Wonder Woman’s Kinky Feminist Roots

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Wonder Woman;s Kinky Feminist Roots

Wonder Woman will appear in another DC film, which is a sequel to the 2017 smash hit . The character has become so recognizable and popular that she has appeared in TV, books, ads, and other popular media. The character’s creation is a fascinating combination of feminism, fetish, and psychology. Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston was to say the least a strange figure in the comics world. He believed as this article from The Atlantic stated were superior to men. Marston  was convinced that in 1,000 years women would be running the world. It was not that he just thought they would be in charge, rather they should be. There are more female leaders in governments around the world, but it seems improbable that some form of matriarchy would arise. This article was published in 2014 before the Wonder Woman movie was released.  While longtime fans know all DC characters there remains a rich history that is normally ignored. The early Wonder Woman comics were designed to promote feminist ideology, yet also had sexual innuendo with the the depiction of bondage. Some how Wonder Woman was always getting tied up in ropes or chains and then used her immense physical strength to break free. There may have been more than one type of fetish suggested than bondage. Besides being involved in comics, Marston was a psychologist. When discussing the creation of Wonder Woman all  the credit cannot be given to Marston alone. His two lovers Elizabeth Holloway  and Olive Byrne  contributed to the character’s creation. Entertainment can sometimes be a vehicle for the promotion of ideology.

       William Moulton Marston was a very unusual personality. His family life was a menage a trois . He had four children from Elizabeth Holloway and Olive Byrne. This would have been unacceptable in the 1930s  and 1940s, so it was kept secret. Marston was influenced by the women and historical events in his life. The suffragist movement and Olive Byrne socialist feminism were two factors in his ideological development. His fetish for bondage may have come from suffragettes chaining themselves to buildings during the 1910s. It could be questioned whether or not he was genuinely feminist. It appears that he was able to manipulate two women into maintaining what was an unconventional home life. Marston’s article ” Don’t Laugh at the Comics” caught the attention of Charles Maxwell Gaines. Gaines was the head of DC comics and realized from reading the article in Family Circle that the company could benefit from his expertise. Comics were coming under attack as being a bad influence on children. To counter this Gaines needed professionals to counter this falsehood. William Moulton Marston thought that comics main problem was the “bloodcurdling masculinity” as he referred to it. This was not exactly the more ludicrous argument of “toxic masculinity” uttered by feminists of today, but rather the lack of female heroes and independent characters.

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If girls and women were presented with negative images in entertainment or media in general this could effect their self-esteem. As Marston articulated the damage of  negative images of women : “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, power.” He explained further ” not wanting to be girls they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peaceloving as good women are.” Not all women are good and peace loving. This is a positive sex stereotype that at times is embraced by feminists when it suits them. The idea was more so a product of social feminism and the temperance movement. Marston exalted female qualities as he saw them saying  “women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness.” Thinking deeply about this it actually puts men into a gender stereotype. Violence and brute force are associated with men, when there are cases in which women were involved in sparking conflict. Every man is not violent or is every women peaceful. Maybe Marston was not as progressive as thought, at least by a 21st century standard. However his intent for Wonder Woman’s creation was clear:   “the obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.” One wonders if Marston was genuine activist, fetishist, or possibly a con man. His failed business ventures and the development of the polygraph make some wonder if the socialist-pacifist feminism he preached was just another enterprise.

        When deconstructing entertainment, literature, or media certain elements can be discovered. Interpretations can be debated. However, there are some messages that are so obvious. Bondage and fetishism was a part of Wonder Woman comics. Wonder Woman in many of her comics were either tied up by her enemies. Panels would be devoted to breaking free from chains. Some would be quick to say that this is just a trope of action comics. Others would say this a metaphor for women’s oppression and the inevitability of  equal rights being achieved.The blatant display of bondage is so obviously it is almost unthinkable that Marston was able to put that in Wonder Woman comics. The character was so popular that William Marston had a level of creative freedom. Bondage was not the only fetish that could be seen in the comics. Cratolagnia was part of the list of fetishes that Wonder Woman comics demonstrated.

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Her strength and athleticism was highlighted through the art of  H.G. Peter. William Moulton Marston was not a comic artist himself. The job of illustrating fell on Peter. Few people remember his name, but he could also take credit for being one of the creators of Wonder Woman. His career was based in cartooning and illustration. After Marston’s death he would continue to work with the character. Peter’s character design featured a Wonder Woman with a traditional figure, with some athletic development. The moral panic critics were quick to see that there was a fetish element in Wonder Woman. Marston stated that it was not violent or abusive, rather it was teaching readers to value peace and a more  positive perspective about women. This was published before the sexual revolution and the second wave feminist movement. The character was more of a bold statement back in the 1940s. The article incorrectly says that Marston presented strong women as submissive. What he was really articulating was the idea of men submitting to women’s loving authority. Only when this happens can the world be free of war and oppression. It is questionable how much the creator actually thought this was possible. One thing is for sure is that he was into fetishes.

          Using Amazons to deliver a feminist message can be both a bizarre and contradictory message. The Amazons of ancient Greek myth were a tribe of warrior women who live apart from men. Some myths presented them as man hating, rather than protagonists. Their existence in mythology was not to glorify the strength of women, rather to exalt Greek male heroes. While skilled in combat, they would meet their defeat. The blatant message was do not challenge male strength or power. Most importantly do not violate the natural gender order. Penthesilea was killed by Achilles. Hercules takes the girdle of Hippolyta and kills her. The queen of the Amazons was defeated in the ninth labor of Hercules. Amazons however got a more positive image in popular culture. It could have been due to a greater acceptance of strong women or women as protagonists. The Amazon’s of the DC universe are not man-hating, rather they despise the ways of the outside world. They are capable warriors, but not bellicose. Wonder Woman has been forced to fight seeking as the problems of  outside world come to her home. Instead of remaining on Themyscira she sets out to battle war and injustice. This depiction of  Amazons differs due to the fact it is based on utopian  social feminist literature. The interesting aspect is that over time the term and concept has been used differently. Some have used the term amazon to refer to strong or muscular women. Knowing the original myths and definition it does not fit perfectly. The Amazons of myth were warriors. While the sportswomen of the modern day are not warriors ( although there are women serving in combat roles). The Amazons of myth are normally not depicted with noticeable musculature. The modern sportswoman has attained a highly developed physique through training and sports nutrition. Strong women of today do not hold misandry as part of their beliefs. Amazons of  Greek myth only kept men around for breeding purposes for producing more girls. At least in a contemporary  context strong women are   modern Amazons.

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Definitions and words can change overtime. The question remains is are Amazons a feminist statement? The ancient myths were not pro-women pronouncements. The modern pop culture presentations could be. The image has made such an impact it has become a small branch of feminist ideology. Amazon feminism promotes celebrating the strong woman both in history and fictional works. The idea of amazon may no longer be a pejorative. The history and myth can be confusing, which why it is subject to debate.

      William Multon Marston can either be viewed as a fetishist, a feminist, or charlatan. Maybe he was all of these. A combination of psychology, political ideas, and art produced one of DC’s most iconic characters. His contradictions almost reflect the contradictory nature of  the feminist movement in America. The feminists were allied with the abolitionists in the 19th century. When emancipation occurred the alliance gradually drifted when African Americans demanded more rights. By 1920. the movement completely abandoned the cause for racial equality, when suffrage for white women was achieved.  The feminist movement was always divided between race and class lines. The sex and gender division just like others was debated. Marston’s solution was the embrace of loving community. To the radical feminists that would emerge in the 1960s, this would be unacceptable. They wanted separation and tended to have a more hostile attitude at men in general. Marston could have face harsh criticism from these individuals if had lived to that decade. He most likely would have been classified as a sex positive feminist, which still remains condemned by sections of the movement.  Wonder Woman has kinky roots, but since 1941 has become something more.  She will remain a long lasting and lovable cartoon character for generations to come.

Wonder Woman’s Kinky Feminist Roots

Happy National Girls and Women in Sports Day !

National Girls and Women in Sports Day is an observance during the first week of February that celebrates female athletes. Officially it is recognized on the the 4th. That was the day that President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5606.  It is a day to celebrate women’s participation and contribution to sports in the United States of America. Since 1987, NGWSD has been declared by the US Congress  as a day of recognition for women’s sports contributions. Community based events are sponsored by the Women’s Sports Foundation, National Women’s Law Center, Girls Inc, and the President’s Council  on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. The day of celebration was at first to honor Flo Hyman who died of Marfan’s syndrome. The professional volleyball player was active in gaining equality for women in sports. She died in 1986 at the age of only 31. While she did not live to see it more women around the world were competing in the Olympics by 2012. Women and girls are competing in numerous sports such as weightlifting, basketball, soccer, football, bodybuilding, and cricket. Title IX opened the doors of opportunity for many women in athletics. However, there is still much work to be done. Women athletes still face unequal pay, lack of media coverage, and sexist prejudice.  To an extent the internet and social media have circumvented the traditional media gatekeepers, which has allowed greater exposure of female athletes. The irony about the National Girls and Women in Sports Day proclamation was that it occurred in a time of a neoconservative administration. The Reagan administration wanted to reverse the gains made by the civil rights and feminist movement. Reproductive rights and anti-discrimination laws were under attack. Despite the barriers women in the past and present continue to compete and win.

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Los Angeles Sparks v Phoenix Mercury, Game 2

Eri Tosaka won Japan's first gold medal of the night after coming from behind to beat Azerbaijan's Mariya Stadnyk

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Happy National Girls and Women in Sports Day !

Shannon Selin: Exercise for Women in the Early 19th Century

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A demonstration of calisthenics from a health journal from 1831.

Women’s Exercise in the 19th Century

Shannon Selin is a historical fiction writer  based in Vancouver, Canada. Her fascination with history stems from the fact that her father was a history teacher. He encouraged her interest in the subject during her youth. Selin’s background is in political science having earned her MA from the University of British Columbia. The unfortunate problem with history is that too many in the general public think it is boring or lacks relevance. The truth is that there is history in everything. Every group and place has a story. The subject is dependent on records and sometimes events are either ignored or not documented at all. Women’s history has over the past forty years been taken as a serious academic discipline.  Sports history also has generated interest seeing as it has become one of the most lucrative forms of entertainment. Shannon provides a brief exploration into the views and activities surrounding women in fitness culture. Too often women are excluded from the narrative, mainly because it was assumed that men were the only ones worth studying. Women were involved in fitness in the early 1800s and it has more importance beyond health science. It reveals the sexism, pseudoscience, and biases during the time period. Some of the challenges still remain today in the promotion of women’s health. Simultaneously, it also becomes an inspiration for the modern sportswoman that continues to face bias and sex prejudice. The world of the 19th century was much different than 2019. The Napoleonic Wars attempted to change the political order of the Europe. The African continent was resisting European invaders. America was descending into extreme political factionalism with the questions of slavery which resulted in civil war. Japan was forced out of isolation in the face of  European intrusion into Asia. The revolutions of 1848 attempted to depose the conservative order in Europe, but was thwarted. The unification of Italy and Germany into nation-states altered the course of European politics. Latin America struggled to make its political systems work after the independence revolutions in the 1820s. The industrial revolution made mass production possible and enabled more leisure time.

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The modern sportswomen of the 20th and 21st century can now compete professionally. the average woman has more knowledge knowledge about their bodies than in the past.

It does not come as a surprise that exercise would become a part of a person’s free time. The industrial revolution was not evenly distributed, having its origins in Britain. This explains why the British Empire became so powerful and dominant. The unfortunate consequence of industrial advancement was more class division. However, it also created with it the cult of domesticity and strict gender role order. Women were denied education, employment, and even were restricted in particular leisure time activities.  This extended to exercise. Some women resisted this and challenged the social norms.

       The women of the 19th century faced obstacles in attempting to acquire physical fitness. The frailty myth was the idea that women were just too weak for strenuous exercise. Biologically and physiologically women’s bodies are different, but this does not mean they are physically inferior. The claim was even more ludicrous when women in the laboring classes did manual labor. Working class women had fewer opportunities compared  to the middle and upper class. The chances of social mobility were limited in the US and UK. Women who were born in the slave class would never see freedom or equal rights. Selin fails to see the racial dimension to exercise and women. What were the Native American or  African American women’s experiences in fitness ? A fascinating approach would be to research what women did in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Oceania. The problem may not be bias from one perspective, but the scarcity of primary source material.

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A Treatise on Calisthenic Exercises by Signor Voarino published in  1827. This does not look effective at increasing physical fitness capacity.
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Women can handle strenuous exercise.
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Workout clothing is not as restrictive of movement.

Written documents  or oral tradition can provide insight that a secondary source cannot. This only provides a small glimpse into women and exercise. Women’s clothing was a barrier to their physical fitness engagement. Clothing was designed at the time to hinder women’s movement.  Corsets and bustles made it almost impossible for women to do skilled movements required of sports or physical activity. Large dresses were not the best  workout wear. One important aspect  that Shannon Selin does not mention is the absence of sports bras. Running could be uncomfortable for women with bigger chests. It would take another 155 years for women to have clothing that provide comfort for their breasts during exercise.Despite these obstacles and barriers women were able to get some exercise depending on their class and race. Many women faced too restrictive race and sex barriers to have the same opportunities of the white upper class.

       There were two factions that debated the effect of exercise on women’s health. One perspective was that it could improve women’s health condition. The other faction stated that exercise was too dangerous for women to handle. Medical professionals, health experts, and pseudoscience supporters could fall into either category. The case for women not exercising had no scientific basis what so ever as stated in La Belle Assemblee (1806) :

“Exercise is necessary, but the constitution of women is adapted only to moderate exercise; their feeble arms cannot perform work too laborious and too long continued, and the graces cannot be reconciled with fatigue and sun-burning. Excessive labour reduces and deforms the organs, destroying by repeated compressions that cellular substance which contributes to the beauty of their contours and their colours. The exercise which women of a middling condition find in useful and indispensable occupations is the most wholesome, because it joins to the natural effects of labour, the inward satisfaction afforded by the accomplishment of a duty.”

Weightlifting would not harm a woman’s organs. Most arguments focused on women needing to be protected or to ensure that they can be capable of child birth. Women exercising  was thought to cause decay of the genitals. The frailty myth made it clear that exercise would have no effect on women’s constitution anyway, so there was no need for them to be physically strong. Their only function was to be wife and mother in the new industrial society. Later in the 19th century, factions eugenicists  became split on the idea of women and regular exercise. Some believed that fit mothers would produce fitter babies. Other eugenicists held to the views of the early 19th century. While the passage acknowledges exercise is necessary to extent women required a less intense version. Moderate used in this context means limited amounts. The commentary about feeble arms merely glorifies the idea of male physical superiority by degrading women.

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The best way to control women was to have control of their bodies. This explains why contraception and access to abortion are till being denied in certain countries. The more restrictive thought was prevalent, but there were medical professionals who objected to falsehoods presented as fact. The Boston Intelligencer (1827) proclaimed how detrimental women not getting physical activity was :

“No absurdity is greater than that which associates female beauty with great delicacy of body and debility of constitution. …

Exercise only can fully unfold the muscular system in both sexes: it knits well the joints, makes them clean and small; increases the flexibility of every moveable organ; confers activity of body and cheerfulness of spirits: it is, therefore, not merely necessary for the perfection of the corporeal frame, but also for its preservation. … For females, in particular, daily and properly regulated exercise is requisite; and in those who do not attend to this, the body and the mind equally become weak and diseased. “

 Modern day health science has shown that people are at risk for osteoporosis and sarcopenia as they age. The remarkable part about this passage is that it suggests information that has only been scientifically confirmed in the 20th to 21st century. Exercise does have the ability to improve mood and prevent chronic illness. This was written even before the germ theory of disease was established. It was considered progressive thinking at the time to make such suggestions for women’s health. The majority of medical literature focused on childbirth. The rest cure was used for a number of aliments. Obviously it was not effective, but more of a means dealing with particular female health conditions that people did not understand. Even today the female body is not completely understood and not studied to the same degree in sports science. The lives of women depending on which nation you lived were very restricted. Although women’s health and biomedical science was not as advanced, women still were able to have longer life expectancy. The opposite was true a few centuries earlier. Part of the reason was that more men were dying in wars and working in dangerous environments. Factories and battlefields were not safe places. Some women had a degree of protection from this, but not all.  Women still do exercise whether or not the wider society approved.

        The debate about the amount of exercise is nothing new. The amount of exercise recommended at the time varied depending on the age of the woman in question. Young girls could exercise as much as they desired. This contradicts the other position that exercise was bad for females. Girls it was suggested by the primary source material should engaged in play just as boys. The concern was that they may get aliments later in life and being active sooner could prevent such problems. After puberty it was advised that women reduce their exercise :

” [I]f immediate injury does not result from sudden overexertion, the daily renewal of it has a more permanently bad effect, by wearing out the powers of the body and bringing on premature old age. Such a degree of exertion, indeed, is not likely to occur from almost any kind of exercise in the middle and higher ranks of life; but nothing is more common than to see young women, under thirty years of age, with the look of sixty, from having been over-worked as servants.”

There are physical changes which can effect women’s physical fitness capacity. Yet, it does not make them fall into a state of permanent debilitation.  The fear of women overexerting themselves had no factual basis. Considering the exercises that were recommended probably was not enough to burn large amounts of calories, this seems more comedic. Doing strenuous activity without rest for long periods can result in rhabdomyolsis. However, the women of the 19th century may not have been doing enough strenuous exercise to see a change in physical fitness.

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Girls may have had more freedom compared to when they became adults.
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A certain level of training and dietary consumption must be done to attain a particular physical fitness level.
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Athletes take a certain days off to allow the body to recover.

Small amounts of physical activity could be good for health maintenance. The amount of time put into a training session matters. Overexertion just would not be possible under the recommendations given. The commentary on age and appearance also reveals an unexplored layer of misogyny. Women past a certain age are seen as no longer useful, because society values youth and beauty. Appearance becomes that most important part of a woman’s existence. Most beauty products and women’s facial regimens are directed at  making appearance more youthful.  Physically pushing ones self does not cause an abnormal amount of aging. Experimentation was not carried out on such claims being made by experts of the time, but they did gain acceptance. Science can be wrong at times and at times some were guilty of outright fabrication. The reason girls were allowed more exercise was most likely due to the fact recreation for children was mainly designed to keep them out of trouble. Organized and structured activity was also a means of conveying social and cultural values.

          Exercise is designed for everyone. However even at present there still persists the myth of  “men’s exercises” and “women’s exercises.” Certain exercises for women were in the past deemed appropriate for women.  Some sports were deemed too much for women such as wrestling, cricket, and quoits. Girls were denied access to these sports. Past the age of 12 women had to restrict their physical movement. This was based on the idea that the body had a finite amount of energy. Women needed to have their total body energy focused on child birth. The only appropriate exercises activities for women at the time were walking, dancing,  horse back riding, and  calisthenics. Walking was probably the least strenuous and could be done with little concern about movement being restricted.

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Women’s clothing in the 19th century restricted their movement.
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A female athlete in modern sportswear has more freedom of movement compared to large dresses.
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Modern dresses are not designed to hinder movement nor are they as elaborate.

Second there were no men preventing women from just going outside. Access to gyms were a impossibility for some women. At the bare minimum, walking was at least keeping women in a good habit of health maintenance. Dancing cannot really be considered an exercise under a sports science classification. It is a good way to get people active who normally dislike exercise. The reason during this time dancing was suggested as an exercise for women was because it was considered more feminine. A society that has strict gender roles clearly designates activities as either being for men or women. The majority of cases activities that involve creativity or expression exclude women. Women having too much freedom would mean they would have less dependence on the men in their lives. Only a few activities they should have access to. Dances were mainly places in which formal courtship could take place. This was prior to modern dating or online exchanges. The dances were not really liberating, but putting women on display for selection by a future husband. This was part of the high culture of the 19th century. Dance more so is a performing art. Zumba however in the 21st century gained momentum as a fitness fad that combined exercise and dance. This suggestion also shows that class divide that the industrial revolution brought about. High class dances would not be accessible to the working class. Horse back riding would not have been an activity someone of the lower classes could have participated in.

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Cane exercises printed from  A Treatise on Calisthenic Exercises by Signor Voarino( 1827)
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Women are now  active in a wide range of sports and developing their bodies beyond what was thought as possible.

The texts reads that women should be taught to ride both sides of the horse. The reasoning was to prevent spinal injury. A person on a horse doe not ride one side of it. Even in recommended activities there is an over emphasis on safety. Horses can be dangerous if they throw a person off or are aggressive, but that was a risk posed to both sexes.  Horse back riding does take a certain level of fitness as shown from equestrian sport.  It may not work every single muscle group as 19th century medical professionals thought. Circumstances were probably so that women may have been required to ride on horseback for long hours. This was not for leisure. The pioneers of America into the west of the country had some women stepping out of their traditional roles on the frontier. Horse back riding was at least more active compared to dancing.

          Shannon Shelin describes calisthenics as the name given to female gymnastics. That is not entirely true, because the set of exercises originated in ancient Greece. Generally, calisthenics refers to movements that exercise large muscle groups. A sit up can be considered a calisthenic exercise. These exercises overlap with gymnastics, but during the 19th century there were different schools of thought in regards to physical education. Catherine Beecher (1800-1878)  was an advocate for women’s education as well as them having physical education. She was a supporter of calisthenics for girls and women. Frieidrich Ludwig Jahn (1778-1852)    developed gymnastics as we know it today. German immigrants brought over the system of gymnastics to the  United States. Known as the Turner movement it also promoted understanding of German culture. Although calisthenics and gymnastics are related they are not the same.  Shelin makes an error calling calisthenics a female version of gymnastics.

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A visual guide demonstrating calisthenic exercise from  Physiology and Calisthenics. For Schools and Families . This was written by Catherine Beecher.
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Modern gymnastics is a competitive sport.
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A sit up can be a form of calisthenic exercise.

The reason that calisthenics may have been more acceptable, because it was just an assortment of exercises, rather than an organized sport.  If women and girls learned the ways of competitive activity, then they would demand to be in the public sphere. This would mean they would learn to compete in other areas such as politics, business, and entertainment. This was why women’s suffrage generated massive outrage. Women who could vote clearly had power in society. They would no longer be considered property, rather a citizen of the state with the same rights. Women who had the privilege of being upper class could  to an extent take control of their health and fitness. Calisthenics could be done in the privacy of one’s home. Signor voarino’s manuals were a big help to women that did not have an instructor or public space for exercise. The illustrations mostly show how to work the arms and legs. Other parts of the body are not emphasized. A simple cane could even be used in an exercise routine.  Women began writing about fitness and exercise themselves. Marion Mason was a fitness instructor who pioneered exercise for women in England. By 1827 she published The Utility of Exercise  . 

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A  page from The Utility of Exercise showing Marion Mason.

Mason would personally instruct classes in calisthenics. The publication of manuals made it so women could do exercise without paid instruction. Before the rise of basketball and cycling for women, there was calisthenics. Clothing would also change with the invention of bloomers. The clothing got less restrictive relative to movement. The modern Olympic Games would be established in 1896, but women did not have equal access to competition. By this time first wave feminism was still fighting for women’s right to vote and access to contraception. Women’s health vastly improved with the end of the corset, acceptance of exercise, and reliable birth control.

      The problem with society is that women are not thought of as people. This was clear by the Victorian Age view that women’s main function was to produce off spring. Women had to either face being in a state of semi-permanent pregnancy  or having limited options in their lives. Mother or wife was the only acceptable role. There were of course women who dare challenge the society norms, even if the mainstream society condemned it. The detractors arguments against  women or their participation in sports has changed little since the 1800s. There are some activities women should not do simply based on the fact it is not proper.  Women if they become too strong lose their femininity, charm, and appeal. Today, women’s bodies are scrutinized for looking different and women of significant athletic ability face ostracism. While there has been improvement with a group of supporters of women’s sports and fitness endeavors, sex prejudice still remains. The biological sexism was born out of the Victorian Age and continues to be espoused by misogynists. These ideas were born out a period in which European colonial imperialism was taking over the globe, eugenics became acceptable, and planters were attempting to keep slavery in the Americas. Thankfully, the world is a different place compared to 220 years ago. First wave and second wave feminism enabled women to gain political and social rights far beyond what women had in previous centuries.  Women having the opportunity to gain benefits from exercise and fitness was just another part of women’s liberation.

Shannon Selin: Exercise for Women in the Early 19th Century

Peggy Owerling Flexing in Front of East German Border Guards

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This rare photograph shows Peggy Ouwerling (1954-2007)  flexing in front of East German border guards. The image was taken around the 1980s  a period in which the Cold War was coming to a close. The year 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The guards in the photograph look at Peggy with either a look of confusion or curiosity. There also appears to be some civilian East Germans looking as well. This seems strange, because normally East German citizens were not given that much access to the borders surrounding the  state for fear they may flee to the West. It appears that this was taken at the German-Polish border. This makes an observer question that authenticity of the photograph. During the time Peggy Ouwerling was one the most popular harbingers of female bodybuilding in Europe. Her competitive years were from 1984 to the 1990s. Looking at her physique, it is very impressive. The definition in her biceps is very prominent with well developed glutes. Although female bodybuilding got its start in America, it was only a matter of time before it reached the European continent. Peggy was one of the Netherlands’ most notable female bodybuilders.

Peggy Owerling Flexing in Front of East German Border Guards

Brandi Chastain Celebrates Scoring Fifth Kick in the Penalty Shoot (1999)

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This photograph has become an icon in women’s sports history. The 1999 Women’s World Cup saw an American victory over China with Brandi Chastain’s fifth kick in the penalty shoot. She was so elated that in the moment she took off her jersey  showing her sports bra and some impressively muscular arms. Normally, taking off the jersey in jubilation was something male soccer players did, but Brandi broke that taboo. This photograph did not win any major awards, but has been referenced in popular entertainment mediums. The 1990s was an important transition for women’s sports. American women had benefited immensely from Title IX and it created a generation of  amazing athletes. The female athlete now had an international stage and could be seen by millions of people through television. Barndi benefited from Title IX, which enabled her to develop as a soccer player. The Women’s World Cup began in 1991 and continues to this day. Women have made significant progress in sports, yet challenges still remain in terms of equal pay and media exposure.  Brandi Chastain’s  performance and the US team as a whole was an important promotion of women’s sports in media and the wider popular culture.

Brandi Chastain Celebrates Scoring Fifth Kick in the Penalty Shoot (1999)

Femuscleblog Remembers Birch Bayh (1928-2019)

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Birch Bayh was a senator from Indiana who served from 1963 to 1981. He was known as “the father of  Title IX” which sought  to challenge sex discrimination in education. Along with Patsy T. Mink this legislation would have a profound effect on women’s sports. This photograph shows senator Bayh doing running  laps with female athletes who benefited from the Title IX legislation. These are Purdue University students in the 1970s. Decades before, they would not have such opportunities to be in competitive sport or enjoy exercise facilities at their universities. Sex discrimination in public schools and universities was rampant in the United States. This is why the Higher Education Act of 1965 was introduced and the Education Amendments of 1972. While at present discrimination in sports and education has not fully been eliminated it did produce a number of incredible female athletes. Many female athletes both in public schools, universities, or competing in the professional ranks can thank Birch Bayh for his service and his desire for gender equality.

Femuscleblog Remembers Birch Bayh (1928-2019)