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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 References

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Problem with Anita Sarkeesian’s “All the Slender Ladies: Body Diversity in Video Games” Argument

Anita Sarkeesian is a media critic, blogger and public speaker who gained notoriety when she began her tropes versus  women in video games on Youtube. She claims to point out that video game culture by its nature is purely misogynistic. Ever since it seems that she has been on a crusade to attack the subculture and the gaming community itself. She is a feminist and clearly part  of the third wave. There is no denying that there is sexism in popular entertainment and video games are not immune. However, Sarkeesian’s arguments seem to condemn enthusiasts and in a subtle manner men in general. What this amounts to is a witch hunt similar to how fundamentalist Christians would condemn Dragons and Dungeons. She also has a website known as Feminist Frequency, which she expounds on her ideas. Sarkeesian claims that she does not want to censor or prohibit games, this is what it inevitably leads to. Her videos do generate many views and he sometimes outrageous pronouncements resulted in backlash. This was only in the form of vicious online comments. The mainstream media, unfamiliar with gaming culture began spreading the story and blowing it out of proportion. It is clear that there was online harassment by cyber bullies and trolls, but the media portrayed it as gamers generally hate women. Sarkeesian does not help the video game culture by her videos or efforts. Her arguments against video games either lack cogency or contain limited amounts of evidence. Simultaneously, this invigorates a small, but vocal group of sexists in the video gaming community. One of Anita’s videos “All Slender Ladies: Body Diversity in Video Games” argument lacks fortitude. She claims that all women characters have one slim body type and are not able to be more flexible like male character designs.The characters that she does mention in her video Chun li and Cammy do not follow the same slender female model. She did not bother to do research, because there have been muscular looking  women characters that have appeared in video  games. It should be understood that game design is similar to the principles of animation and is not meant to be realistic.

           The video opens with Anita praising Overwatch . She also is laudatory to the character Zarya. The majority of the female characters to have a slender body type. It is true that more variety never hurts a video game. If it is character design, setting, or game play gamers crave something new.

Then Sarkeesian provides her first part of evidence of lack of diversity in video games by discussing Street Fighter.  The error she makes here is that she does not consider Chun li  and Cammy as different from the common slender female body type.  This is not true and even she admits that Chun li has muscular legs. Cammy has a more athletic build being a soldier. If some one were to look closely enough, their bodies do resemble women competitors from the Olympics. Although her muscles are not as large as Zarya’s, over the years game  designers have made Chun Li more athletic  looking ( especially her legs). It makes sense that her legs are more exaggerated, because a majority of her attacks are kicks.

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Chun li as she appears in Street Fighter 4. Notice that her arms are a bit bigger than in previous games.
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Chun Li’s legs probably got inspiration from somewhere.

Examining the body of track and field athletes it almost appears as if they are Chun Li brought to life. It would be dishonest to say that Chun Li would fall under the thin classification. Any video game fan would know that if they have consistently played Street Fighter for many years. Cammy cannot be considered ectomorphic either. Her recent design shows her with sculpted abdominal muscles and developed legs. Cammy’s  prologue in  Street Fighter 4 shows her with an athletic physique.  The strange part is that the character design changes in the ending epilogue animation. The computer generated Cammy remains consistent in game play.

The great part about fighting games is than they at least do not depict female characters as anorexic. If Anita Sarkeesian wanted to point out the lack of body diversity in video games, using fighting games is not the best example. Her method is to take only a few paradigms, rather than examining games as a whole.

        There are games that have shown body image diversity. Yet Anita Sarkessian ignores or is either unaware of these characters that appear in various games. Power Instinct was a fighting game that had a muscular character known as Angela Beti. Most of the roster had fighters with strange quirks and in many ways it was attempting to imitate other fighting games of the 1990s. The promotional did not slim her down either.

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The game was first released in 1993. There have been sequels, but has not reached the same level of popularity as Street Fighter or Tekken. Angela’s physical appearance is not random. She is as revealed by the game a strongwoman of Italian descent. Angela is a formidable character in the game and her strength is even comparable to some men. The game is not a bad one, it just with other fighting games the competition is harder. Gamers may just prefer to play what they are most familiar with.

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Another character that breaks the thin woman body model is Ms. Arrow from F-Zero Gx  . This was one of Nintendo’s popular game titles on the Gamecube in the early 2000s. It is mostly focused on racing, but what makes it great is the characters. Ms. Arrow is another zany character that provides gamers with entertainment. The game and players do not care if she has a muscular physique. Virtua Fighter 4 has Vanessa Lewis, who is anything but skinny.  There are many more games that could be mentioned to this list. It seems that future games will do the same in terms of character design.

 These characters are do not have over exaggerated breasts or are simple stock characters. They are part of the stories in their universes. There are games that even let you choose the phenotype of your character.  Fall Out 4 allows players to select a muscular body type for both female and male characters. They can also be fat or thin. RPGs  also have a character creation feature in which attributes can be changed based on characters liking. What Sarkeesian presents is not entirely accurate. There are some characters that are sexualized for the sake of getting male players to buy more video games. Skimpy outfits and large breasts seem common place. Even with women characters who are not in the thin category are sexualized.

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Amazon from Dragon’s Crown is barely wearing clothing. Now, if she is a warrior she would need protective armor. The interesting  part about this is that, while not thin she is still presented as desirable.

This can be a problem. If female characters are to be in a video game they should not just be there to be presented as sex objects or rewards. If game developers do not change this, claims like Sarkeesian’s will be taken as fact.

          Anita Sarkeesian then says that ” male characters are free to embody whatever physique suits their personality.” This is not true. The muscular body type for men has been presented as the standard in video game design. Just like with women, on occasion you do see a change in the standard. She does not say that this standard also has damaging effects on some men. It seems she only cares about how women are and not true equality. If gamers were to do a general data collection, it appears the muscular body type for men appears more than any other type. Male characters have the same issues as women: exaggerated body ideals. This not only distorts peoples ideas of beauty, but it has them obsess over it. There are two extremes of this culturally induced obsession. The first is that there is only one form of beauty and that everyone must conform to it. This also requires that members accept it without question. The other extreme is people who try to imposes an alternative rather than letting individuals decide for themselves what aesthetic is most pleasing. She speaks of cultural influences of “who gets to be desirable,” but the fact is a person has a choice to reject these notions. If a woman objects to the beauty myth, they should not engage in it on a personal level. Sarkeesian wears make-up which in a subtle manner enforces the beauty myth. If third wave feminists are convinced that appearance should not matter, then they stop with investing so much in make-up and anti-aging products. She then is again selective in her data, saying older men in video games appear more. The majority feature young protagonists, so this is more of an example of ageism rather than sexism. Personality is more along the realm of psychology of a character not physical embodiment. What makes a great character is not just design; it is  the essence of the psyche.

        The  video continues to miss the concept of character design. Depending on the game, characters can be either cartoon like or realistic model. Street Fighter is more cartoon like in the depiction of its roster. However, it can be based of the standard structure of the human body.

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Brooke Ence looks like Cammy.
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Cammy has more of an athletic build. Anita still classifies her as thin.

Cammy has the body of a crossfit woman, but still has the more cartoon like features in terms of the face. The character designs are meant to be exaggerated in this case. It is not meant to be realistic or a body type that should be imitated. Games now are becoming more realistic at depicting the human figure and its not always the strange body dimensions that Sarkeesian has a problem with. Uncharted 4 depicted a capable female adversary ( later defected) against Drake. She does not appear helpless or waifish. Her name is Nadine Ross who acts as second in command to Rafe Alder. When Rafe becomes too obsessed and insane in his search for the treasure, Nadine makes her exit. Being the head of a mercenary organization  also is significant. She plays an important role to the story providing troops to fight Drake and is dangerous in her own right. The great part about the game is that she is not killed off and it would not be surprising to see her in other games, if the series continues.

It looks as if the crossfit  body is used again. Nadine looks like Elisabeth Akinwale.

These cases are not as large as the thin body type, but there has been change. Character designs that are the best emphasize a unique and dynamic variety. It goes beyond just body type diversity. It encompasses height, eye shape, hair style, facial structure, and posture. This gives a character life, even though the viewer knows its not real. If women are to be presented more fairly in video games, it requires more than just simple body diversity. Then a new conundrum emerges in which another unrealistic model dethrones the other one and the problem is not solved. Gaining a better grasp of creativity in character design adds to the uniqueness of a video game. The reason the Zarya from Overwatch   captivates gamers  is that she plays on certain elements. The first is it combines two common tropes known as the husky Russkie  and the amazonian beauty. The character also becomes more humorous, because in a way she is almost a reference to Vasquez from Aliens (1986).  The game took these components and formed a unique character. Fans have embraced Zarya  and it is a positive portrayal. Although most characters in the game are slim, Zarya will be remember more because of her character concept.

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Character concepts involving personality, references to other materials,  and a particular essence is what makes a great video game character. These elements are the most pivotal during creation. The physical appearance takes some consideration. Sometimes the designs match the part in which role the character plays. The heroic body type ( athletic or muscular ) is common in action adventure and fighting games. Other genres are more flexible. It depends on what the intentions of the game developers are. For some characters a larger or muscular body would not suit them.  Mario Brothers characters are more on the cartoon like design and more comedic in nature. The hero body types would seem misplaced in the game.

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Princess Peach as shown in a fan art rendition.  Mario Brothers characters do not appear like this, because its meant to be comedic. Mario is fat and Luigi is tall and thin. 

There are times in which the standard can be changed in experimentation with games. It depends on what the creator envisions. It is not always a sexist conspiracy, but a general lack of vision and imagination. It cannot be denied that video games are more harsh to women with a larger body type. Fat women are often used as jokes as Sarkessian reveals. Video games are not the major offender in this case. Films and television are much worse in terms of body diversity. Advertising and the fashion industry promote an unhealthy body image that is far worse than what video games do. These industries and entertainment media predate video games and have done far more damage. Even fitness magazines that constantly obsess over weight loss rather than actual health are culprits. It should be understood that electronic entertainment is a relatively new medium and still evolving. It can go in the right direction as long as character design remains flexible and show variety.

          What vexes video game enthusiasts about third wave feminist criticism is that it condemns the entire geek culture. It merely casts all men as being misogynists, fearful of women, or advocates of men’s rights movement . Geek culture is vast and covers many aspects of entertainment including non-material culture. It involves comics, collecting memorabilia, video games, role-playing board games, and science fiction in all forms of media. It is a devoted subculture that is mostly male. It almost seems ironic that women are attacking men that they would not pay attention to if they were attempting to start conversation. This sudden “social   justice” movement against video games parallels how fundamentalist Christians condemned Dungeons and Dragons. These movements are not designed to correct an injustice or grievance, but to keep an ideology alive. Third wave feminism  has in many was become bankrupt. It does not attempt to address the racism in its own movement or lack of solidarity. It does not address class warfare that is relentless. Attacking a medium which is gaining wide spread popularity is a way to promote and keep relevant a movement that has lost purpose. There are still many challenges ranging from reproductive rights, feminization of poverty, violence against women, and unequal pay. Some factions of third wave feminists do not want to confront these issues or the challenges facing the women of the world. These women are white and of the upper class in the United States focused on improving the conditions of their own group. There is more of a push to form more of a special interest group for women within the context of third wave feminism. This faction tends to escalate an incident of which to many would seem insignificant. Whether its the  Eugenie Bouchard twirling controversy or the backlash in regards to the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters,  it seems more facetious than a serious issue. Compared to other parts of the globe, these seem like frivolous First World problems. Relevant to the gaming world the Tracer pose controversy became a ludicrous spectacle. A few third wave feminists complained that tracer was being over sexualized by doing a over the shoulder pose. Blizzard caved into pressure and removed the pose.

 

 This image was not lascivious or suggestive, but some claimed it was reducing the character to a mere sex object. The pronouncement lacked cogency. Tracer’s pose is a bodybuilding pose you see in certain categories of the sport. Observers did not know and some did not care. They saw what they wanted to see, even though it had no basis in reality. Starting a problem when one was not present angered many. These petty and often  senseless battles only cause more of a divide among male and  female video game enthusiasts. There are games ( mostly M rated) that are far more worse in depictions of women than Tracer in Overwatch.  It would have made more sense to attack those game rather than Overwatch. Blizzard’s attempt to be politically correct could have an unintended repercussion. Companies may not have female characters in their games rather than face protests. Finding a balance will be a challenge for game developers.

       Anita Sarkeesian only states problems rather than providing solutions. There are several courses of action that can implemented. Women must enter game design and become content creators. Women being leaders and workers in the industry can counter sexist attitudes and convictions. It can also add a perspective to the industry. Game developers must be willing to be more bold with their character design. Playstation 4, X Box, and the Nintendo Wii U have great graphics.Seeing as  the systems are advanced in this attribute, they have to do more to distinguish themselves. Making characters with interesting and unique appearance will help. Investing in great storylines  and setting will enhance a gaming experience. Women should consider staring their own video game companies. The administration and business section of the industry has the most power, something individuals should not be without. This way there is more control over what content is being produced and distributed. Third wave feminists must understand that not every man is their enemy. There may actually be male allies that could help change certain practices. If change is to happen it cannot come from Anita Sarkeesian. It has to be women who have been a part of the video game community either as game designers or fans. Only then can effective progress can happen.

The Problem with Anita Sarkeesian’s “All the Slender Ladies: Body Diversity in Video Games” Argument