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

Wonder Woman Is No Longer an Honorary UN Ambassador

The iconic comic book character Wonder Woman is no longer an honorary UN ambassador. The fictional character’s selection did meet some condemnation. The reason it was done was to promote the empowerment of women and girls. UN members and external pressure wanted this revoked based on certain perspectives. They claimed they were concerned about the “over sexualized image,” which featured “a large breasted white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh -baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots.” They went on to explain that it was “not culturally encompassing or sensitive.” Hearing these statements demonstrates erroneous thinking. It is the type of  irrational thinking that comes from extreme third wave feminists and false social justice warriors. These two groups do not want to challenge injustice, but merely act as managers of current conditions. These people presenting themselves as advocates are nowhere to be found when people are in danger. At this point in history the United Nations has lost most of its credibility. UN failures and abuses in the  Democratic  Republic  of the Congo, South Sudan, Haiti, and the authorization of military action in Libya prove it should not lecture any nation on human rights. Iraq suffered under both UN and US sanctions, while North Korea  is  being put under sanctions. This honorary ambassador for the famous DC character could have been a positive development for the struggling supranational organization. Syria could be the breaking point for the world body. These criticisms of  Wonder Woman’s image display a level of ignorance about the character. The arguments for rejection can easily be discredited.

           The claim of the over sexualized image almost sounds like a religious fundamentalist argument. Wonder Woman is drawn as an attractive and athletic woman. Yet, some feel that the mere image of the woman’s body is sexual. There effort to prevent misogynistic convictions only reveals their sexist prejudice. To them a woman that is dressed in a certain way is just a sex object. Men are hardly ever judged on how they dress. These objections to the character’s costume expose an undated traditionalist view about women. Extreme third wave feminist make similar arguments, but in another context. They believe that presenting women in this image encourages a rape culture. This explains why feminists and the religious right collaborated in the attempt to ban pornography in the United States in the 1980s. The traditionalist claimed that it was obscene. Feminists stated it created rapists and hate for women. Both these statements are incorrect. Rape is the product of a society that thinks violence against women is normal, not lascivious materials . What is considered obscene or  crude to one person, may not be to the other. These two groups obviously do not believe in the freedom of speech.

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The case with the statement on Wonder Woman reveal a combination of these two schools of thoughts. They say her uniform is sexualized, but the only thing it does is reveal some parts of her body. It should be understood that DC comics is not pornography or sexualized. It has happened to the character in certain comics, but that is not her sole purpose. Wonder Woman does not fall into being a simple stock character or some random trope amusement. She is one of DC comics most recognizable characters, with plenty of fans around the world.  Wonder Woman costume is more tame compared to real life swim wear.

Wonder Woman has not appeared in a thong or nude in the comics. Microbikinis almost seem like no clothing at all.   When examining this objection it lacks cogency. While it is true, normally Wonder Woman appears in her thigh bearing suit, there are times in which her costume changes. At first she wore a shirt. This was during her first comic books in the 1940s. There were times in which she wore pants. The costume changes depending on the time or character designer. Writers and artists change the image of  a  comic book character various times.

         The belief that Wonder Woman’s design is impossible baffles the mind. Seeing as she is a cartoon character she can be drawn, which ever way an artist wants. If these UN members bother to do research, they would realize that Wonder Woman is not some unrealistic standard body. There is a habit to draw women unnaturally thin, but this has been avoided by DC artists. Wonder Woman has either appeared athletic and sleek or muscular. Being an amazon she has to look the part. She is a type of superhero that is a fighter trained in warrior combat. So it would make sense to show her body as if it was trained for rigorous physical activity.

Depending on the artists and writers of the comic, Wonder Woman can break the common model of slim woman. This allows the readers to at least believe that she could pull of the strength feats she does or fighting super villains. Wonder Woman’s design can either be extremely cartoon like or realistic model. Saying that her body proportions are impossible is wrong based on several reasons. The first reason one should remember is that it is a fictional character not meant to be a entirely realistic depiction. Another reason is that there are other mediums besides comic books encouraging body image disorders. The fashion and fitness industry do this as well. Fitness magazines emphasize weight loss and present the slim body for women as the image of health. Fad diets and equating a slender body with success. The fashion industry entourages models to starve themselves and they only design clothes for an ectomorphic body type. These critics have never spoken out about these more serious issues. The last point also is that Wonder Woman’s proportions resemble that of a female athlete. Many of them are more Wonder Woman like than the actual character!

Muscular thighs and a powerful looking upper body seems to be the model Wonder Woman is based upon. The women who train in what ever sport they choose to compete in create a body that is powerful and has implications about what a woman can achieve. The concept of the weaker sex is based around a pseudoscientific understanding of biology and physiology. The female body is seen as inferior or either frail. The muscular woman challenges this idea. This extends to a version of feminism that emphasizes women’s physical prowess as a means to challenge patriarchy. The fact that men are stronger than women has been used a justification to control women, becomes a ludicrous argument when women develop their strength. The image of the strong woman in this mode of thought can inspire young girls to grow up to be confident and independent women.William Moulton Marston Wonder Woman’s creator was a supporter of women’s rights. He has supported the women’s suffrage movement  and did not hold traditional views about gender roles. The character was not meant to be an empty vessel, but a symbol for women to liberate themselves. It surprising  that UN members are rejecting an image that shows a woman with one type of power. Although there are many types of power ( mental, financial, and constitutional) , physical power is still not consider acceptable for women. That statement about Wonder Woman’s “impossible proportions” just proves their objections are not out concern for women’s well being.

     The only legitimate argument that can be made to revoking the honorary ambassadorship is one of cultural sensitivity. This claim also has weak points. Wonder Woman is a white person who is trying to be presented in a campaign to empower girls and women globally. The majority of the world’s population is not white. This image almost seems like a painful reminder of the colonial past in which whiteness was presented as a standard of beauty and success in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Adding to this is the fact her costume is the US flag in swimming suit form. What appears from this is a type of subtle cultural imperialism. The great part about fictional characters is that they can be changed. That means even their skin color. Marvel has done comics in which their former character are no longer white. Amadeus Cho is the new Incredible Hulk. Fans did not recat negatively to the change, because comics function on retrocative continuity. There is no reason why Wonder Woman can be either African, Asian, or South American.

This needs to be done to correct past mistakes. It is no secret that comics have had a tradition of racist caricature. African Americans were targets, but Asians, Mexicans, and other non-white groups were subject to prejudicial representation in popular media. It was common to see blackface and yellowface  caricature in Wonder Woman comics in the 1940s and 1950s. The only characters drawn in a normal form were the whites. This was the era of Jim Crow and Japanese internment. Even after the end of World War II, ant-Asian and anti-black racism was still prevalent. America’s refusal to grant African American equal rights and its wars in Korea as well as Vietnam demonstrated America’s desire to maintain a white supremacist system.

 The Japanese a portrayed as small eyed, sneaky dwarfs. African Americans are shown as sub-human. These were the views shared by the majority of whites in the United States. 

The end of European colonial empires and the civil rights movement in the United States had a major impact on race  relations. Certain views were no longer acceptable. It had a positive effect on popular culture and comics, because more non-white superheroes were being created.  Wonder Woman has been used as a symbol for social justice whether its appearing on the cover of Ms. Magazine  or artistic renditions for a contemporary cause.

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An artistic rendition of Bree Newsome, who took down the Confederate flag form the South Carolina State House in 2015. It had been there since in 1961 and continues to be a symbol of division in hate.

Numerous fans produce art and share it online as a way to explain certain movements. This could range from anything to Black Lives Matter to women’s rights issues. Taking a recognizable popular culture figure helps explain what a cause is about. A popular symbol remains in the minds of  people longer than just mere ideas. Wonder Woman should not be regulated to just a frivolous part of entertainment.

   UN  member should reconsider their decision. If one examines the history of Wonder Woman she is a comic book character born out of the women’s rights movement. Using this cartoon character for a UN campaign to  empower women and girls would a positive development. This sudden reversal reveals what the organization is really about. The United Nations was never about creating world peace or even enforcing international law. It was about imposing order through the domination of the world’s most powerful nations . The UN has either authorized or allowed armed conflicts to start, which harms more women and children. It fails women on many levels and continues to make women’s rights as  low priority. There are a few programs for women’s causes, but these are under funded by peacekeeping missions. Although there was controversy regarding this event, one question remains. How come no one has nominated a real woman as an honorary ambassador? There are women who do amazing things everyday and making a difference in the world. May be this exposes a larger problem. The United Nations,just like most human societies is majority male dominated. Women must have an active part in the societies in which they live. While Wonder Woman is no longer going to be an honorary UN ambassador, she will always be a favorite among comic book fans.

Wonder Woman Is No Longer an Honorary UN Ambassador

Serena Williams Wins Her Seventh Wimbledon

Serena Williams won her seventh Wimbledon. She has proven over the years that she is one of the best tennis players competing today. Williams has made tennis an important sport and has done much to promote it to a wider audience. Once considered the domain of arrogant, pretentious, and self absorbed upper class elites has become a sport worth watching.  Below is a video showing both Serena and Venus flexing their muscles. Femuscleblog offers words of congratulations to the Williams sisters.

Serena Williams Wins Her Seventh Wimbledon

RIP Muhammad Ali

The sports world awoke to lugubrious news today. Muhammad Ali one of the greatest boxers passed away at the age of 74. His life was not only amazing in terms of his athletic feats, but his humanitarian work. Besides fighting opponents in the ring, he also fought social ills. Racism, white supremacy, war, and poverty were cancers he spent most of his life combating. Ali’s refusal to serve in the Vietnam War inspired many peace activists. Muhammad Ali was a member of the Nation of Islam and supported Black Nationalism. As the years past he became a global icon. Muhammad Ali’s athletic talent boosted the international profile of the sport of boxing. Today matches are highly rated shows on television. Muhammad Ali will be remembered as one of the best athletes in history.

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Laila Ali With Father Muhammad Ali

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RIP Muhammad Ali

The Moroccan warrior women beating men at their own games

Moroccan women are becoming involved in a sport traditionally reserved for men known as Fantasia. Players get onto horses riding in unison firing guns. This sport is dangerous, but these women do not show any sign of trepidation. North African Berbers have played this sport for centuries and is a unique part of their cultural heritage. The BBC normally biased against non-Western nations actually provided a quality report. The reporter makes one mistake.. She asks how Arab or Moroccans feel about her participation. Arabs and Berbers are not the same ethnic group. However, both live in the kingdom of Morocco. There is ethnic conflict, but maybe this sport can be a way to bring these two groups together in national unity. For women it can be a step for advancement in society. It is a positive image challenging the notion that women in the global south are weak and helpless needing Western “help” to liberate themselves. There still is a long way to go. Women can compete locally, but not nationally. With enough protest and objection to this measure this will soon change. Women across the globe are enjoying sport and the numbers are growing.

The Moroccan warrior women beating men at their own games

RIP Chyna

There is more lugubrious news to be reported on top of the death of Prince. Joan Laurer known as Chyna was found dead in her apartment in Redondo Beach. There has not been official announcement of the cause  of death.It has been alleged that it could have been a drug overdose or a reaction to insomnia or anxiety. Chyna was a true WWE legend wrestling men and women throughout the 1990s to early 2000s. She had in many ways broken a barrier for women in professional wrestling. She was part of a golden age of professional wrestling in which storylines were outrageous, wrestlers performed excellently, and stunts were spectacular. There was one element of Chyna that was overlooked. She presented female muscle to the mainstream in a popular entertainment format. Normally, it is believed that such a woman could not become popular . That was the opposite when wrestling fans saw Chyna in action. They enjoyed her strength, talent  and beauty. Chyna may be gone, but her impact on wrestling is eternal.

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RIP Chyna

Marines May Alter Rules to Permit Women to Bulk Up

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The Marines are finally catching on to training women in the physically demanding tasks of combat. Numerous detractors have stated women are not physically equipped to handle such rigorous activity that requires strength and endurance. There are women who can meet the standards, but it requires training. Sometimes failure to meet these standards is not a female enlistee’s fault. It is erroneous policies. Women and men have to meet a body mass index requirement to make themselves eligible for service. The problem of using this as a measure of physical fitness is that it categorizes muscular people as obese depending on their height relative to weight. So a muscular woman would be disqualified, even though she would be strong enough for particular tasks based on body mass index. Using this ridiculous measure is driving away qualified women. Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said to the Senate Armed Services Committee “that female marines have been lifting weights to boost their strength.” He also revealed in the meeting that the added muscle mass these female marines acquired ” placed them out of the height and weight requirements.”  General Neller should be commended for his assessment, because he realizes the problem. People are much larger in the US height and weight wise Robert Neller told the Senate Armed Services Committe. Neller asserted “that it is important that we not penalize fit marines.” It is clear this policy must be repealed if women are to be successful.

        The body composition standards need to be updated. Men are allowed to weigh more according to the body composition regulation. A man who is 5 foot 8 must be 180 pounds and men at 6 feet tall can only be 202 pounds. Women are forced to weigh less. A woman of 5 foot 3 is expected to be is 141 pounds, while tall women could ( at 5 foot 8) should be at 164 pounds. Women can have a maximum of 26% body fat, while men must have 18%. These weight constraints are not a great measure of physical fitness. Women who have a significant muscle mass could be disqualified for going over the weight limit. This can be waivered by the commander, but it is no simple process. Fitness is important to a fighting force, but the Marines are not accurately assessing physical potential.

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While measuring fat can give a rough estimate of possible physical potential, it does not precisely reveal strength, endurance, and speed. Weight can be misleading as well. Muscle does not weigh more than fat, but adding lean body mass can increase total body weight.Women are going to require more muscle to handle carrying large gear and their colleagues.That means chaining the body requirements so athletic women can serve and not be excluded because of extra muscle mass. Take for example Christy Resendes  a bodybuilder for sixteen years, who would not be allowed to serve based on the body composition requirement. At 5’5 she is a 142 pounds in her competition weight and 170 pounds off season. Even at her lowest body fat level she would still be over the required weight limit. She would fall in the male rage of total weight. This means she could be qualified for physically demanding tasks.

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The US military has been known to have strange standards such as these. There was at one time a height requirement that was set for US soldiers.  Famed American writer William Faulkner avoided service in World War I due to his short stature. That was eventually discarded and this body weight composition and or weight limit may have to go too.

      It is true that this policy was holding women back, but there other considerations. There are obviously physically powerful women, however on average men are stronger. Women who are serious and determined will advance. Men will probably continue to have a majority in front line infantry, Navy Seals, or other special operations units. The few women that enter these specialties will have to learn to cope in a predominantly male dominated atmosphere. Women who are of exceptional caliber have to demonstrate they are capable. Standards must not be lowered. That only fosters an environment of contention and suspicion. The average woman would struggle with the demands. Training can reverse this. There are limits on women’s physical  fitness due to sexual dimorphism, but that naturally athletic woman would have no problem. Simply put, it will take women built like She-Hulk and the fighting skills of  Wonder Woman to make this possible.

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One should remember average does not mean all.  Commandant Gen. Robert Neller even expressed women had raised their strength levels through weight lifting or Crossfit activities . 

      Women must focus their training on gain as much upper body strength as possible. Weight lifting can help build bone mass, which will prevent musculoskeletal injuries. Women are closer in strength to men in the lower body, so this area will not be a challenge to build up. This strength training regimen will take time and women will have to be twice as diligent. The Marines also need to change their perception of women. A common view among marines is that women are frail, helpless, and cowardly. Misogyny is ingrained in military culture, due to an emphasis on extreme machismo. These dated concepts of women must be eliminated if combat integration is to be effective.  There are also some elements of biology that cannot be changed. Women have slower running speeds due to differences in the anaerobic capacity and the shape of the pelvis. Smaller hearts and lungs mean that the amount oxygen available for long term endurance is limited for women. There are times in a combat zone in which you will have to run. Slow runners could possibly be at risk of capture or liquidation. Women must increase their running speeds to the highest level they can achieve. Besides issues of physical fitness, there are other aspects that must be addressed. If it is a matter of full equality then women must be eligible for the draft and the selective service. If this as some claim is  a “right to fight” then there should be no complaints from women. Equality does not mean special treatment. Detractors argue that there are few women who meet the fitness standards, that this would be a waste of time. This is not true, because after basic training many can apply to a military occupational specialty which they can best perform. If a woman can not meet the Marine fitness standards, there are other branches of the military which include the  US Navy,  US Air Force, or intelligence as an alternative. Women are also going to have to learn to change some of their perspectives.

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The first is not rejecting muscular development. The fear of muscular strength or appearing as such only works against women going into combat positions. Women need to understand that a stronger body will not make them masculine. Women who enter combat must love physical activity and an active fitness lifestyle.  Another attitude that needs to change is that men should do everything. Women expect men to do physically demanding tasks ( shoveling snow or moving boxes), but if it is part of the job description women should do the same. Male marines should not be expected to do the physical work that female marines do. Both should perform the same duties required of their military occupation.

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Male marines should not baby or engage in chivalrous acts toward their female associates . Carrying heavy objects for your female co-workers would be seen as condescending. Women should not expect men to treat them like queens; they should be treated as equals . This means that the high rates of sexual harassment and sexual assault must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Too many women have experienced this in the military to be ignored. Men and women should never fraternize in their units. This only causes more complications and should be strictly prohibited. Sex crimes should result in  a prison sentence and court martial. The men of the US military must realize women are not sex objects for their pleasure. When rape, discrimination, and the questions of physical fitness are addressed in a practical manner sex integration will be simple.

      Dan Lamothe’s article mentions the Marine Corps study on women in combat. Details reveal issues that were not entirely known. The only information released was that sex integrated units were least effective in combat. The report said that women had difficulty shooting accurately and had trouble carrying large loads. There were test subjects of 300 men and 100 women. Physical fitness performance of the top women were not revealed. The only physical specifications of men and women was total body weight and height. Men weighed about 178 pounds with with 28% body fat and women were on average 142 pounds at 24% body fat. People who reject women’s participation in combat cite this study, but it has a flaw. Did it document women’s physical fitness levels prior to the course? Did these women have weight training or other exercise to prepare them for the demands? What was the experience level of the males that participated? These are important questions that do not have answers in the report. There is no proof that the makers of the experiment selected women who were not fit enough to succeed. However, the Marines’ continued resistance to women in combat jobs makes it seem suspicious. There were suggestions that all female units function separately to see if they perform better. It is inconclusive that this would have an effect on the experiment.

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Women sustain more injuries than their male counterparts. The reason for this is due to the fact women have lower bone density and mass. That means women will have to condition their bodies to carry up to 100 pound loads. The top performing woman will not perform as high as the best male, but they can reach a level of fitness to meet the requirements of tank crew person, machine gunner, or reconnaissance person. A consistent regimen of exercise, high quality nutrition, and recovery days will allow women to make the most and maintain physical strength gains. Over training can be just as terrible as not training enough. Depending on the samples available this may not have given the most accurate depiction. If the women did not get proper instruction in strength building exercises their success would obviously be limited. The average woman would struggle, but the fit woman would not.

     During initial assessments of women’s capabilities, the military discovered that 50% of women could not meet the three pull-ups requirement. If looking at this statistic observers would assume that women are not physiologically capable. This was only part of the story. Up until the change, women were only allowed to do the flexed arm hang. It was done based on the idea that pull-ups were far beyond the capacity of a woman’s upper body. Women can do pull-ups if shown the proper technique. The flexed arm hang is now being discarded in favor of pull-ups. This was a case that it was not biology influencing results, but environment. The military will have to invest in women recruits, just like the men.

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Integration of women into combat occupations will take time. Considering the amount of backlash, women are doing better than expected. When women excel, they are condemned . Women who built strength fell out of the weight requirement, due to an increase in muscle mass. The only way for them to perform certain jobs is to have as much type II fast twitch muscle fibers to exert maximum body force. Men can commonly get away with having a higher body mass. It is expected of them to be bigger. Women are on the other hand a still subject to antiquated convictions about the female body. The concept of female physical inferiority although a myth, is still prevalent. There are women who have proven they can handle the rigors of combat. Even when this happens, there still are restrictions. Two women who were the first to finish Army Ranger Training, were not allowed to serve as army rangers. There are reasons why most Americans see their government and institutions as corrupt or incompetent. The military’s failure to realize this problem only adds to that frustration felt by the public. The only logical solution now is to hire professional personal trainers to raise the physical fitness levels of women. It is clear there is no turning back, seeing as in the future there may not be enough men to fill all combat positions.

Marines May Alter Rules to Permit Women to Bulk Up