Amazon Feminism Erasing Biology as A Barrier to Equality

Amazon Feminism Erasing Biology

This writing from the Being Feminist Blog examines what is amazon feminism and its wider meaning. At first this term and ideology may be perplexing when first heard. This type of feminism falls under the third wave and promotes the idea that developing women’s physical prowess is a means to achieve gender equality. Its origins are ambiguous, but some link it to ideas by Ayn Rand the 20th century Objectivist philosopher. There is a dedication to the image of the female hero and female physical strength. Like any belief system it has particular flaws. Sexists tend to use the fact men and women are different as evidence that women are inferior. This is a fabrication, because human evolution disproves such notions. The other end of the spectrum wants to believe that men and women are not different in terms of their biology and physiology. Thomas Gramstand explained this belief ” Amazon feminism is concerned about physical equality and is opposed to gender role stereotypes against women based on assumptions that women are supposed to be, look, behave as if they are passive, weak, and physically helpless.”While it is rational to challenge gender stereotypes, the concept of physical equality has issues. It assumes that women are in their natural state are physically inferior and therefore must work to compete with men on a physical level. There is a misconception that the reason men dominate society is that their greater physical strength allows them to do so. Some third wave feminists believe this too and think if women were as physically strong as men this would erase inequality. This is not true due to the fact it is property ownership and unequal incomes  are the root of much of the oppression in society. Taking such a position in the concept of physical equality means one assumes the female body is biologically inferior. There are plenty of physically strong women, but they are still subject to sexist discrimination like other women. Amazon feminism is great in the belief that a physically strong woman is not an abnormality, but an admirable role model.

          The Randian origins of amazon feminism are questionable in regards to whether they are really progressive. There are some interpretations in which Rand is described as  rejecting gender role collectivism and embracing absolute freedom. The basis of Rand’s Objectivism was that pursuit of one’s happiness is paramount  and that our reality is independent from consciousness. This emphasis on self over others and absolute freedom does not seem as enlightened as one would assume. Rand ideas have become popular with American libertarians and conservatives, even though she may not have described herself as such. Maybe women who do develop themselves physically to an extend are following a path of objectivism. Many women participate in sports or nontraditional jobs doubtless of what society thinks. To them they are pursuing what makes them happy or making rational self interest a priority. However, man is not an island to himself, people are part of communities and wider societies. These bonds cannot not be broken, simply because humanity is a social species.

This extreme individualism could be applied to how some women do not want to conform to societal expectations of what a woman can be or do. This takes on a version of heroism that Rand exalted in her works.  The hero struggles to produce art or achieve a goal in which society may reject, but ultimately the individualist will triumph over the collective. This was emphasized in The Fountainhead  in which Howard Roark would not sacrifice his architectural artistic vision. From this perspective women athletes and those in physically demanding professions seem like a paradigm of a Randian hero. It should be understood that Rand was not a feminist. Ayn Rand said that she would never vote for a female president. It seems that she believed that type of job would not be suitable for women based on their nature. She once stated that “women ruling over men  puts them in a very uncomfortable position.” Clearly she believed that that would be too much for women to handle. There have been other nations that have had female leaders both in the past in present. Good leadership comes from reason, patience, perseverance, and understanding. One’s sex would have nothing to do with these qualities. Rand also thought that feminists were looking for hand outs and were harming men.

This is an example of how some ideas from not so progressive people are either adopted or used for other ideologies. Rand would probably not agree with amazon feminism entirely seeing as she would think its just women trying to compete with men for the sake of it. However, she might agree with the concept of not being conformist or part of the collective perspective on women’s proper roles according to society. While amazon feminism does have elements of objectivism, it cannot be counted as a Randian philosophy.

        Sex differences cannot be counted a barrier. They are not going to be erased unless human evolution or genetic engineering make that possible. The only way physiological and biological differences create barriers is in physically demanding occupations. The average woman will have a more difficult times passing physical tests, especially ones that require upper body strength. The average man has more muscle mass and greater aerobic capacity giving them advantages in jobs that require high levels of physical fitness. However, with training women can reach physical fitness targets or requirements. The fact that they are female does not stop them from either becoming firefighters, law enforcement officers, soldiers, or athletes. There will continue to be lower numbers of women in these professions.

There will be in the future more women in athletics seeing as they compete in their own leagues. Still some sports for them have to reach a level of development. Baseball and football is a small area compared to other sports for women. It should be understood women’s lower numbers do not have to do solely with biology. There have been historically jobs that women have been banned from. Front line infantry is one example . Women even if they were qualified were not allowed in combat jobs simply on the basis of their sex. The weak sex stereotype was influencing officials’ decisions, but since it has been reversed. The idea of female frailty is still stuck in peoples’ minds, even when there are physically strong women who refute this idea. Yet, biology cannot be ignored entirely . The average male has about 40% muscle mass compared to women’s 30%. Women contain a higher body fat percentage, which also explains the differences in strength. Estimates vary, but women can have close to 60% of the upper body strength of a man and 80% of the lower body strength when the size is held constant. Other that maximum physical fitness capacity, women still experience muscular hypertrophy under an exercise regimen.

When one see women in professions that require physical skill this proves that biology is not a barrier. Their are eugenic concepts that are still presented as fact about women’s bodies. The persistent belief is that women of such a physical fitness level cannot have children or that it damages the reproductive system. Women’s bodies were never designed to be strong or powerful. These ideas that developed during the Victorian age in medical circles have since been discredited. There still is a work to be done studying how design the most effective training regimen for women in terms of exercise physiology. Most studies have been conducted on male athletes. Sex differences are not proof of inferiority, rather the product of evolution.

       The physical equality concept seems to fall in the realm of power feminism. This faction of the ideology believes not in equality, but that women should just amass as much power and challenge men at every level.  This is nothing more than gender antagonism that is promoted by men’s rights advocates. This hostility is attempt for one group to either impose patriarchy or matriarchy on society. If gender bias were their real concern they would favor a sex equality movement rather than feminism or men’s rights . While women in some countries have made progress in business, science, and politics there is one arena that power feminists want to infiltrate. Sports and the fitness world are areas they want to compete with men directly. Some claim that women’s divisions in sports is an example of sex segregation and differences in women’s performances are sociologically based. The power feminists think that women’s lack of physical strength is the only aspect that is holding them back. This view point has multiple problems.It assumes that all men are stronger than all women and that is how men maintain control . Society is controlled by economic and political structures, which women have been excluded from in various periods of history. The hostility to basic anatomical and physiological science mirrors religious fundamentalist hatred of evolution. Prior to puberty girls and boys are similar in their physical fitness capacities.

Puberty Growth Pattern

Boys and girls development

The changes in the endocrine system alter the bodies of girls and boys. While boys are slower to develop , ultimately they become larger in size and have more muscle mass. By the end of the process males have 150 % more muscle mass and twice as many muscle cells compared to women. Lung and heart size also effect aerobic capacity with men having more hemoglobin. The bone, ligament, and tendons are larger adding to total body strength. Women’s physical capacity would not match that of the highest performing males. There are exceptions to this, due to the fact there is variation in human populations. These developments are a part of sexual dimorphism. While it can not be ignored that there are sociological factors such as body image, access to exercise facilities, and lack of opportunity  that contribute to a difference in women’s athletic performance biology does play a role. The highest performing women still do not perform to the level of the highest performing men. Having women play with men would eliminate large portions of women form sport. This would be true of sports that involve more upper body strength such as weightlifting or boxing. If a woman is strong and skilled enough to play on a men’s team there should be no reason to prohibit her from doing so. Power feminists have brought up perspectives that contradict proven scientific knowledge.

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There are sports that have already have done mixed competitions. Tennis, korfball, race car driving,  and bodybuilding have done competitions in which have male and female players together.This has not generated any controversy of any kind. It should be realized that the physically fit woman would be stronger than the average man. Considering that it would seem the goal of physical equality has been achieved. Women participate in  just about every sport that exists.

The biggest problem is having equal coverage and sponsorship in media outlets. That seems to be the biggest challenge to women’s sports. The internet has helped in many ways in which the older media outlets have not.  Media coverage and fair portrayals could improve the financial situation in women’s sports. Women’s divisions are not sex segregation in the vein of apartheid South Africa or Jim Crow America. They were made so that women have a fair chance at athletic competition. It is the same for weight divisions. This is not discrimination against smaller people, but making sure they can compete on an equal basis. A 120 pound woman would be at disadvantage against a woman who 150 pounds in a particular athletic contests.

   There are other factor that are are part of athletic performance which include skill, speed, and experience. This could possible negate some of the advantages, but not all of them. The strongest women would struggle to compete with the strongest men. The desire to compete with men in that sense does not seem possible, despite power feminist  rhetoric.

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This book asks can women be equal as long as men are stronger? Well it should be noted inequality had nothing to do with strength. Property ownership, job security, and education were out of reach for women. The lack of freedom and independence kept women subordinate.

The reason for this perspective is that women of think like this believe that men would use their strength to violently subjugate women. Self defense and strict laws against domestic violence can prevent such events from occurring. Part of this is overcoming some women’s fear of men. There may be an element of internalized self hatred that induces an inferiority complex. This may explain why some women may feel the need to constantly prove themselves, even when it is clear they have ability. There could be a small and extremist section of power feminist who seek to see men treated awfully. They merely want to acquire power form themselves with the intention of abusing it. It seems that the power feminists have a desire to replace patriarchy not with an equal society, but with matriarchy. This is the wrong pathway and has caused many to reject feminism entirely. Women who even believe in women’s rights do not want to use that label. The stereotypes of angry woman or man hater then appear constantly in media, which also causes people to reject the ideology.

Rational arguments and debate is what is needed in society. It is not sexist to say that men are stronger than women . It is misogynistic to say this gives men the right to rule over women. This is why physical equality is a bizarre concept. There are obviously men that are stronger than other men and women who are stronger than most men. Equality does not meaning being the same. People vary in their abilities and talents, but that does not mean any one group is superior. Maybe the term physical equality is more of a misnomer. The accurate description is that women are gaining the benefits fitness and  control of  their bodies.

       Amazon feminism is having an impact on society. The vision of heroic womanhood is emphasized in the acts and bodies of women of great physical strength. There is a new image of power that celebrates sportswomen, soldiers, astronauts, firefighters, and women of great power. It has cultural roots in ancient myth and modern day pop culture .The amazons of ancient myth were warrior women who lived in societies apart from men. These myths did not always glorify the bravery and strength of women. Scholars of literature and the classics believe it was a way to deter women from independence. Greek myths have male heroes either defeat or kill amazons in most of their adventures. Hercules combated amazons and specifically to Hippolyta’s girdle. Theseus was said in one Greek myth to have encountered the amazon queen. One version was that he was able to abduct and marry her after being defeated in war. Another notable myth was that of Achilles and Penthesila during the Trojan War. Achilles kills her and falls in love with her. He lamented what he had done sobbing over her cadaver. The creation of the amazon in myth represents man’s desire for a strong woman, but also simultaneous fear . There have been cases in which women warriors have appeared in history in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. It is only now that nations are officially letting women in combat positions. The image of powerful female is radical because at no point in history has it been so visible. This is the first time in history women have developed themselves physically to a maximum extent.

There is a slow, but gradual acceptance of women developing themselves in a way that was not considered appropriate. As women gain more freedom and independence, they no longer fear doing something that challenges traditional culture. The most fascinating element is that strength and physical power are no longer considered a male only attribute.Women who are strong are not considered unfeminine. While their resistance to change, it is clear it cannot be stopped. As for popular culture, there are more female heroes that appear on television and film. Women characters are becoming more diverse in personality and roles. It seemed that the only role was the commonly used trope of damsel in distress. Wonder Woman one of DC’s popular characters was one of the first successful female  superheroes. Other existed before, but none reached a high level of success.  The new type of female character is no one dimensional and does not need male assistance to complete a task.

      While there is change in the world of entertainment and fiction, there has been in perception. There are a group of men who are finding the idea strong woman attractive. Although there is not a specific number, the physically fit woman has gained attention. The internet has given the female athlete more exposure. Although the traditional media outlets such as television have failed to cover their sports, athletes can use social media to  promote their sports and themselves.Maybe these women could be considered modern amazons. To say that women were victims of man-made or biological circumstances does not seem to be accurate. It is just that women now have more control of their own bodies. Yet, there still is a battle for women to maintain basic reproductive rights. Access to contraception and abortion are still out of reach for many women in the world. The last stage of  women’s complete liberation is control of the body. Relevant to the amazon feminism concept, women are choosing how they should. Societal beauty standards are ignored in favor of a woman’s own version of beauty. This emphasis on fitness and exercise had a positive effect on women ‘s health.  Diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease are risks to women in later life. Title IX was a major opportunity for women to get involved in sports, but it as became an important measure in public health. As more women engage in exercise and physical fitness activities this has changed how women view their health and image. Most importantly, it done for themselves rather than to please men or satisfy society.

The female athletic body is making an appearance in sports magazines and advertisements. This mainstream exposure is becoming larger, even though many do not seem to notice.  There could also be some boost from a loose movement of body acceptance. It is not just the presence of female athletes, but women are now more active in gyms. There women in personal training and their are women’s only operated facilities. This however is not even distributed. Nations that are developed economically  have more time for leisure compared to one attempting to modernize or industrialize. There is a female fitness culture that is developing and it is having an international reach.

      Human evolution produced immense variety in the world’s population. This can be said of human body size. Sexual dimorphism could be the result of sex selection and environment. Early primates may have selected mates based on particular features. Therefore propagating sets of genes. An environment with more food would mean better nutrition and more growth. The more fossils discovered the more humanity learns about  itself. The genus homo had other members which included homo erectus, homo habilis, homo rudofensis, homo floresiensis, homo neanderthalensis, homo heidelbergensis, homo antecessor, homo nadeli,  and homo sapiens. All these organisms had sexual dimorphism. The fact that males were stronger did not account for the rise in inequality. This can be discredited, because there could have been women stronger than men but did not seek to inflict violence or domination.

 

 Hunter gatherer communities needed the labor of both men and women. These societies required more collaboration. There was not a system of hierarchy that labelled people as subordinates or lower status. With the rise of agriculture, permanent settlements, and land ownership this created the inequality that persists to present. Women were excluded from this process by law and discrimination. The formation of government also contributed to societal inequality. Civil and human rights are a relatively new concept to human history. The citizen of the ancient to medieval past had limited legal protection from the state. Human evolution proves that their is no inferior group of people. Men, women, and people of different ethnic backgrounds belong to one human species. While it is difficult for religious fanatics and racists  to accept this, it is more puzzling why some third wave feminists also reject science in a similar fashion.

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Sex differences or understanding sexual dimorphism is not being anti-woman. There exists a faction of third wave feminist who see it as endorsing the idea of male supremacy. This wrong if anything the study of biology, physiology, anthropology, and anatomy prove that female inferiority is a myth. These critics often confuse actual science with social darwinism  and eugenics. These ideas born out of Europe and North America were produced by individuals who were not even scientists themselves or scientists that were motivated by political agendas based on their prejudices during the late 19th to mid 20th century. Such mendacious theories could not sustain the process of the scientific method. One should not confuse being the same with being equal. The reason why the human population is diverse is that it protects from genetically inherited diseases. This may explain why humanity has become such a successful species. When some see a strong woman they say it is “unnatural.”  Nature is in fact very random, erratic, and unpredictable. Ecosystems can change and human beings are still evolving. What is natural could just be relative. Women come in all shapes and sizes, which is just part of natural human variation.

The concept of body image distorts what bodies can be and  what they should look like. Everyone will look different, however there is a drive to present beauty or what is natural as one paradigm. Women’s biology is not a barrier to advancement. It is the societal structures surrounding law, politics, and finance which keep women in a subordinate position. When barriers to education, employment,  and equal justice are removed then women can advance in society.

       Biological and sex differences are not barriers to equality, but human made institutions are.  Amazon feminism may not be as notable as other ideological factions of feminism such as the socialist, radical, or liberal version. This body of thought has had an impact on world culture as more societies across the globe want to mobilize women in the economy and public sphere.  The march of progress is slow and transformation will come. There is another battle that remains and it is women gaining full control of their bodies. This has been historically denied to them with lack of contraception or reproductive rights. This has been challenged in nations in the West and continues through out the world. Not only did women not have control of the state of their reproductive health, body image was rigidly defined. Through out history men were dictating beauty standards to women. Now there are a portion of women defining it for themselves. Women are embracing an image of strength and it is more visible. It is a small movement in the sports and fitness world. Women are discovering the benefits of physical skill and prowess more so than in the past. Amazon feminism can be considered  more of a cultural revolution rather than a political one. The image of woman has been changed forever.

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Amazon Feminism Erasing Biology as A Barrier to Equality

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

What is an Alcoholic by Kortney Olsen

Kortney Olsen bodybuilder and champion armwrestler explains what alcoholism is in this video. Modern medicine now has come to the realization that addiction is a disease. It has both biological and sociological factors. Chemical dependence alters the function of particular neurotransmitters. There is also a human cost. Families become dysfunctional when a member becomes subject to addiction. Children with parents who are alcoholics live in unstable households. Kortney speaks about her struggles with addiction and being a child of an alcoholic parent. Alcoholism is a broad based term, but is not specifically a disease. It can sometimes be classified as a psychiatric condition known as alcohol dependence syndrome. There are many reasons why people become alcoholics. Stress, life trauma, genetic factors, and availability of substances. Then there is limited self control. While Korntey says it has nothing to do will power, this is not entirely true. Living in a society of abundance encourages people to over indulge and be excessive in various areas of life. Through counseling, interventions, and medical research alcoholism can be effectively fought.

What is an Alcoholic by Kortney Olsen

Even the IDF Agrees: Men Are Better Suited Than Women For Military Combat

Even the IDF Agrees: Men Are Better Suited Than Women For Military Combat

This blog post from Big Bad Uber Mother Hen gives the reasons why women in their view are not suited for combat. It was originally published in 2013 when the Pentagon announced that women were no longer banned from military occupational specialties. Women have been in combat before this announcement, because the nature of warfare is changing. The frontline has disappeared and conventional warfare may no longer be the standard. Women have fought in both Afghanistan and Iraq with little recognition. While it is clear physiology and sexual dimorphism can be a factor in combat performance, the argument to maintain the ban or exclude women completely lacks a forceful basis. The author seem to want to prevent women from at least even trying. The ironic part about this is that this post was written by a woman.  She state “while there are undoubtedly some women who are quite capable of performing combat duty, men are better suited to combat duty.” Then goes on to say  “It’s not a matter of discrimination, it’s a matter physiology.” There are been numerous cases through out history that women have served in combat roles across the globe. Being female does not make you a less effective soldier. Training and strategy are essential in producing a functioning military.

           The evidence she provides is accurate in terms of physiological capability. The problem is she uses it to distort information in favor of her position. The muscular strength difference is apparent even in equally trained men and women. The approximations given by physiology academic papers show women were 52 % as strong in the upper body and 66% as strong in the lower body. The difference in skeletal mass is also greater in men. Men can have up to 33 kg, while women have 21 kg in absolute terms. When the weight is the same or relative it can be estimated 38.4% (men) and 30.6% (women). Endocrinology is a factor, because testosterone allows for more protein synthesis. Type II muscles fibers are larger in men, which are responsible for more explosive power. The author fails to recognize that women can gain strength through a weight training regimen. The amount of strength a woman can gain through weight training depends age, fitness level, diet, and specific exercise program.

Mesomorphic body types will have an easier time doing tasks that require strength. Ectomorphs may not be able to build large muscles. They can still build strength through weight lifting. Women and men’s muscles at the cellular level are identical. This means they still respond similarly to microtrauma induced by weight lifting. The training must be consistent to be effective. The rate of gain documents the total muscle mass accumulated from exercise. The American Council on Exercise has reported a woman can gain 40% muscular strength after months of weight training. It is possible for a person to accumulate a half pound of muscle per week. Diet is critical as well from gaining strength. Protein, unsaturated fats, whole grains, and fresh produce contribute to muscular hypertrophy. Sugars, processed foods, trans-fat, and saturated fats will cause the increase in fat. Women seeing as they produce more estrogen, need to pay extra attention to diet. Training must be conducted in a specific manner. Women must lift heavy enough to cause fatigue. This has to be done in 8 to 12 repetitions. Lighter weights will only improve muscular endurance, rather than muscular strength.

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Adding new exercises and gradually increasing the weight will help in improving strength. Increasing the weight every 4 to 6 weeks will help stimulate the muscle and allow for greater hypertrophy. If women are seeking to get into a military occupational specialty, they should look at the physical standards and design an exercise regimen specific to the job. Even before basic training women should exercise prior to entry. The author presents an the frailty myth in a new way, attempting to be objective. It has been discovered that women’s involvement in resistance training  allows for significant gain in strength. Proportionally, their muscular strength gains are greater. Men are still stronger, but comparatively further muscle strength gains are lower. The reason for this may be that women have lower strength levels initially, which makes the data seem immense. Then again, it could be genetic uniqueness specific to certain women.

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The influence of periodized resistance training on strength changes in men and women.

Having the right training and exercise plan can reduce physiological barriers. The author wants to make a convincing argument but never mentions other elements of physiology.

        aerobic capacity she failed to mention. Oxygen consumption helps tissues during work. This also is essential in running. There are physical standards in which women have to run at a certain distance and time, which could be a bigger challenge. Women have smaller hearts and lungs than their male counterparts. The heart allows for the transport of blood and oxygen to transported to muscles of the body. This means their aerobic power is lower. It is established that women have legs muscles that are closer to men in strength. The assumption would be that they could run just as fast. The structure of the pelvis makes women’s running speeds slower as well. The heart is a muscle and through aerobic training it can increase in size. Males see greater increase in heart size through aerobic training. This also has a risk of cardiac arrhythmia with increase in heart size. This seems to be a physiological difference that may no be overcome as easy as strength gain. One method is to tailor training specific for women. Knowing these differences can help design such programs. Lactate threshold training allows a runner to store enough energy to run at a maximal pace. Interval training with a lactate threshold pace 10 to 15 seconds per mile can improve performance.

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A woman does not have to be Elaine Thompson to meet the running requirements. Training like her could benefit women planning to enter military service. She was not born a runner, she had to work her way to gain Olympic accomplishment. Part of the problem is that exercise physiology mostly has focused on the male body. Women’s bodies through out medical history were either considered too taboo to examine or were not worthy of investigation. This has only changed in the last decades.

           Physical strength has been used as a justification to keep women out of combat occupations. These similar arguments were used by fire fighting departments, police, and construction. The common argument is that a woman does not have the strength to lift a grown man. There are women who can perform a fire man’s carry and it can be easily learned. The issue also is combat armor and gear. This has caused a high number of musculoskeletal injuries.

Detractors use this as evidence of  why women should be banned from certain MOS. Women have higher injury rates, because they have less natural strength. Men’s injury rates are higher now due to the fact the gear weighs more. This by all ergonomic standards is not healthy and is causing osteoarthritis in many soldiers. Armor has to be reduced in weight so it does not effect mobility or bone health. Women must pay extra attention to their joints considering they are looser in comparison to their male counterparts.

ACL tears should be prevented through training. One solution to this issue is that women must train also to gain as much upper body strength. There is a limit. Men have broader shoulders allowing for more muscles to placed there. That means more muscle tissue for recruitment. The disparity can even be seen in men and women of similar size. Women will have to work harder to achieve certain results. Women must acquire enough strength so that they can perform casualty drags, while not fatiguing quickly.

 The added weight of gear and the combination of poorly fitting armor are a problem for the US military. The production of armor that fits the female frame better has been going on since 2011. Armor that actually fits will prevent injury and reduce weight burden. If weight load is too much the result will be a stress fracture. The good news is that progress has been made now that women are entering combat jobs. The vests needed a redesign especially. The upper body section was so wide in the Kelvar vests women when they sat down it could rise up ti their chin. A colloquial term known as turtling  was developed by female soldiers to describe the phenomenon. The torso length had to be adjusted as well. The update means the shoulders are narrow on the armor and the torso fixed. This redesign has gotten praise from women in the military. Armor that fits has allowed them to run faster and do it efficiently through obstacle courses. This will reduce injury rates. This distribution of armor will take time. As more women enter the military, the rate of production will have to drastically increase.

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A notch will be added to accommodate the bun and pony tail women wear, while securing the helmet. Hip injuries from armor will end due to two inches being removed from the waist line. The waistline was also an issue. Women’s waistlines are not as large as men’s. The waistline in this version of armor has fewer plates. They will weigh about 25 lbs each. They are lighter than previous versions and that will take strain off the body. It will fit tighter in the structure of the darting.  It will be built into several sections of the vest. These improvements are welcome and should be lauded. Technology is helping soldiers in new ways. This is only in an experimental phase, but is possible that wearable technologies would solve the overload in terms of military gear. The Natick Soldier Development and Engineering Center are continuing to explore various technologies. What sounds like something out of science fiction will become a reality. This is known as soldier-borne  energy harvesting technologies.  The Bionic Power’s Knee Harvester collects kinetic energy. It makes of the loss from walking. That is not the only capability, but it can recharge electronic devices. It will help with communications equipment, sensors,  and battlefield situational displays. This technology was first shown to US government officials on Fort Devens, Massachusetts in April of 2014. Marching under load can be less of a strain for the average soldier. This becomes more of a problem for women. The gear that that they carry is close to their body weight. Hip and leg fractures are common in the Marine corps  experiments in 2015. Marine corps jobs include armor, artillery, and infantry. Soldiers are expected to carry up to a 100 lbs or more.

  Women who are smaller may be at a disadvantage. However, some solutions involve shifting the weight of the pack off the hips and closer to the shoulders. This means the upper body would need significant conditioning. Doing so would reduce injury rates. Women who are used to intense exercise or have athletic backgrounds would probably perform better than the average woman. The numbers will most likely be lower, but that does not mean there are few women out there would could be capable combat soldiers.

         It should be noted there is a level of biomechanic skill in lifting a person. The fire man’s carry does not require mass amounts of strength. The there are other methods, which would be less comfortable for the person injured. There are cases in which a soldier could be so badly injured ( neck or spinal cord damage) moving them would do more harm than good. Sliding a person on to the shoulder takes minimal effort. The over the shoulder method puts more pressure on the rib cage of the person injured. Depending on the nature of the wound it could cause an exacerbation of condition.

Using one shoulder, just puts more strain on that shoulder and the neck. Distributing the weight is the only way to prevent injury. That is why the fireman’s carry is preferred. It places weight on both shoulders.  This way one arm is not doing all the work. Narrow shoulders means it will less space to house weight when a woman is performing a casualty drag.

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The ability to lift someone in a particular situation depends on certain factors. The weight and height of a person should be considered. A larger person will not struggle carrying a smaller person. A short person carrying a tall person could pose problems of its own. The legs and arms of the tall person could end up being dragged stifling movement. Weight needs to be considered to. If the person is so large and outweighs the person who is lifting it make beyond their physical ability. The Marines are concerned about weight. The US has a physical fitness issues with obesity and weight problems at record levels. Most Americans would probably require a weight management program before basic training. The body fat percentages are being adjusted so that women can have higher weight. When women stated doing weight training it caused them to gain more lean body mass, but disqualified them because they fell out of the acceptable weight range for women . These weight ranges are dated. People are much larger now, women included. They should not penalized for gaining extra muscle that will help them doing physical task.

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Cindy Phillips ( from Canada, which allows women in combat positions) would be cut even though she appears to be physically capable. Her weight would be considered too high for her height read here : Marines Permit Women to Bulk Up.

This has to be practiced several times, so it is almost ingrained into muscle memory. Women would therefore need to have enough strength so that they do not utilize reserve strength in their bodies.  Maximum strength is the total force the body can generate from the recruitment of muscle fibers. If a woman has to use all her maximum strength, she will fatigue quickly. Holding enough reserve strength will allow this. Once the biomechanics of the evacuation are understood, women can be more effective as combat soldiers.

         The author discusses endocrinology, but does it in the context of gender stereotypes. It cannot be denied that sex hormones do influence behavior. They have an immense influence on the body after puberty. What the author says is that women and men are emotionally different and that women may not be able to handle stressful or precarious situations. She indicates that indirectly that men are more aggressive due to their testosterone levels and that aggression in women is lacking. Aggression is needed to be a combat soldier. It is true that testosterone could cause men to seek dominance in social circles. This is not really aggression, but establishing status. Competition is more of a psychological need to accomplish a goal rather than a product of endocrinology. The desire and motivation are mentally based. Testosterone is not the sole factor in aggression. Violence cannot solely be explained by high testosterone levels. Violence can be learned and taught to children. A combination of biology and environment create the differences in the sexes in regards to aggression. Boys at a young age are taught that fighting and anger is normal for them.Girls are taught that fighting or expressing discontent is inappropriate. Sex hormones fluctuate through life and it is now understood. Testosterone levels rise in responses to certain situations in men. This can happen even to women in positions of authority or competitive environments. The idea that women cannot be violent and that nurturing is natural to them is based on a sex stereotype.

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There are women who can be aggressive and men who are peaceful. The best way to explain this phenomenon is through fight or flight response. Military training is designed to deal with such a psychological response. Women going through military training will not be peaceful. Hand to hand combat and weapons training are part of every soldiers program. The argument women are not emotionally stable enough seems to be lacking considering women have been in combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

          Through out history, women have served in combat. Although recently scholarship has uncovered this often ignored fact. This brings into question of men being better combat soldiers. If training and determination are of high quality there are women who can handle it. There are examples of women warriors in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. This starts from the ancient world to the contemporary period. Queen Zabbi ruled Palmyra (modern Syria) and led her troops into battle against Rome. She ruled the Palmyrene Empire from 267 to 272 C.E. and refused to be Rome’s client. During her rule, Palmyra’s territory expanded. Nzingha  was another warrior queen who ruled Ndongo and Matamba ( modern Angola) from 1631 to 1633. She successfully fought the Portuguese, while using the alliance with the Dutch to her advantage. When she died, their was nothing stopping  Portuguese  colonization. Africa and the Middle East have had  long traditions of warrior queens.

Boudicea and Joan of Arc were European women warriors who are well known to historians . Boudica  was  the queen of the Iceni tribe that rebelled against Rome. This tribe in what is now the UK  decided to turn against Rome, when the kingdom was gradually being annexed. Boudica’s  husband died and Roman legions came. Boudica was according to accounts flogged and her daughters raped. She then waged a campaign to punish Rome and take back the kingdom. Joan of Arc was known for her service in the Hundred Years War between England and France.

These are only individuals, but women have served in combat units. The mino warriors, were fierce soldiers of the Kingdom of Dahomey ( modern Benin). Women were formidable and in the 19th century they were instrumental in expanding holdings of the kingdom. King Ghezo was confident in their abilities to fight and undermine his enemies. The Dahomey amazons a name they would later be called were critical to his success. The Oyo Empire was defeated by Ghezo and his newly expanded armies. The Dahomey amazons were initially place guards, but Ghezo wanted their full loyalty to prevent internal dissent and coups. Abeokuta was never fully subdued, but that never stopped the Dahomey amazons.

ahosi-or-mino-dahomey-amazons During the 20th century, women still fought in wars. The Soviet Union had women in combat as snipers and in the air force. Soviet Russia faced the worst onslaught by Nazi Germany compared to the other Allied powers. Their loses were immense an the vexation grew. Soviet women could no longer watch their land be destroyed and got involved in combat.The Yugoslav partisans had women fight in their ranks. Nazi Germany invaded in 1941 and a resistance movement emerged. Just like the Russians the outrage of occupation by German and Italian forces induced action. The wars in Indochina (1945-1975) saw women fighting on both sides of  the Cold War conflict. The Indochina war included the countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

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Women fought in the Sandinista uprising against the Somoza regime in Nicaragua. It was estimated that they composed 30% of their fighting force. Women in Latin America were also involved in the wars of independence in the 1820s. Women served as spies and messengers in Argentina, Peru, Columbia, and Brazil. Women were more active in wars of liberation and revolution. Women have been in combat at multiple points in history. It should be understood that this history has been either ignored or forgotten. Only in recent decades has military history taken an interest in the women warriors of the past. Women warriors are not just something of legend, they are around the world. The Peshmerga has been fighting ISIS since 2014. What is not known to the general public is that the Kurdish force mobilizes women. The Kurds have faced ethnic cleansing  during various periods in Iraq. The recent outbreak came from ISIS seeking to take over Iraq.

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The Peshmerga appears to be doing more of the fighting against ISIS. The US is arming factions of ISIS a way to depose Bashar Al-Assad of Syria. Once again ,US foreign policy has destabilized an entire region.

 The Kurdish women in a similar manner of the Russians and Yugoslavs decided to arm themselves to challenge what could escalate to a larger genocide. This is fascinating for a number of reasons. While the United States constantly questions women’s competence, the Peshmerga has no problem having women fight ISIS. The West normally looks down on these nations and people as being backward or misogynistic, yet they are fixing a mess created by military intervention. Iraq’s army and militias have been weakened since the fall of Saddam Hussein. They are ineffective and have limited progress. These women of the Peshmerga are fighting and well against an extremist movement.Murder,oppression, and violence is what ISIS spreads. They are a dangerous fighting force and certainly it takes great courage to confront them. These women fight, because there is the hope it will lead to a better future. The a Kurdish nation  is a longtime aspiration. Combat takes many forms and modern warfare has reached a new apex.

          The author has a limited understanding of combat. She attempts to use the fact that women’s low numbers in the IDF mean that women are horrible at combat positions. The reasons for low numbers are part sociological and biological. Women have been banned from certain occupations on the basis of legal protectionism. This meant even if a woman was qualified for a particular occupation, she would still be banned. The idea was that women needed too be protected from the harsh realities of the world. This was more so an excuse for sex discrimination and to guarantee men would not have to compete for jobs with women. There were also cultural beliefs. Women were not expected to do anything physically demanding or have dexterous skill. Biologically, men have more natural physical strength. Having more type II muscle fibers, denser bones, and more height give men an advantage. The average woman has a smaller frame and less upper body strength. Low numbers do not mean there are not women who can fight. The author provides statistics  at the time of the post(2013). She says “only 3% combat soldiers are women.” Since that time 7 % of women serve in a combat role in the IDF. There are a total 2,100 women serving in combat roles as of August 2016. That is a 400% increase in comparison to the previous decades. When the Defense Services Law ruled in favor of women having the right to serve in combat in the year 2000, the numbers increased. Women fought in the Anglo-Jewish War, but after 1948 were banned from combat. Israel is not progressive on women’s rights and  being an extremely religious country it does not believe in them having wider roles. When legal barriers are broken, nothing can stop people from achieving their potential. This data shows it. If progress is not reversed the numbers may go up. The US could learn from this model, if it can swallow its pride. War involves fights from the land, air, sea, and in the modern age cyberspace. Hacking and cyberwarfare are going to be conducted against belligerent nations in the future.

              When the author tries to undermine the positions of combat it demonstrates a lack of knowledge. She claims certain roles, which involve fighting are “hardly combat.” Air force pilots are more imperative than   ever. One US strategy is to bomb selective targets such as military installations and communication centers to undermine a country’s ability to fight. When that is done ground troops are deployed. Air power can be an alternative, if ground invasion is too much of a risk. Dogfights and secret missions are the common form of combat an air force pilot will see. During World War II  when Germany lost control of its air space its factories became vulnerable. American, British, and Soviet bombers hit war production plants essential to Germany’s war effort. Striking targets degrades a nation’s ability to fight. Air power is just as pivotal as sea power. A nation cannot be a powerful military force without a Navy. Controlling the sea means having access to strategic trade routes and areas. The reason the British Empire was so potent was that it dominated the sea. Through their navy they were able to have colonies in Asia, Africa, North America, and Oceania. When Germany started to build its Navy to compete with the British Empire in 1900, this caused alarm. The air force, navy, marines, army, and special forces work together in a synergy in combat. Wars are also going to be engaged in cyberwarfare. The wars fought will not only be fought in physical space, but on the internet. Hacking will become a standard in warfare. It is in a prototypical phase as the US, China, and Russia attempt to hack one another to steal intelligence secrets. The definition of combat has expanded as warfare has become more intense.

          The author does not understand the importance of the combat divisions. The units have specific jobs, which are still dangerous. The labor is distributed differently depending on the situation. The Caracal Battalion’s role has expanded with the political changes in Egypt. The Sinai insurgency could spill over the border, which the battalion has to guard. The fall of Hosni Mubarack  caused mass destabilization and armed groups are becoming bold. What is fueling the insurgency is the discrimination against Bedouin. Simultaneously, the Palestinian people are resisting Israeli occupation in the West Bank and attacks in the Gaza Strip. This battalion will clearly be engaging in conflicts in Egypt and Palestine. Their responsibility is to patrol the border, but if Israel continues an anti-Arab foreign policy and general belligerence this will conflate.

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Women in the IDF are held to the same standards as men. They have tour requirements of 36 months.

     The Snapir units are critical, because the attack on naval bases could undermine war efforts. OKetz functions more like a police force searching and arresting enemy combatants. The 76th Battillion of the Combat Engineering Brigade have the task of disabling unconventional weapons in the battlefield. ABC weapons are the major target for destruction. This makes it difficult to resist Israeli aggression. Opening up these positions to women just allows for more soldiers in the Israeli military. The author then in a condescending manner states : ”  all these jobs are considered ‘combat’ by the Israeli army, and many of these jobs are already available to women in the U.S. military.” Women before 2013, were excluded from 22,000 combat jobs in the US military. This does not make sense. Since 1978 women entered the US military in an official capacity. There is no reason to ban a woman who is qualified from a combat job. This obvious discrimination was legally challenged. The author sees that these occupations are part of combat, but then says its not genuine due to her bias. The roles both support  and direct fighting are part of waging war. It is a mass collaborative, coordinated,and  meticulously panned event. That means all soldiers must do their part to make it function. Then the most contradictory statement comes in the conclusion : “Jobs should be assigned by who can perform the job better, not because someone wants to do the job and it would be politically incorrect or discriminatory not to give it to someone because of gender. ” The women who apply and meet the standards are not doing this for the sake of political correctness. Women will not be handed these jobs, without qualifications. Ray Marbus Secretary of the Navy said he was not looking for average women to enter these jobs, but those who meet the physical demands. Jobs are not given in a workforce they are selected out of pool of applicants. The conservative or traditional perspective has an argument lacking factual support. Israel is used by both the American left and right to justify their stances on women in combat occupational specialties. The left says it is model that should be replicated, while the right  says that is an unrealistic assessment. These two perspectives do not fully grasp the rapid changes occurring. Warfare will become more technological and expansive. Israel is one of the most powerful regional players in the Middle East, but it will struggle not because it allowed women in combat. It continues to fight wars of aggression and expansion in the Middle East. It will fall into wars of attrition and the Israeli public will no longer stand for it. A nation can have high performing soldiers and still lose wars if their strategy is flawed.

           The physical strength argument is used by detractors constantly,but one must consider other factors. It is important in these occupations including a high level of physical fitness. The only problem is that muscles become worthless when fire arms are involved. Assuming a stronger person could yank away a rifle fast enough, before the trigger is pulled, the situation is still precarious. Physical strength is almost impotent compared to the power of tanks, bombs, grenades, mortars, fighter jets, artillery cannons,  assault rifles, chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. No longer do armies fight with simple swords or chariots. It is more efficient to kill with weapons rather than with one’s bare hands.

A smaller person with little strength could still kill a stronger person. The scenario women would be rendered helpless without weapons does not hold merit. If they go through the same training in hand to hand combat, this would not be a problem. Training is being updated to reflect these changes in procedures. West Point finally allows women to take boxing as a requirement. When women first entered West Point it was not offered to them .   Women face women in matches during these classes. There is also sparring between men in women in a controlled setting. Learning to punch and take them is essential for women. The same principles that are emphasized in self-defense courses are implemented into training. The more aggressive the better chance of a woman soldier fighting off a male combatant. Women’s punches can still hurt if they are taught how to do it effectively.The martial arts such as karate, judo, and aikido are useful fighting styles that should be incorporated into training. This can help in narrowing some of the strength gap if a woman soldier finds herself disarmed and in confrontation with a combatant.

It should be noted simply being strong does not make a great fighter. Skills and body movements can make a difference in the outcome of a physical confrontation. A bodybuilder may have more muscle, but they would have trouble fighting a boxer in a ring. These two types of athletes would both have trouble fighting a mixed martial artists. The physical skill set is different. What the US military can do is teach soldiers multiple fighting styles in hand to hand combat, which can be utilized by a soldier given a particular scenario.

        The only rational statement in the writing is what readers already know. She states “If the United States is going to allow women in combat roles, those women must pass muster with men equally.” The author then expounds further: “they need to perform the job as well and not be allowed to perform on a lower scale than her male counter-part.” Standards should not be lowered. They are normally adjusted overtime to the specifics of battlefield conditions. Technology also alters training overtime. There are a minority who want the standards to lower for the sake of equality. There is a problem with this for two reasons.The first problem is that it creates a group of under performing workers. As a result the fighting force will be less effective. It also is an insult and a disservice to women who can meet the existing standards. The only way physical tests could be discriminatory to women is if the standards are immensely high. Many times occupations such as firefighting and law enforcement would do this to stop women from getting jobs. This eventually backfired, because they made physical standards so high  that many men were excluded as well. The argument that standards need to be lowered lacks logical basis. Kristen Geist was one of the first women to graduate from Army Ranger School. She participated in the same training and obstacle courses as her male counterparts.

0615rangers-630x473 She will now be serving as an infantry officer. Officer Geist was able to meet these standards, but if the ban were still in place that talent would have been lost. Then there are restrictions in the US military that are now being lifted. People who have tattoos, are slightly out of the BMI requirement, or have some drugs in their system could be accepted for service. The military is targeting women and other ethnic groups in the United States for recruitment. The unfortunate aspect is that the poor mostly are going into the military, so they can get access to a university education. The white men of the US military despise the presence of women and non-whites. When ever an oppressed group enters an occupation that has been historically guaranteed to white men there is both fear and hate. They fear that women and non-whites are taking their jobs. The hate comes from a pathological racism that views anyone different from them as lower beings. People will no longer be restrained by dated intolerance. If anything, it is a vast improvement to the US military. Citizens of various backgrounds can enter and decide a military career.

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Marcia Anderson became the first African American woman major general in the US Army.

Doubtless of what the author believes women are not performing at a lower scale. Their numbers have been increasing in various branches in the US military. The air force, navy, marines, and army have seen more women in their ranks in the past decades. Although the ban was lifted in combat jobs, the numbers may not be that large. This depends on several factors. Choice is an element and whether or not these occupations are positions women want entering the military.Then there are smaller pools of women in the US military, which also gives a limited amount for women in certain military occupational specialties. Recruiting efforts have to reached the same levels like males. Then the biggest challenge is finding women who can handle the physical fitness standards. The average man may find it easier to handle tasks of physical strength. Women would either have to train before basic training  to be successful. It should also be understood that gender integration will take some time.

          Given the long history of women’s participation in warfare, it is not accurate to say women are not as high quality as males in combat. The changing nature of warfare means that women will be a part of it. Frontlines are disappearing and world powers are readjusting to erratic shifts in the geopolitical climate. Maintaining sexist or traditional values in the military is unrealistic. Individuals regardless of sex can be capable combat soldiers. What makes a great combat soldier is a person who is intrepid, resilient, resourceful. and  tenacious. If low quality soldiers are able to reach high levels in the military, then training must be adjusted to screen for better candidates. Instead of disparaging women in the military, they should be encouraged. Integration of the US armed forces has always been a difficult challenge from desegregation of the races to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Women’s entry into combat jobs is just another saga. It will happen and be a success, if it is conducted in the correct manner. The US military has the ability to adopt and acclimate its self to rapidly changing environments. Women entering combat will just be another addition in a powerful military machine.

 References

Jones, David. Women Warriors. Washington D.C. : Potomac Books, Inc., 2005.

Nanos, Janelle. “Armor All: New Body Armor Issued for Women in the Military.” Boston Magazine. N.p., 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/article/2013/09/26/new-body-armor-women-military/&gt;.

Sisto, Jeff. “Soldiers of the Future Will Generate Their Own Power .” Soldiers of the Future Will Generate Their Own Power |. N.p., 4 July 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://armytechnology.armylive.dodlive.mil/index.php/2014/10/31/wearable-technology/&gt;.

“Women of the Israel Defense Forces: History in Combat Units.” History of Women in IDF Combat Units. N.p., 16 Oct. 2016. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/femcom.html&gt;.

Cespedes, Andrea. “How Much Muscle Can a Woman Gain With Strength Training?” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 28 Oct. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/198318-how-much-muscle-can-a-woman-gain-with-strength-training/&gt;.

Even the IDF Agrees: Men Are Better Suited Than Women For Military Combat

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which bones become brittle and weaken. Through out the human life cycle bones are remolded. From childhood from adulthood bone mass increases, but as humans age it will decrease. Both men and women can get osteoporosis, but it has a more dramatic effect on women. The reasons for this are related to biological  sex differences. Sex hormones play a vital role in bone health. There are also other factors that contribute to being at risk. The exact cause of the disease is not known, but there are some attributes of the known about the disease that can treat it.Having some understanding of the skeletal system can contribute to prevention. Humans may be susceptible to osteoporosis, because unlike other primates in the animal kingdom our bones are more porous. Bipedalism came with a price. Walking upright gave humans an advantage in evolutionary history, but meant we would have more back, foot, and skeletal problems. Certain measures can be taken to prevent osteoporosis. This is very important for women considering they live longer. Bone health becomes more critical as people reach advanced age.

        The human skeleton is composed of 206 bones. Along with the muscles, they contribute to the locomotion of the body. Muscles contract moving bones. The bones store calcium an element required for muscle contraction as well. Bone marrow produces red and white blood cells. It also has the function of producing the platelets. Bones are placed in different categories. Cortical bones include leg and arm bones that can hold and support  weight. Compact bones such as the skull and hip are stacked for fortitude. Trabecular bones which are the vertebrae of the spine act a network pathway for nerves of the body. ligaments attach bones to other bones and are flexible in structure. Cartilage is another type of tissue present in the skeletal system providing support to joints. Men and women have the same bones, but there are structural differences. Men have denser bones and broader shoulders. Women have wider hips and less bone total bone mass. This also explains why on average men  are stronger. Muscle fibers need skeletal support for motion and the bone mass contributes to total body force. Between the ages 1 to 13 bone mass and muscle composition is equal among boys and girls. When puberty occurs, testosterone causes muscular hypertrophy and a increase in bone mass in boys. Skeletal mass continues to increase in both sexes between the ages of 20 to 30. The rate of bone formation is greater in youth. Around the ages 40 to 50 their is an equal rate of bone breakdown. Formation does not occur at the same rate at the time of youth. Bone mass will decrease due to a higher rate of reabsorption.

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Women have less bone mass as compared to men. Peak bone mass for women only reaches an estimate of 1000g as compared men’s 1500g.

   The formation rate cannot keep up with the loss that is occurring with age. The reason for the disparity is that men have a larger amount of bone mass. Men can lose up to 25 % of their bone mass while women can lose 35%. The skeletal system just like other organ systems can develop health issues.

         Endocrinology explains the reason for women’s higher rate of osteoporosis. Sex hormones promote bone strength through out life. When testosterone and estrogen levels decline problems arise. Men’s testosterone levels decline slower and by age 65 drop significantly. Women’s estrogen levels start to decline as early as age 45. This means women are at greater risk for fractures in the cortical bones, pelvis, and hip vertebrae. This is a disease that happens when people age, which explains why it is rare to see younger people with it. Children still need regular exercise to build up as much bone mass as possible to prevent this disease.Even though men are at a lower risk, it is still something to be conscious of. It is possible for menopause to cause some level of bone loss.After menopause resorption occurs faster than bone production. Women can experience this with early menopause or infrequent menstrual periods. It can also happen if women’s estrogen levels get extremely low.

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 Hormone replacement therapy has been recommended for women who have less than average bone mass , early menopause, or a genetic history of the disease in their family. Hormone replacement therapy has risks of its own and that is why prevention is normally favored.

        There are methods that can be utilized to prevent osteoporosis. Getting adequate calcium in your diet can help. The U.S. National Institutes of Health recommends 1,500 mg during puberty  The amount for adults is projected at 1000 mg. Past the age of 65 the intake should be about 1,500 mg. Vitamin D is also an essential part of bone health. Sunlight is important to this process, because it synthesizes a precursor to vitamin D. Calcium is important to a person’s diet and can be found in dairy products. People who have lactose intolerance consuming leafy green vegetables , broccoli, and salmon. These foods contain high amounts of calcium and aid in other nutritional needs. Yogurt or cheese can be an option if digesting milk is too much of an issue. Lactose free dairy products are also available as an option.

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Fresh air is good for you in more ways than one. Some areas during winter do not have enough sunlight so it would be difficult for the body to produce vitamin D. The woman here would have no trouble producing vitamin D here, because she is on a sunny beach.

 People who live in the global North and experience long overcast winters should be conscious of their vitamin D levels. Milk ( low fat ) and cereal contain vitamin D, which can make up for the lack of sunlight. Other supplements and medicines are more helpful. Diet is important, but exercise is also required as a prevention measure. Moderate activity can build bone mass. Inactivity causes problems for the body. Inactive individuals who are confined to bed can lose up to 25 times more bone mass compared to active people. The body is designed for physical work and use. Not using it causes decline. Muscles atrophy if not used or exercised. The skeleton which is just as pivotal will also struggle to perform formation of new bone. When people reach adulthood the skeleton will constantly be broken down by osteoclasts  and rebuilt by osteocytes. Old bone matter is replaced by new bone through a remodeling.

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Being confined to a bed or inactive for long periods of time causes a person to lose skeletal mass. This is a concern for patients in a hospital. Muscle mass can be lost from inactivity.

The exercises that promote optimum bone health  are weightlifting, walking, or jogging. lifting weights does not only build muscles it can reinforce bone. Being active in youth can prevent bone mass decrease. Doing this also provides other health benefits. It can manage weight  and maintain a healthy circulatory system.  To understand the nature of how delicate the skeletal system is, the bone growth process needs to be examined. A majority of bones are made of cartilage during the prenatal development. The cartilage structures are formed into bones by calcium salts stored in a matrix. Osteoblasts are the cells responsible for bone formation. This causes endochondral   ossification, which means replacement bone will be formed in the body.  The rate of growth is controlled by sex hormones and growth hormones. Growth plates are located between the primary ossification center and each secondary center area. These centers at one point will fuse and the skeleton will reach full growth.

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Osteoclasts  deposit calcium in the blood. Their role in maintaining calcium levels contributes to the homeostasis of the skeletal organ system. Osteoblasts must replace the retired cells. They take calcium from the blood to form new bone matter. The cells get caught in the matrix and form osteocytes.  The human body is a hard working organic  machine.

      Although osteoporosis can strike many individuals, certain groups  are at risk. Individuals who have a slender body type are  at risk. The ectomorphic body types are ones that contain low levels of bone mass. Having less body mass means the skeleton can be weakened more from the disease. Fractures are a major concern for people with osteoporosis. For thin boned people it could be more devastating.People erroneously associate thinness with health, but that in this case is not truthful. Being white or Asian can mean that getting the disease is more likely. This does not mean every person of that race will get it. The likelihood just increases due to genetic traits among  these groups. Family history plays a role in the risk factors for osteoporosis. Genes allow you to inherit various traits and this can apply to predisposition to certain diseases.

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Although Tomoko is Asian that does not mean she would get osteoporosis. Doing the proper health procedures can prevent various diseases.

 oddly enough being a smoker can also contribute to increased risk factors. It is well known that smoking can cause harm to the lungs and respiratory system, but it has the ability to increase the chances for osteoporosis.  Alcohol and high caffeine consumption can also be risk factors. Smoking and drinking do not only harm one organ system; many can be effected by excess consumption. Alcohol can damage the liver and effect the health of your skeleton later in life. Taking note of these risk factors can allow individuals to control their biomedical condition.

          Measuring bone density is a method of detecting if osteoporosis is present. One method is the dual  energy X-ray  absorptiometry.  Bone density is measured by the amount of photons absorbed by the bone from an X-ray tube. Blood and urine tests are conducted to examine the biochemical nature of the subjects bone. If a marker appears that indicates the bones are too thin a physician will recommend treatment. Hormone therapy is one suggested treatment. The use of black cohosh or phytoestrogen, which is estrogen produced by a plant. Calcitonin  can be utilized, which can inhibit the osteoclasts. Preventing the osteoclasts from breaking down too much bone and allow for more to be restored. Alendronate therapy acts in a similar fashion. It attempts to build bone to prevent further fractures. Three years of this treatment has shown that spinal density can increase about 8% and hip density about 7%.  These are older treatments and biomedical science continues to advance rapidly. Knowing  the nature of the skeleton and its disease can stop possible health issues.

Further Reading

Mader, Syvia. Biology. New York: McGraw Hill, 2007.

“Menopause & Osteoporosis.” Cleveland Clinic. N.p., 8 Aug. 2015. Web. 5 May 2016. <http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic-what-is-perimenopause-menopause-postmenopause/hic_Menopause_and_Osteoporosis&gt;.

Osteoporosis

Health Recommendations For Women Entering Combat

The 1994 ban on women in combat has been lifted. Women are soon going to be entering physically demanding positions in the US army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force. Sex integration is becoming a reality. Besides the other considerations in regards to standards, what is often ignored is the health of the soldiers. This includes physical and mental well being. If women are to enter combat they should know how to avoid injury and keep their bodies at peak physical condition. There are health concerns that women face in larger numbers than their male counterparts. Musculoskeletal injuries are a huge issue for women. For all soldiers doubtless of sex, these injuries  are becoming more common sue to the fact gear and armor is heavier. A more disturbing revelation is the prevalence of sexual assault in the US military. It has become a bigger health and crime crisis over the past decades. The most ignored is the problems in regards to mental health. A soldier may survive war with no physical ailment, but mental scars are harder to detect. Even though these health issues are numerous, there are solutions.

         Women suffer more musculoskeletal injuries than their male counterparts in the US military. There are biological reason for this disparity. Men have denser bones, ligaments, and tendons. The male body contains more muscle mass. Women have a lighter bone structure and more body fat. Stress fractures cause long term health issues. Although men do get injured it causes more problems for women. Detractors use the higher injury rates  as a justification for maintaining the ban on women in combat. The average woman will struggle as an infantry soldier marching with packs that are 80 to 100 pounds on their backs. Spinal cord and connective tissue injuries have increased during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The new gear soldiers acquire weighs more and it is clear they are being overloaded. According to a study “Musculoskeletal Injuries in Military Women” they have up to 52% higher injuries compared to 26% of males injuries in basic training. It is true men are stronger than women, but the injury rate is still high for that sample of males. One would expect it to be possibly around 5% to 16% under favorable conditions for males. This means that it may not be beyond women’s  physical capacity . The reason males had lower injury rates is because they had more strength natural  strength initially  ( no weight training )so overloading or  training in an incorrect manner   would not effect them as much. Women who have less natural strength would get injured more. It is critical that women build their strength as much as possible before entering an physically demanding military position.

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Building upper body strength is a requirement for these jobs.

 These injuries can be reduced with a change in policy. The Army Science Board had concluded that soldiers were overloaded and that it hindered speed including mobility. Armor and boots must be designed to fit the female body. This can solve some of the burden in mechanical action. Women will need to train harder and longer due to physiological differences. Even with training most women will not perform to the same level of an equally trained man. Males have a larger cross section in separate muscle fibers . This explains why there are not large numbers of women in foreign armies, besides the more obvious presence of discrimination. The problem of heavy gear must be addressed to avoid drop out rates among soldiers. The UK has a similar issue with overloading. The average UK soldier carries more gear than what they would have during the war in the Falklands. UK soldiers may have it worse carrying up to 145 pounds in equipment. This is causing soldiers to fatigue faster than normal. The US soldier’s gear has different weight depending  on the specific role. Weather specific gear also causes some problems. Cold weather gear is close to 101.5 pounds, while warm weather is 88.3. Rifle platoon soldier’s load is 91 pounds.Loads must be tailored to a particular mission. Unnecessary items have to be discarded. The comfort items will have to go for the sake of bone health. Lower back pain, scoliosis, and stress fractures can ruin careers for soldiers.Seeing as women have less bone mass these can be major health issues. Scoliosis is particularly troubling due to the fact the spine with develop curvature and could require surgeries.

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 If the US military does not make the needed changes disability compensation will increase. Bone spurs and arthritic conditions become permanent for some soldiers. One third of medical evacuations from Afghanistan and Iraq between 2004 and 2007 were due to spinal and connective tissue injuries. According to the study by a Johns Hopkins University researcher that is more than double the injuries from actual combat. It has been estimated that the Department of Veterans Affairs had exceeded $ 500.000,000 in disability payments for these injuries. It has been proven that even the strongest woman or man will get some form of injury when carrying a 100 pounds for just a year. Pain killers are a temporary solution, but this has a risk of an individual becoming addicted. Other methods such as acupuncture, message, and chiropractic care should be considered. Having an understanding of ergonomics and lightening the load of gear can reduce injuries . Musculoskeletal injuries are described as harm or damage to the muscle or skeletal system due to rigorous or strenuous physical activity.

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There is a difference between these types of injuries. Fractures are when the bone has been broken. Dislocation refers to the disruption of a joint from where it is suppose to be. Sprains refer to the tearing of the ligaments. Strains are when muscles are stretched  or torn. Repetitive motion can increase the possibility of individuals acquiring these injuries. The solution would be to have women train in gear to simulate what daily activities will be like. Their bodies must adjust to rigorous activity. Lowering gear loads will be a big help. A change will not only make healthier soldiers, but reduce medical expenses.

          Conditioning and physical strength are essential to the health of military women. Strength makes it possible to perform particular tasks in military occupational specialties. Although men would have more physical strength, women may also have some useful physical advantages. Women have more body fat, but may be better at burning it as energy early on during periods of physical activity. This means their physical endurance could be higher. Men’s higher amount of muscle and free circulating testosterone means they are using more energy. Men would fatigue earlier than women. It has been speculated that it is because women recruit muscle groups in a more efficient manner according to the Journal of Applied Physiology. The gap in physical strength and speed has raised concerns, but it can be narrowed. Men can on average have 26 pounds more skeletal  muscle than women. Smaller hearts , lungs, and  a wider pelvis means women have slower run speeds.The automatic assumption is that biology limits them. This is not true because weight training can not only build muscle, but increase bone mass. Stronger bones and muscles means carrying tank shells or performing casualty drags will not be an issue.

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Diet is also critical. Soldiers need to be fed healthy meals low in sugar and saturated fat. There are some cases in which soldiers may gain weight from a poor eating habits. Weight management programs will have to be put in place to prevent this. Obesity is a growing problem for American society and it is caused by certain life style choices. Most Americans would need some type of weight management program if they wanted to join the US military. Women also need to have a healthy diet, because the way metabolize food differs . Estrogen stores more fat and it is harder for women to lose weight. Extra body fat only acts as dead weight when carrying loads. Type II muscle fiber is has more explosive power than body fat. Women must meet the same standards as men. The US military has changed standards over the years, but this is to reflect the environment of battlefield tasks . Sit-ups, push-ups, and two mile runs may be emphasized less as compared to casualty drags or  loading 25 mm shells for guns on Bradley vehicle. Regular exercises   should not be phased out. These prevent injuries and diseases. The assumption that women cannot do this has been proven false, when the three pull-ups requirement controversy was challenged. When women stopped doing the flexed arm hang, only then was there improvement. If women were never shown how to do this correctly, it would be ludicrous to assume they could get it right the first attempt.

  Major General Mike Murray and Staff Sergeant Terry Kemp   who tested a group of women volunteers at Fort Stewart in 2014 noted that women acquired physical skills with just a month of training.  This experiment found that women utilized their core and legs more in tasks requiring strength. This small army study helps with designing a fitness program for women. Upper body exercises need to be emphasized. Doing more push-ups and pull-ups can reverse some disparity between the upper and lower body. There is a specific method for building upper arm strength for a woman. Bicep curls are effective. When beginning a training regimen always consult your doctor. When doing this start with the lowest weight and over a period of time add more.Only add more when you can easily do the current weight level over a series of weeks. Tricep kickbacks are also recommended . Bench dips can also add to upper arm strength. These are only a few of some practical solutions.

Some women are going to be stronger than others. The most athletic ones will find doing physical tasks easier. Even at that level they will still have to push themselves to their full athletic performance level. Chareece Moore for example has a military career, but her devotion to physical fitness lets allows her to perform better. Many still believe women are not capable of lifting heavy objects or grown men from a battlefield. Cahreece would have no problem doing this if there was a need for it. The NPC bodybuilder projects and demonstrates  immense strength. There is the concern that women would struggle with moving the injured in combat gear.

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If the combat gear is reduced in weight as the military promised, this can be solved too. If women self-pace managing loads they can successfully remove a fellow comrade. Besides moving people or objects physical strength is pivotal to ones safety. If ammunition runs out or weapons are lost hand to hand combat is needed. Just being strong does not make a person a great fighter; skill is the most important component. Then there is a physiological element of remaining calm in stressful situations.The average woman has less upper body strength and is slower in running speed, which means building strength and emphasizing fighting skills is critical. Women attempting to fight a man with just her bare hands would leave them at a disadvantage. Knowing self-defense techniques and martial arts can reverse some, but not all of the disparity. Hand grip strength is vast among the sexes. This is quite significant for a person in a fight considering fists are that primary part of the body used. A study of women Judo martial artists and handballers examined hand grip strength with athletic males and non-athletic males in the European Journal of Applied Physiology in 2006 . It showed that 90 percent of women scored lower than 95 percent of men. The athletic women score 75 % worse than men on the same task. The result of this may be that men have lager hands, therefore being able to exert more force. The athletic women were still stronger than non-athletic women meaning training can build some strength.

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Women can reach at least an average male’s level of strength through training, but rarely perform at top levels of athletically trained males. Here Amber Betchel  arm wrestles a man with no training. If she did not have any she would not be able to beat him.

 Women in combat will most likely be fighting other men. Knowing judo, karate, or taekwondo may help women who are smaller be able to fend off an enemy when disarmed. While strength is important to the job, mental strength has to be built up with it. Any recruit could pass the training, but may not be psychologically prepared for possible dangers. This could cause a person to be paralyzed with fear when a situation is critical. That feeling has to be controlled so that self-defense moves can be executed. Also, there needs to be a level of confidence in the performance. Just because women are smaller does not mean they are not able to inflict physical harm. There are instances in which people who were underweight or smaller could be just as good fighters. Audie Murphy at 5 7′ and 130 pounds when he enlisted in the Marines. He was rejected, but at the end of World War II he ended up with many medals for his combat service. His lower weight did not stop his combat capability.

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Christy Resendes  weighs up to 142 pounds ( 170 in the off season). As you can see it is mostly muscle and it can be assumed that she would be stronger than Audie Murphy. The diffrence is he would not be banned from combat, because he is male. Christy if she wanted to joined would be banned even if she could perform the same tasks.

Soldiers come in all different sizes. There is the common image of the large hulking male soldier that has been seen in fictional depictions and popular entertainment. Physical strength does win wars.Technology, tactics, and a lucid understanding of the enemy determines ultimate success.  If physical strength was a major factor then the United States would have won Vietnam. The average US soldier weighed more and was taller than the average Viet cong  fighter. Yet they were victorious by using guerrilla  warfare against America’s conventional strategy. It is forgotten that women fought in the Viet cong  and their sex did not hinder their objectives. They had less training and less resources compared the US soldier. What was demonstrated was a high level of mental strength. This requires a soldier to accept harsh conditions, be resilient, and continue no matter what the circumstance. The Vietnamese communist believed in their cause and were willing to sacrifice themselves for it.  The National Liberation Front wanted to see Vietnam united and free from foreign rule and influence. This type of mental strength must be developed as much as the physical.

Female Viet Cong Warrior c.1973

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The assumption is that the US Army woman would automatically be the better fighter. This is not the case, because the NLF fighter may be more willing to fight to the death. A scenario in which these two fight it is clear to see the advantages. The US Amy woman has more strength, but it would only be useful if she were disarmed. The NLF fighter has more mental toughness living in a hostile environment.

Being in peak physical condition helps with certain tasks. However, there is a growing issue in regards to mental health.

         The US military has ignored the growing problem of declining mental health of soldiers and veterans. Health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder and severe brain injuries are reaching astronomical levels.  A study conducted by the military in 2014 found shocking results. Soldiers have higher rates of mental illness than do civilians.Another part of the study claimed about 14% of soldiers had contemplated suicide . Other mental disorders such as depression, intermittent explosive disorder, and addiction were common. Dependence on alcohol and other drugs became prevalent. The soldiers that decided to commit suicide would not do it overseas, but instead did it when they returned home. This has been the unseen trouble with a military career. It leaves mental scars from carnage and brutality. This has been seen though out history. During World War I soldiers suffered from “shell shock.” It was a term for soldiers who were having mental turmoil from the violence they witnessed. The United States after World War II had to invest in mental health programs to get former soldiers to adjust to civilian life. The troops that went to  fight  in the Vietnam War received very little assistance. Even worse they were blamed for what corrupt leaders in both the Democratic and Republican Party did to Vietnam. Many of the Vietnam veterans suffered from mental health issues, drug addiction, or had to deal with homelessness. The mistakes of the past should not be repeated. Outreach programs must be developed to prevent serious social consequences of a health epidemic. Troops should be given reasonable tours of duty, so they can have enough rest and be rejuvenated  when they return. Younger soldiers could be at risk more so, because it may be their first time away from home. Family and friends are a support structure that a recruit must keep in contact with. Older soldiers now how to deal with the loneliness and long periods away from loved ones. For anyone entering the US military, you must understand the difficulties and challenges. Most experiences will not be pleasant ones. Women  veterans are likely to suffer from more metal health issues. This is related to military sexual trauma, which includes rape, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. Women are becoming a growing section of the homeless veteran population. The solution to this is not only having outreach programs, but encourage soldiers to get help. People with mental illness may not seek help, due to the societal stigma surrounding it.There is no shame in seeking help. The US military teaches soldiers to be tough regardless of the situation.Even the strongest people need emotional support. women-marines-570x342

It has to be known that it is necessary to seek mental health assistance. Therapists must employed in higher numbers to address mental health issues. Simply discharging soldiers will not solve the problem. Traumatic brain injuries are also on the rise. Soldiers should have mandatory screenings to make sure they have not sustained concussions. This could have a link to increase in mental illness, but so far it is only speculative. The symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury include headache, dizziness, blurred vision, inability to concentrate or retain memory, fatigue, lethargy, erratic sleep patterns, constant mood swings, and a bad taste in the mouth. A severe traumatic brain injury has symptoms much more intense. These include vomiting, nausea, headaches, convulsions or seizures, confusion, loss of coordination, slurred speech, and   anisocoria. These injuries are related to harm inflicted by improvised explosive devices. The symptoms may appear soon or later depending on the level of harm inflicted. Developing methods to detect IEDs can prevent these injuries and deaths. The US military must treat mental health as important as physical health.

          Another major issue that needs to be addressed is rape. This is a criminal and health problem that plagues the US military. Women are afraid to report these cases for fear of being attacked again or having their careers terminated. This must stop for the sake of the soldiers that serve and the image of the institution. The US is already guilty of war crimes in numerous conflicts and there should not be an expansion of criminal activity. Even though there are more men in military and they also face sexual assault, women are dis proportionally victims. Unwanted sexual touching or bullying has become a common practice. The result of these attacks include mental and physical damage to the victim. The problem is that attacks are dealt with through a chain of command. Commanding officers either do not care or fear their careers will be in jeopardy. This must change, because commanders clearly do not see rape as a problem. Former Secretary of Defense Leon Penetta  formed a special victims unit and a 24 hour hotline for service members, but that has not been effective. A crime unit for sexual assault should be established in the military police and be reported there, instead of depending on commanding officers. From that process the offenders can be court-martialed  and then be tried in a civilian court as well to ensure enough punishment is given. This will require much structural change and work with advocacy groups. Women cannot wait for bureaucracy to make changes. A proactive method is for women recruits to learn self-defense before entering the service. Not only will you have to fight another army, you may have to fight people in your unit.

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There should be no fear in retaliating against an attack from a colleague.  Learning new fighting skills and using them in a hostile environment is critical. The 2013 annual report revealed that 26,000 service members experienced sexual assault. Women composed 12,100 compared to 13,900 of men. Less than half of these attacks involved alcoholic beverages. This is not just a “female problem.” Anyone entering the US military could become a victim to a criminal in their ranks. The increasing numbers could be the result of people reporting sexual misconduct and violence. This should not be a shock, seeing as rape has been an unwritten policy of the US military. Everywhere the United States has invaded there have been cases in which US service members have directed sexual violence against the population. This culture of rape needs to be dismantled through law enforcement and severe punishment.

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Never be afraid to strike at someone who is attacking you.

These types of rapes are probably acquaintance rapes. This means the assailants are someone the victim knows. There is a common myth that criminals like these appear in dark alleys waiting for victims. That is not the case. Women are not “asking” to be attacked. What a woman wears or does will not deter a violent individual. That prevalent sexist fabrication has been used to make excuses for brutish behavior. Attitudes and policies must be revised to ensure a crime free environment. The prevalence of rape may explain why one and five women experience some form of mental illness after serving in the US military.

         It should be noted that certain concerns about the menstrual cycle and pregnancy are unfounded. There is a common myth that is held that the menstrual cycle will negatively effect women’s physical  performance. The claim that women lose half of their strength has no biological or physiological basis. Women may have feelings of being tired during different phases of the cycle, but it does not mean they become weak. When examining women weightlifters it explains that there are some changes. During the luteal phase and the follicular phase knee injuries increase. The solution would be to move training regimes for legs later in the week. The luteal phase causes an increase in appetite. The metabolic  rate increases to about 11%. PMS also occurs during this phase and could accompany lack of energy and endurance. The consumption of magnesium can assist with this problem and it is found in foods with high fiber. The body uses glycogen has an energy source. The body will spare the glycogen during the luteal. This is important due to the fact that using glycogen stores it can help burn fat faster. The luteal phase causes a woman’s body temperature to increase, pain tolerance lowers, and some studies have shown that their is a level of higher cardio vascular strain. During the follicular phase pain tolerance goes back up. This does not mean women cannot do strenuous tasks; it means they will experience more pain. This does not paralyze a woman. Soldiers are used to discomfort, so this is only minor. Women’s muscles will not weaken from the menstrual   cycle.

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Physical strength is not lost during the menstrual cycle.
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Women will have to deal with some physical discomfort that men do not have to.

  Pregnancy has to be discussed. There are regulations for women soldiers serving to ensure health in regards to fertility.  It is unreasonable to ask women to fight if they are pregnant.First a woman must let her commanding officer know she is pregnant. This will result in a counseling session discussing rescheduled work duties. If the pregnancy has no complications, women can continue to work. Women must seek medical care at a military facility. If a military facility is out of reach a civilian hospital can be used. Physical training will have to be modified. Pregnant soldiers can be exempted from training or chose to do modified training. This should be done only when a physician or doctor  is consulted. Women are exempt from taking the physical fitness test 180 days after pregnancy. Abortion policy is dated. It is only allowed at a military medical facility in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger. If there is to be true gender equality in the US military, women should have the right to choose. Reproductive rights are critical to women being equal in society. The state has to right to control a woman’s body, especially the soldiers fighting for it. This could become another major health issue in the US military. The policy should be changed to prevent any further crisis. Having knowledge of the biological functions of a woman’s body can help develop specific training programs to counter arising injuries or health problems.

           These recommendations can make gender integration of the US military more effective. There could be potential failures or road blocks if they are not implemented. Mental and physical health issues will cause major financial issues for the Department of Veterans Affairs. As the US declines as an economic power, returning veterans will have very little benefits. They could face homelessness, unemployment, or be forced to resort to crime to support themselves. A revision in foreign policy can place the US in a better position. The United States was never meant to be an imperial power and should seek to avoid war. Nation building and interventions around the globe has caused serious destabilization. It also has put an unnecessary burden on the US military. While the foreign policy shift cannot happen overnight, improving the health of soldiers can.

 This would best be described as the integrative approach. That means mental and physical health maintenance will be part of the training. There also has to be an adjustment in mind set. Women need to have a paradigm shift when entering a combat position. They will have to learn to love physical activity and strength. There are women who reject strength training for fear of gaining muscle or looking “bulky.”This occupation will require some muscle. It is a necessity, when marching under load. Women struggle with this because they did not train themselves for it.   Women will also have to learn to have confidence in tasks that require physical skill. This will not be simple, because it requires deprogramming gender norm expectations. People assume woman means weak, but as it was seen with the Army Ranger School graduates it can be done. Commanders should have high expectations of their recruits regardless of sex. Having low expectations will only produce failure. This must be prevented when the first group of women trying out for front line infantry enter  this summer.  When examining problems with biology and physiology health issues among women in combat can be solved.

Further Reading

Scarborough, Rowan. “Army Colonel: Physical Strength Not the End-all, Be-all of Combat Service SIGN.” Washington Times. N.p., 12 Aug. 2013. Web. 4 Apr. 2016.

Giannangeli, Marco. “British Soldiers Suffer Injuries from Too-heavy Weights.” Express. N.p., 25 July 2010. Web. 4 Apr. 2016. <http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/188986/British-soldiers-suffer-injuries-from-too-heavy-weights&gt;.

Chidress, Sarah. “FRONTLINE.” PBS. PBS, 10 May 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2016. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/why-the-military-has-a-rape-problem/&gt;.

Byrant, Jordan. “Heavy Loads Could Burden Women’s Infantry Role.”Military.com. N.p., 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2016. <http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/04/10/heavy-loads-could-burden-womens-infantry-role.html&gt;.

Ghose, Tia. “Women in Combat: Physical Differences May Mean Uphill Battle.” Live Science. N.p., 7 Dec. 2015. Web. 21 Apr. 2016. <http://www.livescience.com/52998-women-combat-gender-differences.html&gt;.

Bernton, Hal. “Weight of War: Gear That Protects Troops Also Injures Them.” The Seattle Times. N.p., 12 Feb. 2011. Web. 23 Apr. 2016. <http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/weight-of-war-gear-that-protects-troops-also-injures-them/&gt;.

Hoffman, Micheal. “Study Evaluates Soldier Load Weights.” N.p., 6 Aug. 2012. Web. 4 Apr. 2016. <http://www.defensetech.org/2012/08/16/study-evaluates-soldier-load-weights/&gt;.

Ehrlich, Robert. “Soldier’s Load and Combat Readiness.” Global Security. N.p., 6 Mar. 2009. Web. 21 Apr. 2016. <http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/call/call_01-15_ch11.htm&gt;.

Health Recommendations For Women Entering Combat