If Women Were As Strong As Men Would Human Civilization Be Different?

It has often been cited that men’s physical strength built civilization. Some scholars claim that this is the reason why women were at a disadvantage. Men who are on average stronger were able to impose patriarchy by physical force. These statements are incorrect . Women’s oppression has been related to the lack of financial independence, education, and access to employment. When human societies shifted from hunter-gather structures to permanent settlement and farming much of the inequality that is recognized today began to emerge. Women were through out history not allowed to own their property. Many times when marriage occurred women’s property went to her husband. Marriage when it became part of human civilization was nothing more than a property arrangement. Women were not considered humans or citizens , but property. Marriages were mostly arranged ones. Selecting a partner is a relatively new phenomenon. It is dubious that if women were just as physically strong as men discrimination or sexism would end. An oppressor only needs to have a system of organized violence and dominate institutions to maintain control. That does not provide a reason for why a majority of societies are male dominated.  The explanation is rooted in competitiveness, human evolution, and sociology. If women were as strong as men there would be some differences in human civilization. Certain occupations, relationships, and elements of society may change.

         Civilization can be defined as a state in human society in which there has been the establishment of culture, a governance system, and a complex social structure. Egyptian, Roman, and Greek civilization are examples of early complex orders. Civilization can be found anywhere humanity decides to live. Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania have long histories of human migration, settlement, and the establishment of civilization.  Normally,  settlements occur next to river systems. Water is not only a necessity for living it also holds importance as a commodity. There could be more civilizations that existed, but they have yet to be discovered. Archaeologists and historians  have a challenging  task to rediscover the past and provide a lucid interpretation of it.

It has only been recently in that academics have given consideration to women in history and the rise of civilization. It was not until the 20th century that women’s history was given serious investigation. Prior to this, women were not given any attention at all in the historical narrative. That did not mean women of prominence did not exist. Hatshepsut, Hypatia, Nzingha, and Queen Elizabeth are just some of the women who made large impacts on history. There could be more women who also contributed, bu they are either forgotten or records of them are lost. Cultures that recorded their history through oral traditions may have either disappeared or been wiped out. This same problem can happen with written documents either being lost or destroyed. The earliest known forms of writing may have emerged around 3400 B.C.E, but there could be the possibility other writing systems could have existed prior to this. There are so many possibilities, which makes it difficult to know exactly what the ancient past was like. It is even harder to figure out women’s stories in the span of human history. Anthropologists, historians, and paleoanthrologists are to extract information from artifacts and fossils. Human evolution, farming, and technology would alter the course of world history.

        Sexual dimorphism  is the phenotypic  and physiological evidence of human evolution. Sex differences are the products of millions of years of genetic and biological evolution history. The majority of primates have a level of sexual dimorphism, but in other species the female is larger. This has to do with reproductive strategy. Arachnids produce young in large numbers at once. Canines produce puppies in liters. The reason this is done is that it possible that most will die and having more would allow for a guarantee that at least some would continue to spread genes. Primates have more parental investment in their young, because they do not produce them in large amounts. It is rare for a woman to have quintuplets. The reason for producing one child at a time was more efficient for primates. This explains why women are on average smaller than men. There was no need to be large, because the only reason to be that way was to hold young during the gestation process. This is based on theory and natural history observation. Men’s greater size and strength was probably an adaptation to compete for females. This also relates to sex selection in evolutionary history. Sex selection is mate choice in the context of the process of natural selection. The males that were the healthiest or strongest would most likely attract more mates, because they have the potential to reproduce more off spring. This indicates the possibility that our ancient ancestors may have been functioning on a system of polygyny.

Sexual dimorphism is visible evidence of the human evolutionary past. 

The fascinating part of human evolution is that sexual dimorphism actually decreased among the hominids and australopithicines . Homo Habilis males were 60% larger and Homo egaster as well as erectus were 20 % larger. This could mean that there was a shift in evolutionary history from strict competition to group defense. Size may have no longer been a favored trait and began to diminish in importance. Human beings are genetically closer to chimps which have a 35% difference in male and female size. The modern day human has only an estimated 15% to 20% size difference between males and females.  The assumption from this point would be that sexual dimorphism would continue to decrease. However, this is speculation considering there has not been a concrete explanation why it decreased in different phases of human history. The conjecture is that when humanity switched to farming and permanent settlements this effected the human body. This may explain the changes in bone and muscle strength of human beings during the rise of civilization.

 Men and women can manipulate their bodies to high physical fitness levels. Yet, sexual dimorphism does not disappear with this change in body. 

The thesis that men just by being stronger gave them dominance does not seem to be as cogent an explanation. Strength differences are partly genetically determined and can be subject to modification based on environment. A woman who works out can be stronger than a man that does not. A strong woman does not seek to dominate weaker men. If all women were strong as men the structure of society and civilization may not radically change. This suggests that differences in positions in civilization  are based on a combination of behavior, discrimination, and the pyramid structure of society. Biology or evolution does not create inferiors. Women for a longtime have been cast as the biological inferior, which has been disproved by history and science. Biological sex difference and dimorphism do not explain patriarchy.

        There does exist societies in which women hold considerable power, but are not by definition matriarchies. Matriarchy has not existed in human civilization thus so far. If one did surely it would have been during the hunter gatherer stage or have continued in some form into the Paleolithic or Neolithic ages. There is a tendency to confuse matrilneal kinship with matriarchy. There are societies in which women do have relative freedom as well, even without the presence of feminism. The Mosuo people of Tibet are a society of “walking marriages.”  Women choose their husbands by walking to the house of the man. This society functions on extending family network. The largest households are headed by women. Marriage does not exist as an institution. Women and men live together while still functioning as a family unit. As demonstrated by the structure, it does not require women to be physically strong or use violence.

Other peoples such as Minanagkabau of Indonesia also demonstrate a system in which women are prominent members. Women have the power to remove chiefs if they believe he is not able to fulfill his duties. This tribe that lives in West Sumatra may hold a record to how sex relations worked prior to the rise of farming and agriculture. There are still roles men and women have in the context of their sex, but it does not mean women are without rights. This system is not exclusive to Asia, but can be found in various places around the world. Ghana and the African continent has a tradition of the matriclan.  The Akan peoples base their whole system around female inheritance line. The men still hold the leadership roles. This would not be a matriarchy in the sense that some perceive it. The Bribri of Costa Rica once more follow a similar organization pattern. Women can inherit land and it can be passed down through the female line. Women also hold an important responsibility in this society preparing cacao rituals.

The Garo however have minor differences in sex relationships. Marriages are arranged for the youngest daughters of the inheritance line. The process for the non-inhereiting daughters follows a procedure more complex. The bride to be’s family must hunt down the groom and capture him. This is repeated until the groom acquiesces or the bride capitulates. This Indian ethnic group that resides in the state of Meghalaya would not be by definition an example of gender equality. Marriage is not a binding contract in this society, therefore couples and end it without stigma or legal repercussions. The Nagovisi of New Guinea share the trait of marriage not being institutionalized. To a degree this trait among these tribes does give women a level of freedom.

These societies are not matriarchies, rather social systems based on the matriclan. The only matriarchies that exist are one in ancient myth. Amazons were thought to be a society run and dominated by women. The question remains why the women in these societies if they have favorable positions are not seeking to dominate? The answer is in the fact there is a difference in terms of male and female competition. Men may be genetically wired to be more competitive and aggressive. If women were as physically strong this would not change as long as behavior and its  biological roots were the same.

      Farming and permanent settlement was the most significant turning point in human history. This gave rise to civilization as it is known culturally, politically, and sociologically. This resulted in the inequality that we see today. Those who could produce surplus food or resources were at an advantage compared to people who lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle. Relevant to women, under hunter gatherer societies they enjoyed better conditions. As the historical passage of time continued, their status would fluctuate and the dramatically lower with the rise of monotheistic religion. Farming began around 8000 B.C.E resulting in a switch from hunting. Animals were domesticated with the most important animals such as oxen and horses used for traction around 3000 B.C.E. What started in the Fertile Crescent (Israel, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt ) spread to Europe. Elsewhere farming and agriculture developed independently. The spread of farming caused a growth in population. This was the birth of civilization with the pyramid structure of social hierarchy. Chiefdoms would become cities. Mesopotamia saw the rise of some of the world’s first cities. Between 4500 to 2000 B.C.E the world witness the beginning of civilization. Women lost status in this transition to civilization. The theory that men were advantaged because more physical strength allowed them to monopolize manual labor, which gave them more control over food supply and therefore more authority. The problem with this is that technology negates the need for muscle power. As time progressed the Industrial Revolution occurred and machine power was outpacing human power. At this point it seems that physical strength was not as essential, when civilization became more technologically based.

      There are some professions in which women at at a disadvantage. The physically demanding occupations such as law enforcement, firefighting, military, construction  and sports have fewer women. The reason is not just sociological, but biological. Women have less muscular strength than men and have higher attrition rates the more intense the physical activity gets. This means only a few women would have a presence in these fields. Proper exercise and training can help women perform better. However, the numbers will not be equivalent. If women were as strong as men there would be higher numbers in these fields assuming laws against discrimination were enforced. It should be understood that more women in particular professions does not equal a peaceful society. More women in the military or police would not lead to calm. The reality is states around the world are held together by violence or threat of violence directed at its citizens. Laws are more about control, rather than protection. Gender stereotypes, such as women being more peaceful have some believe erroneously that wars would stop if more women were in power. There are women who have advanced the cause of aggressive warfare. Condolezza Rice was an advocate fro the attack on Iraq and Hillary Clinton convinced the Obama administration to intervene in Libya. Ethnic, religious, and national hatreds are too powerful, so women being in power would not change anything. The numbers relative to physically demanding occupations would change, however if the power structure remains the same there would be little difference. The most radical change would mean that sports would be co-ed. If there was little difference in strength and speed there would be no reason to have separate divisions. This does not mean automatically women’s sports would become more popular, because there would probably remain the discriminatory obstacles based on sex.

           It seems that male dominance is not based on physical strength, rather around differences in competition and aggression. These traits were part of the evolutionary past and continue to have influence on behavior of humankind. Men tend to have more aggression and are more willing to use physical violence. This is not completely biologically based; boys in various cultures are taught to be more aggressive. This does not mean women are not capable of violence or fighting. They show aggression in a different manner that is verbal according to anthropologist Helen Fisher. The male response is a physical one. This difference in aggression and competitiveness explains why there are more men in the military, politics, and business. To an extent, these profession to require a level of cooperation. At their core it is about being as aggressive as possible to reach the apex of power. Women must maneuver in a system that is against them and sometimes the reach this level of power. Others may be stopped.

Ellen Sirleaf President of Liberia and Sheik Hasina  Prime Minister of Bangladesh are political survivors specifically because they are competitive in their government structures. Countries in which female leaders try to balance certain systems either find themselves deposed or victim to the corrupt political structure. Dilma Rousseff  former president of Brazil was impeached by a corrupt judiciary system. Yinluck Shiawatra the former Prime Minister of Thailand was removed by a coup disguised as a Constitutional Court decision .   Women who are in power have to be more cunning and aggressive to maintain it. Politics, commerce, business,  and finance  are a few areas in which societal power rests. Women lag behind in terms of reaching a glass ceiling. Even with reforms and anti-discrimination laws there remains a persistent problem. The difference in male and female competitiveness and aggression hinders the women’s advancement. It would take many years to change particular behaviors. One step would require parents to encourage their girls to be more competitive and go into fields that are male dominated. This may change this gender based disparity that is seen in modern civilization. I may not negate it completely, millions of years of the evolution of behavior cannot be overturned instantly.

          If women were as strong as men, this would effect relationships between the sexes. Men with more insecurities would have trouble adjusting or men who believe in strict gender roles. There is already a reaction to women becoming more financially independent or being a bigger presence in the workforce. Sexual harassment and misconduct in business, media,  and the entertainment industry   demonstrate that men still want to keep women out of particular areas. Women’s rise has often been met with violence is societies that want their submission. Domestic violence may not even disappear. Although men represent a higher number of perpetrators, women make up a smaller percentage. It is not clear if this would increase or decrease with women having more strength. Traditionally, men attracted female attention through status. When arranged marriage decline in the world, men and women began to select their own partners. The men with the most money or resources had an easier time getting companionship. The shift now is that women can acquire high status without male assistance, which has changed the gender dynamic. Men with less resources will struggle more to find long lasting relationships. This explain why it would be rare to see a female CEO dating a janitor. The practice of endogamy  applies to class, ethnic group, and religion. Men would have to either compete more to establish  meaningful relationship. While there would be a change in amorous relationships men’s behavior might change in how they treat women. Some men think they can bully or direct violence at women just on the fact they are stronger. This would change, because women would no longer be considered easy targets. Like any oppressed group women  revolted against mistreatment and feminism radically changed women’s status in society.

        The biggest change to women being as strong as men would be that the dynamic of protectionism of women and male disposability . These two concepts are reliant on one another and to some extent harm attempts at establishing gender equality. The idea that women must be shielded from life’s hardships was designed to restrict their freedom.Women were in this perspective too weak and helpless to survive on their own. Male disposablility was the idea that men should be glad to sacrifice themselves no matter how deleterious for the sake of community. This was basically an argument used in times of war. Men should in that view be happy to go off in die in a cause that they might not have investment in or could benefit from. The idea that men are naturally tougher comes from the notion they are physically better suited for hardship.Survival depends on many factors and strength is not the only one. If men and women were of the same strength capacity these two practices would end. The concept that women need male protection is based out of  dated chivalry. If women were seen as capable then the whole dynamic would be altered. Women would in this regard become disposable and would most likely end up being drafted or doing things that were once thought to be improper for them. Tasks that require strength or physical skill were thought to be improper for women to do. Even though women have proven themselves capable, there are still objections.

         Civilization has been a speeding train of change and development. Technology has drastically changed our culture and society. From the first primates to leave Africa to the modern cities of the contemporary era humankind has come a long way. The hunter gatherer stage of human civilization was the probably the closest point in which society was completely equal. Yet, this could even be brought into question. Hierarchy exists even when a modern form of government is not present. It seems that human behavior is not wired for equality, rather competition. Behavior and social structures are important indicators of how a civilization functions. This explains that why women if they were strong as or stronger than men would probably not be in a better condition. Competitiveness and aggressiveness has driven history. This came at a cost. It resulted in imperialism, constant warfare, and many egregious injustices. This has created much anxiety about whether humanity can survive. There may be small chances of hope that this can be reversed. Currently, it seems there is a rise for some women to power whether it is political, social, mental, or physical. These scenarios are only speculation and the future still remains a mystery.

References

Harari, Yuval. Sapiens A Brief History . New York : Harper Collins Publishers, 2011.

Ehrlich, Paul. Human Natures  Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect . Washington DC:                         Island Press, 2000.

Woolf, Alex. A History of the World the Story of Mankind From Prehistory to the Modern           Day.  London : Artucus, 2013.      

Garrison , Laura. “6 Modern Societies Where Women Rule.” Mental Floss, Mental Floss , 3 Mar. 2017, mentalfloss.com/article/31274/6-modern-societies-where-women-literally-rule.

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If Women Were As Strong As Men Would Human Civilization Be Different?

Neolithic Women Were Probably Stronger Than You

Popular Science

There seems to have been discovered a breakthrough in paeloanthropology. Rarely have women been studied from the Neolithic period, but this has now changed. When researchers from the University of Cambridge compared the bones of women living during  the first  5,500 years of farming they were stronger compared to modern day female athletes. This discovery changes what we know about female physical capabilities. It also reveals much about how environment can influence biology. These fossils from Central Europe are a fascinating look into the ancient past and the rise of civilization. This also has implication on human health. The modern day rower or soccer player if they had to compete with Neolithic women may have found themselves out matched. Although there is no preservation of muscle tissue, a large skeletal structure indicates that these women did no manual labor. Framing during the Neolithic Age required more manual labor. There was not the benefit of modern technologies such as tractors, plows, or cultivation based machines. This study will not only tell us more about the evolution of the female body, but also generate more interest in the study of  paleontology and anthropology.

            The study published in the journal of Advanced Sciences  compared the athletes and average non-athletes bone density to that of the Neolithic women.  These women living 7000 years ago clearly had impressive upper body strength. The study used rowers that do use much upper body strength and also did use soccer players to examine the lower body. Runners were also included.  However, it is curious to know if weightlifters would come closer to Neolithic strength. The study did not use this type of athlete, which may not compete the whole story of the physicality of Neolithic women.

The powerfully built arms of these women may have developed from repetitive motion in farming. Grinding grain was more laborious before the rise of the treadmill. This study was the first of its kind, because most research focused on the fossils of early man. This may alter the way in which the rise of civilization is described. It was often believed that men were the makers and movers of civilization, due to their greater strength which they used to maintain dominance. This is hypothesis is not correct due to the fact we clearly see that women were capable of manual labor and that dominance in society is not related to physical strength. The roots of inequality are based on the rise of property and the surplus it created. Hunter gatherers would be at a disadvantage compared to those with a permanent settlement.

Allison Mactintosh does reveal that just examining the bone is not a precise measure of strength. She is the author of the study, which and based on her background in archaeology she explains that there is a biological basis. Bone as known by anatomists is living tissue and supports the muscle that encases it. Physical activity and the type of workload done can alter the shape, thickness, and total density of the musculoskeletal system. This is not the same for men and women based on difference in the endocrine system. Testosterone allows for more bone density and differences in bone surfaces structure. The changes in male skeletons is more dramatic due to the influence of hormones. Testosterone causes bone to grow on the outer surface, while estrogen causes growth on the inner contour. Inner core density does not contribute much to musculoskeletal enforcement. What this means is that Neolithic women were probably not stronger than Neolithic  men. It seems sexual dimorphism was still acting on evolutionary history, but with minor adjustments.

There is not a linear relationship between workload  and bone damage as the study demonstrated, but there are problems when comparing bones. Comparing Neolithic women’s bones to a modern day male skeleton would not tell much about women’s strength or fitness capacities at the time. It would be interesting to see how different the results would be. It is described as comparing apples to oranges , however there could have been a level of variation among Neolithic women. There exists variation in individuals and this could have held true for the past. A possible conjecture is that the Neolithic woman would be stronger than the average modern man, but may not exceed the physical capacities of the highest performing  elite male athlete. To get a full assessment one would have to compare Neolithic men and women’s bones as well as modern day humans. The results were fascinating. Women living 7,400 to 7,000 years ago had arm bones 16% stronger than rowers. Women of the Bronze Age ( dated 4,300 to 4,500 years ago)  had only 10% more arm strength and 12% weaker in the legs. The Neolithic women would have been 30% stronger than your sedentary Cambridge student. There was a variety in terms of the tibial bone. Some of the Neolithic skeleton’s resembled that of modern day sedentary women.  This data shows that women did lose strength with the passage of time. This can be explained by technology, cultural shifts, and change in societal structure.

             The Neolithic Age was different from the high tech society of the 21st century. Women during this age had to grind grain by hand by means of pounding two stones together. This had to be done with a saddle quern. This process can take hours a day.

There still remain places in the world in which women do this, but in the Neolithic it was much more physically demanding. This was not the only activity that contributed to Neolithic woman’s physical strength. Women were known to milk cows, get water, and made hides and wool into clothing. These were not simple chores. Before the washing machine, dishwasher, or household appliances chores were vigorous workouts. This means women were doing more than just childcare. It was assumed that most of what women did during this period was either being pregnant or watching children. There duties extended beyond that as this new information reveals. Misleading conclusions were based on biases based on sexist prejudice. It would only make sense that women who have to have some strength too meant the demands of an environment that was rugged. The Neolithic Age or the new Stone Age saw the rise agriculture. Human societies went from hunters to food producers and this revolution happened in the Near East. Framing and animal domestication would become the foundation of emerging civilizations. It is believed that society at this point functioned through elementary families, extended families, and a much larger clan. Clans would then form a bigger tribe. Clans were identified by a totem, an animal or object that was revered. The Neolithic revolution spread to Egypt (4000 B.C.E), the Balkans ( 5000 B.C.E),  India ( 3000 B.C.E), Central Europe ( 4000 B.C.E) , and Britain (3000 B.C.E). African, Asian, and Mesoamerican civilization developed Neolithic culture independently. There is the possibility that labor divided by sex was not as rigid as thought. Evidence suggests that women were involved in the construction of dwellings and making tools even during the Paleolithic stage. The idea of “women’s work” and “men’s work” does not exist. Roles between men and women vary overtime and culture. Women doing physical tasks at this period was not seen as something gender inappropriate. There is a mystery on just how it was decided which sex would be assigned to a particular task.

 Neolithic society was very religious and based around animistic beliefs. What is known about Stone Age culture is based off the artifacts uncovered from Catal Huyuk (6500 to 5400 B.C.E)  in southern Turkey. This preserved village contains pottery, woven textiles, mud-brick houses, and plastered walls with murals as well as carved reliefs. Prehistoric art in caves and elsewhere gives archaeologists a record of the past. It can even be argued that Neolithic humankind  were the first historians. There remains speculation about the type of governance and social system that was used in the Neolithic. Some scholars believed that these societies were ruled by a council of elders. This did not mean women did not have any status. Catal Huyuk reveals that Neolithic societies did believe in a mother goddess. Uncovering more female fossils will add to the growing knowledge of women’s history.

        The condition of human health changed with the rise of farming and the end of hunter gatherer networks. The bone structure began to change. The bones became less rigid and straighter in comparison. This was confirmed in the study by means of  a computerized tomography scanner and 3D   laser imaging system. The arm bones and shin bones were scanned giving visuals of this gradual change in body. Looking at the twists and shape of the bone revealed how the muscle was placed on the body. There was more variation in strength among early prehistoric women compared to the modern day.  It is hypothesized that men split their time between hunting and farming.  Hunting required at least some running, which may explain why their was a change in men’s shin bones, while women’s did not change much. Evolutionary anatomy is now telling scientists much about the shift in health. Our bodies were designed for physical activity, which explains if we do not get enough our health suffers. The modern day health challenge comes from heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. This provides clarification for why more women as they age are vulnerable to osteoporosis. The musculoskeletal system needs exercise.

Women of this type of physicality are rare in modern society. However, there was probably more variation in the prehistoric past .

There also has to be consideration of nutritional changes throughout history. Alice Macintosh notes that eating less meat and replacing it with more grains and vegetables would have an effect on the body. Protein is essential for muscular hypertrophy. An active to sedentary system may have caused women’s bones to weaken overtime. Men were also effected by this change, but seeing as they had more bone and muscle mass it may not have been as dramatic. Another health consideration for Neolithic women was pregnancy and childbirth. Women were vulnerable to complications in the past due to child birth.

Changes in health and physical fitness can happen either rapidly or in this context millions and thousands of years. There are some indicators of health that modern humans out rank the Neolithic peoples on (Life expectancy was estimated to be at least 25-40 years in the prehistoric era ) . Life expectancy has increased. This will be trend that will continue globally, unless other factors do not stop it. Warfare and inadequate healthcare systems can dramatically reduce life expectancy. Access to clean drinking water and medical care are factors. There is a trade off with living longer, Age related illnesses such as dementia or  diseases related to the circulatory system become more common. Women on average live longer, so this has major implications for their health. The advancement of biomedical science has improved the quality of life for many. It must be remembered that it has roots in the ancient past. Before medicine became came the science that its is today there were the herbalist of the prehistoric times. Medicine could be as old as humankind itself. Medicine has its origins 50,000 years ago, when people began experiment with various plant life. The fossilized teeth of Neanderthals contains traces of herbs chomomile and yarrow. The conjecture is that these were some of the first medicines to treat various aliments. One can deduce the fact that humans are still vulnerable to disease and various aliments is that the human body was not evolved to be healthy. The sole function was to spread genes and reproduce offspring to have those genes propagate further in a biome. Environment, genetics, and technology can influence the condition of human health. Framing may not have improved the quality of human health as previously thought.

          Further research could put an end to the idea that certain jobs men are just biologically better designed for. One of the arguments of keeping women out of particular occupations is that they are too physically weak for ones that require strength. As the prehistoric past is being uncovered it is now understood that women were not living entirely docile lives. Ridged gender roles and strict divisions of labor were products of early civilization and ancient empires. Societies became more divided along pyramid hierarchy structures with the leadership and upper class at the top of the order. Women were excluded from the public sphere depending which civilization they lived in. Women who lived in Egyptian civilization had more rights relative to women in Greek civilization. Status varied,but got worse with the rise of monotheistic religion. The former mother goddesses were discarded in favor of one male God. This placed them in a subordinate role, which would later be overturned. Women had to struggle to equal access to education, employment, and basic rights. When women started to enter occupations that were mostly male dominated, pseudoscientific rhetoric was used as a justification for excluding them. While women have proven themselves in the military, law enforcement. firefighting, and construction misogyny still remains. women as we have seen in the past did not shun manual labor. They were deliberately excluded from it because some men did not want to compete with more people for jobs.The argument was that women were taking away jobs that men needed. The problem is not that there are more women or people entering the workforce. The issue is that capitalism and the economic structure it created is naturally unstable. What started with farming in prehistoric times lead to property, then a barter system, and from there actual currency. Resources will always flow more to the ruling class, while the majority get the least amount. The division of labor is not biologically based; it is a display of a male dominated structure that was born out of the industrial revolution. Women were thus regulated to a domestic sphere unable to take part in public affairs of the industrialized nations. Women’s subordination or physical weakness is not their natural state. This came about through cultural and sociological shifts in various societies. Women had various roles in history. It is just up until now it was not given much academic investigation. Women of the prehistoric world are a new mystery. They could have been laborers working for other tribes or fulfilling more duties or responsibilities of the wider community. Just like today women are active in numerous occupations, but if civilization were to collapse it would be difficult to know what they did. The artifacts uncovered only tell part of much expansive stories. Archaeologists, paleo anthropologists, evolutionary anatomists and historians are now embarking on a journey to understand woman’s prehistoric past.

Neolithic Women Were Probably Stronger Than You

Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes

Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes is a monograph exploring the history of women athletes in Greek civilization. While any devoted follower of women’s sports and history knows about women’s participation in the ancient world, this is something new to the general public. For many the idea of female athlete is a new phenomenon that occurred with Title IX and the feminist movement. This obviously is not true, seeing as there are cases in which women played sports and were athletes. The reason this is not examined to the same extent as male participation is due in part to sexist prejudice and the fact that sports historiography is comparatively new. There are some who may not believe women did such things. Archaeology provides evidence of the ancient female athlete and the types of competitions they were involved in. Seeing as some civilizations either had an oral tradition of record keeping or few documents that still remain, artifacts help solve puzzles of the past. Authors Anne Reese and Irini  Vallera-Rickerson combine both history and archaeology to provide the reader with a vivid description of the female athlete of ancient Greek civilization. Originally published in 2002, at the time there was sill few secondary sources on this subject. The monograph discusses the Olympic games, festivals, and mythology in the context of women’s sports.While this is an entertaining and informative book, it does have some minor flaws .  Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes does successfully prove that the female athlete is not a recent phenomenon, but they are part of a long history of sports competition.

        The text does a great job of describing women’s status in Ancient Greece. it varied depending on the period and area. Minoan civilization was known to worship a mother goddess. This continued into Mycenaean civilization until Zeus became a replacement. Athens and Sparta were two extremes of the political spectrum. Women were restricted in terms of the laws in Athens. Their freedom was limited, yet they were allowed to attend some schools. However, women were under legal guardianship of the men in their lives whether it was their husband, brother, or father. Sparta gave women more freedom, yet this should not be seen as a conviction in equality. The monograph makes that mistake by implying it. The only reason women were allowed to engage in physical activity was so that they could produce stronger children. The males would become soldiers in this militarist society and the women would look after the home while men were at war. Citizens of Sparta male or female were raised to serve the state without question. Thebes and Korinth fell in a political and social middle ground between these two states.

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Seeing as each city-state was independent, the laws were different in regards to women. Accounts of Spartan civilization come mostly from Aristotle, Herdotos, Pausinias, Plutarch, and Thukydides. These were mostly Non-Spartans, so accounts could have a level  of bias.It was a common Athenian opinion that Spartans were rude, uncivilized, and rustic. The accounts do expose what training for women in Sparta was like. Their exercise regimen consisted of wrestling, footraces, javelin throwing, and discus. Spartan women also developed a type of exercise known as the bibasis. These were exercises of jumping in place. A Roman poet known as Propertius claimed that women also were involved in pancratium a sport which was a combination of boxing and wrestling. Maybe it could best be described as the MMA of ancient Greece.

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Spartans had a different attitude in regards to how boys and girls were raised. Girls and boys would perform physical activities in the nude. Gymnos the ancient Greek word in which gymnastics is derived,  means naked or without clothing. Athenians saw this and the fact that women had more freedom as vulgar. Athens was a place of the arts and culture. It was not compatible with the militarist and rustic society of Sparta.The fact that Spartan women had more independence did not mean the society valued gender equality. The idea was to have women become strong breeders and produce great warriors. King Lykurgos produced the foundation for a mighty power in the Mediterranean . This did not stop the state from falling to Macedonia and the Achaean League  around 195 B.C.E.. When The Roman Empire invaded in 140s B.C.E they divided Greece into provinces to be ruled directly. The Romans admired Spartan militarism and declared Sparta a free city. There was a small rival of the old Spartan culture. Women lived different lives in Athens and Sparta. Women were regulated to a domestic sphere in Athens, while Sparta allowed some freedom for them. Women’s status varied depending on the social and political circumstances of a city-state.

         Women athletes may seem like a new phenomenon, yet there is evidence that they were present in Greek civilization. Aegean civilization (3000- 1100 B.C.E) provides artifacts of sportswomen of the ancient period.  Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations reveal much about the activities of these athletes . Fresco fragments, clay seals, and reliefs found at Knossos are documentations of history of the sports Minoan participated in. Arthur Evans was the archaeologist responsible for uncovering the mysteries on krete.  His excavation allowed him to produce a four volume work called The Palace of Minos at Knossos. The art that Minoans left is a documentation about their society. Women just like the men were active participants in bull-jumping and bull-leaping. These sports were thought to be religious in nature as a way to honor the Mother Goddess. The Mother Goddess may be an indication that women in Minoan society had higher status. There is some disputes over how exactly bull leaping worked. The Toreador Frescoes depict bull leaping. Doing this action would require a huge amount of upper body strength and acrobatic skill. The text proposes theories, however it does not reach an answer. It could be that bulls were trained to perform in a certain way to allow acrobats to jump on them.

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The Minoan Mother Goddess was usually depicted with snakes in her hands. Goddesses were more common before the rise of monotheistic religion.

 If the bull was charging and an acrobat would grab it by the horns, this would be dangerous. To somersault for bull leaping would be physically impossible. It is possible that the fresco is being interpreted to literally. A more logical explanation may be that this was depicting bull fighting rather than actual leaping. The feats were just embellished for the sake of entertainment. One problem with archaeology is that there may be a rush to jump to a conclusion too soon. These scholars have to be detectives of the past gathering artifacts as their clues.

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The bull leaping fresco  shows two women  engaging  in bull sport with a man jumping on the bull.

 Iconography can be a useful tool in archaeological study. It has revealed that women normally in Minoan art were depicted with white or lighter skin and men with darker skin. Clothing differed in artistic depiction. The loin cloths that women wore had more designs and variation in color. The art also shows straps on the wrist and hands. The function was probably for getting a better grip on the bull. Frescoes were prevalent plaster based paintings. Pigments would be applied to plaster on buildings depicting sporting events or activities of daily life. Buon fresco required a method of applying pigment to wet plaster and the color will then sink into the wall. Fresco secco applies the pigment combine with an organic preservative ( such as egg whites ) to a dry surface.

Bull leaping as depicted from Minoan art would require a huge amount of upper body strength, acrobatic, and gymnastic skill. It seems unlikely that a person would be able to do this without serious injury. 

Besides frescoes, seals also leave evidence of female athletes in the ancient world.  Seals were carved as well as engraved objects made of stone, clay, or bone. The seals were used to make impressions on clay or wax. It was a means of verification of authenticity. It also was used to denote ownership. Normally seals were used in the home or market place. Seals were also used as symbols of identity among people.

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This is a seal depicting bull leaping. There were two types of seals which included the stamp and the cylinder. The stamp was flat and made the impression by pressing down. The cylinder had to be rolled over to make an impression.

Statues and sculpture are also artifacts that show that female athletes were active in the ancient world. The reason why serious study was not given to such findings was because many male scholars thought it was not important enough to give attention to. The 20th century saw the rise of women’s history as a major academic field. Since then, there have been efforts to uncover women’s roles in the past. There still remains more to be discovered and learned. Heinrich Schliemann only discovered Mycenae in 1876. Prior to that, there was no knowledge of its existence. There could be many lost civilizations globally, but there are limited remains or evidence of their existence. Artifacts, documents, and art are records of history.

Greek female athletes depicted in sculpture. 

Still there is a level of skepticism. It appears that the only sports women were involved in were bull sports. There are books and academic journals that state women in Minoan civilization also did running, swimming, and hunting.  Opposing views are that the women depicted in art were performing religious ceremonies. Both perspectives could be valid, but there needs to be more exploration and research.

       The monograph also reveals to the readers the myth of the Olympic rings. The rings did not have their roots in ancient history. David C. Young revealed in “Myth About The Ancient Games ” that the rings myth can be traced to two American authors. Lynn and Gray Poole had mistaken an inscription from a movie prop and others copied their work. The rings have their origins in the 1936 Olympics. Leni Riefenstahl was the film-maker responsible for their existence. the rings were part of a prop used for her film Olympia. The stone was paced in the film at the stadium at Delphi. The Pooles erroneously thought this was genuine. The Olympic flame runner may also be a myth. Yet, there is reference to hearth that would be lit in the Prytaneum  discussed by Pausanias. This building was in the Altis and led to the exit of the gymnasium.

The passing of the torch is a creation of the modern Olympics. This tradition was not needed in the ancient world because the games were held in the same place. The modern Olympics can be hosted by various nation-states around the world. The propagation of this myth just demonstrates how fast misinformation can be conveyed. Athletries provides an explanation into myths and common misconceptions about ancient sports history.  A modern day invention was thought to have ancient roots. Through a mistake and incorrect information a myth of the Olympic ring origin was born .What makes the book enjoyable is that it reveals these little known facts.

      There were multiple games that women were competitors in. This included the Panhellenic Games, Olympic Games, Pythian Games, Nemean Games, and Isthmian Games. The Panhellenic Games refers to competitions held across Greek civilization. These athletic competitions were local, but expanded to include other city-states. Women could have been charioteers. The evidence found of women being part of the games is revealed in inscriptions with the names of women athletes. The inscriptions found at particular sites also reveal which event they competed in and the game she won. The games were held in honor of gods and goddesses such as Hera, Demeter, Zeus, and Apollo. Games were held in different years to prevent possible conflicts of overlap. The reason this was done was to allow high participation and attendance. All the games ended by 394 C.E. due to Christian belief they were pagan rituals. Emperor Theodosios I wanted an empire of Christian culture. Relevant to women in sports, the Heraea Games was a competition for women. Athletics were also part of festivals, which included poetry and singing. The cult of Hera was widespread, so it was no shock their was a festival and athletic events organized in honor of this goddess. The inscriptions leave us names of the athletes, but other than that there is no other biographical information. One inscription reveals a winner by the name Hedea who excelled at footraces in both the Nemean Games and Isthmian Games. Queens also may have been chariot racers. One inscription commemorates Egyptian Queen Verenike’s victory in the Nemean Games.  Athletics served an important purpose in ancient civilization.  It was not only a sort of binding adhesive to these societies, but a religious celebration.

       The authors propose one theory about the exact date of the Olympic games . A reader should be skeptical of the information they receive. They base this theory on the end of Troy VII around 1190 B.C.E, using Homer’s Illiad  as a marker. They are right to assume that 776 B.C.E is correct for the first recorded Olympic Games. However, there are still questions.  There is a possibility there were records of previous games that were lost to history. If the authors were to make such statements more evidence is required. This is a challenge for archaeologists considering the Olympiads were at various points continued or discontinued.  The renewal date of the Olympic Games was 884 B.C.E.  This appears to be the least cogent argument the text makes. The reasoning may be sound, however it does not meant it leads to the correct conclusion. The most reliable sources are taken from the writings of Pausinias. He claimed that the games were discontinued by King Oxylos ruler of Elis. The origin of the Olympics is not entirely certain, but there are numerous myth surrounding  the ancient athletic event. One myth is that Hercules stated the competition with his brothers. Another involves Pelops and Hippodamia. Mythology and stories have served a pivotal purpose in the transfer of cultural value systems in various societies. Greek civilization was no different in terms of that function. The authors should have provided more concrete evidence to support their claim.

     The monograph concludes with delineating the history of the modern Olympic Games. The first attempts at revival were in 1859 and 1870. This was under the auspices of Evangelos Zappas. This was funded out his own pocket, so the games at a certain point were no longer able to continue. The successful revival would come only with the help of Demetrios Vikelas and Baron Pierre de Coubertin. These individuals had connections to sports organizations and news editors. It was mostly Coubertin’s contacts that made revival of the games possible. The Olympic Games were revived in 1896 with competitors from around the globe. Women were not banned from competing, but there were efforts to exclude them.

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This did not stop Stamata Revithi from participating in a marathon in the 1896 Olympics. The IOC refused to recognize her running time. Women were competing in the Olympics by 1900, but it was only in golf and tennis. Pierre de Coubertin made it no secret that he did not want women to be competitors in the games. Sexist prejudice was keeping women out of sports. However, by the 21st century more women would become competitors from around the globe.  Decolonization that followed after World War Ii created new independent nation-states in Africa and Asia. From there more athletes would appear on the Olympic stage. The female athlete is not a recent phenomenon, There were women who participated in sports during the ancient period. Athletries  is a great book for anyone interested in ancient civilization, women’s history, and sport. Although an academic text it is not so pedantic  or intricate that a reader would become confused about what they are absorbing. The brief discussion of Greek myths will entertain those with an fascination with the classics. Certain theories they propose should be questioned. It should be understood that there remains more to be discovered. Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes is a book worth owning.

Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes

A General Introduction to The History of Women in Sports

The World History Archive and Compendium

Before Title IX and the modern Olympics  women participated in sports. Women being athletes is not a recent phenomenon; there is a history dating back as far as ancient civilization. There were times in which women were prohibited from competition and in response formed games of their own. Normally, the historiography of sport focused on men’s participation and involvement in sports. Historians began to examine women’s involvement and the sociological and sex discrimination  issues in the 20th century. Due to the feminist movement women’s history and women’s studies were becoming part of university curriculum. While academia focused on women in politics, science, and the arts women in sports remained an ignored area. Sport historians began taking an interest when women’s numbers increased in sports. The 20th and the 21st century saw the highest participation of women in sports globally. Only 121 years ago women were not permitted to compete in…

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Gallery

Black History Month Celebration 2017

These are some Photoshop renditions to celebrate Black History Month. These feature women of color in sports from various parts of the diaspora. The last two years an observance was not recognized here, but it will continue to be more consistent. Given the current political climate in the United States, it is necessary. There will be other special posts through the month to celebrate African American women’s contribution to sports.

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Black History Month Celebration 2017

A History of the Bikini

What started a simple swim wear became a type of clothing important to women’s sports. The Bikini is a two piece swimsuit for women that contains a top (bra)  and underwear that is cut below the navel. This type of clothing can range from different sizes being smaller (thong or G-string)  or a much larger model. The bikini at fist was not popular among women, but that later changed. As women entered into the sports world the bikini became a part of women’s sports wear. Sports such as volleyball, bodybuilding,  and even other athletics. The swimwear has become an icon unto itself. This type of clothing accentuates the female figure and in the beginning there was resistance from the more socially conservative elements of society. Combined with that backlash and the low popularity in the initial stages, it seemed as if the Bikini would disappear. The situation would reverse and now you can see women wearing bikinis on beaches or sporting events.

             The  modern bikini was developed  by Louis Reard (1897-1984).  He was by trade an automobile engineer and clothes designer. Reard was French, born in a period in which the nation was a colonial empire.   He took over his mother’s lingerie business in 1940. For that point he had to teach himself about designing clothes. One day going to St. Topaz he noticed women were attempting to get tans by rolling up the edges of their swimwear. Reard then got the idea that their should be a swim suit with the midriff exposed. There were other designers working on a swim suit similar to his. Jacques Heim produced what he called the “Atome” in 1946.  The name for the swim wear could have come from the South Pacific Bikini Atoll. There the US conducted tests for the first nuclear weapons. Using the name atome or bikini was a way of saying it was going to send shock waves. It appears there was not one creator. There were cases prior to 1946 in which had swimwear similar to the early bikini. There were two piece swim suits  that existed in classical antiquity.

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The new ‘Bikini’ swimming costume  Micheline Bernardini was the first to model in the modern bikini .
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Here Carrie Simmons poses in a bikini. Today bikini designs are more elaborate and colorful.

Some tile mosaics discovered from the period of Roman civilization show women wearing something similar to a bikini. At the very least these were two piece swim suits. If this early swim wear is to be counted as a bikini then it would technically be 1,7000 years old.  When examining the Villa Romana del Casale  it shows women exercising in what looks like bikinis. These mosaics are dated 300 AD. It was belived this was more comfortable exercising in than women’s standard wear during the classical period. At that time it did not cause a uproar. There are also archaeological finds in Anatolia ( modern Turkey) which show women in swim suits dated 5600 B.C.E  and also depict a mother goddess. Urns found from Greco-Roman civilization dated 1400 B.C.E also show women wearing bikini like garments. There is little information historians and archaeologist have on the opinions on the swim suits women wore. The level of acceptance or repudiation remains ambiguous given the limited information.  When the 20th century arrives then there was social resistance to the bikini . Religious groups and some feminist organizations. There were religious groups in the US who said it was immoral for a woman to display their body. Certain feminist organizations complained  that it objectified women. There were bikini contests that emerged and sometimes they were apart of beauty pageants. However, there were some cases in which beauty pageants banned the bikini. It was considered too lascivious for the more conservative public.

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Sales of the bikini performed better in France during the mid-20th century. It took the rest of the world awhile to catch up. The exposure of women’s navel caused controversy among some people. Modesty and the covering of the female body has been promoted in more conservative societies. The female body was either at times covered or confined under the supervision of male authority. The bikini for some women became a symbol of liberation from male control of their bodies. Kelly Bensimon  has said that it was a symbol of female expression. The former model and author of the Bikini Book  stated “it gave a lot of people confidence.” She describes the clothing’s appeal as “it celebrates all people athletes, models, dancers, and real people. Benismon says the bikini has stood the test of time mainly because it was associated with scandal. Gradually, society realized that there was nothing indecent about bikinis. It takes time for society to accept new ideas or things. Bikini23

When celebrities began wearing bikinis, it gained some acceptance. Actresses ad models began wearing them in glamour shots. This became common in the 1950s with movie stars such as Mirylin  Monroe and Ester Williams.  Celebrities like it or not are trend setters and continue to influence fashion styles. Celebrities had some freedom to navigate more strict social and cultural mores. The process was slow, but the bikini became more popular. Around the 1960s   the bikini sky rocketed in popularity among women. Mainly because certain bans on the swimwear were bring lifted. Italy, Portugal, Australia, and certain states in the US had either bans or certain restrictions directed at the bikini. The National League of Decency in the US was a culprit of not only banning clothing, but other forms of entertainment in their perspective was “profane.”   Groups like that could not survive the coming of the Sexual Revolution. The relations between the sexes changed, women were gaining reproductive rights,  and women found more liberation in having control of their sexual relationships. Sex was not seen as a negative thing or just for the sake of having children. It could be for the pleasure of both men and women. The result of this was that women’s bodies were no longer viewed as “indecent.” Women could wear what they wanted without causing a moral panic.

           Some have claimed that the evolution of swimwear correlated with women’s emancipation. The earlier swimwear was more confined and designed to restrict movement. This was common for women’s clothes throughout history, because it was once considered improper for women to be involved in physical activity. The rise of the sports bra for example was revolutionary, because it allowed women to compete in sports with comfort. Women with larger bust size may have been driven away from sport prior to its creation. The bikini made it so women became more confident in the display of their bodies. Oliver Saillard a history of fashion postulated the relation between the bikini and gender politics as this : “the power of women, not the power of fashion.” He delineates it as women imposing influence on something as a representation of women’s growing power in society. Women were no longer ashamed or afraid of their bodies. The bikini seemed to be a link in not just a political emancipation, but a social and cultural one. There is the counter argument that seeing as it was made by men, it is questionable whether or not it is liberating. Even with that fact  it seems women made the swimwear their own by becoming designers themselves and ushering in new styles.

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These are examples of swimwear from the late 19th century to early 20th century.
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The modern day bikini reveals more of the female figure.

The bikini would not just be worn by beach goers it would later find its way into women’s sports. This seemed like a natural progression, because women were entering the world of professional sports at the international and national level. It was clear that certain clothing would be brought with them.

The bikini also has been present in women’s sports. Beach volleyball, bodybuilding, and surfing. There some instances that track and field athletes have bikini bottoms. The most common association of the bikini with sport is with bodybuilding. Muscular women oil up and tan then pose in various contests. Female bodybuilding did evolve from bikini contests. These contests were more so modeled after beauty pageants because it did not emphasize muscle size, posing, shape, or definition. These were supplements to men’s events that rook place from the 1950s to mid-1970s. Women were entering sports in larger numbers during the early Title IX era and it was a matter of time that women demanded their own competitions. The Ms.Olympia contest (1980-2014) emerged and the National Amateur Bodybuilding Association (NBBA) allowed women to compete. There are some restrictions on what type of bikini can be worn. Women are forbidden to wear thongs or t back swimsuits in contests in America. The reason is that certain contests could be filmed for television and organizations rather not face an FCC fine. However, closed events allow it, because it will not be broadcast. Europe seems to be more liberal in this regard, while America is more conservative.

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Britt Miller poses in a thong. She could not get on stage with it if her contest she was in was being filmed for US television.
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Yeon’s bikini falls into proper regulations set by the IFBB.

Volleyball has made the bikini as its official uniform. It was 1994 that the bikini became the official uniform for the Women’s Olympic Volleyball team. Then in 1999 the International Volleyball Federation standardized it and made it a requirement for all women in volleyball. This does have some problems. Cold weather makes it uncomfortable for women to wear and women may object to the uniforms due to religious beliefs. There were changes in 2012 allowing shorts and sleeveless shirts. There a more criticisms about the bikini being the uniform. Some sports journalists say that it distracts attention away from the actual game and just puts emphasis on how attractive the women are, rather than their athletic talent.Feminists claim it objectifies athletes and diminishes the attention on their accomplishments. This may not be due to the clothing itself, but the institutional sexism that has been a part of sport since its birth. It is odd that some feminist critics never raise similar complaints about the bodybuilding sports. Although it appears athletes like the uniforms because it gives more free range in terms of movement , others experience discomfort. Chafing and constant fiddling with bikini bottoms can cause irritation.

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This problem can be solved by use of different fabrics  and adjusting the size of the bikini bottom itself. If the athletes enjoy using them as a uniform, they should remain. If it causes too much of a problem then women should bring it up as an issue. Gabrielle Reece had stated she was not content with the bikini uniform requirement, who preferred  her tights instead. Some athletes  believed that this was just done to make the uniforms look skimpier. The frustration can be understood, but other athletes in different sports have dissenting opinions. Female bodybuilders do embrace the scantily clad bikini and skimpy image, but present it in a radically different manner. They combined a new paradigm of beauty, while combining it with the older concepts of glamour. Added to that was power and grace of a posing routine. This made for a fascinating and eclectic mix of concepts.

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It is amazing to think that just a simple piece of clothing can cause such reactions. The bikini has been experimented with in track and field. Florence Griffith Joyner ushered in a style in which she used both bikini bottoms and one legged tights at the 1988 Olympics. It seemed as if Joyner got more attention for her clothing selection than her 200 meter event. There are some sports organizations that specifically ban the bikini bottom and demand athletes wear shorts instead. The West Asian Games implemented this policy in 2006. Running in a bikini top would be impractical, but the bikini bottom seems to make more sense. Shorts or long pants may cause more pressure added to wind resistance when running at high speeds. A study on this subject has not been conducted, but it is a possibility. The bikini is also a common form of sports wear in surfing. Sometimes women who compete in surfing also participate in bikini contests. There is controversy in this seeing as usually more money is offered for the bikini contest.

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 The bikini caused controversy with the general public and even in the sports world. Prior to the introduction in the sports arena, it was not seen as acceptable. Sports Illustrated changed this by featuring women in bikinis on its front cover 1964. Now, they have issues devoted to women in swim wear. The bikini later became the most popular piece of swim wear not just in the West, but globally.

         The 1960s and 1970s saw the bikini rise in popularity. With a golden age comes a decline. The bikini lost popularity in the 1980s. It’s original developer Reard died during that time and his company closed a couple of years after his death. Around the early 21st century there was a spike in sales again. The market was mostly teenage women and women over the age of 30. The sudden resurrection could be attributed to baby boomers increased interest in fitness. The desire to recapture youth  and improve their appearance. Baby boomers were thinking  that age was just a number. There was also a negative side to this. The concern was that the obsession with the bikini body would take a toll on women’s mental and physical health. Eating disorders or mental distress from body image was a problem growing among many young women. The bikini cannot be completely to blame for these developments. A conjecture could be that it was the product of a neoliberal capitalist consumer culture. It functions on people’s insecurities attempting to keep the public constantly buying products. Whatever  the root of the problem could be, the solution is not a simple one. The modern bikini has lasted some 70 years. Currently there are various types to choose from : sling bikini, string bikini, micro bikini, skirtiki,  bandeaukini, monokini, tankini, and trikini.

Further Reading

Westcott, Kathryn. “BBC NEWS | In Depth | The Bikini: Not a Brief Affair.”BBC News. BBC, 05 July 2006. Web. 23 June 2016. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/5130460.stm&gt;.

“Bikini.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 23 June 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bikini#cite_note-193&gt;.

Moos, Jeanne. “STYLE Bikini Blues — Beach Volleyball Makes the Swimsuit Standard.” CNN. Cable News Network, 13 Jan. 1999. Web. 23 June 2016. <http://www.cnn.com/STYLE/9901/13/vollyball.bikini/&gt;.

A History of the Bikini

National Hispanic Heritage Month and The Forgotten Latino Women in Sport

National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the history and culture of one of America’s fastest growing ethnic groups. The celebration was first started in 1968. Then it was refered to as Hispanic Heritage Week. It was recognized through an act of legislation sponsored by Representative Estebon Torres (D). This was later expanded into a month in 1988. The date of  September 15th was chosen, because it was the time in which a number of Latin American states gained their independence. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua declared independence in 1821. Mexico, Chile, and Belize would follow afterwords. The relevance to women in sports is an essential one. Latino women are becoming more visible in sports and this is a positive development. Unfortunately, the media gives an abnormal amount of attention to white women athletes. Here are some photographs that captures their contributions and successes.

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Marlen Esparza 

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Denise Masino 

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Brenda Villa 

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Yaxeni  Oriquen – Garcia 

1980: The Olympic Champion Maria Colon of Cuba in action during the Javelin event at an athletics meeting in Los Angeles, USA. Mandatory Credit: Tony Duffy/Allsport

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Maria Colon 

National Hispanic Heritage Month and The Forgotten Latino Women in Sport