Varying Weight Training Intensity Increases Growth Hormone In Women

How Weight Training Increases Growth Hormone

This study produced by the American Physiological Society found that women who are involved in a long term weight training program will produce more growth hormone. The study involved  the following scientists and universities : Kraemer, Jeff S. Volek, Barry A. Spiering and Carl M. Maresh of the University of Connecticut, Storrs; Bradley C. Nindl, U.S Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Mass.; James O. Marx, The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Lincoln A. Gotshalk, University of Hawaii at Hilo; Jill A. Bush, University of Houston, Texas; and Jill R. Welsch, Andrea M. Mastro and Wesley C. Hymer, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Penn.  It seems that the female body is more complex than previously thought. This study was produced in 2006 and was published the American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism. The investigation shows that women are capable of building strength and muscle. It also allowed physiologists to understand to a greater degree how weight training in general improves metabolic function and muscle mass. Growth hormone was responsive to moderate and heavy exercise under regimens that contained 3 to 12 repetitions with varying loading. If women are attempting to build as much strength as possible then their load bearing activities must vary. This is also beneficial for building a stronger skeleton and avoiding bone related diseases. The role of endocrine function is more intricate than previously thought. This is why women’s endocrine physiology must be considered to create training programs to enhance performance.

         Hormones are chemical messengers that are transported through the blood stream. They are directed by an endocrine gland  or isolated gland cells which allows for a physiological response to be triggered. This happens in cells that contain receptors for a particular hormone. Hormones can be categorized in three different classes.

Hormone function

These classes are peptides, monoamines, and steroids. The pituitary gland must labor hard to maintain  Hypothalamic–pituitary–target-organ axis. Hormones are just one way in which the human body can communicate from cell to cell. Gap junctions, paracrines, and neurotransmitters perform these functions. Growth hormone acts as a repair worker acting as a builder. Its function is anabolic based. Somatotropin (growth hormone)  expains why children rapidly grow when the reach a particular stage in puberty. The pituitary gland is the conductor, which resides near the hypothalamus. It has a posterior  and anterior  section which both sections produce hormone for the body.  Hormones are not only important to communication between organ systems, but they do effect the performance and training of an athlete.

     The endocrine function is different for females compared to males. It was once believed that women were at a physical fitness disadvantage, because they produced more estrogen. Men’s greater testosterone allows for a body of lower body fat percentage and more muscle mass. However, it seems that when women train at a certain intensity, growth hormone acts a source of muscle and bone development. So, there is not a hormonal disadvantage rather a physiological difference. If the female body does not produce high amounts of testosterone, it merely relies on another hormone to produce bone and muscle growth in response to stimuli.  Depending on the fitness training stimuli the results would be better for building strength on ones that cause growth hormone to respond. Growth hormone is produced in the pituitary gland and has other functions. It contributes to halting tissue break down, fighting stress fractures, and improves metabolic function.

Growth hormone molecules  are composed of 191 amino acids. These molecules are capable of fragmenting into smaller units. These fragments can attach themselves to other molecules. Growth hormone can also attach itself to binding protein. There exists 100 variations of the growth hormone molecule. Growth hormone comes in different forms depending on its function and role in a particular task.  What researchers did in this study was to used the technique of measuring immune response. Immunoassays are examinations that are conducted by physiologists to detect changes in the immune system. The   tibia line rat growth assay also detects biological function of hormones.To find out more the experiment involved subjects doing exercise for a certain period of time.

        The experiment involved subjects separating into two groups. The first group would train upper bodies only. The second group of participants would perform total body training . The reason for separating the training in this fashion was obvious. If women have lower levels of upper body strength and can increase it through training, it would be easier to detect hormonal or physical changes in this region. Women do not have stronger legs than men, but are closer in strength to men in that region of the body.

There was also a subdivision within those groups. Half used heavier  weights with fewer repetitions. The other sections used lighter one with a more repetitions going up to twelve. Blood samples were acquired both prior and after the training experiment. This experiment lasted for 24 weeks. This was enough to make several conclusions and assessments. The presence of growth hormone depended on the exercise or training regimen used. Growth hormone’s appearance varied with the test used  for detection. This implies that the pituitary gland adjusts the amount of growth hormone relative to weight training stimuli. The body possibly has the ability to adjust the amount of growth hormone or type depending on the activity. The larger sized variants of growth hormone will be produced more if a woman does more heavy lifting.

sperling_fig2_450_288_42087 Growth hormone has multiple functions in the human body. There is a possibility that it has an effect on muscle fiber distribution fiber itself. Growth hormone also contributes to both amino acid transport and metabolic tissue energy expenditure. There are different types of growth hormone, but they will not respond in the same way. It is unknown what effect oral contraceptives would have on women in relation to this. The authors of the study intend to investigate that further. There should be some factors that could have effected the experiment. The tests given may not be as precise when measuring hormone changes in the blood stream. It does not seem like a major factor, however could women’s menstrual cycles effected them during the training sessions? Also it should be accounted for the fitness level of the participants. If there were women who had weight training experience, this may cause an alteration in data. If another experiment were to be done it may have to be another subdivision with women in an experienced or non-experienced weight training group. So far, it looks as if this is correct, but it needs more study.

           This would seem like an advantage in terms  of endocrinology in regards to women embarking on fitness programs. This would not be enough to close the physical strength gap between the sexes. Growth hormone as the study indicates functions similar in a role of what testosterone who do in a male under a particular training regimen. It is not an exact substitute, rather it is a difference produced from sexual dimorphism. Puberty and the physical changes that come from it explain the differences in elements of physical fitness capacity. Women produce lower levels of testosterone, but it does serve a purpose in their bodies. Bone strength and ovarian function are the roles testosterone plays in females. The hormone may also be important to women’s sexual functioning as well. The physical changes are documented by the Tanner scale, a chart that displays the gradual development of the body during puberty. James Tanner developed the modern growth chart as a guide for pediatricians. He also was a pioneer in using human growth hormone to treat children with endocrine disorders related to body development. During the tanner stages men’s testicles will increase in size increasing the amount of free testosterone in the body. Ovaries produce more estrogen compared to androgens. There are five stages on the tanner scale in which genitals and body composition will change due to the function of the endocrine system. Pubic hair emerges in both sexes and physical growth will transition a child’s body to a full grown adult. Men get their strength spurts around the fourth and fifth tanner scales. Women do not get strength spurts during this stage of the human life cycle.

Prior to puberty there is no difference in strength levels between boys and girls. When puberty causes hormonal changes which increases men’s physical fitness capacity. This mean under the same  training conditions women would not reach the same strength levels. Theoretically, if a woman were to train with a method that increased her somatotropin levels, she may get stronger than she would have with another technique.There still is a question about what are the full extent of women’s physical capabilities see as it has only been recently that there has been study on this subject. The nature and function of hormones relative to training seems more intricate than what exercise physiologists would have expected. This new information could also contribute to medical advancements as well. There is still more to learn about the human body and women’s bodies in particular.

 

 

Advertisements
Varying Weight Training Intensity Increases Growth Hormone In Women

Mina Farook: The Main Reason Women Should Build Muscle

Why Women Should Build Muscle

Mina Farook a weightlifter and athlete explains why women need to build muscle. This is not for the purpose of a fitness trend or sudden leisure activity, rather for the improvement and maintenance of women’s health. As more information is being uncovered by biology and health science, there are more techniques to combat chronic illness and other health risks. Women should be physically active to have a high quality of health. Women on average live longer than men. Having longevity also increases the risk of getting age related diseases such as dementia or heart disease. Taking the necessary steps to preserve health can reduce risk factors. Mina Farook hopes that women building muscle will be the next beauty trend. To a degree it has, with crossfit and women’s involvement in sport at a record high. Farook gives a basic explanation of strength training and proceeds to give the benefits it gives in terms of health. Strength training can improve not only muscle and bone health, but protect the body at a cellular level.

       The general definition of strength training as Farook explains involves using resistance to induce muscular contraction. This results in the building of strength, anaerobic endurance, and skeletal muscle. One misconception must be addressed. A persistent myth is that women’s bodies are not designed for strength and that such training is not for women. These ideas are false and based around the frailty myth. Women’s muscle cells are the same compared to men’s muscle cells. The difference is related to muscle fiber type, size, and endocrinology. Women could benefit more form strength training. Another myth is that women cannot not build muscle. This is incorrect as well. Muscular hypertrophy can be induced by weight training. Depending on diet and training method women can gain considerable size on relative to their skeletal frame.

Women’s bodies can respond to training stimuli. There has been a longtime stigma about women and exercise, which as been decreasing over the past decades. The old pseudoscientific convictions are being discredited about women’s physical abilities. Women can now enjoy the health and psychological benefits of physical activity. There is a possibility that strength training may be a good anti-aging technique. Besides the obvious health benefits there is also a paradigm shift that women go through in the fitness culture. Farook explains it best as “imagine a process of living that actually makes you super human.” She delineates further : “imagine a lifestyle that makes you better, stronger, and smarter and keeps on improving your personality.” As Farook articulated it is more than just working out to look a certain way rather, it is a transformation in mentality. Women just do not want to look strong they want to be stronger mentally and physically. There is a new found sense of self and confidence. This spreads to other areas of their lives.

There has been a new era of human history reached. Women are enjoying more power and living longer lives than ever before. There are still some areas, which women lag behind. There are nations in which gender disparities are wider. However, it is only a matter of time before these problems will be reduced. Reproductive rights and access to adequate healthcare are challenges facing women globally. There is a means of taking control of ones health. Women are becoming more active in sports and fitness. Strength training is no longer considered a male only activity. Women can lift weights, use kettle bells, and other exercise equipment.

It can be more than just a hobby or serious sports endeavor. There are enormous benefits that can improve and maintain health. Mina Farook only examined the benefits from the point of mitochondrial physiology, but it goes beyond that aspect. Keeping the skeletal, muscular, and circulatory systems healthy protects a person for chronic illnesses.

       Mitochondria are essential to life. These organelles must take carbohydrates and fatty acids then break them down for energy production. This allows fro the generation of adenosine triphospahte. Mitochondria also have the ability to synthesize proteins for their own use. They are involved in the transcription process of both DNA and RNA. Ribonucleic acid then does transcription for amino acids. Amino acids are the components of proteins.

what-are-the-key-differences-between-dna-and-rna-296719

117278-004-F3E09D23

ATP has to transport chemical energy to allow for metabolism. ATP cannot be stored so this requires consistent production within mitochondria. This explains why mitochondria can take up to 25 % cell volume. Mitochondria are so important to biological function cells certain cells can have as many as 2500. The average cell can use up to 10 billion ATP a day. An average adult would needs 3.0 × 1025 ATP to be functional. The typical athlete would be using more considering their activity level would be higher compared to an average person. The athlete requires more, because the higher activity level demands it.

This is no simple feat, seeing as ATP has to be recycled from ADP close to a 1000 times a day. There could be close to 250 g of ATP present in the cell. This correlates to to at least 4.25 watts. When calculated that means a person can produce up to an estimated total of 1200 watts. Health is important even at the cellular level. Cytology does not only reveal the world of  cells, it provides clues to the true nature of health and physiological function.

       The mitochondria are vulnerable to nutrient deficiency. Toxins and oxidative damage are also responsible for health decline. There are nutrients that are necessary for ATP production. These include   riboflavin , niacin, and CoQ10. Carnitine is required for fatty acid transport. These nutrients are part of the β-Oxidation of fats.

Chemical-structures-of-carnitine-and-acetyl-L-carnitine

The citric cycle needs iron, magnesium, manganese, B1, B2, B3, lipotae, and  cysteine. ECT has other requirements. CoQ10 must transport high energy electrons. Magnesium assists in the final phase of ATP production. Riboflavin complex II and NADH also contribute. If there is a long term deficiency or disorder with mitochondria, this can lead to chronic illnesses. Such disorders with mitochondria have been linked to dementia, autism, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Amytropic lateral sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome , and Alzheimer’s disease. Mitochondrial disorders have even been hypothesized to have links to migraines and early aging. It is possible that mitochondrial health can be the key to increased longevity. The body requires a certain level of exercise and a proper diet.

        Weight training has the the ability to increase ATP production and the amount of mitochondria in the human body. Damaged mitochondria can be replaced when new ones emerge from training. High intensity training has even been found to improve muscular and mitochondrial function in people with Parkinson’s disease. Such a discovery will revolutionize medicine and health science. While some people have this knowledge, many do not act on it.

Busy schedules and certain obligations may get in the way of consistently exercising. Then lifestyle choices can effect health. The prevalence of high fat and sugar saturated foods combined with limited physical activity has caused an increase in health problems. Another problem is related to medical practice. Over prescribing medicines has created a level of dependency. The increase of opioid use occurred under medical professionals, using it as a cost effective method for pain medication to patients. As a result, a large portion of American citizens got addicted. The philosophy about treatment must change. Patients should not be loaded up on multiple medications. The goal should be to have a little as possible and change health habits. If there is no change in habits a person could end up taking multiple medications which could induce more health problems as the result of side effects. While some aliments require medication, others can be controlled through exercise. High cholesterol can be dealt with through this method, depending on its severity. Weight training is a simple way to avoid certain age related health conditions.

         Bone health is critical more so for women. On average, women have lower bone density. Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bone mass is lost and does not produce enough to maintain a strong structure. Bones become weak and are susceptible to fracture. When women go through menopause, bone mass can decrease. If women have lower bone density then that means osteoporosis could be more severe for there bodies. While skeletal mass develops as a person goes from youth to adulthood, bone formation is higher. The problem is that this does not continue and the rate of bone formation and breakdown are now set at different rates. Lifting weights can also contribute to building bone mass.Women overtime could lose up to 35% of their bone mass. There are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of getting osteoporosis. This includes having a thin body type, smoking, having a sedentary life style, a low calcium diet, high caffeine, and alcohol intake. Family history is also a factor including race. White and Asian women may have a higher risk of osteoporosis.

Bones

The total mass of calcium decreases with age. This is why it is recommended that  older women get at least 1,500 mg per day. Vitamin D is just as important as calcium. That is why low fat milk can be helpful,because it is Vitamin D fortified. Seeing as women have lower peak bone mass in terms of grams of calcium, it important to make load bearing exercises or simple jogging a part of a general health routine .

Having a healthy bone structure will allow an aging person to have more independence later in life. Senior citizens may not want to go to retirement communities or nursing homes. Some want to remain in their own homes, yet are not healthy enough to remain independent.

      Women report having better body image and improved self -esteem form weightlifting .  It also challenges gender stereotypes. For a longtime the female body has been associated with weakness or inferiority. Even though these ideas are falsehoods they persist. Body image conformity is constantly projected over media outlets. This causes in some women to have body image issues and it may result in psychological disorders. Anorexia and bulimia are more prevalent in women than in men. This could become a public health crisis if unchecked. Thankfully, there is change that has prevented such an event from happening. There has been the rise of a new body positive movement. It wants women who are larger to accept themselves and reject a single paradigm of beauty. This also needs to be extended to women with muscle. Even female athletes are criticized for being “too big.”

39bb81c7e17830ce2668a7484da21756

If women are becoming more powerful in other areas of life, why should they be denied the physical power of their body? There is no rational argument against women developing themselves physically. It may offend certain preferences or be repudiated by traditionalists, but there should be no reason they should be denied control of their bodies. There is the dated and conservative idea that women and muscles do not mix. Even the most liberal or people who consider themselves open minded either repudiate such a look or are apprehensive about it. It is time for society to realize that a woman is more than just her appearance. The double standards must be challenged. Strength is not a masculine or male only attribute. Women can be strong and they should not have to be vituperated for demonstrating it.

Women should also partake in the benefits of physical fitness. This is a dramatic statement and a very empowering one. Some third wave feminists use the term empowerment ad nauseum, but do not seem to put that into practice. Here women have taken that message literally and have made their bodies strong.  Besides this benefit of improved self-esteem and more positive body image to can go beyond just mere health improvement.

          Women are not physically safe in many societies around the world. Domestic violence, sexual assault, or physical abuse is directed at them.  There is the false idea that men are the protectors of women, when it is more likely they will be their abusers. Women have absorbed this idea thinking they need a man to feel safe and for protection. The harsh reality is that their partner could end up being their abuser. This is why women need self-defense and physical strength. Having such precautions can contribute to reducing the problem of violence against women.

Map3.1NEW_Womens_Physical_Security_2011_compressed Women must learn to take control of their own security. One problem with the # Me Too Movement is that it does not emphasize an offensive approach. While institutional and legal changes can combat rampant sexual harassment and assault, this may not be enough. Part of being proactive is that women must learn physical skills and build the strength to properly execute them. Doing this will deter violence as well as more strict laws.

Self defense is important for women.

Having at least some strength will help women combat violence directed at them. Violence against women is a major public  health crisis. There have been improvements in regards the rise of women’s shelters and rape crisis centers. However, these services are not evenly distributed throughout the world. There was a time in which the practice of wife beating was not considered a crime. Women in many societies were considered property and such violence was not considered criminal. There are still countries in the world that do not have domestic abuse laws. There are even some nations that want to reverse them. The Russian Federation decriminalized some domestic abuse laws. Women attempting to flee from violent abuse or protect themselves have a more difficult time in Russia. The push came from the Orthodox Church to change the laws. Normally, women are worse off in a traditionalist or religion based cultural atmosphere. Now more than ever is the time for women to understand they are responsible for their own protection. The legal system or government may not be there to provide protection against violence. Learning physical skills and building strength can ward off some of these attacks.

            There is also the problem of the growing rate of obesity. This is no longer confined to the developed nations, but is spreading to developing nations. The prevalence of fast food and high sugar based diets has caused weight problems across the world.Sedentary lifestyles and limited physical activity have also contributed to this development.   The United States and the United Kingdom may find themselves in a huge public health crisis if this is not addressed and if the healthcare systems are not functional. Combine with the fact that people will live longer and beyond the age of 65 this poses a financial and social problem. Relevant to women’s health, they would be more vulnerable to obesity due to their endocrine function. Naturally women have more body fat no matter what their physical fitness level is. Differences relative to metabolism are significant, because women burn less calories compared to men in a resting state. This would mean obesity could harm women more in comparison to men. If women have lower bone density, adding large amounts of weight to the skeletal frame could cause more severe joint issues. Obesity has been linked to cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Being active has long term benefits. It can prevent such diseases and disorders that occur later in life. Women on average live longer than men, so it is a wise investment. Most importantly it will prevent possible strain on healthcare systems and improve the level of public health.

Mina Farook: The Main Reason Women Should Build Muscle

Whey Protein Supplements and Exercise Help Women Improve Body Composition

 Whey and Women

Whey protein products have been known to be effective for men, but now it appears that it is useful for women. A study conducted by Purdue University revealed that women can benefit from Whey. Nutrition experts also contributed to the study. There has been more attention directed at how supplements react in a woman’s body. Most exercise physiology and nutrition or fitness related studies are done with men. Seeing as women are more active in sports and fitness it is important to do such studies that take into account biological and physiological differences. According to Wayne Campbell professor of nutrition science : “”There is a public perception that whey protein supplementation will lead to bulkiness in women, and these findings show that is not the case. “Simply taking a supplement would not increase muscle mass without a particular exercise regimen. However Whey can as the study discovered can allow for modest gains while not influencing fat mass. The study like any scientific investigation should be questioned, but it becomes more suspicious when the Whey Research Consortium financed the study. Robert Bergia  a Perdue  graduate research assistant led the study. Joshua Hudson a Purdue postdoctoral research associate who also contributed to this examination.

       Whey protein is used as a supplement to contribute to muscle protein synthesis. It consists of beta-lactoglobulin, alpha lactalbumin, bovine serum albumin, and immunoglobins. Using too much can cause headaches or nausea if not consumed in the recommended amounts. These are the only side effects and it does not pose a serious health risk. Some may experience cramps, fatigue, stomach pains, or reduced appetite. There are several different types of Whey protein. This includes concentrate, isolate, and hydrolsate. Whey may have health benefits. It could possibly help with lowering    cholesterol. Oddly enough, it may also be a method in combating asthma. Whey protein may have the ability to improve immune response in children with asthma.  Other studies suggest Whey may also be a way to manage blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular disease. Whey is not the only protein supplement, yet it has gained popularity in fitness circles. There has yet to be a massive comprehensive study that compares various protein supplements and powders. There must be one that is better than the other . There is no scientific literature that proves which supplements compared to Whey are better, so consumers have to do their own research. It becomes more confusing when one is a neophyte reading fitness materials.

      The need to study women and supplement effects is necessary. More women are becoming active in fitness and this also has business potential related to expansion of new consumers. Most importantly female athletes need supplements and training methods that are suited to their physiology. Taking this into account it can maximize athletic performance. Women are underrepresented in studies related to Whey protein supplementation. A majority of studies focused on men with 68% in total. Women are different in terms of biology and endocrine function which have an effect on physical fitness capacity. Knowing this training regimens and supplements can be designed to be more efficient. Otherwise women could be using methods that may not work for them. The reason why there is this underrepresented statistic is for a long period of time women were excluded from sports and discouraged form physical activity. Supplements were once seen as a male only consumer product. The only exception to this was diet pills marketed to women.

The fitness industry still markets weight loss and weight management to women, when there is a increasing interest for women who want to gain musculoskeletal mass. Women are no longer afraid to use weights despite persistent traditional gender expectations.  This phase of study is still in a state of infancy. There are some issues with the study that can be noted. The method seemed logical, but there may be a problem with replication providing different conclusions. Other variables must be accounted for when conducting an experiment.

         The study involved screening about 1,800 articles from journal databases. From these databases 13 studies were identified  along with 28 intervention groups that were relevant to the supplement studies. The selection process involved obtaining studies that included healthy women participants , consumption of whey supplements, exercise activity, changes in lean body mass, and a minimum duration of six months of training. The question here is what exactly were the health conditions of participants? Health could simply mean that their is absence of disease from the body. This does not equate to physical fitness. There can be people who are healthy, but not physically fit. Women who may have been part of this study could have altered the results if they were athletes. Depending on what sport they are active in, their body fat levels could be lower than the average woman. This would distort the results of proving effectiveness.

WomenProteinPowder_1024x1024

The study if it wants to be precise it would have to use women with no athletic or fitness background as one group. Then take another sample group of physically fit women and give them Whey protein. Doing this for the same duration would produce a true result of Whey’s effectiveness. Then there is also the question of exercise. Which types of exercise were performed in these studies? This is significant due to the fact that other types of  exercise is more effective at burning fat. It was once thought that just using a treadmill could be more effective at reducing weight or altering body composition. Although this can improve cardiovascular endurance it will not dramatically reduce weight. Weight training seems to be more efficient in this regard. If all of the participants were either exercising using treadmills, weights, or a combination of both this also may distort results. The six week duration seems like enough time to witness significant change and thus should not be changed in another attempt. Multiple factors matter when conducting a scientific inquiry. The first step would be to get a large sample of women then make detailed observations of progress.

There may be different results depending on a person’s genetic body type. The only way to know for sure would be to document the changes in women with endomorphic and ectomorphic body types. If changes can be seen in them it is at least moderately effective. If there is a change in women of high physical fitness level, then it can be said this is highly useful supplement. Bergia concluded: “Although more research is needed to specifically assess the effects of varying states of energy sufficiency and exercise training, the overall findings support that consuming whey protein supplements may aid women seeking to modestly improve body composition, especially when they are reducing energy intake to lose body weight.”

          Whey can work on women. The question remains can women “bulk up” from it. The term bulking up in  a colloquial and inaccurate term. The process of building muscle is muscular hypertrophy. The previous statement from  Wayne Campbell may be premature. Changes related to the body depend on several factors. Genetics has a powerful influence relative to body type. Women who are naturally mesomorphic will have more potential for muscular hypertrophy. Exercise and training method are also pivotal in this equation. Women who are either using solely a treadmill will not get as strong compared to a woman lifting weights. Fitness goals are also a factor. Some women may merely want to burn fat, rather than build muscle mass gains. Sex has an impact relative to endocrine function. Seeing as women produce more estrogen and progesterone this means they will always have a higher body fat percentage. Hypothetically it is possible for a woman to make muscle mass gains if she does heavy resistance training, supplements with Whey, and eats a specific diet. This regimen must be consistent to produce a changes in muscular strength and size. Male and female muscle does not differ at a cellular level. The difference is in total mass. Supplements are not just for men. Women could probably benefit more from supplements. Whey may not be the sole protein supplement that is best, but this study could encourage more research into female athletic potential.

 

Whey Protein Supplements and Exercise Help Women Improve Body Composition

Dr. Mark Griffiths – Pulling Muscles A Beginners Guide To Sthenolagnia

Dr. Mark Griffiths

Dr. Mark Griffiths is a psychologist and professor of behavioral addiction. He teaches Nottingham Trent University . Dr. Griffiths writes on his website providing information on psychology and topics related to addiction and the science of the mind. This article examines sthenolagnia from a perspective of psychology. Psychologists have in recent years taken an interest in human sexual behavior and fetishes. Sexology examines the scientific and biology basis for  intercourse, but psychology is fascinated by the motivation and behavior. Although Dr. Mark Griffiths’ writing is not elaborate it does provide a general outline. The definition is debated and can be easily confused with other terminology. The unique aspect of this post is that it is an actual psychologist providing analysis of a least know  sexual fetish. There is limited data or serious investigation in regards to sthenolagnia . The text is reliant on newspaper articles and a few psychology related manuals. This means the source of information is limited, only providing one perspective. The majority of the information would most likely be theoretical or at best speculative. There have been monographs that have attained interviews from men and women related to the bodybuilding and fitness culture. This may be a small sample, but it does give an insight into an unknown world.  Dr. Mark Griffith’s analysis may appear to be rudimentary, yet it is a work in progress. Presenting this behavior by  this way a reader who has no knowledge of it can gain some comprehension.

       Dr . Mark Griffiths first defines the sexual fetish using the definition by   Dr. Anil Aggrawal  Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. The text defines sthenolagnia as “  a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and sexual arousal from displaying strength or muscles. ” The problem with this definition is that there is a difference between paraphilia and a sexual fetish. Paraphilia can be defined as “a condition characterized by abnormal sexual desires, typically involving extreme or dangerous activities” or ” extreme sexual deviation.”  There still is a debate about what is normal sexual behavior. However, a disorder hinders function of daily life and health. A sexual fetish just induces arousal either based on an object or body part. Sthenolagnia would fit under the classification of sexual fetish.

Such a fetish is not classified as being overly extreme. Paraphilia and sexual fetish are mistakenly used in an interchangeable manner. That is why  Dr. Anil Aggrawal ‘s denotation is incorrect.There is also a difference between cratolagnia and  Sthenolagnia. Cratolagnia induces arousal from acts or feats of physical strength. A woman could have large muscles, but may not be as strong as a powerlifter or weightlifter. These two fetishes are related, yet differ in this regard. One puts emphasis on appearance and the other relates to what the body can physically do.

It is very possible that a person with such a fetish could have both. This is when the definitions become blurred. Some may say it is a debate of semantics or confusing jargon, but terms are designed to describe an object or concept in a certain manner.  The term sthenolagnia was coined by German psychologist and early sexologist pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld. Both men and women can have this fetish. It can hardly be considered an abnormal condition, yet such a view may indicate bias in regards to gender role scripts. While the general public would have no qualms about a woman being attracted to a strong man, this is not the case for strong women. The gender role script is that man is suppose to be powerful and the woman should be dainty. A man that finds a physically strong woman attractive is seen as bizarre, a predator, or sexual deviant. These are exaggerations, falsehoods, and a combination of stereotypes that have no basis in reality.  Many men who are lovers of female muscle come from various religious, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. This fetish can be found in people with different sexual orientations.

Maria Wattal
Maria Wattel stands at 182 cm. She has to be one of the tallest female bodybuilders.

The definition that Francesca Twinn  provides is not accurate in her book  The Miscellany of Sex. She defines it as ” the love of giant overpowering women.” That is a separate fetish known as macrophilia. This is arousal from people who are larger or taller compared to themselves. Strength and muscles are not the factor it is size. Yet, it puts emphasis on giants in fantasy related art or fan produced stories. Macrophilia could relate to the other fetishes, but its is it own entity. There may be individuals that have all three. There are also women who fit the description of being tall,muscular, and physically strong. Psychological terminology can be confusing. The female muscle fandom is a much larger culture that goes beyond a mere fetish. This is why The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices confuses it definition of  sthenolagnia. It states ” that is wrestling for erotic purposes.” Session wrestling and mixed wrestling are not always erotic. It does not always have to involve an athlete. Fantasy wrestling could involve any woman who has a basic knowledge of wrestling techniques and moves. This is a practice that may have people with particular fetishes, but it is another activity that requires more study. There is a habit of layman and academic alike to use definitions and connotations interchangeably. This is why wrestling itself must be separated from cratolagnia and   sthenolagnia. There is obvious overlap and relation between these terms and practices, but specifics account for variation.

         Session wrestling has been associated with the female bodybuilding culture. Women will charge clients to either wrestle or do muscle worship. Not all sessions are muscle worship. Others can be competitive wrestling in which both the woman and man seek to win a match. This is the least common due to the possibility the female athlete may hurt there less physically powerful client. Semi-competitive matches are when a the client puts up some resistance. Fantasy wrestling involves women of various skills and sizes just performing wrestling moves on a man who does not resist. Female athletes do session wrestling from all physique and bodybuilding divisions. Seeing as the sport does not get the same financial support than men, women had to figure out another business model to sponsor their activities.  Female athletes may prefer having just muscle worship sessions, because it involves less physical activity.

This is what a competitive match looks like. Both are trying to win. 

Session  wrestling can be exhausting for an athlete. Normally sessions could last an hour or sometimes longer. Some athletes could wrestling clients multiple times a day. The rates are high to cover the cost of travel  and other expenses. Sometimes athletes who do sessions are based in the area of  their residence and the client could come to them. There is the possibility of risk. Women are meeting with complete strangers. It is unknown what could happen. So far, as much as some know there have not been any major incidents with women doing sessions.

This is a semi-competitive match. The man is putting up some resistance, but not trying to win. 

The male and female wrestling  matches can be referred to in general as mixed wrestling. This is separate from muscle worship, but muscle worship can be a part of  session wrestling. Dr. Griffths states ”  although there is little in the way of academic research on the topic, many sthenolagnia devotees appear to be sexually aroused by an equalization (or reversal) of the stereotypical power relationship among heterosexual couples. ” This is a theme is writings and artworks, but women do not need to be physically strong to have a change in power dynamics. Access to education, employment, and freedom in the public sphere has altered the power relationship. The sexual revolution and women’s rights movement also change the why power dynamics function in relationships between men and women. Equal treatment and negotiation are expected. While preached, but not always practiced it is at least widely accepted. Some cultures believe that male authority should be absolute and women should submit to it. This seems dated and women are being more accepted in other areas of life. There can be women business owners , police, astronauts, and heads of state; people just cannot fathom a woman with physical power.

This seems to be the last area in which the public just needs to accept that women look different. It should also be accepted that all men are not attracted to the same paradigm of beauty. Sthenolgnia does not have subcategories. What Dr. Mark Giffiths is describing is a much larger subculture of female muscle fandom. While this encompasses people with various fetishes  it can be vary broad.

        The female muscle fandom is a fascinating phenomenon. It can be traced back to the 1970s in which female bodybuilding emerged. There had always been men who liked the muscular physique on women, but there was very few places one could go to see them. When women became active in the sport female muscle fans had a space to communicate and admire physically strong women. There are two factions of fans that are present in the female muscle fandom culture. There are fans who like any amount of muscle on women. This can range from the fitness of bikini competitor to the largest bodybuilder or female athlete of any sort. Schmoes like the most muscular women are just associated with the female bodybuilding subculture. They are the support base of the female building sport in which larger sports corporations have either ignored female athletes altogether. Though these zealous female bodybuilding fans are sometimes seen in a negative perspective, they contribute much financial aid to athletes. They buy tickets to contests, become members of athletes websites, and purchase mixed wrestling videos. Seeing as there remains a stigma about men liking physically powerful women, ,many men are not open about their love of female muscle. The internet provides at least some idea of possible numbers. There are multiple websites and social media related pages that feature muscular women and athletes. They generate huge amounts of traffic and it could be that many of these are men who are secret admirers. Publicly they will not admit such attraction to avoid ridicule, but they collect various materials. Other fans are open and honest about their love of female muscle. The subculture is both material and non-material. Photography has a large importance. Fans collect pictures of well known athletes  or muscular women in general.

The photography can range from competition pictures, artistic based images, candid non-professional shots, and the more borderline  lascivious pictures. Women are also contributing to this aspect of female muscle photography by adding such images to their websites and social media platforms.  The collection of photographs is not just a hobby for some. It acts as historical documentation. Women who are like this are rare in number. The collector wants to get a large amount as a personal archive. Videos are also a part of the material culture. Competitions are not just the only videos female muscle fans watch. Some videos are just the women performing posing or simply doing a workout session. The age of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter also provides exclusive content of athletes in their journey to competition. The most popular videos involve mixed wrestling. Some female muscle fans rather watch mixed wrestling than being an active participant. This is an option for someone who cannot afford or is unwilling to pay for session wrestling. Video purchases  from websites are  much cheaper in comparison to having an actual session. Sometimes it is not a question of money. Observers rather not risk getting harmed by a woman twice their strength level. The non-material aspect of the female muscle fandom is related to forums and debates over aesthetics. Fans constantly discuss their favorite athletes and what the image of the muscular woman means to them. This discussion expands into a wider fitness culture that has become global.

The reason is that the internet has made communication much more simple. People can see websites all over the world. Women are slowly realizing the fun and joy of fitness culture. This is an important paradigm that is often ignored by academic investigation and commentators. These athletes have produced an image that has never been this wide spread in human history. Women are not just becoming socially and politically powerful there is a small movement for empowerment of the body. There are those who are opposed to this, but a portion of men have embrace the idea of the physically strong woman. All female muscle fans are not female muscle worshipers. This is only a small section of men ( or women) who like the idea of a muscular body.

        The arts are also part of the female muscle fandom. Art which can either be drawings, paintings, or computer generated imagery are done by fans. The muscular woman as subject does not seem out of place in this regard. Art had in the Western tradition  presented the male body in a muscular model. The female body was presented in a more voluptuous and soft paradigm. This has roots in Greek and Roman civilization and was revived during the Italian Renaissance. The difference with the female developing her body for physique sports is that they combine those two paradigms of the body. This can be seen in the art of female muscle fans. They often call a woman’s body a work of art, because it is referencing classical sculpture of the past. Female muscle growth is the common theme in the artworks produced, but not always. Some could be simple portraits or cartoon renditions. The art may depict an actual person or be fan art in which a female character has a muscular physique. Morphs and photo manipulations  have over the decades become more popular. This involves the use of Photoshop manipulating picture to make it appear as if women have large muscles, who do not in reality.

Muscular women are depicted in cartoons, comics, and other entertainment media. It is no surprise that female muscle fans would produce artwork in response to this. Superheroes are a popular subject, because they are depicted as muscular in comics. The depictions of physically strong women can range from certain tropes like the amazonian beauty or the brawn hilda. Such portrayals can be either negative or positive in mainstream media and entertainment others may just be neutral. Writing is also a part of the female muscle fandom. Stories either involve the muscular woman as the protagonist or the antagonist. These writing can either be erotic in content or simple adventure. Seeing it easier to put material on the internet, writings can be on multiple websites. Such writing would not be found in a bookstore. However, with e-commerce writers can make kindle based stories that users can buy. There have been instances were female muscle growth stories have been found for sale on Amazon.com.

These writings being on Amazon.com expose FMG to a wider audience. Although it does not have a mainstream audience, the following could be possibly growing. The amazing part about this development is that such women inspire creative works in this small circle. There are accusations that such works are pornographic. While there is the erotic element present, the question is what would be the line? The majority of such works would barely even count as softcore material. Human sexuality and behavior has become a major source of interest to psychologists . Although this may seem like a mere preference there may be a reason for it.

          There is a reason for why men and women engage in muscle worship or have a fetish for muscular strength. Dr. Mark Griffiths extracted one explanation from an article : ” The psychology of muscle worship is not fully understood. The practice developed from envy, jealousy, or profound appreciation for excellent muscularity. It is a relatively modern social activity that began to gain popularity with the rise of competitive bodybuilding. When the worshiper is of a less-muscular stature, the aspects of envy or jealousy are more pronounced. Typically, profound appreciation for the achievement of exceptional muscularity and stroking of the muscle god’s ego remain the primary motivations, particularly when muscle worship is done between two or more accomplished bodybuilders in a session.” It is difficult to place jealousy or envy in this assessment mainly becasue these are attributes that are found in detractors. Some men are threatened by women’s power in any sense whether it is physical, mental, or social. Jealousy comes from feeling that a individual is not deserving of the same things that other people have. There are men who believe that women do not deserve the same rights or treatment and get extremely offended when women enter a predominately male sphere of influence. Such men would not be seeking women of great strength. Appreciation seems to be the more logical answer.

DSC_1111-2
Appreciation comes from admiration of the diligence and effort it takes to achieve such athletic feats.

   Besides sexual attraction these women fascinate female muscle fans mainly due to their athletic prowess.  Prior to their bodybuilding activities these women were involved in other sports. This gives them a good structural base to build size. The flaw in the examination of this fetish is that women are not focused on enough. It has been assumed that men have more fetishes compared to women, but this may not be accurate. Female sexuality has not been examined to the full extent compared to male sexual behavior. The rise of modern sexology reversed this and one of its pioneers was Alfred Kinsey. During the 1940s his research also gathered data from women on their sexual practices in the United States. It was once believed that women did not have sexual urges or sexuality. This falsehood was developed to control female sexual behavior. The Sexual Revolution challenged the more conservative perspectives about human sexuality and behavior as well as the traditional gender role scripts. How this relates to sexuality is that men and women have a psychological motivation for sexual activity and expression .  Psychology also has an interest in studying motivation from the most basic which included hunger, thirst, and sex to the more complex social behaviors. The women who do this may enjoy throwing men around and get some thrill from it. Women can also have various fetishes and their could be for the session wrestler the enjoyment of overpowering a man. Domination may be an arousal inducer for the strong woman. Nothing can be known for sure due to the fact women’s reasons and motivations are multiple. Many just see it as a way to finance an athletes expenses in competition, but there are other ways income can be generated.

There is more to this than just a source of funds required to compete. Women do get gratification out of this as well in some manner. The explanation of ego boost does seem credible. Women during this practice can gain  a high level of confidence from their strength training activities, but more esteem can be generated from fan attention. The image of submissive men is normally attached to the image of schmoe or female muscle fan. This is not always the case and they could experience an ego boost with such encounters with physically powerful women. There is a belief that a man who is with a powerful woman becomes stronger. While there are men who favor the aspect of being part of a power loss in this dynamic, there is a section that sees it as a demonstration of fortitude. The reasoning could be that it shows they can handle a very powerful woman. This gives the muscle worshiper a sense of  increased power. The infantilism association may not even be a part of this. This is another fetish altogether in which adults get aroused by form acting like an baby or infant. Muscle worship or mixed wrestling rarely involves this fetish. There may be a youthful play like element to mixed wrestling reminiscent to childhood. This mixed wrestling could be a way for adults to relive a carefree time in life of unrestricted play and fun before taking on the responsibilities of maturity. Whatever the reason it may be this could be more wide spread than previously thought.

There is a tendency to jump to conclusions about particular activity  that is little known. The reason there may be so little information is that people are not willing to be open or honest about their sexual practices.  Surveys are hindered by this, because they are dependent on whether or not participants give honest answers. Another large study on human sexuality was conducted in the 1990s known as the The Social Organization of  Sexuality: Practices in the United States. The survey give in the study was a project known as the National Health and Social Life Survey. The age range was between 18  and 59. The study revealed that more youth were sexually active. This marks a big cultural shift compared to Alfred Kinsey’s era. Sexual behavior is not entirely biological and can be both environmental as well as culturally based. Attitudes toward sex and fetishes vary among liberal or conservative cultures. There is a sociological dynamic that operates differently in societies that favor arranged marriage or support free love. Psychology holds that most people function on three major motives which include achievement, hunger, and sex.  Sex is a biological drive that can be influenced by learning. It is not homeostatic. There may be a possible unconscious process to it.  This could be the reason men and women are involved in muscle worship activity is due to the unconscious drive for sexual expression. Such theories are only speculation and without an experimental process it cannot be seen as a scientific fact.

            Body image is a subject of interest to psychology mainly due to the mental basis of eating disorders. Stress and depression can effect eating habits. Relevant to the topic of  sthenolagnia, it reveals the psychology about observers viewing it from the outside. There is a beauty standard that varies across cultures, but when a person does not fit that paradigm they are ostracized. Even the people who claim to be open to different ideas or people may have an unconscious bias. The muscular woman is seen with either unconscious bias or open hostility. This is also directed at supporters and admirers of such women. There would be no question of the men who liked the conventional or popular beauty standard. However, if one deviates then they accused of being eccentric or a person with a perversion. Society just needs to realize that there are different forms of beauty.

A common misconception is that female muscle fans only like one body type. Their predilections could be vast. Society is slowly catching up with a larger visibility of plus sized women in modeling and advertisements.  

Bias is an interesting topic in psychology. Confirmation bias is the tendency to favor evidence that  favors a particular perspective. Emotional bias describes making assessments based on feeling rather than on facts or evidence.  Both concepts could be applied to the examination of women of various body types. Muscular women would be subject to both biases if a serious study were to be conducted about the nature of such a fetish. There also is the problem of expectancy bias, which could effect a survey for psychological research.  Researchers can affect a study’s outcome by their own personal expectations. If a researcher has a personal bias against women who look different that would alter such experiments. The topic of body image continues to be a widely examined topic in the age of  prevalent mass media.

            Female muscle worship would not constitute being a phenomenon of abnormal psychology. The question of what is normal can be debated. There are attributes of mental disorders. Dr, Mark Griffiths main focus in psychology is addictive behavior. Gambling disorder Dr. Griffiths has written extensively about. The love of the physically strong woman or the sthenolagnia fetish would not be considered an addiction or a mental disorder. Mental disorder can classified in a spectrum. These include no disorder, mild disorder, moderate disorder, and severe disorder. The classification of mental disorders is imperfect and has in the past had a level of controversy. Homosexuality was once considered a mental disorder according to American Psychiatric Association. This was dropped from the DSM in 1973. Science is not a completely unbiased or objective pursuit. Based on the general classifications a mild disorder can display itself in difficulty in relationships or behavioral change. Moderate disorders can project themselves with inappropriate behaviors during a particular situation and more pronounced difficulty with other people. Severe mental disorders hinder function of daily life. These descriptions are vague so this only complicates what the true nature of mental disorder is. Addiction is a mental disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association addiction is “a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use.” It is possible that this could range between a moderate to severe mental disorder.  Sthenolagnia  would not be an addiction or a mental disorder. There is a possibility that an individual could become addicted. Addictions could range from work, to sex, or even gaming and internet use. Considering female muscle fandom is not as large as compared to gambling or gaming, there may not be a specific addiction to strong women.  Sthenolagnia is nothing more than a harmless fetish.

Dr. Mark Griffiths – Pulling Muscles A Beginners Guide To Sthenolagnia

The Science Says Putting Women Into Combat Endangers National Security

Women In Combat Debate

The article published from The Federalist written by Travis Scott in 2016 questions women’s ability to meet physical fitness standards for combat positions. While sexual dimorphism, biology, physiology, and physical fitness are factors to the success of combat integration, Travis Scott makes it clear he is no advocate of women in combat roles. The Federalist has a conservative perspective and the majority of such political orientation are opposed to women in combat. It seems odd that conservatives and a Republican Party in particular holds women in such enmity who merely volunteer for service. They are thought to be the political group with a strong emphasis on national security and being pro-military. The reality is the opposite. Service members would have a worse time under conservative administrations that follow flawed foreign policy and engaging in aggressive war. Scott argues that it is possible that presence of women could effect military effectiveness. His reasoning is that women are not physically capable of being effective combat soldiers based on sex differences. Science does not state women are less capable, it only shows that men and women have a different physical fitness capacity. The only reason women in combat would not work is that women are given a lower standard resulting in the men doing more labor for the sake of women being in such military occupational specialties. Travis Scott states ” feelings don’t matter, effectiveness does” but his argument is based on emotion. Through out history women have been involved in combat in various societies and nations around the globe. While males on average men have a higher physical fitness capacity, it is not impossible for women to meet standards if instructed in the proper manner. Women who fight will not endanger national security, rather perpetual warfare, a belligerent foreign policy, and a corrupt political system.

          Before one just uses the term science the definition should be comprehended. Science can be defined as the “exploration and study of the natural world through observation and experiment.” How this is done is through the scientific method. Under this system a hypothesis established, an experiment is conducted, and data is then collected. The experiment is observed for particular characteristics. At the end of the process, a conclusion is produced.  The experiment must be reproducible and then it can be considered fact or scientific law. Travis Scott’s position that women are not suitable for combat is not based on science, rather a confirmation bias. First it goes off the assumption that no women could possibly meet the physical standards. The second problem is that also assumes that all men are at high level of physical prowess. If such an experiment were to be developed to see how mixed gender combat integration could work several conditions would have to be met.

image

The women would need physical fitness  training prior to even attempting. The mixed combat Marine study had issues because women were coming in volunteering for the experiment at various fitness levels. According to the study the women volunteering had too meet only the minimal male standard to be part of the experiment in 2015. They were compared with experienced all male units. The problem was that it did not take inexperienced men and women and see how performance develops. The problem is that men and women for training on different physical fitness standards. That is why a unified fitness standard needs to be established that meets the demands of a particular occupation. There reality is that women have fought in wars both past and present. Certain women may be able to perform at a level higher than some men. Women have been in combat seeing as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had no distinguishable front line.

        It is obvious that sexual dimorphism is a factor in physical fitness performance. Travis Scott basically uses the difference between male and female bodies to indirectly say that women are low quality soldiers. This assumes that all women are weaker than all men. Men are on average taller, denser bones, more muscle mass, and stronger tendons. This also include more strength in the ligaments of the body. Not all men are built like Rambo, which is why physical fitness before entry is the key.  If women’s fitness level is lower, it would mean they would need to train prior to even entering basic training. There are several factors that contribute to physical strength. Sex and endocrinology are two of them. Muscle fiber type is essential. Type II muscle fiber is more suited for physical strength and men on average have more of this type, but the distribution between various muscle fibers vary among individuals. Genetics can also play a role in somatotype. A mesomorphic woman will have an easier time developing strength compared to an ectomorphic woman. Size can also be a factor in muscular strength. A larger skeletal frame means more area to house muscle on the body. Men and women have the same muscles and they can respond to training. They will not reach the same fitness level of a man who does the same training regimen. These factors are important,but not the only element essential to combat. Other skills and knowledge are also required for a modern military.

1000w_q95

The Navy, Army, and Air Force have a specific set of standards that are not just physical fitness. Soldiers have to have an education beyond that of high school and be in good health. This does not mean physical fitness is not important. The higher injury rates women sustain in the US military are due to particular factors. One common problem is that their physical fitness level is low prior to entry. Women would have to build enough strength and endurance before basic training, then prepare for their military occupational specialty. Every person who enters will not perform to the highest level. Travis Scott give the impression that the US Military is full of super soldiers.  Women at the time of the study were not fitted in the correct body armor. Knowing that female and male bodies are different a change was made to make female body armor more ergonomic. Gradually, improvements have been made to correct such problems.

The strongest women will not be as strong as the strongest men. This does not mean you have to be a top performing athlete to be a soldier. Women need weight training programs to build their strength. The problem with Scott’s sports analogy is that sports are also separated by weight class for both sexes. When soldiers meet in combat they do not organize themselves based on weight classes when confronting one another. While warfare and sports have similarities in terms of collaboration and strategy, there is a major difference. It is about killing and defeating enemy combatants. Sports has rules that regulate unfair play or general fouls in a game. The Geneva Convention is designed to prevent abuse by armed forces adhering to certain rules of war. The issue is there is no enforcement of it and certainly no sports like referee to ensure fairness in terms of conduct. Jobs that require a higher level physical activity do cause attrition rates. Both men and women can fall victim to it. Many soldiers get knee and various joint injuries because they are overloaded with gear. This has to be adjusted to prevent high rates of medical discharge or veterans who are in poor health. Even the most physically fit soldiers return with either joint or head injury trauma. This can be stopped with the engineering armor that is strong and light as well as reducing soldier carry load.

women soldiers

The US soldier is put under unnecessary physical strain, when the strenuous activity should be mostly done in the actual fighting. Too many are getting injured during training. The American population has an overall lower level of physical fitness. Sedentary life styles and obesity could complicate recruitment efforts. There may come a time in which women are needed, because there are not enough men to fill such positions. The US military has was not able to meet its recruitment targets in 2017. The US birthrate has been declining and the trend may continue. These are considerations that must be accounted for in the coming decades. Even if there are men who do not have weight related issues or poor health, they may not be in the physical fitness condition to meet particular standards for a job. It would make no sense to ban women who are qualified simply on the basis it makes some men uncomfortable.

The frailty myth still seems to be present in general thought in regards to women in physically demanding occupations. This falsehood is repeat multiple times : ” women who physically exert themselves too much over extended periods of time will be subject to muscular atrophy and other biological complications.” Female athletes do exert themselves to a higher degree, but their bodies do not just collapse. Women are vulnerable to the female athlete triad, ACL tears, and too low levels of body fat can effect the menstrual cycle. Male bodies can deteriorate depending on intensity, it is just slower due to size and body composition. Saying that women’s bodies were not equipped for combat seems ludicrous. There are female fire fighters, police officers, and construction workers who have too meet a physical fitness standard. The same arguments were used against women in these professions was they were not physically capable. After such discrimination was challenged women began appearing more in these professions. It has been proven with female athlete women can increase their strength and with proper knowledge can prevent injury. The issue of muscle power can be negated to an extent through exercise and nutrition, yet there is one element that may not be changed through an exercise regimen. Running speed depends on the size of the heart and lungs. Women’s pelvic structure is wider which does not contribute to speed. Oddly enough, Travis Scott does not mention this.

Respiratory-system

b04cfc0809954d7423f268844e17717a

Scott does admit that even if women were to meet the standards, he claims the victory would be short lived. Attrition becomes an issue for all soldiers, but it can be addressed with proper medical care and an emphasis on maintaining health. Women may have to train in a manner which increases their upper body strength. If they are closer to men in the lower body, this should be an easier task in comparison.  Sex differences do not mean women are not capable of certain jobs; it means that the most physically demanding would be harder for them. Reaching a certain physical fitness level for a female athlete can be a difficult task. It is possible, but it will take longer compared to males. This comes down to the stages of physical development during puberty. Prior to this, the sexes are equal in terms of physical strength. The male strength spurt occurs around age thirteen in which there is a divergence. Muscle cells and muscular hypertrophy operates the same in women which means they can be responsive to stimuli induced by exercise.

The question about whether or not combat integration is possible has to be answered relative to the standards of various branches of the US military. The position that women are not good combat soldiers ” because science says so” is faulty reasoning. The foundation of science is that it uses logic and reasoning to come to a conclusion about a problem. Travis Scott has a confirmation bias, rather than a genuine inquiry. Biology and physiology cannot be ignored in this equation, but there is a deliberate distortion of history in other sections of his position of women in combat.

        The only way women in combat will be successful is if women meet the same physical demands and requirements. The approach has been a practical one in which a  unified physical fitness  standard shall be used . The Marines are  attempting to devise a revision to the  physical fitness test  . This discarded the flexed arm hang and required that female recruits do pull-ups. Scoring was adjusted as well. There was a dip in performance, but this was to be expected considering it is harder for new Marines to adjust to these standards. This time around more women performed better on pull-ups than years past. The new standards are not lower, rather that are designed to be specific and focus on functional fitness. The US military had introduced a new test called the Occupational Physical Assessment. When it was introduced it reduced injury rates during basic training. This has helped soldiers immensely. Not only does it reduce the cost of dealing with such injuries, it improves soldier fitness by a more efficient method. Women still had higher injury rates. However, there was another problem holding women back. Women needed to meet weight requirements. Some women who engaged in weightlifting exercise gained weight that was muscle, but under use of the body mass index it would classify them as overweight. Women gained mass from training, but fell out of the requirement based on their height.

army-height-and-weight-chart-military-weight-chart
a sample of Army weight and height requirements. This would put women at a disadvantage when they build muscle, because the BMI does not distinguish it from fat.

The problem was addressed and change has occurred slowly. The Army Combat Readiness Test will replace the Army Physical Fitness Test. The Army Combat Readiness Test measures muscular strength, explosive strength, and agility. The test wants to simulate combat tasks rather than making it a series of workout sessions. Fighting is different from simply going to a gym or competing is a sports event. This is why the old standards must be abandoned. A separate standard based on sex , does create resentment among male soldiers who think women have it easier. The are seen as less competent or qualified. These prejudices can be challenged with a unified fitness standard. Lowering standards is not the solution. This has been avoided so far.

fig14-9

Army-physical-fitness-test-standards-1024x414

The physical fitness standards are now being changed to train recruits to meet the exact criteria for various occupations. Although it is based an decades of research, the battlefield is unpredictable. The nature of global politics has changed dramatically.

          War has been erroneously been called a male only affair. History proves otherwise. There have been multiple times in which women took up arms and fought in various wars. Scythian civilization, Celts, the Iceni  and Arab civilization had women warriors. The West tends to only think of a warrior as male. This had not been true for ancient history or the contemporary period. The Soviet Union had female soldiers who served as snipers, fighter pilots, and were involved in combat operations during World War II. Dahomey ( Benin ) during the 19th century had women warriors. During the wars in Indochina (1945-1975) women fought in both North and South Vietnam. The unfortunate aspect of this is that the women who fought in war have been lost in history. Only recently women’s history has attempted to rectify such a narrow view of history.

Women in combat is certainly nothing new. It also is nothing new to America. During the American Civil War women disguised themselves as men to fight in the conflict. They did this both for the Union and Confederacy. There are also cases of women being active in the American Revolutionary War. Mary Hays McCauley fought in the Pennsylvania State Regiment of Artillery. She fought alongside her husband, loading cannons, and distributing water to other soldiers.  She acquired a nickname which became something of American legend : Molly Pitcher.  McCauley was not the only woman to serve. Women would appear in combat and the military onward. Cathy Williams was the only African American female Buffalo soldier. She served from 1866 to 1868 and was only discharged when her sex was discovered. Although Williams was denied recognition during her service, a monument stands in her honor at the National Infantry Museum. The major shift came when women could officially work for the US Army under the Women’s Army Corps. This women’s branch of the US military began in 1942 and was disbanded in 1978 when women became fully integrated with male units. It would seem that the next logical step would be opening combat jobs to women. Although the Gulf War ( 1990-1991) saw women taking part in particular operations a combat ban was imposed in 1994.

The woman warrior can be found in various places and points in human history. 

This ban was not because women were incompetent soldiers. It was designed to keep them out of particular occupations. Claims of incompetence or inferiority were used as justification for discrimination in the US military. When the US military became integrated African Americans were face with vicious hostility. When Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed there was conservative backlash. Under the Donald Trump administration there are attempts to ban transgender service members. The hostility women face in the US military is just another part of a long legacy of institutional intolerance and prejudice. So far, the increased diversity of the armed forces has not caused a break down in US military strength.

Today women are fighting in conflicts just not in an official capacity. FARC, the Peshmerga, and the Tamil Tigers had female combat soldiers. Rebel groups or insurgent groups across the globe may use women as fighters. They fight with less resources and aid compared to women soldiers from the US. This is why the thesis ”   Everyone up to this point in history has understood why: If the fighting were left in the hands of women, this country’s spaces for freedom and the pursuit of happiness we hold so dear would not exist ” is a flawed analysis of history. The only reason freedom or liberty can exist is if government power and military force is restrained. The Posse Commitatus Act limits the power of the federal government using the armed forces to enforce domestic policies or law. Law enforcement is left to police officers, not generals. This is also why there are three branches of government to regulate political power. Travis also distorts another element in history saying “ideas of fairness and equality are social constructs that are upheld solely by the might of men.”  This is incorrect, because such concepts are enforced by constitutions and the rule of law. It is the over emphasis on might and the obsession with power that enables authoritarian systems.  This is why the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movement was important.

It made sure that civil rights and civil liberties were for all citizens of the United States. This comes to another problem with this mode in thinking when Travis says :   “if  women receive fair treatment in public or civil life, it is because strong men have provided safe arenas so society can grant this to them. ”  If women waited for men to make society safe for them they would have never gotten the right to vote, own property, or have equal education. Violence against women is prevalent in the West as well and women had to resist to improve their status. Saying that men gave them rights is ludicrous. If America waited for independence from Britain it would have still been a colony. Rights and freedom must be fought for, because an oppressor will never give them willingly.  Women have been motivated in multiple points in history to engage in armed conflict if they felt the cause was important enough.

            There is a concern that physical differences could have an effect on close quarters combat and unarmed combat . Normally, the conservative argument is that women are not good fighters. The focus them comes to muscular strength. The detractors are convinced that there no women who could beat a man in fight ever. The difference in strength can be closed to an extent,but there is more to being a good fighter than having strength. Skill can be an equalizer and particular martial arts like judo can be utilized to overcome larger opponents. Women are not taught to fight or defend themselves. They are not even taught basic physical skills. Physical education courses have different standards, even when there is limited strength difference between boys and girls. There is a bias that is shown, which believes women are physically inferior. when women of high physical skill display their talents they are ostracized as anomalies.  Travis Scott holds this position: ”  There are anomalous handfuls of females who, with sufficient training in hand-to-hand combat, can handle themselves in and around their weight class, or effectively fend off larger assailants who do not know how to actually fight. ” He then articulates the following : ” Also, there are probably biological markers for why these woman have such a physical capacity in the first place, which most women lack.” Travis Scott argues that women not be great fighters compared to men with the same training or in a similar weight class. Men who are smaller would be at a disadvantage in hand to hand combat, but no one attributes that to their sex. The military teaches soldiers of all sizes how to fight effectively with hand to hand combat techniques. This should work just the same for women.While it is true men can women in pure brute strength fighting skills can give women an advantage.

The problem is a fitness and fighting skills issue. To solve this problem one must ask the question how strong can a woman get through training? This depends on the factors related to physical strength and the specific occupation task. The average woman with a consistent weight training regimen can attain at least a 40% increase in muscular strength within months of training  according to studies on the American Council on Exercise. This is less than half, but it is a significant gain. What this means it will take women longer to reach a fitness goal. Lifting heavy will increase strength, while lighter weights are more effective at endurance. Women will have a harder time build upper body strength, which is an area that should be focused on. A smaller rib cage and narrow shoulders mean there is less room to house muscle. However, it can still be built. Women have the same muscles as men, which do not radically differ anatomically.

Muscles Of The Trunk 17 Best Images About Shoulder Examination On Pinterest | Magnetic
The muscular system of  trunk of the body.

Women have to make fitness their top priority if they want to be part of combat units. While long range weapons make hand to hand combat seem dated, there are times when it is necessary. A soldier could be disarmed or run out of ammunition. Unarmed combat is different from hand to hand combat, because no weapons are involved. Hand to hand combat would refer to weapons such a daggers, spears, or batons used in battle.

Krav Maga
Female soldier learns Krav Maga

Krav Maga has been used by the IDF in Israel as an effective hand to hand combat fighting technique. Women also learn this in the IDF also with their males counterparts. The US Navy, Marines, and Army have various hand to hand combat training systems. If women can punch and kick nothing should hinder their success. The one element in physical fitness capacity regarding strength difference could be a challenge. Differences are not an indication of inferiority. Travis Scott’s assertions become more bizarre when emphasizing that war is a man’s job: “The vast majority of women (if not literally every woman you know) will boast that they can do everything a man can do—until it involves fists. ” If  vast wars could be solved with simple fist fights maybe so many people would not die. Wars are fought with guns, planes, tanks, bombs, and it is even going into cyberspace. He further pontificates “women retreat from this domain, falling back on some moral code that says, while woman are “equal” in the highest ideological way, they are not physically equal to men.” All people are not of the same strength, intelligence, or skill level,but this did not stop armies from drafting different types of men. While men are on average stronger than women, there are women who can be stronger than men.When a person enters the military they have to molded to be a soldier. There has to be an expectation that all will succeed with their training otherwise make functioning units will not be possible.

A person does not need to be physically strong to kill. It must also be noted that ” biological realities constantly reinforce the physical inequality of men and women.” Women were traditionally excluded from certain occupations due to discrimination, strict gender roles, and cultural pressure. While sexual dimorphism can be an explanation of why there are few women in manual labor jobs, it is not the only one. The author seems to believe in the gender stereotype that women are more peaceful. While men are more aggressive which has a biological and social basis, there are cases in which women show aggression. Men express it in a physical way compared to women. However, this does not mean women will not use their fists in some instances. Although it is a smaller statistic, women do engage in domestic abuse.

These cases are often overlooked and not taken seriously. This is due to the notion that some how female equals victim, which does not represent the entire situation. Travis Scott ignores this by stating “from here many will infer that it is a man’s moral imperative not to strike women, ever, because it would be sadistic, evil, and “unfair.” This is not an ethical imperative it is based on dated chivalry and gender stereotypes. It is wrong for a person to assault anyone, but if a woman does it to a man there is no repercussion. A woman being an attacker or aggressor breaks the gender role script. Women are suppose to be helpless and dependent on men for protection in this frame of thought.

These women look like they could take on some guys in a fight. 

This is why many are still trying to accept the fact women have been in combat in both the past and present. The only reason more women were not involved in certain areas of public life was that they lived in cultural and political restriction. There were individual women who overcame such obstacles and there periods of history in which women’s status was higher. While lack of opportunity can be to blame, there are certain realities that must be noted. Women’s numbers may never be equal to men’s numbers in the US military. There has been dramatic increase in numbers of women in various branches, but there may be some areas in which women will be a very small minority. The Navy SEALS has a high drop out rate for its vigorous training program.

Weightlifting World Records (men and women)
Doubtless about what the common held belief is, women are not weak. Women and women of exceptional ability can attain high levels of physical strength : How Strong Are Female Bodybuilders Compared To Men.

If men are having a difficult time with that it would be twice as hard for women. Making a quota based system adds a level of complication. A rational target goal of recruits for military branches would have to be done if numbers are to increase. Even the fittest woman could struggle with the training in elite special forces units. These only make a small portion of the US military. There have been thousands of combat jobs open to women that were once closed to them. The solution to the fitness issues related to women in combat is follow certain health recommendations. Women must build their upper body strength. They need to train in a manner that prevents joint related injuries. All the sex differences will not be eliminated through training, but it can make women into competent combat soldiers.

2cac01ff6e019cedec2ae6e12a4b6bac
It is not a medical or biological impossibility that a woman can be stronger than a man :  Can A Woman Be As Strong As A Man ?

Scott’s assessment lacks credibility when he says ”   In the past, more often than not a society would send little boys off to die at war before they would send women,and adds “This is because even grown women are not as physically reliable as adolescent males.”  The reason child soldiers in the past and present are mostly boys is due to the idea that man’s sole function is to be protector and fighter of the community. There was the shared belief that men should be happy to go off and die no matter what the cause of the conflict or reason. This idea of male sacrifice has put men in unfavorable positions. Adolescent males are not on the same strength level as a fully grown woman. Only with their last strength spurt and added height by age 20 does a man reach his full muscular strength. Puberty is slower in males relative to growth. Women do not get a strength spurt, yet reach their full height by age 16.

Grip strength
A chart showing the grip strength difference between boys and girls of different age groups. It can be seen here that the strength spurt changes the male body dramatically around age 15.

 The muscular strength  level of an average woman would be higher than a teenage boy. It is at the age of 20, that the gap is vast. A woman who trains can reach the strength level of a man who is average or slightly above that level. There is advantage in terms of women’s higher fatigue resistant type I muscle fibers.The strongest women would not have problems with the physical tasks required of a combat force. Sex differences or the presence of women will not put the US military at risk. The United States has pursued a policy that enables danger and a series of foreign policy failures.

         The United States wants to remain the dominant world power. Doing this has caused numerous conflicts around the world. The US has taken on the role of world policemen, except this is not about the enforcement of justice. The wars Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Somalia have degraded the health of the nation in a political and military sense. The War on Terror is nothing more the excuse to wage perpetual warfare across the globe. The challenge is not insurgency or terrorism, rather a military industrial complex. America’s economy has been centered around permanent warfare. Without it, there could be harmful economic consequences. There is no way for this to logically continue without resulting in economic, political, and social turmoil. Functioning on a imperial system, while engaging in large power competition will cause collapse in the future. The US is functioning on a system of Cold War policies in which it believes it needs to contain an ideology or a nation.The string of military bases and presence in foreign lands has nothing to do with national security. The objective is to have economic and political domination of the world. The US is more than capable of defending itself against any country.

Military bases
Financially this will not be sustainable unless federal income tax is increased.

The US wants to stop a multipolar power system in world politics. This means that the US could no longer impose its will on countries that disagree with its policies or wage aggressive war. It explains why there is sudden belligerence against Russia and China. China is becoming a more powerful country both economically and militarily. Russia has reemerged on the international stage.  There is no evidence that these countries want to destroy the United States, but that are presented as menaces. The US seeks to interfere with various regions globally on the grounds of human rights and democracy promotion. This myth is constantly presented to the American public, which justifies war crimes and aggression. The NATO-US invasion and subsequent assassination of Muammar Qaddafi induced the refugee crisis and many still continue to flee an unstable North African region to Europe. The removal of Saddam Hussein caused the rise of terrorism in Iraq with Al-Quadea being active in Iraq and the creation of ISIS. ISIS became active in Syria along with other rebel groups. The US, the EU countries, and the gulf monarchies are seeking the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad. If this is to happen there will be more terrorism, regional instability, and an immense influx of refugees to Europe. What these past and current conflicts demonstrate is that neoconservative foreign policy has endangered national security. Polices of regime change and nation building are not logical or safe. The US loses its wars not because of its soldiers. It has some of the best trained fighters among the world’s armed forces. Adding women to combat will not result in failure relative to military conflicts. Aggressive war, misguided foreign policy, and large power competition will ultimately cause the downfall of the United States. Hopefully, politicians and military leaders reverse such policies are reorient America in a rapidly changing world.

            What should be understood about war is that it emphasizes technology, tactics, and a comprehensive strategy. Travis Scott is correct to say that war is more complicated than just exploding targets. While women coming on to combat units is a major change, it may not be large enough to cause a disruption. The only reason such a problem would occur would be from the backlash coming from male soldiers who despise them. The US military has to be prepared for this backlash. Israel is an example of how a military can successfully integrate women into combat units.

4337271056_f2831f190a_o
Israeli soldiers training.  Israelis of  Somali, Sudanese, Eritrean, and Arab descent serve in the armed forces of Israel, but receive little respect or praise.  Racism can hinder effectiveness of a combat unit. Sexist attitudes also cause problems. Soldiers need to understand combat is a collective and teamwork based activity. The mission comes first above anything else.

As of 2018 mixed sex units are increasing in Israel according to the IDF. Scott’s assertions that the statistics are exaggerated are not entirely accurate. The women of the IDF are serving in the army as pilots, naval combat officers, combat intelligence, and the artillery corps. Their solution to getting women fit is to give them a training program that focuses on building upper body strength. Nutrition is also the focus in which women get a iron and carbohydrate rich diet. Women’s numbers have increased, but this has not cause the IDF to be less effective. The reason Israel continues to win most of its wars has to do with its ability to change and acclimate. Along with the financial backing of the US it remains one of the most powerful nations in the Middle East. The problem with Israel is that it seeks an expansionist policy in the West Bank, blockades Gaza, keeps African immigrant in detention centers,  and could be seeking war with Iran. Here the only solution is a diplomatic one, not war.  Israel’s comprehensive strategy was to fight defensive wars against its neighbors. It began embarking on expansionist ones with the Six Day War in 1967.  Besides strategy, technology continues to have a dramatic impact on warfare. Killing machines have become more sophisticated. Tanks, guns, drones, fighter jets, naval ships, and nuclear weapons almost render the physical strength of soldiers worthless.

Tank
The tank first made its appearance during World War I. The first ones were prone to mechanical failure and were slower than later models, but it was engineered to be more lethal.
Nuke
Nuclear weapons are the most destructive. There has been concern that another arms race will occur between the US and Russia. Both countries have the world’s  largest arsenals .
drone
Drones do not even require a human in the aircraft. It can be controlled remotely.
AR 15
The gun is a common weapon of any army. Before the rise of the gun warriors fought with swords and before that clubs.

Technology does work in women’s favor if brawn power is lacking. This still does not reduce the importance of physical fitness. There  is a level of strength required for being on a tank operation crew. Combat vehicles require the loading of shells and missiles. Many of the early physical tests involved simulating battlefield tasks. The testing that occurred at Fort Stewart had women do casualty drags and barrels of mounted guns on to Bradley vehicles. These experiments were simulations of battle and required a level of strength. What can be concluded is that women can be successful if training is done in the right way.

Women In Combat

Women In Combat

The women here are lifting guns and barrels that are 65 pounds and over.

Although it is the weapons that do the work, a soldier has to be strong enough to load artillery shells and move guns. Strength is pivotal in that regard. The Navy also requires that sailors be proficient in swimming. The air force also requires its fighters to be in shape. From a logical perspective there seems no reason for qualified women to be excluded from combat positions. Tactics are also important to warfare. The United States still fights wars in a frontline environment, when the shift is going in the direction of asymmetric warfare. When the US acts as an occupying force in places like Afghanistan guerrilla warfare is used to build attrition of forces. The United States has never gotten over its defeat in Vietnam and it constantly haunts the country. The invasion of Grenada and the Gulf War the US gained in a sense its military confidence back. It then thought it was impervious to defeat and began going off in quests of military adventurism. Somalia was attacked in 1993, Iraq was struck once more in 1998, and Kosovo was bombed in 1999. When the Iraq War occurred in 2003, it shattered the illusion that the US was invincible. The only way to have true national security is with a dramatic change in America’s approach to international affairs. The new tactics that should be employed is diplomatic strategies and the reduction of US presence in multiple regions. If this does not change America will continue to see a string of military defeats.

          What can be concluded is that science does not say women in combat is an impossibility. History proves that women have been a part of warfare for a long period of time. This is why the assertion ” we have enough information to say the government is currently making decisions  based on political correctness and feminist policies, rather than mission effectiveness and scientific data” is a spurious claim. The US military has been upgrading its standards and conducting experiments to make women in combat be successful. The reason the US has a great fighting force is due to the fact it is able to solve problems and meet the demands of various challenges. Women in combat can be successful, if the military and the political  wants it to be. There should be realistic expectations. The left will have to accept that the numbers may never be equal due to the difference in physical fitness capacity and personal choice. There may be more qualified women, yet they may not show interest in a combat occupation. The right has to acknowledge that women are going to be a large part of society and the wider public sphere.

Muscles
The muscular system of women does not differ so radically from men. It can respond to training stimuli and functions the same at the cellular level.

Keeping women out of the military or combat jobs is no longer the status quo. If the third wave feminists really value equality, they should support women registering for the selective service. That is a double standard that should not remain. Otherwise what they really want is the presentation of equality, but with special privileges. There is no conspiracy of  “political correctness” or ” social experiments.” The world is changing and so is the US military. Using buzzwords or neologisms does not hide the fact that there are people who want to exclude women from combat jobs no matter how skilled or competent they are. Detractors cite science as the reason , however if they actually did research, it discredits them. What biology, physiology, and anatomy tells us is that men and women differ in total physical fitness capacity. Women can increase their fitness levels through training. One can hold the view that women fighting wars is not appropriate as their opinion. Yet, opinions are not facts. No one denies that there are biological differences, the problem is saying that those differences automatically mean women will fail as combat soldiers. When science makes a claim, it has to formulate a hypothesis based on known inferences. When Travis Scott states ” we know all female units are less effective than all male units” or that ” mixed sex units are less effective”  there is limited or no data to make this credible. The Marine Corps study would have to be replicated and produce the same results to be designated scientific fact. There has not been any through study of the performance of an all female unit. Science must be rational and objective, two attributes that are lacking in studies of women in combat.

The Science Says Putting Women Into Combat Endangers National Security

Wisecrack: Will Drugs Make You Super-Human ?

Wisecrak is a website that examines philosophy, humanities, science, and analyzes popular entertainment from an academic  perspective. They also produce videos for their youtube channel. Eight Bit Philosophy examines questions of science, ethics, and human society. A particular video of interest is the question of drug use an the manipulation of the human body. Simply put, can drugs make a person super human? To answer this question one must figure out what it means to be human. If this such a biological feat was to be possible it would have to be done through genetic engineering. The only thing drugs do is alter organ systems rather than changing the genetic foundation of the human body. This also raises questions about transhumanism and what is natural. Human biological evolution has been changing for millions of years and could radically change in the distant future. There is always the fear with new developments and technologies, that humankind is “playing God.” The reality is that such advancements are inevitable. Like computers, automobiles, and more lethal weapons they are a part of human civilization. The Francis Fukuyama  position is flawed on several points. It assumes that such advancements would threaten democracy and goes off the assumption that inequality has a biological basis. The rise of transhumanism is occurring, but only with careful thought and supervision can this not became a dystopian nightmare.

       There needs to be an exact definition of what is superhuman. The definition of such a word and concept means abilities that would exceed far beyond what the body is physically and mentally capable of. The term superhuman can also be associated with human enhancement which means that physiological or biological limitations can be overcome  by means of artificial or natural means. Drugs could be classified as a form of human enhancement technology . While the medical use can be extensive it can be used to improve human abilities far beyond what would be in unchanged  perimeters.

The superhuman concept used be something of pure science fiction. The idea of being as strong as Wonder Woman or being a real life Super Girl would be considered comedic farce. However as the 21st century progresses there is a greater understanding of biology, physiology, anatomy, and the health sciences. Human enhancement technologies now include reproductive technologies, which can allow the infertile to conceive. People can change their behavior and mental state through ritalin, adderall, and neurostimulation. The most visible display of human enhancement is the dramatic change in appearance people are capable of to their bodies. Plastic surgery, medical implants, prosthesis, and performance enhancing drugs can alter the body in a multitude of ways. Strength training can alter the body not just through exercise, but by means of supplementation and diet. Nanotechnology , neurotechnology and information technology will certainly be a part of this transhuman revolution.

The women here have changed their bodies through training, diet, use of supplements, and a knowledge of the human body. This is an example of human enhancement at a rudimentary level.  

While genetic engineering is still in its infancy, it is only a matter of time before in will further human enhancement. This will be to a greater extent beyond what can be achieved through training or diligence.  Future superhumans could be made with genetic engineering rather than drugs. The problem with drugs is that their effect can be temporary and the side effects could do long term damage if abused. Genetic expression can influence behavior, abilities, and phenotype. A superhuman would have high intelligence, physical strength, and speed according to what would be conceived scientifically. The abilities of  mythology, comics, and popular culture would be come reality.

It may be possible to engineer  the human body to a set of specific attributes. One could be engineered to have the intelligence Mae Jemison  or Maryam Mirzakhani. The athletic talent of certain sports stars could also be engineered through genetic manipulation. This  could be what the possible superhuman would be like, if ever engineered. The objection to this is normally that doing such a thing would be unnatural or have questionable ethic motives. Many believe it would destroy what makes us human. What it means to be human would have to be answered first before exploring larger questions.

         Philosophy and science have attempted to answer the question what it means to be human. The question is does not have a complete answer. Biologically we are the last of a primate species and the descendants from a common genetic ancestor shared with other  hominids. Philosophers have argued humankind’s ability for rational thought distinguishes them from other species. The essence of humanity other argued is human emotion and social interaction made us distinct. There may not be one answer to what makes a person human. It has now been theorized that early homo sapiens could have mated with neanderthals and denisovans. There did exist subspecies of archaic humans that became extinct.  Modern humans are the last surviving species of the genus homo. Interbreeding may have been a common practice.

nature-siberian-neanderthals-17.02.16-v2

When the term natural is used people mistake it for normalcy. The fact is nature can be strange and human evolution has resulted in strange biological developments. The rise of bipedalism, the increase in endocranial volume, the variation in sexual size  dimorphism  and the change in social communication behavior in comparison to other primates was not normal. There are multitude of bizarre organisms on planet Earth and more that may not have been discovered. Paleontology and anthropology are demonstrating that the origins and behavior of mankind is more complex than previously thought. The fossil record keeps getting larger not just for primates, but other organisms that were present during the Cenozoic, Mesozoic, and Paleozoic Eras. Naturalists, Paleontologists, anthropologists, and biologists have to act as detectives of a distant past.

new-species
Homo naledi was added to the human biological evolution classification.

   The only way to make sense of these findings to to eventually find the common genetic ancestor of all primates. Doing so will provide genetic information, which will allow the question of what it means to be human. More information is needed to actually answer the question of what it means to be human from a biological perspective. This is why the concept that altering the human body is abnormal  seems to lack cogency. Nature can be erratic and unpredictable depending on the environment. Ideas of what is normal or abnormal do not have relevance when it comes to natural selection.

         The problem with such enhancements by either pharmaceutical or genetic means is that it could hold the potential for abuse. As the Eight Bit Philosophy video  articulates, there could be a possibility that individual differences could be wiped out in favor of one paradigm of humanity. People could create designer babies. This almost sounds like society similar to A Brave New World in which a scientific dictatorship. The worse abuse also could be the rise of sate sponsored eugenics. Selective breeding, serialization, euthanasia  or discriminatory social and legal policies were the result of the eugenics movement of the early to mid-20th century. The worse abuse came from Nazi Germany resulting in  genocide. Ever since 1945, science that either focused on genetics or genetic difference has caused controversy.

1_Xw6zGKB704QXizJLUWiXoQ
A poster for a eugenics propaganda film Are You Fit To Marry (1927)demonstrates the racism of this pseudoscientific movement. America enacted serialization laws in twenty seven states of the union. Nazi Germany took their eugenics programs and used it as an excuse for genocide directed at Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, leftists, gays, and Afro-Germans.  

The rise of neo-eugenics also creates another problem. The issue is that it focuses on the profit motive in regards to human and genetic enhancement. Unlike the negative eugenics of the past, it wants to see more people reproduce. This type of liberal eugenics can be seen in fertility clinics in which couples can get sperm or eggs from men and women who match attributes they believe are desirable. Gene therapy, artificial insemination, and egg donation are a few examples of liberal eugenics. While it may not seem awful for someone to have a child if they are not capable or alter genes to combat disease, the problem arises when only one group has access to this technology and biological enhancement. The upper class of society will most likely have more access to such technology. This will not only create more social inequality it will also happen at a biological level. If superhumans do become a reality resistance would be futile. There would be vast divide between the enhanced and the non-enhanced. Besides negative social developments there may be a point in which such human enhancement technologies may go too far.

Hulk_1_Keown_Variant_0

Humankind could create its own living monsters. This has not happened yet, but it should be taken into consideration, if this scientific advancement is to continue. There must be some form of regulation to prevent  the rise of possible man made abominations or possible medical harm to people. Mary Shelly’s  novel Frankenstein   was not only a warning about  the abuse of scientific knowledge, but the need of  having an understanding of  it. The more knowledge humanity obtains the more there is a need to utilize it responsibly.

       Francis Fukuyama a prominent political scientist and political economist has been known to be solicitous about the rise of transhumanism. He claims that this could be a threat to liberal democracy. This is more of an exaggeration considering the other problems with such a political system. There has been drug abuse to some degree or another in  various societies, but it has never been the sole factor in the collapse of civilization or a political system. Human being still do not what the exact definition of being human is. So the argument that such drugs like addearall  or ritalin could threaten what it means to be human seems to be a hyperbole. The real issue is that normal human traits such as being tired or needing a period of rest could be described as being a condition that requires medicine. The problem may not be the existence of the drugs themselves, rather the over prescribing of such medications.

759fe6ab15edaee24deedaa7caff9938

It is implied that the roots of inequality in society are biologically based. There are people who are more intelligent than others, physically stronger, or in better health. This does not explain why there is a pyramid structure in various nations globally. The roots are sociological not biological. The rise of property, food surpluses,  and permanent settlement cause a divide among people that had not existed in hunter gather societies. A settlements grew into villages they would grow into cities. This required a government that could impose order by force. Women’s status was not because of their sex difference  or other biological differences , rather the fact that in particular areas of the world they were denied access to education, employment, and equality under the law.  If people were all the equal at a physiological and physical level that would not change the sociological structure. Race, class, national origin, religion and gender would still be used as an excuse to exclude groups that are not part of a ruling hierarchy or dominant group. The fact is that there is no equality under the law in liberal democracies. The rich and powerful will dominate government no matter what political system is in place. The reason liberal democracy struggles is that it requires an informed, educated, and active citizenry. The End of History thesis does not take into account that other forms of government could rise that are not liberal democracy. The collapse of the Soviet Union was not evidence that liberal democracy is a triumphant system, rather its competitor failed to produce improvement for its people. Liberal democracy may meet the same fate. It fails to challenge poverty, racism, sexism, or address economic instability. While the free market is associated with liberal democracy it will also be its downfall. Neoliberal capitalism is not interested in freedom or justice, rather the objective of profit maximization. This has relevance to the increasing influence of pharmaceutical corporations who gain more power through lobbying congress. This could effect the public with drugs that are not safe getting FDA approval. This makes Fukuyama’s argument contradictory, because there should be nothing wrong with drugs as long as they advance the free market which he supports.

5-hour-energy-bottles-300
Five Hour Energy may not be as safe for human consumption as one might think. Seeing as it makes a huge profit, the company will not be challenged.

    Neoliberal capitalism is a threat to democracy, because it could possibly lead to a version of fascistic corporatism.  Big business and powerful government form an alliance to run a country. Those who control the government and business will be the masters of the public. This frightening scenario shows people will be reduced to compliant and obsequious consumers who do not question authority or the status quo. Drugs altering human nature would be the least  of civilizations problems if such a system were to evolve. Human nature can be both compassionate and cruel. Technology or in this case drugs are not terrible. It depends on how they are used and how they are managed.

          What needs to be understood is that there may be no line between humanity altering drug or simple supplement. Both are  inducing changes in the body beyond what would be the standard physical limitation. The idea of normal or normal state could have different meanings. If a person were to be completely natural meaning not taking any drugs at all this would mean they would have to not consume genetically modified organisms,  medicine, or change their body through exercise and supplements. During the course of one’s lifetime, it is possible to alter your body with drugs, supplements, and foods that would not be considered normal. Normal or natural does not apply to the animal kingdom. Evolution demonstrates genotype and phenotype can change with environment as well as mutation, genetic drift, or gene expression. The idea of normal may just be imaginary considering how strange biology can be. It can be flexible as well. Women who train their bodies to the highest level are altering them beyond what would be by certain standards a natural state. Supplements and exercise can push women’s physical strength to greater levels than if not done at all. Performance enhancing drugs can boost strength and speed, but they still do not make a person superhuman. Drugs can only alter certain organ systems for a period of time depending on dosage and the length of long term use. When use ends, the effects will not cause permanent change. There could be lasting side effects from abuse.

Coffee or Whey  do alter the body from a normal state. Substances or drugs only become an issue when addiction occurs. This is the problem with addearall. The opioid crisis arose when doctors prescribed too many of these drugs and patients gradually got more addicted. Criminalizing drugs has created a number of problems. The War on Drugs increased the number of people in prison, targeted low income and African American communities, and remains the foundation of the prison industrial complex. There should be no fear of drugs altering humanity. It has been done since the first herbalist began exploring the medicinal properties of plants during the Paleolithic era. Various substances that we consume are not found in nature. Humanity is moving to a new era in which it can control its own biology and even possibly its own evolution through biomedical science as well as technology.

        Drugs would not create superhumans. The gains made from drugs would only be temporary human enhancements. Francis Fukuyama is incorrect in saying that pharmaceutical developments could push humanity to transhumanism before genetic engineering. This type of biotechnology would be long lasting through manipulation of various genes. Drugs can only change the function of the physiology of organ systems,but not alter gene expression or sequence of DNA . There are multiple genes that are responsible for certain traits. So far, there are at least 15 different genes responsible for iris color of the eye. Certain genes can be “switched on” causing an expression. Theoretically a certain combination of genes could be switched on or off to alter a person. If the  ACTN3  gene and the genes of chromosome 12 were manipulated it is very possible to create the ultimate athlete. Anabolic steroids or erythropoietin  could become obsolete in the future. Gene doping may become something very common in professional sports or  for recreational. Some state this creates an uneven field of competition for those who would rather not enhance themselves through drugs or genetic engineering. This could potential force some people and the wider public to remain competitive with enhanced superhumans. The position has a flaw, because our different body types make the playing field uneven. There are people who are taller, stronger, or more intelligent than others. It would seem the people who have less of these attributes would benefit more. The repercussion of this would be destroying individuality in favor of an identical conformist mob. Genetic engineering of humanity will happen,but there are serious bioethical questions that should be answered first. Technology can be either used for positive or malevolent purposes. Only when it is used responsibility possible dystopian futures be avoided.

Wisecrack: Will Drugs Make You Super-Human ?

Why Do We Have Butts ?

Why We Have Butts

I09 is a website that focuses on science, popular culture, and science fiction. It produces a series of articles known as Giz Asks in which queries related to science are answered. Those who work in the sciences provide answers. This question asks why do human beings have posteriors. This appendage must have some type evolutionary advantage or purpose. Human anatomy has changed dramatically over the course of biological evolution. Bipedalism and the increase in endocranial volume were the must significant anatomical changes in human evolution. Possible reasons for the development of a prominent backside   are provided by biologists, anatomists, and, evolutionary anatomists, paleontologists . Kirsten Brown. Jason Bourke, Francois Therrien, Susan Larson, Jason M. Organ, Steven Churhill, and Daniel Lieberman provide explanations that are based around health science, human evolution, anatomy, and biology. The posterior and lower body is given vary little study in  the evolution of the human body. The body even its most simple structure has a story based in millions of years of evolution.

       The posterior has an structure like other body parts. What colloquially is referred to as the butt are formed from gluteal  muscles. This consists of the gluteus minimus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus maximus. The gluteus maximus is what give the bottom its notable shape. The gluteus maximus originates from a line starting from the upper ilium ending at the coccyx. The muscle itself attaches close to the femur. This muscle is important to running or physical tasks related to legs.  As Jason Bourke states “It’s the powerhouse muscle we call upon whenever we need to perform major postural changes, or when we need to move our legs fast.”  This explains why particular athletes have such this highly developed : ” that’s why sprinters, and weightlifters that do heavy-weighted squats tend to have very round and firm buttocks.”

Bubble-Butt-Muscles-800x402

Seeing as the muscle has a small space to work with, it requires that a good amount of force needs to be produced to cause locomotion. The muscle extends outwards seeing as there is a limit on space. The shape of the posterior is a unique feature of the human body compare to other animals. The pelvis had to be readjusted in the evolutionary change to accommodate for the weight of the torso. This was done to cope with humanity’s unique manner of walking. The muscles of the illium had to be reoriented to meet the demands of walking upright. Basically the gluteus maximus muscle hangs off the pelvis giving it the presentation of leg extensor. Horses have posteriors and are the few animals that contain one. The difference is that the gluteus medius muscle is extended in such an ungulate.

The manner in which human beings walk requires are particular structure. While the anatomy is understood, there is an evolutionary basis for human body structure.

        The reason for our particular anatomy and physiology has a basis in millions of years of evolution. The first four legged animals made their appearance on land approximately 350 million years ago. These organisms had large tails. The one attribute that these organisms had was a muscle known as the caudofemoralis. It would attach the femur to the base of the tail and this would be helpful to swimming. Francois Therrien explains : “Through evolution, this muscle was retained in later animals and is still being used by a vast group of animals alive today, such as amphibians and reptiles.” They require large tails and caudofemoralis to be ambulatory. The major shift occurred  300 million years ago with the rise of the synapsids. These were the ancestral linage of what would later be mammals. The tail as an anatomical structure over time disappeared and was replaced with gluteal muscles as a means of movement. The tail reduced in size gradually, while the buttock grew larger on these organisms.  Therrien articulates this change : “Over the course of millions of years, the tail of synapsids became smaller and smaller through evolution as the caudofemoralis muscle was no longer involved in walking (by the time the first mammals evolved over 200 million years ago, the tail was very small in comparison to their body and was no longer used for locomoion) while the gluteal muscles increased in size and formed the rump.”

This is why there are no  posteriors in dinosaurs or non-human mammals.  It was six million years ago that our human ancestors began to walk upright. Forelimbs were no long needed for locomotion. The fatty pads that emerged were designed for protection and cushioning. This prevents gluteal muscles from rubbing against the illium.

       Human beings are bipedal primates. Gorillas and Chimpanzees can be bipedal for a short period of time, but humans are bipedal the majority of the time. One of the markers of early childhood development is when an infant begins to walk. The bone structure effects the function of the muscles and therefore movement of the body. Human pelvises are best described as being flared. the ilia are positioned on the side of the body. Primates such as Gorillas or chimpanzees are located more to the back. Walking with two legs requires alternating between one leg and two leg support. Muscles are needed to provide stable support during the walking process. The gluteus maximus has to decelerate the lower limb and stabilize the trunk of the body.

The gluteal abductors of the body have the duty to prevent possible pelvic tilt. This is why injury to such muscles could cause health issues. One such example is Trendelenberg gait. Nerve damage to the muscles effect movement. People are able to maintain a stable pelvis on one leg. Individuals with the Trendelenberg gait are not. That is why the trunk of the body is important, because it and shift the weight over.

        It does seem strange that the buttocks is shaped in such a way that is not seen in other primates. There has to be a reason for such a development in anatomy. The possible reason for the expansion of the cranium and brain size was that  social interaction and intelligence was needed for survival. The reduction in the intestine size made a digestive system more suited for protein diets, which may have resulted sifting the energy of body function more to the nervous system. The most pivotal function the largest muscle in the body serves is providing enough force for running. This was critical to the survival of early humans. Early humankind did not have claws or the physical power of large predators. Intelligence and bipedalism along with running were most likely defense mechanisms. Susan Larson who is professor of anatomical sciences at Stony Brook University suggests that a rounded buttocks could be a marker for sexual selection. It is hard to prove, but does not seem to be a ludicrous notion. Throughout the animal kingdom there are features related to sexual dimorphism which play a role in mate choice. Peacock birds who’s males have colorful tail feathers use it to attract mates. The mane of male lions may also be a type of sexual selection marker.

The buttocks carries a level of fat, which may be an indirect indirect indicator to males of female human fertility. While biology can be an explanation, there are sociological factors to what people find attractive. The ideal female body has changed over the centuries from being a much larger one to a slimmer body and with the rise of women in sports a more athletic and toned body. Visual media also influences what people find attractive. If one were exposed to a single image through visual media, that could end up being their standard of beauty,because it is the most familiar. Also, some individuals may have a wider and more diverse beauty standard. These differences in anatomy may reveal why sexual dimorphism exists.

The reason men evolved to be larger than women was that they have to fight for access to females. While sexual size dimorphism has reduced in modern human  species compared to our ancestors it was much more pronounced. This could mean that natural selection was more difficult on both an individual and group level. Fighting for mates may have been common among hominids. This can still be seen in primate species such as gorillas. This is one method of reproductive strategy in which a male gorilla has a harem of females. Compared to gibbons they have multiple mates without going through a large scale confrontation. The difference is size between gibbons is minimal. The sex differences and our anatomy are proof of the evolutionary past. The reason homo erectus had to develop endurance running ability two million years ago was to capture smaller game. Earlier hominids may have had primarily vegetarian diets, which explains longer intestines.  Steven Churchill an evolutionary anthropologist articulates the role of  bottoms as this : ” as our ancestors evolved to become proficient bipeds (that is, proficient at walking on two legs), the pelvis became shorter and wider so that the two small gluteal muscles (“butt muscles,” so to speak), gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, migrated around to the sides to help us stabilize the pelvis when we balance on one leg as we swing the other leg forward. ”  Professor Churchill says the posterior serves a propulsion role.

Humans

Daniel Lieberman  professor of biological sciences of Harvard University adds to this by stating : “the other key component of our butts is fat, and even the skinniest humans are fat compared to other mammals because we need more fat for our expensive reproductive and energetic strategy.” Fat is also important to the human body. The reason humans developed a unique posterior was to accommodate bipedalism and endurance running. This did come at a price. Back and knee problems would increase with this change. The human body is in a way a documentary of biological evolution over millions of years. Depending on the environment, organisms can still be evolving. Knowing this it would be interesting  imagine what human beings would look like ( if they survive) millions of years from now.

 

Why Do We Have Butts ?