Girls’ Participation in Physical Education Why Girls are Disengaged in P.E & School Sport

It is no secret that girls do disengage in P.E. and they are gender based reasons. At this age women are starting to develop issues with their bodies. Girls may not be engaged for reasons of peer pressure and gender role stereotypes. This could have implications on women’s health in the future. If girls have a negative view of physical activity in youth, health habits may not be conducted in adulthood. Health risks such as osteoporosis, heart disease, and diabetes could be problems later in life. To avoid these some level of moderate exercise should be done. There also is the issue about femininity and physical activity that still remains dated. Physical skill and prowess continues to not be viewed as feminine, but gradually these attitudes are changing. This clip from 2011 shows the Ysgol Maesteg school in the UK promoting fitness week. Their intent was to change girls’ attitudes  in regards to P.E. and hopefully participate in sport.

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Girls’ Participation in Physical Education Why Girls are Disengaged in P.E & School Sport

Kate on Sports : Women and Muscle

Kate on Sports was a vlog that was active between 2006 to 2008 that was produced in association with Zennie62 and Sports Business Simulations. Kate Scott was giving her analysis on women’s sports and sports in general. These few videos are of interest, because it is so rare that women give such opinions in regards to women in sports. One particular video that she made was “women and muscle.” This was the best one of the few videos she made before she became a sportscaster for KNBR. However, it does have some problems. There are particular points that should be noted, although the overall argument is cogent. The six minute video explores topics such as body image, Title IX, and what does the new found physical strength of the female athlete mean. The camera operator poses a perspective that society is at a juncture in which sports women have muscle, but are not comfortable with it. The question then emerges what is wrong with women having muscle? The video proceeds to tackle these questions and Kate Scott provides those answers.

        There was a claim in the video without Title IX, this look would not have existed. However, anyone with knowledge of women’s sports history would know that is not entirely correct.  Muscular women existed prior to Title IX. They were either regulated to circus performers, vaudeville acts, or beach boardwalk acts. There was no competitive outlet for their skills and talents due to cultural mores as well as sex discrimination. The documented evidence of muscular women can be seen in photographs. Acrobats, circus strong women, and performers were present in the 19th and early 20th century. Katie Sandwina was known for her feats of strength involving barbells and lifting men overhead. Joan Rhodes also would follow in this tradition of the strong woman act. Out of this emerge a weightlifter culture, which is bigger today in terms of popularity. Crossfit and Olympic weightlifting would not be at the same status, if it were not for the strong women and strong men of the previous two centuries.

Another case at least in art, was how Michelangelo depicted muscular women in his art during the Italian Renaissance. There are vary rare cases in which muscular women are depicted in art history. This does not mean that women were not athletes. Artifacts and artwork discovered from ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Minoan civilization reveal that the female athlete is hardly a modern phenomenon. Women participated in footraces, wrestling, bull leaping, and javelin. The difference is the amount of opportunity women have and the access to fitness facilities.   While there were women of considerable natural strength, there were no opportunities to develop it further. The women of the past either had to struggle around sex, race, and class barriers. These are still present factors, but there is more awareness and willingness to resist such aberrations of society. To say that Title IX magically produced women athletes would be false. There is a long history record of women in sports.

 There are countries in which Title IX does not exist and yet female athletes still emerge. What Title IX did in the US was allow for more female athletes to emerge and enhance their physical skills. Tackling discrimination was the major obstacle that had to be confronted. The reality was that Title IX was not specifically for sports, but part of the Education Amendments of 1972 addressing sex disparities in education. School programs were examined and it was reveal that girls were getting the least resources for sports activities. If  the schools did not adhere to federal policy, they would not receive funds from the US government. The girls who benefited from this would go on to become Olympic athletes or just your average fit woman. This female mesomorph as a paradigm owes much of existence to Abbye Stockton and Lisa Lyon. They actively trained not just for improving physical skill, but to add muscle to their bodies. This was something during their time periods, which was considered unacceptable for women.

   During Stockton’s time in the 1940s she had to battle both prejudice and myths about women and weightlifting. There were myths that said it would cause women to become infertile or harm themselves. Lisa Lyon had to struggle to compete in newly formed bodybuilding competitions, which were limited in number and had less support in the 1970s. These women contributed to overturning the notion that the female body is not designed for strength. The unfortunate aspect was that the women of the past did not benefit from legislative assistance prior to Title IX. As a public health measure it should not be under estimated. Women started to get more involved in exercise, fitness, and sports rather than just for the purpose of weight loss. The analysis is limited, due to the fact that women are competing in sports globally at higher levels. The Olympics, All Africa Games, Pan- American Games, and Asian Games show women athletes from all around the world.

Kate’s and her associate’s perspective only examines this phenomenon from a Western ( specifically American ) perspective. The physically strong woman has become a small, but growing development in the sports world. Confining it to the US would certainly be incorrect.

      This discussion inevitably goes into body image and beauty standards. For decades a tin body type has been idolized to the extent that cases of bulimia, anorexia, and obsessive dieting  have become a normal part of some women’s lives. This has been challenged with an emphasis on a curvy and larger body type as Kate reveals. The muscular body type in this obsession with appearance falls in an undefined place. There is some moderate acceptance for women with some muscle ( “tone”), yet a level of hostility to women who develop their musculature to the highest levels. Female bodybuilders not only are strong, they project a powerful image. This causes either reactions of disgust, lust, or support. Society has concepts of what a woman should be and being powerful both physically or mentally is not a part of that in the traditional view of gender roles. The recent ideal of the female body was to be considered frail and thin, not one of muscle. The muscular woman challenges this belief, by presenting another version of beauty.

According to their version of aesthetics, they are  molding flesh into a living statue. The rise of crossfit and weightlifting as a popular activity has improved the image of women with muscle.  This has been to a limited extent. There is a problem that comes with mainstreaming a subculture. It becomes too common place and loses it unique value, which made it great in the first place. There were women and men who liked the muscular look prior to this sudden mainstream trend. There is also another problem with the new “strong is the new skinny” conviction. Could it be than one unrealistic standard is being replaced by another? It would be hard to imagine in the future that women would be attempting en mass to obtain such physiques. Maybe the best result of this is that women decide for themselves what is a suitable look for them, rather than having society or mass media dictate it to them. Women who are muscular should not be afraid to call themselves muscular. The term toned has been used to mainstream the idea of women having muscle in the fitness industry. The fact is women have muscles and this can be developed to certain degrees. Societies that impose strict limitations on how women should look or  behave expose the level of male dominance and misogyny. Individuals should be free to do as they please as long as it does not harm other people. Why should a woman have to spend her time reaching a societal beauty standard? It would be better to form one to your personal preference.

        kate also acknowledges that their are men who enjoy the appearance of the physically strong woman. She does mention that women have it hard being muscular, but she does not realize male fans and supporters are also ostracized.  This mostly comes from the closed minded, people of conservative thought, sexists, or anyone who cannot tolerate anything different. It is understandable that such a pursuit would just not be someone’s preference, but there is no excuse for vituperation and vitriol. Male fans either are presented as fetishists, eccentrics, and predators. Liking muscular women is no different from liking thin women, larger women, or any other women. At no time will one ever hear the phrase ” you have a skinny woman fetish.”  Another misconception is that fans of female muscle only like this type of woman. Male fans could have numerous body type preferences. Men have a hard time too, even struggling with the fact they find this attractive. Stereotypes and popular prejudices surround fans as well as athletes. These attitudes reflect a level of narrow mindedness in regards to traditional roles in what a woman should be. Female muscle fans may not even prefer the same levels of muscularity. There are some who like a sleeker body, a mid range level, and the more hypermuscular physique. It should be understood within fitness, there are varying degrees of muscularity on women. Even within the bodybuilding sports there is fitness, figure, bikini, physique, and traditional bodybuilding.

There has evolved a wide range in which female muscle fans can choose to follow. kate also mentions that it is uncertain in which direction the muscular appearance will go. At the time of this video many elements of women’s sports were changing. Women’s MMA was just on the rise and crossfit was in its prototypical stage. While traditional bodybuilding for women was struggling, more divisions emerged which included figure, bikini, and physique. The look of the athletic female is evolving, but in different branches. Athletes do not all look the same. The way their body looks depends on both genetics and the specific sport they compete in. Athletic women  could be muscular, some could be thin and other women could be larger in body type.

As for direction, the images presented are going in multiple pathways. Each one presents a radically different notion about what a woman can achieve and be. There are advocates that want to see the female muscular image be pushed to a higher level and other who state that i has gone too far. Kate even says “she’s not a fan of the ones that can brake you over their knee.” Some fans even say some women have “crossed the line” or are “too much.” These accusations lack cogency. If one is part of the bodybuilding sports it is about sculpting the body. However, it is not solely about size. Shape, conditioning, and symmetry are critical elements that must be balanced on a physique. These should be the only legitimate criticisms directed at women in terms of physique sports. There seems to be a level of movement to the mainstream, but there are some elements that will remain subcultural. The mixed and session wrestling element will remain underground. Although harmless, it is too eccentric to find a mainstream audience. I has been present since female bodybuilding’s early years and will not disappear anytime soon.

It seems hardcore support for the larger muscular women will remain in the realm of subculture. This does not mean that in the distant future that the athletic body type will not gain some level of acceptance in the future. Women’s fitness culture has become something unique between its fans and competitors. Merely ignoring how fans play a role leaves out something critical. The less venues for fans to consume, means a large untapped market. The corporate gatekeepers of the fitness industry should recognize this and capitalize on this niche market. The internet and specifically social media has been helpful at exposing the image of the muscular woman to a wider global audience. So, it could be possible in time it will gain a larger following.

         Upon close examination, an answer can be extrapolated from the initial question. There is nothing wrong with women having muscle; it is that people’s limited views of what a woman should look like and be create objections. These beliefs are based on unrealistic beauty standards, subtle misogyny,   and the belief that women should be controlled. This control does not merely extend to what a woman can do with her life, but her own body. More extreme cases include the restriction of reproductive rights, abortion, and birth control. One method to control women was to control their bodies. Symbolically, the muscular woman challenges the notion of female frailty and weakness with an image of strength. This comes into conflict with schemata that was develop from culture or media in regards to attitudes about women. If a society only values for women for how they look or solely their reproductive capacities, women who deviate from this cultural norm will be outcasts. Unrealistic beauty standards idolize one body type over all others, which could cause mental distress and self-esteem issues in young women. This desire for an unhealthy level of thinness effects both physical and mental health. Besides anorexia or bulimia, women could put themselves at risk for osteoporosis if not receiving proper nutrition. This system wraps into a subtle misogyny which only views women as sex objects and not people. Women who refuse to follow this system set an example for others to change this defect in cultural mores. Thankfully, their has been slow change. However, some will have to adjust. Some men may just not be used to seeing women with such strength in their daily lives.

 The woman with muscle is a rarity, but not some anomaly. One of the least credible arguments against women developing strength and muscle is that it is “unnatural.” Humanity has discovered many ways to alter the body through surgery, medicine, nutrition, and one day extensive genetic engineering. We have reached a point in which our biology can be manipulated possibly leading to transhumanism. Nature can be very unpredictable in the evolutionary process, so calling something “unnatural” would be scientifically inaccurate. Genetics, nutrition, and environment can change the appearance of human populations. A muscular woman is no more “unnatural” than a tall person, short person, or thin person. Organisms thrive on genetic diversity, which is why human beings are the dominant species on the planet.  Calling such women “unnatural” is just another way to either exclude or marginalize women who are different. Another argument from detractors   is one of a beauty standard. This is relative according to who you ask and varies from culture to culture. These athletes do not do this for the approval or pleasure of men. Yet, this seems like a foreign concept to many. Although the muscular woman is not completely accepted, but is leading an unnoticed revolution.

Kate on Sports : Women and Muscle

Wrong To Be Strong? Understanding the Double Standards and Criticisms in Regards to the Muscular Woman

Women are often criticized and put under extra scrutiny for their appearance. Some face more ostracism than others. The muscular woman creates many responses from men and women, but a majority are vituperative in nature. These are not just attacks from men, but other women. While we all have different aesthetic preferences certain statements made by detractors are spiteful. Statements that a woman “looks like a man” or “she’s ugly” represent a bullying nature of body image conformity. Female athletes are even criticized for being “too muscular.” This is hilarious in a way considering one would expect that from their vigorous physical activities. There are roots of these negative criticisms and double standards. The first possible explanation is that people react to negatively to things they do not understand. A more vicious explanation is based on misogynist beliefs. A more common explanation is that beauty standards vary. However, the majority do not understand this. The obvious double standards have there roots in patriarchy, sexism, and discrimination.  Traditional attitudes persist, even though women have advanced.

       The first double standard is the issue of body image. The contemporary Western standard of beauty for a woman is the slim body type. Men are encouraged to aim for another unrealistic goal of being as muscular as possible. These two paradigms represent stereotypical gender identities. The weak woman and the strong man. This has had negative repercussions on men and women. Women are more likely to develop eating disorders and distorted self image. Men are not immune either, risking the the use of anabolic steroids or other performance enhancing drugs to improve their physique. Athletes are not the majority users of steroids, but men seeking a fast solution to weight loss. This is opposite of what many would assume. Some women are no longer embracing a thin look and instead want to build strength. There are women who even take this a step further by maximizing their total muscle mass as a goal. Yet, even women in the fitness industry who are supportive of weight training reject a muscular body type for women. They constantly reassure women “they will not bulk up.” This fear of looking male is unfounded, due to the fact virilization only occurs with long term steroid abuse. Not all women are the same and others may develop muscle easier. Normally, these women point to the female bodybuilder as what a woman should not be. This is disrespectful and adds to an already sexist culture. Men can be as physically powerful as they want to be, but for women it is not acceptable. Even the criticism  “these women are too bulky”  lacks cogency. The term bulky is a colloquial term to mean huge,  but the muscular woman does not fall under that term. They have lean body mass.

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The women that appear on stage appear to be enormous. The reality is that their limited body fat makes it appear as if they are bigger. Normally depending if there are weight classes, women come into contest weighing less. Tomoko Kanda competes at a weight of 156 pounds. Colette normally competed at a weight of  145 pounds. These weights are not large amounts . The average man would weigh more without such training, but not be as strong. The “bulky” argument seems to fall apart. When these women are clothed you probably would not know they have these powerful bodies.

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The objection is routed in the belief that women should not participate in certain activities. Sports was seen a solely a male domain and no place for women. Physical strength was something thought to be natural to men only, but women proved that wrong. Many times there are some  feminists who place the blame solely on men. There are women who also show a level of repulsion at the sight of the muscular woman. There arguments are along the same lines of their male counterparts, but there is a difference. They compare them in relation to their body by suggesting  “why would any woman want that much muscle?” or ” I would not want that for myself .”  No one is forcing the woman who criticizes a muscular physique to become that way. Yet, this same detractor will not hesitate to starve themselves into a size zero. There has developed in the past decades the size acceptance movement that challenges a society trying to distort women’s body image. This small movement does not extend its hand to the muscular or athletic woman. They face more repudiation and negativity  from many people. There are also problems with the size acceptance movement. What is considered “plus sized” is not large at all. Decades ago they would have been considered average women.

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To the left, the woman in the pink bikini is considered a plus sized model. She is not even large, but a woman with curves. The woman on the right is not huge either, but would be considered “too big” for regular modeling. 

The fashion industry’s obsession with thinness has made people think that curvy women have a weight problem. This size acceptance movement seems like another hash tag trend that will be replaced by another. Critics claim that it is encouraging obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle. A counter argument can be make when examining the amount of sugar and high fructose corn syrup food sold in grocery stores. The power of advertisement is more than enough encouragement with every last fast food chain producing commercials for television. Women liking their bodies is not encouraging an unhealthy condition. The only way that can be determined is by a doctor or medical professional, not by just looking at a person’s body.

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Magazines that claim to promote health are adding to distorted body image. Most of the women’s magazines are focused on weight loss or being as thin as possible. The men’s magazines feature men of  extreme muscular physique. These body sizes are probably not attainable for most people, but their is a motive behind it. By subconsciously tampering with people’s  insecurity it will get them to buy magazines. The hope of the buyer is that they will some day look like the person on the cover. This induces more consumption of the magazine. Traditionally, sports and fitness magazines focused on training, athlete interviews, and events. Now  the emphasis seems to be focusing on a particular standard of beauty Body image is developed by the media and the materials that are consumed b y the society.

       The negative criticism of the muscular woman is rooted in dated beauty standards. These standards vary from culture to culture. The West values a thin and almost emaciated form of the female body. For cultures of the East and global South a much softer and fuller female body has been valued. The lugubrious aspect of this is that few people are accepting of other forms of beauty. Women spend much of their time putting on make-up,  adding accessories, and doing other forms of ornamentation to adhere to cultural beauty standards. These standards have changed overtime in the West. One of the places that caused this trend was the fashion industry and Hollywood films. Leslie Lawson ( known as Twiggy)  was a model in the 1960s who popularized the extremely thin body. She was so thin her body almost resembled a prepubescent boy. This had been the standard since and it has had dire consequences. There has been an increase in the amount of eating disorders among women. Hollywood film stars followed this trend, seeing as they would wear some of the most expensive cloths. The factor of increasing obesity rates and a mass media inducing insecurity only complicates the situation of the muscular woman .She can either be classified within this rigid and closed mined system as an anomaly or a new paradigm.

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Twiggy was a model from the 1960s.  

There is a new fitness zeigiest known as “strong is the new skinny.” Then again this has its limitations. While accepts the concept women can be physically fit and strong in appearance, it does not promote women being as physically developed as possible. Being “too muscular”  is still not acceptable to the majority of society. The traditional feminine ideal is to appear as frail as possible to be attractive. Women have challenged this in another way embracing natural curves rather than an emaciated appearance.While larger women are gaining acceptance, the muscular women are still a bizarre concept to many. What women of this appearance need is something similar to fat acceptance. The fat acceptance movement has been criticized as promoting an unhealthy lifestyle or being frivolous. Doubtless of what people perceive, that movement allowed larger and overweight individuals to view themselves in a different light. Having acceptance of ones self and developing consciousness can challenge the status quo in regards to certain issues . May be a muscular acceptance movement will have to emerge to counter negative public reaction.

       There also exists a more vicious reason for harsh ostracism of the muscular woman .Sexism and misogyny are also factors in negative attitudes. There has been a belief that women’s bodies had to be controlled. Women were not only controlled by legal and social barriers, but through domination of their bodies. This explains why reproductive rights have become so important to women’s freedom. Access to birth control and abortion allowed women’s rights to advance to new heights. When women have control of their bodies and can change the appearance of them, male domination is challenged. Strict gender roles dictate that man is leader and woman has to be a servant. A firm  system of patriarchy  puts man as sole authority.This at times was not always as oppressive, but none the less took subtlety  offensive paternalistic overtones. Women needed to be protected because they were too weak mentally and physically to survive on their own. Men were strong and brave and therefore were women’s protectors. This by definition in terms of law  was known as protectionism stating women had to be shielded from life’s cruelties.This justification was used to discriminate against women in various occupations and educational institutions. Many top ivy league universities were resistant to admit women on this principle. Also, it was used as an excuse women were too physically weak to engage in sports and it would damage their health. False information and pseudoscientic beliefs about women’s bodies became prevalent, but were discredited.  When women gained more power men began to feel threatened. Sports was considered a male only domain, but by the late 20th century that was changing. Women began displaying more powerful physiques and were no longer ashamed of them. This overturned the long held conviction that women were weak and child like. The strict gender role binaries had been breached and misogynistic backlash occurred. This was tied to another form of intolerance when athletic and muscular women were accused of being lesbians. Sports has a long history of homophobia and women of a different sexuality had to deal with sexism as well. Racism has never disappeared either. Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis champions has not only been criticized unfairly because of race, but her appearance. Sports writers have said ” her body is built like a man’s and that’s why she wins matches.”This follows a long tradition of disparaging African Americans in the US and degrading women.

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Serena bikini pics
There is nothing “mannish” about her.

   These negative comments are not only uttered in traditional media, but over social media. Social media has exposed the vast amount of hate that exists in people. Video sites are even infested with hateful commentary  that is either racist, sexist, homophobic, or prejudice against a particular religious faith. While this new media format is great at connecting fans, it also opened a platform for unsavory individuals. Besides standing up for reproductive rights, women who change there bodies to this extent are making a revolutionary statement. Men do not have sole ownership of physical strength and women can control their bodies.

         Harsh criticism is not always hateful, but comes from fear of the unknown . Muscular women are rare. Even very muscular men are few compared to the entire population. The muscular woman simply is something that many in the general public are not used to. There are certain reactions that are evoked by first time observers. One is that of being perplexed. Seeing some one who does not fit common standards can be difficult for people to comprehend. It challenges personal schemas. Everyone has a general model or opinion in regards to certain groups. When the group does not fit into that schema it creates conflict. Media and cultural images of how certain groups should be create a horrid cycle of stereotypes and myths. The woman who does not fit the frailty stereotype, then induces a negative or confused reaction from people who’s only knowledge is presented by surrounding factors. More extreme reactions are disgust. Shunning or excluding  people who deviate from the standard of conformity are common in most societies.

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Another reaction to the muscular woman is fear. This is just as irrational as the vitriolic behavior by some detractors. Common phrases like “she is scary” or ” I would not talk to her because she would beat me up” are repeated ad nauseum. There is the idea that the strong woman would naturally be aggressive toward men. This ludicrous assumption has no basis in fact. Women who are involved in sport have husbands, partners,  or boyfriends. Many have families and they are a support  structure when pressure and stress becomes high. Some women credit their boyfriends for getting them involved in fitness. This bully and “man hater” image seems to be a psychological projection of certain individuals. There are men who think that if women get some power they will use it to harm men as a form of revenge for past injustices. No such thing will ever happen. Equality does not mean you have a desire to harm other people. The other reactions to physically strong women are either curiosity or lust. Curiosity is not a negative trait. It is the strong desire to discover or find out about something unknown. The muscular woman becomes a curiosity to people who are more open minded. It was not uncommon to see women athletes or muscular women being interviewed on day time talk shows. Jenny Jones and Montel Williams  had female bodybuilders on their programs from time to time. Reactions from a studio audience varied. Sometimes it could negative, positive, or changing some people previous conceptions. This shows exposure and help deal with prejudice and misunderstanding. There has been a zietgeist among fitness circles that “strong is the new skinny.” This new concept forms a another paradigm of beauty trying to challenge the old one. the comes to the reaction to the muscular woman as something to lusted over. This poses a problem. While its great that there are men who find different types of women attractive, there is the problem of sexual objectification.

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The muscular woman or athlete then becomes fetish object under a new part of the “sex sells” ideology. This is questionable because it seems to be reliant on dated sexist convictions of the past. Some wonder if the “strong is the new skinny” motto is replacing one unrealistic beauty standard with another. This debate seems to have no definite answer. These are just a few reactions that the muscular female physique can generate.

          Everyone has a different opinion and perspective on certain matters. This unique look may not be people’s ideal. People have the right to there opinion, but that does not give them a right to be rude, obnoxious, or vituperative. Women with a muscular physique face insults and ridicule from a closed minded public. It was worse in the past when women were just entering professional sports. Gradual progress has been made, with women themselves defining what is beautiful. Although not the majority some women actively pursue muscle and strength. Women are displaying more powerful physiques in athletic competition. Women are discovering the joys of lifting  and a doing it as a recreational activity. The phenomenon seems to be spreading. There are also a growing number of male admirers who enjoy various types of women’s physiques. Strength once considered a masculine trait has now become neutral in gender description. Women no longer have to be weak to be considered feminine.  Body image continues to be an issue for many women with the influence of media and advertisement. Yet, an alternative has emerged. It is unclear whether  this a temporary fad or a genuine paradigm shift. Only as time progresses will the result of women’s new fascinating with strength be known. From what is observed now, it is no longer wrong to be strong.

Wrong To Be Strong? Understanding the Double Standards and Criticisms in Regards to the Muscular Woman

The Stigma of Being a Male Fan

It is true that female athletes face more ostracism than their male counterparts. There is that challenge of navigating an environment that stigmatizes women for enter a male dominated sphere. Women athletes are not alone in this stigma. Fans of women’s sports also face a level of harsh criticism. Male fans in particular are specifically targeted. There are certain stereotypical paradigms that people place male fans into. The first is the image of the fetishist, who does not care about an athlete’s performance, but her physical appearance and how she can best fit into intimate fantasies of the fan. Another image is a person who enjoys activities that are considered uninteresting. This actually is more sinister than it appears. There is the notion that women’s sports are not as exciting as the men’s events and anyone who watches must be dull. Besides these stereotypes, men who are specifically fans of the muscular and athletic female body also receive vituperation. Detractors question their sexuality and manhood. Some are so extreme they even question the status of the male fan’s mental health. While these claims seem ludicrous by detractors, these negative images still persist.

The image of the fetishist  is one of the most negative of the male fan. This is a person who is obsessed with the appearance of the woman athlete’s body and engages in some form of sexual objectification. This type does not care about the athlete’s performance. The sole focus is on her looks. This attitude can not be blamed solely on a few people, but a corporate business model. There is the old marketing motto of “sex sells.” Magazines, advertisements, movies, and television fetishize the female body. It is done so much that the woman no longer is deemed human, but an accessory  or object. This intersection of sexism and corporate avarice does serious harm. It directs attention away from the athlete’s accomplishments and talent, which should be the focus. The second problem is that it furthers the fetishist stereotype of the male fan. Not all men judge women solely on their appearance.

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These covers present  the women not as sex objects,  but as skilled professionals.

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This cover is borderline lascivious. 

There are male fans who do value the performance of the top professional female athletes. The big issue seems to be cultural attitudes and business practices.The male fan is stuck between these conflicts.

         The most frustrating stereotype is the image of the boring person. There is a horrid idea that women’s sports cannot be entertaining or exciting as the men’s events. This double standard only represents people’s negative convictions about women. Male fans of  women’s sports are often compared to people who are stamp collectors or bird watchers. These activities are considered “boring” to many people in a modern post-industrial technological society. These activities are not boring, it just has not developed a level of popular faddism. These activities are enjoyable to particular individuals, but not at a massive level. Women’s sports are still a niche market. It is possible that with more media coverage and funding it can expand its audience. Die hard fans could be the harbingers to a popular faddism craze. Baseball was once considered America’s favorite pastime. Gradually, football eclipsed it in terms of popularity. People have all sorts of interests and hobbies. Trying to declare what is or is not quality entertainment is an attempt to impose cultural conformity. Calling male fans of women’s sports boring is baseless. Even more ludicrous is that people still hold the belief that women’s sports are not as good.

         Male fans also face another challenge. Men who love the aesthetic of the muscular and athletic female  body are harshly criticized by detractors. Accusations of latent homosexuality are directed at supporters. This lacks logic, because women with muscle are still women. This also represents a extreme intolerance against people of different sexual orientations. The manner in which it  is expressed is an insult, but it would not be if a person was gay. Closed minded behavior such as this reveals more severe ills of society. Another attack is on the masculinity of the male fan. The question posed is “what type of man would be with a woman like that?” or “what type of pathetic man would want to be with woman stronger than him?” Traditionalists hold that strength is male only and any man who likes a strong woman is less masculine. The idea is that man has full control of the woman in all respects. Physical domination is just one area of that control. There are men who do not see it as an aberration, but a positive attribute. There is beauty in a highly developed female form.

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Few can appreciate the aesthetics of the muscular female body. 

The majority of people cannot see the beauty in it. Then there is another aspect. Male fans who like the muscular woman are seen as “abnormal.” Society erroneously believes that this admiration is connected to an obsessive sexual fetish. The male fan is put into a one dimensional box of either being a deviant or pervert. The facts are different. Supporters are not strange or abnormal, but come from different walks of life. The rise of the internet allowed larger exposure of women involved in strength sports. Personal websites of athletes do receive large amounts of traffic. This proves that there are people who do like the look, but a precise number is ambiguous. Some male fans in the face of this opposition hide their love of the muscular woman. The internet to an extent provides anonymity, which frees them from societal pressure to conform. It is odd with the rise of body acceptance for larger women rejects  the unhealthy anorexic body, while acceptance is not extended to the muscular woman. There is some progress in which some muscle is tolerable to a degree on a woman. Yet, the hyper-muscular  woman induces  fear, hatred, and repudiation in the gender traditionalists. The male fans also have difficulty being labeled a social misfit.

     Female athletes have to deal with societal and cultural  pressures  that their male counterparts do not have to consider. There are also challenges for the advocates and male fans who want to see women’s sports flourish. Negative criticisms are a reflection of people who particular biases and reject any form of change. The idea that women could be successful in a male dominated area is irksome to thoughs who believe in strict gender roles .  The male fan is trapped in between a conformist block and their own values. Others may condemn particular view points, but have proven wrong years later. It was once believed that the Earth was the center of the universe, until proven false. Eventually women in sports and their fans will be accepted, but that will be many years from now.

The Stigma of Being a Male Fan

Asian Women in Sport

May is a time of recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the United States. It celebrates the culture, history, and contributions of Asians in the United States. They are small in terms of population, but have made significant advances in society. Just like African Americans, Asian Americans had to deal with the challenges of white supremacy. Although they get less coverage than their white and black counterparts, Asian women have been successful in sport. They have to face prejudice, because of their race and sex. Yet, they still rise and perform with excellence. Over the years there have been talented Asian American athletes.

Asian Americans like other non-white ethnic groups are subject to racist stereotypes. The relevance to Asian women combines both racist and sexist beliefs. For East Asian women there was the stereotype of the Dragon Lady. This was a depiction in films, novels, and television that portrayed East Asian women as manipulative, cunning, and gold diggers. This expands to a much worse stereotype of Asians being furtive and treacherous. This is the complete opposite of the China doll stereotype. This belief was that Asian women were submissive, weak, helpless, and over sexed. Other Asians from the Middle East, Central Asia, and Oceania face similar racial stereotypes. Some people in the West either do not consider them “real”Asians or lump them all together in the same group. There is common belief that Asians are not as athletic as other races. For Asian women they have to face the challenge of both racist and sexist beliefs. The idea that Asian women are weaker than other women has been proven false by impressive athletes. There are not only incredible Asian women athletes coming from America, but from the continent itself.

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Kristi Yamaguchi – Ice Skater 

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Roqaya Al-Grassa- Track Athlete 

Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia: Day 4

Michelle Wie-Golfer  

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Ha’a Keaulana-Surfer 

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Brenda Raganot- Bodybuilder 

There are numerous examples of Asian women excelling at sport. They are still under represented in professional sports in the West. Sports teams could pass over Asians, because of racist stereotypes. Asian women have it harder due to the fact gender issues are compounded with race. Over the decades Asian women have contributed to various sports that range from ice skating, weightlfting, bodybuilding, golf, and surfing. Another arena in which Asian women perform remarkably is the Asian Games. Athletes come from all over Asia to compete in this contest. It is pan-continental and includes multiple events. The games have recognition from the IOC  and is close to being as epic as the Olympics in terms of spectacle. Most countries send women to compete, but Saudi Arabia still refuses to do so. They did not send any woman to the 2014 Asian Games claiming ” their women had not trained sufficiently to be competitive.”  This was obvious gender bias, but it seems the majority of Asian nations have gradually become more accepting of women’s participation in sport. It seems that women all around the world are getting more involved in athletic contest. Asia will catch up with its European counterparts in more ways than one.

Asian Women in Sport

The Myth of Female Physical Inferiority

There are still prejudicial myths that continue to be propagated in society. For women the weaker sex stereotype continues to be promoted. Sexual dimorphism is a biological fact, but to claim that this is evidence of women’s inferiority is ludicrous. While it is true on average men are stronger, this does not demonstrate biological inferiority. Advocates of pseudoscience attempt to justify this claim with the social darwinist statement ” the survival of the fittest.”  This concept was not developed by Charles Darwin; it was the product of Herbert Spencer. Charles Darwin stated “it is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent… it is the one adaptable to change.” Human evolution proves that “biological inferiority” never existed. There were various species of organisms that were dominant, but failed to adapt to change. The dinosaurs and trilobites were dominant, but could not acclimate themselves to environmental change. The fact that men and women are different does not imply that one is superior or the other is inferior. It is a product of millions of years of human evolution. Claims of women’s lack of physical skill and biological inferiority  has been used to exclude them from sports and other fields.

sexual dimorphism is the difference between sexes of the same species. These differences are both genotypic and phenotypic. Phenotypic attributes are related to external appearance of the organism. For the human animal the physical differences include the anatomy of the reproductive system, body composition, and skeletal structure. What is relevant here is the changes that come during puberty. This is a stage in the human life cycle when boys and girls transition to adulthood. The hypothalamus and the anterior pituitary gland start to produce more sex hormones. This will mature the body and as a result children will develop secondary sex characteristics.

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Learn more about sexual dimorphism : http://clashofworl.blogspot.com/2015/03/sexual-dimorphism-in-human-species.html

Boys will develop a greater amount of lean body mass due to the production of testosterone. There is a point in which girls mature faster than males. However, by the age of 13 boys will continue to gain strength and will grow taller. Estrogen mainly produces fat for the female body. It is fact that on average men are physically stronger, but this doe not give them a monoply on strength. There has been a belief that women are inferior to men on the sole basis of their lack of brawn. This argument is flawed. There are some women who have the ability to be strong physically and athletic. Genetics does play a major role in one’s physical capabilities. Alpha actinin 3 has been studied by geneticists and physiologists as having a role in athletic performance. Other factors when considering strength include bone mass, tendon, and ligament density. Men and women of a similar  weight and height could be close or equal in absolute strength. There is a disparity between upper and lower body. Sometimes the gap between physical strength is not always biological. There are sociological factors that cannot be ignored. Western society values a thin figure as the only form of beauty. Women either starve themselves or constantly diet to reach an unrealistic ideal. A woman who show visible physical strength is either ostracized or shunned. The lingering conviction is that everything a woman does should be for the sake of attracting a man. Weakness and frailty are feminine, while power and strength is considered masculine. Although these sexist views remain, there is gradual progress.

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The idea that women are weak and men are strong demonstrates the level of gender inequality. The idea is to designate one as inferior.  The poster above is a subtle sexist joke. It almost illustrates the idea women are helpless without men. 

It is often highlighted that men have greater strength. Yet, women have some physical advantages that are not discussed. Women on average have a higher white blood cell count. This is extremely beneficial for fighting off disease and maintaining a strong immune system. Women also on average have a higher life expectancy than men. This does not mean that men cannot reach advanced age. Again, there are sociological  and environmental factors that contribute to this. Men are more willing to take dangerous risks, that could ultimately be deleterious.One question that arises is why do these differences exist? Mainly it is for the purposes of sexual reproduction. The second reason may also have to do with mate choice and sexual selection. Most primates do vary in size between the sexes ( excluding chimpanzees and gibbons). Men  are on average are 8% taller and 20% heavier  than women. The reason for this could be that our hominid ancestors were in tough competition for mates. Polygynous species require that the male be larger to fight other males for female mates. Secondary sex characteristics were traits that developed for the purpose of attracting mates. As humans evolved fighting directly for mates was replaced with other social rituals ( courtship and interpersonal development).  Natural selection has in this instance proven that the only way for the human species to survive is by having men and women compliment one another.

       The view that strength is male only is false. There have been cases of women of immense strength, before sports were socially acceptable to women. Although they were denied an outlet for competition, these unique women found other places for their skills. Strong women would perform in vaudeville, the circus, and wrestling venues. This was mostly in America and Europe during the 19th to early 20th century.

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An example of a strong woman before modern day women’s sports.

 Today with modern training techniques women can gain strength. It can be acquired through isometric and isotonic exercise. What weight training allows for microscopic tears in the muscle fiber. They will rebuild and will become stronger than before. Women depending on their body structure may not see the same level of muscular hypertrophy as a man. However, women according to exercise physiologists do respond well to weight training. Women can see a increase in strength up to 50%. That is an incredible accomplishment considering they have very little to start with.

10422371_1045519842132042_956641031480259115_nrd3.0.009b.jpgExercising can built considerable strength.

It is obvious however, that a man and woman on the same training regimen would produce different results. Seeing as men have more type II muscle fibers they will have more absolute strength. Yet, when comparing a physically developed woman to an average man the woman would be stronger. When examining women’s capabilities it seems that strength is male only disappears. Social mores can prevent some women from reaching potential. Women for the most part are discourage from using a weight room. Cardiovascular and aerobic exercise is usually suggested to them by personal trainers or fitness experts. Even though there are numerous benefits to weight lifting people still view it as male only. The fear of appearing “mannish” has established a glass ceiling for some women. Women who are traditionalists themselves even criticize women with powerful looking figures. Sports that demonstrate strength and skill, women are put under extra scrutiny for their appearance. The reason some men object to this is clear. Besides aesthetics, men realize that women are advancing economically, socially, and politically. Physical strength they feel is the only item they have left in this time of rapid change between the sexes. This is even changing with more women participating in sports the ever before.

          It has been proven that the idea of women’s physical inferiority was never true. At one time it was believed that women were less intelligent than men. This idea based on eugenics was designed to stop them from seeking an education or equal opportunity. While male and female brains differ, this has no impact on intelligence. When that myth was exposed women could pursue higher education. The idea of female weakness still remains. It is so prevalent that it questions women’s roles in the military, police, fire fighting departments, or any other job that requires a level of strength. The only way this will change is if the social stigma of the strong woman vanishes.

The Myth of Female Physical Inferiority

Men’s Irrational Rejection of Women’s Strength

A vast majority of men reject women who are physically strong. There are numerous reasons that explain this irrational behavior. Strength has been a maker for masculine identity for so long, that women who display such a quality are considered to violate gender norms. There are also men who fear physically strong women. As ridiculous as this seems, they consider them a threat. Other men are disgusted by their appearance. The reason is they do not fit into the aesthetic model society values. Men are not always the culprits, but women themselves. There are women who also reject this idea of physically powerful woman. At the root of these negative feeling are sexist conventions that are still prevalent in society.

Strength has been a symbol of masculine identity. It ties into the idea of provider and protector. Femininity is the opposite, presented as dependence and weakness. This is an old fashioned view of gender roles and gender norms. Not all men are built like Hercules and not all women are helpless Disney princesses. When women play sports they challenge these roles. When they do this the “natural” order is upset. Women with bulging biceps, strong legs, and powerful mid-sections make a statement. They do not need men to survive. This ruins the idea of chivalry. At first it seems harmless, but in reality it perpetuates the idea of female incompetence. The world is too dangerous for women, so they must be protected. Men must be in charge of their safety. This notion puts women in a position of being prisoners to men. Women are capable of defending themselves, if they are willing to.

     Another issue is men’s fear of women’s strength. Many times when seeing such visibly strong women a number of responses are exposed. One for example is “she could beat me up ” or “her biceps are bigger than mine.” Then there are more vitriolic responses in the line of “she’s a man” or questioning her sexuality. These sexist and homophobic demonstrate some men’s fear of women’s strength. Some men cannot handle the idea of a strong woman. stock-photo-funny-muscular-woman-holds-a-thin-man-118641973   This is a piece of clip art. Although meant to be humorous, it does represent some         fear men have 

The reason that fear emerges is that it makes some men question what it means to be a man. Insecurity is a hard enemy to defeat. A man insecure with his masculinity will behave in odd ways. One way is to disparage  or degrade women in general, not only strong women. Sometimes it is not insecurity at all, but fear of the unknown. It is rare that men would meet a woman that could challenge them in some form of physical contest. Seeing something new like that could be overwhelming at first. A woman with such a powerful physique can produce such awe struck reaction. Another dynamic to the fear element is that there is a perception that women are going to take revenge on men for centuries poor treatment. This at first seems comical, but there are men out there who believe this. Just because a woman has physical strength does not mean she will use it to abuse men.  This prejudiced assumption is that stronger women are more violent and would be willing to use force. It is interesting because women through out most of their lives have to take into consideration of the possibility of physical abuse from their boyfriend or husband. Here the tables are turned.

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There will not be Amazon woman take over anytime soon 

There is no reason to be fearful. The only thing it means is that women are allowed to participate in activities that were once restricted to them. When women started advancing in education and the professional world men did get nervous. Sports was seen as the last male dominated domain, but that has been eroded.

      The other reason men object to women’s strength is related to ideals of beauty. The current mainstream ideal of beauty for women is a thin figure. The mass media, fitness industry and fashion industry continually present this ideal as normal or the standard. Yet, it is an unrealistic beauty standard. It excludes larger women, muscular women, and even average looking women. Men raised in this type of culture get a distorted view of body image. The subtle message is that women are suppose to be one body type. Women even encourage this as well, by excessive dieting and attempting to slenderize constantly. Women will even avoid weight training for fear of looking “bulky.” One should ask what is wrong with bulky? The idea is that it makes a woman “mannish.” More liberal minded people have challenged this, but do not go far enough. They rephrase weight training as “toning”  or “body sculpting” so women will not be afraid of weights. The reality is the process still involves building muscle. Normally, women will not become massive, but some have the ability to do so. They should not be shunned.

weightsThis may seem  like an endorsement, but not really. The message here is to just make the woman more suitable for the man. Strength and power are not valued in women 

At the root of this body obsession is man making women in an image more pleasing to himself. The woman on the right represents in the mainstream view an acceptable level of fitness. Past that level the woman on the left is no longer considered normal in the traditional perspective of femininity. Such attitudes reduce women to objects only valued for their physical appearance.  Men reject the idea of muscular woman, because it means the woman is no longer a controllable and passive object. Also, they challenge the traditional conformity in regards to gender roles.

        The root of this rejection is based in sexist and misogynistic attitudes. Phrases like “you throw like a girl” reveal much about a particular mind set. It shows that some men think of women as less than, weak  or not human. They will always be second rate compared to men. This has been proven false, as women advance in society. These attitudes must change. Men need to have a more positive view of women in non-traditional fields.Women should be allowed to engage and develop there talents to the fullest.

Men’s Irrational Rejection of Women’s Strength