Kate on Sports : Women and Muscle

Kate on Sports was a vlog that was active between 2006 to 2008 that was produced in association with Zennie62 and Sports Business Simulations. Kate Scott was giving her analysis on women’s sports and sports in general. These few videos are of interest, because it is so rare that women give such opinions in regards to women in sports. One particular video that she made was “women and muscle.” This was the best one of the few videos she made before she became a sportscaster for KNBR. However, it does have some problems. There are particular points that should be noted, although the overall argument is cogent. The six minute video explores topics such as body image, Title IX, and what does the new found physical strength of the female athlete mean. The camera operator poses a perspective that society is at a juncture in which sports women have muscle, but are not comfortable with it. The question then emerges what is wrong with women having muscle? The video proceeds to tackle these questions and Kate Scott provides those answers.

        There was a claim in the video without Title IX, this look would not have existed. However, anyone with knowledge of women’s sports history would know that is not entirely correct.  Muscular women existed prior to Title IX. They were either regulated to circus performers, vaudeville acts, or beach boardwalk acts. There was no competitive outlet for their skills and talents due to cultural mores as well as sex discrimination. The documented evidence of muscular women can be seen in photographs. Acrobats, circus strong women, and performers were present in the 19th and early 20th century. Katie Sandwina was known for her feats of strength involving barbells and lifting men overhead. Joan Rhodes also would follow in this tradition of the strong woman act. Out of this emerge a weightlifter culture, which is bigger today in terms of popularity. Crossfit and Olympic weightlifting would not be at the same status, if it were not for the strong women and strong men of the previous two centuries.

Another case at least in art, was how Michelangelo depicted muscular women in his art during the Italian Renaissance. There are vary rare cases in which muscular women are depicted in art history. This does not mean that women were not athletes. Artifacts and artwork discovered from ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Minoan civilization reveal that the female athlete is hardly a modern phenomenon. Women participated in footraces, wrestling, bull leaping, and javelin. The difference is the amount of opportunity women have and the access to fitness facilities.   While there were women of considerable natural strength, there were no opportunities to develop it further. The women of the past either had to struggle around sex, race, and class barriers. These are still present factors, but there is more awareness and willingness to resist such aberrations of society. To say that Title IX magically produced women athletes would be false. There is a long history record of women in sports.

 There are countries in which Title IX does not exist and yet female athletes still emerge. What Title IX did in the US was allow for more female athletes to emerge and enhance their physical skills. Tackling discrimination was the major obstacle that had to be confronted. The reality was that Title IX was not specifically for sports, but part of the Education Amendments of 1972 addressing sex disparities in education. School programs were examined and it was reveal that girls were getting the least resources for sports activities. If  the schools did not adhere to federal policy, they would not receive funds from the US government. The girls who benefited from this would go on to become Olympic athletes or just your average fit woman. This female mesomorph as a paradigm owes much of existence to Abbye Stockton and Lisa Lyon. They actively trained not just for improving physical skill, but to add muscle to their bodies. This was something during their time periods, which was considered unacceptable for women.

   During Stockton’s time in the 1940s she had to battle both prejudice and myths about women and weightlifting. There were myths that said it would cause women to become infertile or harm themselves. Lisa Lyon had to struggle to compete in newly formed bodybuilding competitions, which were limited in number and had less support in the 1970s. These women contributed to overturning the notion that the female body is not designed for strength. The unfortunate aspect was that the women of the past did not benefit from legislative assistance prior to Title IX. As a public health measure it should not be under estimated. Women started to get more involved in exercise, fitness, and sports rather than just for the purpose of weight loss. The analysis is limited, due to the fact that women are competing in sports globally at higher levels. The Olympics, All Africa Games, Pan- American Games, and Asian Games show women athletes from all around the world.

Kate’s and her associate’s perspective only examines this phenomenon from a Western ( specifically American ) perspective. The physically strong woman has become a small, but growing development in the sports world. Confining it to the US would certainly be incorrect.

      This discussion inevitably goes into body image and beauty standards. For decades a tin body type has been idolized to the extent that cases of bulimia, anorexia, and obsessive dieting  have become a normal part of some women’s lives. This has been challenged with an emphasis on a curvy and larger body type as Kate reveals. The muscular body type in this obsession with appearance falls in an undefined place. There is some moderate acceptance for women with some muscle ( “tone”), yet a level of hostility to women who develop their musculature to the highest levels. Female bodybuilders not only are strong, they project a powerful image. This causes either reactions of disgust, lust, or support. Society has concepts of what a woman should be and being powerful both physically or mentally is not a part of that in the traditional view of gender roles. The recent ideal of the female body was to be considered frail and thin, not one of muscle. The muscular woman challenges this belief, by presenting another version of beauty.

According to their version of aesthetics, they are  molding flesh into a living statue. The rise of crossfit and weightlifting as a popular activity has improved the image of women with muscle.  This has been to a limited extent. There is a problem that comes with mainstreaming a subculture. It becomes too common place and loses it unique value, which made it great in the first place. There were women and men who liked the muscular look prior to this sudden mainstream trend. There is also another problem with the new “strong is the new skinny” conviction. Could it be than one unrealistic standard is being replaced by another? It would be hard to imagine in the future that women would be attempting en mass to obtain such physiques. Maybe the best result of this is that women decide for themselves what is a suitable look for them, rather than having society or mass media dictate it to them. Women who are muscular should not be afraid to call themselves muscular. The term toned has been used to mainstream the idea of women having muscle in the fitness industry. The fact is women have muscles and this can be developed to certain degrees. Societies that impose strict limitations on how women should look or  behave expose the level of male dominance and misogyny. Individuals should be free to do as they please as long as it does not harm other people. Why should a woman have to spend her time reaching a societal beauty standard? It would be better to form one to your personal preference.

        kate also acknowledges that their are men who enjoy the appearance of the physically strong woman. She does mention that women have it hard being muscular, but she does not realize male fans and supporters are also ostracized.  This mostly comes from the closed minded, people of conservative thought, sexists, or anyone who cannot tolerate anything different. It is understandable that such a pursuit would just not be someone’s preference, but there is no excuse for vituperation and vitriol. Male fans either are presented as fetishists, eccentrics, and predators. Liking muscular women is no different from liking thin women, larger women, or any other women. At no time will one ever hear the phrase ” you have a skinny woman fetish.”  Another misconception is that fans of female muscle only like this type of woman. Male fans could have numerous body type preferences. Men have a hard time too, even struggling with the fact they find this attractive. Stereotypes and popular prejudices surround fans as well as athletes. These attitudes reflect a level of narrow mindedness in regards to traditional roles in what a woman should be. Female muscle fans may not even prefer the same levels of muscularity. There are some who like a sleeker body, a mid range level, and the more hypermuscular physique. It should be understood within fitness, there are varying degrees of muscularity on women. Even within the bodybuilding sports there is fitness, figure, bikini, physique, and traditional bodybuilding.

There has evolved a wide range in which female muscle fans can choose to follow. kate also mentions that it is uncertain in which direction the muscular appearance will go. At the time of this video many elements of women’s sports were changing. Women’s MMA was just on the rise and crossfit was in its prototypical stage. While traditional bodybuilding for women was struggling, more divisions emerged which included figure, bikini, and physique. The look of the athletic female is evolving, but in different branches. Athletes do not all look the same. The way their body looks depends on both genetics and the specific sport they compete in. Athletic women  could be muscular, some could be thin and other women could be larger in body type.

As for direction, the images presented are going in multiple pathways. Each one presents a radically different notion about what a woman can achieve and be. There are advocates that want to see the female muscular image be pushed to a higher level and other who state that i has gone too far. Kate even says “she’s not a fan of the ones that can brake you over their knee.” Some fans even say some women have “crossed the line” or are “too much.” These accusations lack cogency. If one is part of the bodybuilding sports it is about sculpting the body. However, it is not solely about size. Shape, conditioning, and symmetry are critical elements that must be balanced on a physique. These should be the only legitimate criticisms directed at women in terms of physique sports. There seems to be a level of movement to the mainstream, but there are some elements that will remain subcultural. The mixed and session wrestling element will remain underground. Although harmless, it is too eccentric to find a mainstream audience. I has been present since female bodybuilding’s early years and will not disappear anytime soon.

It seems hardcore support for the larger muscular women will remain in the realm of subculture. This does not mean that in the distant future that the athletic body type will not gain some level of acceptance in the future. Women’s fitness culture has become something unique between its fans and competitors. Merely ignoring how fans play a role leaves out something critical. The less venues for fans to consume, means a large untapped market. The corporate gatekeepers of the fitness industry should recognize this and capitalize on this niche market. The internet and specifically social media has been helpful at exposing the image of the muscular woman to a wider global audience. So, it could be possible in time it will gain a larger following.

         Upon close examination, an answer can be extrapolated from the initial question. There is nothing wrong with women having muscle; it is that people’s limited views of what a woman should look like and be create objections. These beliefs are based on unrealistic beauty standards, subtle misogyny,   and the belief that women should be controlled. This control does not merely extend to what a woman can do with her life, but her own body. More extreme cases include the restriction of reproductive rights, abortion, and birth control. One method to control women was to control their bodies. Symbolically, the muscular woman challenges the notion of female frailty and weakness with an image of strength. This comes into conflict with schemata that was develop from culture or media in regards to attitudes about women. If a society only values for women for how they look or solely their reproductive capacities, women who deviate from this cultural norm will be outcasts. Unrealistic beauty standards idolize one body type over all others, which could cause mental distress and self-esteem issues in young women. This desire for an unhealthy level of thinness effects both physical and mental health. Besides anorexia or bulimia, women could put themselves at risk for osteoporosis if not receiving proper nutrition. This system wraps into a subtle misogyny which only views women as sex objects and not people. Women who refuse to follow this system set an example for others to change this defect in cultural mores. Thankfully, their has been slow change. However, some will have to adjust. Some men may just not be used to seeing women with such strength in their daily lives.

 The woman with muscle is a rarity, but not some anomaly. One of the least credible arguments against women developing strength and muscle is that it is “unnatural.” Humanity has discovered many ways to alter the body through surgery, medicine, nutrition, and one day extensive genetic engineering. We have reached a point in which our biology can be manipulated possibly leading to transhumanism. Nature can be very unpredictable in the evolutionary process, so calling something “unnatural” would be scientifically inaccurate. Genetics, nutrition, and environment can change the appearance of human populations. A muscular woman is no more “unnatural” than a tall person, short person, or thin person. Organisms thrive on genetic diversity, which is why human beings are the dominant species on the planet.  Calling such women “unnatural” is just another way to either exclude or marginalize women who are different. Another argument from detractors   is one of a beauty standard. This is relative according to who you ask and varies from culture to culture. These athletes do not do this for the approval or pleasure of men. Yet, this seems like a foreign concept to many. Although the muscular woman is not completely accepted, but is leading an unnoticed revolution.

Kate on Sports : Women and Muscle

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

Should “Men Are Stronger” Bar Women From Combat Roles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Statistics from 2014 of the total women in uniform.

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Moulton Marston : The Man Behind Wonder Woman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Further Reading

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

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

William Moulton Marston : The Man Behind Wonder Woman

Amazons: The Myth, History, and Cultural Connotations

The Amazons were a tribe of women warriors that commonly appeared in ancient Greek myths. They were descended from the Ares the God or war and Harmonia  the Naiad. The name Amazon was given allegedly because  of their one breast. It was thought that amazons removed one their breast to improve archery. The one breast definition may not be a completely accurate description. The etymology of the Greek word Amazones is the only evidence to the possible origins of the word. mazos refers to breasts and ama means without.The myths that were told are often contradictory or have multiple versions.  There are some theories that the amazon myth was based on actual women warriors. Historians and scholars have attempted to solve the puzzle through archaeology. Although their has been some leads evidence does not seem conclusive. While their may be a myth of Amazons, the word has cultural connotations. They have appeared in film, comics, and television. One connotation describes an amazon as ” a tall, aggressive, and  strong willed woman.” This connotation has some negative attributes,but  others are more positive.

       The Amazons when they appeared in Greek myth were not there to celebrate the strength of women, but to glorify men. A great feat of a Greek hero was that they were able to slay an Amazon. According to Geek myth the Amazons fought against the Greeks in the Trojan War. The encounter between the Achilles and Penthesilea represents  the typical battle between hero and amazon. The amazon queen fought Achilles the hero in combat only to be killed by him. Hercules had to in one of his twelve labors steal  the girdle of Hippolyta. Thesus had adventures in which he fought amazons as well. These stories reveal the nature of gender relations in the classical world. They were used as a warning to women not to violate the gender order. These strong Amazon women in various tales either faced defeat or death. Although it appears that there was condemnation of such strong women, there are case in which they were praised. Atlanta although not an Amazon represented their war like spirit and independence in myth. Men challenged Atlanta to foot races for her hand in marriage and if they lost they would be put to death. Hippomenes beat her only with the assistance of Aphrodite . Dropping apples distracted Atlanta and he was able to win.

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An amphora depicting Achilles killing Penthesilea (540 B.C.E).

 The subtle message in some of the myths is that an independent woman was an anomaly.  Gender roles were in ancient Greek civilization were rigidly defined. A majority of women were usually married by the age of 18. They would live in a system of male guardianship until being passed to the the supervision of her husband. Freedom and legal rights were limited, but in some city-states women had some freedoms which others could not enjoy.  Sparta allowed women to engage in physical activity and gain some education. This was not because the society was progressive, but they were attempting to create healthy women who who produce warrior offspring. Athens saw this as repulsive, which had long time conflict with Sparta. It could be possible that some of the Amazon myths were lampooning Spartan women. The amazon myths were probably not just designed to warn women to stay in their place, but also to criticize non-Greek peoples. Women according to ancient Greeks should not resemble the “barbarian” peoples. Although used to justify xenophobic or sexist views of women there are times they were seen in a different context.

      Amazons normally are considered a Greek invention, but there are instances of mythical warrior women be mentioned in other civilizations. This wider context is the the image of  the mythical warrior woman. The theme appears in Africa, Asia, and Arabia. Some of these mythical figures could have been based on actual living people. Khutulan was a Mongol princess who was the great-granddaughter of Genghis Khan was known to wrestle suitors.  Besides that sources reveal that she excelled at horseback riding and archery. Marco Polo even wrote accounts of her exploits. She allegedly beat every man in wrestling and picked a man to become her husband. Khutulan later became a commander in her father’s army. This story almost parallels the Atlanta myth.

  When examined from a larger international perspective, warrior woman becomes interchangeable with amazon. China has a long history of warrior women both historical and legendary. This documentations go back as far as the warring states period (246-221 B.C.E). Mulan has been an enduring legend  of folklore in Chinese culture. There were accounts of warrior like women in Africa after the Persian conquest in the 6th century B.C.E. Herodotus and Diodrous  wrote accounts of women engaged in warfare. There seems to evidence of a  this in the Kushite Kingdom and Nubia. The Kandakes were the ruling queens of Kush and were known to lead armies into combat. Amanitore  and Shanakdakheto  were known to engage in warfare against invaders. There was the problem of Roman and Greek incursions.

Amenirenas was fighting a war against Romans from 27 to 27 B.C.E according to Strabo’s accounts. The Romans also faced defeat at Syene ( the Aswan region). The Romans would continue to be challenged by the Kushites in Africa. Warrior women also appeared in Arabia. Nomads formed a confederation to fight Assyrian dominance in the 700s B.C.E. Zabibi, Samsi, and Zenobia fought Egyptians, Assyrians, and later Roman invaders. The Quedarites confederation produced these fighters. Their rebellions were not always successful, but they had a lasting impact; they inspired many and were remembered through oral traditions.

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Amenirenas depicted with her sword.
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Zenobia sculpture

These women did not live together or were man haters as the Amazon myths state. Seeing as their efforts were impressive a legend developed around them. History does have the tendency to glorify certain individuals almost to the extent they become mythical. Upon further investigation the idea that there existed a tribe of warrior women seems unlikely. It is even more unlikely that there was an established matriarchy.

      The possible explanation for the alleged existence of Amazons is that it developed by Greek contact with other peoples. The Scythians and Sarmatians  were Central Asian peoples who also were nomadic. The term Scythia was sometimes used in a broader context to mean a cultural zone which included nomad and seminomadic groups that were beyond Thrace. This did include areas such as the Black Sea,  northern Anatolia to the Caucus Mountains, passing the Caspian and all the way to Central Asia. Scythians were masters of the Eurasian landmass during a time in antiquity.  It appears based on sources from Herodotus that there were multiple Scythian tribes. Pliny claimed there were at least twenty tribes. There tradition was an oral based documentation of history, so one has to be mindful of solely believing a Greek perspective. One interpretation cannot describe in detail the life and civilization of a people. The names for the Scythian tribes included the Saka, Massagetae, Xiongnu, Yuezhi, Sai, and Xianbei. The Greeks would in Herodotus’ words collectively call them Scythians. Women did ride horses and knew archery in Scythian culture. Sarmatians  also had women doing these activities. Archaeology suggests that women warriors in this culture was not a rarity.

Achaemenid_and_Iranic_Peoples_in_the_Ancient_World_600 Many of the Greek myths about Amazons take place in the setting surrounding the Black Sea. There is a possibility that these stories were exaggerations about actual Scythian women warriors. Burial sites provide clues to where these women warriors roamed and fought. Skeletal remains found in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and the Black Sea region suggests that their reach was quite far. Archaeologists were puzzled at times finding female skeletons with weapons in burials. The assumption was that they were either males or slaves captured during conquest. It can be deduced that captives would never be berried with weapons. This custom was done for warriors. This subject of study is still new and requires further research. The Scythian tribes declined in power by 500 C.E. and with them went a long history beginning in the 7th century B.C.E.. The history and the myths still continue and have had a profound impact on culture.

         Amazon as a word continues to be used in negative and positive connotations. The more negative connotation is that it refers to a masculine woman or a woman who is unlady like. With a change in sex politics brought on by the feminist movement, rigid gender roles were challenged. This did not only happen in the West, but anti-colonial feminist ideology became prevalent in the global south. Being strong was not considered a horrible attribute for women. One of the most radical changes besides women entering the public sphere was that entered was thought to be a solely male domain of professional sports. From the rise of Title IX  to present women began enjoying sports and physical skills. There has been no point in history in which women have physically developed themselves to the extent of the modern day athlete. While it is true athletic and muscular women did exist before professional sport, they did not have a forum or space for their talent. Women were denied access and opportunities to play sports or develop their physical skills. Now women compete in the Olympics from around the world. The term amazon has in recent history emerged as something more positive. Amazon then becomes a term referring to a physically strong and beautiful woman.

Among fans of athletic and muscular women the term is used in a more laudatory manner. Other than the term amazon the word goddess is commonly used in these circles to describe the women’s power and beauty. These two terms are do of course have different meanings.  The goddesses of mythology were immortal and the Amazons were mortal warriors. Thus when the term goddess is used it means a woman athlete has achieved something beyond normal human feats. It should be understood that connotations are not definitions. Connotations imply meanings of words, definitions are precise in their description. When the term is being directed at women in modern times it falls under a connotation. Few of these women are warriors or soldiers. The more negative definition of “tall strong masculine woman” does not fit either. Women who are muscular or athletic vary in height. Masculinity can be defined culturally depending on what time period and social mores. Strong women are still women even though they do not conform to what a culture expects them to be. The only part of the Merriam-Webster definition that seems to be common is the word strong. However, merely having large muscles does not equal immense strength. Weightlifters may have more functional strength than bodybuilders. This is because for bodybuilders the goal is sculpting a physique and inducing muscular hypertrophy.

Strong when used in the context of ancient myths would correlate to skilled in battle. Iconography shows that in art amazons were rarely depicted as muscular. They were shown displaying athletic feats and in combat.  Amazons were the most popular art subjects after artistic renditions of Hercules. These art pieces ranged from amphora to relief sculptures in Greek civilization. Athenian art depicts amazons normally in foreign clothing that resembles that of the East. This could suggest that they were making the association with Persians.

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Hercules fights the amazons (520-500 B.C.E)

This may have been a tactic to get public support from the Greek population for wars against the Persians. Although the term can be confusing to decipher, it can have multiple means to various people. It is however wrong to say the definition is that of ancient Greek and Roman writers which claimed amazons were “single breasted warrior women.” The art of the classical world does not depict amazons as being single breasted. The one breasted attribute did not appear until the fifth century B.C.E.. The idea was that the amazons removed one of their breasts to become better archers and javelin throwers. A simple understanding of anatomy makes one realize that breasts do not prevent women from throwing javelins or being archers. Seeing as mostly the arms and upper body are utilized, this would be the most important factors in being an archer or throwing a javelin. This attribute placed in the Greek myth could be designed to symbolize amazons were barbarian and not part of the normal or acceptable sphere of womanhood. Artemis the goddess of hunting according to myth had both breast and never had a problem with archery. Although not an Amazon, this reveals further meanings in the single breasted definition.

 The single breasted element could mean that the Amazon women were hostile to men and motherhood. It was said in legends that Amazons would kill their male children. This seems to be contradicted by myths in which Amazons were lovers of men. Strabo’s myths claimed that Amazons would select  men of the Gargarian tribe. Overtime definitions and folklore change dramatically. It continues to have an impact on contemporary culture.

       Tropes have been a part of literature, TV, comics, and other forms of media. The Amazon has a presence in media. The Amazonian beauty is a common trope that can be easily spotted. The female protagonist ( or antagonist)  is either strong or muscular and happens to be attractive. Her strength is not seen as a negative attribute. Rarely the damsel in distress, she is quick to fight and go to the action. Wonder Woman is an example of the amazonian beauty. She is an protagonist and is admired by the public in the DC universe timeline. Other cartoon and comic characters fit this mold. She Hulk being both tall and formidable in the physique department is another recognizable Amazonian beauty.

 This does not only appear in printed media, but in film, video games,  and animation. These women who display the heroic physique are normally in action or comedy genre s. Chun li and Cammy White from the Street Fighter series spot athletic physiques. The design choice seems like an obvious one seeing as they are skilled in combat. Fighting games and action adventure games now feature heroines. It seems the Amazon folklore continues in the arts.

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There is a trope that also compliments the Amazonian beauty. The  Amazon chaser deliberately seeks out the strong and muscular woman. This also extends to fighting skills. The male protagonist or ally like the idea that the female protagonist is capable. What can be seen with this trope is the channeling of the warrior’s spirit. Among the strong woman tropes the Amazonian beauty is the most recognizable. These characters from various media are products of ancient myths. The warrior woman seems to appear in various cultures around the world. The Amazonian beauty although more prevalent in animation and video games can be seen in film. These appearances may either be longer roles or short cameos. The presentations either vary from positive, indifferent, or negative. There seems to be a level of comfort or discomfort with the presence of physically strong women in fiction and in real life.

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Tatiania Anderson appears in American Pie Beta House.

 The folklore continues in various formats and changes depending on what period of history. Myths and legends can be based on actually events. This explains what scholars may think their was at one point some sort of matriarchal society.

     The study of Amazon myth have lead a minority of scholars to think that matriarchies may have existed. There were cased in which academics claimed that the Amazons were real. Johann Jacob Bachofen formulated a thesis that humanity began with the rule of womankind, yet switched over to patriarchy. The rise of civilization made this possible according to his thesis. The classical scholar said “women only knew the physical life”  and that “the triumph of patriarchy brings with it the liberation from the manifestations  of nature.” Although his theories demonstrate an obvious bias, he was correct in one regard. Women’s positions society fluctuated depending on the time period and civilization. There are indications that in Minoan civilization women had  higher status. Women had more freedom in Egyptian civilization compared to their Greek counterparts . What really advances a society or civilization is not patriarchy, but science, innovation, and ideas. Dogmatic thought and superstition stifle the advancement of human civilization. The rise of monotheistic religion saw the decreased status of women, because they demanded women’s obedience. The goddesses or gods were discarded in favor one male God. The problem with Bachofen’s theory is that their is no archaeological evidence to support it. The documentation of the Scythians  shows that this was not a matriarchy. There has been a tendency to label certain societies matriarchal when women have some freedoms. This was the case when studying African civilizations, when inheritance ( of a throne or property) was matrilineal. These were still male dominated societies. As far as historians and archaeologists know there has never been a society of matriarchy.

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A depiction of an Amazon from classical Greece. 

 The women of Sparta were not part of a matriarchy, but a warrior culture. The point of their vigorous physical activities was too breed stronger warriors. They did have a degree of sexual and legal freedom. This did not mean equality or say in the public sphere. There are several explanations for why patriarchy became dominant. The first would be the rise of property. Men throughout history controlled most of the property and women were either denied access or lost their own in marriage. The legal and political systems favored men and women were not considered citizens or people. Education was denied to women and equal opportunities for employment. The women of the 21st century still face challenges, but their is a shift to women having more power.

        The Amazon folklore can be seen in the concept of the warrior woman. This theme can be seen in media and instances in history. Women have been fighting in wars in the past and present. Historical figures such as Queen Nzingah  or Joan of Arc are documented as soldiers to their nations of origin.

 There is a long tradition of women warriors from around the globe. it has only been recently with the advances in women’s history that scholars began to give them serious investigation. Women served in the American Civil War disguised as men. This happened in both the Union and Confederate armies. The unfortunate aspect was they could not receive veterans benefits because women were not allowed to be part of the military. Women would continue to advance and by 2013 the ban on women in combat was lifted. This did not mean women did not see combat. The Iraq and Afghan war proved the nature of warfare is ever changing. It is a mistake to assume that warrior automatically means male. This notion still is present. Gradually, it will change as more women become involved in conflicts.

 An American woman disguising her self for combat duty during the American Civil War

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Mino warrior with the head of her slain opponent. 

The attitude toward women in war either is hostile or supportive. This divide in opinion seems to parallel in Greek myth the feelings toward the Amazons. The differences here is that the historical figures are not myths. History can be lost if it is not documented through an oral tradition, collection of artifacts,  or written account.  The word Amazon was used to describe the Mino warriors in Dahomey in the 19th century. Dahomey ( modern day Benin)  was another one of history’s warrior cultures similar to Sparta and japan. The difference was that women were allowed to be warriors and during this period fought to keep the French Empire at bay. They could not withstand French fire power and Dahomey fell in 1890. The Mino warriors fought with great skill and tenacity. The French recognized this in their accounts. If one examines history their should be little debate on women in combat. It has been done before; the question is whether or not the military institutions will change their views on women’s roles.

        The examination of myths and history leads to a conclusion in the discourse. There has emerged a new Amazon. This image is a positive one rather than negative. The new Amazon embraces physical strength and does not see it as a male only attribute. Amazon feminism emerged out of the myths and real life women of strength. This feminist theory embraces promoting physical prowess among women as means of gender equality. It seeks to challenge the weaker sex stereotype and embrace the image of the strong woman. Most importantly the theory and belief  wants to show that women can be powerful and feminine.

There is also a change mentality. Now that women have found the benefits and joys of exercise or physical activity, they want to develop their physical skills to the maximum. Crossfit and weightlifting are becoming more appealing to a female demographic. Although this is a small circle, there is a level acceptance that has not been witness before. The image they present makes a powerful and dramatic statement. They may not realize it shows the possibilities of women’s physical capacities. The timid or helpless image of women is dismantled by their acts. Women often say they gain a new sense of confidence in their new found abilities. Body image issues do not bother them as much and they have a new feeling of well being. It is clear that the Amazons of Greek legend did not exist. but there are women who are more Amazon than any ancient Greek could imagine. Although it seems the highly developed physiques are still not accepted, there are a group of men who find it attractive. Some muscle on women has been accepted by the general public to an extent. There seems to be a small movement toward body acceptance. The women and men who dislike societal beauty standards choose their own . This group of women embrace a strong and muscular look doubtless of what others think.

The women athletes of the modern times are the manifestations of the amazon feminism that believed women should have physical prowess. Myths and folklore have a huge impact in language, culture, and history. The Amazon myth continues to have a presence, even though many do not have an understanding of its origins. The word itself can be confusing. If world civilization were to collapse now it could be possible that in the future it would difficult to convince people that women like this existed. There are civilizations and groups that may never be known about because there are no artifacts to prove they existed. While the Greek writings are myths, there were women warriors among the Scythian tribes. The Steppes hold  vast hidden history waiting to be uncovered. The fascination with strong women is not a recent phenomenon, but a longtime theme that has continued through the ages.

References

Mayor, Adrienne. The Amazons Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across The 

             Ancient World. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2014.

Wilde, Lyn.  On The Trial of Women Warriors The Amazons in Myth and History.

           New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

Fantham, Elaine.  Women in the Classical World. New York : Oxford University Press,

      1994.

Foreman, Amanda. “The Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the Myth?”Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian Institution, 01 Apr. 2014. Web. 15 May 2017. <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/amazon-women-there-any-truth-behind-myth-180950188/&gt;.

Amazons: The Myth, History, and Cultural Connotations

Happy Inauguration Day

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

Women’s March on Washington

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Happy Inauguration Day

“My, what dimorphic parents you have!” From Family Inequality Blog

My, what dimorphic parents you have!

Another post was composed on Family Inequality in regards to unrealistic body types in Disney cartoons and animated features. The author is a sociologist by trade, but still does not grasp the concept of animation and character design. The posts belong to what the author refers to as the animated gender series. The problem with this is Phillip Cohen does not care for exaggeration in character design. The whole thesis is that unrealistic images of sexual dimorphism are a projection of sexism. These images the are used as a model for how men and women should look or even act. While there is an element of truth to this argument, to blame the general character design of a particular studio is an inaccurate assessment. Too often we see the muscular man and slim woman body archetype. Yet, there are instances in animation in which it is reversed or completely different. If Cohen wants to make a cogent argument all of the Disney animated material should be examined . This could include animated series and films as well. This post is brief and he asks why the level of sexual dimorphism from the characters in Frozen. The explanation is related to character design and animation styles.

              The point of animation is to exaggerate human features. There are cases in which realistic depictions are shown in animation. Fantasia (1940) had segments that were outlandishly cartoon like to more traditional artistic presentation. Cohen then uses Moana’s parents to show how abnormal the body proportions are.  He explains in the following paragraph :

“His big toe has the same diameter as her wrist. His unflexed bicep is wider than her waist. (Sources say the voice actor for Maui has 20-inch biceps, while a real life-sized Barbie doll would have an 18-inch waist, compared with 31 inches for a typical 19-year-old woman.) Anyway, it’s ridiculous.”

The point is that the characters are suppose to look humorous or unusual. Large eyes, varying heights, weights, and general appearance makes a cartoon character memorable. Animators develop a style, which becomes their recognizable signature. Disney over the years had developed this model of large man and thin woman. The claim here is that body diversity is not present. That is not the case if one does through research. Maui and Moana’s dad are not the typical muscle man. Maui is large, but does not have the traditional male heroic physique. The author then tries to counter this fact by saying ” there are a lot of large bodied Polynesian people in societies.”Then claims it is not a sex specific pattern. Sexual dimorphism is present in every ethnic group around the world. It seems that he has some stereotypes about one group, while recognizing another common one.  He the later expounds : “If  the difference is in racial or ethnic context for the families, then maybe extreme dimorphism among parents helps signify the exoticism of the culture depicted.” If this is the case, then may be we should question whether or not this is borderline racist caricature. When Europeans colonized the islands they either depicted Polynesians as lazy, fat, exotic, or primitive in literature, film, or other media . The fact the author gets his data from wikipedia on obesity rates from the Polynesian islands seems to be a confirmation bias of a prejudice he could personally have.   That could be a more convincing argument. Cohen the realizes that black men are stereotyped as having superhuman bodies, but there are no tiny women tropes. That is not true. One notable trope relevant to discussion is the pint sized powerhouse. This could be a man or woman with large amounts of strength who just happens to be diminutive in size.  This trope appears in cartoons as well as film.

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A small woman trope as seen in Dragonball Z ( 1989-1996). Android 18 fights Tien despite her size.
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There are two stereotypes surrounding the Polynesians. The first is one of obesity and the other is the image of super human athlete.

Stereotypes appear in all media, but white men are least effected. Seeing as Phillip Cohen is white he has no understanding of this.  Which makes him less qualified to even discuss body image distortions in regards to women. He does not deny that sexual dimorphism is a fact, but cannot grasp the elements of animation. It takes features such as hands, noses, ears, and  body shapes and distorts them. Human being have to ability to change their bodies to extreme either through plastic surgery, exercise, make-up, or even sometime in the future genetic engineering. When men and women alter their bodies sex differences in size do not disappear.

 Men and women do alter their bodies to impressive degrees in some sports. The exercise and physical training in some regards makes sexual dimorphism more obvious. Men are on average taller and stronger than women. The basic Disney character design accentuates this more. The characters of Moana and Maui represent this unrealistic exaggeration. The point is to make the characters recognizable and unique in a particular style. There are some people in real life that resemble cartoon characters themselves.

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Maui is too endomorphic to be classified as being part of Herculean dimorphism.  It is a great development that a male antagonist is give a different body type.
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A woman and a man who developed their bodies to the highest level.  At first glance it would seem they both jumped out of a comic book.

The core of character design is to be outrageous in appearance. There is also a problem that arises from these depictions. Portraying women as only slim could induce body image issues in young girls. Women or girls who are muscular or larger could be made to feel ostracized or abnormal. There is a subtle form of sexism in this. It enforces a gender role that men are always more powerful and there fore should control women. These convictions can be challenged. Not only that, a repeated use of a particular character design can stifle creativity. Animation should be willing to experiment with different styles and designs. This creates an enriched and wonderful cartoon. Phillip Cohen refuses to see this in the perspective of an artist.

        The author presents small amounts of evidence. There does exist in Disney cartoons and others were the slim female body is not the model. It is not simply being a bit larger, but the presentation of a muscular and powerful body. This could be called amazonian dimorphism. This model has not appeared in Disney animated films, but more so series.Disney animated series such as Dave the Barbarian, Pepper Ann,  The Emperor’s New School , The Proud Family,  and Darkwing Duck .

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The Proud Family (2001-2005 )  features Penny Proud as a superhero in one episode.
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This is Candy from Dave the Barbarian (2004)
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Although it was just in the intro it depicted a strong woman in the show Pepper Ann (1997-2000).

One could make the guess that Disney in their TV series is more open to a different character design. Seeing as it is animation these transformations in TV programs can be either temporary or permanent. It would still be relevant to include both categories. The bodies shown on the characters deviate from the standard Disney depiction of women.If Phillip Cohen did his research of the Disney library of animation, he would see that his argument is not as potent. Then he mentions How to Train Your Dragon, when that is a Dreamworks film. If the focus is solely distorted body image models in Disney films, other media should not be mentioned. The reason he may do this is to show it is not solely a problem with Disney. However, if you continue to examine it further beyond Disney his argument then collapses. The occurrences of these muscular body types on women are rare in Disney animation, but more prevalent in others. The prevalence of comic books gives source material for animated series. Whether  it is Marvel or DC their characters have appeared in animated cartoons over the years.Characters such as Black Cat or She-Hulk would not fit the Disney Princess measurements.

Even cartoons that are comedy focused vary in body type representation occasionally.These also include one shot characters and recurring characters in animated series. Again, it should be noted that many of these representations function around tropes. This does not only occur in animation from the West, but other countries. If Phillip Cohen wanted to truly prove his point he would include animation from other nations . The West has a habit of thinking that it has a monopoly on all art forms. This ethnocentric worldview is not only prejudiced, but historically inaccurate. Many cultures have borrowed from one another and art is no exception. Japanese anime has become a global phenomenon having fans and devotees on every continent.

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Elle Ragu as she appears in Shadow Skill (1998)
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Jun Auska from  the Iron Virgin Jun OVA based on a one shot manga (1992).
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This is Genie from Rune Soldier Louie (2001)
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A one shot character as she appears in Yu-Ghi-Oh! GX (2004-2008) . She is Tania.

It seems amazonian dimorphism has a presence in animation across the globe. The evidence seems to not demonstrate that body representation is a limited as previously thought. The vast plethora of action, comedy, or adult animation series do vary in character design. This is a positive development, but also should continue. There also develops another problem of exchanging one model for another. There is a possibility that the amazonian dimorphic model could be another unrealistic standard pushed on young girls.This may not even happen seeing as appearance of women of various body types is rare. There is however gradual change. The human body has often been sexualized or racialized throughout history. Cohen admits that Black men have been stereotyped as superhuman. This is routed in the enslavement of African peoples in the Western hemisphere. The superhuman myth was designed to justify physical violence against the enslaved. Whipping or the mutilation of limbs was acceptable, because it was believed Black people could handle more pain than normal. When discussing Moana   and comparing the parents from Frozen  there is another stereotype that emerges. It shows the “civilized” European compared to the “savage” Polynesian. Either intentionally or unintentionally Disney continues the racist idea of the noble savage. Suddenly, one realizes that Phillip Cohen’s claim “I’m not sure how to interpret this” is disingenuous.

         This  fixation that some social justice advocates have on ignoring sex differences is rooted in the idea that a difference means that women are unequal. Sex differences in terms of biology are not the reason women have an unequal position in society. It is rooted in the lack of property, income, equal employment opportunities, and disparities in education. Also that lack of reproductive rights is a method to control women’s bodies. For a longtime throughout history women were considered property. It was thought that men’s greater physical strength was used to also control women. This is not a complete explanation, because access to weapons can negate this and the fact there are women who can be stronger than men.Control of laws and the economic system was more effective than brute force. Sexual dimorphism is not the culprit of inequality. Political, economic, and legal systems are. Most of these systems favor men over women and only recently are being challenged. Relevant to this discussion, it should not bother anyone that sexual dimorphism is depicted. However, there should be concern that their is not a variety of multiple body types depicted in animated subjects or films. It may influence how children think they should look and attempt to aim for an unrealistic standard. Besides this problem character design will become limited and unimaginative. Another issue is with the characters themselves. If one is  solicitous about female characters in animation, there should be questions asked. Why are there so few compared to male ones? Do they have developed personalities other than just being one dimensional stock characters such as the damsel in distress, mother, or girlfriend? These problems seem more urgent than actual appearance of the creation itself. Moana is a great character because they gave her some personality. This cannot be said of other Disney female characters of the classic era. The change really happened in The Little Mermaid   and Mulan  .  Those animated films had great examples of developed female characters. Only if the formula that Moana  has continues there can be effective change.

“My, what dimorphic parents you have!” From Family Inequality Blog

Schmoes Who Love Session Wrestling FBB & Why!!! By Marcie Simmons

Marcie Madness

It has been known within the bodybuilding subculture that schmoes enjoy session wrestling. However, there is never a full explanation to why this occurs. Every action has a motivation and reason behind it. Marcie Simmons a female bodybuilder herself provides some in sight into why schmoes love wrestling women who are immensely strong. From her youtube channel she gives several reasons. She also speaks from experience. Marcie has appeared in wrestling videos and has done a semi-competitive wrestling session She has not only wrestled men, but other women. She has said that it does test athletic skills intensely. This video in a way is both a documentation and ethnographic study. Marcie proceeds to explain the different types of wrestling. Then goes further about what makes men seek such activities.

The basic categories include fantasy, semi-competitive, and competitive. Fantasy is about the strong woman having complete control. The man will not resist her wrestling moves or actions. Fantasy wrestling is not meant to be real. The important part is that the woman is demonstrating her full physical power. The client may want to feel the strength of their thighs or if they can lift them up and carry them. Some even like the women to sit on top of them.

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This is not exactly sadomasochistic, because the purpose is not to experience pain. The client wants to feel the full power of the athletic woman. There is sexual arousal from this and it mainly comes from the demonstration of physical strength. The semi- competitive matches are when a client puts up some resistance. They simply will not remain down, put try to make contact with the female bodybuilder in doing wrestling moves. They are not really trying to win, put more so play. Like children it is a fun game, nothing serious. The other dynamic is that client is curious to see how high the strength level is of the female bodybuilder. Many times when there is a wrestling video of a male versus a female, generally it is assumed it is fake. There are many who still think that no woman could be stronger than a man. This is the exception. Curiosity about women like this and their abilities excites fans. The client wants to test the wrestler to see if it is possible they can overpower them. Therefore this type of wrestling session will have more energy.

 While it is true that there are fake videos, some are real. The unrealistic ones are of course fantasy. Then there are videos that have a mismatch with an unusual outcome. A 130 pound woman would have difficulty beating a 180 pound man in a wrestling match. Some videos feature women who are slender doing this. Looks can be deceiving considering they may actually have martial arts experience. To any viewer it is obvious that the strength gap would be vast and the woman could not beat a man if the match were real. A woman with a strong body it would not be a challenge. There is the element of power exchange. Both the client want to see who tires first and struggle for dominance.

 This back and forth can be fun for both the client and the wrestler. The stronger woman may find pleasure in  knowing she can toy around with a weaker man. The client may just be in a state of euphoria seeing the strong women they have only seen in pictures and videos up close. The competitive sessions are rare. This is when men  and women wrestle to win. Marcie Simmons also exposes there is a dark side to this. Some of these men could be women abusers incognito who express misogynistic beliefs  through going to sessions. The difference between being competitive and harmful is that the intent is directed at physically doing damage to women. This demonstrates that sessions do have a level of risk . Women take a chance meeting men they do not know. Women no matter how physically strong they could still be vulnerable if they are not trained in self-defense. For some athletes this is not a problem because they have trained in either judo, karate, or jujitsu. If a man gets too rough, they could certainly end it. Brigita Brezovac  had a martial arts background and  did not fear doing competitive matches. Women who do sessions travel not only in their nations of origin, but all around the world. It can be dangerous, but it is unclear how many incidents have happened.

  Although there are cases of issues with competitive wrestling, most just like the challenge. Some men either competed in wrestling themselves and just wanted to test their skills against another woman. Clients even seek women who specifically have wrestling skills for sessions. There are female bodybuilders who do not have backgrounds in wrestling, but known enough moves to do sessions. This type of competitive session is directed more so to the athlete. Men and women of athletic backgrounds want to be challenged. It seems the fetish element is not emphasized, but rather the sporting activity. Marcie adds one more type of session wrestling classification. This is known as submission, which involves the client merely taking the wrestling mores with no resistance. The goal is to be pinned and immobilized by the female bodybuilder. There will be no attempt to escape the hold. It could be a headscissor, grape vine, or headlock the client will not attempt to escape.

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When the wrestling move is fully employed it is total submission. The desire is to not only feel the woman’s physical power, but to be physically helpless. The cat of being overpowered becomes a sexual turn on. This is a stimuli to certain men.

       The biggest question remains to observers is why would a man want to be wrestled by a physically strong woman ? It is a fetish as Marcie explains. The fact that a muscular woman and women who are extremely muscular are still taboo may add to the thrill. They do not conform to what society believes a woman should be and instead developed a new model of womanhood. It combines strength with a new female aesthetic. These women are rare, which may also explain why schmoes treasure them the way they do. Their are few women who can lift and carry a man and perform strength feats. Even if a man wants his wife or girlfriend who is capable of such feats to do it, she may not want to. The fear of asking could make it seem as if the man is a sexual deviant as Marcie states.

If a woman is open about exploring different things with their significant other, then there is no fear and revealing such predilections. Then being ostracized as eccentric also becomes an issue for a man who likes this. It should also be noted that its not just the appearance of having muscle, but being strong. There are women who are not as muscular as bodybuilders who do wrestling sessions. They may not look strong, but are considering their size.

Marcie Simmons concludes that it is an outlet for sexual expression. This could be both biological and psychological. Human evolution just like it did for other animal species functions on both natural selection and sex selection. The reason human beings have these urges are based on the need to reproduce off spring. Sigmund Freud believed many psychological disorders were rooted in repressed sexuality. When discussing the role of sexuality and human development this caused major controversy in academic circles. While his theories and system of psychoanalysis can be disputed or at times discredited, there is some truth. People do go through stages of psychosexual development. This starts at childhood and accelerates during puberty. The changes in the brain and endocrine system prepare the human body for sexual reproduction. Men have different preferences in regards to sexual attraction. It could be rooted in childhood experiences. The appearance of a muscular woman in film, TV, or printed media may spark an interest. Sexual expression is the reason Marcie explains why people view pornography. This expression is displayed in a multitude of ways. The expression relevant to Marcie’s video is feeling the power of a strong woman. The problem is society does not accept other forms of beauty. Maybe its not that the lover of female muscle is odd, but a community that wants to impose a conformity of values.

        Too often their is only focus on what men are thinking during these wrestling sessions. It is important to understand what women think, seeing as they make this possible. Their motivations could be as numerous and complex. One reason for women doing sessions is that it’s a financial matter. Some do it to sponsor their competition fees. A sport that does not support its athletes has left them thinking of new ways to survive. It has become a business and one that is effective at keeping some women in the sport.

 The cost of food, training, and supplements can reach astronomical proportions. The session wrestling can supplement certain expenses. The financial motivation is obvious, but there are some women who do this for other reasons. Women who have wrestled men have said they have had fun doing so. Physically overpowering a man is something that few women experience. Society although women have advanced is still male dominated. It is rare that women can impose power over men, but in this case there is a reversal. This is merely on a physical level. Most of the women are stronger than the men they meet. This reversal can be fun for women who normally have to play a subordinate role in the societies in which they live.

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Marcie Simmons tried a wrestling semi-competitive match for Utopia Entertainment videos. 

Women can dominate a man with her physical strength without repercussion. There comes a sense of empowerment from this that women may experience. It breaks the myth that men will always be in control of women. For both male and female participants it takes them back to childhood. The act of free play was an activity every child enjoyed. Girls and boys could play together with minimal concerns about gender appropriate behavioral conduct. These strict cultural mores disappear in this milieu.  There is a misconception that sessions are the domain of female bodybuilders only and that it symbolizes a dying sport. The truth is that even women in physique, fitness, and bikini do wrestling or wrestling sessions. These categories are considered more popular and marketable according to the fitness world, but the women are still paid less. Again, money is part of the motivation. It seems the other competitors in categories have taken the lead of bodybuilders. It has become a trend and exciting activity for some.

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Yasmin is a grappler.
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Roxy is a figure competitor.
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Maria Garcia competes in physique.
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Storm is a fitness competitor.
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Skylar Rene  is a bikini competitor.

It appears that women of various athletic backgrounds are doing session wrestling. Women who are not even session wrestlers or participate in the circuit try it just out of curiosity. It is activity new and unknown especially to women just entering the subculture of the fitness world. The unknown can either be an exciting adventure or cause some trepidation. Women who are more adventurous and open minded to new things are willing to at least try it. When some do, they find it fun and may doing some wrestling videos for websites.The women come to the realization that they are more powerful than they thought. The weaker sex stereotype is still prevalent and in this case women can break out of it. Women are taught that men are so much more powerful and physical pursuits for women is a worthless effort. Despite the negativity, these women have reach a high level of strength and can challenge men in physical activities. Doing this could provide psychological relief from a world constantly preaching the concept of female inferiority. Not only that, they get admiration that is not given by representatives in the fitness industry. The women may be happy to know there are fans out there who appreciate their efforts. Women may also have a turn on by doing these activities. Men do seek out these activities due to sexual fetish, but it could also be similar for women. Some may be aroused by the fact they could crush a man’s rib cage with their legs. Power either mental or physical is attractive to people.

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Women also may find the physical contest rewarding. Athletes such as these crave physical challenges. Challenging a man in a physical contest seems like something that would attract some women. There are men of different sizes who are clients and some women just want to see how many they can beat at a wrestling match. There are women who wrestle both large and smaller men sometimes having multiple sessions in a day. There are women who want to test their skills to the maximum and see how much they can endure. Intense workouts are thrilling to them and wrestling is a high energy activity. It has been done that some women spar with men to improve their athletic performance. However, this just seems like more of physical play rather than serious workout. Women are not just passive actors in this session wrestling activity.

         Their is a level of hypocrisy when criticism is directed at session wrestling or liking muscular women. There are claims that its the equivalent of prostitution  or exploitative. These claims can be discredited. Prostitution involves payment for intercourse. The session wrestlers do not offer that  to clients. That does not mean it does not happen, but wrestling would hardly count as prostitution. There is an erotic element and other instances its purely about men and women wrestling. This stems from the whole concept of men who like muscular women are sexual deviants. It is also combined with a subtle sexism. Women can either fit into the whore or mother dichotomy in a narrow minded misogynistic perspective. If a woman does not follow the proper gender script, she is banished to being labelled as whore. It effects men negatively as well, because it insists there is only one model of beauty men should be attracted to. The slender body type has been valued more ( at least in Western society )  over others. Men who like muscular also like women who are not strong or athletic at all.

  Men who are fans of female muscle would still find the woman on the left as attractive as the athlete on the right.

As Marcie Simmons expounded half way through her presentation, men who do sessions could be married or have girlfriends. The strange part about this is that female athletes are more visible and showing muscular physiques. Then there is a small movement of “strong is the new skinny” prevalent in fitness circles. There is a size acceptance movement directed at women who are larger. The question still remains why there is no muscular acceptance for women. The movement to accept larger and curvier women is a positive step forward. It has to understood that women’s bodies come in different shapes and sizes.

These two here prove bigger or muscular women can be pretty too. 

Women can either be thicker, more muscular, or naturally thinner than others. Society dictates beauty standards on a gender basis. The ideals are unattainable to most. There is a profit motive in this obsession. Slowly, women are beginning to reject dictated beauty standards. The muscular woman is condemned to the fringes in the spectrum. This comes as the small, but growing movement toward a more muscular appearance ( “toned”) becomes fashionable. Before “strong is the new skinny” women in athletics have been presenting powerful physiques. The women of the Olympics present strong looking bodies in track and field  events  including weightlifting. Women in other athletic events do too. They were the pioneers of this new body image  paradigm, when it was not acceptable. Society has at least some acceptance, but not completely.

These women are more visible, even though women’s sports get less media coverage. This higher level of exposure may help stem negative prejudices. The hyper-muscular or female bodybuilder does not get as much exposure to the general public, which may explain  the public’s reactions. It is a double standard due to the fact these are both muscular women to varying degrees. The larger women are accused of “going too far.” There are some men who like muscle on women, but say it has to be limited to remain feminine. A woman being bigger or muscular does not mean she has changed her sex. This is derived from sexist beliefs that women should limit themselves. If you are an athlete in strict competition, the point is to enhance your physicality to the maximum. The criticism is never directed at men. The vexing aspect is that no one ever states ” you have a skinny woman fetish.” That is considered as normal. The world is different in a post-sexual revolution era. It seems many elements of entertainment and culture are sexualized to an immense degree. Compared to other activities, session wrestling seems harmless. The sociological and ethnographical dimensions of this practice are fascinating. It is an interaction between sexuality, entertainment, and gender relations.

Schmoes Who Love Session Wrestling FBB & Why!!! By Marcie Simmons