Razib Khan : Men Are Stronger Than Women on Average and Why Men Should Never Hit Women

Razib Khan is a geneticist who has written extensively for various publications that include The New York Times, The Slate, and contributes to the website Gene Expression. Besides writing about the science of genetics he also has been known to make commentary about religion, politics, and philosophy. When it was discovered that he was known to write or express views often deemed controversial or offensive to some, The New York Times terminated his contract. He has written for The UNZ Review , which presents itself as an alternative media source. However, a large portion of it either espouses some conspiracy theories, far-right ideology, racialism, or just borrows links from other legitimate alternative media sources. There could be articles that have anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, scientific racism, and alt-right rhetoric. There are articles on UNZ that are not extreme or offensive, but readers must have good critical thinking skills to establish what is credible and what is not. Khan’s two articles are on the surface not the most controversial works he has produced. They are just a statement of facts. Men are on average stronger than women should not be a shock to anyone with a basic under standing of anatomy and physiology. Not hitting women is something a rational and humane man would understand. These facts are not the problem, its Khan’s conclusions extrapolated from them. The political left and right try to use science to justify their political positions. The right see biology as designating groups as inferior and the left try to deny that biology has any impact on human existence. Khan readily reveals the dogmatic position  of social construtivism of the left , but ignores the biological determinism espoused by the right. The problem that this produces in highly biased science or distortions in academia. Razib Khan may have fallen into this trap of having bias and ideology distort  his scientific thought.

        Men are on average stronger than women. There are both biological and sociological reasons for this.  This does not mean women cannot not gain physical strength. The interesting aspect about Khan’s article title is that it states “Men are Stronger Than Women (on average ).” There is a reason why on average is put in parentheses. It should be realized that normally when some want to say women are biologically inferior they bring up physical strength. The problem with this is that all men are not stronger than all women. Khan realizes that that would be a statistical impossibility. He then turns to a hand grip study which demonstrates the difference in strength. The problem with this study is that it is not precise. Weightlifting or powerlifting records would be more precise in measurement. Hand size and fitness level could have effected outcomes. There is also a problem with the statement ” the more muscular you are the stronger you are.” Strength has to do with genetics, sex, muscle fiber type, somatotype, age, point of tendon insertion, fitness level, training regimen muscle, and limb length. Seeing as the subjects were all in their twenties, this did not effect the experiment. Fitness levels were known because it was a comparison between average people and athletes.   There is an assumption that the strongest people in the sample would be the ones that have the most type II muscle fiber, not the biggest muscles. While men on average have more of this muscle fiber type it can also be determined by genetics. Using female hand ballers and judo martial artists  would not be useful subjects in this case. Strength is required for their sport, but it is not the only physical fitness indicator they train for. Weightlifters, powerlifters, and bodybuilders would be better subjects.

There are some aspects of biology and physiology that Khan misses : Men Are Stronger Than Women ( On Average). The statement “even the most muscular women can barely beat the least muscular men” is not accurate. The woman above carries more muscle mass and if she has mostly type II muscle fiber than she could easily beat this man depending on his body composition and weight.
A female bodybuilder shaking a man;s hand. As one can see that on average women’s hand are smaller than a man’s. Training does not effect women’s hand size. So if she were to take the hand grip strength test, it may not be a full measure of  her total muscular strength.
A weightlifter may have the ability to hoist heavier weights than a bodybuilder. They are not training for aesthetics, rather functional strength.

The hand grip experiment may not be the best measure for functional strength. Razib Khan stated the data shocked him, yet this should not really. The only way to confirm this experiment is if it can be replicated and produce a similar result. The conclusion would most likely have the strongest people being male athletes, however the gap would not be as wide depending on the subjects selected and the sample size. There were only 60 women athletes and 533 average women. The total number of men was 1,654 in the study. The issue is there would need to be more women in the study . Such a factor cannot be ignore otherwise an experiment produces just accurate estimations. Razib Khan then makes the claim that a person would be a obscuranist  for questioning the data and the experiment. There could be a confounding factor. This term used in statistics can be defined as ” variables related to other ones which may mask an association or create a relation  that does not exist.  ” Here it is more simple to see. The confounding factor be women performed lower in grip strength and therefore women are weak. This is the wrong conclusion, due to the fact there are women who are strong which contradict the result. The confounding factor is causal  which is not always articulated in terms of association or correlation.

Age would be considered a extraneous variable, but was controlled by selecting a particular demographic. The confounding variable could either be hand size and athletic background which effects the dependent variable.
A simple representation of confounding variable. Factor C has the ability to influence both A and B in the graphic representation.
Based on what is known, about variables in an experiment it is simple to come to the wrong conclusions. The study would have you believe that this woman would have less strength than this man who is smaller than her.

Experiments function on both dependent and independent variables. The scientific method is the means in which their can be a verification of facts. Razib Khan has a bias and even admits himself ( “I’m someone who leans to the Right, but I want to think the best of everyone, and really empirical data is my summum bonum”). Data and empirical assessment is pivotal to this process, yet there should be a level of caution. Reification  can occur when their is a belief that an abstraction can be measured or that just having an immense amount of data proves a position. Relative to the hand grip experiment it could use some perfection. There can always be a margin of error in data accumulation. This is a reason why polling may not be as precise as people would want it to be. Realizing this, science like other academic subjects is not free of bias or error. The field is a constant undertaking of investigation.

           The biological factors in the differences in strength can be confirmed relative to anatomy and physiology. Anatomically, women and men share the same muscles. The muscle cells are the same as well as the process of myogenesis. Female muscle responds in a similar fashion to  exercise stimuli. Once puberty starts the male body  gains strength spurts in relation to endocrine function.  Women can carry two thirds the muscle mass compared to a man. Body size and cross sectional area are factors in strength. Bone density, tendons, and ligaments are also contributors. The nervous system  also has an essential role in muscular function.  Muscular hypertrophy also functions in the same manner in women. This means women who train at a high intensity level can gain strength at the same rate as a man. The difference is in total physical fitness capacity. Men will get stronger under a weight training regimen. Women actually can   good portion of strength gains relative to their starting point. A woman who trains long enough can either reach a strength level equal to or near the average man. What this means is their is a difference in power scaling.

Progressive overload has been a method used to increase strength.
The myogenesis process involves myoblasts fusing with myocytes to form muscle fibers. What training does is create micro trauma in which under conditions of recovery rebuilds itself stronger.
The two different types of muscular hypertrophy.

 The weakest male would have more strength than the weakest female. A trained woman can surpass the untrained man. The strongest woman would have difficulty trying to match the strength of  a man of equal training. The fact is women are not of equal strength of men, but they can get strong. Even Razib Khan admits “mind you, in a population of millions there will be many strong women who can beat many men.” The global population has been estimated to stand at a total of 7.7 billion people according to UN data. Out of this large number, there could be many women who could be stronger than males. Training does not negate all the differences, but it can reduce some of them. Biology can be changed to a degree through evolution and environment. Sexual dimorphism is a product of millions of years of human evolution. Genes, gene expression, mutations, and genetic drift are constantly changing organisms.

This only present represents accurate data.
Weightlifting World Records (men and women)
This is a representation of precise data.
Testosterone enables more protein synthesis. This has an effect on body composition. Women carry more fat due to higher production of estrogen in their bodies.

Men may have grown bigger for the reason of fighting and competing for mates. The reason for higher physical fitness capacity was to hunt for food. It is not entirely certain if this theory is correct, because our early hominid ancestors are extinct. Naturalistic observation is not possible with just the remaining fossils of specimens. The physical strength trait was most likely naturally selected and passed down through heredity . Males have on average 72.6 pounds of muscle compared to women’s 46.2 pounds. Muscle is not just the difference that effects physical fitness. Heart and lung size effect the aerobic capacity of the body. Biology is a major factor in this difference in strength, but it is not the only one.

     There are sociological factors that effect women’s strength. Women are relative new comers to professional sports and fitness. The playing field remains unequal and many women are discouraged from full use and potential of their bodies. Fathers  teach their sons to be physically competent by either teaching them a sport. This is not done for girls. Early in youth, girls are discouraged from the benefits of learning physical skills. Physical education has been made different for girls and boys. Girls get a low quality reduced version with a set of  low level of standards. There are cases in which it is not even offered to girls in certain countries. Saudi Arabia only allowed girls to get physical education in 2017. Prior to that, girls did not have a platform in the kingdom to gain physical skills.  Children could have their future health effected by a low quality physical education. What happens in the classroom could influence future behavior in regards to exercise. With heart disease and obesity on the rise, it is important to encourage a positive attitude in regards to physical activity. Women as adults face enormous body image conformity pressure. Looking different or doing an activity that challenges traditional gender roles invites ostracism and condemnation.

Sam (1)
Sam Gordon playing football. Something like this would not have been imaginable before Title IX .
basket ball.jpg
Saudi Arabian girls get the benefit of physical education.
This shows what legislation and law can do. Women were held back for so long and it will take awhile to see true equality.

Women who are muscular or strong are criticized harshly by a public that is not very tolerant. Khan says ” the results from top level athletes should make us aware just how rare these individuals will be” when talking about women who are the physical exceptions. There is a reason why they would be sui generis, because sports and fitness is directed mostly at men. There was a time when women did not have access to gyms or training facilities. When that restriction was lifted then female athletic talent had a platform. There could be women who have the potential to reach a certain level, but certain barriers are preventing them from advancing. Razib Khan acts as if discrimination or sexism is not a factor, rather biology answers everything in society. He does not state this directly, because that would make too much of an extreme position. “On the whole I am willing to grant the value of individualism on the legal level” he proclaims. The law was at times used to to exclude certain people and groups from particular occupations. Their were the traditional “men’s jobs” which included law enforcement, sports,  the military, and construction. Biological sexism was used to justify why women should not receive higher education or promotion in their careers. Neurosexism has been used to justify keeping women out of  science,mathematics,  and engineering.

The numbers of women in construction are lower. One sociological factor is that companies do not recruit women and work environments could be hostile to their presence. Many rimes women in male dominated fields are seen as less competent.
The ban on women in combat was only lifted in the US in 2013. Prior to that women who were capable of combat jobs were prohibited from them.
Women in the workplace often face sexual harassment or bullying from their male counterparts. Law enforcement has many problems and poor treatment of its female officers  is part of the list of grievances.

When society does not have an environment that is discriminatory or sexist to women, then one can start using other explanations for why women do not have a presence in certain fields. The only reason why sex would matter is if you live in a society that is unfavorable to females. This means their will be lack of opportunity for employment, education, or basic independence.

         There are two camps that have been established in regards to politicization of science. The right leaning faction consists of  biological determinism and scientific rejection. The far-right faction basically believes in social Darwinism,  climate change denial, seeing abortion as murder of babies, and adhere to scientific racism. The progressive liberal faction denies the fundamental biological, behavioral, and psychological differences among individuals in a vision of absolute equality. The political correctness philosophy attacks anything that challenges the idea of difference to an obsessive degree in order to create safe spaces. Culture warriors and social justice warriors have declared a war on facts and knowledge. This is more than just obscurantism its about promoting propaganda and ideology. Their are attempts  to control language and thoughts directed by these two political factions attempting to influence all aspects of society. Seeing as the public’s knowledge of  the sciences is limited they are more willing to believe in false information. Factions of third wave feminists deny sex differences that they believe that are not congruent with their ideology. The fact that men are stronger bothers them to such a degree they either ignore this fact or make the claim of sexism when it is discussed. The irony is that there are women who can be strong and there are men who can be weak. So, physical strength is not unique to males or an indicator of biological superiority.

Khan is asserting facts, yet he reaches the wrong conclusions. The right has a problem seeing women as equals, while the left elevates women to a status of being infallible.
Snapshot 1 (14-05-2016 13-30)
There are more “butt kicking babes” than you realize. Women’s sports get less coverage, however the internet and social media can circumvent the traditional gatekeepers of media.
As Khan said “after all, it isn’t every day that a man is going to challenge a woman to an arm wrestling match. ” Sometimes women challenge men. Co-ed sports is done between men in women as a form of recreation.

   Besides the more obvious differences, they want to ignore that there is a difference in female behavior. Behavior can be both sociologically and biologically driven, so there should not be controversy surrounding that.  Difference is not evidence of superiority or inferiority. Denial of sex difference by certain progressives or factions of  third wave feminists is as ludicrous as denial of climate change. Climate change has been occurring throughout geological history. The difference now is that human civilization’s use of fossil fuels has enabled an exacerbation of the green house effect. Combined with higher CO2 emissions, humankind has negatively effected its environment. Some who are skeptical that climate change is happening cite that their still is cold weather. They are confused with another term, that seems to have spread called global warming. This specifically refers to a long term increase in the Earth’s average  temperature in the climate system. Climate change can cause shifts in which extremes of both hot and cold temperatures can occur. This explains why the US in 2019 experienced abnormally low freezing temperatures during the winter. The reason for this denial is their is an agenda driven by large corporations that have investments in fossil fuels.  Science has to be debated, but now the attitude is to censor it when it challenges certain cultural or political beliefs. Intelligent design, climate change denial, anti-sociobiology movements, and the denial of biology are examples of  the anti-science movement from both sides of the American political spectrum. Morton Hunt described this best in The New Know Nothings : Political Foes of the Study of Human Nature. Political organizations, religious , and special interest groups attempt to stop scientific study if it is not in line with their convictions.

         Razib Khan has also made commentary about domestic violence. His article “Why Men Should Never  Hit Women” deals with a sensitive topic about women being physically abused by men. It is too simple to say the root of domestic violence is based on the sole fact that men are stronger. One does not have to be physically strong to be abusive in a relationship. Razib Khan also ignores the fact that men can be victims of domestic violence. Unfortunately, they are not taken seriously or made to be some form of comedic joke. Even worse, is that MGTOW, incels,  or men’s rights activists use their plight to advance their own agenda. No one should ever hit anybody, yet when women hit men there is very little consequence. Assault both aggravated and simple is a crime regardless of gender. Yet, it seems men are shown to be all the perpetrators of intimate partner violence. However, women do represent as small portion of intimate partner violence statistics. Reasons and causes vary for this type of violence. Expression of negative emotions, jealousy, control, or an appearance of toughness to make it be known they are not to be messed with are some of the reasons. There are also cases in which drug and alcohol abuse could be factors. Aggression is not only physical; it can be psychological as well. Razib Khan’s commentary bases itself of the female victim and male predator dichotomy. The reason men may be more willing to use physical  violence against women is that they assume they are weaker and cannot fight.

Looking at these pictures people would react worse to women getting beat up,compared to the women beating up the men on the bottom. It is possible that women can physically harm men if the have the strength. 

Gender stereotypes, sexism, and cultural mores distort the reality. Razib Khan basically believes in a conservative chivalry, which has the position men and women are so different that biology is the sole driver of their behavior.  Aggression does have cultural and biological roots. The biological ones are obvious. Darwinism believed intraspecies aggression served a purpose of gaining territory and defense against predators. Charles Darwin was the developer of modern evolutionary theory and since it has been used to describe certain behaviors in humanity. Konrad Lorenz published On Aggression described that men may be more aggressive, because it the evolutionary past it was an adaptive instinctive  behavior for survival. The rise of civilization did not change these behaviors, rather humanity had to adjust to a new standard of conduct. However we cannot ignore the power of environment. Khan reveals that in Bangladesh, violence against women is not as condemned in the West. Weak laws, limited access to divorce, and culture based misogyny enable the abuse. Men being stronger only becomes a minor factor when looking at the wider society. Even women who the physical and mental will to resist may find themselves in jeopardy. Without legal protection or equal rights certain members of society who are victims become targets of the justice system.  The accusation that all of the left denies biology is incorrect. Most rational people who realize that humanity is a product of both its biology and ecosystem.

         If a man hits a woman he is called a coward. Yet, if a woman hits a man it would not generate that much of a response. The idea that women are weak and helpless victims still seems present in the minds of many. A strong woman can hurt man if she wanted to.

She could  probably hurt this man depending on her total body composition related to muscle mass. A woman punches can still hurt. This is something that Khan misses Why Men Should Never Hit Women  .

     Averages do not mean all and the samples of women are small compared to entire populations. This means that their is variation, yet if the data was collected in an aggregate it would still show men being stronger as a whole. Razib Khan does acknowledge this to a degree. Then it goes into his personal bias :”But it is very unlikely that in a pairwise interaction the very strongest females will randomly face the very weakest males.”  It has been established that women who train can reach at least close to or equal that of an average untrained male.  If the average male is not Mr.Olympia sized, she would have a good chance of physically overpowering an attacker. Another strange assessment is then expressed by Khan : ”  In terms of relationships, where domestic violence occurs, it is very unlikely for reasons of assortative mating that the very strongest females will be paired up with the very weakest of males.” There is an element of truth to this, but that does not mean their are not couples in which women have the physical advantage. Human sexual attraction is more complicated because it involves both biological,cultural, and personal preference factors. There are men who actually seek out strong women.

Serena Williams married a man who was of a different race and background in terms of career. Human mate choice is more complex compared to other animals.

More people may start to marry outside their race, religion, and culture . Khan’s statement at that point seems nothing more than a mere generalization. He then illustrates that the magnitude of strength is so great, that women getting hit would be devastating. He uses his wife and himself as an example. Khan believes that he would be able to overpower his wife even though they are the same height. Two factors besides muscle mass is total weight. Force equals mass times acceleration and the bigger the mass of the moving body the greater the impact will be. Khan does not give specifics about his wife expect that she is in good shape. If she just jogs, does cardio, and does basic health maintenance that will not make her physically stronger. That will keep her healthy not reach peak physical fitness. This also goes for the example of  his 4 ’10 cousin and her 5 ‘8  cousin. The difference in height means a larger skeleton meaning more support for muscle mass. The difference in force and power a related to size rather than specifically sex itself. A woman and man of equal weight can generate the same amount of force. Just being big does not mean you will win a fight. Skills and technique are essential for martial arts. Judo, karate, or krav maga are fighting styles designed to have a person defend themselves against larger attackers. One major problem is that women are not taught to defend themselves and there is an assumption that men will protect them. Flawed logic such as that only creates a worse situation.

Woman fights
The reaction is different when women use physical violence against men.

Third wave feminist state there is no circumstance in which a man should hit a woman, but never say there be no case in which a woman hits a man. What if the woman is attempting to either kill or seriously harm a man in some way? When attacked, people should have the right to defend themselves no matter who it is. True, based on the sample from the scientific study cited by Khan  there was less than a 10% overlap in muscle mass distribution. That basically translates into men having 61% more muscle mass than women. Many men if hit would not retaliate simply because they are more willing to direct physical violence at other men. Then there is the realization that if it was an act of self-defense it would automatically be assumed that the man was the perpetrator. Double standards related to sex are a combination of misogyny and dated chivalry. Some double standards third wave feminists refuse to recognize.

      As much as Razib Khan complains that it is a leftist delusion the ignores reality, correct that  a small group can wrap perceptions. Third wave and the newly formed fourth wave feminists who favor the social justice warrior and political correctness ideology have become extremely vociferous. Debate or certain facts that are not to their liking cause them to be triggered. Merely exposing  women who hit men as a perpetrator are not condemned in the same manner ( if at all ) . Doing this is also a risk seeing if it done to a man who is larger than her. There is an expectation that men will not react, but when they do that creates serious complications. If third wave feminists actually did care about stopping violence, they would support the male victims of domestic abuse. Framing domestic abuse as a “female problem” ignores how other victims such as children or the elderly are also effected, Violence should not be promoted or tolerated in any form. Yet, society has functions on two different systems of violence. Unacceptable violence is  homicide, assault, or harm done in the context of crime. Acceptable violence is done in the name of the state such as police brutality or the highest form of violence war. Collectively, people engage in it even though it is unethical, but justify it on the basis that it  is for security or the greater good. It is no wonder that violence spreads to other areas of society. There needs to be an understanding that no one has the right to physically attack another person . Some women who engage in attack assume that men will not retaliate when provoked. Thinking like that is dangerous. When men fight, they assess the other’s ability. Women who slap, hit, or attack a man do so thinking that their will not be a response. When such a response happens, a female perpetrator sometimes will take the role of victim, even if she initiated hostility.

     Domestic abuse cases are not always the man attacking the woman. Both men and women who are of equal fighting ability could be harming one another. This is why domestic abuse calls are the most unfavorable duties among law enforcement. Children must be taught at a young age not to use physical violence as a means of solving conflict. This message is given to young boys, but girls need to understand why hitting a man is not a wise idea.  Unless a woman has a knowledge of martial arts and is considerably stronger than the man she hits it could result in her being seriously injured. As Konrad Lorenz articulated, aggressive behavior may just be part of our instincts. It can be controlled. The double standard in the justice system must be addressed to prevent men who are victims from being arrested. If women want true equality then the special privileges of a restrictive gender protection code and chivalry must end.

     What politics has done is created a factions in the American scientific community. There is the right-wing biological determinist and social Darwinist sympathizing section who distort aspects of sociobiology and the left wing  sociological explanation for human civilization. The topic of physical strength has been used by sexist to proclaim that men are superior to women. The problem with this proclamation is that there are women who are stronger than some men, which means that strength is not a unique biological trait to males. Evolution and ecology does not acknowledge “superior” or “inferior” organisms. The dinosaurs, trilobites, and our early hominid ancestors went extinct. They would have been considered organisms likely to survive, but changes in the ecosystem caused their demise. The idea of “biological superiority” does not exist nor can it be tested by means of the scientific method. The social justice warrior feminist ignores or just does not attempt to acknowledge biology. Sexual dimorphism is real and it does have an impact on human behavior. There is a difference between men and women’s brains,just like the rest of the body. This may explain why men gravitate to engineering or science related fields and women may gravitate to the social sciences, literature, or communication based fields. This does not imply one sex is better at a particular field or a reinforcement of gender stereotypes. It is a possible explanation for the gender ratio in the workforce in particular fields. Science should be allowed to be objective without a person’s politics influencing academic study. Unfortunately, nothing can completely be isolated from politics and culture.


Razib Khan : Men Are Stronger Than Women on Average and Why Men Should Never Hit Women

What Eugenicists Did for Women’s Sport?

Eugenics and Women’s Sports

There is an unsettling history in regards to the promotion of physical fitness among women and its relation to eugenics. Eugenics was a movement that emerged in the scientific community which sought to improve the genetic quality of the human population. The less desirable traits were to be extinguished by means of selective breeding and sterilization. The eugenics movement began with Francis Galton a British biologist, statistician, and anthropologist. What began in academia soon spread to government and public policy. When this movement began, it was during a period of European colonial imperialism. The British Empire had subjugated more people on every continent than any other European power. Pseudoscience became a justification for the subjugation of African and Asian peoples. It also was used to exclude women from higher education and certain occupations. Eugenics also was reliant on other pseudosciences that are discredited today : craniology, phrenology, and racial  hygiene. Some elements of  eugenic pseudoscience  still remain in the form of dysgenics and pseudo-psychology. The connection of eugenics with women’s fitness was one bizarre footnote in history. Some eugenicists believed that developing physical fitness was the best way to preserve quality genes. Bernarr Macfadden and William Kieth Kellogg were men of business who encouraged women to engage in physical exercise. They were not doing this out of sense of gender equality, rather a eugenic and financial enterprise in mind. Eugenics was not a real science and could be manipulated to suit certain political and social agendas. The odd aspect about this was that both Macfadden and Kellogg were responsible for breaking a barrier in which women were excluded from exercise. There was a level of contradiction that was always present in  eugenics, when examined seriously with the scientific method.

          Prior to the shift to eugenic health theories, mainstream Victorian Age medicine discourage women for using their bodies and physical exercise. This was known as the cult of invalidism, described by Colette Dowling in her monograph The Frailty Myth. Women were not suited for physical activity. Women who would work out too hard in the medical establishment belief was that they risked becoming completely infertile and getting what was known at the time as genital decay. The ideal woman was to be frail and passive. This was not only a social ideal it was considered good for women’s health. A condition called hysteria was said to be a woman’s only disease. Sex bias in medicine was apparent, because hysteria diagnosis would play on the gender stereotype that women were overly emotional. Doctors would give this diagnosis, when they just could not figure out a sex specific health issue. Endometriosis  was in the past diagnosed as hysteria, when women described their pain and various symptoms. Limited knowledge and sex bias resulted in poor conditions for women’s health. Lack of exercise also was harmful. Corsets and clothing restricted women’s bodies. However, by the late 19th century there was about to be a change.

fainting2     b3816f888619494

Biomedical science during the Victorian Age was focused on mainly childbirth and the treatment of hysteria relative to women’s health. Exercise is now considered beneficial to the health of women, but in the past it was the opposite. Frailty and weakness was thought to be women’s natural state, not strength. Exercise can manage weight, ensure a healthy circulatory system, and strengthen the musculoskeletal system. 

The rise of women in the west taking an interest in cycling showed a new form of female independence. The medical establishment began stating that women riding bicycles would endanger their health. Very little evidence supported such claims. The agenda seemed to be about restricting women’s freedom, movement, and control of their own bodies. Another practice of medicine directed at women was the rest cure. This treatment involved being in bed for eight weeks and isolated from friends as well as family. Massages and electrotherapy was done to make sure the muscles of the body did not atrophy in a period of two months. This treatment was used extensively in the UK and US. Silas Weir Mitchell the developer of the rest cure, never provided experimental data on how effective this treatment was. This was used to treat psychological disorders not as a recovery for surgical procedures. While such treatments were more harmful than good, medical professionals thought this would ensure women would produce healthy offspring. The discovery of the rules of  heredity by Gregor Mendel others began to ponder if humanity could be molded by controlled breeding. When eugenics emerged it took a interest in ensuring that women only produced healthy offspring. For some, there had to be extra measures besides preventing groups or people considered “undesirable” from reproducing. Fitness and health must be promoted to ensure the propagation of quality genes according to certain eugenicists.

       Bernarr Mcfadden and William Keith Kellogg were part of a faction of eugenicists that health, fitness, and exercise could be used as tools to create a better version of humanity. They seemed to interpret  the term survival of the fittest in a more literal fashion. The term was not coined by Charles Darwin himself; it was Herbert Spencer. He applied biological theories to human society and thus social Darwinism was born. This term survival of the fittest was not accurate in the description of natural selection. What Charles Darwin meant and observed was that certain organisms that are best acclimated to their environment have a better chance at survival. Herbert Spencer was a biologist, anthropologist, and sociologist who wanted to use scientific racism as a means of ranking ethnic groups and justifying inequality. His social Darwinist ideology was applied to social classes as well. The poor were in a miserable condition, not because of society, rather they just were not fit enough to survive. These ideas were designed to justify oppression and inhumane treatment against races as well as social classes. McFadden and Kellogg extracted from social Darwinism that only the physically strongest and fittest were worthy of survival. Women could not be the frail Victorians of the 19th century. They needed  physical activity as well.



A Physical Culture magazine from the early 20th century shows a woman exercising putting an emphasis on eugenics.  The Muscular Development magazine  with Diana Lin Bailey on the cover. Men and women are more involved in fitness and the industry of magazines and other media really started with Bernarr Macfadden. His publication empire greatly expanded his wealth and promoted physical culture to the masses.  

McFadden promoted this idea of women being physically active in numerous magazines such as Woman’s Beauty and Health, National Brain Power , Physical Culture, and Muscle Builder . This was not done out of a grave concern for women’s health rather, McFadden understood that women could also be a potential consumer demographic. It also was both an overt manner to promote eugenics. Women he though needed at least some level of physical competence to birth stronger and healthier babies. The more scandalous aspect of  this was that McFadden also may have been producing magazines as a means of exposing the female body to fulfill lascivious intentions. True Story, True Romances, True Lovers, and True Confessions many scholars believe was closer to being more so pornographic material. William Keith Kellogg also was a businessman who also held eugenic beliefs that were similar to McFadden’s perspective. He was the founder of the Kellogg Company which was a pioneer in food manufacturing. The company was founded in 1906 and to this day still produces a number of cereals and its most popular were Corn Flakes. Both men believed that the physically weak should not marry or reproduce without reaching an acceptable level of  fitness. Weaklings would reproduce weaklings degrading genetic quality of the population. McFadden and Kellogg’s claims did not have basis in scientific fact.

phyical culture two


A comparison of print media shows that there also was a sexual element to fitness magazine publication. Physical Culture would feature women on their covers and sometimes in a suggestive manner for the time period. Women’s Physique World not only covered female bodybuilding contests, but showed women doing poses putting certain emphasis on particular body parts. 

Biological fitness as Darwin was describing was the ability for organisms to produce offspring. Physical fitness refers to a process in which training and exercise physiology are utilized to increase speed, strength, stamina, balance, and coordination of movement. McFadden and Kellogg seemed to either confuse these two different entities or thought they were the same. Biological fitness is independent of strength or physical prowess. The only important function is that certain traits and genes are passed on to offspring ensuring survival in an ecosystem. Bacteria for example has no intelligence and microscopic in size, yet wins the test of survival compared to other organisms. Tardigrades are micro-organisms that can survive extreme environments are not more intelligent or stronger than the human species. Applied another form of reasoning to the human species. If a physically weak person is healthy enough to reproduce children and a physically strong person does not have any, then the weaker has shown more biological fitness. Males pass on their y chromosomes to their sons and if they do not produce any it will disappear with them.

Assuming that all the men and women that appear in these photographs are healthy all should be able to produce offspring that has a good chance of survival. From a eugenic position the strongest man and strongest woman would produce the fittest offspring. Yet, the weakest man and weakest woman have the potential to produce healthy offspring.

Another myth that was promoted by eugenicists was that race mixing would cause a decline in health. Race hygiene also stated that miscegenation would lead to the fall of civilization if the white race mixed with inferior races.  Race has no basis in biological reality and there was never such a thing as a racially pure people. The men and women pictured could produce offspring without health problems or causing decline of civilization. 

The concept did not align itself with what was observed in biology, zoology. genetics, and biological evolution itself. Gene expression function depends also on environments.  Eugenicists  had a limited understanding of the laws of heredity and  prior to the discovery of  DNA’s structure had little knowledge of the complexities of gene function. Physical culture was emerging in England, Germany, and the United States, which promoted health and weight training exercise. The reason that such a movement emerged in these countries was due to the industrial revolution. Labor was dramatically altered in terms of production time giving the populace of these countries more leisure time. Physical activity became another form of entertainment and hobby. The 1899 was a major turning point in which fitness publications by Macfadden came into existence. Although Kellogg and Macfadden encouraged physical activity in women it was only to a certain degree. Women were not to be developing their bodies to their full physical potential. Walking, dancing, croquet, cycling  and basketball. Baseball was also acceptable, just as long as women did not get too competitive. The impact on women sports was that other women were able to engage in exercise and then gain the desire to compete. Opportunities were limited, yet as the years passed women gradually were given platforms of competition in the Olympic games. Women did appear in the 1904 Olympics in physical culture events. They would not be able to compete in track and field events until 1928. This opened a new market for women’s sporting apparel.  The rise of women’s sports shoes can be tied to physical culture, the eugenics movement,  and fitness magazine publication.


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Bernarr Macfadden and William Keith Kellogg probably would have not know exactly how large female fitness enthusiasm would get in the later half  of the 20th century. Women have become part of the fitness and sports world. Seeing a woman exercise or be a competitive athlete is not a shock today. However, MacFadden and Kellogg’s encouragement of physical activity for women was condemned by some medical professionals. The eugenic philosophy was not what it was objecting to, rather  they still held on to 19th century medical ideas about women’s bodies. These were supporters of the rest cure and the cult of invalidism. However, some criticism was legitimate due to the fact Macfadden mixed his own personal quackery into his perspective on health science. He claimed that his fasting would rejuvenate the body and grape therapy could be a treatment for cancer  . The MacFadden Communications Group continues to be a publisher and produced multiple magazines for 119 years. Since 1906, the Kellogg Company has continued to be a dominant force in the food manufacturing industry. Although their connection to eugenics and the ideology was disturbing, their were worse practices done by other members of the movement.

           Eugenics abused the rights of people were of a different race, the disabled, the mentally ill, or considered too defective to be a part of society. Eugenics resulted in sterilization, marriage restriction, and  a justification for a racially segregated society. Francis Galton began the movement with the publication of his book Hereditary Genius. The idea born in Britain spread to the United States, which began enacting more harsh laws against groups considered genetically inferior. The period between 1883 and 1945 saw eugenics become a force in both academia and public policy. Prominent universities taught eugenics such as Harvard. Serialization laws would by 1938 would be in 33 states of  America. Other countries such as Norway, Sweden, and Denmark would also enact eugenic based laws. Many times individuals were sterilized without even knowing it. Women were particularly vulnerable to sterilization. Seeing as women at the time had limited reproductive rights, it was simple enough to create legislation controlling their bodies. No access to abortion or contraception was and continues to be a major women’s health issue in various nations. Anthropometry  was used to demonstrate that certain races were genetically inferior to others. Nazi Germany used this method to to identify Jews who were believed to be subhuman. Racial hygiene was a concept that believed that race mixing would lead to social degeneration of  the white race. Alfred Ploetz was a biologist and physician introduced this concept of racial purity and health in his book The Efficiency of Our Race and The Protection of The Weak . Ploetz viewed the world functioning on a racial hierarchy. The Nordic race was biologically superior to all others.

Bruno Beger
Bruno Berger went on an expedition to Tibet to collect anthropometric data in 1938. Examining a group deemed racially inferior would produce  data that  could be used to identify Jews. This way admixture according to Nazi belief would not contaminate Aryan blood.
This graphic shows how eugenics was attempting to influence all aspects of society. The logo was from the Second International Eugenics Conference in 1921. The fact that law and politics are included on the logo demonstrate that some in the movement wanted a scientific dictatorship.
Dana Shemesh is Jewish and her fellow athlete is disabled. Under Nazi political philosophy and pseudoscience  they would be considered unfit for reproduction.  

Adolf Hitler under a totalitarian dictatorship implemented serialization and euthanasia laws. Extreme racism and antisemitism  was justified by eugenics and other pseudo scientific convictions. The Nuremberg Laws were enacted to deprive the Jewish population of their rights and segregate them from the rest of the population. Roma, Afro-Germans, and Slavs were also subject to persecution under the regime. Adolf Hitler praised Madison Grant author of The Passing of  the Great Race . Grant a eugenicist, zoologist,  and lawyer promoted in his book the Nordic theory in which there was a certain type of European that would dominate the world. The book that Grant wrote became Hitler’s favorite due to its scientific racism and promotion of anti-miscegenation. The Passing of the Great Race did not only influence Nazi  leaders it also played a role  in getting the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924  enacted. Due to this act, many Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany were denied entry into the United States. Immigrants from Northern Europe or Nordics in racialist terminology were preferred over Jews, Asians, Eastern Europeans, and Africans. During the 1930s  Germany sought to increase the genetic quality of the population through eugenic programs. This meant excluding people from the nation that did not meet the ideal of  the master race, while increasing the numbers of stock of people who fit the paradigm. Women and girls were encouraged to exercise for the purpose of becoming mothers to produce superior offspring. The League of German Girls was designed to get women active and prepared for childbirth.

The League of German Girls practicing exercises .
This eugenics poster states that it is for the good of society that only the fit should marry.
Eugenic propaganda was at one time everywhere. Here it is seen in a magazine advertisement from the United States. This as promises to give couples advice and knowledge about sex using eugenic science. 

The goal was not to make them into competitive athletes rather keeping the body healthy. To ensure that German women produced pure Aryan stock, Jews were banned from marrying Germans. The mentally ill, those suffering from genetically inherited diseases, and the disabled were either subject to serialization and the T4 euthanasia program. The culmination of racism, eugenics, and hate led to one of the worst acts of mass murder in the 20th century. The Holocaust saw the murder of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, Poles, political dissidents, leftists, gays, and prisoners of war. Millions would die under Nazi terror during World War II. Eugenics and social Darwinism was applied to Nazi foreign policy. Weak nations deserved to be conquered, because they lost the test for survival. The fittest nations were the countries that expanded. According to fascist ideology, the minute a nation ceases to grow in territory, that is when it will die. When Nazi war crimes and genocide were exposed to the world at the Nuremberg trials, eugenics ended as an influential movement in mainstream academia, culture, and politics.

          The defeat of Nazi Germany did not stop eugenic ideas and concepts from returning in various fields. The hereditarian theory of IQ, dysgenics, and elements of constitutional psychology remain in some sections of public consciousness and academia. These dangerous ideas were not promoted by charlatans or mere ideologues; they were propagated by the people of expertise and prominence. William Shockly was not only the co-inventor of the silicon inventor, he also took interest in promoting dysgenics. The problem with African Americans he argued was not racism or discrimination it was genetically based. He was promoting this ideology at the time when racial segregation was being dismantled by the civil rights movement. Integration of American society could not be stopped and racists needed a reason to keep unequal treatment alive. Arthur Jensen and Hans Eysenk were prominent psychologists in the 20th century who continued to espouse eugenic concepts and racialist ideology. Psychometrics have been questioned in regards to their accuracy and if  it is genuinely scientific. Biology and psychology have sometimes had eugenic ideas appear depending on the political or social climate. As science advanced by the early 21st  century, there was another concern. The Human Genome Project produced more knowledge about the genetics of people. Human genetic engineering became a reality, not science fiction. Bioethical questions arose from assisted reproductive technology, gene therapy, prenatal screening, and the possibility of human cloning. This new eugenics or positive perspective wants to use scientific knowledge to combat disease. It also has a connection to a wider transhumanist  movement that believes in enhancing humanity by means of technology and scientific knowledge. Liberal eugenics makes the claim that it does not want to abuse human rights, but bioethical concern still remain. Unlike the pseudoscience of the 19th and 20th century, it has become clear that biology is not destiny. Humanity has already altered its own biology just from a change in environment, gene expression,  and diet.

          Women were encouraged to exercise by some factions of eugenicists. Bernarr McFadden may not have been an extremist, but their was a clear business intent in mind. It seems that McFadden was attempting to exploit women for financial gain . This is what companies do to get consumers to buy their products. Through advertisement and propaganda consumers will buy products without realizing they are being manipulated. McFadden and Kellogg being  businessmen understood that the eugenics movement had potential for new consumers of their magazine and food products. Although a movement associated with horrendous human rights abuse, this indirectly contributed to women’s sports. Women getting access to a platform in which they could use their bodies was liberating. However, the intent was not progressive in mindset. While women were discouraged from full use of their bodies in the context of Victorian Age medicine, eugenicists merely saw it as a means of producing healthier babies. Women’s roles were still set in a domestic sphere and secondary status to men. Yet, this did not stop women from advancing into the world of sports and fitness. The eugenics movement is a terrifying reminder of the dangers of powerful  figures in academia and politics making decisions based on questionable or false information. Pseudoscience  continues to be a threat  promoting certain political agenda and can only be countered by scientific literacy.


What Eugenicists Did for Women’s Sport?

Seven Things Never To Say On A Date With A Muscular Woman With Katrin Davidsdottir

Katrin Davidsdottir crossfit athlete,   gives dating advice to men who are interested in seeking relationships with muscular women in a Reebock video presentation . She explains what not to do with seven simple steps. There are particular things that female athletes just do not want to hear on a date. Avoid these seven comments  and the evening may go smoothly. The contemporary era has shown that courtship is more challenging. For men, it is  actually worse. Rejection is constant and it seems most people struggle with loneliness. Women can get into a relationship much easier, due to the fact their is very little they have to do. Men on the other hand have to make the arrangements, pay for dinner. and constantly maintain a positive energy in a romantic partnership. There is a constant complaint that for some women saying “there are no good men out there,” When that is further from the truth. The lugubrious reality is that women are attracted to power and status ignoring ethical character. Arrogance women confuse with confidence, which in some cases leads to women selecting awful men as their partners. The most extreme cases could involve women constantly going to men who verbally or physically abuse them. This attraction to men who could be potentially abusive makes the #Me Too Movement also seem like a lost cause. Although there are some comments you should never express on a date, the same should be applied to women.  Women should also be mindful of their etiquette.  Katrin Davidsdottir does have a legitimate argument about proper courtship manners.

         One comment that should be avoided is “you look pretty strong for a girl.” It should be noted that if you are on a date with a professional female athlete she is probably going to be very strong. They train on a daily basis and get more exercise than the average person. Calling a woman a “girl” is also a problem. This is a way of denoting youth and associating it with beauty and vibrant energy. The subtle sexism is that it almost treats a woman as a child and by them aging it an awful thing. Women are pressured to look a certain way or hide the fact they age. Women who do not fit in the dominant paradigm of beauty are either ostracized or ridiculed by the wider society.

The muscular woman presents a completely different paradigm that some men may not understand or be used to. Women are still viewed in the context of gender stereotypes. The idea of weak, helpless, and dependent female still seems present in the minds of some men. When  a woman demonstrates independence or intelligence men who hold misogynist convictions attack them. These have become more tolerable traits as time went on, but a woman of great physical strength is unacceptable. Sexists use physical strength as an example of  male superiority, yet this is debunked by the female athlete. Strength is not a male only monopoly. The insecure men retort with “she’s a man ” or “she’s on steroids.” The video itself is flooded with such weak and closed minded individuals it really demonstrates a crisis in masculine identity. Men are so threatened by a powerful woman they revert to puerile vituperation. Then there are misogynists who just hate all women and believe that women being successful harms society.


Sadly, these men are going to be left behind in a world of rapid progress in women’s roles. Men who are more open minded and curious about this new type of woman should be careful how they phrase questions. The man who decides to date a muscular woman should ask questions, but not express them in a way that could be offensive to the lady. Women should not get so easily offended by a question or phrase.  Katrin Davidsdottir quips in the video “I’m just strong”  in response to the strong for a girl comment. Women with a strong feminist ideological bent think by adding “female” to athlete or “for a girl” demeans women’s accomplishments. It does not unless one considers females as being worthless. Being strong for a girl may not be such an insult. It shows that the athlete was able to gain power and strength through their diligence alone. These women are not your average women. Their strength is far greater than an average male. There is no doubt that a woman of such stature is just strong.

          Asking if you can touch a woman’s muscles may seem harmless at first, but it should be examined from another perspective. If one were to ask “can I touch your butt?” or “feel your breasts”  it is more obvious why asking this is wrong. Such behavior would be classified as sexual harassment. Groping specifically by men seems to be a major problem in the workplace and other public areas.


Making the suggestion does not improve the situation. We all have urges to do certain things, but we should not act on them. Men have to learn to control their behavior around women in both public and private life. The reason that sexual misconduct and harassment is prevalent is that the sexual objectification of women has made it acceptable that such inappropriate behavior is normal. Inappropriate behavior can come from men of all  different types, but men who are higher in social status believe they have a right to treat women however they please. Celebrities and CEOs are being arrested and tried for sexual misconduct. There are degrees of abuse and unsettling comments such as feeling  parts of the body can still be harmful. Sexual objectification may have warped some men’s perceptions and way they interact with women. Not all men are sexual predators, yet saying certain comments on a date may make a woman think you are one. Conversions should center around common interests  or other matters not possible sexual desires or fantasies. Avoid asking her to arm wrestle or wrestle in general. This is a person with thoughts and feelings not a fetish object.

            A man needs to understand that a goal driven woman is very dedicated. Never say that she is being selfish doing so. Sports and fitness takes much time and effort. There should be some understanding about aspirations and what makes her happy. The best thing a man can do is to be supportive of her endeavors.  If she spending a lot of time in the gym or in sports competition it just means she is working.


Scheduling activities can help reduce this misunderstanding. Maybe meeting one another does not always have to be a rigidly planned activity. Being in each others company could be enough.  If you want to be with your muscular woman maybe you could join her at the gym. A common activity always strengthens the relationship. Calling her selfish would be a major mistake and could end the relationship completely. The opposite would be an extreme clinger. They call your phone, text constantly, or show up to your place of work. Clingers fear being abandoned which is why they constantly attach to their partner. This may either be related to an self-esteem issue or problem in the past. They are in constant relationships , but never find the personal fulfillment they are looking for. A partner with some distance from you is not a bad thing.

          Being a physically strong woman does complicate dating. Male insecurity , shallow attitudes, or ignorance may limit the dating selection. Some men believe showing more dominant and assertive behavior will generate more of a response from women. However, when expressing “do you think you’re stronger than I am ?” it shows a level of insecurity. It projects it even more with comments such as “I would never date a woman stronger than I am.”  Strength has been so tied to masculine identity, that when men do not fit into the gender stereotype, they try to assert it by degrading women. Most likely the muscle woman is stronger than the men she meets. These wanna be alphas in a state of delusion say these women are not as strong as the strongest man. They ignore the fact the women are stronger than they are. May be its not always malevolence, It could be a way to impress the muscular woman in question. A woman of high intelligence, strength, and character would be hard to amaze.



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Men often do dangerous or insane acts to impress women. One reason that men engage in perilous work or activity is that there is the suggestion of female attention. There is a reason that women seem to follow a man in a military or police uniform. A strong woman is her own hero. She looks different from other women. This does not mean one needs to constantly point that out. Never say her hands look rough. Her hands may have callouses from lifting a whole bunch, but she can still paint her nails. Do not assume that a man taught her what she knows about fitness and sports. Telling her “did your brother teach you to lift ?” is not a good starter to an engaged conversation.  Katrin Davidsdottir ends the video stating that women just like others like compliments on their accomplishments and their athletic feats. Avoid these seven comments then a relationship with a female athlete will be sustainable.  There should also be some comments women should avoid. First asking how much a man makes is not appropriate for the first date. Remember to tank the gentleman for the date after it is over. If the series of dates leads to a long  term relationship, offer to pay for dinner once in awhile. Here is another radical solution: women should ask men out. Women should not have to wait for a man to come to them. Men should not have to constantly chase. Both sexes being proactive can help make modern dating a more pleasant experience. Online dating sites may just make the experience more complicated than it needs to be. Getting discouraged is a normal feeling. There is always a chance of finding someone as long as you never quit.

Seven Things Never To Say On A Date With A Muscular Woman With Katrin Davidsdottir

Dr. Mark Griffiths : Give Me Your Strength Another Look At Muscle Worship

Muscle Worship

This is another examination by the psychologist Dr. Mark Griffiths in which he expounds further on sthenolagnia. However, it should be established that he is focusing on what would be classified as a kink. Muscle worship would not be a fetish. The perspective of sexology would call sthenolagnia more so a fetish and muscle worship as a kink. Whate defines a kink is ” the unconventional sexual practices, concepts, or fantasy.” Cratolagnia normally gets confused with sthenolagnia, but there is a difference. Cratolgnia is more arousal generated from the displays of physical strength rather than actual muscle. It is possible to have both fetishes and they do generally overlap. Dr. Mark Giffiths acknowledges this is has very little serious academic investigation. There are a number of reasons for this. The first is that many men and women may not be willing to be open about their sex or fetish practices. Doing surveys would keep a level on anonymity, yet participants may not even be honest in their answers. The problem also is that people confuse a fetish with paraphilia. This creates a stigma that makes people less wiling to discuss sex or sexuality. Gathering research data would be difficult. An experiment would be very reliant on information on sources that are not as credible. There may be a general lack of interest in the area of human sexual behavior in psychology, because some may think it does not deserve serious investigation. Human sexuality is part of human behavior. Psychologists such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung explored sex and sexuality at a time when those subjects were too controversial to discuss. Human sexual behavior differs among individuals and can change over time.

        Muscle worship differs from general mixed wrestling. What Dr. Griffiths uses for an explanation comes from a Wikipedia entry. Wikipedia is not as reliable compared to others sources due to the fact anyone can edit them. The entry states “muscle worship is a social behaviour, usually with a sexual aspect (a form of body worship), in which a participant, the worshipper, touches the muscles of another participant, the dominator, in sexually arousing ways, which can include rubbing, massaging, kissing, licking, “lift and carry”, and various wrestling holds.” Its not like wrestling cannot be a part of muscle worship, but sessions such as these involve limited physical activity. This is why some female bodybuilders prefer to do muscle worship rather than wrestling session due to the limited physical effort involved.




These are examples of session wrestling. They could either be fantasy, competitive, or semi-competitive. 

Muscle worship is more about feeling the woman and her muscles. It is not about the demonstration of physical strength, rather admiration of the body. The strange part about this definition it does not mention that arm wrestling is sometimes part of both session wrestling and muscle worship. What also is part of the definition mentioned in Dr. Mark Griffiths’ entry talks about the roles involved in this kink : “The dominator is almost always either a bodybuilder, a fitness competitor, or wrestler, an individual with a large body size and a high degree of visible muscle mass.” This can be expanded to include other women who have just physically fit. Women who are not involved in  strength sports also participate in muscle worship. Session wrestling can involve muscle worship. This means women who participate can do a few wrestling matches and then add muscle worship to the session. A woman does not have to be extremely muscular  to do muscle worship, rather just have enough athleticism to add to the experience. Some women do not even have athletic experience who offer such services. Fantasy wrestling may have a small or thin woman acting as if she can overpower larger men. 

Michelle Tuggle is big and strong enough to wrestle men for real. These matches would be semi-competitive or competitive.
This woman is smaller than the man compared to the much larger women. The point is not the wrestling, rather the admiration of muscle and athleticism. This would be fantasy, because it is obvious if there were a real match she would not be able to beat the man.
Figure competitors, physique athletes, fitness models, and bikini competitors get involved in muscle worship and session wrestling.

There also is another problem when developing a precise definition. The woshippers are defined in a stereotypical manner : ” he worshipper is often, but not always, skinnier, smaller, and more out of shape”. It is surprising the entry does not mention schmoes who are hardcore fans of female muscle and female bodybuilding. Such men can come from all walks of life, ethnic backgrounds, and cultures.Schmoes  are different from regular female muscle fans. They are truly devoted to the sport and like the most muscular women. There are some men who have more of a desire to follow muscular women than others. Men who are deeply involved in fitness may be the biggest schmoes of them all. The common stereotype is that male bodybuilders only like women they can physically dominate or control. The opposite seems of this seems to be the case. The idea that your significant other enjoys your passion may be an attractive attribute to men in the bodybuilding sports. It almost seems obvious that such men would gravitate to these women. They have a similar interest and are present in there common environment of the gym.  

There is no wrestling involved in this case, so it would be classified a muscle worship. 

There is also relation to another type of fetish which includes erotic wrestling. Muscular women, female athletes, and average wrestlers test their strength against male opponents in mixed wrestling matches. Since the rise of the internet, there has been an increase in erotic wrestling.   Once more it seems that such fetishes and kinks overlap. There is a point in the study of such behaviors just becomes a debate in semantics.  These definitions and descriptions could change women more information is discovered. 

        There are common misconceptions about men and women involved in muscle worship. Muscle worshipers are not only males, but can be females as well. They could be of various sexual orientations. It is possible that there is overlap with sadomasochism, yet  pain is not the goal of muscle worship and session wrestling. Dr Griffiths relies on a wikipedia entry that may not be very reliable. The text reads : ” The amount of forceful domination and pain used in muscle worship varies widely, depending on the desires of the participants. The client’s intent is not to be pulverized and the wrestler does have limits to what is acceptable. The wikipedia entry expounds further: ” Sometimes, the dominator uses his or her size and strength to pin a smaller worshiper, forcing the worshipper to praise the dominator’s muscles, while in other cases, the worshiper simply feels and compliments the muscles of a flexing dominator. ” This may be the case, however some muscle worship does not always revolve around out right domination. There are instances in which their is mutual gratification not based around force. It is no surprise that women engage in session wrestling or muscle worship find it amusing as well. 


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Athletes who do not have sponsorship issues or income related barriers still offer sessions. The error in studying this phenomenon is that women do not get sexual gratification out of this kink. The idea is that women are passive receivers in sexual interactions or urges. Women sexual behavior may just fluctuate more compared to men. Muscle worship does not involve sexual intercourse, rather its purpose is to at least generate arousal. Muscle worship is not classified as prostitution, because that implies that there is a fee and business for sexual intercourse. Dr . Mark Giffiths states that their a both mainstream and non-mainstream sexual behaviors. Using these terms complicates concepts of sexual behavior. These behaviors are hard to determine which are mainstream or subcultural  due to the fact there would have to be normal standard of sexual behavior. Traditionally, psychology relied on surveys to understand sexual behavior. What can be found is that various individuals have different types of sexual kinks and fetishes. it may be that there is no “normal sex life” or “normal sexual behavior.” Paraphilia is an extreme psychological disorder in which arousal is caused by activities that are  dangerous or harmful. Female muscle lovers are typically seen by outside observers  as deviants or sexual predators.  Such a view is a product of ignorance and bias. Most muscle worshipers are average people with no disorder or violent tendencies. 

        Muscle worship does not even fit the definition of a mental disorder in the context of abnormal psychology. Abnormal psychology can be defined as the study of unusual behavior and its patterns from a clinical context. Emotions and thought are also taken into account related to mental state.  This branch of psychology still has rigorous debate about what is merely an idiosyncratic behavior and aberrant or dysfunctional behavior. Doing sessions could hardly be considered an aberrant behavior. The only way it could be dysfunctional is that in interferes with daily life. Muscle worship can be very expensive, so this would not be an addiction for the common people. Liking muscular women does not even count as a mental disorder based of simple definitions. It is just another preference. 



BrigitaBrezovac_BD03   There are abnormality indicators that range from mild to severe according to the clinical approach.  the first indicator is distress. This either projects itself as anxiety or levels of constant unease. Maladpativeness refers to when a individual cannot cope with their environment. Irrationality is another indicator, but this may be hard to identify. However, behaviors such as conserving with people who are not there or constant rambling may demonstrate some form of mental breakdown. Unpredictability may also serve as a symptom of development of abnormal psychological behavior. Being inconsistent or erratic in personal action may be a warning sign. Unconventionality is another symptom, which describes undesirable behavior. Just being unusual or quirky does not count as unconventionality. Random screaming or belligerent behavior  could be considered unconventionality. The challenge is that psychopathology can take numerous forms, so just having one indicator does not indicate a mental disorder. Such a diagnosis is not very reliable or scientific method based. This is why psychology and psychiatry common under intense scrutiny. Biopsychology takes a different approach by using the study of the nervous system and neuroscience to explain psychological disorders. Social influences should not be ignored, but this seems to be a better method from a biomedical perspective. Loving female muscle, doing sessions or muscle worship, or having sexual attraction to them would hardly fall into any of these categories. 

         One aspect that Dr.Mark Griffiths forgot to mention is the sub-categories of kinks that are a part of the overall female muscle fetish. Facesitting, ball busting, lift, and carry as well as  scissor fetishes can also be seen in female muscle fetish material.   Facesitting involves a partner sitting on the face of  another. Facesitting can be classified as erotic humiliation. When this practice is done in the female muscle world, it is done for the sake of admiration of women’s glutes. 




This should not be a surprise men take interest in women’s backsides. Traditionally, the buttocks has been considered a beauty mark for women. Facesitting is nothing new or a kink that emerged in the 21st century. Henrich Lossow was an illustrator and painter during the 19th century known for his genre work. What was not entirely known was that he produced works that featured facesitting and other fetishes. These fetishes, kinks, and numerous sexual behaviors may have been around as early as humanity itself. Animals have mating  behaviors, rituals or practices in nature.  It still remains unknown what archaic humans, neanderthals, and denisovans did in relation to sexual behavior. Ball busting can also be part of the female muscle fetish. This may be less popular due to the possible health risk involved. The testicles of the male participant are either kicked, punched, or squeezed. Doing such a practice risks testicular trauma or permanent damage. 



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This may be something that even women want to avoid. Female session wrestlers realize there is a major physical power difference between their clients and do not want to risk them getting injured. If a session wrestler gets too many negative reviews among clients, this could effect business. The female muscle community is a small and close knit group. Information can spread quickly. Some scholars note that the business aspect of it can be also classified at different levels. Dr. Mark Giffifths notes from one source he used : “a 2008 paper by Dr. Niall Richardson (2008) in the Journal of Gender Studies also made some interesting (and important) distinctions between muscle worship and two other erotic practices often associated with bodybuilding: ‘hustling’ and ‘sponsorship fantasies.’ Hustling just involves a female bodybuilder doing sessions and muscle worship as their primary business. They may not even compete anymore, but still maintain their impressive physiques. Doing sessions and muscle worship generate more money compared to them competing. The sponsorship system operates if  on the basis that if a female athlete can get promotion by a supplement company or  wealthy individual an athlete can reduce the financial burdens of competition. The book Chemical Pink  wildly exaggerated this element of female bodybuilding. The sport and the women are often misunderstood. The attraction to them is even more of an enigma to outside observers. 

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Lift and carry is also a part of the female muscle fetish. Some men are curious to see how strong these women are. One way to test this is to see if they can carry a client for a certain period of time. It may not even be about women attempting to compete the lift. Some clients get exhilaration women physical strain and struggle under the weight of their bodies. For a client, see a woman demonstrate her physical skills and prowess is the most arousing thing ever. Seeing as these kinks and practices are misunderstood advocates are very furtive about them. It is not known just how many men and women are involved in such kinks. What complicates examination is the overlap of connotations and how they can be so closely related.  

       Female muscle growth is mentioned, yet it cannot be considered a part of female worship itself. This is the more artistic side of the female muscle fandom. Videos, art, and  writing. Muscle worship is not fiction, but it is often portrayed in female muscle art and stories. There has been rapid expansion of this type of non-mainstream type of art since the rise of the internet and social media. Female muscle growth only constitutes a section of the female muscle art aspect of the subculture. Videos featuring muscular women have become prevalent with streaming sites such as Youtube or Dailymotion. Fans can either edit videos or produce something original. Mixed wrestling video sites are so ubiquitous that Google provides thousands o search results. There are more men into muscular women than previously thought. Such traffic to these websites are not merely people stumbling on to them by mistake or random curiosity. 

Animated Muscle Women Wiki collects all the scenes and images of instances in which muscular women appear in cartoons.
Awefilms.com  features female bodybuilders posing, wrestling, and has members only photo sections.
Athletes both have their own websites and social media, which connect fans directly to content at anytime.

There is a large growing fandom, that extends beyond mere fetish. It was in its prototypical stages in the 1980s when professional female bodybuilding got mainstream exposure. When the World Wide Web emerged thanks to Tim Berners Lee in 1989 a revolution began. The internet was going to be a major entertainment medium and commercial enterprise. Subcultures would get exposure to a wider audience. The female muscle fandom would thrive from the 1990s to present. It many ways it saved female bodybuilding from complete extinction. The image of the physically powerful woman is just a click away. Female muscle growth has become more than just an erotic based entertainment; it has evolved into detailed art form with storytelling. The Sex and the University website only reveals the basic elements of such fmg. There is of course expansion fetishism that overlaps with it ( breast and giantess fetish). However, fmg does not only focus on biceps. Depending on the author, certain body parts are emphasized more. The posterior, legs, and abdomen are common highlighted areas in fmg. Some stories are one shot and others could be longer serials. 

This is an example of female muscle growth that focuses on the whole body rather than just the biceps.
Quadra Blu created by Lyman Dally
Stain Steele is a crime fighting female bodybuilder created by David C. Matthews.

These muscular female characters appear in mostly webcomics.  Quadra Blu and Satin Steele are examples of the female muscle and fmg art genre. Sometimes the female muscle growth happens by normal means rather than a supernatural or scientific blunder. These characters have more developed personalities and longer storylines. Among dedicated readers and fans of female muscle they are very recognizable.  The females in these stories could either be antagonists or protagonists. Popular  mainstream cartoon characters are even given muscular physiques in female muscle art. Fmg can sometimes appear in mainstream cartoons. Scenes could be brief or last an entire episode. There is a common theme that seems to be present in most fmg stories. There is either an equalization or role reversal of the stereotypical  power relationship between men and women. Certain scenarios are not reversal or equalization; its complete femdom. Such storylines have women gaining more physical strength than males and establishing female supremacy. A common misconception is that patriarchy remains due to the fact men have more physical strength to impose their will on females. Really the subjugation of women is based on limited rights, inequality in employment, education, property ownership, and legal protection. Here the fantasy makes it reversed in which males are under the rule of females, based on brute force. 

Fmg appears in a mainstream cartoon Totally Spies . This demonstrates female supremacy because Alex becomes stronger than the strongest men she fights.


Female supremacy involves males being dominated physically by women.
Many times men do not resist in mixed wrestling videos. Viewers normally may just think its fake, strength feats included. It is obvious women of this strength and power could hurt someone if they were really trying.

Stories or art do not always feature women in such a bullying or oppressive manner. It could be a mutual exchange of power in some plots. The reason behind these desires for femdom and female supremacy could astronomical. Power can be seen as an attractive attribute. Physical strength is just one example of  power, which was seen as a positive attribute in men. It has only been recently that this is also attractive in women. The indirect influence of amazon feminism could as be reason for this sub-fetish category. Men just may like the idea of having roles reversed and not being in charge. It is no secret that men in high powered positions in business, politics, and law engage in sessions. This may act as some form of stress reduction. There may also be the belief that being with a stronger woman will make you a stronger man. Or the simplest explanation is that men just have an attraction to various types of women rather the the mainstream beauty standard. 


Denise 1fa37798b73516e1f648343c1ccdf055

The muscular woman presents another beauty paradigm. It is not a traditional one, but in away it is a metaphor for women’s growing power in society. The physically strong woman does have a place in various cultures. Amazons and Valkyries were present in mythology. Historical figures such a Joan of Arc or Nzinga have been notable figures as well as heroine archytypes. Popular culture has a plethora of female heroes such as Wonder Woman, Storm, and the Black Widow. The difference with the muscular woman put into this equation is that never in a point in human history have women developed their bodies to this level.    Maybe female muscle growth captures both the fear, excitement, and arousal of the new generation of superwomen. 

       Certain conclusions can be made based  on what is known. Female muscle worship is not dangerous or harmful. Muscle worship would not count as a paraphilia based on the simple denotation. This would not even be worth an entry into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The  DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association. The problem with this manual is that what were once considered mental disorder are now longer a part of it. Homosexuality was once in the DSM and removed in 1974. This represented the intolerance present in the medical profession and psychiatry. The DSM has been criticized for its methods and possible cultural bias. The National Institute of Mental Health criticized the DSM-5 for not having a more vigorous scientific approach. Psychology and psychiatry just like the other sciences  are subject to debate. For a position to be accepted as scientific fact it must be able to be reproduced through experiment and have the results replicated. Dr. Mark Griffiths area of interest is addiction and gambling. Is it possible that one could be addicted to female muscle ? There is the possibility if it hinders daily life or function and there are withdraw symptoms. There is little data which suggests that there are men with extreme female muscle addiction. Muscle worship is not a medical condition or a mental disease, rather a kink linked to a broader fetish. The origins are unknown, yet it is clear that human sexuality and behavior is much more complex than previously thought.    

Dr. Mark Griffiths : Give Me Your Strength Another Look At Muscle Worship

Daily Mail: Bodybuilders More Likely To Be Sexist (2012 )

Bodybuilders More Likely to be Sexist

The University of Westminster carried out a survey in 2012 asking male bodybuilders their opinions in regards to sex relations. It was published in the journal The Psychology of Men and Masculinity. Certain questions and statements were asked and the conclusion was that bodybuilders were more sexist. This seems like a gross exaggerated generalization. However, it does reveal that there are some sexist conviction present in sports and fitness culture. The men surveyed were probably ones who agreed with a more strict view of gender roles and a position that women’s freedom should be limited.   The men who were serious into muscle building activities were more likely to agree with positions such as ” I  feel women flirt with men just to tease or hurt them.” Drinking they found was an unattractive habit for women. They also believed that the only attractive women were thin ones and appearance is the only important thing a woman should achieve. What such men are doing is making themselves into hyper-masculine stereotypes. The more the desire for a muscular body the study found, the more sexist attitudes the men had. This study has multiple problems, but it has legitimate points. While it is known that stereotypical images or ideas are harmful to women, rarely is it discussed the harm of gender stereotypes on men. The study also has one major flaw is that it did not explore other areas of the bodybuilding and fitness subculture. Women were not surveyed who are active in the sport. The unfortunate aspect about this survey is that they assume that only men engage in bodybuilding activities. Someone just reading this article without prior knowledge would have a major distortion about a person’s motivation for being in the sport or what it is.

              The survey is limited. Women who compete or lift for recreation were not even mentioned. If this study wanted to make a point about sexism, it would have asked how women are treated in the gyms, sport, and general public in the survey. Many times women are met with hostility from their male counterparts. This is not just from individuals, but institutions or other public spheres. Female bodybuilders have very few contests to compete in and sponsorships   are limited. The IFBB has cancelled the Ms. Olympia and Ms. International contest. This represents the institutional discrimination in the sport. On a more personal level, women may be deterred from using certain facilities of gyms. Women who were bodybuilding in the past often described how they were either prevented from getting access to the weight rooms or pressured into going into the more “feminine” exercise session classes such as aerobics. Today there is a level of defacto  sex segregation  in gyms with mostly men in weight rooms or women running on treadmills. Women are constantly warned “not to get too big” or “don’t look too strong.” There are a portion of men who feel that women should not have any involvement is sports or fitness at all.

The survey seemed to forget that women are bodybuilders too. 

The general public’s reaction can vary. while all reactions are not negative, many have sexist overtones. They can range from “women should not look like this” or “they look like men.” Such vituperation also involves homophobic and transphobic rhetoric, exposing other biases and forms of intolerance. Mainly, these more negative reactions are from people who think women should not do the same activities men do or have the same rights.  It would make more sense to ask how the muscular men treat their strong female colleagues. It most likely would follow similar ostracism that comes from the general public. It would be interesting to see what the female version of this survey would produce. Could muscular women have feelings of misandry? This term refers to prejudice or hatred of men. Often women who engage in strength sports or bodybuilding are criticized as invaders in a traditionally male domain. They are not there for the love of the sport, they just come to promote gender antagonism with men.  Radical feminists promoted the position of being antagonistic to men while simultaneously competing with in all spheres of life. The majority of the second wave feminists just wanted legal and political equality, while the third wave feminists of the present adopted some of the radical feminist ideas. It dubious that women get involved in the sport to gain power to abuse men in some way. Most women who compete have either been serious athletes in other sports or started lifting then decided to compete. That does not mean women would not hold some misandry, but the idea of women “invading” male spaces seems ludicrous. Without examining these elements the study has limitations.

              The sample size of the study was too small. Those interviewed were based in the UK and were white males. The problem with that is that white males are not the standard for all of humanity. Men and women are active in fitness who have various ethnic, religious, class, and cultural backgrounds. The study solely focused on white males. There is also a bias in terms of national origin. These were mostly white British males who took the survey.

Excluding or ignoring other men of various backgrounds makes the study seem limited. This presents a very stereotypical image of the bodybuilding and fitness world. Fitness and bodybuilding has become an international phenomenon in which competitors from all over the world compete in IFBB contests.  This sample may also just demonstrate that white males have more of a sense of entitlement. If a white supremacist society favors Europeans over other groups, it is no wonder they would hold oppressive beliefs. Now, it is possible that other ethnic groups would hold oppressive views of women. Many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America lag behind in terms of gender equality. A more reliable survey would have to be taken by men in various gyms and possibly in numerous countries to make such a claim that bodybuilders or men into bodybuilding are more sexist. There are many reasons why men and women would participate in such exercise or sports activities. This survey cannot be completely dismissed, because it exposes a major problem of  sexist macho culture and female behavior than enables it indirectly.

        The bodybuilding sport and weightlifting activities have a sexist macho culture. It emphasizes stereotypical masculine image of the stoic, powerful, and unfeeling strongman. A large portion of the sexist macho culture disparages women,while simultaneous putting emphasis on sexual conquest. A real man in this bizarre subculture brags about how many women they have had sexual relations with. What creates this unhealthy mode of thought are the misogynistic nature of society. A sex obsessed culture that objectifies women creates this behavior. Then their is the element of female behavior that enable this cycle. The survey reveals the relationship status of the men. The majority were single men ( 38.5% ), there were men who were dating (31.2 %), and others were married ( 23.9%) . The higher portion of  single men with negative beliefs about women and their obsessive muscle building activities indicates a long history of female rejection. Getting a relationship or getting married is harder for men, simply based on the fact women may be more hyper-selective in their choices. As unfortunate as this may be women are attracted to men of power doubtless of their ethical character. There can be multiple forms of status either financial or based on appearance. The society has taught women to either choose a man with either muscles of money.

Serenea    AAM

The men with the most resources and power are normally going to have the most women. Despite claims women just want nice men this does not seem to reflect their courtship or marriage choices. 

This may encourage men to behave in an unhealthy way. The obsessive drive for status could result in extreme stress and heath issues. Men may be forced into archetypes such as the rich playboy or the hyper-masculine he-man. As much as third wave feminists condemn what they refer to as toxic masculinity, a large portion of women find such attributes attractive. The nice guy may actually finish last in this competition.This also puts women at risk for being trapped in potentially abusive or dangerous relationships. Men who do not fit these images of powerful man may either be more frustrated or attempt to emulate  a narrow paradigm of masculine identity. Knowing that women may find these stereotypical attributes attractive, this may induce men to get obsessive about muscle building activities.  To blame men solely for such behavior would not be fair. Women have also contributed to this unfortunate phenomenon. Sexist macho culture is a relic of the past, when traditional gender roles were rigidly followed. It promotes absolute male authority in society, family, and the wider public sphere. Feminism challenged women’s secondary status and decades later women find themselves in more positions of power. This has not only caused anger in some men, but also a question of masculine identity. If male power was to be natural why is it that women can be powerful too? While women have become a larger presence in the workforce and public life, it was thought sports and the realm of physical power women could not penetrate. Yet, they did and it generates vituperative responses.

The sexist macho culture does not accept strong women, because it believes women should be controlled. A muscular woman just reminds men with such negative attitudes that women are as capable as they are. There is the feeling that women have invaded male spaces and it has produced certain reactions. A sexist man may have a problem with having a female boss and project  their frustration in the sexist macho culture of the gym.Society does not give men an opportunity to expose their vulnerability or possible depression. The moment a man does that sexist rhetoric is directed at them. Men who cannot cope are either called “sissies” “fags” “pussies” or “wimps.” The most ludicrous response to to men who are struggling psychologically is to “man up.”  Pressure is also coming from a more gender antagonistic based third wave feminism. This group does not want equality, rather favors a female centered society in all aspects of life. They merely want to replace patriarchy with matriarchy. Men who do not hold sexist beliefs are even targets of the new form of radical feminism.  This also explains the rise of men’s rights, MGTOW, and incels. Men who feel isolated or rejected by society and large numbers of women have turned to extreme misogyny. It does not solely have to do with the fault of society or personal prejudice. Extreme third wave feminism is a catalyst as well as the unintended shifts in sex politics. The sexist macho culture must be challenged in the sports world. It should be accepted that women can be strong and men can sometimes cry. A healthy regulation of emotions will promote better mental and physical health.

        The mass media may also share the blame for this distorted view of body image and behavior. The concept of the ideal male body has changed overtime to one that looks more muscular.While it can be seen who body image conformity harms women, this phenomenon is ignored when discussing men. The consumption of television and social media are contributors to much of the body image dissatisfaction.

popular social media icons
Social media has allowed for higher rates of image and entertainment consumption.

TV is another medium in which people see ideal body images. 

 The study focused on the gender dynamics change as well as the change in media consumption.   Viren Swarmi researcher on this study stated ”  we’re also arguing that those oppressive beliefs directed at women also have an impact on men’s own body images, specifically their drive for muscularity…” which is only part of this story. The producers of fitness and bodybuilding materials want people to buy their products. Many advertisements either work on people’s desires or target individuals with low self-esteem relative to their appearance. Men and women having negative feelings about their bodies are more willing to spend a significant amount for improving their image.The image obsession fits into a gender role script. Men are strong, women are weak. Even though this does not represent reality it such gender role scripts are shown through print and digital media.

The image of the muscular man and thin woman have been promoted as the primary body ideals.

Women face higher rates of bulima and anorexia, however men are now having another psychological disorder known as muscle dysmorphia. Similar to anorexia or bulima, this psychological disorder is when a person thinks they do not have enough muscle and become obsessed with becoming more muscular to an unhealthy degree.This may even encourage men to use a number of anabolic androgenic steroids to achieve a particular physique. Men and women can suffer from anyone of these body image or eating disorders, but the sex difference in rates reveals much about the culture.  Men and women have different idealized bodies relative to the gender role script. Man is supposed to be powerful and dominating, while women are passive. Psychology has shown that such body images disorders are mental conditions, which require therapy. It has only been recently that scholars have moved away from the concept of body images issues being a female only problem. The consumption of media does have an influence on behavior. Children are more susceptible to media. Boys raised in a society in which women are not valued, are going to carry such views into adulthood. Boys seeing stereotypical images of males will most likely imitate certain behaviors. Girls who see images that present women as less than human are going to internalize negative images. There has to be a change in the way girls and boys are raised. Simultaneously. there also needs to be more discretion in regards to what media is consumed. Men and women must be conscious of the materials they watch or consume and what they expose their children to.

       This study only reveals a small portion of gender bias and sexism in fitness culture. The mistake is that its conclusion is too general. It states that bodybuilders are more sexist. Men do not need to be bodybuilders to hold anti-woman beliefs. Religious institutions and business still hold sexist convictions in their organizations. There are many place in the world in which women do not have access to employment or education. Women’s reproductive rights are either under attack in the US, Ireland, or Argentina. Yemen still engages in the practice of child brides. Obviously, women’s oppression or social circumstance cannot be the cause of a small group of men. It is attributed to a large power structure that is legitimized by supremacist beliefs. Casting muscle men as nasty brutes seems to fit a narrative of the past. William Sheldon’s concept of constitutional psychology basically stated the personality type could be determined by somatotype.  Mesomorphs were the more aggressive and violent type. This seems to subtly suggested in the study. The pugnacious jock image is a label that is placed on men who are highly involved in fitness. The only way to  vanquish negative images or stereotypes is through reform. It is time that the fitness world relinquish its sexist mach culture in favor of a more open atmosphere. Masculine identity must be more than just a one dimensional stereotype. This study although used a good method of survey, still has bias. Men working out does not always relate to low self-esteem or a pathological hatred of women. Some do this for fun, serious athletic competition, or it is a dedicated hobby.

Daily Mail: Bodybuilders More Likely To Be Sexist (2012 )

Vice: Inside The Lucrative World of Female Muscle Worship

Muscle Worship

Vice is a digital media and broadcasting company, which was founded in 1994. The media company distinguishes itself by producing numerous documentaries and having a vast internet and social media presence. Vice has taken a different direction since it founding focusing on a youth demographic. The millenial generation they target specifically with their content. However, their various documentaries and written articles can amuse and engage wider audiences. The Vice model may be the future of news and reporting when the 24 hour cable news industry begins to decline. Older viewers still get their news and a majority of information from television or traditional print newspapers. The problem with this is that editors may remove certain stories or ignore certain events that may be important or interesting to consumers. The internet and social media allows for more exploration  into various cultures and places that the mainstream media would not even consider covering. Never afraid of controversy, Vice covers various subcultures. This time, it explores an element of female muscle fandom specifically muscle worship. “Inside The Lucrative World of Female Muscle Worship” provides an excellent explanation into a rarely discussed subculture and activity. However, it fails to clarify certain details. Media coverage of the physically strong woman is most of the time negative or depicted as an anomaly. This report attempts to be neutral. The love of  muscular female form is not new nor is the existence of  the physically strong woman.

           There have been muscular women prior to the rise of  modern sports and fitness. Dr. Niall Richardson at the University of Sussex has studied the relation between women and the bodybuilding culture. Myth and stories have featured women who were either warriors or strong. Dr. Richardson reveals that the love of the muscular woman has a long tradition in history and popular culture. Amazons are warrior women of ancient Greek myth and continue to  have influence on contemporary entertainment. The most popular amazon many recognize is Wonder Woman.  Valkyries were figures in Norse mythology. These women decided who lived and who died on the battlefield. These strong women in myth had a presence in cultural consciousness since the ancient world.It is clear that this started prior to the 13th century, yet one could say that there was a revived interest. From a perspective of iconography at least the idea of the strong woman was suggested through the warrior woman archetype.

The problem with Dr. Richardson’s analysis is that he claims it is only now that the idea of the physically strong woman has become a reality. Muscular women did exist in the past,but their opportunities to display their talents were limited. They would either be performing in circuses, a street performers, or vaudeville houses. Documentation goes as far back as the late 1700s. Strongwomen acts were not like the female bodybuilding competitions of today. Here is the major difference. The muscular woman is nothing new, rather the fact the no time in history have women reach such a level of strength and physical power. This is no just regulated to a single country, it is spreading. More women are competing in sports and it is not unusual to see women from various nations compete in the Olympics. The hyper-muscular woman has become a phenomenon. The advancement in exercise physiology, supplements, and in some cases performance enhancing drugs has created a new type of female physique. D. Richardson forgot to mention that diet, specific training regimens, and genetics contribute to women’s physiques. The new breed of female athlete is bigger and stronger than ever before.

The Weaker Sex?
The strongwomen of the 19th to mid 20th century.

The reason some fans refer to female bodybuilders as goddesses is that it relates back to ancient myths. Prior to monotheism, female goddesses were worshiped. Athena, Venus, and Ishtar are just a few examples of goddesses of the ancient world. They could either be goddesses of fertility, war, wisdom, or civilization.  Athena was the goddess of courage, strength, law, civilization, justice, crafts, and skill. While these goddesses are part of the imagination there were cases in which warrior women appeared in history. Armenian women were involved in uprisings against the Ottoman Empire. The Mino warriors defended Dahomey against French invasion. Sychthians and Sammartians  probably did have women warriors for which the Greeks may have based their amazon myths on. This fighting spirit that these women warriors exhibited at various points in history indicate a level of strength. A strong constitution does not display itself visually, however it was a revolutionary leap when women started showing more physical strength.

The image  becomes an empowering one. It generates either positive or negative responses. Yet there is a growing enthusiasm coming form the most supportive hyper-fans known as schmoes. Dr. Richardson explains “that there has always been a certain level of exultation, but also erotic fascination with these muscular women.” This should not be a surprise. Women who are different will get attention. The amazing phenomenon is that more women are developing their bodies to the maximum. Only recently have scholars and members of the public have taken notice of the physically strong woman.While there has been some consciousness about such women, the subculture remains a mystery to the mainstream. Various misconceptions are presented, but rarely actual facts. The vice report makes this mistake to a degree.

           Lucus Oakeley discusses schmoes. These are the men who are into session wrestling and muscle worship. One man profiled is Johnny a 37 year old British Army technical trainer. At first it seems the text was shocked that Johnny was consider handsome in the conventional sense and liked strong women. The image of the schmoe is normally based in stereotypes or exaggerations. The first is either a paradigm of a sexual deviant or predator. The other image is either that of a pathetic or helpless man who merely is using these women as an extension of mama’s boy tendencies. There also is the image of the socially awkward nerd, who is an obsessive fan. The reality is that schmoes could be men as well as women from all walks of life. They could be of diverse religious, ethnic, political, racial, and class backgrounds. It should be no shock that male athletes and specifically male bodybuilders may be the biggest schmoes of them all. The assumption would be that men of great strength would not want women like this. The stereotype in this regard is that such men would want absolute control of women. This is not true,mainly because such men like women who share their fitness passion.

It would make sense that men who compete would also be schmoes as well. 

A serious male athlete may find it difficult to balance a relationship along with training, other obligations, and arranging sponsorship with fitness or supplement companies. A woman not involved in the fitness culture would not have an understanding as to why a man would dedicate so much time to a sport. The extent to which men involved in bodybuilding go to sessions is unknown. Seeing as they are closer to the culture than the general session goer it may be higher than assumed. It is true that some schmoes are not proud of their fetish and normally hide it from family and friends. Johnny admitted in the article he does not tell his girlfriend of his desires for muscular women. Some are so furtive about their love of female muscle they choose to remain anonymous. A schmoe interviewed in this article who gave the name Kirok  came from a very conservative area of the Midwest of the US. He chooses to remain anonymous so no one who knew him would find out. There are numerous reasons why men hide their love of the physically strong woman. The main reason has to do with social pressure and fear of ostracism. Generally,people are not honest about their fetishes or kinks, because people have difficultly understanding sexuality and sexual expression. It is not certain how many schmoes are in existence, but it appears as if they are keeping a struggling sport alive.

          The hyper muscular woman generates controversy. Female bodybuilding presents the most developed physiques in terms of muscular development, which challenges gender role cultural convictions. Tanya Bushnell who wrote Strong And Hard Bodies : An Ethnography  of Female Bodybuilding explained that  muscles have been a signifier of masculinity. Strength and power are not associated with women in some people’s minds. Women’s bodies and constitutions were associated with weakness. The problem with her analysis in the text is that she believes the schmoe and female bodybuilder relationship is based solely on a dominance and subordinate role. Women’s motivations for doing muscle worship may not even be financial based or the desire to dominate men in some way. They may enjoy the physical challenge, because wrestling takes more effort. Muscle worship may not always involve session wrestling. Women who do this not for the money, are clearly doing it the same reason the men are. It is a form of sexual expression which could be either a kink or a fetish. Female bodybuilders may also like the admiration and meeting different people. Some women are able to travel all around the world doing muscle worship. It is also possible that friendships or more intimate relationships develop out of this. The simple act of wrestling could just be fun for them.  Johnny claims that some of his sessions ended with physical intimacy. The majority of sessions do not involve sexual intercourse, but this does not mean it does not happen. This leads some to assume this is nothing more than a different type of prostitution. It is not, the main purpose of the service is to witness a muscular in person and have them demonstrate their physical prowess. Describing the relations between men and women in this activity as dominator and subordinate roles enforces the sexist notion that one sex needs to be controlled.Women who gain power are seen as out of control and that they need stern male guidance.

This dated concept of strict gender roles, clearly is eroding yet there is still marginalization and stigmatization of the hyper muscular woman. This not merely due to difference in taste or opinion, rather sexist prejudice and misogyny. There is a view that women should be docile, motherly, and obedient. Male authority should not be questioned and women should merely follow. The muscular woman challenges these sexist stereotypes and expectations. Men do not have sole domain over physical prowess and strength. It used to be that muscles are for men. However, women are muscling in on sports and their seems to be a wider following due to social media networks. While women have greater control of their bodies, there remain objections from the traditionalists and those who advocate one paradigm of beauty. Women cannot be stopped from participation in fitness and sports, but there are still barriers that attempt to control them. There is a the the parameters of acceptable muscularity which Bushnell articulates. There is the hashtag “strong is the new skinny” which celebrates strong women and the image as represented in popular culture. Yet a woman can be strong just not too strong. The hyper-muscular woman does not get as much visibility compared to the more fitness level or toned physiques. Bushnell cites that in 2017’s Wonder Woman film that Gal Godat physique was not that muscular to be playing the iconic amazon superhero.  This position is valid, yet the film should be praised for including a number of female athletes who had athletic physiques. Not to the degree of female bodybuilders, but it does show a paradigm shift. Gal Godat should not be criticized for her appearance relative to the DC character. She stands at a mighty 5’10”.  If anything she presented the amazon of ancient art.

What iconography shows is that the amazon of the past was represented as a statuesque woman rather than the modern muscular one. If we are going off the comics, Wonder Woman’s  physique has been alternating between the two images of the amazon.There are rare occasions in which Wonder Woman appears very muscular depending on the artists drawing her. The image of female heroine is very prevalent in modern popular culture, yet the image of a hyper-muscular woman still is not entirely accepted in the mainstream. The idea of being “too much” or “too muscular” remains a double standard in regards to female body image. Women who are advocates of fitness and sports even have trepidation about getting muscular . There could be other factions that view this differently. Some argue that developing muscle should just not be for presentation, rather utility. Some female bodybuilders switch to crossfit or weightlifting because they just do not want to only look strong; they want to be strong.


Lenda Murray’s Appearance in a Wendy’s commercial (2016) . It seems more progressive compared to how female bodybuilders are normally presented in media. 

Competing in something other than just posing and subjective judging creates an atmosphere in which female muscle can propagate to other areas.  The muscular woman is not completely condemned to obscurity. They are not depicted always in a positive light. There are times in which it is either neutral or somewhat based on stereotype. It would be assumed that the hyper-muscular woman would be more accepted in their own fitness industry and culture. This is not the case. A male dominated fitness and sports world keeps women at a disadvantage. Despite these obstacles, women have developed an impressive lucrative business and market.

         The cancellation of the Ms.Olympia and Ms. International female bodybuilding competitions was a massive disappointment. Cynics cited this as the death of female bodybuilding and the extinction of the hyper-muscular woman. There has been a reversal with female bodybuilding being more fan supported and women having larger control of the movement of funds. The Rising Phoenix competition has shown as long as there is talent out there, the sport will be fine. This is an evolution in terms of aesthetics and women’s involvement in fitness. The article claims that more bikini competitions are taking over, but there are other classes women have entered. Figure, fitness, and physique are other bodybuilding categories women can compete in. The IFBB seems to want to phase out heavy weight female bodybuilding, even though there is a market for it as shown by die hard fans and the schmoes. Female bodybuilding may even return in a way that many would not expect. The physique class has the muscularity level of  middleweight female bodybuilders, while figure competitors have the image of the lightweight female bodybuilders. Some women realize they enjoy making gains may switch to another class. Gradually, bikini competitors may come with more cut and ripped looks. What the IFBB was attempting to phase out may just return again. The women seem to have more classes compared to men.

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The platforms for larger women to compete are shrinking. This gradually is being reversed and it mainly has to do with a shift in business model. The large female bodybuilder has to find another means for income and a place for competition. The athletes go directly to their fans and supporters without going through a corporate gatekeeper. This makes the community closer and allows the structure to be tailored to fans and athletes. The women are gaining more control of the financial aspect and female bodybuilding itself. There may be a possibility that as the years progress, the IFBB may see how profitable this new structure is and ask the much larger women to return. Although there are positive developments, female bodybuilders struggle just like other female athletes. Wendy Mcready interviewed in the article stated that sponsorship opportunities are extremely limited. She has been competing for 22 years and is a professional athlete. Professionals like her do not need to do sessions to maintain an income, but amateurs or women just entering the sport may have to do this. Getting a full time job would not be possible considering the time for training, travel, and competition to be a professional bodybuilder. There has been constant blame that women caused the decline of the sport due to “being too extreme.” There have also been accusations that women’s bodies were getting too close to the male aesthetic. These accusations lack cogency. The idea of being “too extreme” is relative. To some any woman who is not there idealized version of beauty is extreme. The hyper-muscular women that people claim are “too big” really are not as large as they appear. The large women on stage may not even be more than 150 lbs. Males are larger on average and the males in competition could reach up to the 200 lbs mark. The concept that women have become large like men is a hyperbole.

   Seeing as these arguments can be discredited, the root of them is the conviction have no right to be part of certain aspects of the sport. The future cannot be predicted, but it seems obvious that muscular women are not going anywhere. There could be a dramatic increase in muscular women. It seem strange that the original source of origin has been struggling while the image of female muscle goes further into the mainstream. There are some women out there who now view muscles as a fashion accessory and seem them as something of  to be proud of. Such a shift shows that women are gaining more opportunities to go in to areas that were restricted to them.

              Lucus Oakeley should be able to distinguish the difference between muscle worship and  session wrestling. This is not made clear by the text, but there are some similarities. Session wrestling focuses mostly on the physical contest. Muscle worship is about the client either feeling the muscle or watching the woman pose. The line becomes blurred. Session wrestling can involve muscle worship, However, it is not always a fixture in sessions. This can be confusing to someone who just has been told about the culture surrounding female muscle. There are other specifics that are not mentioned entirely. Schmoes are really enthusiastic fans and female muscle fans just like women with any level of muscle. Schmoes favor women with massive muscles and specifically female bodybuilders because they have the most developed musculature. This was not described as well as it could have been in the text. The challenge with attempting to document a subculture is that scholarly research is not widely available.

This is why error or falsehoods can spread in media outlets. There just may not be enough information to provide an accurate account of an event or topic, The wonderful aspect about Vice is that it does true investigative journalism, rather than opinion based pieces. People who are different or have an ideology that deviates from popular opinion normally are either present as abnormal or negatively. At the most extreme level there is either scapegoating or a moral panic induced by a media frenzy. The situation with female bodybuilders is that they are more misunderstood and the culture surrounding it more so. The best way to extract information is to do interviews of the athletes and fans as well. The Vice Sports presentation “Last of The Swole Sisters” did this well by asking athletes about their involvement in the sport. The presentation did not automatically present the women as weird or anomalies. Oakeley’s article tries to give readers a bigger picture of this microcosm, yet there remain some knowledge gaps.

            A large part of the female muscle fandom is a large online based community. The impressive part about this Vice article was that it mentioned Herbiceps.com and Saradas. To any female muscle fan these are common sites that are visited. Forums, websites, and blogs provide users with instant access to muscular women. Prior to the internet the only way to see such women was either on television, in a magazine, or a gym itself. Online private chats with athletes have become popular. One might assume that web session are similar to session wrestling in person. The conversations are mostly regular events like the weather or work life. Saradas is a place were fans can connect and talk with one another. There are exchanges of pictures, videos, and updates on the sport. The concern is that file sharing could reduce profit to athletes sites. So far, members are still willing to buy videos, even it they have seen it free on other video streaming sites. Such videos cannot be found anywhere else, Webcam chats have expanded into a large business empire with Herbiceps.com, which would not have been imaginable decades ago.   Michael Eckstut is the CEO of  Herbiceps.com and revealed that he merely started the site as a way to meet muscular women. He has become the Mark Zukerberg of the female muscle world. The likes on Facebook for Herbiceps has reached 80,000 can counting and it will not stop there. Customers flock to get webcam sessions or view pictures and videos.

Muscular women are appearing in more places than a gym or a stage. 

Fans do not have to wait to go to bodybuilding shows or fitness expos to see women of high muscular development. The success of Herbicpes.com  is related to micro-transactions. There is the issue of profit and how much the models receive. Eckstut states women get at least 50% of the earnings. Emma Switch, longtime session wrestler sates that it really is 52%. Some women prefer to organize sessions or photo shoots on their own and make more than going to a website like Herbiceps.com. There is a level of danger meeting strangers and travelling by yourself. Some women have report that the men they have wrestled may have gotten too rough (yet it’s nothing they could not handle). There could be the risk of being harmed or kidnapped. So far, nothing like this has happened. Hopefully it never will. There also remains the issue of what are the options for athletes in terms of private sessions or working under a website. A female bodybuilder can organize sessions on her own site or go to one. Some reluctantly do sessions to finance their dreams.     Vladislava Galagan a new competitor to the female bodybuilding scene says she only does sessions to fund her training and to pay her coach. If she gains enough income she stated she will stop. There is the image of women being victimized or being forced into this due to a misogynist or sex obsessed culture, but the opposite is true. Galagan revealed that ”  some women do it because they like it, others like me just do it because they need the extra income.” It should be no surprise that women have fetishes and that squeezing men with their legs may be one of them.

Vladislava Galagan posing for a photo. 

Often when this topic of fetish or sexuality is discussed women are not mentioned. Women have fetishes and sexual urges just like men. The difference is that many cultures have tried to rigidly control female sexual impulses. The sexual revolution liberated women from such restrictions. The reason this was imposed on women was the notion they needed to be controlled in all aspects of their life and the fear of female sexual power. A muscular woman not only induces the fear of female sexual power, but adds a insuperable physical force behind it. Even from female muscle fans these mixed feelings can be experienced. This may be a reason for why many rather view such women on the internet rather than in person. For others it is not good enough. Experiences have to be felt in the flesh. Women may also like the fact there is for a period a role reversal occurs in which women have complete control. The majority of the women are stronger or as strong as the men they wrestle, so in this regard they have control. This is not exactly a dominatrix or BSDM rather a woman embracing a sense of power. Men can do this without criticism; women are ostracized if they show too much competitiveness, strength,independence,  or assertiveness. A private setting frees both men and women from dated gender roles. The internet community provides a private space free from the normally closed minded majority opinion.

              There are more women who are coming to this female muscle worship industry. Fitness, figure, bikini, and physique athletes have appeared in mixed wrestling videos, even though they do not do session wrestling. Mixed wrestling by its denotation is just a man and a woman wrestling one another. This has occurred in professional wrestling seen by a wider audience. The other classes seem to be doing better compared to the heavy weight female bodybuilding class, but they are doing mixed wrestling videos . A figure model or fitness model would probably be making more than the disappearing class of the IFBB. The women realize that there is a demand for muscular women among a particular demographic and other bodybuilding classes have followed suit. Some women do not even have bodybuilding backgrounds, rather they are MMa fighters or weightlifters.Although it was common to see hyper-muscular women only in such videos, now there are women of multiple fitness levels. The interesting aspect is that the videos are doing more.


Female bodybuilder Colette Nelson has a mixed wrestling match with a man.  She is not a session wrestler, but did appear in wrestling videos. 


This Figure Competitor may not be as large as a bodybuilder, but knows enough wrestling moves to do mixed wrestling. 


Bikini competition is the latest addition to the bodybuilding sports for women. It should be no shock that bikini competitors appear in mixed wrestling videos too. 

Some video sites like Awefilms create stories to their muscle worship or mixed wrestling presentations. Most videos are simple normally involving the woman pulverizing the man with minimal effort. Other sometimes have the men win a match occasionally. While they follow the same formula, producers may attempt to do something different to maintain interest of consumers. Schmoes as the text exposes may have saved female bodybuilding from complete extinction. This proves that athletes can survive without IFBB support. Women are embracing the change. Women competing were cast in the shadow of men during major competitions. The Rising Phoenix now places athletes in a venue focused solely on them and gives them quality accommodations. The conditions seem better compared to the past with women who win the Rising Phoenix getting a total of $ 50.000. Female athletes are paid less compared to their male counterparts and this information seems like good news. This love of female muscle also presents itself in more artistic ways. Art, written stories, or various media produced by fans has rapidly spread over the internet. It cannot be denied that there was for a moment a decline in female bodybuilding. Now there seems to be the beginnings of a revival.

            The psychology of the lovers of female muscle fans is more complex than previously thought.  William Marston developed DISC theory. He was the creator of Wonder Woman and it is obvious that he too might have had a similar fetish. Marston’s theory stated that people demonstrated their emotions using particular behavior types. These types were dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. This may explain why men may gravitate to women who strong in any sense of the word. Marston explained the sexual appeal as follows : “Give [men] an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to and they’ll be proud to become her willing slaves.” The DISC theory would be difficult to prove under the test of the scientific method. Emotions and behavior is a complex interaction between the nervous system, culture, biology, environment, and genetics. The text claims that Marston was only partially right. This does not mean every female muscle fan wants to be dominated by a strong woman. Attraction can be based on particular preferences. There are men who like lager women or thinner women,but there reasons are not questioned on a psychological basis. Men who like female muscle are also opened to women of various body types.

The body image diversity movement has embraced women who are larger and have curves. It is perplexing why the muscular woman still remains isolated. 

People’s preferences may be larger than previously thought. It is just the media promotes one image of beauty and expects  everyone to adhere to that standard. Female muscle fans may not want women to beat them up. The DISC theory seems to work off a suggestion of constitutional psychology. It seems to assume that a woman with any type of power would just be a dominant personality. Women competing in the sport may not have the dominant personalities one would assume with such physical stature. There stereotype or false notion is that a physically stronger person would automatically be more dominant. Just like other people, their emotions and behavior changes depending on the situation. The reason a female muscle fan is attracted to such a look also has to do with exposure from an early age. Children are exposed to more media such as television, the internet, and multiple social media platforms. Many who have this female muscle love state that they either saw an image or an actual muscular women in their childhood or adolescence. Maybe a boy read a Wonder Woman comic, which induced a strong woman fascination for life. Gradually, the interest grows as one ages.

Margie Martin competing in 2018. 

The love of female muscle may not be so rare or strange. Clearly as shown in myth and folklore the image of the strong woman has been there. The common idiom “behind every strong man is a strong woman” may be taking on a more literal meaning. Psychology continues to study the mind, yet it has only been recently that it has begun to incorporate sexology into studies. There is more to learn about the science of copulation and sexual behavior. The motivation for following the female muscle fan culture is not entirely sexual. Fans have iterated that they are impressed with the amount of dedication and diligence these athletes have. They are unique and that is enticing. Not every woman can lift a grown man like he’s an infant or bench twice her body weight. It makes a bold statement about women’s capabilities and what they can achieve.

           The bodybuilding sports are not mainstream compared to football, basketball, or soccer. Yet, many athletes use the same training techniques that bodybuilders pioneered. It is not unusual to see athletes incorporate weightlifting into their training regimens. Women’s sports have to struggle for coverage, funding, and recognition. Sports that are not mainstream, such as bodybuilding face a challenge that more popular sports do not. Relevance to the general public has been a goal of the sport since its birth. Women have an even tougher time with a general public that does not understand them and a fitness industry that wants to have them isolated. The athletes then looked to a new business model to save their sport. Muscle worship and session wrestling have made female bodybuilding of the 21st century more fan supported than ever before. The most important aspect about this is that it challenges the idea that the female athlete is not marketable or appealing to audiences. So far, it seems the claim muscular women are not marketable lacks cogency. There are both loyal and enthusiastic fans willing to spend a considerable amount of money to see contests, do sessions, or be members of pay sites. The use of the internet and social media can serve as model for women in other sports attempting to promote their organizations or themselves. With change comes objections.  Those with more puritanical mindsets believe muscle worship is awful for the sport. They think it is immoral, lascivious, and   sleazy. Others make attempt to object to it based on a feminist argument that women are just be manipulated and exploited by men. These arguments have a weak basis. As established before session wrestling or love of female muscle is not entirely sexual. It is natural for human beings to have some form of sexual expression or desire. Women are not being exploited. This seems like a mutually beneficial partnership between athlete and fan. If there is any exploitation it was with the Weider Corporation and  wider fitness industry that put women in a secondary status. Doubtless of what one thinks of muscle worship or the physically strong woman they are not going anywhere anytime soon.

Vice: Inside The Lucrative World of Female Muscle Worship

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.

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