The Significance of Kale and Caulifla on Dragon Ball Super

Dragon Ball Super has reached a milestone of 101 episodes and it proves the franchise is as lively as ever. The anime and manga series has captivated audiences globally with its action and fascinating characters. The great addition to the Dragon Ball universe is the appearance of female super saiyans. For many years fans have only conceptualized this through fan art across the internet and now it is a reality. Women fighters were a rare occurrence in the series. The character Kale was dubbed by fans as the “female Broly.” As one can clearly observe this is more of a homage to a non-canon character. It seems their personalities are similar, however Kale may see some character development. This is an excellent choice, because it is essential that Kale develop to distinguish between two different characters in the Dragon Ball universe. Caulifla who is not a homage or reference to another character has been changing as well. This must continue to avoid the problem of tokenism that occurs in various forms of media. A female character should not be there just to placate some demand by fans or be a stock character. They should have critical roles and be a part of the action. The hope is that the series takes this into consideration. One aspect that should be praised about these characters, is that they were not afraid to have a unique character design. During their transformations they displayed powerful bodies and rarely do cartoons depict women with such a body type. Fan reactions to the characters are divided, but it seems overtime audiences will warm up to them. Criticisms mostly are directed at the power scaling and what some see as a marketing gimmick by Toei Animation.

        Kale when she is first introduced is a timid and rather low self-esteem individual. When Caulifla encouraged her to enter the Tournament of Power, she was plagued with self doubt. However, before she did reach the berserker super saiyan form when triggered emotionally. Just like Broly, she was uncontrollable and murderous. Caulifa was able to calm her down and prevented Cabba from possibly being killed. Kale again goes into her Legendary super saiyan  form during the tournament, but puts everyone at risk. Goku is the first victim of her assault, but Jiren then stops her. When Kale transforms the next time she has control. This shows a progression in character development. Kale is gradually going from a timid and uncertain individual to a confident person. When she saw Caulifla in distress, she realized a change had to be made. She was becoming tired of being a burden. Once Kale overcomes her insecurities she will be a self actualized individual. Her third time transforming was not just a physical one, it was a mental one. Kale did something Broly could never do and control the legendary super saiyan form.

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This change in personality is a great development and adds depth to the character. Kale still has a long way to go in terms of mastery of this form, but it will be interesting to see where it leads. If Dragon Ball Super does this correctly would could see a very entertaining character. Kale may see a transformation from fear to fierce. It is uncertain where this arc will go, but hopefully the saiyans of universe 6 will survive.

       Caulifla stands out as unique character as well. She does fall into a “tough woman” stock character. These women characters are suppose to have an I don’t need anyone attitude and generally not very emotional. While it seems that Caulifla would fall into this one dimensional role the series changes this. Caulifla is very protective of Kale and despite what appears to be a harsh personality cares about her protege. She encourages and attempts to motivate Kale even when she doubts herself. At first she comes off as arrogant when first meeting Goku, but then begins to almost befriend him when fighting. The encounter was belligerent at first. She attempted to intimidate Goku with her new form. It had power, but lacked speed.

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Caulifa versus Goku

Many Dragon Ball fans remember that Trunks attempted to use this form on Cell. While Caulifla seems cocky at times, this was a point in which she took advice from a more experienced fighter. Being very talented she was able to reach super saiyan two. Astounded by its power she continued to fight with Goku. When Cabba came to recruit her for the tournament, she cared little about the fate of the universes. Her only interest was acquiring a new form to elevate her power.This could change as she meets new people. Goku could have easily knocked her off the ring, but did not. It could be that he wants her to keep fighting so her stamina would drain. These are only theories. Caulifa may have found some form of friendship with Goku. She may be opening up to being a kinder person. Caulifla has much pride, but could be learning to be more humble and learn from the experiences of others. She may prove to be a helpful ally to Goku and his friends later on.

      The character designs for both characters should be praised. Normally female characters are portrayed as thin to an exaggerated extent. Even when they are supposed to be physically strong this default character design is used. Dragon Ball Super broke that convention having the saiyan women appear just as powerful. Not only that, it is clear they do not need assistance from the male cast. It is common for the damsel in distress trope to used redundantly. Here it is not can it is apparent that Kale and Caulifla can take care of themselves. One problem is that the physically strong woman is normally presented as a threat, anomaly, or the punchline to some gender based joke. The story arc has not used any of these common stereotypical roles. The physically strong woman either falls into two notable tropes. They are either cast as the amazonian beauty or brawn hilda. The strange aspect about Kale is that she could fall into both, yet she is still an evolving character. Caulifla, while not as athletic looking in her base form may not fit in either and could be  more associated with the action girl trope. The action girls seeks adventure and danger. They rarely back down from a challenge.

It seems that they are now better fighters than Cabba himself. The animators and creators of the series were not afraid to give these female characters a different character design. Some of more conservative taste would scoff at the idea of female characters drawn this way. The point of making a cartoon character is to design them in a unique way that is recognizable to viewers. These character designs make sense, because Saiyans are a warrior race. They value fighting and physical fitness. Their civilization parallels that of Sparta, Dahomey, and Japan in regards to warrior culture. That means their whole society was invested in war and even conquest. Unfortunately for the Saiyans of Goku’s universe that were the victims of Frezia. Seeing as these characters are super powered being they might as well appear that way. Fans were either shocked see such a design or embraced this as another surprise that Dragon Ball is known for.

There are some who are even enthusiastic about these two characters transformations. Many videos, fan art, and fan commentary have been produced just for the discussion of Kale and Caulifla. The magic of Dragon Ball is that it has the ability to create lovable and enduring characters. Kale and Caulifla are now part of that family. The creation of the character design is just as important as the personality you give that character.

      There appears to be a divide over these character s in the fan community. Some complained that Caulifla going super saiyan happened too fast and was anti-climatic. Detractors also said it cheapened that value of being a super saiyan. There are some problems wit these statements. First, it should be noted that Cabba went super saiyan in the last tournament. Trunks and Goten achieved this form as children. Could it be sexism among certain fans that get vexed that this happened to Kale and Caulifla? There is very little evidence, but there are various instances in which power scaling has been inconsistent. Then there are numerous transformations going from super sayian one to four  following the new form super sayian blue. Goku and Vegeta are the strongest fighters on Earth, so there would be little to be a challenge for them. It should be remembered that Goku was holding back when fight Kale, but it seem like that Kamehahmeha blast could have at least caused some damage. This could mean several things. Kale is either stronger than people realize and their is a possibility that it can increase more. Kale could in an uncontrolled state be stronger, but runs the risk of destroying herself and cohorts. The last theory is that she has reached the full extent of her potential. Caulifla seems to be like Goku in a sense that she has the ability to master techniques fast. Others criticize this as lazy writing, but you could easily say that about Goku reaching super saiyan 3 during the Buu saga.

The point is many characters have become very overpowered and strong. Frankly, there should not be any complaint about power scaling. A franchise that has been around this long is bound to have inconsistencies in its folklore. Maybe it does not create a plot hole at at all. These are an alien species that are operating on a completely different physiological biology. This is only speculative, but more could be revealed as the arc progresses. Another prevalent criticism is that Kale is nothing more than a Toei Animation marketing gimmick. The company realizes that they have many devoted fans and Broly has been a fan favorite. Some were disappointed that Broly was not made cannon. Kale is a homage to the character in a sense as one can see from the outfit and her personality. A faction of fans still call her the “female Broly” even though it appears the character is developing into something different. There are either fans who like the character or dislike her in the series. While it is legitimate to say there should not be a character just to sell products or do fan pandering, it is unfair not to at least give the character a chance. There are fans who also fall into the camp of overwhelming support.

Anyone who has followed Dragon Ball would know there is a huge fan art community. Even before the appearance of these characters fans were drawing what they thought female super saiyans would loo like. Prior to Kale’s official appearance fans were already making art based on a leaked clip. It is wonderful that female characters are gaining popularity in the franchise. Other characters are even coming back to prominence such as Andriod 18. Action series tend to marginalize female characters either regulating them to support roles or merely having no consequence to the story. Dragon Ball was actually different. Looking back, these adventures would have never started if Bulma never came across Goku in the woods. This is significant,because it shows female characters actually doing something of importance and consequence. The arrival of Kale and Caulifla has more significance than some realize.

         Women are becoming manga and anime consumers. There is a change as the anime culture continues to expand internationally. If women are getting interested in Dragon Ball, there should be some representation. It should not just be any uninspired or random character just to placate the advocates of diversity. These should be unique and well developed characters, rather than just token based tropes. So far,it seems the series is doing this right. There could be the possibility of a Vasquez always dies trope. However, the viewer should remain positive. This arc proves to be the best yet and it is clear that the Dragon Ball franchise is not going anywhere any time soon. Just having Kale and Caulifla present sends a message that you can create interesting female characters. This could inspire younger manga artists and animators to experiment with something new. Do not be afraid to draw the women differently or have a unconventional characterization. What makes this series great is that it is very creative and that is demonstrated by its large cast of characters. Kale and Caulifla will stand out as fan favorites.

The Significance of Kale and Caulifla on Dragon Ball Super

Should “Men Are Stronger” Bar Women From Combat Roles? From Male Matters USA

Should “Men Are Stronger” Bar Women From Combat Roles

This is a blog post from Male Matters  originally posted in 2012. This site is a men’s rights website and discusses the controversy of women in combat. While the argument is for women in combat there are a few details it ignores. Then there is the issue of feminism versus the backlash men’s rights movement. This post does point out the inequality facing women who seek combat jobs, but their cause is not for social justice. The men’s rights movement is a reactionary backlash to the women’s rights movement and feminist movement. Feminism used to be about gender equality, but third wave feminism has embraced a more extremist tone. The men’s rights movement does have a legitimate argument that their is inequality in terms of alimony, child support, divorce, and the draft. Yet,  their agenda is to revert social and political relations back to a time in which men had the much of the power. The existence of this men’s rights movement  came about when male supporters of feminism became disillusioned with the movement. The movement stated in the 1970s with the men’s liberation movement breaking into two factions : one being pro-feminist and the other being opposed to feminism. This movement has at times attracted  misogynists and extreme far-right supporters.  There should be at this period in history a sex equality movement in which men and women create a balanced and healthy society. The men’s rights movement and third wave feminism has created an atmosphere of gender antagonism. When the subject of sex is discussed in terms of  military combat it causes much disagreement. Biology and specifically sexual dimorphism is used as a justification for why women should not be allowed in combat. The writing does reveal why this is a fallacy in a logical manner. However, the reason the author argues this is not for equality, but for the idea that women some how are “privileged” by not being required to do military conscription.

       The typical conservative argument is that women are too weak for the rigors of combat. This assumes that every man is stronger than all women. This obviously is a mathematical impossibility. There are women of considerable physical strength that easily pass the physical requirements. The author mentions Jill Mills the World’S Strongest Woman Champion, Joannie Lauer (Chyna),  and Cythia L. Morrison.

Nadezhda Evstyukhina an Olympic weightlifter would probably not have difficulty performing a casualty drag. These women certainly are stronger than many men. The author then comes to the conclusion that “men are stronger than women” must be rephrased. The strongest men will be stronger than the strongest women is a more accurate assessment. Cherl Haworth would never be able to  out lift her male counterparts, but she could literally lift men over head. Many women now are no longer afraid to engage in exercise and to become strong. While it is true that there are women capable of doing combat jobs these women are above average. The typical female athlete would probably be stronger than the majority of average women. The strength and muscles they have were acquired through years of training  and diet. Jenny Arthur just did not one day become an Olympic champion with minimal effort.

Women because of their endocrinology and hormones may find it more difficult to develop strength. The muscle tissue and cellular structure of both men and women is the same. The difference in testosterone means men’s potential for muscular hypertrophy is greater. Larger bones, tendons, and ligaments gives men the advantage when marching under load. Combined with combat gear, soldiers will have to use more of their physical strength. Strength is not the only element of physical fitness. Aerobic capacity and endurance are essential is physically demanding occupations. Women have smaller hearts and lungs which means their aerobic capacity would be lower. The size of the pelvis effects running speed. Women are know to have higher rates of musculoskeletal injuries in the military. This problem is partly solved by improvements to combat gear to fit the female frame and women training before entry. Doing this will help women be successful. Increasing aerobic capacity may be more difficult than increasing muscular strength. Intense training does not increase the size of the heart or lungs in women. There is obviously overlap in the spectrum of possible recruits, however even men and women of the size height and weight, me still have more upper body strength. Broader shoulders allow for more muscle to housed  on the upper body.

Women have higher fat levels yet this does not contribute to an advantage in physical fitness. Type II muscle fibers are critical for explosive power. Even the most muscular woman will still have a higher body fat percentage than her male counterpart. This does not contribute to the physical strength of the body, rather it seems to be dead weight. Women weigh less than men, who are on average bigger. This explains the difference in weightlifting records. Men have more natural strength and when trained can gain even more. Women can benefit from strength training, but not reach male performance levels .

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What can be extrapolated is that women in certain combat occupational specialties may remain the minority. This is the case with other physically demanding occupations which include construction, firefighting, and law enforcement. The standards are not going to be lowered in order to accommodate a numbers target. The US military is looking for women with the right qualifications. Lowering standards would only create resentment in an already hostile atmosphere and be an insult to women who can perform well. The author gets that point correct that standards should not be lowered , yet does not realize the challenge of prejudice and sexism. This is the part of the men’s rights argument that lacks cogency. The writer claims that “the men are stronger” concept must be overcome just like the “men are smarter concept.” The truth is both of these sexist notions have never been overcome. Women who are in the fields of math and science constantly face prejudice. Many times women have to work extra hard to prove they are capable. This is especially true in male dominated occupations. The frailty myth associates women as biological inferiors both mentally and physically. Challenging these anti-woman convictions will take time and saying that they are either gone or do not exist is simply dishonest. Women are different not inferiors. As it has been seen there are many female athletes who could meet the physical standards.

          The fixation on strength has forgotten the important aspects of combat. One could theoretically pass the fitness test, yet not be  a great soldier. If wars were conducted by doing obstacle courses, the world would be a better place. A soldier must be brave, calm, have the ability to adjust to unpredictable situations, and finish their mission. Being skilled with your weapons is also another essential aspect of combat. Hand to hand combat is used when you are either disarmed or weapons are simply not available. Wars are not won by physical strength. Technology and tactics have been the major factor in outcomes. Tanks, aircraft, submarines, drones, and guns make physical strength almost insignificant. Depending  on the military occupational specialty a level of fitness and health is required to keep up with a fast paced environment.

 It is clear who is stronger, but having the gun negates that advantage in a combat situation.

Technology has reduced some of the burdens. There are situations that still require hand to hand combat skill and fitness. Another argument against women in combat is that if they are disarmed they are completely helpless. If they are given the same combat instruction, then this will not be an issue. Martial arts like judo allow a smaller person to overcome a larger person. There is a belief that women cannot defend themselves or fight. If one examines the athletes of mixed martial arts this belief is proven false. The military is finally understanding the need to given women the proper instruction. West Point now requires women to take boxing as part of their regular courses. This teaches cadets how to throw effective punches and react to sudden attacks. Women face women in matches with some controlled sparring with male cadets.

There are also fitness double standards that must be changed to make sure women combat soldiers are up to the proper skill level. The decision to replace the flexed arm hang was an excellent one.  If there is a disparity in upper body strength women must focus on developing it. Pull-ups, push-ups, bench pressing and bicep curl exercises should be part of the fitness regimen. This will help in hand to hand combat. A woman can effectively fight if taught the right techniques.

         The other dimension mentioned in the text is about the military conscription. women still are at the moment exempt from the draft. Obviously, this is sex discrimination that is directed at men. If there are women who are capable of meeting demands of combat why would they be exempt from the selective service?There are very few feminists proposing to change this, but they are more than vocal in other areas. The fact is there is a faction of third wave feminists who may preach equality, but they want really want some advantages. When equal treatment becomes inconvenient there is a desire for a special adjustment for accommodation. If there is going to be genuine equality then women would have to register for the selective service. If advocates oppose this, then they clearly do not believe in equal treatment.

womensoldierweb  The dated belief that men should be happy to go off and die in war must be discarded. If it is the so called duty to defend the nation then it should be the responsibility of every citizen. Also, the government has the responsibility to avoid conflicts as much as possible with nations of the world. For too long the United States has used military intervention as a form of foreign policy causing instability throughout the globe. War should be the last resort in all cases. There is no force strong enough to invade or conquer the US even though pro-nation building and pro-war  factions make this claim. The problem with putting women in the selective services comes down to numbers. Given the physiological differences every woman may not be able to get past the physical fitness training. This explains why there are still more men in physically demanding occupations. There are sociological and environment based explanations ( discrimination,  sexual  harassment, and limited efforts for recruitment).  Women may continue to to the minority in such positions given the differences in anatomy, physiology, and endocrinology.

 If the average woman was built like this, their numbers in the physically demanding occupations may be higher. However, social barriers would still keep numbers low. 

However, all men may not be eligible for draft. Health conditions, physical fitness levels, and educational attainment are factors in which determine who makes a quality soldier.The American population does not get enough exercise for optimum health. Heart disease and obesity are becoming a public health crisis which also cuts out large portions of the population from military service. Education is also important, because the military requires that one has at minimum a high school diploma. If a person does not get a quality  public education or degree of higher learning, it will be difficult to function in a world that requires critical thinking skills and to mastery of technology. Reading, writing, science, mathematics, and a strong understanding of geography are necessities. So, if women have to register for the selective service their numbers may be comparatively small. Although weight training can increase a woman’s strength, it is clear women with mesomorphic body types would have an easier time meeting physical requirements. That means that there may still be positions that women are absent from.

The woman here is in great physical condition, but can still be susceptible to injury 

The possibility of higher injury rates could also be a problem. These can be resolved through better designed training regimens. Although women’s looser joints can make them more vulnerable to ACL tears. Stress fractures and scoliosis from too much armor and gear has effected many soldiers health after service. Besides differences in anatomy and physiology  there is also the problem of a particular mindset. Women either believe doing something physical is a man’s job ( lifting boxes or luggage , shoveling snow, or even opening jars for them). The assumption is manual labor is either beneath them or improper for a woman to do. Then there is an internalized belief that women just are not physically capable of doing anything that requires strength or endurance.As the female athlete has shown this is a falsehood. So, if  the conscription of women is to happen it should be asked what is the the extent to which you can physically train the female body to handle combat demands.

          The capabilities of the female athlete are extensive, but what are they for the average woman? Seeing as the natural strength ( strength levels prior to training)  are lower it would seem more of an arduous task. Women may not be able to acquire as high a level of total muscle mass due to lower testosterone production. However, this depends on genetics, diet, and training regimen. A woman of ectomorphic body type would find it more challenging to gain strength than a woman of mesmophoric  structure. Strength can still be acquired if an exercise regimen is followed consistently. It is possible for the average woman to gain at least 40% muscular strength from several months of training. Knowing this women may need extra training to build up the upper body region. Women have less total muscle fibers in this region compared to the lower body.

Mesomorphs do not have difficulty gaining muscle and strength when training. 

women do not have stronger legs than men, they are just closer in strength levels in the lower body. Women may require more time for  the physical aspects of training and may need a high physical fitness level prior to entry. Certain women just like certain men will have more potential and strengths than others. From a physical performance perspective women with endomorphic  and ectomorphic body types are at a physical disadvantage. This does not mean they cannot be trained or get into better shape. It merely means more effort will be required. Gaining strength require for a combat position is in reach, however cardiovascular endurance poses a challenge.

lifterThe pelvic structure of a woman will not change when women do endurance training. Wider hips do not allow for an advantage in speed. When examined from the aspects of the  heart and circulatory  system. Women who follow a training system designed for males may not achieve the same results in terms ventricular hypertrophy or increased Vo2 max. Aerobic capacity is only aspect of running performance. Lactic threshold and running economy  is pivotal . The conclusion of this is that women must have a running program tailored to them specifically. Solutions could range from taking branched chained amino acids, protein consumption,  consumption of carbohydrates during exercise, and using supplements prior to periods. This can help increase running performance in women. The average woman’s physiological capacity would be lower, which means there may still be a limited number of women in combat positions. There could be a possibility that women will still be absent from numerous military occupational specialties.  This further complicates drafting women. All jobs are not combat and others do not require as much physically demanding work. The fact is women are part of the US military and have seen combat even though they have not formally been given combat jobs.

        The United States has made strategic errors in waging endless wars. The result has become long guerrilla resistance conflicts in both Iraq, Afghanistan,  and Syria. Women who are a part of the US military have engaged in combat, because there no longer is a frontline. Terrorist groups and armed insurgencies do not recognize a frontline.

Continuing to ban women from combat would be impractical given the deteriorating military situation. Simply stopping qualified soldiers who could fight would be harmful. It would not be possible for commanders to stop women who are in these lands from fighting when under attack. The removal of the ban in 2013 was a strategic one to strengthen the US military. While the US can benefit from extra numbers, this will ultimately not help it in its military objectives. Nation building projects and regime change have tarnish the American image globally. The only solution to these conflicts is either negotiation or complete withdraw. Otherwise, another Vietnam scenario could emerge. Not realizing this could have a dramatic impact on the US and world as a whole.

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Statistics from 2014 of the total women in uniform.

Destabilization and tumult from warfare threatens civilization. Disorder, violence, and hate is rapidly spreading across the globe, which is why peace should be a priority. War should be a last resort only when security is deliberately threatened. Humanitarian intervention has resulted in deaths in Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Mali. The modern era has seen more women involved in warfare serving the US military. Since 2001 women have been growing in numbers in the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marines. It is not realistic to reimpose a ban due to personal prejudices or unfounded trepidation in regards to women in combat.

       Physically demanding jobs and manual labor can cause strain on the body. Men who are combat positions do suffer injuries, but women have higher levels of musculoskeletal injuries. The reason is that the male body has more skeletal and muscle mass. Over weight gear puts extra strain on soldiers. There are efforts to reduce the amount of gear soldiers have to transport, which hinders both mobility and reduces ergonomic efficiency. Carrying over 100 pounds of gear can cause health problems and medical discharges. Muscle strain which is damage to muscle fiber could occur from over stretching the muscles. More severe cases involve ruptured muscle fibers. This can be avoided by doing simple warm ups before exercise or strenuous activity. It is still unknown how long term physical stress in combat positions will effect the female body. If predictions were to be made it would appear that majority of women would have difficulty progressing far. Another scenario is that a significant portion of women do well , but the US military has not made the proper human resources adjustments for a fully sex integrated  combat unit. Besides the physical threats to health, there are mental ones. Soldiers who have seen combat tend to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Without a social safety net veterans find themselves in poor health or in poverty. At extremes homelessness becomes a problem for many US military veterans.

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For soldiers with families this becomes more complicated. If both parents are overseas and suffer health issues both mental or physical their children will be in a vulnerable position. The US government has not done enough to address the health problems of veterans and the strain on US military families. Women are at a disadvantage, because they are many times ignored by the Department of Veterans Affairs system. The department needs to be restructured to address corruption, long medical appointment waiting times, and inadequate medical care. Women who are in physically demanding jobs have to work twice as hard due to biological differences. If health considerations are taken into account serious injuries can be avoided.

         If women can prove themselves capable it is assumed they will have full acceptance in combat roles. This is a false notion. The harsh reality is that even if women show they are capable misogynistic  convictions are still present. Just like the racist and anti-immigrant beliefs, hate is encoded in the DNA of the United States. The nation was founded by invasion and the theft of Native American land, then empowered economically by the enslavement of Africans. It will be many centuries before this shameful legacy ameliorated. Most men will never accept women as combat soldiers no matter how capable they are. Most white Americans will never accept African Americans or  any person of color as equal members of society. This hate continues in a covert fashion. The military like other institutions has a tradition of giving privileges specifically to white male Christians. The US military like other institutions favors white males. Women like other discriminated groups will have to organize to counter resistance to their presence. The author fails to realize how women are at a disadvantage in the US military. Sexual harassment and sex crimes are rampant. Most cases go unpunished. Coercion and threat to possible promotions are the reasons  why women do not report crimes. Fear also is another factor, which is used to control behavior. It is too late to stop women from entering combat positions, but that does not stop others from undermining its progress. The solutions to this problem require women to be in high ranking positions, so that there can be policy changes. Women should not seek to just be in subordinate job positions, but rise up to leadership roles. That should be the ultimate long term goal in  combat integration.

       Male Matters despite its claim of wanting true equality, presents a false image. Men rights is nothing more than a male version of third wave feminism that is nostalgic for the era before second wave feminism. The argument presented here is why should men have to do something dangerous that women do not? This question is legitimate although, when  proposed by men’s rights advocates it is asked for the wrong reason. The argument is constructed in the context of there being “female privilege.” Relevant to the discussion of the draft women would have some benefit, because it is men only who are required to register for the selective service. Congress has not tackled this issue and appears as if they will not be doing so soon. If feminists truly believed in equality then they would challenge the current selective service system. Women should register for it if  everything is to be considered fair. While far-right critics claim this is a social engineering experiment created by feminists, they have not been involved in combat integration. The major feminist organizations have done little to help women in the military or contribute to the process of full integration. The voices remain silent. This faction of third wave feminists really do not support equality, but rather special privileges for a woman who use the rhetoric of social justice. Mostly white women of the upper middle class, their desire is to have a white supremacist system work better for them even though their sex would be a hindrance in the societal hierarchy. They advance themselves at the expense of non-white women and the poor. Third wave feminism has morphed into this and men’s rights is merely the reactionary response to it. What should be happening is a sex equality movement that discards both these ideologies. The first step could be to use a institution like the military to open combat  jobs to women. One of the best methods to tackle the wage gap between the sexes is to have women enter male dominated occupational fields. Women have entered law enforcement, professional sports,  firefighting, construction, but the military continues to be the last bastion of what were considered “men’s jobs.” Once this dated concept is challenged only then will there be equality in the workplace. Like it or not women will play major roles in the military in the future.

Should “Men Are Stronger” Bar Women From Combat Roles? From Male Matters USA

Geraldo Show (1990): “Women’s Bodybuilding Sex, Sweat, Stigma, and Steroids”

Geraldo Rivera a talk show host, attorney, and reporter  at one time had a talk show, which became popular and gave rise to what is known as trash TV. Before Jerry Springer, Geraldo pioneered this format having stage brawls, celebrity gossip,  and general low brow misconduct. This program was clearly not a place of debate or intellectual discussion. There were attempts to reformat the program to such a platform in later seasons, but it was not a success. Viewers preferred outrageous chaos , rather than civil discussion.   Occasionally, there were episodes that at least tried to be informative or stimulating. What is fascinating is that  Geraldo  had a program featuring women bodybuilders and asked athletes about their experiences and the inner workings of the sport. The  episode was aired in 1990. The reason that the episode is of particular interest is that it explores the relationship between the body and gender. At the time when this aired, female bodybuilding was only close to a decade old and many people could not image women of such  with physiques. The audience reactions reveal much. Having athletes come and explain what they do helps break down prejudices or negative preconceived nations.

          The first show that aired in 1990 opens up with examples of changing standards of beauty. Geraldo says “over the past centuries we have changed the image of feminine beauty.” He then delineates the paradigms : the softer more plump body, the thinner model appearance,  and by the 1980s a more toned and firmer body. Geraldo then poses this question: “having we gone one step further than that?” The answer obviously is yes and the proof is the rise of the female bodybuilder, specifically in a more broad sense muscular woman. The idea of the weaker sex or biological inferior becomes challenged and alters particular power dichotomies. Strong man and weak woman can no longer be the  power order if there are other models that rival that concept.

Geraldo then proceeds to introduce the women who were at the top of the sport in the 1990s : Dianna Dennis, Lenda Murray, Janet Tech, Erika Andersch, and Laura Creavalle. This seems revolutionary although many people do not realize it. Never before in human history did women achieve strength and an image like this before. Muscular women have existed before this sport, but they were never given an outlet for their talents. The reason the muscular woman induces shock is that it overturns certain notions of the female body. The female body is either associated with being delicate or soft. Here the athletes on stage formed a new image of woman. When looking at the backgrounds of these athletes, they engaged in what is considered traditional feminine activities. Lenda Murray was a cheerleader, Janet Tech was a ballet dancer, and Dianna Dennis is a mother ( her son is asked a question by Geraldo). This shows that many people have a narrow idea about what a woman a is and what she can be. Clearly, women are more physically capable  than previously thought. The female body and appearance is constantly scrutinized. Female bodybuilders face this more so, because the deviate from the mass media defined image of beauty. Geraldo asks  question ” do ever sacrifice breasts?”  which exposes  a level of subtle sexism in regards to women’s bodies. Creavalle answers the question in a civil manner, joking ” I never had large boobs anyway.” It should be understood that breasts do not disappear with weight training. Women are subject to criticism more so about their appearance than men, due to negative views of women. To some people, women’s only value is their level of sexual attractiveness. This level of dehumanization goes back to a time when women were considered property. Misogyny dictated codes of behavior and conduct for women including the concept of femininity itself.

            The second half of the program shows the athletes dressed in regular attire. The discussion then goes to femininity and gender relations. Men’s reactions to muscular women’s bodies becomes a focal point. These reactions are not always negative. Some could be neutral, indifferent, or enthusiastic. One reaction is one of curiosity. If a man never has seen a woman this powerful before, their is a level of  wonder. It is something that they may not be used to. It is not everyday that a man runs into a woman just as strong or stronger than himself.

There is a reaction that has to do with intimidation. Geraldo poses the questioned to Carla Dunlap “Are men ever intimidated by your physique ?” Carla Dunlap explains this feeling of intimidation as insecurity among particular men. They may react to women who are assertive, intelligent, or confident  in the same manner. This also Carla says could be related to self-esteem, because they may be intimidated by other men they perceive as more attractive or successful. Then the fear is that some how these women would physically harm men. There is the idea that women like this would have a more belligerent attitude to men and as some put it “smack them up if they get out of line.” The strong woman is not violent, nor seeks violence against men. There is a habit of an oppressor group making claims the oppressed want vengeance for past grievances. Some how there are men who are intimidated by strong women have reasoned are out to conspire against men in some way.

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     These false ideas and stereotypes are prevalent. This fear is more than just lack of knowledge, it could be based on sexist prejudice. Those of a more traditionalist perspective believe there a some activities that women should not attempt or be a part of. There is a misconception that physical strength is connected to toughness which is a male based gender stereotype.  The assumption based on this stereotype is that these women are less feminine, because they are strong. The questions in the second segment explore the biological and cultural dimensions of femininity. Questions asked of women then delved into childbirth and the effect of the menstrual cycle. These types of questions about child bearing potential would never be asked of male athletes. Medical research has proven that women who engage in physical activity will not harm their chances of childbirth. Amenorrhea can cause not solely by extremely low body fat levels, but by low calorie intake. The female body has been seen in terms of physical limitations and the fact that women give birth was a excuse to exclude them from various activities.  The natural feminine state in the traditionalist view was to be a baby maker. Dated concepts have been overturned, yet still persist. Women who are in the sport also to much surprise are still pressured by societal standards of beauty. The topic of eating disorders and breast implants are mentioned. Some women go to extreme lengths to achieve a particular look that could be harmful. It could be  the reverse of  a woman attempting to create a unhealthy slender body weight to resemble a model. The pressure to get breast implants also reveals another double standard that women face in terms of body appearance. The women look different on stage compared to off season.  Many times it would be hard to tell they have such physiques when fully clothed. Women who are sports have to  face this double standard in terms of acceptable feminine behavior and appearance.

           When discussing sports the topic of steroids inevitably will be mentioned. Steroids by this time where a schedule III banned substances in the United States. Laura Creavalle explains that drugs do not create  a great athlete.  Genetics, training, and nutrition are major factors to aspects of athletic performance potential. Use is not only in bodybuilding, but in track and field, baseball, football, weightlifting, wrestling, and various sports . The question of fairness is raised, however would this not be fair to a person who does not have the genetic advantage to excel? The reason this bothers some people is because it is moving humanity further to a point of transhumanism. This means humanity will be able to alter nature and biology so much through genetic engineering, biomedical science, and technology  that it will radical redefine what is human. There are numerous types of performance enhancing drugs and it is clear they are going to become more sophisticated. This debate does not have a simple answer, but one part is certain. The sports world does not need a war on drugs. The show was not afraid to mention this controversial topic.

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Sports organizations have the right to ban whatever substance they want to. However, individuals have to right and freedom to put into bodies whatever substances they decide to. Prohibition did not work with alcohol and the War on Drugs has caused major political and social damage to American society. Women are faced with a different dilemma in use. Harsh criticism and gender bias  are present for women. When people criticize muscular women, steroids are used as a justification for vituperation. It has been shown that more men use steroids than women, but women are stigmatized more so for use. The idea is that testosterone is a natural male hormone ( even though women produce it in small amounts)  and women taking the synthetic derivative violates nature . This idea has problems not only because of its gender bias, but inaccuracies. What we consider natural can be ever changing due to biology and environment. Humanity has the ability to change and alter themselves physically and mentally. The argument at that point becomes irrelevant. There are objections to use in women solely based on appearance. Women who either abused or have engaged in long term use may suffer from virilization. This shows that women are only valued for their looks, rather than genuine concerns about health. There are side effects, which could result in illness later in life, but the issue focuses more on image.   A combination of sexism and stigma make it difficult for women entering the world female bodybuilding.

         There has been an evolution in how women perceive their bodies. The athletes on the program have defined what is beautiful on their own terms rather than through a male dictation. It is a image that is both powerful and majestic, but does not lack a womanly charm. The sport continues to develop in multiple categories. Lydia Cheng  bodybuilder and judge stated on the program that the sport does change and that judges do not look for the same image every year. Since 1990,  the sport has advanced into different categories. There is fitness, figure, physique, and bodybuilding. Detractors say that bodybuilding for women is dead, but that may be the case. This is an evolution in aesthetics and the physical capabilities of the female body. Carol Ann Weber was asked the question in which direction the sport would go. Her response proved to be ahead of its time. The sport could either face challenges, dissipate, or go in a completely different direction. It seems all three of these events have happened. yet, the evolution is still not complete.

Women who engage in this activity also report have a new psychological sense of self. They feel more confident and secure about their own safety. Knowing that they are strong gives a new feeling of independence and self-reliance. Besides the transformation in both mid and body there has been a cultural impact. While not entirely accepted, muscular and athletic women have a presence in media. Crossfit and a larger arena such as the Olympics show to the public the public this new form of women’s physiques. The program seems to show the audience has a positive response to what these athletes do. However, there were audience members with an opposing view. Their ideas about femininity is that women should have a level of softness, yet they did not hesitate to say they respected their efforts and diligence. These comments of praise could be disingenuous, but they say so only to mask their beliefs in strict gender roles. The biggest irony it seems was that it was women who said they did not care for the muscular look. The positive aspect it seems that more of the audience approved than opposed. A sign of some progress at minimum in small steps. It is uncertain how many people either had their minds changed after seeing this.  An important topic left out the show was the fact that not only do these athletes find this new form of body attractive, but there are growing numbers of men who like the appearance of female muscle. The rise of the internet has only increased those numbers and it is uncertain how many male admirers there are.  This episode of Geraldo  was one of the rare cases in which it educated an audience about  a sport that women only recently got into.

Geraldo Show (1990): “Women’s Bodybuilding Sex, Sweat, Stigma, and Steroids”

William Moulton Marston : The Man Behind Wonder Woman

With the release of the Wonder Woman film in 2017, the superhero joins other DC characters that have become s staple in popular culture. Wonder Woman has appeared in television, comics, cartoons, and advertisements. The origins of the character reveal an interesting history and a more eccentric individual who created the character. William Moulton Marston (1893-1947) was a psychologist, inventor, and comic book writer  who conceived the idea of Wonder Woman . Comic books may seem like puerile entertainment to some, but they do have adventurous stories and impressive art. The stories they tell either have social commentary or a wider message. Marston’s creation was made specifically to promote  feminist ideas and  gender equality. Marston was a supporter of the suffragist movement and women’s rights. He had unconventional views about gender relations and lived a life that was rather scandalous at the time. William Marston lived in a menage a trois  with his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byne. These two women were inspirations to the creation of Wonder Woman and also gave some of their input into the character.  William Marston could be described as many things: a visionary, fetishist, and a possible charlatan. However, these descriptions do not accurately capture a more complex figure. The DC comic book character he created was and continues to be more than just a cartoon character.

          William Moulton Marston did have a feminist vision of society. His thinking was to say the least different from the average man in terms of gender relations in the 20th century. Marston quote reveals much about his feminism when he stated “not even girls want to be girls as long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power.” Martson believed that women would one day acquire their rights and go on to lead the world to a new era of peace. He did not think this would happen in his lifetime, but thousands of years. The early comics do possess suffragist imagery. The cartoons of Annie Lucasta Rogers featured women in chains. During the 1910s  her cartoons appeared in various news papers devoted to the women’s suffrage movement.  The constant theme of chained woman in her cartoons was to demonstrate women’s lack of freedom in society. Martson continued that imagery in the Wonder Woman comics in the 1940s.

  When Wonder Woman was in a predicament her adversaries in most stories would tie her up. This was not just a simple trope, but had a deeper meaning. Either through her strength or wit Wonder Woman would escape captivity and defeat her nemesis. Her triumph was a metaphor for women’s struggle for equal justice and the elimination of the oppression of women. This message may not be as obvious to a reader who was just exposed to Wonder Woman comics. To the creators it was subtle when inserted into stories giving small psychological suggestions  to devoted readers of the comic.

RogersPeters  Marston was progressive in the sense he was more accepting of different sexual orientations, sexual fetishes, sadomasochism,  and transvestism. His book the Emotions of Normal people claims these elements of sexuality  and  fetishism are not abnormal. These are characteristics unique to individuals. This was written before the sexual revolution in which many of the conservative mores and practices were challenged. Moulton thought such characteristics were not just normal, but were inherited through the nervous system. This can be debated, considering environment also influences an individuals existence. Olive Byne and Elizabeth Holloway contributed to this book with research and writing. Although it was ignored and never got Marston the academic respect he desired, it does provide further insight into his thinking. Marston believed that some required emotional reeducation to accept the parts of themselves that were considered “abnormal” but were in reality normal. Women’s desire to be independent, free, or strong was not abnormal even though society condemns such attributes in women. Only when people change there emotional state in Marston’s  view would society radically change. William Moulton Marston was certain that one day women would rule the world. Matriarchy he stated would be a possibility in the distant future.

         Marston gave was convinced in his own words ” The next hundred years will see the beginning of an American matriarchy- a nation of amazons in the psychological rather than physical sense.” His predictions got even more bizarre saying “in 500 years, there will be a serious sex battle and 1,000 years women will definitely rule this country. “Marston’s predictions seem exaggerated, although may be he was talking more so about the possibilities of the rising second wave and third  wave feminist movements. Women have become more powerful compared to women of the past. The nation almost had a female president sooner than what Marston predicted in 2016.

2A3BBD2B00000578-0-image-a-40_1436042140248    The idea that their are amazons in the psychological sense, rather than physical is interesting. Men did not dominate women due to their greater physical strength. The unequal access to property, education, income disparity,  and legal protection ensured women’s subordination to men. A woman could be physical powerful, but if she has no legal. economic, and political power she could still be vulnerable to an oppressive social system. If Marston was alive today, he could be possibly shocked by the fact women in sports have in a radically different manner changed perceptions about femininity and what it means to be a woman. The female athlete has culturally become a Wonder Woman straight out of a comic book. When Martson created Wonder Woman he wanted a character that presented both beauty and strength. Strength specifically physical strength was considered a male only attribute, is no longer incompatible with beauty or womanliness. Women have never to this extent in human history have developed themselves physically. Women are beginning to define what is beautiful to them, rather than have the concept dictated to them.

Title IX has allowed for the rise of many women athletes. With modern media such as the internet and television the public is getting exposure to to these women with impressive physiques.  It seems there is a level of acceptance for the modern day amazon. These women however do not have the desire to establish a matriarchy or dominate men. Unlike Wonder Woman, they do not battle super villains or go on adventures. William Mouton Martson’s  prediction of matriarchy is clearly wrong. He was right in the regard that the sexes will have more equality in the future. Assuming there is not a collapse in civilization, progress can be achieved. Yet, there is always the threat or reactionary movements or political and ideological  extremism. These threats can happen in both democratic and authoritarian political systems. Martson’s battle of the sexes is unlikely to happen seeing as men and women need each other. It is also erroneous to assume that women want revenge for past abuses. Ever since, Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 election more women have become politically active in the United States and are seeking to run for office. William Marston ‘s prediction of waiting 1,000 years  for more female leadership  could come sooner than one thinks. Various nations have in the past and present have had female leaders. The US lags behind in this regard. William Marston  took the position of cultural feminism of the 19th century, which regard women as more peace loving and that female virtues would lead to a less turbulent society. They emphasized that women’s difference made them morally upright . The problem with this argument was that it promoted gender stereotypes and stated women’s superiority. There is no “superior sex” and women are not all peace loving and nurturing individuals. There are instances in which women participated in war or contributed to their conduct. It is a myth that the world would be more peaceful if women were in control. The ethnic, national, and cultural hatreds are too powerful. Marston’s  theories of the future were not accurate, but it is obvious that he was a firm believer in  progressive era movements. This included not only the suffrage movement, but the birth control movement. When Emmeline Pankurst  was banned from speaking at Harvard University in 1911 for the Harvard Men’s  League for Women’s Suffrage, this had an impact on Marston. The Harvard freshman became more staunch in his support for women’s rights in the face of this act of censorship. When Martson entered the comics world he had already acquire a vast amount of knowledge about the women’s movement and had a Ph.D  in psychology. This allowed him to create not just a cartoon character, but  an icon and symbol for women’s equality.

           When Maxwell Charles Gains got into contact with Marston, comics were facing criticism. The father of the modern comic book  realized that this new industry was facing a public relations problem. Critics claimed comics were an awful influence on children and were too violent. Marston thought that comics were enriching to children. The issue as William Moulton Marston saw it was that there were too many male superheroes promoting “blood curdling masculinity.” Marston realized that a female superhero would stand out as something unique and also promote his beliefs. If young girls saw a strong woman, they would have the desire to become strong independent women in adulthood. The intent was to use this entertainment medium to influence young people’s ideas about women by means of psychology.

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Exposure to certain images in youth does influence attitudes and mores. Here by showing Wonder Woman as a positive figure, the strong woman will not hold a negative connotation. There was special attention given to character design. Wonder Woman’s design was based of the Esquire Varga Girls centerfolds of the 1940s. The women were not rail thin, but more athletic looking and fuller. Her costume even resembled the swim suits that the models would wear. This was later redesigned to have Wonder Woman wearing a skirt. H.G Peters was responsible for the development of the character design. The final version William Moulton Marston was satisfied with. Originally Marston wanted the character to be called Suprema, however Wonder Woman seemed to be a better fit.

Wonder Woman would then make her debut in All Star Comics # 8 in 1941. From that point on she would become of the most recognizable female superheroes. Wonder Woman was unique in the sense that she broke the prevalent trope of damsel in distress. The only roles in comics that women characters filled were either supporting cast , wives, mothers, or a person for the male hero to rescue. William Moulton Marston would continue to write Wonder Woman stories for  the comics until  his death in 1947. The last years of his life were devoted to his creation an embodiment and symbol of female empowerment.

       There is another side to Dr .Marston    involved sexual fetish. The most obvious fetish was bondage that appeared in Wonder Woman comics in the 1940s. Wonder Woman many times was either chained or her enemies were restrained. The breaking of the chains is also a political metaphor, yet it also has a sexual nature to it. There is a relation between dominance and submission in regards to women and men. Marston with his theory was that if men submitted to women’s loving authority, this would create harmony among the sexes. Domination and submission should be traded off between the two sexes. To William Moulton these are harmless sexual fantasies and as long as they do not depict extreme violence or degradation, they are healthy expressions. Submission was not an awful attribute in his view. Dominating and imposing attributes he thought were. There also another element that is ignored. There is an emphasis on Wonder Woman’s immense strength and athletic ability.

peter-wonder-woman-3     This was clearly based on certain sources. The amazons in Greek mythology were warrior women noted for their skill in battle. Drawing on that context this would be an obvious attribute to give the Wonder Woman character. The women that William Moulton Marston knew had athletic backgrounds. Elizabeth Holloway was a field hockey player in college. Olive Byne also played basketball, which is of important significance. Basketball was one the few sports women got access to on US college campuses in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Alice Marble who served as editor for the comics between 1942 and 1944 was a tennis champion. Besides the bondage theme, he wanted Wonder Woman’s athleticism and physical strength emphasized throughout the comic. Wonder Woman in the comics played baseball, ice hockey, tennis, and swims in some issues There was even one in which she established a chain of fitness clubs. These comics show that Marston had more than just a simple admiration for the female form. His fetish could have been cartolagnia  and  sthenolagnia.

This arousal from the demonstration of strength and display of muscles seems more apparent in Wonder Woman’s fights and general strength feats. Even other characters take notice of her physical abilities. The golden age version of  Wonder Woman only loses her strength when her wrists are chained by a man. The metaphor basically being accepting an oppressive system will never improve anything, because Wonder Woman only loses her power if the is done willingly according to Aphrodite’s law. There has been a segment of men who enjoy a powerful woman whether it is either mental or physical power. William Moulton Marston even explained that ” frankly Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman, who I believe who should rule  the world.”  Moulton’s new type of woman is one that is powerful mentally, physically, and also has a loving nature.

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The new woman has apparently arrived in some sense. There is a female presence in occupations that were mostly male dominated. Women are emerging  in the science and technology fields. This combined with areas associated with masculinity such as sports, politics,  and the physically demanding occupations means that there has been progress to a new archetype. The development is disjointed and there are disparities that still face women depending on which nation. The same prejudices and hatreds remain. Marston’s new woman has arrived. The new era of peace, however may never come. That theme may have come out the desire to see World War II end. Fascism was terrorizing the world and the idea of a peaceful future was something desirable. Mouton would be very impressed with the women of the modern world and specifically how certain women embody the Wonder Woman principles.

Some women even look more Wonder Woman than what Marston could have imagined. The strides that have been made in such a short period of time are impressive and there is much work that has to be done. Marston’s strong women were the wave of the future and his love for them presented itself through the comics he wrote for. The lasso of truth is not just a tool of Wonder Woman, it is a part of bondage imagery. Wonder Woman used it to make her enemies confess, simultaneously the image of dominatrix becomes apparent. Critics were quick to recognize this imagery.  These depictions were mild compared to a modern day standard. There were even complaints from the National Organization for Decent Literature  about Wonder Woman’s costume being too revealing . That Catholic organization added comics and specifically Wonder Woman to their banned list of books. Maxwell Gaines  tried to even get Marston to reduce  on the bondage imagery by 1943. Marston was never going to eliminate the bondage theme completely, so a solution was made by Dorthy Roubicek  to restrain Wonder Woman in different ways.She was the editor of Gaines and was able to placate member of the editorial board. The amazing element is that the early Wonder Woman comics combined feminism, sexual fetishism, psychology, action, and adventure into a truly unique comic.

       William Moulton Marston  also tended to be somewhat charlatan in certain ventures. His odd combination of careers demonstrated this dimension of his personality. Marston was part inventor developing one of the early polygraphs. The lie detector test Marston claimed was a great discovery in the detection of lies. He claimed it was the science of the detection of deception. Marston even went as far to publish a book called The Lie Detector in 1938. This was not an academic work, but was really attempting to sell an idea to the general public. There really  is not a scientific method of detecting lies. Marston argued this anyway with little evidence or research. This was more apparent with the publicity stunts Marston organized having press conferences and even erecting a booth at the 1939 World’s Fair. The problem with the polygraph is that it cannot repeat the same results. There is a possibility that a competent liar could pass the test with no problems. Marston claimed to be the master of detecting lies. It was apparent that his findings were fraudulent. The first time Marston entered in business it ended in fraud. He was an unsuccessful lawyer and failed to get his polygraph results as admissible evidence. Marston only worked for Universal Studios for one year in 1929 as a consultant before being terminated. The world of academia had pretty much by the 1930s rejected him. Demoted from chairmen of the psychology department to adjunct professor at American University few took an interest in his theories. William Marston made limited effort to explore new elements of psychology, instead focusing solely on his theories. The promotion of the polygraph may have been out of the need to create financial stability. This also explains why Wonder Woman carries a lasso of truth. It is her personal lie detector. There was a showman and conman element to Marston. However, the support for the women’s cause was genuine.

          William Moulton Marston was a fascinating figure. He was a mad who live with both his wife and mistress  and they provide input as wells as inspiration to the creation of Wonder Woman. He could not hold a job for long and was hoping someday his theories would get notoriety. The body of work he produced related to psychology appeared in academic journals or books for the general reading public. This is either forgotten today or merely part of an archive. Marston would not become a Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, B.F Skinner, or an Abraham Maslow. Ultimately he would be remembered for his contribution to the golden age of comics. Wonder Woman was the first female superhero to have her own comic. Her popularity rivals Batman and Superman’s. There is an enduring legacy and she will continue to part of DC’s star characters. Marston did make one prediction that was correct: women will no longer accept secondary status forever. The eccentric psychologist and writer would be proud of the real life superwomen changing the world everyday.

 Further Reading

   Pollitt, Katha. “Wonder Woman’s Kinky Feminist Roots.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 14 Oct. 2014. Web. 09 June 2017. <https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/11/wonder-womans-kinky-feminist-roots/380788/&gt;.

Lepore, Jill. The Secret History of Wonder Woman. New York : Vintage Books ,2015 .

William Moulton Marston : The Man Behind Wonder Woman

Women in Combat Video Milestones

The videos shown here are from 2017 showing women becoming the first infantry marines. There have been many detractors stating this will harm or even cause disorder in the military. The complains mostly come from the right-wing political establishment, which often is seen as contradictory. The Republican Party and its right-wing supporters claim to be pro-military, but hate women who want to serve in combat roles. The social conservatives mostly see women’s roles as being less than and not equal. Standards have not been lowered to accommodate women and no special treatment has been put in place. The only reason that someone would object to women getting combat jobs is because they support sexist discrimination. There is no reason a woman should be denied a military occupational specialty, if she meets all the physical and mental standards. The idea that women are physically inferior for jobs that require strength has to be challenged. Women are getting involved in physically demanding occupations such as firefighting, construction, and law enforcement. The military seems to be the next bastion.

The fact is women fighting in wars is nothing new. Women fought in the American Civil War disguised as men for both the Union and Confederacy. During World War II Soviet women flew bombing missions and served as snipers. Dahomey had an armed force in the 19th century known as the mino warriors, which consisted of all women. The ancient world had numerous women warriors in Scythia and fighters in the Iceni tribe of Britain. Although there are documented cases of warrior queens such as Zenobia and Nzingha there are still detractors who claim that women in combat will not work. These individuals are unaware that there is no longer a traditional frontline and that women have already seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, even before the removal of the ban in 2013. The removal of the ban was not a “social experiment of leftists” as the far-right claimed, but understanding the reality of the military and geopolitical situation. The US wants to expand the Army with more troops and meet target goals. It would make sense to seek qualified men and women to fill any vacant positions. The nature of warfare is now moving toward wars of proxy with an emphasis on air power.

Technology has in a way helped reduce the physical burdens of soldiers. However, this has not completely negated sexual dimorphism. Men on average have higher upper body strength which is critical to certain task. More muscle mass and higher aerobic capacity means that male fitness levels exceed women’s total physical fitness levels. Women are more susceptible to musculoskeletal injuries. This means women may remain a minority in combat occupations seeing as women do not have the advantage of higher natural strength. The only solution is to have women have a high physical fitness level before entry. This would prevent failures and injuries. Before entering these jobs women must have a training regimen  they do to prepare them for the physical demands. These few women that passed the tests show that it is possible for some women to do combat jobs.

Even though there are qualified women who will make it through, resentment will remain. The all male atmosphere will not be kind to women in particular. Issues of sexual assault and persistent racism in the US military continue to be persistent problems.  There are more battles to be fought than ones in foreign lands. Opponents still are attempting through legislation to reimpose the ban and some are wonder what Donald Trump might do. There claims that adding women to combat positions will degrade US fighting capacity. This is incorrect for several reasons. Wars are lost due to poor strategy. With no plans for victory and what happens after defeat of a belligerent failure is inevitable. Low quality leadership in government creates situations that can escalate to longer term conflicts. Flawed foreign policy or lack of a coherent one can result in such military defeats. Women will not degrade the US military; a policy focused on imperial ambitions and aggression will. The role of the US military is to protect the United States, not fight for corporate or neoconservative imperial geopolitical interests. People who decide to enlist should understand you are not fighting for freedom, democracy, or human rights. This could change with new leadership. Yet, the public must become educated about how US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are wars of aggression . Women should not seek to just be combat soldiers, but move up the ranks to positions of leadership. Only when we begin to see women fours star generals, then it can be said there is progress.

Women in Combat Video Milestones

Colette Nelson Interview from The Beheld : Beauty and What It Means

Beauty and What It Means

This is a blog written by Autumn Whitefield Madrano that seeks to understand the concept of beauty and what it means in a cultural context. She seeks to in her own words engage with these questions of beauty and how to an extent it dictates the lives of women. She seems to be influenced by  The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. That book has some analytical flaws and half truths. It would be too simple to dismiss this site as another third wave feminist promotion, but there is a difference. She interviews women from all walks of life and various professions. Comedians, sex workers, and in this case female bodybuilders. Colette Nelson was interviewed for the blog in 2011. What is special about this is that blog’s that tend to be third wave feminist ignore the muscular woman or athlete. Compared to other issues and struggles, it may be low priority. However, it does offer a radical paradigm shift in how women see their bodies and what the female body is capable of.  The interview exposes readers who may not familiar to the bodybuilding world to another image of beauty. Many claim that this type of body on a woman is not beautiful. This leads to the question what is beauty? Who defines it? If an alternative is found to current standards will that be just as oppressive as the current ones? The Colette Nelson interview explores these questions.

            The definition of beauty can be stated as ” the quality aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts mind or spirit.” This becomes ambiguous when questioned. The beauty concept and be highly subjective. It should be understood beauty had become a subject of philosophy notably in aesthetics. The modern world merely associates it with physical attractiveness of a person. These concepts date back to classical Greece and the Age of Reason. Physical attractiveness is a different  concept, but closely related. This varies from culture and time period. At one time in the West a fuller figure was more accepted. Around the 20th century a thinner look was made an ideal. Now it seems there is a small, yet growing fitness fad that wants present a stronger looking form for the female body. These models and paradigms change. Colette explains her sport as follows : “bodybuilding-at least women’s bodybuilding is another way of judging beauty.” She explains further that ” for those who attend and judge women’s bodybuilding contests, the muscular woman is beautiful.” Here were getting more of an idea of the definition. Beauty can be defined in multiple forms and in this case it is a muscular one. The reason this becomes an amazing paradigm shift is that it redefines the beauty model. The muscular body was thought to be something solely of the male domain. It was contrasted with either the soft or frail body of woman.

The strong woman breaks the mold of the rigid dichotomy. It is commonly believed that the pursuit of beauty to such a degree is either based in arrogance or vanity. Colette then states: “do you consider a woman who does make up hours in front of the mirror arrogant ?” Colette’s response was no in her argument. She then says “why should we give this label to a woman who works out hard in the gym and shows results on stage?” Colette then says both are seeking their version of perfection. The reason is based in sexism. Women are held to a different standard and it is normally designed to be restrictive. When examining these definitions and connotations of beauty it becomes more complicated when femininity becomes connected. Femininity’s definition has nothing to do with beauty or physical attractiveness. It can mean simply the qualities of womanhood. Colette explains that people see contradictions between muscles, femininity, and beauty. Beauty and femininity can have multiple meanings, so there would be limited contradiction based on subjective ideas. Muscles are part of the human body. These strong women have decided to develop it to the highest level attainable.

      Femininity does not equal beauty. The definition is “the qualities of being a woman.” yet what makes a woman a woman? Gender defines it in a cultural context that could vary. These attitudes change overtime. This however should not be confused with biological sex, which is the product of human evolution and sexual dimorphism. Societies that are extremely patriarchal or male dominated dictate femininity in rigid gender lines. This is designed to be restrictive and controlling of women. When examined from the context of sports it has been said that women active in them are not feminine. Such attitudes demonstrate sexism, but have been challenged. It is no long abnormal for a woman to display strength or athletic skills. There are still limits of acceptance in the cultural atmosphere. A woman can show some strength,but not too much that it challenges the notion men have sole monopoly on physical strength. Colette says in the interview “that she wants to prove that muscle can be feminine and beautiful.” It certainly can be one form of beauty; the problem is that people have a narrow perspective of other paradigms or alternatives. Some women who do not fit the majority model of beauty may even internalize negativity. Women who alter their bodies to further extremes through drug use receive ostracism from the public and even their  their own circles.  It seems that the concern over drug use is more about a woman’s appearance rather than their health. Virilization can occur depending on how long steroids were taken and specific dosage. Colette said she was never willing to go that route, because she did not want to sacrifice her femininity. That term is  ambiguous and can mean many things depending on which culture and community you reside in. To say women who have been effected by drug use are no longer women represents the narrow space in which they can navigate in society. Colette has fought back in a sense providing make-up and hairdressing services to competitors. Colette has helped with women who have had baldness or facial hair growth. Colette articulated “it was not her place to judge or criticize these women, but should they ask for it offer my help.” If only the public and bodybuilding community could have the same conviction, women would have an easier time. A woman who does not take the drug use route still has criticism directed at them for their appearance. Colette reveals that most women would rather have the body shape of Jillian Michaels.

It appears at times that Colette even struggles with the idea of a muscular woman. Colette expresses “as a female bodybuilder you walk a fine line.” She expounds further saying ” you love muscle, yet you love being a woman at the same time.” This is not a contradiction yet many in the fitness circles still think in this manner. What bothers more traditional thinkers is that it alters their views of femininity. Women who participate in this sport have formed a new definition of femininity. This new thought not only frightens some, but its the idea that women’s bodies can be powerful. Some men do not like the like the concept of a woman being physically stronger. This intrudes on the unwritten mores of gender norms in which masculine identity has a huge emphasis on strength and dominance. The more tolerant men may find women in shape appealing . This also has a limit among supporters. A woman can be strong just not “too” strong. One coded language phrase is that a woman who is too muscular “crossed the line.” This means that the woman is no longer acceptable in terms of body type and physical attractiveness. This subtle sexist attitude does not realize these athletes are doing this for themselves not the approval of others.  There has been at least a shift were society at least accepts a woman that is in shape or has some visible muscle. However, female bodybuilders are the most muscular which in the eyes of some men are threatening.

 The threat is that it makes them realize that strength is not their sole property. One reason women have been subjugated in particular societies is due to the fact they do not have control of their own bodies. This extends to the restriction on reproductive rights and how women should look. The deviation from conformity also is threatening, mainly on the basis it could depose the status quo. Whether women choose to build their bodies by natural or pharmaceutical means it is a radical statement about what a woman is. It seems to be so controversial some feminists even reject the muscular woman or ignore them in the discourse on gender relations. There should not be a contradiction between femininity and athletics. The only reason it would be is in a society that has a limited view of what women and be and accomplish.

     How Colette Nelson acquired her respect for the muscular form is interesting. She was 12 years old when she saw pictures of  Rachel Mclish and Cory Everson and loved how they looked. When Colette was growing up female bodybuilding was in its infancy. Never before had women developed their bodies to this level in human history. There were of course muscular women prior to the sport, but this was the first time they had a platform.

Colette admits she loved bigger and muscular bodies. Oddly she also reveals that she had dissatisfaction with her own figure. As ludicrous as this sounds she claims “she never considered herself looking good” in her youth. It is clear now she is a more confident person, yet it is still prevalent that young women age taught to have a level of insecurity about their appearance. Extreme cases may result in developing eating disorders, constant dieting, and psychological issues. Colette was able to avoid these problems through exercise. This had to be done for the sake of her health considering she has type 1 diabetes. The discovery she had this disease in her own words made her feel “weak, damaged and broken.”  Colette the took the suggestion of working out and found it was an empowering experience. She became more accepting of her body and loved being strong. Women who do this do say they develop a new sense of self and greater level security in their abilities in other areas of life. There are not only physical benefits from weightlifting;there are important psychological developments that contribute to well being.

    Being diagnosed with such an illness diet and exercise are pivotal for health. Colette was expose to an alternative of beauty and decided for herself that it should be replicated. This demonstrates that images and beliefs that children are exposed to can influence their attitudes later in life. It is possible if more people were exposed to women like this early in life it would not be such a shock to them in adulthood.

         Colette did not go into bodybuilding to get attention, but people are not used to seeing a muscular woman. Living in New York, there seems to be a more open atmosphere. She does get stares and Colette even admits she likes the attention. There were times in which men would say “I want to armwrestle you.” The majority of the comments Colette Nelson receives are positive. Though its still is not unheard of to get some form of vituperation or insult from the more closed minded. There are many reasons why people would respond to the muscular or athletic woman in a certain way. Curiosity and the desire to discover something new may cause stares or questions. Their may be an attraction to such a physique and seeing it up close causes excitement.

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Colette Nelson recognizes that we are not brought up how to respond to women with muscle. Seeing as women like this are rare, it does induce some form of wonder. There now is more exposure thanks to the internet and social media. This is another challenge women have to deal with. Either it is an in between off hash criticism or sexualization. The problem with the latter is that it reduces the women to sex objects, rather than focusing on their accomplishments. It is understandable why female bodybuilders who get frustrated being seen as fetish objects for schmoes. Like it or not a woman with a muscular frame will attract  attention both negative and positive.

       Another issue arises from the development of another beauty model. Does it just remove another one and then becomes standard? Some feminists argue that bodybuilding would not be empowering on the grounds it has women obsessively pursue a particular image. The flaw with this assertion is that these women are going against mainstream convention. The most empowering act is to make your own decisions as a free individual. Here, women decide to become as physically powerful as possible doubtless of what men think. Colette Nelson describes her bodybuilding pursuit as the struggle for perfection in terms of muscular aesthetics. Colette stated “she was always  classed a pretty, but wanted more.” This is not hubris.This is competitive drive and what some bodybuilders refer to as living sculpture. Flesh is the clay and the weights become your tools of molding art. The point is not to say all women should appear a certain way, but realize they are all different. There should be room for all forms of beauty.

         While it is true there is a level of societal pressure placed on women to look and behave a certain way, there are instances in which personal decisions add to the problem. The biggest problem with the the beauty myth theory is that women do certain things to themselves in others which perpetuate a vicious cycle. Third wave feminists fail to admit this unfortunate reality. Women continue to spend large amounts of money of make -up, hair care, and anti-aging products. There is no one forcing them to do such things, but the power of advertisement and capitalist free market enterprise is powerful . When examined from this point of view, the argument that women are being oppressed by a beauty myth seems to lack credibility. Then it is no secret that other women criticize women who look different. Many female bodybuilders have said they have gotten negative comments surprisingly from other women.

Naomi Wolf.
If Naomi Wolf is convinced that the beauty myth harms women so, why does she still wear make up and engage in other behaviors that perpetuate it ?

 At some point being pressured is not a legitimate excuse.  To a feminist looks should not be of importance, because liberation is the goal. There are many contradictions of what remains of a feminist movement. Another problem is that the feminist movement refuses in its mainstream discourse to be intersectional. White women middle class feminists ignore or either do not care about the struggle against racism, homophobia,  or class conflict.  The beauty myth concept often ignores that racist element in models of beauty which  dehumanize African and Asian people. Light skin is considered” beautiful “and African American women are told to straighten their hair. Asian women are pressured into getting eye lid surgery. These changes in appearance are done to mimic the appearance of whiteness. They are designed to instill self hate, while simultaneously presenting the oppressor as a “superior being.” The fact white middle class feminists do not challenge this is because the benefit from white supremacy and white privilege.  They just do not benefit from to the maximum extent due to their sex. Besides these complicated issues of racism, there is the issue of blaming every man for women’s condition. Radical feminists claim that all men contribute to women’s oppression. This is a false assertion, considering there are men who are members of oppressed groups. African American, Native American, South American, and Asian American men have suffered under the violence of white supremacy. To say every man oppresses every woman has not factual support. Hopefully, women can learn to reject societal pressure and think for themselves what beauty means to them.

          Since this blog post was written there has been some shift. It is a small one that emerged in fitness circles with the slogan “strong is the new skinny.” While women are not attempt to reach Colette’s level, the idea that some muscle does not seem like an anathema. The rise of crossfit did contribute with women presenting not only impressive physiques, but excellent performances. The responses are positive, with the occasional detractor.

 Again, there is another conundrum. This slogan and zeitgiest seems to be mostly confined to a small circle. Although it has gotten some mainstream exposure. the concept of a woman being “too much” still lingers. There are still backward and dated notions about what women should be and do. What also is frustrating is that the mainstream treats  the sudden acceptance ( to a limited degree) of the muscular woman as a recent phenomenon. There have been male fans who have been following female bodybuilding since its inception during the 1970s. The emergence of the internet expanded the audience and led to the growth of a subculture. Now there are millions of websites, blogs , and social media venues specifically targeting female muscle fans. While it seems unlikely at this point that the muscular body will be a model of beauty for the mainstream, women have decided to make it their own. When Colette Nelson was born Title IX was only two years old and female bodybuilding did not exist. These two events radically changed how women viewed themselves and their physical capabilities. The best action women can take is to define beauty on their own terms, rather than having it dictated to them.

Colette Nelson Interview from The Beheld : Beauty and What It Means

Happy Inauguration Day

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

Women’s March on Washington

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Happy Inauguration Day