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

Bodybuilders More Likely to be Sexist

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

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

The survey seemed to forget that women are bodybuilders too. 

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

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

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

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

Serenea    AAM

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

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

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

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

popular social media icons
Social media has allowed for higher rates of image and entertainment consumption.
TV is another medium in which people see ideal body images. 

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

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

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

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

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

Vice: Inside The Lucrative World of Female Muscle Worship

Muscle Worship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vladislava Galagan posing for a photo. 

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Margie Martin competing in 2018. 

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

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

Vice: Inside The Lucrative World of Female Muscle Worship

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

Dr. Mark Griffiths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Science Says Putting Women Into Combat Endangers National Security

Women In Combat Debate

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

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


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

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


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

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

women soldiers

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Krav Maga
Female soldier learns Krav Maga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women In Combat

Women In Combat

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

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

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

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

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

The Science Says Putting Women Into Combat Endangers National Security

Thin is In? Think Again. New Research Shows That Muscles and Body Tone Are Increasingly Rated As More Attractive Than a Purely Thin Female Body

New research shows that muscles and body tone are increasingly rated as more attractive than a purely thin female body

It seems that once more body ideals of attractiveness are changing. The study that was conducted by Frances Bozsik of the University of Missouri-Kansas demonstrated how media can change particular perspectives and attitudes. This study just examines the United States and does not explore other parts of the world. The results were published in Springer’s journal Sex Roles. What the team did was examine Miss USA pageant contestant photographs and documented the change overtime. Undergraduate students were selected to rate and look at the photographs. The collection were photographs between the years of 1999 to 2013. Based on the study it seems that the contestants became more fit with bigger muscle definition. The 64 graduate students in the study were shown photographs of  that were identical. The only difference was one had a thin body displayed and a more muscular one. They were show the images separately and then together. The more fit woman in the photos were rated as more attractive. The study however did not ask what the subjects’ body ideals or preferences were. This could have distorted the study. This does not mean that the muscular body type or a thin body is an ultimate ideal, but men’s preferences are vast and more extensive in terms of activeness. The study seems to indirectly prove how images and media can control an individual’s perceptions and attitudes. Social media may explain the rise of a more powerful female physique becoming mainstream. Beauty as demonstrated by the study is not one concept, but can vary depending on culture and personal preference.

          The 64 subjects used in the study should have been surveyed about their ideal female body type. If most of the men in the study had a preference for muscular women that would obviously distort the results produced. These men would probably rate muscular women higher just because of preference.

It should be no surprise that there are men who like not just women are are in shape, but display a huge amount of muscular development. Then it is problematic with the use of the term toned. This term is not always lucid. The photos shown as “toned and thin” almost seem like a contradictory statement. Tone used in this context implies some muscle definition. This raises some other interesting questions. They used beauty pageant contestants, but what if the study employed some photographs of female bodybuilders or larger women. This could have cased another split in the survey.

Thin woman compared to a slightly athletic woman 

A larger woman compared to a slightly more muscular woman. 

The highest degree of development 

The study does not explain which level of muscularity is preferred on women. If this was to be investigated further one could conduct a study of women of multiple body types. There are also limitations in terms of the survey size. The number of men and women should be equal, but large enough to make a more precise assessment. There were 78 women who looked at the photographs. It should also be considered the differences in men and women’s reasoning for ratings. Women may rate certain women higher,because they either see something they want to emulate. It may not be an indication of  the attractiveness of a body ideal, rather a physical fitness inspiration. Men’s ratings may also be a little more complex. There may be a factor of amusement simply because women of a certain physicality they do not see in their daily lives. The high rating may be one of respect, rather than an admission of  attractiveness. There may be admiration for someone who accomplished such athletic feats, but it may not be in line with their personal concept of aesthetics. To be through, surveys should have been conducted afterward to find out why participants picked the body type they did.

The beauty pageant contestants have gotten bigger compared to the past. It seems fitness has influenced body ideals. Bodybuilding culture has spread. It seems that beauty pageant contestants are adopting training methods of the fitness and figure class more so. 

The main reason could be is that they were exposed to images of strong women prior to the study. The internet and social media platforms are responsible for this rise. This was only over a fifteen year time span, which was relatively short. This survey should be done once more with more men and women. If the results are the same then it is definite that there has been some form of paradigm shift in the attitudes regarding women’s bodies.

       The study notes the rise of the concept of fitspiration. This neologism refers to a culture that embraces fitness and exercise, but also encourages others to follow by example. What makes this subculture unique is that it is mostly women participating in larger numbers, but it is getting exposure through mainstream sources such as social media. The concept of exercise and fitness being a hobby or a pastime is nothing new. The difference now is that women are becoming a major part of this movement. The reason women are a big part of this fitness movement is because there are now more female athletes that are visible. Title IX encouraged women for decades to be involved in sports . There also is a global movement in which women are becoming a presence at the Olympics. This was almost unimaginable 100 years ago.

images (18) There is a female fitness culture that has supporters and detractors. A schism has emerged in this movement about purpose and objectives. Supporters claim it helps build confidence in a society that attempts to make women feel bad about themselves. Detractors say that it is an obsession with appearance and should be focused on health. The more vociferous objections come from sexist who believe it is not gender appropriate for women to be engaging in fitness culture at all. These issues do need to be addressed. Fitspiration does not make the demand that every woman look fit. The dominant fitness magazines tend to market weigh loss rather than exercise to women. Obsessions with thinness come from mainstream media sources, not fitspiration. This fitness movement is small compared to the dominant mainstream culture. The problem is not women exercising or getting in shape it is sexual objectification that is projected in emphasis in appearance. The mainstream media presents only one image of beauty. Fitspiration is not attempting to present one image, but just to get women physically active. The sexist arguments normally follow the lines of that such physiques on women are unnatural. The reality is that humanity has the ability manipulate their own biology to a certain degree. They are not unnatural, because nature is changing. Human evolution is an example of how the body can change overtime.

Women who are of such physicality are not abnormal. It is just for so long there has been restrictions on what is appropriate for women. The difference now is that women are beginning to define what is beautiful on their own terms. There should be no confusion that women who  embrace fitspiration are solely doing it for the purpose of appearance. Some are serious athletes improving their performance, others are women who are entering the fitness industry, or simply casual lifters. Some women have used this fitspiration movement to develop their  business  related to fitness. Women although large participants in fitness are largely excluded from the business aspect. Social media has allowed for women to promote themselves rather than going through the established corporate gatekeepers. If women’s sports do not get enough coverage on television social media and the internet can be as useful tool to challenge the disparity. It is not entirely clear whether this fitspiration subculture is a positive or negative development.

     Social media has become an international phenomenon. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat  are used by billions of people. The internet and social media have contributed to the rise of the image of the muscular woman becoming more prevalent. Frances Bozsik even states :” These websites allow individuals to collect images of women with whom they identify or admire, essentially allowing them to cultivate their own media repertoire of highly salient thin and fit media.” A user can easily go to Pinterest or simply use Google to find images and other materials on muscular women. Prior to this, the only way to see one was to either go to a watch a sport or go to a gym. There was print media to a limited degree, but it is now more extensive with the internet’s global reach. Social media has power to influence people and ideas. Depending on how it is used, it can be a helpful tool in changing people’s attitudes. There seems to be a gradual acceptance of women with muscle and strength. Female athletes do receive huge amounts of traffic to their websites and social media.

Seeing as the mainstream entertainment platforms devote less time to women’s sports this helps athletes immensely. Women can manage their own image rather than being reliant of a public relations firm or corporate sponsor. Fans and supporters can interact with their favorite athlete and have access to enormous amounts of material. Video streaming sites like Youtube, Dailymotion, or Viemo give users access to women’s sports to a greater extent than television. Fans will no longer face frustration about not seeing a particular female athlete. The new entertainment medium of social media has become a positive development for women’s sports and the image of the physically strong woman in general.

popular social media icons
The internet has become a powerful communication and entertainment medium producing blogs, websites, social media, video streaming and electronic commerce.

 There is also a negative dimension to the rise of this new medium. Cyber bullying and harassment have been too ubiquitous for many users of social media. There is also the issue of the rapid spread of false information. Relevant to the physically strong women they are subject to rude comments or ostracism from internet trolls. The anonymous nature of the internet emboldens sexists, racists, and the churlish  to insult whoever without consequence. Many muscular women have reported that sometimes they do receive unwanted commentary to their faces, but not as often compared to an online setting. The comments are pretty much similar in thought from phrases like “she looks like a man”  or “that’s too much for a woman” and voicing another insult of women being “disgusting.”


Everyone has the right to their own opinion,but that is not a license to insult or be exclusionary to people. The reasons for such reactions can vary. Some people may not be used to the idea of a muscular woman and do not know how to react. Some responses con from ignorance. The other type of commentary is out of jealousy. This mainly is from other women who do not like the idea some other women are getting attention. Instead of being introspective about such emotions they rather attack other people who they perceive as more successful. Men who are insecure may just attack women in general because they want to validate their masculinity. There is a strong feeling of threat that comes from women who are confident in themselves or are unique in some way. These same men would probably be threatened by women who are very educated or make more money than they do. A large portion of trolls are just hateful people who attack anyone who is different. The major problem is that many people still view women in terms of gender stereotypes and dated sex roles.

This is an example of blatant sexism. Strength if its demonstrated by women is shown as being gender inappropriate.

There has been an uneasy relation between women and exercise throughout the modern fitness culture. The attitude is that women should be physically active, but they should not develop themselves to the maximum. The notion that women can develop themselves to be “too much” seems ludicrous. One would not ask an artist to stop painting too many murals or an architect to stop constructing buildings. There are differences in what makes the most aesthetic physique, but there is room for all of them in the fitness culture. There is an obvious size bias. Female bodybuilders are sometimes ignored or repudiated by members of the fitness culture even when they were the harbingers to the women’s physical culture phenomenon of today. The women of the 1970s had a more difficult time with public stigma and misunderstanding. Women now have at least a slightly improved situation compared to the past.  There has been progress, because for every negative comment there are more positive ones that can be seen on social media. There is also another dilemma with this. Sexual harassment directed at the women. Such commentary makes users feel uncomfortable and adds another challenge.

  There is a difference between admiration and sexual objectification. A simple compliment would be welcomed. However, there should be a clear understanding why sexual advances or comments  are not appropriate on social media .  Thankfully, there are blocking features that can be used to counter harassment. Technology can be abused, but this can be avoided if it is utilized responsibly. Then there is the question of privacy. Some athletes may find that they have an online stalker. While there are complications that come with technological advancements, it has allowed the idea that women and strength are not two contradictory concepts.

This new image of female strength would not be as prevalent or influential without the contributions of social media and a vast global internet network.  This has produced positive and negative effects.

        It can be debated that simply the presence  of various images produces body image dissatisfaction. It cannot be ignore that there is a strong pressure at least in the West for women to have a thinner body type. The fitness woman image has become a recent phenomenon. To say that women who see such images will automatically feel terrible does not have basis in fact. The real problem is what message the images are conveying to the consumers. Magazines directed at women focus excessively on weight loss or appearance. Bozik states ” This process of selecting preferred images and then narrowing the media focus by placing these images on their ‘boards’ may inadvertently increase the risk of developing higher levels of body dissatisfaction, as well as subsequent disordered-eating behaviors that are linked to it,” Looking at an image does not immediately lead to an eating disorder or psychological distress. Not all consumers will be susceptible to these issues. There are women who are more vulnerable : those with low self-esteem and easily pressured. The basis of mainstream consumption in a capitalist system is that it plays on consumers fears and insecurities. If society puts a huge amount of pressure to reach an ideal unattainable it will take some internal fortitude to resist. If there is a lack of confidence or low self-esteem then such psychological disorders can emerge. There has been a counter to this which has been the body positive movement. It seems odd that it favors women with curves, yet the physically fit women are not even part of the discussion.

Many times the same promoters of body positive movements will body shame women who are exceptionally fit. If one is against body shaming, then there should not be a reason to target fit and muscular women with negative criticism. There is also a problem with the body positive movement. It wants to replace on standard of beauty with another. Replacing paradigms is not the solution. The only way this will change is when women stop putting so much effort and energy  into their appearance. While sexism is to blame for some of these attitudes, women are partially responsible. Fashion, make-up, and beauty products are commodities that women have control over. They profit from making other women feel awful about their appearance. Men are not solely to blame as many third wave feminists would want some to believe. Numerous times its other women who disparage other women’s appearance. The only solution is to teach young girls that they are more than their appearance. Society must learn to value women as people, rather than the misogynistic view of being sex objects. If such actions are not taken then no change will occur. That is why it is futile to stop using photoshop on magazine covers or  promote plus size models. As long as the negative perceptions about women’s roles and worth are present there will always be a problem. A solution would not be to stop showing images of fit women.

The media does have the power to influence. However, it is too simplistic to say prevalence of the fit woman image is causing body dissatisfaction. Correlations between media consumption and extreme behavior are inconclusive. Video games are not the cause of extreme violence nor is television.  They may be a factor, but that does not explain the phenomenon. Relevant to women in body image it is the message being conveyed is the issue. If one body type is presented as beautiful either directly or a  subtle  manner that is the root of the problem. If you favor one type over others this becomes an issue. Beauty can be both cultural and personal preference based.

        Beauty and aesthetics vary from culture to culture. Some societies like bigger women others mostly in the West are focused on a slim body. The promotion of a particular aesthetic is a recent phenomenon. This rise of photography, advertisement, and visual media contributed to the promotion on single image of female beauty. TV and movies contributed to this and distorted the public’s thinking. What emerged was the notion that all women should look a certain way based on particular images from mass media. While women who do not follow the image are ostracized, men who find other paradigms of beauty are also subject to harsh criticism. There seems to be limited tolerance for men who have varieties of beauty concepts in regards to women. If the more voluptuous body type is being embraced, others should be embraced as well.

Some people enjoy curves or a more athletic type. There are a large portion that favor numerous paradigms of beauty. The reason this has become an issue is that it is related to sex roles and psychology. Body image is related to sex roles and psychology has become interested in the study of body image. The reason is related to methods of confronting mental disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. These conditions which are eating disorders or an obsession with weight disproportionately effect women. While men can have these mental disorders women are the majority in terms of diagnosis. Such disorders are products not only of a constant circulation of images.

       The way people view the bodies of women are based on strict sex roles. These are normally restrictive and have sexist overtones. Women were once seen as the weaker sex. Their primary role in the traditional culture was to be mothers and caretakers of children. The medical view was in the past that the female body was naturally weak and its only purpose was for childbirth. The male body was the opposite a symbol of strength and power. When women gained more political and social power it spread to other areas. Women began to take control of their own bodies. This was not only done with reproductive rights and an emphasis on women’s health, but women participating sports. Now, after decades of Title IX women are enjoying the benefits of exercise and physical fitness in larger numbers. Women who became active also took their fitness a step further and developed their bodies to their physical maximum. Never before in human history have women reached this level of physical development. There were muscular women that existed in the past, but they did not have a competitive outlet. Nor did they have access to training facilities or an extensive knowledge of exercise physiology.  Women who show great physical power and prowess are challenging strict  gender roles. However, women themselves still struggle with the idea of muscle and strength. Even supporters are skeptical about the aesthetics. Women can be strong, but not too strong. There is a belief that too much muscle would compromise a woman’s femininity. Women are at this stage not afraid to show whatever muscularity level.

The most significant paradigm shift is that women who get involved in fitness culture are not there for appearance purposes. They become serious athletes. Crossfit and women’s increased participation in the Olympics has made an impact. Sports and fitness will no longer be the sole domain of men. Social media is becoming a more powerful tool to organize and market something to a global audience. There is a possibility that this is a mere trend which will fade away. Social media has a predilection for various sudden trends becoming more expansive with multiple hastags. This change in preference in terms of body type was occurring before social media’s appearance. When it was introduced to the public, this explains the surge in interest. User were sharing images and materials with other users. The study’s conclusion can be debatable. It is too early to saw that a strong female physique will become the new mainstream beauty paradigm. The image would have to expand into film, television, or other popular media. What is definite about the study is that people could have multiple preferences in terms of body ideals, even though society continues to promote one. The radical occurrence from this change comes from the women themselves. They are deciding what is beauty for themselves, rather than have it dictated by the wider society or mass media. Where ever this shift in beauty concepts goes, it is uncertain. What can be observed is that women’s mindset about fitness and exercise has changed.

Thin is In? Think Again. New Research Shows That Muscles and Body Tone Are Increasingly Rated As More Attractive Than a Purely Thin Female Body

Cheerleader Anna Watson: Dark Side of Female Muscle Worship Fantasies

Cheerleader Anna Watson: Dark Side of Female Muscle Worship Fantasies

This article written by Ewan Palmer for the International Business Times is an example of media sensationalism and subtle moral panic. Anna Watson was a cheerleader and student at the University of Georgia  who received media attention for having an impressively muscular physique. The media called her “the strongest cheerleader in America.” While there was some positive publicity, there were also detractors who were more vociferous. The media often casts activities or groups it has limited understanding of  as either deviant, freakish, or unnatural. Prejudice and conformist attitudes are enforced through a medium that should inform the  public. The subject of women and physical strength becomes a controversial subject.  There still are many people who have a problem with women having muscular physiques. Female muscle and its subculture is something that can easily be misunderstood. Palmer’s article gives the mainstream audience only one section of a larger subculture. Followers and the culture that has emerged are regulated to a “dark side.” The fact that it is referred to that demonstrates the degree of closed minded convictions prevalent in society. Anything that does not conform to the mainstream standard is designated abhorrent. Female muscle fandom is far from being deviant. Palmer admits ”  the idea that some men may find this woman sexually attractive may not be the most unusual concept, especially when you consider some of the darker and grotesque sexual fetishes.”  This however is still presented as abnormal. Female worship fantasies are not unusual; they are another form of sexual expression. The fandom is a larger community than one might think and it goes beyond mere imagined fetish.

           The fandom the exists in this community can be divided into several categories. Schomes who love the most muscular women, fans who are dedicated to the sport, and the person who like the look of muscle on women. There are factions that have different perspectives on aesthetics. The casual female muscle fan may prefer a woman who does not have immense size, but a small amount of shape. Other may like a in between a figure or physique athlete size. The schmoes like the largest women, but this does not mean they would disapprove of women of other muscular levels. Palmer’s analysis does not include this classification within the community. If there is to be a description of the subculture one has to describe the community. Athletes would have to be included in this analysis. Women are not just passive objects in this subculture; they built it. The sport of female bodybuilding emerged in the 1970s and by the 1980s was gaining mainstream exposure. Female muscle fans emerged along with the growing female bodybuilding subculture. Women’s impressive athletic performance in the sport attracted fans and notoriety. Rachel Mclish, Corey Everson, Lenda Murray, Kim Chizevsky, and Iris Kyle became some of the best bodybuilders winning the famed Ms.Olympia titles.

Women changed the fitness culture in a radical way. They demonstrated that women can be strong and that weightlifting as well as muscular development was in their physical capability. Being strong was not longer considered gender inappropriate.  Athletes who were in the industry realized that they had to have some business skills to compete and support themselves. There have been recent setbacks for the bodybuilding category. However, the idea of the muscular woman has spread. It was first promoted by these athletes in small circles and now it has reached the mainstream. Women are becoming more interested in weightlifting and crossfit either for recreation or professional competition. Even though the number of traditional bodybuilding competitions has decreased in number the other categories of fitness, figure, bikini, and physique have emerged. This probably is the best time to be a female muscle fan. This is not happening only in the United States, but in other nations. The women involved in the sport are driven by the desire to succeed and the confidence it gives them. The athlete’s time is spent training and having periods of recovery. Besides that it could involve business activities with supplement companies or their own enterprises. The community is close between fans and athletes seeing as the sport is small. There exists a symbiotic relationship between the factions of fans and the athletes.

           The clinical terms that the author does use to describe female muscle fans properly is cratolagnia and   sthenolagnia. These terms describe arousal from the muscles or demonstrations of strength. This does not mean that every female muscle fan has this fetish. Arousal may come for other reason and they could simply just be fans of the female bodybuilding sport. It just seems more likely that men with cratolagnia and stenolagnia would gravitate to the culture.

Being a fetishist and a fan are two different things. It is possible to be both. This culture and fandom of female strength has many branches. Liking the muscular body type could just be another preference.It is rare that someone claims that a person has a thin woman fetish. There are different ways people display their sexual expression. Sexual fetishes are a part of this. The problem is society has a distorted view about human sexuality. Either there is an obsession projected through various media including film and television or the extreme puritan conservatism of the past. Sexuality and the urges that are associated with it are a part of life. The unusual aspect about it is that people are afraid to discuss or explore such topics. There still remains debate on whether or not to teach sex education in public schools.  Sexology are attempting to educate people about this part of human nature. Muscle worship certainly would not be classified as a mental disorder, but in the article it implies it. This is nothing more than a part of bigger culture.

       The article fails to mention the a large part of female muscle fandom is mixed and session  wrestling. Relevant to athletes session wrestling provides funding opportunities for their endeavors. Female bodybuilders wrestle men for a certain fee sometimes costing up to $500 or more for one hour. It is bizarre that the article does not mention session wrestling as part of the female muscle fandom. There is a difference between mixed and session wrestling. Session wrestling refers to a wrestler or bodybuilder providing a wrestling event for a fee. Mixed wrestling refers to a wrestling match between a man and a woman. There are clubs and leagues that women and men are a part of in which they gather to wrestle. Mixed wrestlers or session wrestlers are not always bodybuilders, but the origins of these activities is rooted in the subculture. Mixed wrestling predates session wrestling, but wrestling mostly became part of the culture due to Kay Baxter and Bill Wick. Wick,  former wrestler himself   would film tapes with Kay his wife wrestling one another. He then got Kay to wrestle other men and started selling videos than other companies emerged. The rise of the internet also saw the expansion of mixed wrestling to a wider and global audience. Some athletes may devote most of their time to doing sessions, because the amount of pay is better than winning a contest.

The motivation for women is part finance and business related. Yet, that is not the complete story. Women also get a thrill from this. There is a level of enjoyment and fun they may get from physically dominating men in a way.  There is to an extent role reversal in which women take charge. Men according to a patriarchal society are suppose to be the strong ones, but this has changed to an extent. Women are more involved in politics, science, and finance so it would only make sense the next step would be to enter the sports world.  Women who have weight trained and built muscle have often stated that it has been an empowering experience. They gain a new sense of self and confidence which they translate into other areas of life. To an extent they define their own paradigm of beauty. The reason why women do mixed or session wrestling is that it gives them a sense of power normally deprived of them in their daily lives. There could another reason for this activity that is more simple. It could just be frivolous fun for both men and women. The act of simple play is something that is left behind in childhood. Here in such an environment adults can play around like children again. Work or family responsibilities can be forgotten for a brief period. Mixed wrestling has been mentioned in the mainstream and it may have more devotees than previously thought.

         Another important element of female muscle fandom is photography. Pictures and photographs are an essential part of the female muscle fandom. Fans love to collect photo sets of their favorite athletes. Photographers who may struggle to sell their photos have an supportive market with this base. Pictures can range from contests shots, candid photos, or other environments. This is more of the artistic aspect of the female muscle fandom. While dedicated collectors like the professional photographs rare images are also sought after. Other times fans will take clippings from magazines.

While photographs can vary, there are some common themes. Standard poses are common such as front double biceps, lat spreads, or side chest. Sometimes these photographs have women posing in a manner that would be seen in magazines appealing to a male gaze. The majority consumers of such materials will be men, which explains the sometimes suggestive nature of photographs. Nude photographs can either be artistically presented or more lascivious in nature.

There is also photographs that focus on specific areas of the body. It could either be the biceps, glutes, or legs. Themes that are recurring are either women in sport, doing some job, or a depiction of strength feats.The themes that are most common are women posing as cops, construction workers, boxing, or lifting weights in the gym. Lifting weights photographs make more sense compared to the other themes in photographs. Sometimes there are also women who are posing as a nurse, which is an overused theme in magazines of a certain caliber.

Fans join websites to pay for photo sets of their favorite athletes and competitors. This is not as the author says ” the timid world of female bodybuilding.” This a much larger following. There would be no questions raised at all if these photographs contained pictures of women one sees in regular magazines. The common misconception is that female muscle fans would reject women of different body types. This is not true, there tastes could be very diverse.

Photography is an art form and when athletes are presented in a such a medium fans have more respect for it. There also is an growing industry of fitness modeling. Athletic apparel companies want to market to a female demographic  and they want women who look the part.Some athletes start their own business producing clothing for other athletes. Collectors of photographs are similar to how fans of baseball would collect cards. The difference now is that this process is digital based. The traditional print magazine is in decline and the internet shall be the wave of the future. Female muscle fans will not have to go buy a magazine to see photos. There is now an instant access to photographs, that allows collectors to gain more.

        Female muscle growth is a large part of  female muscle fandom. Ewan Palmer makes it seem as if its the only dimension. It should be clarified what are the specific denotations. There is a female bodybuilding subculture which revolves around sports activities. The female muscle fandom is a subculture in which female bodybuilding falls under but is broader in the regard that it celebrates all women who are strong or muscular. Palmer states :  “Female Muscle Growth (FMG) goes outside the usual attraction of female bodybuilders and extends into a sexual fetish involving fantasy woman with obscene and unnaturally sized muscles.” What one considers obscene or unnatural is relative. While this is the fetish element, it is an artistic expression. Stories and artwork feature muscular women, but may not always be female muscle growth. Some artwork either is fan art depicting female cartoon characters as muscular or original characters produced by the artists. Art can be controversial, extreme, or imaginative and that is what makes it great. It seems that the muscular female body also threatens people on paper and canvasses as well.

The writing and stories also can very, but normally follow a simple formula. A woman who is either abnormally weak either gains physical strength by magical or scientific means and proceeds to use it in a forceful way. The woman can either be a protagonist or antagonist. A majority of the time women are the protagonists. The artwork can be paintings, drawings, computer generated images, or mixed media. The most popular format for FMG is comic based art. This subculture is very audiovisual based. Renditions can range from a realistic portraiture to cartoon like. The comics that are made by FMG artists could either be action based or comedic. Palmer is correct that “far removed from the mainstream – you will not be able to find these works of fiction in any local library or bookstore.” Such artistic renditions or writings were never meant to be mainstream. The mainstream sometimes adopts elements of a subculture then popularizes it for a wider audience. Some subcultures are just too small to be taken to the mainstream. It is highly unlikely that FMG will go mainstream, because it may appear to be too strange for a conformist public. Most female muscle fans my not want it to go mainstream simply because when a subculture does this it loses something. That close community evaporates and is replaced with capitalist hyper-consumerism.

          Videos are a pillar of the material culture of female muscle fandom. Websites offer exclusive content of women posing, doing strength feats, or being interviewed. Fans also collect videos of their favorite athletes as well. This also ties into the mixed wrestling element.  Sites like Scissorvixens and Utopia Entertainment feature videos of muscular women wrestling men. These feature women of various muscular levels. During the golden age of female bodybuilding it was broadcast on television. ESPN or NBC would show contests, but by the late 1990s this was beginning to end. However, the internet and specifically the rise of video streaming gave the muscular woman more exposure. Not only that, to a wider global audience. Fans began sharing videos and becoming more connected to one another across the world.

The female muscle  fandom and subculture seems best suited for the online environment. The types of videos fans like are either ones showing a contest, individual posing videos, or one of a more muscle worship related nature. During the early years of female bodybuilding such videos had to ordered in the back of magazines or bought from another person. Bill Wick mailed the videos he filmed from his house to individual buyers. Now a buyers can make online purchases. Many websites devoted to female muscle also provide news and coverage of contests that is lacking in mainstream fitness publication. There is the challenge of online piracy, but this does not stop people from making the legal purchase of copyrighted material. Hardcore fans pay membership fees to various websites just to add to their personal collections.

Athletes also produce videos of their own on their personal sites. There they can charge fans for exclusive content. Seeing as the mainstream fitness industry has either ignored or abandoned them they are now free to act as their own gatekeepers. Without the middle channel of  corporate gatekeepers athletes can manage their own image and have funds go directly to them. Videos also hold another significance. They are historical documentation of female strength. Many fans want to preserve videos considering women like this are rare. The unique nature of such women is what attracts attention. Videos are also for fun and pure entertainment value. There do exist videos of an erotic nature, but that is not the only content that exists. The female muscle fandom subculture seems to have branches. Palmer makes it seem as if it is only one thing. Subcultures can be more complex even when they appear to be simple. There is a set of activities, language or terminology, both material and non-material culture.

           Female muscle has come to the mainstream. It may not be the actual female muscle fandom, but its presenting its self in different ways. Women athletes in other sports are displaying stronger looking physiques compared to the past. Women are involved in many sports that get television coverage such as weightlifting, professional wrestling, basketball, track and field as well as crossfit. There has also been an impact on women who are not athletes. Some are joining gyms and using weights like their male counterparts.

Although they are not specifically training to get large muscles, they have a degree of noticeable strength and tone from their regimen. The female athlete is here and here to stay. Everyone is not accepting. The traditional notions about gender and what a woman should look like are still present. Body shaming seems to be a modern phenomenon of Western culture obsessed with looks and youth. Women who do not fit a weaker sex stereotype are either designated as unfeminine or unattractive. These feelings are the psychological projections of a misogynist culture that only values women for their looks or how they can be used by men. This also harms men who support women who fit this different paradigm of body image. The fans of female muscle are either depicted by the mainstream as deviants, perverts, or eccentrics. Ostracism is designed to marginalize groups that do not follow the status quo by shunning them from the wider society. Women who challenge sexist stereotypes or cultural mores are often subjected to this treatment. Even societies that consider themselves progressive, the idea of a woman having too much physical or social power creates a level of trepidation or anger. The fact the article refers to elements of the female muscle fandom as a “dark side” only illustrates how narrow minded readers and reporters can be against something that is not part of standard societal convention. It seems it will take more time for society to accept people have different  preferences   and that women have the right to look like however they want. As long as a fantasy does not cause harm to anyone it really is not a problem. Society does have many vicious elements, but female muscle fantasies are not one of them.

Cheerleader Anna Watson: Dark Side of Female Muscle Worship Fantasies

CNN Money : Inside the World of Women’s Tackle Football

Originally aired in 2017, this news clip exposes audiences to the world of women’s tackle football. Over 4,000 women play competitively in the United States. Sadly, they do not get the stardom or income of NFL players. There still is a major gender divide in sports in terms of  media exposure, pay, and cultural attitudes in regards to the female athlete. Football continues to be a sport that is more male dominated than others. However, that has not stop women from organizing their own leagues and playing. Women continue to be a huge part of the sports world and their numbers are increasing as fans and athletes.

CNN Money : Inside the World of Women’s Tackle Football