Feministing: Women in Sports- Why Can’t Women Compete With Men ?

Men and women
Why Can’t Women Compete Against Men in Sports?

Feministing was an online community website that discussing women’s rights and ideology. It ran from 2010 to 2020 covering topics from politics, popular culture, and contemporary issues. The online community was targeted at a younger demographic. The site also encourage grassroots activism. Users could also contribute to the community blog. There was one short post that by Vicky Chatwin that is of interest. A simple question is proposed : why can’t women compete against men in sports ? The author even notes the most obvious reason. The impact of sexual dimorphism influences physical fitness capacity. There are obviously exceptions and cases of overlap. Chatwin’s argument is that by having women’s leagues this constitutes sex segregation. The second case is that it is denying women equal opportunity. Then there are some feminists who think that sex differences are nothing more than sociological constructions. Biology is not a sociological construction, yet third wave feminists want to dispute known facts about sexual dimorphism. Women can compete in mixed competitions if they have the skill and physicality to do so.  Having women’s divisions is not discriminatory nor is it excluding women.

          The most elite women in sports would not be able to physically challenge the elite men. Physical strength differences and body size give men in advantage. Sports such as boxing, weightlifting, or powerlifting require certain amounts of muscular strength. Studies have shown that women may have advantages in muscular endurance and oxygen utilization.  It has been theorized that women may have an edge when it comes to running in marathons. Sprinting which requires more muscular strength, women do not perform the same as men. Depending on the sport, there is a different level of skill and fitness required to master it. The skills of tennis differ from that of soccer. Being just strong and fast does not automatically make a person a great athlete. Men have more muscle and bone mass making their physical fitness capacity higher than women on the same training regimen. Women’s bodies can experience muscular hypertrophy, but not to the same degree as a man. This is related to endocrine function and the amount of natural strength prior to exercise. If men have more muscle to start off with training adds to their strength.

Pelvis shape, lung and heart size have an effect on total running speed.
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On average men weigh more and are taller.
Women’s records at the highest level reach the 250 kg range.

Women still retain more fat mass in comparison to their male counterparts. The structure of male and female bodies differs. Men have broader shoulders and more upper body strength. Women have wider pelvises. That makes running speed slower.  Heart and lung size are smaller in women which effects VO2max. Accounting for body size, women weigh less. These sex differences in physiology and anatomy would make it hard for the vast majority of elite female athletes to keep up with males on their level. This would mean there would be fewer women competing in sports being a part of men’s divisions. Chatwin states ”   I know the usual arguments – men are bigger and stronger, it’s not fair to women – but how true is this?” in the opening paragraph. She then provides a personal anecdote that she has seen women who beat men easily at sports. Oddly, She does not mention which ones. The biological factor is a big one when discussing sports performance. There is truth to this up to a certain age. Women competing with men in sports also raises safety concerns.

     Women competing with men in sports raises safety concerns. If male bodies are bigger and stronger, women could get seriously injured. Contact sports from this perspective would be difficult for women to compete with men in.   For younger children its not an issue because their bodies have finished developing. Boys and girls can compete in mixed competition. The physical changes brought about by puberty is what causes the strength gap. Women’s skeletons and muscles do grow, but they do not experience the dramatic strength spurts of men.  Around age 13, the strength gap appears between the sexes. This is why it is ludicrous to keep girls off of boys sports teams. Boys and girls between the ages of 1 to 12 have no difference in physical fitness capacity. What some third wave feminist fail to realize is just how wide the difference in physicality can be after the physiological changes during puberty. The average man has more strength compared to the average woman. A woman how trains seriously can either attain the strength of a man who does not train or be close to it. The strongest trained male could possibly be stronger than most  women.

Samantha Gordon plays football at age nine. At this stage she would have no trouble competing with boys, because puberty has not effected the musculoskeletal system.
Strength Suprise
This really is not much of surprise if a person has a basic understanding of anatomy.
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Women have to train harder to attain a certain physical fitness level. Even with all this effort the results are not the same.

Rugby, football, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, wrestling, lacrosse, and roller derby are sports that involved huge amounts of body force.  If women if at their highest level of fitness can have the strength of an average man or slightly above, the risk for injury could be higher. Boxing would be impossible for women to compete with men considering the difference in upper body strength. The only way such matches in contact sports to work is if men were restricted from using their full physical force. All sports are not contact based. Race car driving or equestrian sport does not reliant on muscle power. Semi-contact sports may see a few women able to compete.

       Having women’s sports divisions does not constitute sex segregation. Unlike Jim Crow America and apartheid South Africa these governance systems were designed to oppress. It was not only to control a population based on because of their race, it was also to isolate them from the wider society. Women’s divisions and sports teams are the opposite. They allow more women to compete. The differences in speed and physical strength between the sexes is the reason there is separation. Looking beyond sex, this is why their are weight classes between athletes. Boxing does this with lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight athletes. Wrestling also has weight classes. This is not segregation of smaller athletes, rather giving them a platform to compete. Otherwise, the biggest and strongest people would always dominate sports. The separation is more of a matter of weight class. This does not mean smaller athletes or women are inferior. It is an attempt to make competition fair. The only way discrimination could occur is if a skilled female player is qualified to play on a men’s team is denied. If a woman can handle the physical demands and has the talent, there is no legitimate reason to deny her an opportunity to play.

Stephanie Labbe was banned from playing on the Canadian men’s soccer team. This would be an example of discrimination.
Clearly a weight advantage requires different divisions.
Katie Lee Versus man
Overlap is possible depending on the woman’s physiology.

There also is another counter argument to this. If women can compete on men’s teams then can men play on women’s teams ? The question becomes complex if one wants to make competition fair. The reality is that competition is not completely fair because each person may have a unique physical advantage. If a person is devoted to full equality, then it should function the same for both sexes. Title IX ensures that girls get access to sports in schools and few states have restrictions on boys playing on girls teams in America. There are no restrictions on women competing in men’s divisions in the Olympics. The only restriction is the ruling on the amount of testosterone a woman’s body produces. This ruling has been debated and criticized in terms of its scientific foundation. Such a ruling must be discarded altogether, considering athletes cannot help the way they were naturally born. Women’s teams are not an example of sex segregating, rather an expansion of women’s participation in sport.

    Women have already competed with men in sports. Mixed sport is more of an integrated model of  competition. Tennis, badminton.  korfball. mixed pairs bodybuilding,  and swimming  have done pioneered this. Pairs of men and women compete in what is a perfect example of inclusion. This should be what third wave feminists support.  Power feminists however take a less harmonious approach. Competing with men is not about equality, rather they just want to attain more power.Some want all the power and influence in particular areas. This does not appeal to the majority of women who rather see men as their equals and partners. Excessive girl power has become more confrontational, rather than celebrating women’s achievements.




Mixed sports may become more prevalent in the future. Mixed relays are going to make a debut at the Olympics. This seems like a significant development in terms of promoting equal exposure of athletes regardless of sex.  The third wave feminist narrative as men being all antagonist falls apart, when some men see women’s participation as a positive development. The biggest problem for women in sports is not that they are in separate leagues. Unequal pay, lack of media exposure, and sex prejudice are the biggest concerns.

       There is nothing really stopping certain female athletes from competing with men. Sports organizations can ban them from doing so. This is an obvious act of sex discrimination. There are cases in which girls have to compete with boys seeing as there are no girls teams in certain schools. Wrestling and football have some girls playing with boys in elementary and middle school. Their competitive years could end by high school seeing as boys are experiencing the increase in fitness capacity from puberty. Girls would not be able to keep up seeing as they do not make significant strength gains. The only solution would be to build a girls team, so female athletes could continue to compete. If women had to try out for teams with mostly males, it would reduce the total number of women competing. It could be done with sports that do not require an immense amount of brute strength. Race car driving, equestrian sport, gymnastics, and marathon running could be sports in which women could compete directly. Certainly, there are women who can compete with men. The system that is place is more about placing athletes in a weight class, rather than their sex. The growth of more women’s teams or leagues is not hindering women. It enables them to be on a competitive platform.

Feministing: Women in Sports- Why Can’t Women Compete With Men ?

Lora Garrick: Women Afraid of Being Physically Stronger Than The Men They Date


Women Afraid of Being Physically Stronger Than The Men They Date

Dating was once thought to be fun. Yet, it seems more like an algorithmic match making. Instead of meeting new people, dating apps select for people a match. The worse part is that men and women deprive themselves of something genuine due to their prejudices and bias. There are challenges that come with courtship. Men have to make the first proposal and women may find it difficult to know what they want. The change in sex politics has impacted courtship and marriage. Issues related to appearance, social status, race, religion, culture, and  personal belief system become complications. Women who are active in certain arenas that were considered male only face challenges in dating. Female athletes may get find dating a little more difficult due to bias from potential bachelors. The unfortunate aspect of this is that women may internalize prejudice. There are women who strength train or are athletes who are afraid of being stronger than men. The lugubrious post from a female weightlifter on a forum demonstrates this fact. Lora Garrick writes about this phenomenon. Garrick even reveals women avoid wearing certain types of high heels so they will not be taller than the men they date. It is sad that in an age that preaches women’s equality and girl power that this remains a debate. If a woman were to say she is afraid of being more intelligent than a man this would cause criticism. This an observer can see is from another time period. The topic of strong women and dating brings into account various difficulties. Devoting one’s self  solely to one preference could limit options. There is a problem judging a person by their appearance and using that as a measure of their worth. Modern dating has become nothing more than a business transaction, rather that a joyful event.

            When people talk about a partner, there are certain attributes they find attractive.  Generally, men and women have a preference. This could be related to body type, structure of the face, or height. The unfortunate part is that the mass media gives a distorted image of what beauty is. Beauty can have different meanings depending on personal opinion and culture. Society demands that both men and women follow the specific beauty standard. However, men and women who do not conform are often ostracized. There is resistance to rigid standards, yet the desire to have rigid  personal preferences  remains in tact. There is nothing wrong with having a personal preference or standard. The problem is rejecting a potentially good relationship with someone who does not fit the preference. The weightlifter that Garrick mentions may lose a relationship or have trouble finding others if she is more devoted to preference. She says she only wants a big strong man and rejects men who are weaker than her. She feels that the only man she needs is one that lifts. This is limiting her options for potential relationships. There is no reason our female weightlifter can date an average man. Thinking like this is superficial and shallow. Thoughts have been articulated by men who find strong women unsuitable.

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There are men who say they do not want women with bigger biceps than theirs. Certain comments are either produced from either close mindedness, insecurity, or myopic views of women. The men who say this have never dated such women, but make judgments. The strong woman should not be so quick to dismiss a man different from her. Otherwise she would be imitating the detractors who constantly disparage her athletic accomplishments. Preferences should not stop a person experiencing different people. It also from a point of statistics limits the dating pool. Ultimately, it is the individuals choice who they select, but the process could be sabotaging a relationship.

        As awful as this behavior is many people judge people by their looks. Other behaviors that are more blatant such as shallowness are condemned, yet this behavior is more acceptable. Concepts of beauty or ugliness are subjective and relative to a certain taste. Women might fin thin men attractive, while others do not. There are men who like the idea of a strong woman. The reason women may be afraid of becoming stronger than their boyfriends or husbands is that they will reject them. The notion is that if a woman becomes too powerful in any sense it emasculates the man. The male body for a longtime was a symbol of strength, power, and might. Muscles were the symbol of male strength and authority in terms of visual representation. While all men did not fit this image it is the one associated with traditional masculinity. Strong women have created a new aesthetic. Strength and muscle is no longer male only. Women have been advancing in various fields and sports is just another. The traditional femininity was meant to emphasize a woman’s weakness. Women had to appear delicate and helpless. Even with the feminist movement women still either promote or internalize this restrictive concept of femininity based on appearance. Muscular women even have doubts about themselves. If a man is truly confident he will not be concerned if you are stronger than him.

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Looks do not last forever. We eventually age and do not look the same. A relationship based on looks is fragile. If people want something substantive, it would based on a person’s character. However, people are too blinded by appearance to make these give these matters serious thought.  A large portion of men and women value people only for their appearance. The worst part of this is that they treat people they perceive as more attractive better. The people seen as undesirable are treated worse. Behavior like this may be difficult to detect, but victims of it definitely feel the effects. Rejection is common place in the dating market. Some people just may never find anyone. The reason may be people’s immediate repudiation of others based on appearance.

         Modern dating seems more like a business transaction, rather than an enjoyable outing. Technology has to a degree been managing our lives. Now it has control of our interpersonal relations. Dating websites and apps use algorithms to match couples together based on data collected from user profiles. Searching for a date or starting  a relationship seems more like looking for a job. The process seems more like an interview, rather than a friendly exchange.  There are qualifications that are both physical and personality based that a person has to meet to even be considered. Even if a small dialogue is established nothing may come of it. Technology cannot be completely blamed for this phenomenon. A world that has become too materialistic and obsessed with consumerism had an unintended consequence. People only value one another for their status. This does not effect men and women on an equal level.  Men need to have higher status than the women they date otherwise they will not get attention. Women with high status are criticized if they date men of lower status. Some may not even think they are worth it. This partially explains why men struggle more to get relationships or married. It also explains why highly accomplished women could  find themselves lonely. Men either feel intimidated or insecure when attempting to approach them. More so it is a feeling of not being good enough. This dilemma between men and women make them not even try. Nothing will happen unless an attempt is made. Sadly, some get so hurt they give up or go to a negative place psychologically. Loneliness is now become a public health issue. Incels and femcels are becoming organized groups of  people who are frustrated with their failures with the opposite sex. This problem is barely discussed or even recognized as an issue. People must start valuing one another again. If not this could have devastating social consequences. Divorces are more likely to happen due financial strain, rather than irreconcilable differences. The reason being is that people are marrying based around status and resources rather than actually loving one another. This is a good reason why dating should not be modeled like a business transaction.

            One should also stop and wonder why is a woman who is stronger than a man seen with so much negativity. There may be some unspoken fear that their will be a female take over or women want to get even with men for past abuse. So far, there have been no amazon matriarchies emerging. Certain men may feel that sports and physical strength is the only thing they have left in world of constantly changing roles. Even when they see a woman who is physically impressive they either mock them or disparage their accomplishments. Women also hide their talents believing if they show off too much it will scare men off. Women even pretend to be less intelligent to not offend some insecure men’s sensibilities. Men who claim to be liberal minded, even draw the line with women who have significant strength.


Being different or not following the status quo can limit the dating candidates, but at least a person can be happy with themselves.  It seems strange to give up what you like or change yourself to satisfy a person. Real love is liking a person both faults and strengths included. The strong woman does not deserve such intense vituperation. The problem with this world is people love too little and hate so much. That must change. Everyone deserves love at one point in their life. For men who reject women because they are too strong, you could be missing out on a fun and unique experience.

        Lora Garrick concludes her article with some advice to women strength athletes. The first point she mentions is that physical strength has advantages. The improvements to health have been scientifically conformed. Physical protection is the least discussed. Garrick states that women would be in a better position to fight off men who get physically aggressive in a relationship. Domestic violence is too common in both dating  and marriage. Women are in this regard at a disadvantage seeing as men have more physical strength on average. Strength could ensure women’s personal safety, yet do not underestimate the importance of self-defense. One could be strong, but not an effective fighter. On a more positive note having more strength can also help your significant other. If a man unable to move or needs physical assistance, this would not be a challenge for a strong woman. Garrick also in a facetious manner says just go to gyms and find strong men there. The women may want to expand their horizons, but that means sometimes going outside their dating preferences. Women have an easier time starting relationships, because it does not require as much effort. Men have to pay for dinner, approach, and make plans. The issue is not the amount of effort. The problem is that is not equally distributed among the sexes.

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This seems like a dated form of social behavior especially for a society that makes gender equality a top concern. That proclamation should extend to social mores. To the strong woman the best advice is to select a man based on his character. If appearance or social status is the only focus of a relationship, then it is always fragile. These things can easily go away with time. True feelings last forever. While the man your with may not reach your athletic feats, he may be wild about you. That seems more important. Sadly, none of us may never experience genuine love. We go through life struggling to find the warmth of another and many times it does not take off. This is no reason to quit or be blindly optimistic. Finding happiness starts with personal introspection. Attempting to get that from relationships can only lead to disappointment. Do not make this an excuse to isolate yourself, because of a few rejections. Going out of your usual comfort zone can be a great start. The female weightlifter that is afraid about getting stronger than her boyfriend is comedic. Date thin, fat men, or men who are not into sports. There are plenty of bachelors out there, you just have to pick. Having many selections can be hard if you do not know what you are looking for. Being stronger than the man you date is not the worse thing in the world.

Lora Garrick: Women Afraid of Being Physically Stronger Than The Men They Date

Happy National Girls and Women in Sports Day !

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





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serena williams



Los Angeles Sparks v Phoenix Mercury, Game 2

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

Allyson Felix







Happy National Girls and Women in Sports Day !

Discover Magazine : True or False – Sex Makes Muscles Weaker

Does Sex Weaken Muscles ?

There are many fitness myths and falsehoods about the human body. The one that is the most persistent is that sex weakens muscles. This misinformation continues to spread among coaches and athletes themselves. Discover Magazine  on its website produces a section called “Seriously Science” in which it answers random questions about the field. People have limited understanding about their bodies and even more when it comes to copulation. The origin of the concept of sex interfering with athletic performance goes back to ancient Greece and Rome. They believe that it created too much calm and ease before competition. The only way to verify this is to use the scientific method. An experiment was conducted with weight trained men. This experiment has some  flaws. Women could be good subjects and obviously intercourse is an activity that is not done alone. Seeing as women’s bodies are physiologically and anatomically different it could help verify certain claims. If women have less muscle mass in their bodies it could tell us more about how sexual intercourse effects physical strength. The measurements and methods were sound. The athletic men were expected to engage in sex 12 hours before engaging in isokenetic  dynamometry. The problem was that the men did self reporting of sexual activity. The conclusion may be correct, but it can only be confirmed by replication.

          To comprehend the methods of the experiment,  a general understanding of isokenetc dynamometry must be established. This term describes devices that resist applied forces. Simultaneously, it controls the speed of exercise that is determine prior to use. This technology has the ability to measure the performance of muscle groups. Isokenetic dynamometry can also measure torque, resistance, and fatigue. This has vast applications for physical therapy and rehabilitation. The measurements would be more precise than having subjects just doing their weight lifting routine afterwards.

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While a person doing bench presses or dumbbell curls could also measure strength, the intention is to get a precise measurement. Isokinetic muscle testing has applications beyond mere sports science. It has been used in rehabilitation of orthopaedic conditions. What such devices in the study were used for was documenting muscle force from during five sets of maximal unilateral knee extension. The knee fexion exercise was conducted at 30 degs/s after the men abstained or engaged in intercourse. The time frame was 12 hours. According to the study : ”  the order of this treatment was randomized across participants, and time of day was maintained across all sessions.” The isokinetic muscle testing measured strength and endurance of the subjects.

          There  is a question about the subjects selected. The study just says they were men who were just physically active and in their 20s. Using professional athletes would have made more sense to see if the dramatic change in fitness would have occurred. Then the type of athlete you use also would matter. Weightlifters or bodybuilders could be useful subjects in a study. Weightlifters more so, seeing as they train for physical strength. Powerlifters or crossfit athletes may also be suitable. Women would be good subjects. Seeing as their bodies are different, they have to work harder to attain physical strength. Even the most muscular woman has less muscle mass of a man of equal training. If sex did weaken muscles it would have a greater effect on women.




The study also acknowledges another problem with self reporting. The men in the study may either embellish their sexual activity, so there is no way of knowing for certain if they met the requirements.Men have the habit about bragging about their amount of sexual intercourse. For women, they may be more modest when discussing this topic. The hope is that subjects would be honest with their answers seeing as it anonymous. Subjects names are never revealed in scientific studies for the sake of privacy. The only way to be sure about the data is not to be reliant on self reporting. However results were produced : ”  data showed no significant effect (P = .34 and P = .39) of sexual intercourse on peak or average KE or knee flexion torque. For example, after sexual intercourse, KE torque was similar in set 1 (198.9 ± 39.1 ft/lb vs 190.2 ± 28.7 ft/lb) and set 5 (163.2 ± 30.8 ft/lb vs 159.4 ± 35.2 ft/lb) compared to when men abstained from sexual intercourse.” The conclusion was that engaging in sex before exercise a night before will not effect physical strength.

       Although the experiment had some minor factors effecting results, its conclusion may be correct. Abstaining or having sexual intercourse will not impact athletic performance. As stated in the text : ” results demonstrate that sexual intercourse does not significantly impact lower extremity muscle force, which suggests that restricting sexual activity before short-term, high-force activity is unnecessary.”Could there be a possible psychological impact? That answer is not clear. There have not been any sport psychology studies that have explored the topic in depth. Sex making muscles weaker is just another fitness myth. The self reporting method does have its limitation. People may either be too bashful or embellish their sexual activity. What is known to negatively effect performance is irregular training, poor diet, lack of sleep, and ineffective training techniques.

Discover Magazine : True or False – Sex Makes Muscles Weaker

Lauri Braun : I Don’t Want to Get Too Big (2011)


Don’t Get Too Big

Lauri Braun the founder of Female Muscle.com wrote about a common phrase that women work out commonly hear. The warning is do not “get too big.” For too long women have been dictated how to behave or what to do with their lives. Even more nauseating is the comment “you should smile more.” It is worse enough that someone demands that you look a certain way, but to feel a particular way is more infuriating. Braun calls her discussion a rant, yet it is just an observation of a known double standard. Strong women are constantly criticized for the muscles and power they have gained. The odd aspect about this is that women internalize this subtle form of sexism. They do not lift anything heavier than five pound dumbells. There still is a misconception that they overestimate their ability to gain muscle. Such a process takes years along with specific training and diet. Lauri Barun being a personal trainer herself had to explain on multiple occasions that this would not happen. It is like saying if you hand a woman a tennis racket, they will gain the skills of Serena Williams.  Much of this fear stems from ignorance of the sport, the women, and basic human anatomy. The phrase “don’t get too big” should be retired from fitness discussion.

           Often the phrase “too big” is used for women with the highest amount of muscular development. Female bodybuilders are targets for such ridicule. Unwanted commentary is either expressed as insults, bullying behavior, and sexist abuse. The double standards are so obvious, because men with muscular physiques are not subject to such ostracism. Women should have the right to look however they want to regardless of society’s expectations. It seems so perplexing in an age that is seeing more women rise to positions  of power that this concept has not been accepted. There is a body positivity movement, but it seems to exclude athletic bodies in favor of larger ones. It really is not inclusive as it sounds. Muscular women are either absent or not visible in this social movement. Then again it really is not an organized mass movement, rather a loose association. Women are partially to blame for body image conformity. This is mainly through being involved in the beauty and fashion industry. Businesses like that are kept alive by women focusing on their appearance. The beauty industry is estimated at being worth $532 billion dollars. If consumers had a positive body image, sales would decline. The muscular woman challenges notions of female weakness and passivity. A woman’s beauty in this view should be defined by being dainty and frail. Thankfully, women can define femininity on their terms rather than some dated ideals.

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The “too big” or “too much” is a matter of taste. A woman who is a track athlete my be too big for some. Having an opinion is not the problem; disparaging people who are different is. Even people who may not advocate the muscular development on a female physique can at least admit it is impressive. There are also a portion of people who appreciate the aesthetic. The lugubrious element of this is that there is a demand for people to look alike and think the same. Getting “too big” is more about perception not anatomical reality.

       Women being too big is not anatomically possible. The only way that could happen is if a woman reaches a body weight that would be classified as morbidly obese. At this stage the ability to walk and have a healthy circulatory system is not possible. The strain on the skeletal system is so great joint issue can occur from being overweight  or obese. Women who are muscular are called bulky. That implies colloquially being of large size. The women on a bodybuilding stage or just muscular women in general do not weigh that much. The average man or an out of shape woman could weigh more. Comparing a muscular woman to a muscular man their is a difference in the morphology of the physique. The upper body of women is smaller, compared to men. The pelvis is wider giving women a distinctive shape. When muscle is added to the female frame it enhances the form. The irrational fear for some women is that their body will become block like. The reality is that the torso of the male is more block like than women. Female bodybuilders still aim for a version of the hour glass figure although they used different methods to attain it. By developing a muscular upper body and lower body  the waist on women appears smaller. Detractors claim that they are attempting to emulate men, but what they are really doing is developing a new aesthetic of female beauty.

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Although women do have big muscles, bodybuilding is more than just about size. Symmetry, conditioning, and definition are what contribute to quality physiques. This is where the body becomes a living art piece. This may be hard to understand if you do not admire sculpture or physique sports. The women are not large massive blobs of flesh. Examining the weight of various bodybuilders from the past to present only further demonstrates the point. Rachel Mclish weighed only 135 lbs., while Corey Everson was 155 lbs. Kim Chizevsky was 160 lbs. The body weight of these three Ms.Olympia champions is less than what would you would think by just looking at their pictures. Few women have reached the over 200 lbs mark, which a vast majority of male bodybuilders reach. Two of the greatest athletes Iris Kyle and Lenda Murray would not be considered bulky simply based on weight. Iris was 165 lbs of muscle and Lenda was 153 lbs.



Lesa Lewis 04


The biggest female bodybuilders do not even compare to men of the same fitness level and size. There can be overlap, but it is not possible for a woman to get man size. Lesa Lewis competed at 193 lbs during her athletic career. Maria Wattel has a weight of 198 lbs. The reason why Lesa and Maria are bigger is due to their height. They are both tall with Maria being 5′ 7” and Lesa being 5′ 10.”  The skeletal frame aids in size. The bigger the skeleton the more muscle can be housed on a frame. Muscular hypertrophy is regulated by myostatin and the MTSN gene. This explains why muscles do not continue to grow endlessly. Getting to the size of the Incredible Hulk would not be possible in relation to human morphology. Women have to work harder to build muscle and strength due to how the endocrine system influences physiology. Reaching this level of muscular development takes much time, effort, and an intricate understanding of nutrition.

       The perplexing problem about the “too big” concept is that women utter this more among themselves. Lori Braun observed that some overweight women do this. The reason for such unwanted commentary could be jealousy, envy, or closed mindedness. Harsh critics could be internalizing some of the messages of body image conformity. The negative response from some men one would assume would be obvious. Coming from other women remains a conundrum. Women being physically strong seems to bother a number of people, yet this would not apply to other areas. If a person said to a woman gaining higher education that she has become “too smart” it would immediately be challenged. Women’s bodies society believes need control. A woman can never be truly free until she has complete control of her body. This remains the last bastion for women achieving equality. Education and employment are essential measures,but control of one’s physical self is imperative. One step is to have reproductive rights strengthened. What should also be part of the process is women being allowed to look like whatever they want to without insults or harassment. The first step requires women to stop sabotaging one another.  Lori Braun describes an instance in which a client insulted a picture of one of her friends competing. Lori  rationally explained that her friend weighed less compared  to the woman making the offensive remarks. Women should not be insulting each other’s appearance. This only aids the system of misogyny based around a single beauty standard.

         The ignored element of this discussion is the false idea that people do not like the image of strong women. The argument is that if a woman gets to big men will not like them. There are men who have a vast variety in what is attractive. Muscular women to some men are the greatest thing ever. The exact number is not known. Many men hide this love due to fear of what friends and family might say. Fans might collect pictures, books,videos, and then hide them. The internet and by extension social media has exposed that there is a bigger following than previously thought. Even if this was not the case, some people just enjoy something that is not mainstream or widely accepted. Female muscle does have more exposure compared to the past considering there is more media. Yet, it started off as a small group of fans of female strength sports.  The irritating claim by detractors is that no man likes a muscular female physique. The growth of divisions in strength sports and the increase in women’s athletic participation just demonstrates there are fans. There also is a potential for  growth. The conversation about women being “too big” just needs to end. Doubtless of what people think, the women will continue to compete, train, and challenge prejudiced assumptions.

Lauri Braun : I Don’t Want to Get Too Big (2011)

Lenda Murray tryout for The WWF

This is a clip from 1997 , when Lenda Murray did a tryout for the WWF. This was the period in which she lost her first Ms.Olympia in 1996. After competing the following year without regaining her Ms. Olympia title she went into retirement. During this time she was exploring different career paths. Wrestling was one area in which women with muscular physiques were gaining mainstream acceptance. Chyna popularized this image and became a  professional wrestling icon. Lenda’s attempt to break into wrestling was only temporary, but this clip is fun for archival purposes. Lenda would make her return in 2002 and then retire from competition 2004 after her defeat by Iris Kyle. Lenda today is a promoter of female bodybuilding shows. It would have been interesting to see if Lenda went down this path, what type of wrestler she would be. The wrestler names could either be bench pressing Brenda or Marie Muscles. At least  fans got to see her pose on bodybuilding stages. Yet some are curious just how much damage that body of 153 lbs of muscle could inflict.


Lenda Murray 1990





Lenda Murray tryout for The WWF