100 Women : Thai Woman Fights Stigma To Become A Bodybuilder

100 Women : Thai Woman Bodybuilder

Penpraghai Tiangngok  was the subject of a BBC report in 2017. To fans of female bodybuilding this athlete is familiar and is known better as Fon in her video work as well as competition appearances . This was significant because women athletes, especially ones in subculture like sports do not get much coverage in mainstream outlets.  Female bodybuilders and muscular women in general are not presented positively by the mainstream press. This report is different and at times seems to laud her accomplishments. Tiangngok is the first Southeast Asian woman to compete in the Olympia, one of the most prestigious of all bodybuilding competitions. The report discusses the struggles Penpraghai  has being the one of  very few female bodybuilders living in Thailand. It is a cross section between sexism and subtle racism. Being a pioneer adds pressure when dispelling old stereotypes. The 100 women series spotlighted women making strides in various fields. The series wants to introduce readers to women who are inspirational and influential, while asking them questions related to the challenges women face in the 21st century. This could range from the glass ceiling, sexual harassment, disparity in education, or sexism in sports. Penpraghai Tiangngok  is the subject of  women in a sport not widely embraced by Thai society.

       Thailand is an Southeast Asian nation that for the past decades been in a state of political turbulence. Coups and political factionalism have been persistent problems including racism. Thailand has either been discriminatory to hill tribes or had xenophobic attitudes in regards to foreigners. Penpraghai  stated that some Thais do not speak to her when returning home assuming she is Filipino or Brazilian. Ethnocentrism has been a growing problem with Thailand. Colorism is also an issue in numerous Asian nations in which lighter skin color is preferred to darker skin.

Although being mistaken for another racial or ethnic group is not an act of racism, the behavior is an indication. Penpraghai  being treated differently demonstrates that there is an racial or foreigner related bias. There is much disunity among Asian nations with ethnic and political problems dividing them. Exposure to different types of people can challenge prejudicial attitudes. Penpraghi even states that ” when foreigners look at me they just go wow.” This could either be a voice of approval or possibly more prejudice based. Westerners may have the  racist stereotypes embedded in their minds  of weak and helpless Asian woman, dragon ladies, tiger mothers, model minorities, or china dolls. When people do not fit in either of these racially prejudiced categories  this creates a shock to the observer. Penpraghai Tiangngok’s rise or appearance should not be a shock. Asian women are becoming more involved in sports and fitness. Women becoming more involved in sports is a global phenomenon. Women from around the world are competing in various sports and have more visibility in the Olympics. This is a positive development which challenges some of the racist stereotypes that are common in media.

       The status of Thai women has been for the most part based on a traditionalist domestic family role. Thai women were raised to be either wives or mothers in the past and their legal status was not equal to men. Polygamy was practiced in Thailand and women did not have many educational opportunities. The major change came with the revolution of 1932 in which the government was transformed into a constitutional monarchy. The new constitution gave women more rights and called for the end of polygamy. Plaek Phibunsongkhram the third prime minister of Thailand made it policy to raise the status of women. He served from 1938 to 1944 and again from 1948 to 1957. Since that period women’s status has improved, but there are still conservative attitudes. Women still are underrepresented in government. There are some advancements in the workplace. Knowing the history of sexist discrimination explains why Penpraghai Tiangngok’s statement ” they are surprised of how big I am and think I look transgender.” There are some Thais that cannot accept that women are no longer following traditional gender roles. Objections do not only come from men, but also other women. Penpraghai also explains “there weren’t many women lifting weights [at the time I started], but nowadays you have both men and women.” She delineates further : “In the past, female bodybuilders looked strange in the eyes of Thai women.” There is a double standard women no matter which country they are from face when becoming physically active.

There are some nations in which the stigma is worse. Although there objections in Western countries, there are very few statements saying women should not be allowed to do such an activity. Penpraghai  says that people in her home town of Pattaya  consider her to be a “freak” and claimed when she “goes to market , I get different looks.” Sadly many are not open minded about women looking different or not following the cultural status quo. Women are taking on new roles and Thailand. They are becoming involved in the workforce due to an expanding private sector and even entrepreneurs.  Penpraghai is also an owner of a gym and a personal trainer. Women being this independent was no possible 80 years ago. Thailand even had its first Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, but was removed by a coup and court decision. Although her actions were legally questionable,  it is apparent that she will not be treated fairly in the current political climate. She is currently in exile and this was another demonstration of how transfers of power and political stability eludes Thailand. The women who are active in various sectors can be role models to young girls to make effective change.

What holds the nations back in the Global South is not allowing women to contribute to society both economically and in leadership roles. If a country wants to be competitive in the modern post-industrial  world, they must have women part of their workforce and in the public sphere. Women should enter fields and activities that are male dominated. Overtime, there may be at least some sex balance in such fields.  The most important part of this process is that attitudes must change. The idea that women only serve a domestic function must be discarded.

        The BBC report does not exclude the controversial subjects such as steroids, but did not mention others about the bodybuilding subculture . Acquiring steroids in Thailand is easier compared to other countries. The Thai press reported that Penpraghai Tiangngok had been arrested for selling steroids. She was contacted by a Thai police officer who asked her to bring them to a bus stop. Penpraghai Tiangngok was selling them and did say she was not authorized to do so. Bodybuilding gets a reputation for steroid use, but it can be found in various sports from baseball, soccer, and competitors in the Olympics. Penpraghai Tiangngok  told the BBC that drugs do not create champions : “many people ask me whether or not I use steroids.” She then continues ” I ask them why they don’t ask me how I train or how many hours I work out… I want others to know that using steroids doesn’t help you to get bigger.” Steroids may cause better recovery and some muscle gain, yet ultimately it is related to workout intensity, exercise regimen, and diet. The unfortunate part is some have such limited knowledge they automatically think that a person who is muscular must be using.  Drugs are a part of sports, but that does not mean every athlete is using them. Many fans do not even care what an athlete uses, yet there still is controversy. One controversy that the BBC report ignores is the practice of muscle worship. This is even bigger than the topic of performance enhancing drugs.

MW-61-4 MW-61-P1a Bodybuilders, physique athletes, figure and fitness models have been known to do sessions. This was not mentioned by the BBC report probably because it is the more secretive element of the female bodybuilding subculture.To an extent it was unknown to mainstream media, but has gotten more exposure with the rise of the internet as a popular entertainment medium. The public can be exposed to different people and cultures by a mere click of a button. A search on Google shows that there are more men into female muscle than previously thought. The exact number is not certain, but it may be increasing due to visibility over social media platforms and websites.

The muscular woman has become something that is in popular demand at least on the internet. Numerous athletes have their own websites and do photo shoots for others. This may get criticism from the more conservative elements of society. While a muscular female body can generate controversy, there is also the debate about the nature of these photographs and video materials. Some make the claim that fitness is becoming borderline pornographic. Such claims are spurious. Female athletes posing for photos is no different from models posing for ads or appearing on television. Whether it is film, TV, or other mediums from time to time sexuality does appear or at least a particular innuendo is implied. Women should not be criticized for posing or being in videos. Bodybuilding is a sport in which the body is assessed for certain criteria related to aesthetics.   Penpraghai Tiangngok  is a representative for Thailand in the bodybuilding sports. Sometimes having the image present can inspire other women to follow a certain path. It is important that women of other nations have a presence in various activities to encourage wider participation. Thai women are already making progress in business and education. Penpraghai Tiangngok ‘s rise in the sport’s ranks just proves Thai women can advance, doubtless of wider societal bias.

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100 Women : Thai Woman Fights Stigma To Become A Bodybuilder

Thin is In? Think Again. New Research Shows That Muscles and Body Tone Are Increasingly Rated As More Attractive Than a Purely Thin Female Body

New research shows that muscles and body tone are increasingly rated as more attractive than a purely thin female body

It seems that once more body ideals of attractiveness are changing. The study that was conducted by Frances Bozsik of the University of Missouri-Kansas demonstrated how media can change particular perspectives and attitudes. This study just examines the United States and does not explore other parts of the world. The results were published in Springer’s journal Sex Roles. What the team did was examine Miss USA pageant contestant photographs and documented the change overtime. Undergraduate students were selected to rate and look at the photographs. The collection were photographs between the years of 1999 to 2013. Based on the study it seems that the contestants became more fit with bigger muscle definition. The 64 graduate students in the study were shown photographs of  that were identical. The only difference was one had a thin body displayed and a more muscular one. They were show the images separately and then together. The more fit woman in the photos were rated as more attractive. The study however did not ask what the subjects’ body ideals or preferences were. This could have distorted the study. This does not mean that the muscular body type or a thin body is an ultimate ideal, but men’s preferences are vast and more extensive in terms of activeness. The study seems to indirectly prove how images and media can control an individual’s perceptions and attitudes. Social media may explain the rise of a more powerful female physique becoming mainstream. Beauty as demonstrated by the study is not one concept, but can vary depending on culture and personal preference.

          The 64 subjects used in the study should have been surveyed about their ideal female body type. If most of the men in the study had a preference for muscular women that would obviously distort the results produced. These men would probably rate muscular women higher just because of preference.

It should be no surprise that there are men who like not just women are are in shape, but display a huge amount of muscular development. Then it is problematic with the use of the term toned. This term is not always lucid. The photos shown as “toned and thin” almost seem like a contradictory statement. Tone used in this context implies some muscle definition. This raises some other interesting questions. They used beauty pageant contestants, but what if the study employed some photographs of female bodybuilders or larger women. This could have cased another split in the survey.

Thin woman compared to a slightly athletic woman 

A larger woman compared to a slightly more muscular woman. 

The highest degree of development 

The study does not explain which level of muscularity is preferred on women. If this was to be investigated further one could conduct a study of women of multiple body types. There are also limitations in terms of the survey size. The number of men and women should be equal, but large enough to make a more precise assessment. There were 78 women who looked at the photographs. It should also be considered the differences in men and women’s reasoning for ratings. Women may rate certain women higher,because they either see something they want to emulate. It may not be an indication of  the attractiveness of a body ideal, rather a physical fitness inspiration. Men’s ratings may also be a little more complex. There may be a factor of amusement simply because women of a certain physicality they do not see in their daily lives. The high rating may be one of respect, rather than an admission of  attractiveness. There may be admiration for someone who accomplished such athletic feats, but it may not be in line with their personal concept of aesthetics. To be through, surveys should have been conducted afterward to find out why participants picked the body type they did.

The beauty pageant contestants have gotten bigger compared to the past. It seems fitness has influenced body ideals. Bodybuilding culture has spread. It seems that beauty pageant contestants are adopting training methods of the fitness and figure class more so. 

The main reason could be is that they were exposed to images of strong women prior to the study. The internet and social media platforms are responsible for this rise. This was only over a fifteen year time span, which was relatively short. This survey should be done once more with more men and women. If the results are the same then it is definite that there has been some form of paradigm shift in the attitudes regarding women’s bodies.

       The study notes the rise of the concept of fitspiration. This neologism refers to a culture that embraces fitness and exercise, but also encourages others to follow by example. What makes this subculture unique is that it is mostly women participating in larger numbers, but it is getting exposure through mainstream sources such as social media. The concept of exercise and fitness being a hobby or a pastime is nothing new. The difference now is that women are becoming a major part of this movement. The reason women are a big part of this fitness movement is because there are now more female athletes that are visible. Title IX encouraged women for decades to be involved in sports . There also is a global movement in which women are becoming a presence at the Olympics. This was almost unimaginable 100 years ago.

images (18) There is a female fitness culture that has supporters and detractors. A schism has emerged in this movement about purpose and objectives. Supporters claim it helps build confidence in a society that attempts to make women feel bad about themselves. Detractors say that it is an obsession with appearance and should be focused on health. The more vociferous objections come from sexist who believe it is not gender appropriate for women to be engaging in fitness culture at all. These issues do need to be addressed. Fitspiration does not make the demand that every woman look fit. The dominant fitness magazines tend to market weigh loss rather than exercise to women. Obsessions with thinness come from mainstream media sources, not fitspiration. This fitness movement is small compared to the dominant mainstream culture. The problem is not women exercising or getting in shape it is sexual objectification that is projected in emphasis in appearance. The mainstream media presents only one image of beauty. Fitspiration is not attempting to present one image, but just to get women physically active. The sexist arguments normally follow the lines of that such physiques on women are unnatural. The reality is that humanity has the ability manipulate their own biology to a certain degree. They are not unnatural, because nature is changing. Human evolution is an example of how the body can change overtime.

Women who are of such physicality are not abnormal. It is just for so long there has been restrictions on what is appropriate for women. The difference now is that women are beginning to define what is beautiful on their own terms. There should be no confusion that women who  embrace fitspiration are solely doing it for the purpose of appearance. Some are serious athletes improving their performance, others are women who are entering the fitness industry, or simply casual lifters. Some women have used this fitspiration movement to develop their  business  related to fitness. Women although large participants in fitness are largely excluded from the business aspect. Social media has allowed for women to promote themselves rather than going through the established corporate gatekeepers. If women’s sports do not get enough coverage on television social media and the internet can be as useful tool to challenge the disparity. It is not entirely clear whether this fitspiration subculture is a positive or negative development.

     Social media has become an international phenomenon. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat  are used by billions of people. The internet and social media have contributed to the rise of the image of the muscular woman becoming more prevalent. Frances Bozsik even states :” These websites allow individuals to collect images of women with whom they identify or admire, essentially allowing them to cultivate their own media repertoire of highly salient thin and fit media.” A user can easily go to Pinterest or simply use Google to find images and other materials on muscular women. Prior to this, the only way to see one was to either go to a watch a sport or go to a gym. There was print media to a limited degree, but it is now more extensive with the internet’s global reach. Social media has power to influence people and ideas. Depending on how it is used, it can be a helpful tool in changing people’s attitudes. There seems to be a gradual acceptance of women with muscle and strength. Female athletes do receive huge amounts of traffic to their websites and social media.

Seeing as the mainstream entertainment platforms devote less time to women’s sports this helps athletes immensely. Women can manage their own image rather than being reliant of a public relations firm or corporate sponsor. Fans and supporters can interact with their favorite athlete and have access to enormous amounts of material. Video streaming sites like Youtube, Dailymotion, or Viemo give users access to women’s sports to a greater extent than television. Fans will no longer face frustration about not seeing a particular female athlete. The new entertainment medium of social media has become a positive development for women’s sports and the image of the physically strong woman in general.

popular social media icons
The internet has become a powerful communication and entertainment medium producing blogs, websites, social media, video streaming and electronic commerce.

 There is also a negative dimension to the rise of this new medium. Cyber bullying and harassment have been too ubiquitous for many users of social media. There is also the issue of the rapid spread of false information. Relevant to the physically strong women they are subject to rude comments or ostracism from internet trolls. The anonymous nature of the internet emboldens sexists, racists, and the churlish  to insult whoever without consequence. Many muscular women have reported that sometimes they do receive unwanted commentary to their faces, but not as often compared to an online setting. The comments are pretty much similar in thought from phrases like “she looks like a man”  or “that’s too much for a woman” and voicing another insult of women being “disgusting.”

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Everyone has the right to their own opinion,but that is not a license to insult or be exclusionary to people. The reasons for such reactions can vary. Some people may not be used to the idea of a muscular woman and do not know how to react. Some responses con from ignorance. The other type of commentary is out of jealousy. This mainly is from other women who do not like the idea some other women are getting attention. Instead of being introspective about such emotions they rather attack other people who they perceive as more successful. Men who are insecure may just attack women in general because they want to validate their masculinity. There is a strong feeling of threat that comes from women who are confident in themselves or are unique in some way. These same men would probably be threatened by women who are very educated or make more money than they do. A large portion of trolls are just hateful people who attack anyone who is different. The major problem is that many people still view women in terms of gender stereotypes and dated sex roles.

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This is an example of blatant sexism. Strength if its demonstrated by women is shown as being gender inappropriate.

There has been an uneasy relation between women and exercise throughout the modern fitness culture. The attitude is that women should be physically active, but they should not develop themselves to the maximum. The notion that women can develop themselves to be “too much” seems ludicrous. One would not ask an artist to stop painting too many murals or an architect to stop constructing buildings. There are differences in what makes the most aesthetic physique, but there is room for all of them in the fitness culture. There is an obvious size bias. Female bodybuilders are sometimes ignored or repudiated by members of the fitness culture even when they were the harbingers to the women’s physical culture phenomenon of today. The women of the 1970s had a more difficult time with public stigma and misunderstanding. Women now have at least a slightly improved situation compared to the past.  There has been progress, because for every negative comment there are more positive ones that can be seen on social media. There is also another dilemma with this. Sexual harassment directed at the women. Such commentary makes users feel uncomfortable and adds another challenge.

  There is a difference between admiration and sexual objectification. A simple compliment would be welcomed. However, there should be a clear understanding why sexual advances or comments  are not appropriate on social media .  Thankfully, there are blocking features that can be used to counter harassment. Technology can be abused, but this can be avoided if it is utilized responsibly. Then there is the question of privacy. Some athletes may find that they have an online stalker. While there are complications that come with technological advancements, it has allowed the idea that women and strength are not two contradictory concepts.

This new image of female strength would not be as prevalent or influential without the contributions of social media and a vast global internet network.  This has produced positive and negative effects.

        It can be debated that simply the presence  of various images produces body image dissatisfaction. It cannot be ignore that there is a strong pressure at least in the West for women to have a thinner body type. The fitness woman image has become a recent phenomenon. To say that women who see such images will automatically feel terrible does not have basis in fact. The real problem is what message the images are conveying to the consumers. Magazines directed at women focus excessively on weight loss or appearance. Bozik states ” This process of selecting preferred images and then narrowing the media focus by placing these images on their ‘boards’ may inadvertently increase the risk of developing higher levels of body dissatisfaction, as well as subsequent disordered-eating behaviors that are linked to it,” Looking at an image does not immediately lead to an eating disorder or psychological distress. Not all consumers will be susceptible to these issues. There are women who are more vulnerable : those with low self-esteem and easily pressured. The basis of mainstream consumption in a capitalist system is that it plays on consumers fears and insecurities. If society puts a huge amount of pressure to reach an ideal unattainable it will take some internal fortitude to resist. If there is a lack of confidence or low self-esteem then such psychological disorders can emerge. There has been a counter to this which has been the body positive movement. It seems odd that it favors women with curves, yet the physically fit women are not even part of the discussion.

Many times the same promoters of body positive movements will body shame women who are exceptionally fit. If one is against body shaming, then there should not be a reason to target fit and muscular women with negative criticism. There is also a problem with the body positive movement. It wants to replace on standard of beauty with another. Replacing paradigms is not the solution. The only way this will change is when women stop putting so much effort and energy  into their appearance. While sexism is to blame for some of these attitudes, women are partially responsible. Fashion, make-up, and beauty products are commodities that women have control over. They profit from making other women feel awful about their appearance. Men are not solely to blame as many third wave feminists would want some to believe. Numerous times its other women who disparage other women’s appearance. The only solution is to teach young girls that they are more than their appearance. Society must learn to value women as people, rather than the misogynistic view of being sex objects. If such actions are not taken then no change will occur. That is why it is futile to stop using photoshop on magazine covers or  promote plus size models. As long as the negative perceptions about women’s roles and worth are present there will always be a problem. A solution would not be to stop showing images of fit women.

The media does have the power to influence. However, it is too simplistic to say prevalence of the fit woman image is causing body dissatisfaction. Correlations between media consumption and extreme behavior are inconclusive. Video games are not the cause of extreme violence nor is television.  They may be a factor, but that does not explain the phenomenon. Relevant to women in body image it is the message being conveyed is the issue. If one body type is presented as beautiful either directly or a  subtle  manner that is the root of the problem. If you favor one type over others this becomes an issue. Beauty can be both cultural and personal preference based.

        Beauty and aesthetics vary from culture to culture. Some societies like bigger women others mostly in the West are focused on a slim body. The promotion of a particular aesthetic is a recent phenomenon. This rise of photography, advertisement, and visual media contributed to the promotion on single image of female beauty. TV and movies contributed to this and distorted the public’s thinking. What emerged was the notion that all women should look a certain way based on particular images from mass media. While women who do not follow the image are ostracized, men who find other paradigms of beauty are also subject to harsh criticism. There seems to be limited tolerance for men who have varieties of beauty concepts in regards to women. If the more voluptuous body type is being embraced, others should be embraced as well.

Some people enjoy curves or a more athletic type. There are a large portion that favor numerous paradigms of beauty. The reason this has become an issue is that it is related to sex roles and psychology. Body image is related to sex roles and psychology has become interested in the study of body image. The reason is related to methods of confronting mental disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. These conditions which are eating disorders or an obsession with weight disproportionately effect women. While men can have these mental disorders women are the majority in terms of diagnosis. Such disorders are products not only of a constant circulation of images.

       The way people view the bodies of women are based on strict sex roles. These are normally restrictive and have sexist overtones. Women were once seen as the weaker sex. Their primary role in the traditional culture was to be mothers and caretakers of children. The medical view was in the past that the female body was naturally weak and its only purpose was for childbirth. The male body was the opposite a symbol of strength and power. When women gained more political and social power it spread to other areas. Women began to take control of their own bodies. This was not only done with reproductive rights and an emphasis on women’s health, but women participating sports. Now, after decades of Title IX women are enjoying the benefits of exercise and physical fitness in larger numbers. Women who became active also took their fitness a step further and developed their bodies to their physical maximum. Never before in human history have women reached this level of physical development. There were muscular women that existed in the past, but they did not have a competitive outlet. Nor did they have access to training facilities or an extensive knowledge of exercise physiology.  Women who show great physical power and prowess are challenging strict  gender roles. However, women themselves still struggle with the idea of muscle and strength. Even supporters are skeptical about the aesthetics. Women can be strong, but not too strong. There is a belief that too much muscle would compromise a woman’s femininity. Women are at this stage not afraid to show whatever muscularity level.

The most significant paradigm shift is that women who get involved in fitness culture are not there for appearance purposes. They become serious athletes. Crossfit and women’s increased participation in the Olympics has made an impact. Sports and fitness will no longer be the sole domain of men. Social media is becoming a more powerful tool to organize and market something to a global audience. There is a possibility that this is a mere trend which will fade away. Social media has a predilection for various sudden trends becoming more expansive with multiple hastags. This change in preference in terms of body type was occurring before social media’s appearance. When it was introduced to the public, this explains the surge in interest. User were sharing images and materials with other users. The study’s conclusion can be debatable. It is too early to saw that a strong female physique will become the new mainstream beauty paradigm. The image would have to expand into film, television, or other popular media. What is definite about the study is that people could have multiple preferences in terms of body ideals, even though society continues to promote one. The radical occurrence from this change comes from the women themselves. They are deciding what is beauty for themselves, rather than have it dictated by the wider society or mass media. Where ever this shift in beauty concepts goes, it is uncertain. What can be observed is that women’s mindset about fitness and exercise has changed.

Thin is In? Think Again. New Research Shows That Muscles and Body Tone Are Increasingly Rated As More Attractive Than a Purely Thin Female Body

Physically Fit Recruits Are Hard To Find

Not Fit Enough

A recent study has shown that a large portion of the American population is not physically fit enough for military service. Obesity and lack of exercise are culprits in this health and military issue. The interesting discovery is that the people with the worse fitness were in the South. This has been traditionally the largest area of military recruitment. Compared to other parts of the country, it demonstrates a disparity in health. Unfit recruits are more at risk for injury. The report done by the US military ( by researchers at Citadel Military College) wanted to determine if certain states could be a burden in terms of military readiness. They used body mass index as an indicator, however this measurement can be misleading. Cardiovascular measurement seems to have more precision. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured with incidents in relation to injury during training. The examination used Spearman correlations. While it is true the US has a weight problem, this can be reversed. Doing so will solve high injury rates in military recruits.

       The use of the body mass index for the study may not be the best measuring tool. BMI can classify people who are muscular as being overweight. It also can classify individuals who are thin as being underweight. The study was unclear about the morphic body types of the populations surveyed. The southeastern region which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia ,Texas, Tennessee, North and South Carolina had people who were in worse shape compared to other regions of the US. Some of the people in the data may not have a weight problem. People with endomorphic body types are not technically obese. Their body fat levels are higher, but it is not enough to have a deleterious effect on health. Knowing this it means that some of the data is more of an approximation.

Adding weight to the body will not always result in poor health. Women who are now joining the  military understood that they needed the strength to do certain task. However, when doing weight training they added mass in terms of muscle, which pushed some women out of the weight range. The Marines reversed this decision and women can be at a higher weight. Using the calculation of BMI its flaws can be seen.

 Margie Martin and Colette Nelson’s BMI provides an inaccurate picture. Margie would have a BMI of 27.4 and Colette stands in the 29.11. Both values are in the overweight range of the chart. They are not overweight, because they just have more muscle mass. The BMI scale does not account for different body  types.Although the BMI is not a great clinical tool it is obvious that Americans are suffering from obesity and weight related illnesses. According to the CDC there  is a 35% rate of obesity in the South. This increase is dramatic compared to previous decades.  America now has a poor diet that consists of sugar and high fat. Simultaneously, Americans are getting less physical activity. These are contributors to a growing public health problem. This explains why the injury rate increased 28% among the least fit states.

        The problem is that the military does not examine the issue from a physical fitness perspective. Besides just being overweight, many may not be in shape. Men and women who are not active, but do not have weight problems would probably have injuries. This is proven by the fact the report shows that even the recruits from fit states had injuries increase by 22%. Physical fitness capacity varies depending on health condition, genetics,Somatotype,  and sex. A person who is obese or overweight is going to have circulatory or skeletal joint issues. Strenuous work would be difficult and it makes it harder carrying excess fat on the body. The opposite end of the spectrum is the ectomorphic body type. Thinner people would have trouble doing tasks that require large amounts of physical strength.

 The man pictured is not overweight, but may not be in the best of physical shape. The lady however is at a high physical fitness level and would have an easier time meeting physical demands. 

Sex becomes another factor in military physical fitness. Due to biological and physiological differences the total physical fitness capacity is higher in men. Men are on average stronger than women due to endocrinology, body composition, and difference in body size. Men have more skeletal and muscle mass. Testosterone allows for a higher rate of protein synthesis. Protein is essential for muscular hypertrophy, but that is not the sole factor. Insulin growth like factor 1 and human growth hormone play roles in muscular hypertrophy other than just sex hormones. Aerobic capacity differs due to the fact men have larger lungs and hearts. Women would run slower due to the shape of their pelvis and the difference in the rate tissues are oxygenated. The difference in hemoglobin between men and women is also a factor in physical fitness. What this means is that there will probably be more men in combat jobs, even though more are open to women. Women’s numbers may continue to remain smaller. Lowering standards is not a solution. It means women will have to train to meet the physical fitness standards. If the average woman has lower physical fitness capacity, that means she will have to train harder to reach a particular level compared to a man.

These men and women shown are fit, but the average American does not exercise as much as they do. 

Women would have to train before attempting basic training to prevent injury. Women’s injury rates are higher due to the influence of sexual dimorphism. Relevant to obesity women are at higher risk and would find it more difficult to lose weight. Women have higher fat percentages due to estrogen and progesterone. Despite these differences weight training can increase a woman’s strength. During World War II only 50% of young men were qualified to join. Today even with the expanding roles of women in the service it has dropped to 23%. The number may also be a dramatic shift due to the fact it includes people without a high school diploma and a criminal record. It seems that allowing women in combat is a wise decision if the recruitment selection becomes low. While physical fitness is important, a woman or a man does not have to be Rambo or GI Jane to become a soldier.

The mental aspect is also a pivotal element. Then there is translation onto the battlefield. Collaboration and coordination are keys to a successful fighting unit. This means each soldier pulls their own weight and fulfills obligations as needed. There is also the factor of leadership and tactics. Soldiers even though some armies have the benefit of modern technology still need to be in an optimum health condition .This does not mean just being fit and strong will win wars. There were many powerful nations, states, and empires that should have won conflicts, because their armies were strong. Germany by examining its military strength could have won World War II. The United States from the strength of its army should have won Vietnam. The Roman Empire did not fall because of military defeat, but due to internal corruption and a series of weak emperors. The barbarian invasions were just another small nail in the imperial coffin.The US could have a military of the strongest men and women ever, but that does not guarantee victory.

Just being strong and fit does not produce a high quality soldier. It takes the acquisition of numerous skills in combat and survival to do so.  Maria Anderson is a major general  and  matched against Kristy Hawkins , kristy would not be prepared because she does not have military training.  

It is an exaggeration to say America’s lack of physical fitness is a national security risk . The US military will have to get recruits to enjoy physical activity and learn to control eating habits. There is also another factor that should be considered. If there were to be a draft of women they would need an extensive physical training program. The average woman’s upper body strength is lower and doing exercises that target those muscle groups is essential. The obese and overweight would have to go through a weight management program to meet before going into basic training. Drafting women would have challenges simply because of differences in physiology. It would most likely take longer to get the unfit into shape. Although it would be longer, there would be more soldiers at the end of the process.

The average woman would struggle to meet physical demands. The female athlete would not have such problems. If women had programs specifically designed to increase their physical fitness levels this would reduce complications of a draft of women. 

The portion of  people eligible for the selective service may decrease unless a new policy is implemented. The US military should employ personal trainers who task is for focusing on soldier fitness and health. Educating recruits about diet and exercise may help reduce  the amount of injuries. The task will be difficult. Physically demanding occupations do have an attrition rate for employees. Age and strain will eventually take its toll on the body. That is why it is preferred to get younger recruits between the ages of 18 to 49. As seen from higher performing athletes men and women reach their physical peak in their 30s. Training can reduce age related decline to an extent. Understanding fitness can prevent permanent or short term injuries in basic training.

        A improvement in the American public’s health must start at an early age. This includes putting an emphasis on physical education, healthy diet, and a new attitude in regards to exercise and physical activity. Many may be turned off at the thought of physical activity, because a sedentary lifestyle is all they know. The first step involves improving physical education. Children will start to develop their attitudes in regards to exercise first in a PE class. Making PE fun and amusing will get children moving as well as developing a positive attitude in relation to physical activity. Doing this would make the children who become adults maintain health, if these habits are reinforced.

Mark Herling a retired three star general stated that “recruiting challenges are going to get tougher for the military.” 

Making a gym class an unpleasant atmosphere will influence children for life. They will associate exercise and physical activity with something negative. There also needs to be another issue addressed with physical education. Girls are not encouraged to exercise as much as boys. Even at a young age their standards are lower. At this point there are very little physiological differences prior to puberty, so having lower standards in terms of physical activity makes no sense. The sexist notions about women’s physical capabilities still remain present in physical educator’s minds. This can impact women worse. If women have lower bone density and rarely do anything to build it they risk higher rates of osteoporosis. Simultaneously, there remains a cultural bias in terms of women’s roles. The backward notion that women developing strength and physical skill is unfeminine must be discarded. Exercise, sports, and fitness are viewed as a male only pursuit. While this has gradually changed with more women involved in sports and the passage of Title IX  there is more to be done. Besides obvious bias and discrimination, women will have to change their attitude as well. There are some women who shun any form of physical activity. They do this even with simple tasks such as opening a jar or shoveling snow. The idea that there will be a man there to do something for you will not always be the case. Women should learn to embrace exercise and develop physical competence. A dramatic shift has to be made in terms of attitudes toward exercise. This must be done, because it appears that American society is beginning to see obesity and be overweight as normal. The strange element is that fat acceptance has evolved into a movement. The reason this probably emerged is because of the weight loss industry presenting another unhealthy image of  extra thin body type.

 Body size is not the sole factor in determining health, but carrying excess weight can cause health problems. The skeleton will suffer extra strain combined with a circulatory system vulnerable to heart disease. Depending on the individual’s diet, there could be a risk of diabetes. Fat acceptance may not be the best for health. When living in a country of abundance it is simple to over indulge. Food, smoking, and alcohol are commonly over consumed. People must learn restraint and self-control to solve weight issues. There is a psychological element to changing habits. It must be done with the encouragement of friends, family,doctors, or fitness professionals. Shaming or scolding a person will only result in failure; positive reinforcement and motivation will be a pathway to success. There should also be a revision of goals. The sole purpose should not be only loss of weight, but rather improving physical fitness capacity as well as maintaining an active lifestyle. Clients may go on diets lose weight, then regain it. They may become discouraged attempt multiple times or simply quit. The only way improvement in health can remain permanent is that behaviors and lifestyle changes are persistent.

    Rather than just losing weight one should seek to improve overall physical fitness.

The most difficult part of this is maintaining a healthy diet. The nation is filled with fast food restaurants and supermarkets filled with junk food. To say that it is entirely  an individuals fault for weight related problems is not true. Healthy food such as fruits and vegetables cost more compared to junk food. The high obesity rates in the South could reflect the dire economic situation of that region of the USA.  Poor families would not be able to afford healthier food. The combination of poor diet and limited access to healthcare or reasonably price insurance means life expectancy could decrease.

If affordable healthcare is under attack and could be dismantled it will have devastating consequences on public health in the future. 

If obesity and weight related illness becomes so immense the government will have to act. The conservatives and far-right Republicans claim to be pro-military, but rarely do anything to address this issue or veteran’s needs. The only solution to a population that is less fit is to encourage exercise. This will have to be done at the state and federal level. Building better sidewalks to encourage walking is a start. The construction of recreation centers and parks may also encourage physical activity. The UK has experimented with putting taxes on drinks high in sugar. Office buildings are adopting standing desks. The data gathered from this study was accumulated between the years of 2010 to 2013 and  ever since there has not been any major change to policy.  It was reported in 2005 each soldier lost to attrition cost the government up to $31,000. If ignored expenses will only increase. The wider population may become a financial burden with mass decline in health.  The Department of Health and Human Services should take this matter seriously. Only a public policy based solution and address the rapid decline of health and fitness.

Physically Fit Recruits Are Hard To Find

BBC Future: “What If Women Were Stronger Than Men ?”

What If Women Were Physically Stronger Than Men ?

BBC Future is a section posted on there website discusses topics in regards to science, health, and technology. Its mission statement is ” making you smarter everyday.” It claims not to be a futurology based website, yet it seems to have elements of it. Predictions  that can be borderline outrageous are common with a sensational touch. BBC Future in its own words wants to be ” a guide to how to live more intelligently in a fast changing world.” Although most articles focus on technology and science, there was one that poses a question that can only be formulated through conjecture. Rachel Nuwer wrote the article “What If Women Were Stronger than Men ?”  consulting researchers and experts. There are some claims that seem incorrect.There are times in which experts make errors in assessments.This writing does not seem to be the most scientifically based. There are some facts about biology the should be reexamined. Also if this scenario were to occur it would either have to happen by means of evolution or sports medicine. The text recognizes that inequality is not sustained by physical strength, but fails to realize the phenomenon of organized mass violence as a means of oppression. Then there has to be an understanding of aggression levels between men and women. Would the relations between the sexes be different in terms of relationships? possibly and maybe not as one would expect. Society would of course change in some respects,but not in the way that the industrial revolution, sexual revolution, or decolonization changed the world.

         The only way women could possibly  end up being stronger than men is by biological evolution, genetic engineering, or mutation. There could be advances in exercise physiology or sports medicine that could alter women’s bodies.The article proposes “what would happen if women became stronger than men without thousands of years of evolution?” and expounds further the biological implications. Human evolution took 8 million years. Homo sapiens have only been around for 200,000 years.

Changes do not happen instantly in evolution. Walking upright or developing shorter intestines took millions of years. It was only six million years ago that bipedalism was demonstrated in the human species. Human beings vary in body shape and size. There are variations in muscle, adipose tissue, and skin.However,the skeleton can vary. People can either be tall or short. Sexual dimorphism was an environmental adaptation to environment. Our hominin ancestors would have struggled if they had a gestation similar to that of fish or reptiles. Terrestrial vertebrates do not produce thousands of eggs.A majority of species on the Earth show that females are larger for carrying offspring. Natural history demonstrates that there are major roles played by sex selection and natural selection in the process. Early primates just like today had different mating strategies. Species with smaller levels of sexual dimorphism tend to have multiple mates.Gibbons are known to do this practice. Gorillas have a higher level of sexual dimorphism meaning they would fight for mates. There also is a hierarchy related to this. Male gorillas rule over a group of female gorillas they mate with. This is termed a harem. Sex selection would involve females choosing the male that was deemed worthy for offspring. Natural selection would favor certain traits in an organism to be passed down through heredity. The body changes in response to environment and genetics. The human lineage saw legs of the body become longer and the arms reduce in length.

2 3 1_Family Tree 50_1000 Humanity is the last surviving species of the genus homo. The dramatic   shift in body proportions came around the period of 2.5 to 1.5 million years ago. The homo erectus developed a long legged body. This marked s change in the digestive system allowing metabolic energy to be used in other areas of the body. This was most beneficial to the brain and nervous system. Digestion of food could be done in a couple of hours, rather than days compared to other primates on a herbivorous diet. Environment plays a role and bodies that were tall as well as having long limbs were better adapted to warm weather. There is an interesting shift in strength that occurred in the genus homo. Humans developed lighter skeletons compared the much more powerful homo heidelbergensis and neanderthals. This is a mystery why homo sapiens did not inherit this feature of stronger bodies. One theory was that a more nurturing appearance may have stimulated  caring among kinship groups. Another reason was that physical strength was not as useful as brain power. Modern humans developed tools, language, and trading networks. Neanderthals may have lagged behind in these areas and thus did not survive. With the change in life style to permanent settlement and farming there was a reduction in physical activity. The life style went from being more rugged to more tame.  The sex differences between men and women remained  for the sake of sexual reproduction. While female size still remained smaller to male body size,there is obvious variation between individuals.

The Neanderthals had thicker bones and stronger bodies compared to modern day humans. 

Genetics are the reason why there is variation in populations. Genes are expressed and multiple ones can be responsible for certain phenotypic attributes. It was only in 2017 in which certain genes related to strength were identified. Both men and women can be carriers of these genes. This means if this trait is favored it can be transferred to offspring of men and women. However, environment is still a factor. A person with the ability to build great strength, but does not will not be the next athletic star. Then there is the factor of the MSTN gene which is responsible producing myostatin. It is a critical protein for regulating growth of skeletal muscle. People with lower levels will find it easier to build muscle. Genetic engineering could alter this protein enabling women to become stronger. This is more part of the realm of science fiction. Mutations do not occur by engineering; that happen naturally. A mutation such as IVS1+5G>A on the MSTN gene causes low production of myostatin. The mutation causes a disruption in the instructions used to produce myostatin. As a result it causes the body to have more muscle mass and strength. The over growth is not a cancer, because cell growth continues as normal. If this rare type of mutation were to become common in women it would result in strength gain. This shift would not require an understanding of genetics or epigenetics. Women becoming stronger than men would require millions of years of evolution and genetic drift.

            The factors that determine strength are also essential to producing a realistic scenario. The text states “while physical differences between genders has been narrowing women are catching up to men in some athletic endeavors especially ultra-marathon events.”  Women have produced impressive athletic performances, yet this does not mean the differences are narrowing in terms of physiology. When examining the muscular system, respiratory system, skeletal system, and cardio vascular system it is clear that the differences are still present even with the most physical fit women and men. Prior to puberty there is very little difference in physical fitness capacity. The strength spurt that boys get after 13 is due to changes in endocrinology. Testosterone allows for muscular hypertrophy to a greater extent. Testosterone is not the only factor in determining strength levels. If women were to become stronger it does not mean they would need an increase of androgens. While sex is a factor,body composition, muscle fiber distribution, height, and somatotype are important. It should also be clear in this scenario men do not change genetically or in regards to hormones. The SRY gene is responsible for male characteristics. This could happen without women lowering their estrogen. Women with mesomorphic body types could build considerable strength with training, because their physique allows for more results in strength gains. Simply having large muscles does not equate to strength. It depends on the total distribution of type II and type I muscle fibers as well as body composition. Fat does not contribute to strength. Height can be a factor, because a larger skeleton would mean room for muscle. Type II muscle fiber is designed for more explosive power compared to the more endurance base type I.

Naomi Kutin was just 10, when she lifted 215 lbs. Her muscles are not bigger than Margie Martin’s. This is the difference between training for strength or training for hypertrophy.     

Strength may not be dependent entirely on a person’s size. There are athletes who are smaller, but still are able to attain strength through a particular training method. It is possible to have the appearance of large muscles,but not have as much functional strength. Training for hypertrophy is commonly called bodybuilding.This increases the size of the tendons,ligaments, including the stabilizer muscles.Ligaments and tendons are strengthen at a slower pace compared to the muscles, which explains when lifting heavy why joint issues are a concern. Strength training allows the nervous system to make the muscles use the most force in collaboration with the skeletal system.

The article makes a mistake saying that basically a major hormonal shift would have to happen. The law of nature as they describe it has made women the reproducer of offspring. This means that either human beings would either just reproduce asexually or biological sex would disappear. Women could be stronger while having hormonal fluctuations  in progesterone and estrogen required to reproduce children. Strength between the sexes follows a bell curve. The average man has 10 kg more muscle mass and 40% more upper body strength. Although women are closer to men in lower body the percentage is estimated 33% as strong. These estimates are for men and women of various sizes. When the size is constant it estimated that women women can be 80% as strong. The reason why the estimate is not 100 % when the size is constant is due to the differences in the upper body. Men’s shoulders are broader meaning they can house more muscle on the section of the body. The writing does state women would have to increase skeletal structure to be strong and therefore would have to see in increase in growth. This means women would have to have broader shoulders. Bone density aids in strength.

Without those conditions women would not be stronger. There would have to be a change in physiology rather than endocrinology. The reason the athletic performance gap remains is due to this. Also, there are sociological factors that do hinder progress. Many women do not have the opportunity or access to training facilities. Living in a war zone or a society that does not give women the same rights can negatively effect their health. There also has to be a consideration that most of the scientific studies on exercise physiology are conducted on men. This does not tell us the full extent of women’s physical capabilities. What is known is extracted from sports records and other data. Since 1983 women’s sports records have remained stable.There is a 10% difference in athletic performance between males and females. Considering the anatomical and physiological differences between men and women that is relatively small. There is obviously a chance women’s records will improve. There could be individual women who reach high levels that revival their male counterparts. It may not impossible to say that women could become as strong as men, maybe not stronger. When examining cross sectional area of muscle between the sexes they seem to exert the same amount of force. The science of strength is still being explored and it is not know what the full extent of human limits are.

       If women were  did become stronger than men, it does not automatically men that that society  would become a matriarchy. Daphnie Fairbirin’s assessment is incorrect saying that it would also result in having men look after children. The reason human beings may not produce large amounts of offspring is because both the roles of the parents are important to the offspring. Unlike other animals the growth process for primates is slow. An infant is very dependent on their parents for food and protection. It is most likely the division of labor came about for ensuring the survival of offspring. Patriarchy is more sociological rather than biological. The rise of permanent settlement and property put women at a disadvantage. Framing also put the hunter gatherers at a disadvantage as well considering they could not make a food surplus. The whole basis of women being subjugated was not due to men’s greater strength, but the fact women did not have the same rights and opportunities. One problem was that women did not have control of their own bodies or lives. The rise of contraception and abortion have women more freedom than ever before. That is why reproductive rights are so essential to women’s liberation. Matriarchy is defined as ” a social system in which women hold the major positions of power.”  There have thus so far, never been matriarchal societies in pre-history or  the modern era. There has been cases of matrilineal  inheritance, but societies were still male dominated. There have been feminists who advocate some form of matriarchy to replace patriarchy. This theme has been common in feminist literature and was born out of cultural feminism in the 19th century. It found new life in power feminism. This faction cl;aims they want equality, but that is simply not true. They want a society were women dominate in which both the legal and political system favor them. To extent in the West, it seems to be moving that way in terms of alimony, child support, and divorce. The neoliberal capitalist system has indirectly caused conflict between the sexes in the labor force. Patriarchy is supported by a power structure through a social,legal, and political system. Equal rights and the rule of law can eliminate such disparities.

         There could be psychological changes in women that become physically stronger. Rachel Nuwer makes the mistake on relying on a ludicrous study by political scientist Micheal Petersen. His claim was that men with more upper body strength favored hierarchy and far-right political views. This claim seems false when analyzing the data. Their sample size included only hundreds of people from Argentina, Denmark, and the United States. African and Asian countries were not included. The researchers from the Aarhus University study found no link or correlation in women. This study is not really scientific at all. There is a link between political views, socioeconomic status, and ethnic background. The less educated and more closed minded individual tends to favor far-right views. Although left-wing politics would benefit the poor, they tend to favor right-wing views even though it could be detrimental  to them. Different ethnic and women may  favor either side of the political spectrum. What molds a person ideology occurs early in life and based around cultural or social factors. A child raised in a conservative or liberal home will most likely adopt those values. The body type does not influence thought, it is the sense of self. It would be silly to say that women who are physically stronger would be more conservative. The only demonstration of this study reveals is how people value artificial hierarchies.

    According that study this woman should be more conservative than this man. Assuming this would be ridiculous 

A ruling class justifies oppression by blaming awful conditions on the oppressed. Arguments range from biology to claims that the oppressed are just natural failures. Relevant to women, sex differences are used as a justification for unequal treatment and status. The differences do not indicate inferiority, but pseudo-scientific explanations have been used to make such statements. The idea that men are better and more powerful is enough to psychologically induce a sense of entitlement. Women who have engaged in some form of strength training say they are more confident. This new sense of self spreads to other areas of life. Gaining the full power of one’s body and skill gives women a new sense of independence. Women becoming physically stronger does not mean automatically they would be more aggressive. This theory proposed by the Aarhus University is nothing more than theories that were proposed by William Sheldon a psychologist in the 20th century. He attempted to correlate behavior to body type. Theories of constitutional psychology are discredited mainly because of its eugenic roots and inconsistent data. Although the term somatotype is still used in fitness and health circles, Sheldon classified mesopmorphs are being rugged, assertive, and dominant. Sheldon’s ideas were nothing more than an extended version of Francis Galton’s anthropometric studies.   There tends to be a false belief that if women gain too much power they will abuse it. Behavior is more complex from a psychological perspective. It is not just rooted in biology; there is a major sociological component.

         There is a difference in aggressiveness and competitiveness between the sexes. This is rooted in biological evolution and sociology. It is incorrect to say that men are just more naturally violent and women are more peace loving. Aggressiveness and competitiveness were defense mechanism in the evolutionary past. Early  hominins had to fight to either avoid predators and collaborate to survive the wilderness.These two traits are not exclusively male. Women can have aggressive behavior or be competitive depending on environment. If these traits are favored in a society, most living there will adopt it. It would be erroneous to say that the world would be more peaceful if women ruled the world. Female leaders have been known to favor war, just like their male counterparts. Margaret Thatcher favored the Falklands War, Condoleeza Rice was involved in the Iraq War, and Susan Rice advocated strikes in Libya. These women obviously did not have peace loving nature.

Hillary Clinton if she became president of the US would have followed the same aggressive war policy. Politics is a competitive environment and requires a level of aggressive thought. Women have shown that they can be just as calculating, deceptive, and skillful as men when it comes to political power. The reason why more women may not be in politics is because many may not be encouraged to have these ambitions. Even the most progressive societies still retain dated beliefs about women’s roles. The concept of the mother as the only identity a woman can have is still exalted. Women with “too much ambition” are seen as ruthless career-women. The same criticisms are not directed at men. An assertive and take charge woman is seen as either “difficult” or “overbearing.”  It is clear there are double standards and biases with in cultures in regards to women in power. The question doe not come down to either nature versus nurture. These two factors interact with one another. Sociobiology gives consideration to how natural selection influences behavior. Aggressiveness and competitiveness may be traits that were favored for human survival. At the same time excessive violence can lead to destruction of civilization.

             Violence has been a method to oppress many people. If women were stronger than men, it is not very likely violence against then would decline. Rape or domestic violence would not decline dramatically. Jackson Katz makes this claim who is president of MVP Strategies a company that works in developing programs for prevention of gender based violence. Mentors in Violence Prevention offers training and wants to change attitudes that promote such behaviors. Crime is a problem of every society, but it occurs for a reason. Violence against women is a means to forcibly put them back in a subordinate position. Organized mass violence is a phenomenon of civilization. When the first armed forces emerged the became the highest form of violence. While violence on an individual level is unacceptable ( one person murdering another), mass violence is embraced when it is controlled. Armies are an example of acceptable  mass violence , even when the actions are still murder.Women if they live in a society that does not value them will be subject to mass violence. The only way physical strength would be helpful is for basic defense, but if there is no legal or political protection this would be useless. Rape does not always involve an assailant physically beating  their victim. Alcohol or drugging of victims seems to be a common method of criminals of college campuses. What creates this atmosphere of sexual assault and violence is cultural attitudes. If society views women as nothing more than sex objects, this distorts men’s views of women. If the laws do not punish criminals or are lenient then it creates a system that works against women. Some observers calls this rape culture. While some points are legitimate, the feminist argument  that “men are taught to rape” lacks cogency. Calling this a rape culture may not even be the best description; it is a culture of misogyny. Saying that rapes would decrease if women were stronger is like saying murder would go down if more people owned guns. While a gun can provide some protection this would be negated if there were other with more or the same amount.

While this woman and man could be on the same level of strength that does not give an indication of who could be more likely to be abusive. 

Katz’s assessment is limited in terms of criminology. There is marital, acquaintance, and custodial rape. Women are not the only victims. Rape that occurs in prison does not receive that same amount of attention or outrage. There are different typologies of rapists. anger-retaliatory rapists and anger-excitation rapists are the most violent. Anger-retaliatory rapists use physical force to subdue their victims, while anger excitation rapists enjoy to a degree inflict pain on the victim. Power-assurance rapists use methods that are less physical such as drugs, stalking, or luring a victim into a place of vulnerability. Besides prevention or tougher laws, women and girls must be raised differently. Women must be taught self-defense. Girls are either taught to not assert themselves or defend themselves. Women often go around thinking ” I want to be with a guy who makes me feel safe.” Women are taught that men will protect them, when in reality they will probably be their primary abusers. This idea that women should entrust their physical protection to the men they know needs to change. Being proactive rather than just putting emphasis prevention could change the situation. Domestic violence should not be solely viewed as a women’s only problem. According to the article 19% of men report having been attacked by their partner. Women’s victim rates are higher,but physical strength is not the sole reason for that. The psychology of a partner matters. One who is overly dominant and demands compliance will most likely be more abusive. A sense of constant entitlement contributes to abusive behavior. Sexism and lack of gender equality are major factors in higher domestic abuse. There may never be completely accurate statistics on domestic violence, because victims are unwilling to seek help.

More Than 40% of Domestic Abuse Victims Are Male Report Says

The reason a person comes back to an abusive relationship and marriage  has to do with a person’s self-esteem. The victim feels as if they are nothing without the abuser. Then if they are financially dependent it makes separation more difficult. It is the unfortunate fact that through out history wife beating was not considered a criminal act. It was not until the 19th and 20th centuries did countries begin to criminalize such a practice. There is a long tradition of men having authority over women, even in intimate relationships. Some men do not abuse women simply because they can; they are allowed and encouraged to do so. Only when there is a change in this system can violence against women can be reduced.

          There would definitely be a change in gender relations in regards to interpersonal associations. Women being stronger would alters dynamics in terms of amorous relationships.Men would have to use something other than strength to define their identity. This has happened in a sense, through their careers yet that is also not healthy. Work could be unfulfilling or not available depending on the state of the economy. This explains why men have more psychological distress when they are unemployed. Resources are a method of attracting the opposite sex and have replaced physical confrontation a means for competing for women like our hominin ancestors did. Strength would not replace physical attractiveness it would just become part of it. There are today women who are very physically strong and attractive . One the ways women were able to navigate male dominated societies was to use their feminine charm or sexuality  against men. Manipulation was a useful tactic for women who did not have political or social power. To an extent physical attractiveness gave women some form of bargaining power.  Now that their is a level of financial and social independence there has been a shift in gender relations.

Men are in the West and in particular America are struggling to figure out how to create a stable life for themselves in the changing  dynamic. If man is no longer a provider or father what purpose does he serve?  Women who are well off in terms of finance may be looking for stable relationships, but cannot establish one. Men and women are still functioning on dated gender roles even when society has changed. Even women of independence are still seeking a man to “take care of them,”   while men still think they need to bear all of the responsibilities and hardships  without complaint, even if it is deleterious.Status has become the main way of determining relationships. Selecting one’s partner was not a personal choice in the past. Most marriages were arranged and they still are some countries. Marriage was historically a property arrangement; marrying for love is a recent phenomenon. The lugubrious reality is that when one’s spouse earns more it does cause a level of tension. The problem is too many people view marriage as a subordinate follower and a dominant controller dynamic. Women who make more money in the marriage may generate jealousy from their husbands. If physical strength were added there would be conflict. There are men who think that women have taken something from them and physical strength is their last bastion.

 Feminism did challenge and defeat major injustices, but it also created some negative consequences. Radical feminism and third wave feminism in particular presented all men as enemies. The idea that women should just seek power and not equality has somewhat caused tension between men and women in America. Family law favors women over men and although this is a double standard women do not want this reversed. People who attempt to debate the third wave feminist rhetoric are either told they “hate them because they are successful” or vituperated. Men are unfortunately either not attempting to establish relationships with the talented women out there or simply becoming more misogynistic. This explains why certain men with a traditional mind set are obsessed with sports such as football, boxing, and MMA. There is a sense that women will never have an advantage in physical prowess. Yet, women are also part of the sports world and have received negative reaction from people who believe in strict gender roles. physical strength is not a male only attribute, but when it is shown in women, the reactions are very negative or hostile. Sports is no longer a male only domain. Women being strong or stronger would make some men who are insecure feel threatened. Even the men who may like such a change who have to make adjustments.

  The common held belief is that marriage is better for men. Women actually have more to gain from marriage than a man. It is very rare that a man could find a rich woman to marry and become a stay at home dad. Women on the other hand can be a homemaker and gain relative security. A woman has more options than a man who has to be a provider. The burden of family life is not shared equally. The most visible change in women being stronger would be the household labor. Women would probably be expected to do more manual labor based chores. However, there could be a change in how women and men select who they will marry or have a long term relationship with. Women who reach a certain status will not be with men of lower status. Normally, the insecure men try to find a woman who they can easily control. Men who attempt to seek companionship with women of higher status will most likely be rejected. Endogamy is powerful and the adage “true love conquers all” may not be  an axiom. It is rare to see a woman with a PhD dating a man with a high school diploma or a woman business executive dating a janitor. There are still conflicts about people dating outside their own race or religion. This partially explains why online dating sites are so popular. People can just answer questions in relation to their biases ( or preferences or compatibility in a more euphemistic sense) and find a match. Sadly, a physically strong woman most likely would not want a man weaker than herself. If women were all stronger than men, it would mean men would have to compete harder to get female attention. Men who either have to have higher earning power, achieve a level of prominence, or do an act of physical daring.

It could be that women would be the competitors for male attention. Men have to approach women if a relationship is to get started. Assuming that women being stronger did not change particular behaviors and customs certain procedures would remain the same. The most radical adjustment would be that husbands may not feel entitled to bossing around their wives. There would be a change in attitude may be not so much daily living.

         The workforce would be altered if women were stronger than men. There would be more women in physically demanding occupations. The reason there are so few women in these fields is not only due to discrimination, but physiology. Women do not have as much physical strength. There are women who can do such physically demanding jobs, yet the numbers remain low due to differences in physical fitness capacity. Construction, firefighting, law enforcement, the military, and sports are occupations in which men have higher employment numbers. If women were to have more strength they would probably be dominant in these fields. Rachel Nuwer does explain that women who are competent at their jobs still may face a glass ceiling. The reason is that a system will always favor the ruling group. It does not matter how skilled or educated the oppressed is. They will be stopped from advancing economically, socially, and politically. If affirmative action was enforced it could negate such issues. Technology has in a way allowed women to advance when they at a disadvantage in terms of muscle power. Yet, this does not explain why more women did not enter the workforce during the industrial revolution. Women who were of the working class got employment in factories such as textiles. The upper class women were restricted more so obeying the middle class values of the cult of domesticity. The reason women were not given equal pay was that it would cause working families to advance themselves and therefore no longer be subordinate to a ruling class. Oppressors do not favor social mobility and attempt to prevent it. Men did not like women working, because it was viewed as more labor competition and it gave women more independence. Now it seems that women are in many fields that were once thought to be male only.

There would probably be mixed sports competition if women were stronger than men. There would still be divisions by weight classes in some cases. The reason sports are divided by sex is due to men’s higher fitness level. This is done to remain fair, otherwise a large portion of women would be cut out of sport. It would be difficult to image men and women playing a tackle football game, but this is only a theoretical scenario. Although it may not change the sexist attitudes in sports culture. Women have proven they are skilled, yet they are either ostracized or disparaged by the media. Women have been a part of the sports culture since ancient civilization, however there are still some who view women of such strength and endurance as abnormal. This view has fallen out of fashion as cultural mores become liberal. If women became stronger than men at this point in history it may not be as important. As technology advances there is a possibility the human work force could be replaced by robotics. Automation and artificial intelligence  is the wave of the future and it will cause certain jobs to disappear. There is no way in which a human being could physically compete with a machine in a manual labor job.  It will not get tired, it will not demand pay or vacation.

 A Robot will not suffer health or attrition problems like a human.

The solution has to be a form of universal income and extensive job training to help world populations adjust to rapid technological advancement. The majority of the world population will have to get an education beyond high school and be devoted to life long learning. There will need to be skilled workers to make such machines or information technology. Women if they want to close the wage gap must go into fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They must also go into the physically demanding occupations as well. It seems that  brain power is more pivotal than muscle power.

       The text concludes that while women suddenly becoming stronger than men is more science fiction, there is some shift underway. Women are entering politics, science, and business. The one element that is missing is how women are entering the world of fitness and sports. There is a silent revolution in this regard. Women are embracing strength and transforming their bodies to their maximum. There were muscular women in the past, but none that were as impressive as seen today. More women are competing in the Olympics now than ever before. When the modern Olympics were revived in 1896 women were banned from competition.

Women compete in most sports in the 21st century. That does not mean there is equality in the sports world with the lack of media coverage. The interesting paradigm shift is that there is a growing male fan base for physically strong women. Social media and the internet have given women with such physiques more exposure. When contemplating  this shift one realizes these women are stronger than many men. It seems women have embarked on physical empowerment. This means having control of one’s body and learning physical skills. While society has not morphed into an Amazon matriarchy, it is clear that there are a portion of women have become stronger. Technology and science are also to thank for this development. Understanding anatomy and exercise physiology helped in designing training regimens for women. Exploring nutrition and diet also contributed. Supplements and vitamins have benefited women in terms of improving performance. It seems women have reached a stage in which they are developing themselves to the maximum both mentally and physically. Humans are still evolving either by mutation or epigenetic factors. It would seem impossible that women could get stronger than men. Although there is a strong possibility that women could each an equivalent level of strength through millions of years of  biological evolution. Even if there were to be a change it would not be immediately noticeable. The global trend seems to be shifting to a more sedentary lifestyle causing increased rates of obesity and heart related illnesses. BBC Future attempted to show how society would change based on speculation, but the assessments were off. One element is clear that society and civilization have always been changing. The status of women has not always been low, but has fluctuated through out time.

BBC Future: “What If Women Were Stronger Than Men ?”

Saudi Arabia Approves Physical Education Program in Girls’ Schools

Girls’ Physical Education in Saudi Arabia

According to Arab News,  the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education has approved a program allowing physical education to be taught in girls’ schools. This is more significant than some observers realize. The deeply religious and conservative Middle Eastern nation does not not favor women’s rights or their independence. However, there is a movement for change. The kingdom wants to modernize and that means having women be a part of the larger society and public sphere. The implementation will occur during the 2017 and 2018 school year. Saudi women will no longer accept a second class status or remain under antiquated guardianship. An even bigger incentive is to mobilize women in the workforce and other sectors. This starts with the youth and creating new opportunities. Vision 2030 seeks to enhance the Saudi kingdom economically, politically, and socially. This change is policy is part of that program to ensure the country is not left behind in the 21st century. Sporting activities are being encouraged across the kingdom. This is part of the Vision 2030 program and women will gain the most  from it. The focus on sports clearly has an intention on building high performing Olympic teams. It would not be surprising to see the girls who benefit from this program becoming Olympic athletes in the future. Like Title IX in the United States it will be beneficial both in terms of public health and women’s empowerment.

        The minister of education Amed Al-Issa  issued the decree for schools in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for girls’ physical education. A supervisory committee will be established under the supervision Haya Bint Abdul Aziz Al-Awwad, undersecretary of education for girls.  This program will target both public schools and universities. Three months of intense policy study Saudi officials thought this was the correct time for educational reform. Change will not be immediate. It may be decades before the new policy shows positive results. Discrimination and gender bias cannot be erased by a mere stroke of a pen. There will of course be individuals who object to any form of change. Others are more open mined and fitness trainers seem more enthusiastic about the decree. It is not secret that some girls have been given private lessons in tennis and soccer before the royal decree. Now girls can have schools provide facilities to develop athletic skills. There are less liberal voices as demonstrated by Mohammud M.S :” I don’t think it’s right for a young girl to take a sports class in school, she will grow harsh and rough, which goes against her delicate nature.” He expounds further: “I won’t deny my daughter’s participation in any (physical education) related activities in school but I will draw a line somewhere.” It seems Saudi men who were raised in a religiously conservative society reject the idea of a strong woman. However, others realize  that change cannot be stopped  yet sill wrestle with the idea of  traditional gender roles. This change should be welcome for the sake of the kingdom’s image.

          Western images and ideas about Saudi Arabia either are stereotypical, racist, or Islamophobic. As a way to disparage an entire race, some point to Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women. Commentators say “they are not part of the civilized world”  or use it to elevate Western values as being superior. The truth is like any other country,Saudi Arabia has its problems, but it is seeing women become more powerful. Over the past decade it has happened rapidly. During the Rio 2016 Olympics Saudi Arabia sent four women athletes to compete. Although it was only four athletes the image was important. Prior to that Sarah Attar and Wojdan Shaherkani made history as the first women to compete in the modern Olympic games in 2012.

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These young women were met with harsh criticism at home by religious fundamentalists and extreme traditionalists. These negative reactions inside the kingdom only validate Western prejudices and misconceptions. If one truly loves their nation they should seek to see all members be successful, especially in an international setting. Doing so will dispel the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment so prevalent in mainstream Western media. Many objects to women’s participation in sport come from a religious context. The Quran does not ban or prohibit women from participating in sports. To make the claim it makes women into bad Muslims has not factual support. Religion should not be regressive, but progressive. Islam has a tradition of impressive civilizations which include the Abbasid Caliphate, Umayyad Caliphate, Songhai Empire, Mali Empire, Sokoto Caliphate, and the Ottoman Empire. That tradition must be revitalized in elevation of people and society. Women are the key to saving the kingdom from turmoil. Sports are not the only sector women are flexing their muscles; they are making their mark on government.

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Princess Reema  was appointed in 2016 to oversee the women’s sports sector. She works in the General Authority for Sports and it is pivotal that women have leadership positions. Normally, a Western view of a Saudi woman is that of a weak and oppressed creature sheltered from the outside world. Contrary to misconceptions women are challenging old customs. Around 2014 schools Saudi state schools introduced sports for girls after vocal opposition to a general ban on women in sports. The move was incomplete without physical education for all girls. Gradually, the kingdom is introducing reform. Yet, they do not go far enough. The fear of the House of Saud  is that reform in other areas may mean mass political reform or possible revolution. The Arab Spring has increased this paranoia. The trepidation of regime change may halt reforms, which could prevent such events from occurring. The addition of physical education to girls’ education is a great step in promoting social health and stability to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The encouragement of  a healthy lifestyle will prevent disease and reduce healthcare costs in the long term. Seeing as people will live longer in the future, this must be encouraged.

Saudi Arabia Approves Physical Education Program in Girls’ Schools

Happy Inauguration Day

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It is unfortunate that American politics has come to a point in which far-right extremist views are acceptable. Hate or general violence directed at immigrants, African Americans, and women will become  the norm under a Trump presidency. Donald Trump and his supporters dream of a United States that is of the 1950s  in which racial discrimination was common and women had little power in society. While Donald Trump’s racism is well documented, what people forget is his misogyny. Women have accused him of sexual misconduct and tapes exposed a crude side of his personality. A Republican dominated Senate and House of Representatives means Trump has a free hand to implement policies that could be potentially devastating to the United States. There is limited hope for the future, but people can still resist. That is why it is important to support the Women’s March on Washington. Let it be known the citizens of the US will not tolerate oppressive measures by a Trump administration.

Women’s March on Washington

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Happy Inauguration Day