Do Female Athletes Have To Train Harder To Reach a Particular Physical Fitness Level ?

It is common knowledge that the body of the female athlete differs biologically and physiologically from male athletes. This has implications on training and athletic performance. Women have certain obstacles they have to overcome to achieve a particular physical fitness level depending on which sport they play. Due to differences in body composition, cardiovascular fitness, endocrinology, and bone density women have to work harder in terms of training. The assumption is sports are too rigorous for the female body to withstand. This is not true scientifically. While performance levels are not as high as a male athlete on the same regimen, relative to their starting point women can achieve immense physical fitness gains. The common misconception is that women train more and show little from it. At the cellular level, there is no difference between male and female muscle and bone tissue. Histology has proven this, but myths about the physical limitations of women’s bodies still remain. The only difference is women will have to train harder to reach their peak physical fitness level.

       The reason it becomes harder for women to reach a physical fitness target for athletic performance is related to puberty. Prior to puberty body composition and skeletal structure is not that different for women. Estrogen and progesterone are produced at higher levels resulting in more body fat rather than muscle mass. Girls see their growth spurt at ages 10 to 11. Girls by age 18 have reached their full height, while boys finish growing by age 20. Women do not gain the strength spurt that comes from androgens in males. Total muscle mass and bone density are lower, which means this has implications for training. When the pelvis widens this also effects women’s running speed. As girls mature into women, they may find they cannot run as fast before. However, once the body has done maturing it is possible to reach higher running speeds. Female athletes have to beware of the triad, which can effect health if one over trains. Although it seems puberty increases men’s physical fitness peak, there are advantages to higher body fat levels. Fat can be useful in long distance swimming allowing for more bouncy . When the this stage of the human life cycle is over, the female body will be rounder and smaller.

       Muscular strength is essential to athletic performance. A novice female athlete will have to incorporate weight training into her regimen to gain strength. Women have lower levels of natural strength to begin with, which means it will take longer to reach a particular goal. One would assume that women do not respond to training stimuli, but that is far from the truth. Seeing as the muscular system is the same for women and men, muscle fibers will respond to exercise resulting in muscular hypertrophy. The difference is in extent and initial starting point. Women start off with less muscular strength, but relative to their size they can make significant progress. Men’s absolute strength is higher due to function of testosterone in the body and generally larger size. Women in particular will find it more difficult to build upper body strength rather than lower body strength. The reason is due to narrow shoulders, which means less area to house muscle on the upper body. Sports that require upper body strength, women have to train this area the hardest. Biceps, triceps, and the pectoralis major are areas the female athlete will find the most difficult to develop. Women have a harder time building muscle due to endocrinology. To achieve a certain level heavy lifting is required for a long period of time  and  supplements. Women with mesomorphic body types are at an advantage in building muscle. Women of endomorphic and ectomorphic body types will struggle. This does not mean they cannot increase their physical fitness level. Depending on the sport there are certain types of muscle fibers that are more helpful. Type II muscle fibers are great for sports that require explosive power. Weightlifting and rugby would be great examples. Sports like marathon running type I muscle fibers are more helpful in maintaining the necessary endurance.

There is not a perfect system of training, but there are different methods that can be used. Isotonic training requires both free weights or machines. Doing concentric and eccentric muscle contractions happen during this type of training. Isokentic training involves overloading muscle at various points during a range of motion. The resistance can change on the force exerted. During the process the speed of contraction is controlled. This can either be done at slow or rapid pace. Women’s muscles due respond to training. Overload can cause micro trauma in the muscle and make it rebuild stronger. Metabolism differs for women,but more muscle will burn fat. However, even the most muscular woman still retains a higher body fat percentage. Women can build muscle, it just will be more of a challenge. The training sessions have to be consistent.

When the muscles are not trained they atrophy. This means women who do training irregularly would lose more of their gains strength due to physiological differences. At minimum, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends two sessions a week including 12 repetitions for each exercise. The number of repetitions can increase for a particular exercise, but it is suggested not to work the same muscle group two days in a row. If there is no struggle in lifting, then the muscle is not being challenged. The muscle must be gradually worked up to higher load volumes to increase strength. Women’s muscular potential and training effort  thus depends on several factors. Genetic endowment,  training methods, substances used ( supplements or performance enhancing drugs), and total time in training sessions. Women’s muscles can become stronger, but amount and  body composition are a factor in total strength.

          Cardiovascular fitness is also another challenge in regards to training. Women have smaller hearts and lungs, which means they would have to work harder for total aerobic output. Oxygen is essential to aerobic energy. Muscle cells need oxygen for energy. The heart is a beating muscle and its strength contributes to the delivery oxygen to the muscle tissues. Cardiac output is the product of both heart rate and stroke volume. Stroke volume shows the amount of blood pumped per beat. Oxygen transport can be modified through aerobic conditioning. A training regimen must focus on frequency, duration, intensity, and mode of exercise.

 

There is a difference is VO2max in regards to women. The female athlete must take into consideration certain factors. Body composition effects the VO2max  due to the fact body fat is not active metabolically. This causes more energy to be spent in the total body reserve. Hemoglobin levels are 10% lower in women runners. This protein is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs directly to muscle tissue. This means training frequency and intensity is essential to improving aerobic performance. Women through proper training stimulus could at least a 25% increase in VO2max. Women athletes may have to train at least six times a week to see a difference in aerobic levels. Training more than recommended will not produce better results. This comes down to the level of intensity during training sessions. Intensity describes how hard an athlete exercises. Exercise duration should range from 15 to 60 minutes. It appears in races women may be better at pacing themselves in the longer term. This could men men and women fatigue differently. A study released in 2015 discovered something about women’s fatigue during marathon races. When examining marathon paces women slowed down 11.5 % compared to men’s 15.6 %. The men tended to take rapid pace, while women adjusted to a slower pace causing slower fatigue. The problem is most research on athletic performance has been done on men and there are still discoveries to be made to see how to best train the female athlete.

         Generally athletic training requires the enhancement of  the muscular, cardiovascular, the skeletal system,  and nervous system. Movement requires the nerve cells to produce impulses for locomotion. The body using all these organ systems is out putting energy. Power out put is critical when performing a physically demanding task. This strength and cardiovascular reserve women have to use more of. The difference in javelin throwing is 30% according to Olympic records. Yet the 100 meter sprint is only a 10% difference. This demonstrates in which areas women have to use more of their physical power reserve. The upper body including the shoulders and neck have less muscle. So women would have to work harder to provide the necessary force in that area of the body.

Running would require less of the force output, because this area is only effected by the shape of the pelvis. This also reduces running speed besides differences in VO2max. What this means is that women would have to train their upper body more for sports such as tennis, golf, cricket, boxing, or weightlifting. Maximum physical force is needed to complete the athletic task. Having a reserve of energy, prevents exhaustion and fatigue. Women would have to use more of their physical potential to complete an athletic task. A woman running a 100 metres in 11 seconds would have to use 100 percent of her potential. To hit a gold ball a female golfer would have to use 90% of her maximum force compared to 60% of a male golfer. Given the same task in terms of athletic objective, women must utilize more force.

This means women have to use more energy to produce close results of a male athlete. The gap in physical fitness levels narrows in athletic populations, however sports performance of women does not match exactly that of men. There can be overlap, but is very small given the total aggregate. The physiological, biological, and anatomical differences explain why the athletic performance gap may not be closed. Yet, it could be in the future narrowed if there are not social or cultural barriers preventing women from gaining access to training facilities. Further study is needed to fully explore how to increase women’s athletic performance.

         Training stimuli has a different effect on the male and female body. The response differs sue to the function of the endocrine system. Men produce more testosterone from the testes and the leydig cells present in that organ of the reproductive system. A female athlete can acquire muscle and strength, but will still maintain a higher body fat percentage. One should not assume that men’s muscles are better, its just more present relative to body composition.

This difference also explains the difference in sports injuries. Women athletes have higher injury rates in the knees and shoulder areas. Less muscle and skeletal mass in the upper body makes it more vulnerable. Anterior cruciate ligament tears are common in female athletes. Looser joints may enhance flexibility, but make them susceptible to tears. The more demanding the athletic competition and higher physical demand the higher likelihood of injury for women. That is why weight training and general strength conditioning should be part of any female athlete’s training program. It is essential that bone and muscle mass be built to help with sustaining various forces and impacts from athletic competition. Tendons and ligaments are also strengthened through a weight training regime. Besides these sex specific considerations, female athletes have the same challenges as their male counter parts such as exercise associated hyponatremia, career ending injuries, and keeping motivated under stress.

        Women athletes have to train harder to reach peak physical fitness. Sexual dimorphism effects the physiological function of the body of a woman, which has implications of athletic potential. This does not mean the female body is biologically inferior, but different. As seen by the impressive women who have competed in various sports both internationally and in their native nation-states their bodies are far from frail. While some myths still persist, science has proven them incorrect. For many years it was thought that women were too physically weak to handle the demands of athletic competition. Now it is known that women can benefit from exercise and sports competition. Relative to women’s initial physical fitness starting point, they have more to gain. Physical activity benefits women in terms of bone and circulatory system health. Women may have to work harder, but the rewards are still just a plentiful. When the peak physical fitness level is reached an athlete has to focus on developing skill. When beginning competition certain factors must be taken into consideration. Training regimens should not only be designed in regards to sex specific differences, but tailored to an individual’s unique physiology.

 

References

Gurthie, Sharon. Women and Sport: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Long Beach,

CA : Human Kinetics, 1994 .

Netto, Kevin. “Should Women Athletes Earn the Same as Men? The Science Says They Work as Hard.” The Conversation, The Conversation , 9 Aug. 2017, theconversation.com/should-women-athletes-earn-the-same-as-men-the-science-says-they-work-as-hard-57210.

Netto , Kevin. “Female Athletes Work Harder than Men, and Science Can Prove It.” SBS.com, The Conversation , 1 Aug. 2016, http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/zela/article/2016/08/01/female-athletes-work-harder-men-and-science-can-prove-it.

Do Female Athletes Have To Train Harder To Reach a Particular Physical Fitness Level ?

“In The Future, All Women Will Be Amazons” From The Smithsonian

In The Future Women Will Be Amazons

This article written Matt Novak explores an newspaper released published in 1950. The name of it was “How Experts Think We Will Live in the Year 2000 A.D.”  and it makes predictions based on thoughts from the editors. Futurology and future studies became popular in the 20th century due to rapid technological and sociological change. When the Associated Press ran this piece, two World Wars had happened, cars, airplanes were in use and computers were gradually developing into what they are today. Futurism and futurology more specifically attempts to postulate possible outcomes , perspectives  or futures. It these academic fields are more related to the social sciences. What this branch of study seeks to do is understand why the world changes and the probability of change. To the futurologist there is a pattern in past and present. This method however has its limits. The problem with prediction is that it almost becomes the equivalent to a person reading tarot cards. Some cases these prediction about human society can be completely wrong. There was a time in which humanity was excited about the future. There was an idea that technology, progress,  and the elimination of conflict would create societal utopia. Some believed that by the 21st century humanity would have mastered interstellar travel and cured most diseases. This has not happened. While humankind has reached the moon, there are still the some sociological problems plaguing the world. There has been some advancement in terms of human rights, public health, and the availability of education. War, poverty, and racism threaten human advancement. When discussing the state of women there is a fluctuation. Dorothy Roe one of the editors of the article, described what the typical woman would be like in the year 2000. Her prediction about women entering the world of business and government has occurred. Roe states that the average woman will be six feet tall, wear a size 11 shoe, and have muscles like a truck driver.” It is now the year 2017 and the average woman does not have the muscles of truck driver or is above six feet tall. There are obviously stronger and faster women athletes who fit this description. Her futurist prediction was partly off, yet not entirely wrong. Examining this futurist prediction from a sociological, anatomical, biological, and physiological method could have provided a more precise picture.

      Women have been in some instances in a  subordinate role through out human history. This however was not always the case. Before the rise of long lasting human civilization hunter gatherer societies in some respects were more equal. The rise of agriculture, land ownership, and property created the inequality that is present in modern society. Men had access to more property and land. Simultaneously, women were denied education, equal rights, or full employment. This did not mean women simply accepted oppression. Before feminism, there were female leaders, scientists, and mover’s of history. The tragic element was that historians did not think enough of women to include their narratives. Thankfully, women’s history seeks to reverse this mistake. Historical figures such as Hatshetpsut, Nzinga, Queen Elizabeth I, and Joan of Arc are notable women who had risen to prominence in male dominated societies.

The news piece states the amazon of the future “may even be president.” The way in which that though was expressed made it seem as if a female leader was a new concept. The futurist prediction only examines that world through an American perspective. Other countries have female leaders, but at that time it was far less. Now it has increased across the world. Some female leaders have left their mark on history for good or bad, but have shown they have mastered the art of politics. The United States has not yet elected a female president, despite its rhetoric of supporting women’s rights. Although Hillary Clinton lost, it encouraged more women to run for political office. Women have even been leaders in countries, which do not value them as citizens or protect their rights. Benazir Bhutto and Indira Gandhi  governed nations in which had an ultraconservative view of women’s roles. Benazir  Bhutto was the first female leader of a majority Muslim nation, while Indira Gandhi was the first female Prime Minister of India. The US still lags behind compared with the UK which has had two Prime Ministers to date which included Margaret Thatcher and currently Theresa May. The irony is that their policies are not in alignment with women’s rights or causes. Ellen Sirlef  of Liberia and Tsai Ing Wen of Taiwan represent a new female leader of the 21st century. They vary in political ideology, do not refer to themselves as feminists, and are tactical.

One cannot not say women are not capable politicians. Largely a culture of misogyny has kept women out of politics. There have been biological explanations for why men have domination of society. These theories normally just are designed to justify sexist convictions. History disproves this, because women have been involved in science, politics, warfare, and the building of civilization. The gender gap is still present even when women make progress. The world of business and finance is a place where women have reached a glass ceiling. Discrimination, unequal pay, and sexual harassment are the sociological reasons why women may not advance in certain fields. Even under these unfavorable conditions women are present in occupations that were thought to be male only. Law enforcement, firefighting, the military, construction,  and sports are physically demanding occupations. Due to differences in physiological and fitness capacity women would remain small in number in these occupations. However, despite such obstacles women have become part of these professions. While sociological factors are relevant, biological factors cannot be ignored entirely.

If a society has less technology a majority of jobs would be manual labor based. This could theoretically exclude many women, beside the obvious prejudice. The rise of the industrial revolution saw the replacement of brawn power with machine power. This should have benefited women the most, but cultural mores and gender roles prevented it. Women were regulated to the domestic sphere excluded from public life and participation in it. The working classes had women in menial occupations, with even less independence. Women’s status and roles have fluctuated through out history. There were periods in which they had some freedom and as time passed society degenerated. Ancient Egyptian civilization allowed women to own property and have some legal rights to it. They were not burdened by male guardianship and navigate freely, which Greek historian Herodotus called unnatural. As monotheistic religion emerged, women’s status was then lowered. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam demanded that women have a subordinate role in their religious texts and belief system. Women were regulated to property and not people. The rise of the suffrage movement in the 19th century evolved in the feminist movement of the 20th century. Women then gradually regained their status as free people, while facing  backlash to change. The sudden change in women’s status is part of a consistent pattern in human history. There may come a time in which women create large corporations and companies of their own. Society and civilization is never static it is always evolving.

        The article predicts that the average woman in the year 2000 will have proportions that are perfect though amazonian, because “science will have perfected a  balanced  ration of vitamins, minerals, and proteins that will produce the maximum bodily efficiency and a minimum of fat. ” Dorthy Roe then says “she will compete in all types of sports- probably compete with men athletes in football, baseball, wrestling  and prize fighting.” There is no denying that women in sports and athletics have become very strong, but competing with men on average seems to be inaccurate.

Women now compete in most sports, however there are no organized teams for baseball. Women have teams for softball, but there remains work to be done in some areas. Women do have organized football teams, yet they do not have the coverage comparative to the NFL. The strength sports thought to be out of women’s physiological capabilities, are active in. Mixed martial arts, bodybuilding, weightlifting, track and field are areas in which women are showing their talents. Women’s participation in sport has increased, yet mixed competition has not occurred. The reason is anatomical. There exists an athletic performance gap between the sexes due to anatomical factors. Men on average have broader shoulders and more upper body strength. Generally men grow taller than women. While the muscular and skeletal cells are the same their structure changes athletic outcomes. Denser bones and larger muscle fibers mean males would have more absolute strength. The smaller hearts and lungs of women mean that their aerobic capacity would be lower. The major organ systems that contribute to athletic performance include the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, the nervous system, endocrine system, and the musculoskeletal  system. Movement is not just dependent on muscle, but the impulses of the nervous system. The hormones produced by the endocrine system do influence athletic performance. Testosterone allows for greater muscular hypertrophy. Women with lighter bones and smaller muscle mass in comparison means they are more susceptible to injury the more intense the physical competition. There is a point in which absolute strength levels are equal. Prior to puberty boys and girls do not differ in physical strength. Girls may experience thier growth spurt earlier compared to boys. When gondadotropin releasing hormone is produced by the pituitary gland it then signals the production of lutienizing  and follicle producing hormone. Thus begins the production of sex hormones and growth hormone. Estrogen makes the female body retain more fat. Even the most muscular woman and the thinnest woman still retain a higher fat percentage compared to a man of a similar physical fitness level.

Tendons and ligaments are also contributors to body strength. Women’s tendons may not respond the same way to training, but their looser joints make them more flexible. This means women would dominate gymnastics and figure skating even if their was mixed competition. A wider pelvis and lower aerobic capacity means that women would struggle to keep up with male speeds. Contrary to popular belief women do not have stronger legs than men, but are relative closer in strength in that area. However, despite these differences, women can still acquire physical strength through training. Genetics do play a role giving women of a mesomorphic body type more of an advantage. The average woman has not morphed into an amazon quite yet, but there is a group that could fall into Roe’s description. While nutrition has improved, there is the problem of abundance. Foods high in sugar, fats, and high fructose corn syrup have created a problem with obesity and weight related diseases. Women are particularly effected more by this, considering it is more of a challenge for them to lose weight. The modern age has produce a very sedentary lifestyle, with limited physical activity. As a result heart disease, diabetes, and weight management issues have increased. This has not only happened in the United States, but is spreading across the globe. A low vegetable, fruit, and protein diet can result in poor health. It seems if this is not addressed the average woman and man will look similar to blobs. This can be reversed through diet, exercise, and honest nutrition labeling. Roe’s other prediction seems to have realized the effectiveness of supplements for athletes. Women can benefit as much as men from the use of vitamins and supplements. This has become a lucrative industry and has greatly benefited athletes and the general public. Recent investigations into the importance of vitamin D and it is now believed it is essential to muscular and skeletal function.

The women who are involved in athletic competition, not only have to focus on training but maintain a strict diet. This requires a good knowledge base of of nutrition. From the early 20th century to present exercise physiologists have figured out the role of nutrition in athletic performance. Understanding that women’s metabolism functions differently has led to the structuring of  more efficient training programs. Women still must eat to feed growing muscle,but is should be understood that more of that food could be metabolized into fat. That is why activity level should be adjusted to compensate for the endocrinological function. Even though women have proven to be great athletes, male performances levels are still higher. This extends beyond anatomy, but to biology.

          The difference in physical fitness capacity is rooted in biology, through human evolution. Sexual dimorphism is the reason why on average men are stronger. Most primates demonstrate a degree of sexual dimorphism. These are attributes that are secondary sex characteristics, which exclude the reproductive system. During the course of human evolution the size and strength difference may have been a natural selection tool. Male authralopiths most likely fought each other for access to mates. Larger size and strength would have given an edge to the hominin who wanted to spread his genes. The females did not have to fight, so therefore it was easier to just pick a victor in a struggle. While it is hard to test this theory, it can be seen in mating strategies of modern primates. Gorillas function with a male who heads a harem of females. When another gorilla challenges him he will fight to maintain dominance. So, over time the strength and size genes continued to be propagated in the primates species. A changes in environment can influence evolution. When our early ancestors got access to more protein based diets, endocranial  volume increased. Between six and two million years ago brain size increased. Around 17,000 years ago homo sapiens became the only survivor on the evolutionary tree. Evolution was not a linear progression, but a series of branches that came from divergence.

human-evolution-family-tree-with-skulls-graphic-hero

Humanity occupies the homo branch, with the other species becoming extinct. Relevant to the future woman is it possible that given the right conditions that average woman can become stronger? Evolution has the power to change the body structure of organisms so it would seem like a possibility. During the process of human evolution the body went from being heavily built to adapt to colder climates ( 400,000 years ago) to a lighter body ( 50,000 to 20,000 years ago ). Internally the intestines became shorter to accommodate an omnivorous diet. Assuming what is known about human evolution is correct, theoretically it could take millions of years for women to change their physiology. This certainly could not be witness in our current lifetime. Still with a sudden change it will also effect men as well. The article predicted that women’s height would increase. If women changed it would men could see an increase in height as well due to the genetic attributes of sexual dimorphism.

If men already have the genetic trait for more  height, it is likely it would not disappear because natural selection has favored it. Only when it is no longer favored will it disappear. It should also be understood  many elements of a species can be adaptable. There are women who are stronger than men and taller. They are not the average, but have inherited traits that have been passed down generations. The reason that certain species survive is that they have a variation in genetic information, can acclimate to various environments, and pass on genes through offspring to ensure survival. The phrase “survival of the fittest ” is not a correct description. By all standards homo neanderthalensis should have survived based on the fact it was physically stronger. They survived a colder climate. but died out after 30,000 years ago. They could not adapt to the changing environment. Homo sapiens did mainly due to their increased reasoning skills. Nature favored brains over brawn and humanity began to spread through out the Earth, except Antarctica. Sexual dimorphism continues to be a physical trait that proves human evolution. Humanity and other organisms continue to evolve depending on the condition of their environment. Humanity has acquire such a vast knowledge of science it will be possible to manipulate our own biology. This could be done through genetic engineering, surgery, and technology itself.

            There are physiological difference that exist that products of sexual dimorphism. Men have more type II muscle fibers, while women have more type I. Muscular contraction is essential for movement or any athletic performance. Muscular endurance describes how long the muscular contraction can last. Men  and women can have similar levels of muscular endurance. Women may have more, because they fatigue slower. When comparing men and women of a similar size men would still have more upper body strength. When the size is held constant it is estimated that women could be at least 80% as strong. The remaining percentage points account for the upper body disparity.  Cardiovascular physiology  plays a role in oxygen transport. During exercise oxygen is transported to the muscles to form adenosine triphosphate. This then provides energy for muscular contraction. Hemoglobin housed within red blood cells has to transport oxygen from the lungs to other tissues of the body. Larger lungs and hearts contribute to men’s 50% greater aerobic power. Women however may have an easier time converting glycogen into energy, which aids in endurance. Women’s higher fat levels are useful in long distance swimming and running, because it can aids in metabolism. Estrogen-B could also be responsible for fatigue resistance during muscular contraction in women. A combination of biological, anatomical, and physiological factors explain the gap in athletic performance. There can also be overlap, but this is explained by unique physiology of particular individuals.

Women's growth

Tall
Women have grown taller, but the average height is not six feet tall. 

Dorthy Roe’s prediction make the mistake of not taking into account particular factors. If this were to be average as she claimed it would mean that every woman would have to have the same nutrition and access to certain opportunities. Then genetics plays a role in the possible maximum physical potential. Then it also has to do with choice. How many women would actually want to achieve that level strength? The hilarious aspect of this prediction was the statement “muscles of a truck driver.” Driving a truck requires little physical strength. The job is mostly sedentary and therefore would not be the best for your health. Sitting too long for extended periods of time has been linked to heart related and weight issues. The question remains why are there not more women truck drivers? Again, discrimination is an obvious answer, but personal choice is another. Job seekers will only go to jobs that could benefit them the most economically. Companies may just not try to recruit women, even if they have positions opened. Despite this, there are women who are involved in trucking.

The only difference is that the truck has to be ergonomically designed to suit the female driver. All trucks have to in order to make the seat comfortable for the driver. Driving long periods of time in one particular position could cause back and neck issues. Part of the problem is that people still think their are men’s jobs and women’s jobs in the workforce. This dated concept not only harms women, but could be hindering economic growth. A functional economy must have a low unemployment rate to keep consumption up. Women must be part of the workforce to maintain economic stability. There are some occupations in which women’s numbers may still remain smaller relative to men’s due to differences in maximum physiological capacity. This does not mean there will not be any women in those positions. There are women who, even with the noted sex differences can outperform many men.

The female athlete will be in better shape or either just as strong or stronger than the average man depending on which training regimen is used. So, in this sense the prediction was only a part truth. A group of women have become stronger physically across the world who compete in both local and  international sports competition. The total number of women on Earth have not become physically stronger. Health has improved as indicated by women’s increased life expectancy . Women have the edge in terms of durational strength, living longer in most cases. The wonderful element about humanity is that it is diverse and can be flexible with its environments.

There can be strong women who are short. Tall women who are not the strongest or women of average build. The same can also be with men as well. The genetic variation protects the human species from genetically inherited diseases. That diversity helps, but has not completely eliminated such ailments. The article does not say that the average woman will become physiologically similar to a man, just that she will reach at higher fitness level. The implication that women will be able to compete en mass with men in mixed competition does not seem probable. However, there is a possibility that individual elite female athletes could beat an elite male athlete. There it would be presumptuous to say that it could never happen. It is just at the moment is not happening in the future Dorthy Roe predicted. A hypothesis should not be a mere prediction, but thoughtful estimation of probable outcomes.

Women still have to work harder to attain a high level of physical fitness. While their are women who have more natural strength than others, they are a unique exception. More training just enhances their physical potential. There is a new phenomenon. Women are now competing in sports at larger numbers compared to the past. Women’s involvement in sports dates back to the ancient world being documented in Greek and Egyptian civilization. There has never been a period in history to date in which women have embrace sports and physical fitness to this extent. Not only that, but women are seeking to build as much muscle and strength for their particular sports. While their is traditional backlash and divide in public opinion there is a portion of people who are embracing this change. The physiques that women display across various sports would be inconceivable  to many 200 years ago. Some women it seems have become the amazons of the future.

       It is clear that women have enter areas that sole were male domains. The change in women’s status is spreading not just in the West, but in the Global South. Status and progress in a society depends on the historical, sociological, and political situation. There is a possibility that civilization could collapse from mass global warfare, dramatic climate change, pandemics, or economic instability. Such events would mean the reversal of progress and even the end of humanity itself. When the fabric of society is unstable women and other marginalized groups suffer the most. Women could lose the little rights and opportunities they have if there were a change in political regime. Active organizing and vigilance can prevent such occurrences. A faction of futurist believe that in the coming years the world will become a better place. Like the utopian science fiction of the early 20th century, it seems out of reach. Both World Wars and the following Cold War proved that The Jetsons like future seems more imaginary. There is more advanced technology, but with it comes other problems. Roe’s predictions fall into the more utopia version of futurism. Her predictions would not seem so outrageous if she did not say that the average woman would be an amazon in terms of physique. As for height, women have not on average reached the six foot range. The tallest women in the world live in Latvia and the Netherlands. When Roe was writing this, she was only thinking about America.

Height chart

The US does not place in the current record of tallest men and women. This does not mean we do not have our own tall people. It should be no surprise that experts writing this in 1950 were off. They did not have a vast body of knowledge to base predictions on and human evolution was still though of as a linear progression rather than a series of branches coming from a root. The more precise assessment that could have been stated is that women of the future would greatly enhance their physical fitness capacity. Title IX was and continues to be an important law that allowed for many American women to become active in sports. Those women who first benefited from it went on to be top performing Olympic athletes and  the law still continues to make this possible. That is an example of how when barriers are removed  the numbers increased. Then another development happened that was not just in the US, but seems to be spreading around the world. Women who are enthusiastic about weightlifting are becoming serious competitors. It was not until the year 2000 that women’s weightlifting was added to the Olympic Games. Maybe the prediction of Roe’s amazons was not entirely incorrect.

Prior to women’s weightlifting, women had worked out with weights. This was mainly in bodybuilding, which had its origins in the 1970s. The early pioneers of women’s strength sports worked out with weight even when the gyms tried to prevent them from going to such sections and faced harsh ostracism. Now, it does not seem so abnormal to see even the average woman doing some weight training. Their intent may not be to be a professional athlete, but to simply maintain and control body weight. Women are no longer afraid to show physical strength or actual muscular development. Dorothy Roe may have predicted accurately what the average female athlete would be like. The average woman could vary between ectomorphic, endomorphic, and mesomorphic body structure. Height as well will vary as seen from sets of data. The conclusion would thus have to be modified. The average woman will be participating in various fields in the future. Improved health, physical activity, and nutrition will mean some women will reach physiological capacities greater than previously thought. Technology although helpful may cause adverse health effects that lead to a sedentary life style. The tendency for futurologists to be sensationalist leads to imprecise conclusions. To make precise assessments, one most take a rational method of analysis.

“In The Future, All Women Will Be Amazons” From The Smithsonian

Saudi Arabia Approves Physical Education Program in Girls’ Schools

Girls’ Physical Education in Saudi Arabia

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

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

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

download (4)

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

abebbb8breema

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

Saudi Arabia Approves Physical Education Program in Girls’ Schools

American Gladiators : Old Versus New

American Gladiators was a popular game show that had amateur athletes compete against the shows own gladiators. There were two versions that came to television. The original aired from 1989 to 1996. The revived series only had two seasons in 2008. The resurrection seemed in comparison not as popular as the original. Some longtime fans enjoyed the revival, while supporters of the original said it was lacking. There were some problems in an attempt to modernize this game show. The set design, costume, roster, and the talent are crucial to making a program like this work and maintain an audience. These elements have to be examined from each show. Critics are quick to say revivals are horrible just because they favor the original version. These critics are highly nostalgic, but there is some credibility to their arguments. Constant remakes of films and television shows demonstrates a lack of originality. The other perspective is that one should at least give it a chance before making such criticisms. The first series must be compared to the old one before stating which one is better.

        The roster for the women in the 1989 series was very powerful. The majority were female bodybuilders or weightlifters. Part of the fun of watching American Gladiators was that the Gladiators would cause so much trouble for their opponents. Many times it was a mismatch in  strength and agility between them. There were a few gladiators who were not exactly athletes who were on the show. Marisa Pare (Lace) did not have an athletic background, but seemed to manage well enough. She would later be replaced. Victoria Gay , Shelley Beattie, Raye Hollit, Lori Fetrick  and Sheri Pendelton are just a few talents to be seen on American Gladiators.

3575ecbf49785887747e2874bd942b25

It seemed as if female athleticism was not condemned, but celebrated in this atmosphere. Women just did not show powerful physiques they prove they had power. Looking at their statistics it was clear they were formidable. Shelley Beattie stood at 5 ft 7 inches and 149 pounds. Raye Hollit was 180 pounds of muscle. They were not selected because they just looked good, it was because they had plenty of athletic skill. This made the events such as joust, tug of war, the wall, power ball, and other obstacles more exciting. The great aspect about this was that strong and muscular women were deliberately being sought after. There was no negativity in mainstream presentation and this was rare considering the time period. Women’s athletic endeavors were usually disparaged, but this was a pleasant paradigm shift. The women not only displayed athletic talent; they could be entertaining as well.

   372238063

 Victoria Gay known as Jazz was 5’10 and was a weight of 180 lbs. Lori Fetrick, Tonya Knight and Erica Andersch made numerous appearances on bodybuilding stages. It was no mistake these women were very physical powerful and skilled. Shar-ri Pendelton had a background in track and field. She actually did get coaching from Bob Kersee. She had to place her bodybuilding on hold, while training for javelin throwing for the 1992 Olympics. She was only on the show for three years, but performed well. The gladiators were not shown has villains, but tough challengers. Some claimed that the match ups were completely one sided, which made them look like bullies. However, it was part of acted persona that the gladiators would adopt.The viewer could tell that the gladiators and competitors were having fun. The most important part was a high level of performance and that women looked the part. Compared to the gladiators of the 2008 version, it would appear as if they were stronger.

The 2008 roster seemed to just have figure or fitness models. There were very few women from the weightlifting or bodybuilding category. It appears that executives did not want women who looked a particular way. Although this cannot be proven, it appears they were focused more on how the women looked , rather than their athletic performance. It would have been nice to see even stronger women on the 2008 program. The addition of Robin Coleman was a positive development. She competed in the World’s Strongest Woman contests on multiple occasions. She was involved in rowing  and trained in boxing as well as martial arts.This is not to say the rest of the 2008 roster was not athletically talented. Beth Horn and Tanji Johnson demonstrated dexterous during the show’s short run.

 Another issue in selection is that there was a general lack of diversity both versions. There are a few African American gladiators compared to the majority of white gladiators. The United States is a nation of immigrants and various ethnic groups. Why can’t its popular entertainment represent that? There are Asian American and Hispanic American athletes who probably loved to be included in the show. Unfortunately. executives and producers still believe that “whites are more marketable.” That problem was never addressed in both series and it is a reflection of America’s problems with race. Doing an analysis of the roster it appears that the original series cast would be better performers if they were to compete against the 2008 version.

Siren( 1992) versus Siren (2008) 

Valerie Waugaman  stands at 5′ 9” and weighed 145 pounds. Shelly Beattie  would be shorter in comparison, but outweighs her. This hypothetical match up would probably favor Beattie in the jousting match. The tug of war and break through would favor Beattie’s higher weight. Waugaman would have to compensate with skill to be a challenge. Her fitness skills would be best utilized in the hang tough event. The use of gymnastic rings would be easy for her.

Diamond (1990) versus Crush (2008)

Erika Andersch was also another bodybuilder 5′ 8” in height and a weight about a 140 lbs. Gina Carano would be more formidable. She had a background in mixed martial arts and was a prominent fighter. Her height is also the same as Erika’s, but she out weighs her by a pound.  Although most of her MMA moves would not be legal on the show, she has a great understanding of knock someone down. When looking at their backgrounds it becomes hard to say which roster is better. Even though the 2008 version seemed afraid to put larger women on, this did not harm the quality of athleticism. Then also one must consider the way the gladiators team is organized. Similar to a football team, not all members will be quarterbacks. Having women of diverse athletic backgrounds would only make it more interesting. The problem with the 2008 version was not its gladiators.

         The costume design is a critical aspect. While most viewers are focused on the events and action what the costume looks like still has relevance. The first series had gladiators dressed in red, white, and blue colored spandex. The colors and design with the American flag  were both outrageous  and designed to make them easily recognizable. This was not only done for marketing purposes, but it lets the viewer get an idea of the show by only seeing an image. The 2008 version’s costumes cannot be easily recognizable.Someone who is not familiar with the show could not deduce what its about. The traditional American flag colors are gone replaced by dull black and gray uniforms.

If an observer were to look at these images, without knowing what the show is it would seem like some B movie sci-fi  film. The American imagery seems to be extracted from the design. The costumes in the 2008 series were not as colorful or amusing as the 1989 series. The whole point of a costume design is to make it either unique or strange. The 1989 series had a level of camp that was displayed by  their ludicrous presentation of patriotic colors. This decision seemed to even extend to its iconic logo. The old logo had the same US flag colors. The 2008 version has the dry black and gray colors, which makes a person wonder why even call the show American gladiators. There are plenty of game shows and sports events on television. A program must do whatever it can to distinguish itself. It has to compete with other shows and networks for ratings.

Either costumes or materials that can spark a viewer’s interest are essential to success. There is also another factor that is related specifically to a demographic. Men are a large target audience and this is why the costume design important for women. There are some male viewers who take interest in the female gladiators beyond their athletic talent. Their is a high level of beauty in the athletic female form and it is obvious that costumes accentuate that.

Some competitors had uniforms with the abdominals exposed in both series. However, the 2008 version had some of that area exposed with section covering the middle of the stomach. The 2008 version costumes seemed poor in comparison to the 1989 version. Many do not believe it important, but it gives the show a particular feel.Other than the costumes that give a certain feel, set design is also a major element.

        The sets in the show also are critical. These sets are styled like arenas with stage lights and intricate obstacle courses. For any game show, the set also has to stand out. The 1989 series set matched with the US flag colors of the gladiators themselves. The 2008 set design seems more like something out of Ninja Warrior. The only difference is that their obstacles would be more challenging to navigate.

 The images above are shots of the American Gladiators arenas. The one on the left is from the 1989 series and other on the right was from 2008. The original version’s set matched that of the theme of patriotic America. This corny theme along with the costumes developed a general persona of the program. The 2008 set seemed to lack a persona or imagination. That was the key, otherwise the show just seems like any other sporting event. This was not to say the set design in the 2008 version was of low quality. It almost seemed as if they were afraid to display flag themed colors in the recent version. The lighting and effects were considerably better in the recent version. This mainly was because the flood and spot light technology had advanced much more since the 1990s. The set may have had better technology, but for design purposes the 1989 one was a little better.

     It can be seen that both series do have weaknesses and strong attributes. The wonderful aspect about the 2008 version was that Laila Ali and Hulk Hogan were selected as host of the program. The selection of Laila Ali was an important one. She was an accomplished boxer and this was the second  time American Gladiators had a permanent female host. Hulk Hogan one of the most recognizable professional wrestlers always has been entertaining. His commentary and quirky mannerisms added to the fun of the program.

download-2

The 1989 version had rotating hosts that few might remember. Both shows had entertaining events  and still amused audiences. The hosts of the 1989 version were not as colorful with their commentary. This was a weakness of the original. The original was longer lasting in terms of seasons and had higher ratings. There could be several explanations for the disparity. While it did obtain 12 million viewers in its first season, the problem was it had to compete with reality television. When the second version was released the American public was more into reality television rather than scripted shows or game shows . No such thing existed back in the 1980s or 1990s  when the original series ran. Some have even hypothesized that the show getting revived by NBC was a response the Writer’s Guild of America Strike of 2007 to 2008. A game show that did not require writers would be perfect to fill time slots. Although it cannot be confirmed, it was odd after the strike the show was not renewed for a third season.  The original had a durable pop cultural staying power. The version of the 2000s failed to capture that enthusiasm. That was probably its biggest weakness. This was a chance to capture new fans and bring the old fans back. The revival failed to do so to the fullest extent.

         There has to be some understanding of the fandom. American Gladiators when it originally aired was widely popular. It spawned trading cards, video games, action figures and a host of other products. These became part of a classic 1990s pop culture nostalgia. A huge fandom still remained even when the show stopped airing with fans making their own websites. Kids would collect items of their favorite gladiators and argue with others which one was the best. Mattel produced a number of action figures that had the gladiators . This does not include the entire roster, seeing as some left the show at certain points or other arrived later in its run.

 Video games and trading cards 

Action Figure and sticker 

American Gladiators also had some influence in the fitness industry. It was not uncommon for some of the gladiators to appear on various fitness publications. This was a positive development for women in bodybuilding. Here female muscle was getting mainstream exposure and at least a moderate level of acceptance. The women gladiators were just as popular as the male ones and were getting the same amount of exposure. Many of the women gladiators had already been involved in bodybuilding so magazine shoots were nothing new to them.

Gladiators would appear on Muscle and Fitness, Female bodybuilding and Sports Fitness, and Muscle Training Illustrated. This show spawned a franchise. There were even talks about making an animated series. This was a common practice of the 1980s and 1990s was to take live action properties, films, or subjects and develop them into a Saturday morning cartoon. This was one area that the franchise did not get into however. When it last aired in 1996 a loyal fan base had been made. The 2008 series did not capture this excitement and thrill of the original series. What could be culpable is limited marketing of the 2008 version. The merchandise compared to the original was diminutive in comparison. There were no Helga action figures  and it was hard to find American Gladiator Halloween  costumes. There were no licensed video games for the 2008 show. That was a missed opportunity. The graphics and game play of modern systems would be perfect for an American Gladiators video game. Playstation, Nintendo, and Xbox have graphics that extend far beyond the 8 bit, 16 bit, or 32 bit systems of the 1990s. Producers should pay attention to the fandom if they want revival efforts to be a success.

          There is an answer to which series is the better one. It depends on what you prefer. The viewer who remembers the original would say it is better because of the joyous memories it brought them. Younger viewers who did not grow up with the program may prefer both. This is not a terrible development, because it exposes more people to the show and it can continue to be remembered. This does not mean the 2008 version is perfect. Some minor improvements could have extended its life cycle beyond just two seasons. Adding gladiators of various backgrounds could expand viewership. Changes to costume design and set can also help. This is not vituperation; it is constructive criticism. It would be ludicrous just to dismiss the program simply because it is a reboot or  remake. A true fan would at least give it a chance.  Although some of the frustration can be understood. Film and television seems to be in a trend of remakes and reboots. This leads many to believe that originally has become extinct in entertainment. Resurrections of  franchises can be done, if performed correctly . There is a possibility that American Gladiators can comeback even better than before. The hardcore fan will like either version no matter what. To the hardcore fan questions of which one is better have little relevance.

American Gladiators : Old Versus New

The Shake Weight

The Shake Weight is a dumbbell with the ability to oscillate. The claim by the company that produces the product is that it has the ability to give more of a work out than a traditional weight. This exercise device was created by Ben Kunz for the company FitnessIQ. There have been many contraptions and machines that are for exercise, but many of them do not work. Then there are products that are minimally effective compared to traditional methods. The reason these products sell well is that advertisements are persuasive and the public has a lack of knowledge about exercise or the human body. Gullibility and a fast solution explains why exercise equipment  such as this sells well. When examined in a scientific manner the shake weight is not effective. There are also some of the common pseudoscientic convictions in regards to female body and fitness. This was originally marketed as a female exercise product, but later release a “male” version. The difference between the female and male version is weight. The female shake weight is 2.5 lbs and the male version is 5 lbs. Again, it seems the frailty myth is presented in a subtle manner. There is no reason that the women’s weight should just be 2.5 lbs. Five pounds is no so immense that women could not handle it. That is about the equivalent of a bag of flour. Anyone who cooks realizes these bags are not that heavy. FitnessIQ claims that the shake weight can tone biceps, shoulders, and triceps. The official comment of the company is ” The product’s technology has been scientifically proven to increase muscle activity more effectively than similar size dumbbells or push-ups.” A general understanding of exercise physiology disproves the effectiveness of the Shake Weight.

         The Shake Weight was introduced to the market in 2009. During its first year being available it sold 2 million units. The following years it reached 4.5 million sales.The Shake Weight is commonly found at Walmart and Walgreens. This exercise product since being introduced has made its way into popular culture. The motions it induces and the way in which it is held has suggested sexual innuendos. Parodies and spoofs have appeared on the Daily Show, South Park, and Saturday Night Live . These references could have increased sales. Exposure is important to the success of a product. The commercials and infomercials are known for their exaggerated claims of effectiveness. They state the Shake Weight can burn calories five times faster than normal weights.  This is simply not biologically possible. Working out with regular weights would require more energy, if done at a longer period of time. The Shake Weight recommends that an individual only exercise for six minutes. They claim six minutes with the product can be more effective than a 32 minute work out. This does not prove to be accurate when testing it in terms of exercise science, physiology, and biology.

          The Shake Weight functions on a series of vibrations. There are spring loaded weights at both ends. The vibrations are designed to “tone ” muscles in a six minute work out. There is a problem with the marketing terminology. The term “tone” is not a real biological process. The fact is toning is building a small amount of muscle. This term is directed at women rather than men, because society still thinks muscles and strength are for men only. The term toning is used to not scare average women away from fitness or ones who are closed minded about muscular women.

shake-weight

It is dubious that a serious woman athlete would even use this device. Looking at its five and two pound versions its clear that this does not build muscle. It uses high repetitions at lower weight. Immense weight with fewer repetitions promotes growth in muscle. Women are normally discouraged from lifting heavy, but this is a mistake. Smaller weights will not produce effective results. The weights have to be heavy enough to provide at least some resistance. Smaller weights at two pounds or less will not be helpful in building strength or burning fat. Lighter weights could possibly be better for muscular endurance, but larger ones at lower repetitions are better for strength.

 The Shake Weight would only be effective for a person who has not had training or exercise prior physical activity. At best they would see modest or minimal gains. A person who weight trains regularly would not see dramatic gains in terms of musculature. The woman who is either a weightlifter, crossfit competitor, or bodybuilder will not see improvements in performance from the Shake Weight. The average woman considering her exercise and strength levels are lower may see some improvement, but not as effective as free weights. Part of the public relations slogan is that the Shake Weight “allows you to exercise without leaving your sofa.”

   Exercise takes effort and consistency. These two values are something people have lost living in modernized society. The desire for results with limited or no effort is what the American public in particular likes the most. That is why there are consumers that are drawn to this product, that clearly does not produce the effects it claims. There are some who even think that it has the ability to burn fat right off the arms of the body. The American Council on Exercise has stated that the Shake Weight does not provide necessary stimulus to the arms. The 2 1/2 pound weight is too light to be effective the council discovered. The added five pounds may not make much of a difference either. Muscle has the ability to burn fat and this device is not inducing the level of muscular hypertrophy to make that possible. This becomes even more humorous as this is also marketed to men. The image that is constantly used in advertisements for exercise equipment usually features a very muscular man. It is clear that the man or woman in question did not develop that upper body through the Shake Weight.

  It is not possible to just burn off fat in a single area of the body. It does not work like a heat seeking missile. Building muscle or losing weight requires a specific diet or certain strength training exercises  bicep curls, tricep extensions, and push ups. These activities should be enough to reduce weight. At this point, an observer should realize that there would be no need for the difference in weight for the product. There are women who could handle the five pound version. Calling it the “male version” is an attempt to market it as something intense and add a machismo to a device seen as feminine. Fitness advertising wants to tap into that male machismo, thinking the product can transform the male buyer into an Adonis like figure. This fantasy is shattered, because there are women out there who are lifting more than 5 lbs.

Weightlifting - Olympics: Day 7

gulnoi-rattikan

 timthumb-3

         what-lifting-weights-taught-me-about-being-a-woman-2-31872-1406335298-2_dblbig

download-2
977417

It is also recommended at the very least an individual should try to strength train three times a week. The difference in weight size is based on the notion of the frailty myth. It states that women’s bodies are not strong enough for physical activity. There are still myths that women should not train heavy, because they will get injured. Injury only happens when exercises are not done correctly or a person over trains. There should be consideration in the difference in tendon size, which may make women more susceptible to joint injuries. Women can handle a five pound weight whether it vibrating or not. You certainly do not need to be He-Man to use the five pound version. There is no such thing as men’s muscles and women’s muscles, because at the cellular level they do not differ. The design is awkward and the manner in which it is held. One problem is that users of this device did not go through the full range of motion when using it. The only way to see improvement is to challenge the muscle by adding more weight. Exercising for just six minutes will not produce effective results.

           The defenders of this product say that it can at least improve muscular endurance. This requires an increase in training frequency. That means adding more training sessions to your regimen. Simultaneously, training volume should be gradually increased. The number of sets and repetitions must increase for the body to adapt. Static contractions are also useful. This requires doing a full set of an exercise, then holding the in a fully contracted position. This should be done till the individual can no longer hold it. The Shake Weight cannot do any of these tasks. None of these exercises listed would be compatible with the Shake Weight.

The vibrations are not as powerful as straining against the weight of actual iron. Even if there were no vibrations the Shake Weight would be not even be useful for static contraction. There would have to be added weight to the device, but then it would just be a regular weight. Muscular endurance will not be attained through the use of the Shake Weight product.

       If one were to switch a person who exercises with weights and have them use the Shake Weight, they would lose strength. A woman who regularly exercises and then uses this device solely with see a dramatic reversal. Women could lose muscle in just a month, who are already at a higher fitness level. The advertisements use the term “dynamic inertia” to describe the process of the vibration movements. Anyone with a basic understanding of physics would realize inertia can occur during any form of exercise. Matter can continue in an existing state or follow a path of uniform motion until effected by another force. This is the definition of inertia. Dynamics is merely the analysis of forces and torques which is considered a branch of applied mathematics. Adding this term just glorifies the item being sold, making the consumer think it is doing something incredible.This why the knowledge of science, physiology, and anatomy are important. It prevents individuals from making poor decisions. If you are a person attempting to add mass this exercise equipment would not perform as well as free weights. A woman for example already trained would see a loss in results. Muscle atrophy only occurs when one stops an exercise regimen or ceases to challenge the muscles being worked.

         The American Council on Exercise did conduct a study. The alleged study that Fitness QI did never was peer reviewed in an academic journal or produced by an exercise physiologist or scientist. The study done by the University of Wisconsin by exercise scientists . They wanted to see the amount of muscle activation versus a traditional weight compared to the Shake Weight. The volunteers of the study were between the ages of 18 to 30, which included men and women. They continued to use the five pound for men and the two and a half pound versions for women. Electrodes were then placed on the biceps, triceps, deltoids, and pectoralis muscles.  The utilization of electromyography allowed the intensity of the work out to be recorded. The result was fascinating. The findings by Dr.  John Porcari and Dr. Jennah Hackbarth  were not what one would have expected. Muscle activity was greater 88% in the biceps, 65% greater in the triceps, 50% greater in the chest, and 59% greater in the chest. It would appear that the bicep curls, chest fly, tricep extensions, and shoulder presses are less efficient. This is not true. The physical fitness level of the individuals in the study was not recorded. They may have seen results only because they were at the very low spectrum of physical fitness. The study also found that it worked mostly the triceps rather than the entire arms or upper body.

 The thinner or non-exercising subject would probably benefit from the Shake Weight more than a physically fit woman. 

When conducting an experiment one should be careful when considering factors that effect results. The physical fitness level of the subjects is essential to the results. These individuals of the study were of course healthy, but not at a high spectrum pf physical fitness. There was a 66 % EMG increase, but this was not the increase that infomercials have said claiming a 300% increase. The vibrations from the Shake Weight may not even be safe. They work muscles, but could be causing unnecessary soreness.

shakeweightfig1

The results as shown in the graph are misleading. For a person who does no physical activity anything would induce improvement. Two or five pound weights are simply not heavy enough to cause significant muscular hypertrophy. Subjects of this study did not expect the device to be as exerting. The ratings for perceived exertion were higher for the Shake Weight than it was for traditional weights.

        After explaining the physiological and anatomical basis for the Shake Weight one reaches a conclusion. It is not a useful piece of exercise equipment. This will not target the arms and upper body, but forces the triceps to do more work. Muscle activation was limited in the biceps. The level of resistance is so minimal that a physically fit person would not see any gains in lean body tissue. This would give only diminutive improvements to a person who has never done exercise at all. There are limited benefits to the exercise movement. There are very few times when a shaking exercise is useful, compared to push-ups, sit-ups, and weight lifting. The Shake Weight is something that is a combination of false advertising and hyper-consumerist culture. There are some goals that cannot be achieved by simple short cuts. That means effort, which many people do not want to do. The reason this sells so well is due to the public’s ignorance, lack of consumer advocacy, and the manipulation of human psychology. If statements sound credible enough people will accept it even though it may be mendacious. As long as the consumer knows about basic exercise science, they can make better decisions. The Shake Weight is a product that a consumer should not buy.

Further Reading

Hackbarth, Jenneh. “Does the Mega-selling Shake Weight Live Up to the Hype?” ACE Fitness. American Council on Exercise, 7 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Dec. 2016. <https://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/2000/does-the-mega-selling-shake-weight-live-up-to-the&gt;.

Agondoni, Laura. “Can You Get Muscles With the Shake Weight?” LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 15 July 2015. Web. 18 Dec. 2016. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/492363-how-long-does-it-take-to-get-muscles-with-the-shake-weight/&gt;.

Wood, Heather. “Does the Shake Weight Take Fat off Your Arms?” LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 15 Apr. 2011. Web. 18 Dec. 2016. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/421688-does-the-shake-weight-take-fat-off-your-arms/&gt;.

The Shake Weight

Nike Is A Goddess The History Of Women In Sports Edited By Lissa Smith

Nike Is A Goddess The History of Women in Sports is a book that delineates women participation in sport. It is a combination of writings by Mariah Nelson, Amy Ellis Nutt, Kathleen McElroy, Melanie Hauser, Jean Weiss, Michelle Kaufman, Grace Lichtenstien, Jackie Burke, Karen Karbo, Barbra Stewart,  Shelly Smith, Elsie Pettus, and Lucy Danziger. The sports discussed are track and field, basketball, gymnastics, ice hockey, figure skating, golf, tennis, baseball,softball, skiing, canoeing, kayaking, rowing, sailing, swimming, equestrian sports, and soccer. This is an ambitious undertaking covering many centuries and athletes. There are problems with some of the essays. Others are better, showing a high level of research. This text was originally published in 1998 and much has changed. These writings are still relevant as a documentation of women’s challenges and struggles to get recognized in sport. A major problem with this monograph is that it focuses mostly on athletes from the West. Other countries have women participate in sport, but this is not studied as much. Reading this one can extrapolate mixed feelings. Strength sports are omitted. There is only an emphasis on Olympic sports. There are other sports played by women that are not recognized by the IOC. Despite these flaws, the text can at least be used as a reference source. Some sections could be pleasurable to certain readers, but other essays are lacking the same quality.

         Before readers begin dissecting the work, it is important to know the context of the title. Nike does not refer to the athletic gear and sneaker company, but a goddess of ancient Greek mythology. Nike was the goddess of victory. The Roman counterpart was called Victoria. According to the ancient myths she was the daughter of Pallus ( a titan) and Styx. She had siblings who were Kryatos, Bia, and Zelus. She was made a divine charioteer during the Titan War. She would be on battlefields to reward victors with laurel leaves.

  5132uKZwuPL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Nike was not only a goddess of victory, but was also a representation of strength and speed. The reason that name is used for the more well known company is because it wants consumers to think using their products will ensure success. The first edition posted on the cover shows a statue of the goddess posted. Ancient art works of the goddess at first did not have her with wings. Gradually, they were added. The use of Nike in the title is showing how women advanced in sports and their successes.

93135cac2afa41a486ee8235d75b83f9

Nike as depicted in ancient Greek art. 

At certain points the essays reveal that women were in a battle. There was a struggle for equal pay and access to training facilities. The largest challenge was to confront sexism and traditional cultural attitudes. The spirit of Nike seems to be looking over the women in a metaphorical sense. She would bless them with victory. The Nike Company understood the lasting cultural impact of mythology.

6834219_8017

This is why they chose that name. Currently, Nike has been producing athletic clothing and gear for decades. Seeing as women’s participation in sports has increased it is only natural that women would become a major marketing demographic target. Sports bras are a major product they produce and are critical. It allowed women to do intense exercise with minimal discomfort to the chest and breasts. The text does not explain the mythology behind the goddess Nike. This could easily confuse readers with a limited understanding of the classics or Greek mythology. A statue of Nike appears on the book, which could confuse readers even more. This is only a minor issue, but an element that can be noticed immediately. Writers should never assume that their audience has knowledge about the topic discussed.

      The introduction Mariah Burton Nelson sets the tone of the monograph. It is called “Who We Might Become.” There is a feminist overtone, that generally alienates male readers. The problem with women’s sports monographs is that they cast all men as villains. Almost to a degree in which it is like a caricature of a popular action cartoon show. The essay starts off on a positive note then makes some generalizations. Mariah Burton Nelson reveals   background and how certain athletes inspired her as a young woman such as Bille Jean King and Babe Dickerson Zaharias . She was an athlete herself playing basketball while attending Stanford University. She is an author, motivational speaker, and sportswriter for numerous publications. The feminist perspective usually takes a negative view of all men. The men with power in the sports world were the worst  discriminators. They were corporate gatekeepers, owners of sports teams, coaches, and men who objected to change. What the feminist perspective fails to see is the growing number of male fans who are supportive. Unfortunately, Burton at a young age was sexually abused by one of her coaches. This traumatic experience could have effected the way she perceives men. The view seems mostly negative. Her book The Stronger Women Get The More Men Love Football  seems to have similar problems that appear in this essay. All men do not hate strong women. There is a growing number of male fans who are both amazed and attracted to women’s physical prowess. It cannot be forgotten, that without feminism women’s sports would not be were it is today. It cannot be ignored women are still discriminated against and some countries still do not send women to the Olympics. The issues of the sexual objectification of women athletes is a problem. What Maria Nelson fails to understand is that this is not solely a sexist motive, but a neoliberal capitalist model. Sexually objectifying women has been common in advertising and other media even before modern women’s sports. While sexism is an element to it, one cannot separate the exploitation and avarice of the neoliberal capitalist system.

           The essay “Somewhere to Run” did an excellent delineation of  women in track and field. This was written by Kathleen McElroy. The essay discusses notable figures such as Babe Dickerson, Wilma Rudolf, and Jackie Joyner Kersee. Track and field had existed as far back as the ancient period, but the modern version of this sport did not appear until 1837. The first modern track meet was held in England at Eton College. Women could not participate. Women were not even allowed as spectators. Vassar College in 1895 organized the first track meet for women.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Jackie Joyner-Kersee of Team USA posing with a javelin. Northridge, California 5/21/1992
ba
Babe Dickerson Zaharias

 When women began to become competitive and skilled, detractors from different parts of society began a crusade to stop  them. Doctors made the claim that women will harm their fertility. Social scientists claimed competition harmed the female psyche. Journalists and the press made similar accusations. Moralists and religious figures objected to the idea of women displaying their bodies. There was an attempt to diminish women’s athletics, by reducing competition. The idea was that women showing a competitive nature made them masculine.Women entering the new competitive opportunities came from athletic clubs or industry teams. One example of this was the Prudential Insurance Company. Women’s participation in track and field goes back as far as the ancient world. While women could not compete in the Olympics, they had a separate competition known as Hera Games. These games of ancient Greece only allowed young unmarried women to enter them. When the 20th century approached women also organized their own games, even when the IOC condemned it. Alice Milliat  who was head of Femina Sport organized international competitions for women in 1917.   The IOC wanted the International Amateur Athletic Federation to hinder this progress, but it seemed futile to stop women from organizing. Around 1926, Milliat was in negotiations  with the International Track Federation. This was a mixed victory, because women lost control of their organized competition, but were allowed to compete in track and field in the Olympics. Women athletes now had a new opportunity to display their skills. One of the first global women’s champions was Kinue Hitomi. She was a world record holder in the 200 meter and long jump. Often monographs such as these exclude non-whites. This deserves praise, due to the fact most sports history focuses on the West or Europeans.

qwe-hitomi
Kinue Hitomi  (1907 – 1931)  was one of the early track and field champions in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

 While there was high quality athletes, most were not trained sufficiently when they entered the 1928 Olympics. Reporters were generally negative when covering women in track competitions. This was the first time some saw women compete seriously in an international arena and many still held their traditionalist views. Some women completing the 1000 meter run collapsed and many took this as evidence that track was too vigorous for women.The IOC voted in 1929 to remove track and field competition. Seeing as there was resistance to this, it was negotiated that women could compete in 100 meter events.    The 800 meter events would not be reinstated until 1960.Even with these restrictions women continued to break barriers. The 1936 Olympics was significant because it was the first time African American women competed. Jesse Owens humiliated Hitler by winning gold medals and making a mockery of his racial ideology. Tidye Pickett was another hero of the games that discredited Nazi racial ideology through her athleticism. African American women were showing they could be just as talented as their white counterparts. The best element of this essay is that it discusses athletes that are normally not mentioned in sports history.  Alice Coachman for example was the first African American woman to win a gold medal. American racism was a challenge and it added an extra burden on African American athletes. African American women had to face both sexism and racism in their struggle to play sports. Coachman’s efforts allowed the door to open for other track and field athletes later on in the 20th century.

coachman_alice
Alice Coachman (1923-2014)  open the door for many African American women in track and field.

Wilma Rudolph, Jackie Joyner- Kersee,  Florence Griffith Joyner ,  Gwen Torrence, and Marion Jones became notable talents.Although this is one of the strongest essays in the text, but there are disputable presentations. It seems to be a bias against the Eastern Bloc nations in regards to performance enhancing drug use. While it acknowledges that they were talented they present it as if only the Communist East was doping their athletes. The book should be lauded for mentioning  controversial  topics such performance enhancing drug use and sex testing, some statements are not correct. McElroy states “women who use steroids to shorten recovery time  needed from high-stress activity to develop more muscle at a faster pace, and have a greater capacity for muscle growth,  can use a small dose that is hard to detect, especially since the drug flushes out a woman’s system much faster than a man’s.”Steroids do not “flush out the body.”Many times athletes use other substances to mask the steroids depending on the drug test. While a small dose can improve performance due to the fact women are extra sensitive to it, it can still be detectable. The biological passport has grown more sophisticated over the years.The author should have done more research in terms of the science of drugs. The text then states that “sex testing only effects a few women.” That is not true. This practice is a form of discrimination against women, but it also effects people who are intersex. Making it seem as if it is not a problem only further marginalizes women in sport. Although this part of the essay is objectionable, it does return to strong form. It describes the success of Florence Griffith Joyner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Yet, it did not have trepidation in revealing the racism and sexist media coverage both athletes had to face. Jaoaquim Cruz referred to Kersee as a gorilla. Cruz was from Brazil a country with a long legacy of racial hate. Joyner was subject to more drug testing, because of her athletic success. She never failed one and other accused her of use due to the appearance of a stronger looking physique.

flojo

The essay has minor flaws, but it is an excellent summery of the history of women in track and field. This essay ends on a positive note. It praises women’s advancements and resilience in the faces of many challenges. The essay can best be described by one of its quotes: ” women were allowed to fall, scream, strain, sweat, cry, show off their abs, and flex their muscles.”

       “The Battle Against Time and Gravity” is an essay that by Jane Leavy discussing women’s participation  in gymnastics. Gymnastics dates back to ancient Greece. This was part of the education of young men and was also part of the ancient Olympics. Women were not allowed to participate, but were able to dance. Dance has in a sense been incorporated into gymnastics. Fredrick Jahan  developed modern gymnastics in the 1800s. Women began to participate in the sport at Vassar College in 1886. Women’s gymnastics appeared at the Olympics in 1904, but these were not hardcore competitions. Exhibitions featured women performing exercises with wands and barbells. While the women were talented, they did not have an outlet for competitive expression. The individual competition that is more recognizable today came into existence in 1952.The US and Russia produced many talented athletes. Gymnastics is extremely competitive and the essay does not ignore the possible health dangers that go with it. There were cases of eating disorders and attempts to have the thinnest body possible. It was believed this body type made it easier to master complex movements. Coaching became close to abusive and it had to be addressed. Young children as early as age 14 were entering the Gymnastic Olympic games. Around 1996 it was mandated that competitors be at least 16 to participate .  The reason young girls were preferred  was that they were thought to be more flexible and easier to coach.

img-mary-lou-retton_172441576886
Mary Lou Retton became a major success in the sport.

   The sport has an issue with the health of its athletes. Many women become victims of compulsive dieting, poor nutrition, and eating disorders. The sport also has another challenge of being subjective. Scoring systems are highly politicized, which during the 20th century generated controversy. Retton suggested that scoring should be based on “originality and creativity, not pure daring.” There are cases in which athletes paralyzed themselves attempting to do dangerous maneuvers.  The essay describes this as sport that women are not allowed to age. From childhood to young adult are the span of competitive years. A larger woman would have difficulty in this sport, due to biomechanics. Many Olympic gymnasts retire in their early twenties. The great aspect of this essay is that it shows women can be competitive in their sport. There was a claim that was made that women never desire to be competitive. This writing shows the pain and sacrifice that athletes endured. Nadia Comaneci was a force to be acknowledged. Women can be very competitive as this sport demonstrates, but the question of putting young girls into it generates controversy.

          The essay “From Suburbs to Sports Arenas” has major problems. Ellis Pettus’s writing has factual inaccuracies and seems to favor white women of a middle class background. Women all over the world are now playing soccer, but she sole examines it through the context of a Western perspective.The essay reveals that while British women during World War I played soccer during breaks while working factories, there had been existence of soccer like games present in other parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Games similar to soccer were noted as far back as 300 B.C.E in Chinese civilization. An informed reader would have a problem with this essay’s approach. Solely focusing on the US and the West ignores the dramatic impact the game has had on other nations. It also favors a middle class outlook. She almost in subtle manner implies the best soccer players come from the suburbs. Soccer has been a tough sport for Americans to get excited about compared to the traditional favorites of baseball and football. Women began to get interested competitively in soccer in the 1970s in the United States. Title IX allowed for the development of athletes who would lead the way in forming professional women’s teams. This essay has to be the weakest written in the book. If it was researched better and presented differently it would have been more substantive. There are some positive attributes about this essay, but they are too diminutive. The struggle to get women’s soccer included reveals how sexism is still very much a part of the IOC. Then there are interpretations that are not entirely true. Pettus states : ” unlike male players, female players found a bond in the struggle to advance their young sport.” While it is true there was a level of international exchange it was between mostly European nations like Italy and Sweden. Japan was the only non-white country in which there was an exchange. This did not advance far as the author would have one believe. It exposes a level of racism and ethnocentrism. One can make the argument that it was 1998 when this text was printed and attitudes changed. This is not the case. The Women’s World Cup of 2011 saw racist abuse directed at Japanese players online through Twitter.

131832-japanese-players-soccer
This rhetoric is not from the 1940s  it is from 2011 :  World Cup Final vs. Japan Brings Out the Racist, Ugly American

 The author seems to be under the illusion of solidarity and inclusion. This is the trouble with white feminists who ignore or do not care about racism. This piece needs some revision in many respects.

         The essay “Nets Profits” was a great delineation of women in tennis. Women have according to Lichtenstein’s words ” playing tennis for 125 years on the highest competitive level as well as for fun.” Women’s entry into modern tennis came in 1884, when women began  having championships at Wimbledon. Wimbledon was the most recognized of the championships for tennis ( others included French, United States, and Australia).Women had a little more freedom in this sport, because it did not cause as much gender role conflict. However, women were still criticized for not behaving in a feminine manner. Even though sexism was still present women were able to perform at high levels. Suzanne Lenglen was one of the first major women’s tennis athletes. Similar to the amazing success of the Williams sisters in the 21st century, she was a Wimbledon champion that remained virtually undefeated. Except for the years of 1919 and 1925 she won many other Wimbledon Championships. Although not considered ” a classic tennis woman” meaning graceful and beautiful she captivated audiences with her performances. Besides that, she brought her native country of  France prestige in the Tennis world. Sadly, her life was cut short by anemia. Players like Alice Marble and Helen Wills would later become notable figures in tennis. The essay does mention that tennis was an elitist and racist sport. This changed with Althea Gibson’s entry.

SuzanneLenglen
Suzanne Lenglen (1899-1938)

      World class tennis was completely segregated. Besides challenging the color barrier, Gibson also developed a new model of playing style. It was fast, explosive and powerful. She was so good, that it caused some criticism. The 1950s was an era in which extreme conservative ideas about gender and race were prevalent. Gibson as a woman was criticized as being “unfeminine” for performing well and despised because of her race. That did not stop her from continuing and being successful.

pg2_a_gibson_195
Althea Gibson (1927-2003)

 As the 1950s and 1960s passed there emerged an out spoken and talented tennis athlete who did much to promote women’s sports. Billie Jean King was exposed to tennis at a young age and grew to love the sport. When she entered tennis her strokes were not impressive and she needed work on stamina. Taking lesson from Davis Cooper she then was able to improve her performance. She became a dominant force in tennis from the 1960s to 1970s. She spoke out against unequal pay and discrimination against women in professional tennis. Billie Jean King is also remembered for playing in “The Battle of the Sexes Match. This match which Riggs set up was an exhibition match and became a media sensation. They challenged each other in 1973 at the Houston Astrodome. Booby declared that no woman could ever beat him. The 55 year old Riggs was no match for the strong 30 year old King. She won the match and it generated an audience of 55 million television viewers.

'The Sporting News 100 Years of Sports Images'
Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King in 1973.

The question remained did this have a huge impact on tennis or women’s sports in  general? This was a media spectacle, but it did have positive benefits. It demonstrated that women could be just as good entertainers in sports. Tennis got more media exposure, which was reviving a sport in a decline. King’s most important contribution was the founding of the Women’s Sports Foundation and the magazine Women’s Sports. The essay does a great job documenting the change and challenge in women’s tennis over the 20th century. This is one of the stronger essays in the monograph.

      The book continues with other essays about basketball, swimming, equestrian sports, kayaking, canoeing, rowing, and sailing. The game of golf is also discussed in the monograph. While a great number of sports are covered some are excluded. Weightlifting, bodybuilding, football, rugby, and martial arts are not written about. There are reasons for this. The first is that the monograph focuses solely on Olympic sports. This is limiting if one is attempting to examine women’s participation through out the entire sports world. Readers also have to consider the text was published at the end of the 20th century. Since then there has been progress. Women’s weightlifting had been added to the Olympics in the year 2000. It is important also to see what women are doing in less mainstream sports. It would not be until the early 2000s that mixed martial arts became popular. This phenomenon of women entering smaller sports deserves at least some attention. This shows that his text is a product of its time and why scholarship needs to be updated regularly. Changes in society and a field make a difference in historical perspective. There are a few women who are attempting now to form professional American football teams for women. This is the only sport that women are struggling to break into. The Women’s Football League has emerged, but gets limited press coverage compared to the NFL.

dc-divas-football
Since 2001 the DC Divas has been an active women’s professional American football team.
dc-divas
It’s unfortunate that ESPN never covers these events or games.

These recent develops may become too immense to ignore in future historiography of women’s sports. It seems strange that weightlifting is not added, considering the clearly feminist message that is conveyed in multiple essays. The emphasis on strength and power was once considered to be a male only attribute has been disproved. Women were flexing their muscles in the traditionally “male sports”  and demonstrated high levels of competence.  Not mentioning these sports, makes the book seem incomplete.

           Lucy Danzinger writes the conclusion to this compilation of essays. It celebrates that there has been a cultural shift to more of an acceptance of the female athlete. She also praises that there is a new generation of women who are confident in their sports abilities. Danzinger also states she is thankful she was able to witness such dramatic changes. The progress that has been made cannot be underestimated, but it seems she ignores the more harsh realities. There still is racism, sexism, homophobia,  and an unfair media surrounding sports culture. Although women and non-white groups have entered sport, the corporate gatekeepers and a portion of fans attempt to isolate people who are not white males. The experience for non-white women differ considering they do not have white skin privilege. It explains why the media criticizes Serena Williams more or why athletes who are not white get less press coverage. Then it cannot be ignored that there is division among class. Women who are born into working class households may have to struggle to realize their sports dreams. Combined with lower pay for professional women athletes it only adds to the burden. Homophobia still is prevalent and their are women athletes who may reject their fellow teammates just because of their sexual orientation. These are challenges that must be addressed if women are to advance in sport. Danzinger seems to miss this point and acts as if the battles have been won. Title IX has been under attack since its inception. The struggles are far from over, but it it is important to document the history of events. It can be used as a tool for future generations on how to combat injustice or discrimination.  Nike Is A Goddess   may not be the best monograph on women in sports, but it provides a general survey of women’s participation in sports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nike Is A Goddess The History Of Women In Sports Edited By Lissa Smith

Women in Physically Demanding Occupations

Firefighting, construction, policing, sports,  and military occupations are very physically demanding jobs. There are more men in these positions due to physiological and sociological factors. There are arguments that women should not be in these occupations, because sex differences in human physiology and biology are too great. This argument lacks cogency due to the fact it assumes all women are the same. Physical abilities can vary from individual to individual regardless of biological sex. This means that some men and some women are qualified for these professions, but not the whole population. Then there are sociological factors holding some women back in these professions such as discriminatory practices and unequal pay. If those factors were eliminated, that would not mean that these profession would be completely gender balanced. The difference in strength, speed, and aerobic capacity make it difficult for the average woman to handle extremely physically demanding tasks. Women of exceptional ability can handle it due to the fact their genetics allow it. If women want to enter these professions they will have to train harder than a man. Besides technical issues in exercise physiology, there are other problems that must be addressed in terms of gender integration.

         The question of physical ability tests continue to generate controversy. There are two opposing views in regards to this issue. Some state that standards should be lowered to accommodate women. The other view is that standards should be tailored specifically to the tasks relevant to the occupation and women should train to meet the criteria. The most extreme view is to not even give women a chance to try or attempt.Lowering standards is impractical and only attracts people who are unqualified. Muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and  coordination of movement   are pivotal to these jobs. Movement quality also is another physical skill that cannot be ignored. Lowering standards only perpetuates the myth that  women are biological inferiors. This will create resentment among other colleagues who believe they were just given a job position, but did not earn it.Secondly, there are women through training who have increased their muscular strength. Women’s muscles do react in a similar manner to weight training, but they have less fast twitch muscle fiber. Men have more strength and cardiovascular endurance  in terms of  absolute magnitude. This is an average estimate, but studies have been conducted that included 113 research studies of firefighters, police officers, coal miners, and construction workers. Stephen H. Courtwright conducted the study for Texas A&M University. The results showed that men scored higher in strength in cardiovascular endurance. There was no difference in movement quality. Training did help women gain higher scores, but did not eliminate the gap.

woman-lifting-weights
A meta-analysis of sex differences in physical ability

Women performed better on visual acuity, reaction time, and dexterity. It is rare that a woman will reach  the same strength level as a man who is on the same training regimen. This does not mean women cannot acquire enough strength to meet certain demands. The problem that emerges is that some elements of the test may not have as much relevance to the job or standards are raised so high to exclude women. When standards are raised so high, this would also exclude a number of men as well. It has been attempted by a number of police and firefighting  departments, but they have failed to keep out women. This leads to the other perspective of having tests tailored to specific tasks. If a candidate can do lifting required ( a firefighter carrying a hose or person) why should a score on a sit-up count exclude a candidate? It would seem ludicrous to deny them the job based on one element of physical fitness. There are cases in which some exercises are not useful at all. Women were allowed to do the flexed arm hang in the US military, but this was not an accurate measure of upper body strength. Having training programs designed specifically for women could violate employment laws. Training should be designed to target upper and lower body strength. The Los Angeles Police Department has been experimenting with this for a few years. Applicants have the most to benefit from specialized training which will reduce the time it takes and possible injury.  Women must focus on their upper body strength. Knowing the standards before attempting the tests can help an applicant train specifically for such demands.

Alana-Shipp
Women like this seem to challenge the notion that physical tests are naturally unfair to women.
Steph park 456
Through training women can gain strength.

  When examining these perspectives it seems the claim that physical ability tests are  discriminatory seems to lack credibility.  The major factor in regards to testing is how precise are the tests that are administered. There are obviously cases in which the way physical ability tests are used to exclude women. The American Civil Liberties Union has exposed this longtime time practice. It would be illegal for a job to declare no help wanted from a particular group so discrimination has to be covert. According to the ACLU employers have to prove that particular elements to a physical ability test must be relevant to the job. SWAT teams are nearly all male and the ACLU has noted tests, put more emphasis solely on upper body strength. These tests included timed runs, wall climbs, push-ups, sit-ups, and obstacle courses. Elite and tactical units have high standards, but not all are entirely relevant to the job. If a tests puts more emphasis on push-ups, it could be considered discriminatory toward women. If the test is not verified by experts in the field or physiologists it may not even be considered a precise measure of skills. Discrimination must be challenged legally and test must be designed for the purpose of fulfilling requirements of the job position. The extreme perspectives on the issue of physical ability test must also be rejected. Although they do not admit it openly, there are men who view certain professions as male only and wish to keep it that way. Their argument is that women are too different biologically to handle such work. Others just have a problem with women being in positions of authority or power. The opposite end of the spectrum is the third wave feminist argument. A faction claims that physical ability tests are just all discriminatory and that either they be eliminated or standards lowered. This is just as harmful as the extreme sexist arguments. Double standards that favor women is not an example of equality.

images (3) The original point of feminism was the promotion of equality   among the sexes. This notion of female favoritism that has emerged in a third wave feminist or post-feminist atmosphere has had more negative effects, rather than positive ones. Feminism was never meant to be a women’s special interest group; it was for the purpose of stopping social injustices against women in all realms of society. Using reason would help a declining movement. This requires acknowledging that men and women are biologically and physiologically different. Admitting so is not an indication of inferiority or superiority between the sexes. That is why physical ability tests must remain for physically demanding occupations.

           Women make up a small number in physically demanding occupations due to differences in human physiology. Men on average are stronger due to body composition and endocrinology. Testosterone allows for higher levels of muscular hypertrophy and a denser bone structure. Strength in the upper body is more pronounced, but this gap seems limited compared to women’s lower bodies. Myostatin plays a role in both sexes. This means that men and women with low myostatin could find it easier to build more muscle. The person with the mesomorphic body types may find it easier to do such demanding tasks that require strength. Men’s larger skeletal frame allows for more muscle mass to be stored on the body. When examining the upper body broader shoulders accommodates more mass in the trapezius and pectoralis major muscles.

687150783_22757461404_122_117lo
Women can build considerable muscle on their upper bodies relative to their frame, but men’s broader shoulders allows for more mass to be accommodated.
578999_301988469905206_166394655_n
Valentina Chepiga  has a powerful upper body, but her strength would not be equivalent to Arnold’s upper body.

Other than muscle and bone mass there is the difference in tendon strength. Women do have more soft tissue injuries. The reason could be that women may not elevate their collagen synthesis. Women could have a lower rate of tendon formation and lower mechanical strength of the actual tissue, which means it could be vulnerable to injury.  Both sexes are susceptible to harm if they over train, over exert their bodies, or use incorrect form. Women must be cautious when engaging in an intense training program. Men have more natural strength, which refers to the strength prior to a fitness regimen. Women who are considering entering careers of a physically demanding nature should train their bodies. Weight training has been the most effective method for increasing strength. Diet is also critical. Estrogen produces more fat, which means women metabolize food differently. Food is an essential fuel for the body , but the goal should be to increase type II fast twitch muscle fiber. Balanced and full meals can help with a training regimen. One element of sexual dimorphism that may be harder to overcome is running speed. The structure of women’s pelvises including smaller hearts and lungs would mean they would run slower. Utilizing oxygen is essential to running and aerobic capacity. It should be noted these observations are averages. There are women extraordinary talent that could meet these standards. While there are explanations that are biologically based why few women are in these occupations, the sociological explanations cannot be ignored.

    Traditionally, women have been kept out of the workforce. If they did have presence in the workforce, like other discriminated groups it was either low paying or menial. Physically demanding jobs had a unique masculine mystique to them. The ethos they generated was that of the male hero. They were idolized and young boys would dream of becoming a fireman or policeman. The image that was projected was a brave, invincible, and forceful man who was master. This image was one based on a traditional masculinity and women were not to adopt it. Besides just not being acceptable, it had a misogynist overtone. Women were considered “too timid” and “too weak” for such dangerous work. Women were also considered to be too incompetent for certain occupations. These convictions emerged out of the industrial revolution, when gender roles became more strict in regards to labor.

e863aa4b90df021bea92c47dec7ff88b
The idea that women are too cowardly, incompetent, or weak for certain professions continues to be used as a justification to exclude them.

Legal protectionism was a concept designed to “safe guard” women from a harsh society. This was not about legal protection, but excluding women from certain jobs or having equal rights.  The belief that man was woman’s defender and could not function without one was common. This not only kept women out of physically demanding jobs, but excluded them from white collar professions. There were certain convictions that women could not be doctors or scientists, because they were not intelligent enough. Protectionism reach its height in 1908 when the Supreme Court upheld Oregon’s law prohibiting the number of hours a woman could work. Legislation got so ludicrous that it prohibited women from working  more than 48 hours a week  or working jobs that required them to lift more than thirty five pounds. Some jobs had a fetal protection policy, which banned women for fear it would harm a developing life. This ban has problems when examined critically. First, a work environment should be safe enough that employees can perform their duties with out harm. If this is not done it is an occupational safety violation. Second , if a woman is capable of performing the job there is no legal justification for discrimination. Besides the law working against women in certain professions, conservative culture did as well. Women who entered the physically demanding occupations were either deemed unfeminine or in a homophobic manner had their sexuality questioned. Although these prejudices and hatreds have been challenged, there are problems with integration. Sexual harassment is a constant problem in any workplace. Chivalry although it seems harmless creates complications. Men may baby their female counterparts, because they believe they need protection or that they are the equivalent of children. A man may lift something heavy for a female co-worker even though she should be able to do the same. Women may even take advantage of this enlightened sexism, to their own detriment. Equality does not mean special privileges for a group; it means fair treatment for all. Women should not expect chivalrous or special treatment. Men and women must function as equals if full integration of these physically demanding occupations is to work.

          Women involved in construction can reveal much about women in traditionally male dominated occupations. Women often have their credentials question more, due to the fact it is assumed women have no skill or  the physical strength in building. Building and engineering has been considered a man’s job.

Special14376

The truth is women are entering this profession, because many of the legal barriers and social stigmas were eliminated.  There were some rare cases in history in which women were involved in some construction work. The Soviet Union did allow women to work in construction  or factory jobs. It was guided by the notion that socialism should challenge strict gender roles, because it reinforced bourgeoisie values. A classless society in their belief system meant that men and women would contribute to the collective economic welfare of the state. However, women still remain a small number in the construction workforce. This is again not entirely biological or sociological. It can also be economic. Construction’s well being depends on the real estate market. If it is in decline, this will automatically harm construction workers. The subprime mortgage loan crisis of the mid-2000s  was what caused a large number of US workers in the construction industry to lose their jobs. According to the United States Department of Labor from 1985 to 2007 the number of women employed in construction rose to 81.3%. This was great progress. It was set back by the loss of 2.5 million between 2007 and 2010. It has been estimated that about 300,000 women left the industry. Women only consist about 9%  of the construction industry. There are about 800,000 women still employed in the construction industry. Women now work as electricians, plumbers, laborers, managerial, professional, administrative, and production employees. Men and women do face similar risks or hazards. There are some issues that effect women more so.

Construction 567
Women doing construction work in the 1940s.
Construction 678
Woman welder working in a factory in the 20th century.

Women who have smaller tendons, ligaments, and muscle tissue could be more susceptible to injury. Decent healthcare  may not be available to workers or if there is coverage it is not substantial considering possible hazards to well being. Women who are hypertensive and are involved in physically demanding occupations could be at risk for heart disease. Health and physical condition on the job is pivotal. Progress according to current statistics is slow for women entering construction jobs. The Women’s National Law Center has reported only 200,000 women are in construction out of 7.6 million male workers. Gender segregation has declined in the workforce, however there are persistent barriers. Child care and maternity leave pose problems, which men do not have to worry about. Companies and various corporations cut benefits to maximize profits.  Single mothers involved in apprenticeships may have trouble graduating due to limited options for child care. Sexual harassment and bullying by supervisors also constitutes more stress. The women in construction report revealed by the US Department of Labor that 88% of women experienced some form of sexual harassment.

construction-woman34
Gender stereotypes also play a role. Men think women cannot build or construct anything. Older men believe that this is a role not for women.

Seeing as women can no longer be banned from such work , men attempt to make an unpleasant atmosphere. This can be detrimental to the industry on multiple levels. Discrimination excludes capable women which will harm the quality of the work. Less workers means lower productivity and overworked staff that may just leave due to unreasonable demands.Women entering the construction industry may also help with economic recovery. The United States has for decades ignored  its physical economy, letting its factories, infrastructure, and automobile industry struggle. As long as wages are not stagnant, there will be growth. A strong construction industry with workers enthusiastic to be a part of it will become essential to economic health. While it is important to understand discrimination, personal choice is also a factor. Another reason why women do not enter this field is because they may feel that physical activity is something they should not have to do.The mentality that men should do heavy lifting for women must be repudiated. It is not uncommon for women to ask men to open jars for them or move objects, without even attempting it themselves.

2014-12-01-readingplans-thumb

construction-woman56
Construction is not solely reliant on manual labor, but also the use of tools and heavy machinery.

  Women will under extra criticism and scrutiny in professions such as these. Their performance has to be of high or higher quality.  This attitude may not be completely related to gender politics. It could be both generational and class related. Traditionally, construction was seen as more of a working class type of occupation. When technology advanced machine power replaced human muscle power. Heavy equipment made construction more semi-skilled. Men and women part of a middle class background and who are younger may not want to do manual labor jobs. The post-World War II  middle class values emerge with the concept men and women should aim for white collar professions. It is unfortunate that construction work would not get as much respect as lawyer or someone working in the financial sector. After all, everyone needs a structure to live in and conduct business. Every job counts from the most menial to the highest paying . Construction is a pivotal part of the economy that cannot be neglected.

           Firefighting is another predominately male occupation. There were points in history just like construction, in which women did serve as firefighters in the US, UK, Pakistan, India, Norway,  and later on in the 20th century. What can be noticed is similar problems. Institutional  discrimination and the physical challenges complicated by sexual dimorphism. The US according to data only has 3.6 % of women as firefighters. The challenge that is the most visible is the physical tests. Applicants must hang from a pole, go up stairs with heavy equipment, and carry  large fire hoses. Some tasks are timed. There has been an attempt to modify the tests to get more women to join. These modifications were questionable and many wondered if this was simply lowering standards. This would not be an effective policy.

firefighter-woman
Here is a female firefighter. Prejudice against her would assume she is not strong enough or has the courage for such work.

   There are women who are strong enough to meet the requirements necessary. Women would need extra training before attempting the physical ability tests for fire fighters. Knowing the requirements prior and help a woman on her own train specifically for it. The stair climb requires a trainee to run on a continuous rotating staircase referred to as a step mill. The applicant has to stay on it for a total of 200 seconds. The ladder event requires the removal of  a ladder that weighs about 45 lbs. A distance will be set on how far it will be carried in the 35.6 second time frame. Hose advance is a demonstration of how the hose is to utilized when active. It must be done in a 20 second time frame. Forcible entry has applicants use a 12 lbs sledge hammer to knock down a rubber pad on a movable post. It is designed to simulate forcing open a door that is locked. The search event has applicants go through a tunnel simulating the actions involved entering a smoke filled building. The ceiling hook event helps an applicant find fires in hidden places, by learning to pull down walls. The most challenging event for women in particular would be the rescue through doorway. This requires carry a 125 lbs dummy through an obstacle course and getting it to safety. Examining these requirements, women who want to be firefighters must be able to carry and lift above the weight of 182 lbs.

023eaba41fa4d024dcc0c3c491375521
The previous picture was Erica Blockman  in her firefighter uniform. It would be a mistake to assume that because she is a woman she is not strong enough for fire fighting.  Her strength statistics show she has a 285 lbs squat, 175 lbs bench press,  and a dead lift of 365 lbs.

  It will take women longer to amass such strength required. Lowering standards is not only a horrible idea for firefighting, but it underestimates women’s capabilities. Erica Blockman who is a firefighter, personal trainer, and bodybuilder did fifteen years of training to gain the strength she required for her job. The most impressive aspect is that she only stands at 5’1 and weighs 129 pounds. Even smaller women can succeed if they try hard enough. Women with a naturally higher physical fitness level will find passing these tests much easier. Although strength and endurance is important just how accurate is it for job performance success? It may give some idea, but not the entire picture. Flexibility, coordination, and balance are not emphasized as much. These are critical elements of fitness that should also be tested. Rather than modification or lowering of standards, there should be precision analysis. This would examine every aspect to the best exercises to the most essential tasks.

03a
Sandy Ridell was also a firefighter. It would be ludicrous to hold her to lower standards.

 249471659_imggg869a_122_168lo

The ultimate priority is not just to put out fires, but to save lives. lowering standards only puts people at risk in this type of profession. Women must learn not to fear weights or building muscle. The notion that strength is an attribute a woman must not have has to disappear. Strength and muscle will help with heavy lifting. The few examples mentioned here would have probably not been successful  if they did not train before they entered their firefighting duties. If we were to do an experiment of non-trained versus weight trained  the results would reveal much. If these women did not weight train they would either fail the fitness requirements or not even finish the test. The athletic women who maintained a consistent regimen would be successful.

firewoman
Fire hoses can be very heavy, but she can do it just fine.
firewoman2
This explains how she can handle the fire hose. She has an extensive  strength training regimen .

Like other professions of this nature there are also social issues that are present. Fire stations for example were designed solely for men in their facilities. Restroom and sleeping quarters were not separate for the first women entering firefighting.  Older stations tend not to have the gender modifications for women living in a firehouse. This can be a real frustrating problem for women in firefighting. Women do not enjoy the unrelenting stares of their male counterparts in stations that do not have the facilities modified. Some facilities refuse to have their stations modified, because of the cost involved. Stations are going to need repairs over time, so this excuse seems to lack cogency. There are men who have been involved in firefighting for years , before women gained entry and still believe they should not be there. Only a strong human resources department can challenge sexist discrimination in the workplace. Other skills that a firefighter must have besides physical ones include passing knowledge based tests and a psychological evaluation.  Emergency rescues require teams and units. Full-time fire fighters have a requirement of knowing CPR and paramedic training. There is a mental aspect to this occupation that needs an individual to be calm and brave in perilous situations.

tumblr_lsl6vxd4n81r18tr8o1_400

fire-chief
Women are not just becoming fighters in the field, they are also becoming fire chiefs.

Seeing as the profession has become more skilled it requires more education. If one wants to become a part of senior management, a master’s degree or higher will improve the chances of mobility through the ranks. A university education will help with any career. People skills and communication is also important. Firefighters work with the public and having some experience in community outreach can help. Women are going to entering this profession it appears in larger numbers, so adjustments must be made.

          Law enforcement is another physically demanding profession, but not as much as firefighting or a military career. It is an occupation that has lost much respect and prestige due to police brutality, institutional racism, sexism, and a culture of general corruption. The United States has a problem with police either targeting African Americans or the use of excessive force against the public. Other nations which have authoritarian governments the police are seen as oppressors. Solutions to police misconduct and criminal acts  range from reform to adding more women to the police force. Adding more women to the police force will not be effective, seeing as there are cases in which women have engaged in excessive force or murder on a police force. This seems to be reliant on the sexist stereotype that women are more peaceful and less violent than men. To understand women on police forces, some myths must be addressed. There is an idea that a police officer  must be imposing super strong he-men to be effective. Policing is not about beating people, but it is  part detective work and solving crimes. This leads to another myth that could have more lethal consequences. The belief that women cannot defend themselves may be in a female officers mind and she may be more willing to use her gun if confronted by a male criminal. An exaggerated idea of men’s strength could cause them to use lethal force when it is not necessary. Male police officers do that even when people are unarmed.

female-cop4
This woman would have her credentials questioned because of her gender.
fat-cop
This male cop is so out of shape he resembles Chief Wiggum. However, no one would question his competence because he’s a man.

The conviction that police officers are faced with constant danger is another exaggeration. Law enforcement depending on the area is a safe profession. It is rare that there are huge numbers of police officers being killed in the street .There is also the problem of varying standards.Some police departments do not even require a college degree and settle for only a high school diploma or G.E.D equivalent. Police departments would be best if they had staff with at least a bachelor’s in criminology. This may be at the root of many problems in US police departments. An uneducated workforce is not helpful in a global economy.  The police fitness test also pose issues for women. Some observers noted the initial hiring standard was higher than the post-hiring standard. This seems backwards id one is attempting to have a certain level of retention. Then there are physical tasks that may not be related to the function of the job. Some police departments ask that applicants be able to bench press the equivalent of their weight. A more accurate estimation of upper body strength would probably be pull-ups rather than bench press exercises. Then another challenge is that the criteria varies depending on what area of the US. Here it become obvious that police departments can use physical ability tests to discriminate against women. Police departments are like firefighting departments investigated by the US Justice Department to make reasonable standards.

ability-chart
This is an example of a physical ability test for a police department. It is done on a point system of how many of the particular exercise can be performed. There are women who could do this easily, but may not reach the highest scores of the highest performing man .
woman-and-cop
If one goes off the assumption physical strength is the only attribute need to be a police officer, then this woman would be more qualified. Being a police officer involves more than just that attribute.

It is clear that there is institutional discrimination in America’s police departments. Large law enforcement agencies employ only about 15% of women. Other ethnic groups on police forces are underrepresented. What the US has is an overwhelmingly white male law enforcement establishment policing a nation that will be more diverse in the future. The lugubrious fact is that modern day policing has its roots in the slave patrols in the Antebellum South during the 19th century. There is a system of white supremacy that operates in US law enforcement that must be overturned. Combined with a culture of hyper-machismo and hate the police are seen as a menacing force. History and culture have created an atmosphere of acceptable violence. Critics and observers have claimed that if more women were on law enforcement agencies, police killings would be reduced. Statistics do show women police officers are least likely to use their weapon and first use communication to diffuse intense situations. Although this seems promising there are also instances in which women have killed on police forces. The small number of women on police forces can also distort this data. One example is Alicia White, one of the six police officers charge with the murder Fredie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland. She was the only female killer police officer, which is a rare. However, if more women were to join law enforcement crimes like these would increase. Diversifying a police force will not change behavior unless the law is equally enforced for wrong doing in a law enforcement agency.

female-cop-34
There has been progress, but it has been minimal. African American women are more underrepresented on US police forces. Other ethnic groups or religious groups are as well.

Only after multiple police acts of murder and discrimination suits has the Justice Department begun to take action. This is happening at a time when the US is at a cross roads. Law enforcement agencies are undergoing militarization which is causing a level of discomfort for people concerned about civil liberties. Influenced by an irrational fear of possible terrorist attack, this will become a major legal battle.  There must be more efforts made to recruit women  and other ethnic groups into law enforcement and have officers be accountable to the law.

    The military has been shown to be more resistant to women being in its ranks. Women in combat has become another wedge issue that both the political right and left try to capitalize on. Women soldiers not only face war, but sexual abuse and rape from men in their own army. As noted earlier sexual harassment is present in both law enforcement agencies and firefighting, but the US  military has a prevalent crime issue of rape and sexual assault. Then there are the detractors who state women are not designed for combat roles. The fact is women are already in combat. Iraq and Afghanistan are not traditional wars in the sense that there are front lines. Women were fighting already in an unofficial and support capacity. Now women have the option of entering a military occupational specialty (mos). This may be a more difficult place for women to excel at. The physical tests are difficult and it is a military culture  that seems to be misogynistic in attitude. The marines have a problem with this, which seem to have a fraternity mindset and engages in hazing behavior. A general lack of professionalism seems to plague the US military at the moment.

05b6877c685890a24b6bd17d43eb8388
Women in cultural engagement teams may see combat unexpectedly. Afghanistan continues to deteriorate and is analogous to America’s defeat in the Vietnam War.

 The physical challenges are a burden to women. If a woman is anticipating a military career, its best they exercise before they join. Women do not have as much natural strength, which explain higher rates of injury. This means even basic training can be difficult. Getting the muscles physically ready for vigorous activity is critical. The Army Physical Fitness Test has standards that are adjusted according to age and sex. Other branches of the US military have different standards which include the Navy, Marine Corps, Navy Seals, Green Berets, and Air Force. Depending on which branch an individual wants to fight with, it’s best to train on your own time for it to meet the physical fitness standards. Women’s smaller frames and lower strength does not explain all the higher injury rates. Musculoskeletal injuries have been increasing due to heavy gear. This not only hinders mobility, but harms a soldier’s health. It becomes worse for men and women marching under load. Marines could on average carry up to 135 pounds of gear or more, which ergonomic standards is not best for human movement. A 2001 Army Science Board study found that overloaded gear caused fatigue faster and injury as well. Soldiers came back with connective tissue issues, spine injuries, and arthritic conditions.

2541525104ef62e92a1615d421ffb2f9
An Australian soldier carrying gear. This could cause health issues if not addressed.

     Loads need to be reduced to prevent soldier injury. Women could be at risk for more of these medical issues because of their smaller size. Developing upper body strength could help with prevention of injuries in the chest and neck. Programs such as Executive Office Soldier have been leading efforts to lighten gear and protect soldiers from health risks. The progress has been slow with PEO  gradually producing armor that fits the female frame. Ammunition can weigh up to 70 pounds in total  and water containers are up to 17 additional pounds. If women are to carry large loads or injured soldiers fitness double standards must be challenged. The pull-ups controversy has been hounding the women in combat issue since 2013. There was a three pull-up requirement that has since been reversed. There are women who can do more than three pull-ups if they train hard enough. The flexed arm hang seems useless, but women are given this as the only option. Changing the standard only gives detractors more talking points. The persistent argument against women in combat is that they are too weak and not capable. Normally the statement is a “a woman is not strong enough to lift a man who is injured.”The casualty drag is preformed by all soldiers and women have shown it can be done. One simple method is the use of the fireman’s carry. Although this is not done in full combat gear,  adding weight could make it more difficult. If a woman has a high enough level of strength and proper fitting armor it will not be a failure.

military-woman234 this-woman-is-fighting-fitness-double-standards-in-the-marines-body-image-1464297352-size_1000

There has to be a change in convictions. The notion that warfare is male only has to be challenged. Through out history women did fight in wars. This has not been studied as thoroughly, but Dahomey, Russia, and Vietnam at certain points had women in combat. Despite these facts, Westerners in particular automatically think warrior means male. This goes back to the masculine hero image that these occupations present. It is not only in cultural attitudes, but in advertising, film, and other forms of entertainment. The US military wants to present an image of a force of strong dangerous men who are invincible. This does not represent the truth, but an idea they want the public to have. Many who are in the US military are not there for financial reasons or young people seeking a method to get to college. There are also families who have a tradition of just participating. For men it was considered honorable, but women were given limited praise for their contributions.

These World War II posters from the US demonstrate a level of subtle sexism. The soldier who claims he “throw’s like a girl” indicates women do not have that ability. The other poster takes a hit at a man’s masculinity by having a woman in a Navy uniform, implying that  a male that does not join is woman like. 

Women have been increasing in numbers in the US armed forces since 1978. This trend will most likely continue considering the US military does offer benefits and a pathway to pay for a university education. Adjustments must be implemented before possible disasters happen. This means the US military must prosecute sex crimes, stop fitness double standards, and end banning women from combat positions. Most importantly, the United States must stop nation building projects and conducting aggressive war.

          Professional sport is another physically demanding occupation that women have entered. There is not an equal playing field. Women still make less than there male counterparts in professional sports. Women’s sports get less media and television coverage. Detractors say that women do not perform to the same level as men and therefore will not be marketable. This argument lacks cogency for several reasons. While it is true that women do not perform to records equal of a male athlete, there are many who are extremely talented. The Williams sisters, Ronda Rousey, Dafne Schippers, Allyson Felix ,Simone Biles, and Michelle Carter prove they have a great amount of athletic skill. These are just a few women who prove who can achieve athletic strength and feats. It also has to understood sports is more than just about records and performance; you have to be an entertainer. This adds to the excitement of the game and woman have shown they can entertaining. Also some sports that women participate in do generate a fan base  in mainstream and subcultural circles. Female bodybuilding has a subcultural following although not popular among the mainstream public. Serena Williams has generated positive publicity for tennis.

The problem here is not the lack of talent, but corporate media gatekeepers and detractors that want to keep women out of sport. Then there are some sports that do not have a female equivalent. American football does not have a female division in the NFL. There are women who have been attempting to organize professional football for women in the United States. This also poses a problem with sports such as wrestling. This small sport is normally overshadowed by football in middle and high schools in the United States. The funding for it is limited and many times there is no female division. Girls can play and try out on these teams if a female division is not present in accordance with  Title IX. However, coaches and parents still want to prevent girls from participating, even though they have no intention of forming a girls team. There are critics and some feminists who say that separating sports between men and who is naturally unequal. The differences in physiology and biology  in regards to strength, speed, and aerobic capacity would mean large numbers of women could be shut out from sport. There is obviously a level of overlap between individuals, but if full mixed competition were to happen women’s number would resemble that of the police and firefighting. Sports such as boxing, weightlifting, and mixed martial arts would but women at a disadvantage due to the emphasis on upper body strength. The solution is simple. Women must be provided an division for each sport. Just like their are weight classes for various sports, there is no reason this cannot be done for the sake of fairness.

jackie-mitchell-shaking-hands-with-babe-ruth
Jackie Mitchell  is an example of overlap. She was the only woman to pitch out Babe Ruth in baseball.

 Women who have the strength and power to compete directly with men in sport should not be discouraged from doing so. If she feels she is not being challenged enough with her female colleagues, she should at least have the opportunity to try. This approach seems more practical in the long term. Although more women are involved in sports traditional prejudices and barriers remain. Sex verification tests still are present. Notably, Caster Semenya had to take one, which generated much criticism and backlash. Young women may not have access to equal training facilities as their male counter parts. Women are intensely scrutinized  for their athletic and muscular appearance.  Low pay and limited career opportunities make retention difficult. Women’s team sports do struggle. Even if this is so women continue to perform well under stress, pressure, and an unsupportive environment.

         A basic analysis of women in physically demanding occupations reveals that there are biological and sociological reasons why they are underrepresented. A sociological perspective reveals that women were legally barred and discriminated against in the workforce. This was holding them back as a group. It has been somewhat reversed, but elements of culture needed to be discarded. The emphasis on women’s gender roles and being kept in a state of domesticity is not compatible for today’s modern global economy. Anyone who is able to work, must to maintain economic health of a nation. This means women must be full participants. The days of a man being the sole bread winner have ended due to  the social changes brought about by globalization.  Both parents in contemporary America have to work if they are to pay bills, send their children to college, and have a comfortable retirement. The biological reason for women’s low numbers is clear. Men are on average stronger than women giving them  a bigger chance to pass physical tests. Women who are stronger than average or train hard to reach a fitness level required can do these jobs. They do face more harassment, bullying, and an unpleasant atmosphere, because of the intolerance of their male counterparts. Lack of strength or other qualifications does not explain why women may quit at higher rates.  There are efforts to push women out of firefighting, law enforcement, sports, and the military. Similar arguments of biological inferiority were made when women began entering higher education. It was believed that women were less intelligent and could not excel at the sciences or mathematics. This has changed and even though the numbers are small women are making progress in the scientific fields. Although those fields required mental skill and deep thought biological arguments were made to exclude them. It is widely accepted that neither sex is more intelligent than the other. Sexual dimorphism is  not enough to exclude someone from an occupation, if they are qualified and capable. The best approach to this problems regarding women involved is to start recruitment efforts, get women more involved in fitness regimens, and enforce anti-discrimination laws. If feminists want to be helpful in reducing the wage gap, they need to encourage women to go into male dominated occupations. Lowering standards is not equality, but insulting to women who are capable. Only when barriers and social stigmas are removed, women can reach their full potential in these fields.

 References

Prinzivalli, By Leah. “This Woman Is Fighting Fitness Double Standards in the Marines | VICE | United States.” VICE. Vice News, 26 May 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.vice.com/read/this-woman-is-fighting-fitness-double-standards-in-the-marines&gt;.

Chemaly, Soraya. “Would Fewer People Get Killed If More Police Officers Were Women?” Womens ENews. Women’s ENews, 20 July 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://womensenews.org/2016/04/would-fewer-people-get-killed-if-more-police-officers-were-women/&gt;.

Cox, Matthew. “Heavy Loads Could Burden Women’s Infantry Role.”Military.com. Military.com, 5 Apr. 2013. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/04/10/heavy-loads-could-burden-womens-infantry-role.html&gt;.

Lee, Mara. “Progress Still Slow For Women Breaking Into Construction Jobs.”Courant.com. Courant, 11 Jan. 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.courant.com/business/hc-women-in-the-trades-20160111-story.html&gt;.

Vatelli, Romeo. “Do Tests of Physical Ability Discriminate Against Women?”Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 02 Sept. 2013. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/media-spotlight/201309/do-tests-physical-ability-discriminate-against-women&gt;.

Fields, Cassie. “Are Physical Tests Fair to Females?” – Women in Law Enforcement. Women in Law Enforcement Blog, 13 July 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.policemag.com/blog/women-in-law-enforcement/story/2012/07/are-physical-tests-fair-to-females.aspx&gt;.

Annilo, John. “The Police Physical Ability Test: Would You Meet the Requirements?” Breaking Muscle. Breaking the Muscle, 7 Feb. 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://breakingmuscle.com/military-first-responders/the-police-physical-ability-test-would-you-meet-the-requirements&gt;.

Spillar, Kathy. “The Nation’s Police Have a Sex-Discrimination Problem.” Ms Magazine Blog. Ms Magazine, 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://msmagazine.com/blog/2014/09/30/the-nations-police-have-a-sex-discrimination-problem/&gt;.

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.” Construction Industry. United States Department of Labor, 8 Oct. 2014. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <https://www.osha.gov/doc/topics/women/&gt;.

“Women and Physical Ability Tests.” American Civil Liberties Union. American Civil Liberties Union, 6 Feb. 2014. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <https://www.aclu.org/issues/womens-rights/womens-rights-workplace/women-and-physical-ability-tests&gt;.

Fredman, Josh. “What Does It Take to Be a Woman Fireman?” Houston Chronicle. N.p., 10 Sept. 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://work.chron.com/woman-fireman-15474.html&gt;.

Women in Physically Demanding Occupations