting with this for a few years. Applicants have the most to benefit from specialized training which will reduce the time it takes and possible injury.  Women must focus on their upper body strength. Knowing the standards before attempting the tests can help an applicant train specifically for such demands.

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Women like this seem to challenge the notion that physical tests are naturally unfair to women.
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Through training women can gain strength.

  When examining these perspectives it seems the claim that physical ability tests are  discriminatory seems to lack credibility.  The major factor in regards to testing is how precise are the tests that are administered. There are obviously cases in which the way physical ability tests are used to exclude women. The American Civil Liberties Union has exposed this longtime time practice. It would be illegal for a job to declare no help wanted from a particular group so discrimination has to be covert. According to the ACLU employers have to prove that particular elements to a physical ability test must be relevant to the job. SWAT teams are nearly all male and the ACLU has noted tests, put more emphasis solely on upper body strength. These tests included timed runs, wall climbs, push-ups, sit-ups, and obstacle courses. Elite and tactical units have high standards, but not all are entirely relevant to the job. If a tests puts more emphasis on push-ups, it could be considered discriminatory toward women. If the test is not verified by experts in the field or physiologists it may not even be considered a precise measure of skills. Discrimination must be challenged legally and test must be designed for the purpose of fulfilling requirements of the job position. The extreme perspectives on the issue of physical ability test must also be rejected. Although they do not admit it openly, there are men who view certain professions as male only and wish to keep it that way. Their argument is that women are too different biologically to handle such work. Others just have a problem with women being in positions of authority or power. The opposite end of the spectrum is the third wave feminist argument. A faction claims that physical ability tests are just all discriminatory and that either they be eliminated or standards lowered. This is just as harmful as the extreme sexist arguments. Double standards that favor women is not an example of equality.

images (3) The original point of feminism was the promotion of equality   among the sexes. This notion of female favoritism that has emerged in a third wave feminist or post-feminist atmosphere has had more negative effects, rather than positive ones. Feminism was never meant to be a women’s special interest group; it was for the purpose of stopping social injustices against women in all realms of society. Using reason would help a declining movement. This requires acknowledging that men and women are biologically and physiologically different. Admitting so is not an indication of inferiority or superiority between the sexes. That is why physical ability tests must remain for physically demanding occupations.

           Women make up a small number in physically demanding occupations due to differences in human physiology. Men on average are stronger due to body composition and endocrinology. Testosterone allows for higher levels of muscular hypertrophy and a denser bone structure. Strength in the upper body is more pronounced, but this gap seems limited compared to women’s lower bodies. Myostatin plays a role in both sexes. This means that men and women with low myostatin could find it easier to build more muscle. The person with the mesomorphic body types may find it easier to do such demanding tasks that require strength. Men’s larger skeletal frame allows for more muscle mass to be stored on the body. When examining the upper body broader shoulders accommodates more mass in the trapezius and pectoralis major muscles.

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Women can build considerable muscle on their upper bodies relative to their frame, but men’s broader shoulders allows for more mass to be accommodated.
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Valentina Chepiga  has a powerful upper body, but her strength would not be equivalent to Arnold’s upper body.

Other than muscle and bone mass there is the difference in tendon strength. Women do have more soft tissue injuries. The reason could be that women may not elevate their collagen synthesis. Women could have a lower rate of tendon formation and lower mechanical strength of the actual tissue, which means it could be vulnerable to injury.  Both sexes are susceptible to harm if they over train, over exert their bodies, or use incorrect form. Women must be cautious when engaging in an intense training program. Men have more natural strength, which refers to the strength prior to a fitness regimen. Women who are considering entering careers of a physically demanding nature should train their bodies. Weight training has been the most effective method for increasing strength. Diet is also critical. Estrogen produces more fat, which means women metabolize food differently. Food is an essential fuel for the body , but the goal should be to increase type II fast twitch muscle fiber. Balanced and full meals can help with a training regimen. One element of sexual dimorphism that may be harder to overcome is running speed. The structure of women’s pelvises including smaller hearts and lungs would mean they would run slower. Utilizing oxygen is essential to running and aerobic capacity. It should be noted these observations are averages. There are women extraordinary talent that could meet these standards. While there are explanations that are biologically based why few women are in these occupations, the sociological explanations cannot be ignored.

    Traditionally, women have been kept out of the workforce. If they did have presence in the workforce, like other discriminated groups it was either low paying or menial. Physically demanding jobs had a unique masculine mystique to them. The ethos they generated was that of the male hero. They were idolized and young boys would dream of becoming a fireman or policeman. The image that was projected was a brave, invincible, and forceful man who was master. This image was one based on a traditional masculinity and women were not to adopt it. Besides just not being acceptable, it had a misogynist overtone. Women were considered “too timid” and “too weak” for such dangerous work. Women were also considered to be too incompetent for certain occupations. These convictions emerged out of the industrial revolution, when gender roles became more strict in regards to labor.

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The idea that women are too cowardly, incompetent, or weak for certain professions continues to be used as a justification to exclude them.

Legal protectionism was a concept designed to “safe guard” women from a harsh society. This was not about legal protection, but excluding women from certain jobs or having equal rights.  The belief that man was woman’s defender and could not function without one was common. This not only kept women out of physically demanding jobs, but excluded them from white collar professions. There were certain convictions that women could not be doctors or scientists, because they were not intelligent enough. Protectionism reach its height in 1908 when the Supreme Court upheld Oregon’s law prohibiting the number of hours a woman could work. Legislation got so ludicrous that it prohibited women from working  more than 48 hours a week  or working jobs that required them to lift more than thirty five pounds. Some jobs had a fetal protection policy, which banned women for fear it would harm a developing life. This ban has problems when examined critically. First, a work environment should be safe enough that employees can perform their duties with out harm. If this is not done it is an occupational safety violation. Second , if a woman is capable of performing the job there is no legal justification for discrimination. Besides the law working against women in certain professions, conservative culture did as well. Women who entered the physically demanding occupations were either deemed unfeminine or in a homophobic manner had their sexuality questioned. Although these prejudices and hatreds have been challenged, there are problems with integration. Sexual harassment is a constant problem in any workplace. Chivalry although it seems harmless creates complications. Men may baby their female counterparts, because they believe they need protection or that they are the equivalent of children. A man may lift something heavy for a female co-worker even though she should be able to do the same. Women may even take advantage of this enlightened sexism, to their own detriment. Equality does not mean special privileges for a group; it means fair treatment for all. Women should not expect chivalrous or special treatment. Men and women must function as equals if full integration of these physically demanding occupations is to work.

          Women involved in construction can reveal much about women in traditionally male dominated occupations. Women often have their credentials question more, due to the fact it is assumed women have no skill or  the physical strength in building. Building and engineering has been considered a man’s job.

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The truth is women are entering this profession, because many of the legal barriers and social stigmas were eliminated.  There were some rare cases in history in which women were involved in some construction work. The Soviet Union did allow women to work in construction  or factory jobs. It was guided by the notion that socialism should challenge strict gender roles, because it reinforced bourgeoisie values. A classless society in their belief system meant that men and women would contribute to the collective economic welfare of the state. However, women still remain a small number in the construction workforce. This is again not entirely biological or sociological. It can also be economic. Construction’s well being depends on the real estate market. If it is in decline, this will automatically harm construction workers. The subprime mortgage loan crisis of the mid-2000s  was what caused a large number of US workers in the construction industry to lose their jobs. According to the United States Department of Labor from 1985 to 2007 the number of women employed in construction rose to 81.3%. This was great progress. It was set back by the loss of 2.5 million between 2007 and 2010. It has been estimated that about 300,000 women left the industry. Women only consist about 9%  of the construction industry. There are about 800,000 women still employed in the construction industry. Women now work as electricians, plumbers, laborers, managerial, professional, administrative, and production employees. Men and women do face similar risks or hazards. There are some issues that effect women more so.

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Women doing construction work in the 1940s.
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Woman welder working in a factory in the 20th century.

Women who have smaller tendons, ligaments, and muscle tissue could be more susceptible to injury. Decent healthcare  may not be available to workers or if there is coverage it is not substantial considering possible hazards to well being. Women who are hypertensive and are involved in physically demanding occupations could be at risk for heart disease. Health and physical condition on the job is pivotal. Progress according to current statistics is slow for women entering construction jobs. The Women’s National Law Center has reported only 200,000 women are in construction out of 7.6 million male workers. Gender segregation has declined in the workforce, however there are persistent barriers. Child care and maternity leave pose problems, which men do not have to worry about. Companies and various corporations cut benefits to maximize profits.  Single mothers involved in apprenticeships may have trouble graduating due to limited options for child care. Sexual harassment and bullying by supervisors also constitutes more stress. The women in construction report revealed by the US Department of Labor that 88% of women experienced some form of sexual harassment.

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Gender stereotypes also play a role. Men think women cannot build or construct anything. Older men believe that this is a role not for women.

Seeing as women can no longer be banned from such work , men attempt to make an unpleasant atmosphere. This can be detrimental to the industry on multiple levels. Discrimination excludes capable women which will harm the quality of the work. Less workers means lower productivity and overworked staff that may just leave due to unreasonable demands.Women entering the construction industry may also help with economic recovery. The United States has for decades ignored  its physical economy, letting its factories, infrastructure, and automobile industry struggle. As long as wages are not stagnant, there will be growth. A strong construction industry with workers enthusiastic to be a part of it will become essential to economic health. While it is important to understand discrimination, personal choice is also a factor. Another reason why women do not enter this field is because they may feel that physical activity is something they should not have to do.The mentality that men should do heavy lifting for women must be repudiated. It is not uncommon for women to ask men to open jars for them or move objects, without even attempting it themselves.

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Construction is not solely reliant on manual labor, but also the use of tools and heavy machinery.

  Women will under extra criticism and scrutiny in professions such as these. Their performance has to be of high or higher quality.  This attitude may not be completely related to gender politics. It could be both generational and class related. Traditionally, construction was seen as more of a working class type of occupation. When technology advanced machine power replaced human muscle power. Heavy equipment made construction more semi-skilled. Men and women part of a middle class background and who are younger may not want to do manual labor jobs. The post-World War II  middle class values emerge with the concept men and women should aim for white collar professions. It is unfortunate that construction work would not get as much respect as lawyer or someone working in the financial sector. After all, everyone needs a structure to live in and conduct business. Every job counts from the most menial to the highest paying . Construction is a pivotal part of the economy that cannot be neglected.

           Firefighting is another predominately male occupation. There were points in history just like construction, in which women did serve as firefighters in the US, UK, Pakistan, India, Norway,  and later on in the 20th century. What can be noticed is similar problems. Institutional  discrimination and the physical challenges complicated by sexual dimorphism. The US according to data only has 3.6 % of women as firefighters. The challenge that is the most visible is the physical tests. Applicants must hang from a pole, go up stairs with heavy equipment, and carry  large fire hoses. Some tasks are timed. There has been an attempt to modify the tests to get more women to join. These modifications were questionable and many wondered if this was simply lowering standards. This would not be an effective policy.

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Here is a female firefighter. Prejudice against her would assume she is not strong enough or has the courage for such work.

   There are women who are strong enough to meet the requirements necessary. Women would need extra training before attempting the physical ability tests for fire fighters. Knowing the requirements prior and help a woman on her own train specifically for it. The stair climb requires a trainee to run on a continuous rotating staircase referred to as a step mill. The applicant has to stay on it for a total of 200 seconds. The ladder event requires the removal of  a ladder that weighs about 45 lbs. A distance will be set on how far it will be carried in the 35.6 second time frame. Hose advance is a demonstration of how the hose is to utilized when active. It must be done in a 20 second time frame. Forcible entry has applicants use a 12 lbs sledge hammer to knock down a rubber pad on a movable post. It is designed to simulate forcing open a door that is locked. The search event has applicants go through a tunnel simulating the actions involved entering a smoke filled building. The ceiling hook event helps an applicant find fires in hidden places, by learning to pull down walls. The most challenging event for women in particular would be the rescue through doorway. This requires carry a 125 lbs dummy through an obstacle course and getting it to safety. Examining these requirements, women who want to be firefighters must be able to carry and lift above the weight of 182 lbs.

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The previous picture was Erica Blockman  in her firefighter uniform. It would be a mistake to assume that because she is a woman she is not strong enough for fire fighting.  Her strength statistics show she has a 285 lbs squat, 175 lbs bench press,  and a dead lift of 365 lbs.

  It will take women longer to amass such strength required. Lowering standards is not only a horrible idea for firefighting, but it underestimates women’s capabilities. Erica Blockman who is a firefighter, personal trainer, and bodybuilder did fifteen years of training to gain the strength she required for her job. The most impressive aspect is that she only stands at 5’1 and weighs 129 pounds. Even smaller women can succeed if they try hard enough. Women with a naturally higher physical fitness level will find passing these tests much easier. Although strength and endurance is important just how accurate is it for job performance success? It may give some idea, but not the entire picture. Flexibility, coordination, and balance are not emphasized as much. These are critical elements of fitness that should also be tested. Rather than modification or lowering of standards, there should be precision analysis. This would examine every aspect to the best exercises to the most essential tasks.

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Sandy Ridell was also a firefighter. It would be ludicrous to hold her to lower standards.

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The ultimate priority is not just to put out fires, but to save lives. lowering standards only puts people at risk in this type of profession. Women must learn not to fear weights or building muscle. The notion that strength is an attribute a woman must not have has to disappear. Strength and muscle will help with heavy lifting. The few examples mentioned here would have probably not been successful  if they did not train before they entered their firefighting duties. If we were to do an experiment of non-trained versus weight trained  the results would reveal much. If these women did not weight train they would either fail the fitness requirements or not even finish the test. The athletic women who maintained a consistent regimen would be successful.

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Fire hoses can be very heavy, but she can do it just fine.
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This explains how she can handle the fire hose. She has an extensive  strength training regimen .

Like other professions of this nature there are also social issues that are present. Fire stations for example were designed solely for men in their facilities. Restroom and sleeping quarters were not separate for the first women entering firefighting.  Older stations tend not to have the gender modifications for women living in a firehouse. This can be a real frustrating problem for women in firefighting. Women do not enjoy the unrelenting stares of their male counterparts in stations that do not have the facilities modified. Some facilities refuse to have their stations modified, because of the cost involved. Stations are going to need repairs over time, so this excuse seems to lack cogency. There are men who have been involved in firefighting for years , before women gained entry and still believe they should not be there. Only a strong human resources department can challenge sexist discrimination in the workplace. Other skills that a firefighter must have besides physical ones include passing knowledge based tests and a psychological evaluation.  Emergency rescues require teams and units. Full-time fire fighters have a requirement of knowing CPR and paramedic training. There is a mental aspect to this occupation that needs an individual to be calm and brave in perilous situations.

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Women are not just becoming fighters in the field, they are also becoming fire chiefs.

Seeing as the profession has become more skilled it requires more education. If one wants to become a part of senior management, a master’s degree or higher will improve the chances of mobility through the ranks. A university education will help with any career. People skills and communication is also important. Firefighters work with the public and having some experience in community outreach can help. Women are going to entering this profession it appears in larger numbers, so adjustments must be made.

          Law enforcement is another physically demanding profession, but not as much as firefighting or a military career. It is an occupation that has lost much respect and prestige due to police brutality, institutional racism, sexism, and a culture of general corruption. The United States has a problem with police either targeting African Americans or the use of excessive force against the public. Other nations which have authoritarian governments the police are seen as oppressors. Solutions to police misconduct and criminal acts  range from reform to adding more women to the police force. Adding more women to the police force will not be effective, seeing as there are cases in which women have engaged in excessive force or murder on a police force. This seems to be reliant on the sexist stereotype that women are more peaceful and less violent than men. To understand women on police forces, some myths must be addressed. There is an idea that a police officer  must be imposing super strong he-men to be effective. Policing is not about beating people, but it is  part detective work and solving crimes. This leads to another myth that could have more lethal consequences. The belief that women cannot defend themselves may be in a female officers mind and she may be more willing to use her gun if confronted by a male criminal. An exaggerated idea of men’s strength could cause them to use lethal force when it is not necessary. Male police officers do that even when people are unarmed.

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This woman would have her credentials questioned because of her gender.
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This male cop is so out of shape he resembles Chief Wiggum. However, no one would question his competence because he’s a man.

The conviction that police officers are faced with constant danger is another exaggeration. Law enforcement depending on the area is a safe profession. It is rare that there are huge numbers of police officers being killed in the street .There is also the problem of varying standards.Some police departments do not even require a college degree and settle for only a high school diploma or G.E.D equivalent. Police departments would be best if they had staff with at least a bachelor’s in criminology. This may be at the root of many problems in US police departments. An uneducated workforce is not helpful in a global economy.  The police fitness test also pose issues for women. Some observers noted the initial hiring standard was higher than the post-hiring standard. This seems backwards id one is attempting to have a certain level of retention. Then there are physical tasks that may not be related to the function of the job. Some police departments ask that applicants be able to bench press the equivalent of their weight. A more accurate estimation of upper body strength would probably be pull-ups rather than bench press exercises. Then another challenge is that the criteria varies depending on what area of the US. Here it become obvious that police departments can use physical ability tests to discriminate against women. Police departments are like firefighting departments investigated by the US Justice Department to make reasonable standards.

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This is an example of a physical ability test for a police department. It is done on a point system of how many of the particular exercise can be performed. There are women who could do this easily, but may not reach the highest scores of the highest performing man .
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If one goes off the assumption physical strength is the only attribute need to be a police officer, then this woman would be more qualified. Being a police officer involves more than just that attribute.

It is clear that there is institutional discrimination in America’s police departments. Large law enforcement agencies employ only about 15% of women. Other ethnic groups on police forces are underrepresented. What the US has is an overwhelmingly white male law enforcement establishment policing a nation that will be more diverse in the future. The lugubrious fact is that modern day policing has its roots in the slave patrols in the Antebellum South during the 19th century. There is a system of white supremacy that operates in US law enforcement that must be overturned. Combined with a culture of hyper-machismo and hate the police are seen as a menacing force. History and culture have created an atmosphere of acceptable violence. Critics and observers have claimed that if more women were on law enforcement agencies, police killings would be reduced. Statistics do show women police officers are least likely to use their weapon and first use communication to diffuse intense situations. Although this seems promising there are also instances in which women have killed on police forces. The small number of women on police forces can also distort this data. One example is Alicia White, one of the six police officers charge with the murder Fredie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland. She was the only female killer police officer, which is a rare. However, if more women were to join law enforcement crimes like these would increase. Diversifying a police force will not change behavior unless the law is equally enforced for wrong doing in a law enforcement agency.

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There has been progress, but it has been minimal. African American women are more underrepresented on US police forces. Other ethnic groups or religious groups are as well.

Only after multiple police acts of murder and discrimination suits has the Justice Department begun to take action. This is happening at a time when the US is at a cross roads. Law enforcement agencies are undergoing militarization which is causing a level of discomfort for people concerned about civil liberties. Influenced by an irrational fear of possible terrorist attack, this will become a major legal battle.  There must be more efforts made to recruit women  and other ethnic groups into law enforcement and have officers be accountable to the law.

    The military has been shown to be more resistant to women being in its ranks. Women in combat has become another wedge issue that both the political right and left try to capitalize on. Women soldiers not only face war, but sexual abuse and rape from men in their own army. As noted earlier sexual harassment is present in both law enforcement agencies and firefighting, but the US  military has a prevalent crime issue of rape and sexual assault. Then there are the detractors who state women are not designed for combat roles. The fact is women are already in combat. Iraq and Afghanistan are not traditional wars in the sense that there are front lines. Women were fighting already in an unofficial and support capacity. Now women have the option of entering a military occupational specialty (mos). This may be a more difficult place for women to excel at. The physical tests are difficult and it is a military culture  that seems to be misogynistic in attitude. The marines have a problem with this, which seem to have a fraternity mindset and engages in hazing behavior. A general lack of professionalism seems to plague the US military at the moment.

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Women in cultural engagement teams may see combat unexpectedly. Afghanistan continues to deteriorate and is analogous to America’s defeat in the Vietnam War.

 The physical challenges are a burden to women. If a woman is anticipating a military career, its best they exercise before they join. Women do not have as much natural strength, which explain higher rates of injury. This means even basic training can be difficult. Getting the muscles physically ready for vigorous activity is critical. The Army Physical Fitness Test has standards that are adjusted according to age and sex. Other branches of the US military have different standards which include the Navy, Marine Corps, Navy Seals, Green Berets, and Air Force. Depending on which branch an individual wants to fight with, it’s best to train on your own time for it to meet the physical fitness standards. Women’s smaller frames and lower strength does not explain all the higher injury rates. Musculoskeletal injuries have been increasing due to heavy gear. This not only hinders mobility, but harms a soldier’s health. It becomes worse for men and women marching under load. Marines could on average carry up to 135 pounds of gear or more, which ergonomic standards is not best for human movement. A 2001 Army Science Board study found that overloaded gear caused fatigue faster and injury as well. Soldiers came back with connective tissue issues, spine injuries, and arthritic conditions.

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An Australian soldier carrying gear. This could cause health issues if not addressed.

     Loads need to be reduced to prevent soldier injury. Women could be at risk for more of these medical issues because of their smaller size. Developing upper body strength could help with prevention of injuries in the chest and neck. Programs such as Executive Office Soldier have been leading efforts to lighten gear and protect soldiers from health risks. The progress has been slow with PEO  gradually producing armor that fits the female frame. Ammunition can weigh up to 70 pounds in total  and water containers are up to 17 additional pounds. If women are to carry large loads or injured soldiers fitness double standards must be challenged. The pull-ups controversy has been hounding the women in combat issue since 2013. There was a three pull-up requirement that has since been reversed. There are women who can do more than three pull-ups if they train hard enough. The flexed arm hang seems useless, but women are given this as the only option. Changing the standard only gives detractors more talking points. The persistent argument against women in combat is that they are too weak and not capable. Normally the statement is a “a woman is not strong enough to lift a man who is injured.”The casualty drag is preformed by all soldiers and women have shown it can be done. One simple method is the use of the fireman’s carry. Although this is not done in full combat gear,  adding weight could make it more difficult. If a woman has a high enough level of strength and proper fitting armor it will not be a failure.

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There has to be a change in convictions. The notion that warfare is male only has to be challenged. Through out history women did fight in wars. This has not been studied as thoroughly, but Dahomey, Russia, and Vietnam at certain points had women in combat. Despite these facts, Westerners in particular automatically think warrior means male. This goes back to the masculine hero image that these occupations present. It is not only in cultural attitudes, but in advertising, film, and other forms of entertainment. The US military wants to present an image of a force of strong dangerous men who are invincible. This does not represent the truth, but an idea they want the public to have. Many who are in the US military are not there for financial reasons or young people seeking a method to get to college. There are also families who have a tradition of just participating. For men it was considered honorable, but women were given limited praise for their contributions.

These World War II posters from the US demonstrate a level of subtle sexism. The soldier who claims he “throw’s like a girl” indicates women do not have that ability. The other poster takes a hit at a man’s masculinity by having a woman in a Navy uniform, implying that  a male that does not join is woman like. 

Women have been increasing in numbers in the US armed forces since 1978. This trend will most likely continue considering the US military does offer benefits and a pathway to pay for a university education. Adjustments must be implemented before possible disasters happen. This means the US military must prosecute sex crimes, stop fitness double standards, and end banning women from combat positions. Most importantly, the United States must stop nation building projects and conducting aggressive war.

          Professional sport is another physically demanding occupation that women have entered. There is not an equal playing field. Women still make less than there male counterparts in professional sports. Women’s sports get less media and television coverage. Detractors say that women do not perform to the same level as men and therefore will not be marketable. This argument lacks cogency for several reasons. While it is true that women do not perform to records equal of a male athlete, there are many who are extremely talented. The Williams sisters, Ronda Rousey, Dafne Schippers, Allyson Felix ,Simone Biles, and Michelle Carter prove they have a great amount of athletic skill. These are just a few women who prove who can achieve athletic strength and feats. It also has to understood sports is more than just about records and performance; you have to be an entertainer. This adds to the excitement of the game and woman have shown they can entertaining. Also some sports that women participate in do generate a fan base  in mainstream and subcultural circles. Female bodybuilding has a subcultural following although not popular among the mainstream public. Serena Williams has generated positive publicity for tennis.

The problem here is not the lack of talent, but corporate media gatekeepers and detractors that want to keep women out of sport. Then there are some sports that do not have a female equivalent. American football does not have a female division in the NFL. There are women who have been attempting to organize professional football for women in the United States. This also poses a problem with sports such as wrestling. This small sport is normally overshadowed by football in middle and high schools in the United States. The funding for it is limited and many times there is no female division. Girls can play and try out on these teams if a female division is not present in accordance with  Title IX. However, coaches and parents still want to prevent girls from participating, even though they have no intention of forming a girls team. There are critics and some feminists who say that separating sports between men and who is naturally unequal. The differences in physiology and biology  in regards to strength, speed, and aerobic capacity would mean large numbers of women could be shut out from sport. There is obviously a level of overlap between individuals, but if full mixed competition were to happen women’s number would resemble that of the police and firefighting. Sports such as boxing, weightlifting, and mixed martial arts would but women at a disadvantage due to the emphasis on upper body strength. The solution is simple. Women must be provided an division for each sport. Just like their are weight classes for various sports, there is no reason this cannot be done for the sake of fairness.

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Jackie Mitchell  is an example of overlap. She was the only woman to pitch out Babe Ruth in baseball.

 Women who have the strength and power to compete directly with men in sport should not be discouraged from doing so. If she feels she is not being challenged enough with her female colleagues, she should at least have the opportunity to try. This approach seems more practical in the long term. Although more women are involved in sports traditional prejudices and barriers remain. Sex verification tests still are present. Notably, Caster Semenya had to take one, which generated much criticism and backlash. Young women may not have access to equal training facilities as their male counter parts. Women are intensely scrutinized  for their athletic and muscular appearance.  Low pay and limited career opportunities make retention difficult. Women’s team sports do struggle. Even if this is so women continue to perform well under stress, pressure, and an unsupportive environment.

         A basic analysis of women in physically demanding occupations reveals that there are biological and sociological reasons why they are underrepresented. A sociological perspective reveals that women were legally barred and discriminated against in the workforce. This was holding them back as a group. It has been somewhat reversed, but elements of culture needed to be discarded. The emphasis on women’s gender roles and being kept in a state of domesticity is not compatible for today’s modern global economy. Anyone who is able to work, must to maintain economic health of a nation. This means women must be full participants. The days of a man being the sole bread winner have ended due to  the social changes brought about by globalization.  Both parents in contemporary America have to work if they are to pay bills, send their children to college, and have a comfortable retirement. The biological reason for women’s low numbers is clear. Men are on average stronger than women giving them  a bigger chance to pass physical tests. Women who are stronger than average or train hard to reach a fitness level required can do these jobs. They do face more harassment, bullying, and an unpleasant atmosphere, because of the intolerance of their male counterparts. Lack of strength or other qualifications does not explain why women may quit at higher rates.  There are efforts to push women out of firefighting, law enforcement, sports, and the military. Similar arguments of biological inferiority were made when women began entering higher education. It was believed that women were less intelligent and could not excel at the sciences or mathematics. This has changed and even though the numbers are small women are making progress in the scientific fields. Although those fields required mental skill and deep thought biological arguments were made to exclude them. It is widely accepted that neither sex is more intelligent than the other. Sexual dimorphism is  not enough to exclude someone from an occupation, if they are qualified and capable. The best approach to this problems regarding women involved is to start recruitment efforts, get women more involved in fitness regimens, and enforce anti-discrimination laws. If feminists want to be helpful in reducing the wage gap, they need to encourage women to go into male dominated occupations. Lowering standards is not equality, but insulting to women who are capable. Only when barriers and social stigmas are removed, women can reach their full potential in these fields.

 References

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Chemaly, Soraya. “Would Fewer People Get Killed If More Police Officers Were Women?” Womens ENews. Women’s ENews, 20 July 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://womensenews.org/2016/04/would-fewer-people-get-killed-if-more-police-officers-were-women/&gt;.

Cox, Matthew. “Heavy Loads Could Burden Women’s Infantry Role.”Military.com. Military.com, 5 Apr. 2013. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/04/10/heavy-loads-could-burden-womens-infantry-role.html&gt;.

Lee, Mara. “Progress Still Slow For Women Breaking Into Construction Jobs.”Courant.com. Courant, 11 Jan. 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.courant.com/business/hc-women-in-the-trades-20160111-story.html&gt;.

Vatelli, Romeo. “Do Tests of Physical Ability Discriminate Against Women?”Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 02 Sept. 2013. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/media-spotlight/201309/do-tests-physical-ability-discriminate-against-women&gt;.

Fields, Cassie. “Are Physical Tests Fair to Females?” – Women in Law Enforcement. Women in Law Enforcement Blog, 13 July 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.policemag.com/blog/women-in-law-enforcement/story/2012/07/are-physical-tests-fair-to-females.aspx&gt;.

Annilo, John. “The Police Physical Ability Test: Would You Meet the Requirements?” Breaking Muscle. Breaking the Muscle, 7 Feb. 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://breakingmuscle.com/military-first-responders/the-police-physical-ability-test-would-you-meet-the-requirements&gt;.

Spillar, Kathy. “The Nation’s Police Have a Sex-Discrimination Problem.” Ms Magazine Blog. Ms Magazine, 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://msmagazine.com/blog/2014/09/30/the-nations-police-have-a-sex-discrimination-problem/&gt;.

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.” Construction Industry. United States Department of Labor, 8 Oct. 2014. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <https://www.osha.gov/doc/topics/women/&gt;.

“Women and Physical Ability Tests.” American Civil Liberties Union. American Civil Liberties Union, 6 Feb. 2014. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <https://www.aclu.org/issues/womens-rights/womens-rights-workplace/women-and-physical-ability-tests&gt;.

Fredman, Josh. “What Does It Take to Be a Woman Fireman?” Houston Chronicle. N.p., 10 Sept. 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://work.chron.com/woman-fireman-15474.html&gt;.

Women in Physically Demanding Occupations