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
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Joan Liew from Singapore at the Power of Fitness Gym in Palm Desert California.
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.
Swimwear for web
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.
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.
“You can’t pull those thighs apart!”
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.
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, AUGUST 16.# ATHLETICS. Women’s 200m – Semifinal. SCHIPPERS Dafne (NED) 21.96sec qualify for the final. Photos angelos zymaras
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.
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.
It has often been cited that men’s physical strength built civilization. Some scholars claim that this is the reason why women were at a disadvantage. Men who are on average stronger were able to impose patriarchy by physical force. These statements are incorrect . Women’s oppression has been related to the lack of financial independence, education, and access to employment. When human societies shifted from hunter-gather structures to permanent settlement and farming much of the inequality that is recognized today began to emerge. Women were through out history not allowed to own their property. Many times when marriage occurred women’s property went to her husband. Marriage when it became part of human civilization was nothing more than a property arrangement. Women were not considered humans or citizens , but property. Marriages were mostly arranged ones. Selecting a partner is a relatively new phenomenon. It is dubious that if women were just as physically strong as men discrimination or sexism would end. An oppressor only needs to have a system of organized violence and dominate institutions to maintain control. That does not provide a reason for why a majority of societies are male dominated. The explanation is rooted in competitiveness, human evolution, and sociology. If women were as strong as men there would be some differences in human civilization. Certain occupations, relationships, and elements of society may change.
Civilization can be defined as a state in human society in which there has been the establishment of culture, a governance system, and a complex social structure. Egyptian, Roman, and Greek civilization are examples of early complex orders. Civilization can be found anywhere humanity decides to live. Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania have long histories of human migration, settlement, and the establishment of civilization. Normally, settlements occur next to river systems. Water is not only a necessity for living it also holds importance as a commodity. There could be more civilizations that existed, but they have yet to be discovered. Archaeologists and historians have a challenging task to rediscover the past and provide a lucid interpretation of it.
It has only been recently in that academics have given consideration to women in history and the rise of civilization. It was not until the 20th century that women’s history was given serious investigation. Prior to this, women were not given any attention at all in the historical narrative. That did not mean women of prominence did not exist. Hatshepsut, Hypatia, Nzingha, and Queen Elizabeth are just some of the women who made large impacts on history. There could be more women who also contributed, bu they are either forgotten or records of them are lost. Cultures that recorded their history through oral traditions may have either disappeared or been wiped out. This same problem can happen with written documents either being lost or destroyed. The earliest known forms of writing may have emerged around 3400 B.C.E, but there could be the possibility other writing systems could have existed prior to this. There are so many possibilities, which makes it difficult to know exactly what the ancient past was like. It is even harder to figure out women’s stories in the span of human history. Anthropologists, historians, and paleoanthrologists are to extract information from artifacts and fossils. Human evolution, farming, and technology would alter the course of world history.
Sexual dimorphism is the phenotypic and physiological evidence of human evolution. Sex differences are the products of millions of years of genetic and biological evolution history. The majority of primates have a level of sexual dimorphism, but in other species the female is larger. This has to do with reproductive strategy. Arachnids produce young in large numbers at once. Canines produce puppies in liters. The reason this is done is that it possible that most will die and having more would allow for a guarantee that at least some would continue to spread genes. Primates have more parental investment in their young, because they do not produce them in large amounts. It is rare for a woman to have quintuplets. The reason for producing one child at a time was more efficient for primates. This explains why women are on average smaller than men. There was no need to be large, because the only reason to be that way was to hold young during the gestation process. This is based on theory and natural history observation. Men’s greater size and strength was probably an adaptation to compete for females. This also relates to sex selection in evolutionary history. Sex selection is mate choice in the context of the process of natural selection. The males that were the healthiest or strongest would most likely attract more mates, because they have the potential to reproduce more off spring. This indicates the possibility that our ancient ancestors may have been functioning on a system of polygyny.
Sexual dimorphism is visible evidence of the human evolutionary past.
The fascinating part of human evolution is that sexual dimorphism actually decreased among the hominids and australopithicines . Homo Habilis males were 60% larger and Homo egaster as well as erectus were 20 % larger. This could mean that there was a shift in evolutionary history from strict competition to group defense. Size may have no longer been a favored trait and began to diminish in importance. Human beings are genetically closer to chimps which have a 35% difference in male and female size. The modern day human has only an estimated 15% to 20% size difference between males and females. The assumption from this point would be that sexual dimorphism would continue to decrease. However, this is speculation considering there has not been a concrete explanation why it decreased in different phases of human history. The conjecture is that when humanity switched to farming and permanent settlements this effected the human body. This may explain the changes in bone and muscle strength of human beings during the rise of civilization.
Men and women can manipulate their bodies to high physical fitness levels. Yet, sexual dimorphism does not disappear with this change in body.
The thesis that men just by being stronger gave them dominance does not seem to be as cogent an explanation. Strength differences are partly genetically determined and can be subject to modification based on environment. A woman who works out can be stronger than a man that does not. A strong woman does not seek to dominate weaker men. If all women were strong as men the structure of society and civilization may not radically change. This suggests that differences in positions in civilization are based on a combination of behavior, discrimination, and the pyramid structure of society. Biology or evolution does not create inferiors. Women for a longtime have been cast as the biological inferior, which has been disproved by history and science. Biological sex difference and dimorphism do not explain patriarchy.
There does exist societies in which women hold considerable power, but are not by definition matriarchies. Matriarchy has not existed in human civilization thus so far. If one did surely it would have been during the hunter gatherer stage or have continued in some form into the Paleolithic or Neolithic ages. There is a tendency to confuse matrilneal kinship with matriarchy. There are societies in which women do have relative freedom as well, even without the presence of feminism. The Mosuo people of Tibet are a society of “walking marriages.” Women choose their husbands by walking to the house of the man. This society functions on extending family network. The largest households are headed by women. Marriage does not exist as an institution. Women and men live together while still functioning as a family unit. As demonstrated by the structure, it does not require women to be physically strong or use violence.
Other peoples such as Minanagkabau of Indonesia also demonstrate a system in which women are prominent members. Women have the power to remove chiefs if they believe he is not able to fulfill his duties. This tribe that lives in West Sumatra may hold a record to how sex relations worked prior to the rise of farming and agriculture. There are still roles men and women have in the context of their sex, but it does not mean women are without rights. This system is not exclusive to Asia, but can be found in various places around the world. Ghana and the African continent has a tradition of the matriclan. The Akan peoples base their whole system around female inheritance line. The men still hold the leadership roles. This would not be a matriarchy in the sense that some perceive it. The Bribri of Costa Rica once more follow a similar organization pattern. Women can inherit land and it can be passed down through the female line. Women also hold an important responsibility in this society preparing cacao rituals.
The Garo however have minor differences in sex relationships. Marriages are arranged for the youngest daughters of the inheritance line. The process for the non-inhereiting daughters follows a procedure more complex. The bride to be’s family must hunt down the groom and capture him. This is repeated until the groom acquiesces or the bride capitulates. This Indian ethnic group that resides in the state of Meghalaya would not be by definition an example of gender equality. Marriage is not a binding contract in this society, therefore couples and end it without stigma or legal repercussions. The Nagovisi of New Guinea share the trait of marriage not being institutionalized. To a degree this trait among these tribes does give women a level of freedom.
These societies are not matriarchies, rather social systems based on the matriclan. The only matriarchies that exist are one in ancient myth. Amazons were thought to be a society run and dominated by women. The question remains why the women in these societies if they have favorable positions are not seeking to dominate? The answer is in the fact there is a difference in terms of male and female competition. Men may be genetically wired to be more competitive and aggressive. If women were as physically strong this would not change as long as behavior and its biological roots were the same.
Farming and permanent settlement was the most significant turning point in human history. This gave rise to civilization as it is known culturally, politically, and sociologically. This resulted in the inequality that we see today. Those who could produce surplus food or resources were at an advantage compared to people who lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle. Relevant to women, under hunter gatherer societies they enjoyed better conditions. As the historical passage of time continued, their status would fluctuate and the dramatically lower with the rise of monotheistic religion. Farming began around 8000 B.C.E resulting in a switch from hunting. Animals were domesticated with the most important animals such as oxen and horses used for traction around 3000 B.C.E. What started in the Fertile Crescent (Israel, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt ) spread to Europe. Elsewhere farming and agriculture developed independently. The spread of farming caused a growth in population. This was the birth of civilization with the pyramid structure of social hierarchy. Chiefdoms would become cities. Mesopotamia saw the rise of some of the world’s first cities. Between 4500 to 2000 B.C.E the world witness the beginning of civilization. Women lost status in this transition to civilization. The theory that men were advantaged because more physical strength allowed them to monopolize manual labor, which gave them more control over food supply and therefore more authority. The problem with this is that technology negates the need for muscle power. As time progressed the Industrial Revolution occurred and machine power was outpacing human power. At this point it seems that physical strength was not as essential, when civilization became more technologically based.
There are some professions in which women at at a disadvantage. The physically demanding occupations such as law enforcement, firefighting, military, construction and sports have fewer women. The reason is not just sociological, but biological. Women have less muscular strength than men and have higher attrition rates the more intense the physical activity gets. This means only a few women would have a presence in these fields. Proper exercise and training can help women perform better. However, the numbers will not be equivalent. If women were as strong as men there would be higher numbers in these fields assuming laws against discrimination were enforced. It should be understood that more women in particular professions does not equal a peaceful society. More women in the military or police would not lead to calm. The reality is states around the world are held together by violence or threat of violence directed at its citizens. Laws are more about control, rather than protection. Gender stereotypes, such as women being more peaceful have some believe erroneously that wars would stop if more women were in power. There are women who have advanced the cause of aggressive warfare. Condolezza Rice was an advocate fro the attack on Iraq and Hillary Clinton convinced the Obama administration to intervene in Libya. Ethnic, religious, and national hatreds are too powerful, so women being in power would not change anything. The numbers relative to physically demanding occupations would change, however if the power structure remains the same there would be little difference. The most radical change would mean that sports would be co-ed. If there was little difference in strength and speed there would be no reason to have separate divisions. This does not mean automatically women’s sports would become more popular, because there would probably remain the discriminatory obstacles based on sex.
It seems that male dominance is not based on physical strength, rather around differences in competition and aggression. These traits were part of the evolutionary past and continue to have influence on behavior of humankind. Men tend to have more aggression and are more willing to use physical violence. This is not completely biologically based; boys in various cultures are taught to be more aggressive. This does not mean women are not capable of violence or fighting. They show aggression in a different manner that is verbal according to anthropologist Helen Fisher. The male response is a physical one. This difference in aggression and competitiveness explains why there are more men in the military, politics, and business. To an extent, these profession to require a level of cooperation. At their core it is about being as aggressive as possible to reach the apex of power. Women must maneuver in a system that is against them and sometimes the reach this level of power. Others may be stopped.
Ellen Sirleaf President of Liberia and Sheik Hasina Prime Minister of Bangladesh are political survivors specifically because they are competitive in their government structures. Countries in which female leaders try to balance certain systems either find themselves deposed or victim to the corrupt political structure. Dilma Rousseff former president of Brazil was impeached by a corrupt judiciary system. Yinluck Shiawatra the former Prime Minister of Thailand was removed by a coup disguised as a Constitutional Court decision . Women who are in power have to be more cunning and aggressive to maintain it. Politics, commerce, business, and finance are a few areas in which societal power rests. Women lag behind in terms of reaching a glass ceiling. Even with reforms and anti-discrimination laws there remains a persistent problem. The difference in male and female competitiveness and aggression hinders the women’s advancement. It would take many years to change particular behaviors. One step would require parents to encourage their girls to be more competitive and go into fields that are male dominated. This may change this gender based disparity that is seen in modern civilization. I may not negate it completely, millions of years of the evolution of behavior cannot be overturned instantly.
If women were as strong as men, this would effect relationships between the sexes. Men with more insecurities would have trouble adjusting or men who believe in strict gender roles. There is already a reaction to women becoming more financially independent or being a bigger presence in the workforce. Sexual harassment and misconduct in business, media, and the entertainment industry demonstrate that men still want to keep women out of particular areas. Women’s rise has often been met with violence is societies that want their submission. Domestic violence may not even disappear. Although men represent a higher number of perpetrators, women make up a smaller percentage. It is not clear if this would increase or decrease with women having more strength. Traditionally, men attracted female attention through status. When arranged marriage decline in the world, men and women began to select their own partners. The men with the most money or resources had an easier time getting companionship. The shift now is that women can acquire high status without male assistance, which has changed the gender dynamic. Men with less resources will struggle more to find long lasting relationships. This explain why it would be rare to see a female CEO dating a janitor. The practice of endogamy applies to class, ethnic group, and religion. Men would have to either compete more to establish meaningful relationship. While there would be a change in amorous relationships men’s behavior might change in how they treat women. Some men think they can bully or direct violence at women just on the fact they are stronger. This would change, because women would no longer be considered easy targets. Like any oppressed group women revolted against mistreatment and feminism radically changed women’s status in society.
The biggest change to women being as strong as men would be that the dynamic of protectionism of women and male disposability . These two concepts are reliant on one another and to some extent harm attempts at establishing gender equality. The idea that women must be shielded from life’s hardships was designed to restrict their freedom.Women were in this perspective too weak and helpless to survive on their own. Male disposablility was the idea that men should be glad to sacrifice themselves no matter how deleterious for the sake of community. This was basically an argument used in times of war. Men should in that view be happy to go off in die in a cause that they might not have investment in or could benefit from. The idea that men are naturally tougher comes from the notion they are physically better suited for hardship.Survival depends on many factors and strength is not the only one. If men and women were of the same strength capacity these two practices would end. The concept that women need male protection is based out of dated chivalry. If women were seen as capable then the whole dynamic would be altered. Women would in this regard become disposable and would most likely end up being drafted or doing things that were once thought to be improper for them. Tasks that require strength or physical skill were thought to be improper for women to do. Even though women have proven themselves capable, there are still objections.
Civilization has been a speeding train of change and development. Technology has drastically changed our culture and society. From the first primates to leave Africa to the modern cities of the contemporary era humankind has come a long way. The hunter gatherer stage of human civilization was the probably the closest point in which society was completely equal. Yet, this could even be brought into question. Hierarchy exists even when a modern form of government is not present. It seems that human behavior is not wired for equality, rather competition. Behavior and social structures are important indicators of how a civilization functions. This explains that why women if they were strong as or stronger than men would probably not be in a better condition. Competitiveness and aggressiveness has driven history. This came at a cost. It resulted in imperialism, constant warfare, and many egregious injustices. This has created much anxiety about whether humanity can survive. There may be small chances of hope that this can be reversed. Currently, it seems there is a rise for some women to power whether it is political, social, mental, or physical. These scenarios are only speculation and the future still remains a mystery.
Harari, Yuval. Sapiens A Brief History . New York : Harper Collins Publishers, 2011.
Ehrlich, Paul. Human Natures Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect . Washington DC: Island Press, 2000.
Woolf, Alex. A History of the World the Story of Mankind From Prehistory to the Modern Day. London : Artucus, 2013.
Garrison , Laura. “6 Modern Societies Where Women Rule.” Mental Floss, Mental Floss , 3 Mar. 2017, mentalfloss.com/article/31274/6-modern-societies-where-women-literally-rule.
Originally published in 2015 a study was conducted in Canada seeing if self-defense was an effective method at prevention of sexual assault. The study focused on university students who underwent 12 hours of self-defense training courses. The women who underwent training were less likely to victims of attempted sexual assault or attacks in general. The study reached conclusions that were made by the self-defense instruction company Model Mugging. They surveyed 60,000 students it was revealed that 98.3 % were able to avoid assaults, while 97% were able to fight off their attacker. There was also a portion of 80% who did not have to sue physical force to stop an assailant. While these statistics are positive, there is a problem. Sexual assault is an under reported crime, so the numbers of women who are victim to it could be much higher. There are issues surrounding self-defense and effectiveness. It cannot be denied that self-defense essential to women’s health and well being.
The common misconception is that self-defense does not work. This falsehood has been born out of the idea that women are victims. It also stems from the conviction that women are too physically weak to defend themselves. The frailty myth has created a dangerous situation. It should be understood that men are not impervious to women’s kicks, punches, or skilled movements. Criminals and assailants normally select victims that they think are easy targets. The average man is stronger than average woman, but the equalizer can be made with learning martial arts. Judo, karate, and taekwondo are just a few forms of martial arts that can aid in women’s self-defense. Simply being strong does not guarantee preventing or stopping attack. If a person does not have fighting skill or technique they will not be as effective at protecting them self.
Learning self-defense is the key. Also preventative measures are also important. Being aware of your surroundings and the people next to you in an environment is pivotal in personal protection. There are practical considerations in terms of effectiveness. The body has vulnerable spots of attack. The head, abdomen, and groin are major striking points that can inflict much pain. It should be realized that one strike does not debilitate an attacker automatically. Many strikes and hits may have to be used. The point is not to beat the attacker like it is a match. If there is a possible route of escape, that should be the first option.
The article describes the myth of the “juggernaut foe.” This is the attacker that will not get harmed when punched or bruised. The fact is these attackers are not henchmen on a television program or film. Possible assailants could be people you work with or live next to. They could vary in size and strength levels. They reality is a large portion of rapes are done by a man the woman knows. Date rape and acquaintance rape are prevalent in society. May be it is not so much women are incapable of defending themselves, but the shock of knowing someone they thought was an ally is really a predator. This is exactly why the notion women need a male protector needs to be overturned. It is more likely that women will experience violence from an intimate partner. Domestic abuse rates are higher for women compared to men. Globally, women’s physical security is under threat. The situation is better in the West mainly because of the influence of the second feminist movement in the 1970s and changes in the laws.
There is exists no place in which women are completely secure. The reason for this is either due to warfare and traditional societies that do not regard women as people. Women may not be given equal protection under the law. If women globally lack physical security it only makes rational sense to have self-defense skills. Women can fight back if taught properly. This requires learning how to use the body effectively and unlearned certain aspects of social conditioning. Women are taught that they cannot excel at anything that requires strength or physical skill. Then it requires women not being as fearful. To a degree women are taught to fear and obey men. This must be challenged. Women must learn physical skills to be effective. Physical education for girls may be more important than just maintaining health.
Learning to protect yourself is essential, especially in a world with the problem of prevalent sexual harassment and misconduct. All the female boxers, MMA fighters, wrestlers, weightlifters, and bodybuilders have shown women are capable of creating powerful bodies. Self-defense does work, but some styles of martial arts are probably more effective. The study did not specifically say which fighting style was used, so there is no answer to this question.
Strangely enough, there have been objections to women’s self-defense from a group that one would think would be advocates. Victim feminists are critical of women’s self-defense, because they think it promotes an atmosphere of rape culture. Nia Sanchez who in 2014 stated that women needed self-defense to prevent sexual assault was attacked by victim feminists. The Miss USA contestant and martial artist was actually making a logical argument. There is no element in victim blaming when who empower themselves physically. This does not excuse a culture in which sex crimes are so prevalent. Prisons, college campuses, and the US military have a problem with rape. However, victim feminists never discuss these cases of sex crimes . This is why the #me too movement will most likely not be effective. It only focuses on sexual harassment and assault in the workplace or positions of power, rather than all spheres of society. The other problem it presents women as constant victims that must be babied and protected. Wallowing in victimhood is not progressive or empowering. A manufactured dissent movement from social media will not solve the problem of sex crimes . This also leads to the issue with the concept of rape culture. It believes that boys are taught to rape and this creates rapists. It does expose that there is a culture of misogyny in various communities that do not value women as people. However, no one is teaching boys to rape. The rape culture concept presents all men as rapists or potential rapists. The idea of teaching a rapist not to rape seems as ludicrous as teaching a Ku Klux Klansman not to be racist. The solution to this would be to teach boys that girls are your equals and not sex objects.
Culture by definition can be defined as ” the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization” or “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.” The behaviors that are defined in rape culture are aberrations and crimes. These behaviors are anti-social and unacceptable to polite society. This explains why it is hidden from public view and why individuals of power can get away with sexual misconduct. Donald Trump and Ray Moore were able to commit sex crimes without punishment , because they were men of power. These individuals should be caught can punished to the full extent of the law. The problem is that sex crimes are not taken as seriously in the US criminal justice system. There needs to be a change in the attitude of law enforcement. They are guilty in terms of the institution that does most of the victim blaming. That culture of siding with the criminal, rather than being an advocate for the victim has to change. Victim feminists are not helping women by presenting them as helpless and need of protection. The #me too movement could fall to this or be co-opted by other groups with an ulterior motive.
The best method is to be proactive and to also utilize other techniques to overturn the system. Women have to break themselves away from a state of learned weakness. This will also have to be challenged also in the media. Women are too often presented as victims or subject to gender stereotyping . Time Magazine or the New York Magazine have presented the helpless victim image on their covers. Media attention does help a cause, but it must be managed in a method that can convert the public to a particular cause. When victim feminists do not support self-defense for women, they are really being anti-woman.
There is another equally ridiculous argument against women’s self-defense that goes to another spectrum. It has to do with women gaining false confidence and becoming drunk on power. There is a notion that women who get power in any sense will become abusive and men will be their targets. They will go out and pick fights with men or end up harming themselves. This does not happen, if it does it is rare. Some individuals are more violent than others, but learning self-defense has never caused a person to go out and randomly assault people.
female MMA fighter fighting a man
The point of self-defense is to protect one’s self not to be aggressive to other people. Their is subtle misogyny in this position. Women who show too much strength are considered dangerous, erratic, or out of control. Women showing competence or skill can intimidate some men who believe that women should hold a secondary position in the societal order. Women showing power especially physical power, induces some trepidation in some men. The fear is projected in the myth that if women can defend themselves men will be harmed in the the process. So far, such comedic irrational fears have not materialized. The only reason such people would object to women defending themselves is that is another way for women not to be controlled. Simultaneously, it is a way for some men to maintain rigid gender roles.
The problem come with that fact that for so long masculine identity has been associated with strength and machismo. Fighting or dominating women has unfortunately been a part of that. This explains why their is such a negative reaction to women who have physical skill and power. It is a new age in which women all around the world are rising economically, socially, and politically. This has caused men to either fell threatened by the change or react with violence. Physical strength some feel is the last thing men have left in a world of rising women. This is not the case either, considering women are also becoming involved in sports, fitness, and physical activity. This change should not be seen as an attack on men, rather society becoming more equal between the sexes.
The problem was that there was not a men’s liberation to accompany the women’s liberation. As a result, boys get mixed messages about what it means to be a man and how men should treat women. Society seems to tier between the dated machismo of the past and the equality values of the present. There is also a wider battle between extreme social justice warrior and extreme alternative far-right conservative that prevents rational discussion. Although controversial, the false confidence does have some truth. Some women may do things they could endanger themselves. Walking alone at night in a dangerous neighborhood, hitch hiking, going to a home of a stranger, or drinking too much at a party could be taking unnecessary risks. Decision making is critical to personal protection. While there are victim feminists, there are also power feminists who are extreme in the opposite direction. They do not believe in equality, rather that women should just amass as much power as possible. It functions on gender antagonism rather than harmony between the sexes. Relevant to self-defense it may given women an overestimation of their physical abilities. To them women hitting a man is not a problem, but if a man does this it is a tragedy. Violence is never justified or acceptable, but women who are engaged in assaults are not seen as something serious. There does exist women who do engage in criminal acts of rape, domestic violence, and sexual assault. This is not a concern to the power feminist. There are women who even assault men with the expectation there will be no retaliation or condemnation. Violence is horrendous no matter who does it. Women should realize when you lay your hands on someone that escalates conflict to another level. It should be clear that starting a fight with someone stronger than you would not be wise.
Nia Sanchez who has a black belt would know better than to pick a fight with with Theresa Bostick. There is a difference in fighting skill, but the difference in strength is far greater.
Women attacking men is not something that should be promoted. Power feminists subtlety encourage this to a degree. The desire for power feminists to compete with men on all levels has created a toxic atmosphere. The one area that they have met a road block is the physical one. Due to physiological, biological, and anatomical differences women are not have the same physical fitness capacity as men. This does not mean women are not physically capable of inflicting harm. This is why male victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault are not taken seriously, because it is thought men are suppose to be strong enough to protect themselves. Gender stereotypes work in both ways and distort reality. It assumed that women naturally would be the victim and men the predators. This is not always the case. Women can be the perpetrators and men can be the victims. The majority of statistics show that it is men who inflict the violence, but women make up a small portion of initiators. The myth is that one needs to be physically strong to be abusive. That is not always the case. A woman could resist abuse, but refuses to do so because they still have a dependence or love of their partner. Abuse even occurs among same-sex couples, which is rarely studied. This problem is more complicated than previously thought.
Which of these women do you think committed an act of domestic violence? If you answered all three of the strongest ones you are wrong. Hope Solo was charged with domestic abuse (bottom right corner) when she allegedly beat up her nephew and half sister.
The domestic abuser is not some man in a wife beater shirt or a hulking brute. They can be male or female and come from various class and ethnic backgrounds. The distorted logic of the power feminist is that women should be as hostile to men in every since of the word. To them it would be better to be offensive rather than defensive. This is somewhat understandable if crime statistics show how prevalent rape and sexual misconduct are. The problem is every man is not the enemy. There are men who are just as vexed about sexual assault and the abuse of women. Nothing will be accomplished if men and women are against one another. This could morph into something much more sinister. The US has in particular a culture of violence and self-defense has found itself caught in that particular controversy.
There is a divide in self defense about the use of weapons. Guns are in particular a controversial subject. There is an element of truth that guns can be an equalizer when confronting a person more physically powerful, yet there are problems with this claim. The first has to do with gun safety and training. If an individual does not regularly go to a shooting range or train with arms they will not be effective of using them. The same also goes for hand to hand combat. If one does not practice the skills they learn will become dulled. This is where a false sense of confidence could actually hold some merit.
Just having a gun does not make a person safer. It is possible that it could be used against the owner. Access to the weapon and how fast one can pull the trigger are factors. There are also factors that influence hand to hand combat. How fast are the attacks and skilled the attacks are make a difference. While confidence is important in defending one’s self there should not be an exaggerated sense of ability. Caution and careful consideration of a situation should be the first step to any self-defense strategy. Having a gun or martial arts skills does not make a person invincible.
The US is dealing with higher levels of gun violence than ever before. Mass shootings and gang violence is enabled by the prevalence of firearms. More guns means more opportunity for criminals, terrorists, and hate groups to cause havoc. The conservative motto is ” an armed America is a safe America” does not hold truth. There is a possibility that an assailant could have a gun and a much better one in terms of firepower. This means the advantage is negated. Gun control can reduce crime and make society safer. Adding guns to self-defense only complicates matters. There is a possibility one could shoot a person by mistake or suffer a fatal accident themselves. Women who may be paranoid or have an over exaggerated idea about men’s strength could be just as fast to pull a weapon from their bag. Gun advocates claim taking away guns will leave women vulnerable. This is not true if they learn how to fight. It seems the motivations are not about women’s well being, but rather to enrich gun manufacturers and increase the power of the gun lobby politically. The alternative to this ( or counter argument) is that stun guns or mace can be used. This only works if it is readily available and if it can be used fast enough. The best defense is your arms, hands, and legs. These are with you at all times. Unarmed self-defense may be more reliable, but there has not been a study to prove this position.
What needs to be understood is that self-defense is not just about fighting. Avoidance and escape strategies are required for any effective program. Learning to comprehend certain surroundings and read the body language of individuals allows for prevention. Having good judgement can help a person avoid a perilous situation before it starts. Also a change in mindset is helpful. A woman who demonstrates a level of confidence, forcefulness, and assertiveness will be the least likely to be victimized by a predator. This can happen to anyone, but there are methods of fighting back. Do women need self-defense? Given the current situation it is necessary. It is still a dismal state of affairs that women and even girls at a young age are subject to sexual abuse. It would be wonderful to see a world violence and crime free, yet this is only in the dreams of utopians. Sexual assault may not be completely eliminated, but it can be reduced. It requires being proactive and change in attitudes. Every man should encourage their wives, girlfriends, daughters, and female friends or associates to learn or get involved in a self-defense course. Their safety and well being depends on it. Law enforcement needs to take accusation seriously and punishments must be more severe for sex crimes. Till that happens, women must stand up for themselves and not wait for men to protect them. The study shows that self-defense can work,but it needs to be taught to more women.
Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes is a monograph exploring the history of women athletes in Greek civilization. While any devoted follower of women’s sports and history knows about women’s participation in the ancient world, this is something new to the general public. For many the idea of female athlete is a new phenomenon that occurred with Title IX and the feminist movement. This obviously is not true, seeing as there are cases in which women played sports and were athletes. The reason this is not examined to the same extent as male participation is due in part to sexist prejudice and the fact that sports historiography is comparatively new. There are some who may not believe women did such things. Archaeology provides evidence of the ancient female athlete and the types of competitions they were involved in. Seeing as some civilizations either had an oral tradition of record keeping or few documents that still remain, artifacts help solve puzzles of the past. Authors Anne Reese and Irini Vallera-Rickerson combine both history and archaeology to provide the reader with a vivid description of the female athlete of ancient Greek civilization. Originally published in 2002, at the time there was sill few secondary sources on this subject. The monograph discusses the Olympic games, festivals, and mythology in the context of women’s sports.While this is an entertaining and informative book, it does have some minor flaws . Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes does successfully prove that the female athlete is not a recent phenomenon, but they are part of a long history of sports competition.
The text does a great job of describing women’s status in Ancient Greece. it varied depending on the period and area. Minoan civilization was known to worship a mother goddess. This continued into Mycenaean civilization until Zeus became a replacement. Athens and Sparta were two extremes of the political spectrum. Women were restricted in terms of the laws in Athens. Their freedom was limited, yet they were allowed to attend some schools. However, women were under legal guardianship of the men in their lives whether it was their husband, brother, or father. Sparta gave women more freedom, yet this should not be seen as a conviction in equality. The monograph makes that mistake by implying it. The only reason women were allowed to engage in physical activity was so that they could produce stronger children. The males would become soldiers in this militarist society and the women would look after the home while men were at war. Citizens of Sparta male or female were raised to serve the state without question. Thebes and Korinth fell in a political and social middle ground between these two states.
Seeing as each city-state was independent, the laws were different in regards to women. Accounts of Spartan civilization come mostly from Aristotle, Herdotos, Pausinias, Plutarch, and Thukydides. These were mostly Non-Spartans, so accounts could have a level of bias.It was a common Athenian opinion that Spartans were rude, uncivilized, and rustic. The accounts do expose what training for women in Sparta was like. Their exercise regimen consisted of wrestling, footraces, javelin throwing, and discus. Spartan women also developed a type of exercise known as the bibasis. These were exercises of jumping in place. A Roman poet known as Propertius claimed that women also were involved in pancratium a sport which was a combination of boxing and wrestling. Maybe it could best be described as the MMA of ancient Greece.
Spartans had a different attitude in regards to how boys and girls were raised. Girls and boys would perform physical activities in the nude. Gymnos the ancient Greek word in which gymnastics is derived, means naked or without clothing. Athenians saw this and the fact that women had more freedom as vulgar. Athens was a place of the arts and culture. It was not compatible with the militarist and rustic society of Sparta.The fact that Spartan women had more independence did not mean the society valued gender equality. The idea was to have women become strong breeders and produce great warriors. King Lykurgos produced the foundation for a mighty power in the Mediterranean . This did not stop the state from falling to Macedonia and the Achaean League around 195 B.C.E.. When The Roman Empire invaded in 140s B.C.E they divided Greece into provinces to be ruled directly. The Romans admired Spartan militarism and declared Sparta a free city. There was a small rival of the old Spartan culture. Women lived different lives in Athens and Sparta. Women were regulated to a domestic sphere in Athens, while Sparta allowed some freedom for them. Women’s status varied depending on the social and political circumstances of a city-state.
Women athletes may seem like a new phenomenon, yet there is evidence that they were present in Greek civilization. Aegean civilization (3000- 1100 B.C.E) provides artifacts of sportswomen of the ancient period. Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations reveal much about the activities of these athletes . Fresco fragments, clay seals, and reliefs found at Knossos are documentations of history of the sports Minoan participated in. Arthur Evans was the archaeologist responsible for uncovering the mysteries on krete. His excavation allowed him to produce a four volume work called The Palace of Minos at Knossos. The art that Minoans left is a documentation about their society. Women just like the men were active participants in bull-jumping and bull-leaping. These sports were thought to be religious in nature as a way to honor the Mother Goddess. The Mother Goddess may be an indication that women in Minoan society had higher status. There is some disputes over how exactly bull leaping worked. The Toreador Frescoes depict bull leaping. Doing this action would require a huge amount of upper body strength and acrobatic skill. The text proposes theories, however it does not reach an answer. It could be that bulls were trained to perform in a certain way to allow acrobats to jump on them.
If the bull was charging and an acrobat would grab it by the horns, this would be dangerous. To somersault for bull leaping would be physically impossible. It is possible that the fresco is being interpreted to literally. A more logical explanation may be that this was depicting bull fighting rather than actual leaping. The feats were just embellished for the sake of entertainment. One problem with archaeology is that there may be a rush to jump to a conclusion too soon. These scholars have to be detectives of the past gathering artifacts as their clues.
Iconography can be a useful tool in archaeological study. It has revealed that women normally in Minoan art were depicted with white or lighter skin and men with darker skin. Clothing differed in artistic depiction. The loin cloths that women wore had more designs and variation in color. The art also shows straps on the wrist and hands. The function was probably for getting a better grip on the bull. Frescoes were prevalent plaster based paintings. Pigments would be applied to plaster on buildings depicting sporting events or activities of daily life. Buon fresco required a method of applying pigment to wet plaster and the color will then sink into the wall. Fresco secco applies the pigment combine with an organic preservative ( such as egg whites ) to a dry surface.
Spain’s Laura Campos competes on the uneven bars during a qualification of the Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, southern Germany, on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2007. The 40th Gymnastics World Championships take place in Stuttgart from Sept. 1 to Sept. 9, 2007. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Bull leaping as depicted from Minoan art would require a huge amount of upper body strength, acrobatic, and gymnastic skill. It seems unlikely that a person would be able to do this without serious injury.
Besides frescoes, seals also leave evidence of female athletes in the ancient world. Seals were carved as well as engraved objects made of stone, clay, or bone. The seals were used to make impressions on clay or wax. It was a means of verification of authenticity. It also was used to denote ownership. Normally seals were used in the home or market place. Seals were also used as symbols of identity among people.
Statues and sculpture are also artifacts that show that female athletes were active in the ancient world. The reason why serious study was not given to such findings was because many male scholars thought it was not important enough to give attention to. The 20th century saw the rise of women’s history as a major academic field. Since then, there have been efforts to uncover women’s roles in the past. There still remains more to be discovered and learned. Heinrich Schliemann only discovered Mycenae in 1876. Prior to that, there was no knowledge of its existence. There could be many lost civilizations globally, but there are limited remains or evidence of their existence. Artifacts, documents, and art are records of history.
Greek female athletes depicted in sculpture.
Still there is a level of skepticism. It appears that the only sports women were involved in were bull sports. There are books and academic journals that state women in Minoan civilization also did running, swimming, and hunting. Opposing views are that the women depicted in art were performing religious ceremonies. Both perspectives could be valid, but there needs to be more exploration and research.
The monograph also reveals to the readers the myth of the Olympic rings. The rings did not have their roots in ancient history. David C. Young revealed in “Myth About The Ancient Games ” that the rings myth can be traced to two American authors. Lynn and Gray Poole had mistaken an inscription from a movie prop and others copied their work. The rings have their origins in the 1936 Olympics. Leni Riefenstahl was the film-maker responsible for their existence. the rings were part of a prop used for her film Olympia. The stone was paced in the film at the stadium at Delphi. The Pooles erroneously thought this was genuine. The Olympic flame runner may also be a myth. Yet, there is reference to hearth that would be lit in the Prytaneum discussed by Pausanias. This building was in the Altis and led to the exit of the gymnasium.
Volume 2, Page 24, Picture 10, 1936 Olympic Games, Berlin, Germany, Five young women take part in a display of the Olympic Rings (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
The passing of the torch is a creation of the modern Olympics. This tradition was not needed in the ancient world because the games were held in the same place. The modern Olympics can be hosted by various nation-states around the world. The propagation of this myth just demonstrates how fast misinformation can be conveyed. Athletries provides an explanation into myths and common misconceptions about ancient sports history. A modern day invention was thought to have ancient roots. Through a mistake and incorrect information a myth of the Olympic ring origin was born .What makes the book enjoyable is that it reveals these little known facts.
There were multiple games that women were competitors in. This included the Panhellenic Games, Olympic Games, Pythian Games, Nemean Games, and Isthmian Games. The Panhellenic Games refers to competitions held across Greek civilization. These athletic competitions were local, but expanded to include other city-states. Women could have been charioteers. The evidence found of women being part of the games is revealed in inscriptions with the names of women athletes. The inscriptions found at particular sites also reveal which event they competed in and the game she won. The games were held in honor of gods and goddesses such as Hera, Demeter, Zeus, and Apollo. Games were held in different years to prevent possible conflicts of overlap. The reason this was done was to allow high participation and attendance. All the games ended by 394 C.E. due to Christian belief they were pagan rituals. Emperor Theodosios I wanted an empire of Christian culture. Relevant to women in sports, the Heraea Games was a competition for women. Athletics were also part of festivals, which included poetry and singing. The cult of Hera was widespread, so it was no shock their was a festival and athletic events organized in honor of this goddess. The inscriptions leave us names of the athletes, but other than that there is no other biographical information. One inscription reveals a winner by the name Hedea who excelled at footraces in both the Nemean Games and Isthmian Games. Queens also may have been chariot racers. One inscription commemorates Egyptian Queen Verenike’s victory in the Nemean Games. Athletics served an important purpose in ancient civilization. It was not only a sort of binding adhesive to these societies, but a religious celebration.
The authors propose one theory about the exact date of the Olympic games . A reader should be skeptical of the information they receive. They base this theory on the end of Troy VII around 1190 B.C.E, using Homer’s Illiad as a marker. They are right to assume that 776 B.C.E is correct for the first recorded Olympic Games. However, there are still questions. There is a possibility there were records of previous games that were lost to history. If the authors were to make such statements more evidence is required. This is a challenge for archaeologists considering the Olympiads were at various points continued or discontinued. The renewal date of the Olympic Games was 884 B.C.E. This appears to be the least cogent argument the text makes. The reasoning may be sound, however it does not meant it leads to the correct conclusion. The most reliable sources are taken from the writings of Pausinias. He claimed that the games were discontinued by King Oxylos ruler of Elis. The origin of the Olympics is not entirely certain, but there are numerous myth surrounding the ancient athletic event. One myth is that Hercules stated the competition with his brothers. Another involves Pelops and Hippodamia. Mythology and stories have served a pivotal purpose in the transfer of cultural value systems in various societies. Greek civilization was no different in terms of that function. The authors should have provided more concrete evidence to support their claim.
The monograph concludes with delineating the history of the modern Olympic Games. The first attempts at revival were in 1859 and 1870. This was under the auspices of Evangelos Zappas. This was funded out his own pocket, so the games at a certain point were no longer able to continue. The successful revival would come only with the help of Demetrios Vikelas and Baron Pierre de Coubertin. These individuals had connections to sports organizations and news editors. It was mostly Coubertin’s contacts that made revival of the games possible. The Olympic Games were revived in 1896 with competitors from around the globe. Women were not banned from competing, but there were efforts to exclude them.
This did not stop Stamata Revithi from participating in a marathon in the 1896 Olympics. The IOC refused to recognize her running time. Women were competing in the Olympics by 1900, but it was only in golf and tennis. Pierre de Coubertin made it no secret that he did not want women to be competitors in the games. Sexist prejudice was keeping women out of sports. However, by the 21st century more women would become competitors from around the globe. Decolonization that followed after World War Ii created new independent nation-states in Africa and Asia. From there more athletes would appear on the Olympic stage. The female athlete is not a recent phenomenon, There were women who participated in sports during the ancient period. Athletries is a great book for anyone interested in ancient civilization, women’s history, and sport. Although an academic text it is not so pedantic or intricate that a reader would become confused about what they are absorbing. The brief discussion of Greek myths will entertain those with an fascination with the classics. Certain theories they propose should be questioned. It should be understood that there remains more to be discovered. Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes is a book worth owning.
This is an op ed from the Los Angeles Times originally published July 25, 2017 discussing the possible health issues women could face in combat roles. While there are legitimate concerns the articles raises, it is clear that they are not supportive of women have such jobs. It reveals that the Defense Department is undergoing a campaign to increase women’s numbers in combat jobs by 10 %. Targets may be difficult to meet based on certain physical standards that the majority of women may not be able to meet. This explains why women involved in sports and physical fitness activities are being targeted for combat jobs. They would have the physical strength and endurance to meet the fitness standards. The article claims that there has not been a precise study to examine the disproportionate health risks of women in combat and also implies that combat integration would be an awful idea. It cannot be ignored that there are physiological and anatomical differences among the sexes. However, these are averages and what the military is looking for is women with the proper qualifications. If the standards are set, training is done correctly, and male soldiers see their female colleagues as valued members women in combat can will work. There are solutions to possible health risks to soldiers.
There is the obvious statement of facts in the article in regards to physiology and fitness. These are generalities and averages that are well know to any individual with an basic understanding of biology. The average male can produce more testosterone which allows for greater muscular hypertrophy. As stated in the by the authors “the average woman can possess 55% to 58% the upper body strength of men.” The difference in endocrinology also effects the skeletal system making bones denser. Larger lungs and hearts as well as a different shaped pelvis means men run faster. The difference translates to 40 % greater aerobic capacity compared to women. These are averages of men and women, but there should be consideration for women who have attained a high fitness level. The average woman would obviously be at a disadvantage. The female athlete would not have such a problem. Weightlifters, swimmers, as well as track and field athletes would possibly be overqualified for some of the physical standards. There are of course health risks from injury,but stronger women are more likely to endure.
If the average woman is seeking to enter such a physically demanding job, she will have to train prior to basic training. Seeing as there is a disadvantage in muscle power it will have to be built. If a woman does not take this step initially, injury in basic training could occur. This has to be approached from a practical physical fitness perspective. The first question is can a woman get stronger through a training method? It is possible and it requires weight training. This type of exercise also builds muscle and bone in women. Doing this prepares the body for rigorous activity of combat positions. Besides sex, there are other factors that effect physical fitness potential. There is the current state of health ( weight and diseases), genetics, and somatotype. Women who have mesomorphic body types will find vigorous physical activity easier and will respond to a greater extent to training. A woman of endomorphic or ectomorphic body type may have to train harder to reach a fitness target. Genetics play a role in athletic potential. Women who trains on the same regimen as a man will not reach the same physical fitness level.
Muscular hypertrophy is greater in males compared to females.
If we look at averages, many men and women who would be drafted would either have to go on a weight management program. A portion of the American population is either obese or overweight. They would need to be trained extra to deal with this. they state that “no training system can close the gap.” While women’s strength level would not reach the highest performing male, they could meet standards through training. Women who strength taring for several months can expect to see a 20 to 40 % increase in strength. The only way this will happen is if women lift weights heavy enough to cause fatigue can build muscle. Lighter weights are better for building muscle endurance. Women as the article points out may have to use most of their maximum physical fitness capacity. It should be noted there are men who may not meet the fitness requirements either. However, no one would question their ability to be turned into a soldier.
Women depending on which armor unit they are in are required to lift 35 pound shells and carry 100 pound packs. This may seem like too much, but it depends on the anthropometric measurements of the woman in such a position. Lifting 35 pounds repeatedly would not be a problem for a woman who has trained in strength building exercises. A woman who is 150 pounds with low body fat could have an easier time than a woman who is 122 lbs.The more type II muscle fiber the more endurance women will have to the physical strains of combat. These types of muscle fibers during recruitment provide more explosive power. Women have these muscle fibers as well, not to the same extent as men. At the cellular level and in the process of muscular hypertrophy, there is no difference. Women can build strength; the real obstacle is increasing running speed. Despite being closer to men in the lower body, the shape of women’s pelvis would mean they would run slower.
Training does not change the structure of the pelvis in women. It is possible to increase women’s running speed. Training must be done in intervals to be effective. When training to increase distance one should run slower during training. Increasing speed would involve require shorter distances while running to build up endurance. This would from a physical fitness point of view would be more difficult than building strength. The gap in physical fitness may not be reduced. but it can be narrowed. The only information revealed by this data is that women in peak physical shape would be better performers in physical tasks. The average woman would struggle without training. This means women would probably still remain in small numbers in the marines and frontline infantry divisions. The most physically demanding combat occupational specialties even if they open to women may not have equal numbers. Just like construction, firefighting, and law enforcement women will make a small percentage.
This explains the ads targeting women who are fit enough for such tasks. The challenge for women is the higher the intensity the more strain they will face. Close combat units as the article explains have the issue of irregular meals, sleep deprivation, and low intake of calcium and vitamin D. The access to these critical vitamins can be distributed to soldiers in their supplies. Carrying such pills would not be an extra burden in terms of supplies. There are means to prevent the conservation mode in women’s bodies. Menstrual cycles could cease and the possibility of osteoporosis could increase. Stress fractures the article states is from conservation mode, but is really from over loaded gear. Yet they attribute that to the pelvic injuries, urinary tact injuries, and pelvic organ prolapse. Designing armor and gear to fit the female body form can reduce injury during training and in battle. The US military has began designing such armor to fight this problem. Women must focus on upper body exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, and bicep curls to strengthen those areas. Soldier loads must be designed to be ergonomically efficient. This way soldiers will not be overloaded with gear hindering their mobility. Soldiers need armor that is strong, but does not reduce their speed. Even the strongest people can get injured if the place too much weight on their body.
This reveals why soldiers feel the health effects after service. The military is ignoring health issues and providing low quality healthcare. Women should avoid taking contraception thinking that it will enhance performance. There is a myth that the menstrual cycle reduces a woman’s physical strength and athletic performance. Women take contraception not to prevent birth in this circumstance, but think they will perform better. This comes to having accurate information about women’s bodies. Not using contraception except for what it was intended to be used for can prevent weight gain and loss of bone mineral density. To prevent such health problems it is critical to monitor soldier health and to make sure they are aware of possible health conditions .
There is a general fitness issue of weight management that the text does not discuss. The American population struggles with either obesity or weight control. The data could be exaggerated if calculated on a body mass index scale, which has not always been the most accurate. According to the National Health and Nutrition Survey 66% of American adults are either overweight or obese. Then was an increase from 53% a generation ago. There could be numerous factors in the spike. Food labeling may not be completely honest and the use of high fructose corn syrup contributes. Foods with enormous amounts of sugar and fats also sabotage weight loss efforts. Then it could be difficult if one does have the motivation to lose weight. Some try multiple times and quit. There has to be an atmosphere of encouragement to change habits. Another problem is keeping the weight lost off. Weight issues do not only effect adults, but children and youth. What this means is that the majority of the population would not be physically fit enough to meet military standards. That means many Americans would have to lose weight prior to starting any form of basic training. Besides that, there has to be a paradigm shift in how people view exercise and physical activity. The problem is people see as a chore, rather than something fun or enjoyable. This is why physical education classes should be structured in that manner. Not only will it teach children to be active,but it will encourage life long healthy habits. Relevant to women there is a challenge. It is harder for them to lose weight. Higher estrogen production and differences in metabolism make explain this. Women can lose weight through the right methods. Diet alone will not be adequate; there has to be an exercise regimen to burn calories. What also must be done is altering women’s perceptions about fitness and physical activity. There still is the antiquated belief that exercise,sports, and physical activity or skill is male only. When women understand that their bodies are not biologically inferior, they gain more confidence in their physical skills. Doing this would make it easier for women entering the service. The American population has to get its weight issues under control if it wants to assemble a larger fighting force.
This op ed does have an agenda. While it does not resort to outrageous claims as detractors of women in combat make, it does believe in the frailty myth. The idea that anything physical women will fail at. Physical skill or strength or occupations that require it are places that women are not meant to be in accord to those who believe in women’s biological inferiority. Julie Pulley a former army captain and Hugh P, Scott a Navy medical officer have credentials as military professionals, who wrote this op-ed. However, they do not offer solutions to issues of women’s health. Besides that, they ignore women who have excelled. There have been women who were physically capable, but at the time of their service combat jobs prohibited them. Alley Miesch Nie was a military service member. Looking at her photograph one would assume the 5’4 woman would not be able to handle combat or physical tasks.
Despite a person’s gender bias the reality tells another story. At 141 pounds during her competitive career as an athlete she was able to 225 lbs bench presses, 350 lbs squats, 800 lbs leg presses, and 325 lbs deadlifts. She clearly developed an impressive level of functional strength through training. Based on these statistics, how would Alley do on a particular MOS standard? These new standards are called “gender neutral” yet there is a problem with that. Using this terminology makes people think that standards are lowered for women. What it really means is that there will no longer be a fitness standard target that is lower for women. It means both men and women will have to be qualified physically depending on which occupation. The standards vary depending on the US Navy, US Army, and US Air force job. After basic training, the soldier can make the decision which MOS they want to go to.
The year 2017 has brought some updated combat arms fitness standards. The biggest changes came to infantry and armor. The test will be in four parts. It wants to specifically target who would best fit in a particular occupational specialty. This new test is called the Occupational Physical Assessment Test which went into effect January 1st. It has only one scoring scare and adjustments are not made for sex or age. The marines did have separate standards which are now being formed into one fitness standard. It consists of four fitness events which include a medicine ball throw, standing long jump, deadlift, and interval run. The scores are classified based on the results of performance labelled in color codes . The black (heavy) score means a soldier is prepared for the physical demands. Significantly prepared is gray. The moderate range is gold, while the lowest score is white (unprepared). Soldiers who make the black category will qualify for all MOS in the US armed forces. All recruits must meet the gold category. Infantry, armor, and combat engineer are what would fall under the black category. The gray category would include tank mechanics and helicopter repair mechanics. Many combat jobs are under the moderate gold category ( army medical occupations ). Based on this information it seems that Alley would have no problem reaching the black category. Women with the least amount of fitness would fall into the unprepared category. The majority of women could fall into either moderate or some in the significantly prepared. If a recruit wants to really be part of some occupation specialty, they have to make sure they are physically prepared for the test. Another problem is that the height and weight standards will have to be adjusted.
Alley because of her height would fall out of the required weight range. The ironic part is that she is not overweight. The body mass index does not account for a person who has vast amounts of lean body mass. So a woman who built up muscle would be denied the position based on the weight and height standards. The Marines realizing women were fit enough, but did not fall in the range of the body mass standards had to make a change. These standards have also effected men who just are bigger. The average Marine is bigger than in the past and this has not been accounted for. A muscular strong woman would then fall out the weight and height regulation. This would put shorter women at a disadvantage, because under the old regulations.
The women are going to need the extra lean body mass they have built up. The maximum weight for a woman of 5’3 is 141 lbs. Short muscular women even if they are capable would then disqualified. There was the option of wavier, but this process was long and cumbersome. Women could have been reducing their physical optimum to reach the weight requirements. This only harms success. Another problem being addressed is unequal fitness standards. Women must not be given lower standards based on ideas they will perform worse. That means having them so the same exercises. One issue that arouse was three pull ups controversy in 2014. Most female Marines struggled doing three pull-ups. Detractors took that as evidence women could not meet the demands of combat. Yet, upon further investigation the problem became obvious. Women were for a long time doing the flexed arm hang rather than pull-ups. That exercise in particular will not build the most upper body strength. When women were trained to do such an exercise it was not a problem. The mass media focused on women’s failures rather than their successes.
The article admits “women are essential in America’s armed services” yet the author may not truly believe that. The most vocal opponents against women in combat come ironically from conservative and Republican Party groups and individuals. They have become the party of war and yet they are condemning women who enthusiastically volunteer for service. This is why the constant slogan that they preach “support the troops” is disingenuous. The conservatives and far-right Republicans cite sex differences as evidence women are incapable or inferior in terms of combat qualification. The reality is that women have been in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan in unofficial capacities. The reason for misogynist rhetoric or behavior ( the Marine cell phone picture scandal) is that men do not want to compete with women for combat jobs. the irrational fear that women are going to take jobs away from men in the military is ludicrous. The policy of military intervention in various nations around the world. There will be no shortage of jobs in the military. There may actually be a time in which there may not be enough men to fill these positions. It makes no sense to ban women who are qualified for a combat job. The article states that army recruiting sites or recruiters themselves do not reveal reports about the health risks. Anyone with a basic understanding or physiology or anatomy would realize physically demanding jobs to have an attrition rate. Physical attrition can happen from repetitive motion injuries and factors due to range considering the intensity of activity. This may happen to women faster over the years. The male body may be able to sustain more trauma, but no person of sex is impervious to injury. The only solution is to reduce soldier load for ergonomic efficiency and let recruits know specific standards as well as the best methods for training. The US military must stop present the frailty myth as fact and having low expectations for women in combat positions.
The evidence used to make the case women are not fit for combat must be questioned. The one text that they do mention “Musculoskeletal Injuries in Military Women” is credible but the authors do not mention the solutions given after the study. The 2011 report has general prevention of injury strategies that the US military is finally implementing. The solution that the report states is to have modifications in the training programs. Running mileage has to be reduced, because many injuries occurred from this. The training method should involve progressive and gradual exercise stress. The report notes that higher fitness levels mean less injury. The reason why the Brigade Combat Team placed a fitness standard for recruits to meet before training was to solve this problem of high injury rates. Women must meet the three push-ups, 17 sit-ups, and run 10.5 minutes for one mile before they can go train for the BCT. The reason it should be done gradually is that the body must adapt to the level of intensity. The report also notes that progressive loading exercises are the best for strengthening the lower body muscles. The muscles that should be targeted are the soleus, gastrocnemius, quadriceps, hamstrings, tibialis (anterior and posterior), and gluteus medius. The report found a solution yet the authors of this op-ed do not share this information.
Some solutions are also the most simple ones. Women require better running shoes. Having the proper running shoes can allow for avoidance of knee, ankle, hip as well as the back. These running shoes should be comfortable reducing as much pressure on the foot as possible. Shoes should contain Achilles Heel relief, strong midsole, fexiable toe box, and enforced cushioning. The toe box should provide plenty of room. These attributes of a running shoe help make the shock of running less harmful to the feet and legs. This is critical considering women’s different pelvic structure creates a more q angle. This also indicates that soldiers require shock absorbing boots. Having these will allow for less stress fractures and lower extremity injuries. “Musculoskeletal injuries in Military Women” provides prevention suggestions to common aliments that could befall female soldiers. A combination of exercise, training adjustment, and proper running shoes will vastly solve the problem of high injury rates in women. Core stabilization exercises are also recommended to women in the report. The rectus abdominis including the external and internal obliques must be strengthen to prevent spinal conditions.
The report also cites the treatment, diagnosis, and management of multiple injuries.Not only that, the 2011 report delineates proper rehabilitation from injuries. A soldier must be aware of lower back injuries, patellofemoral syndrome, Achilles tendinitis ( or tendinosis) , iliotibial band syndrome, ACL tears and other conditions can be prevented. The training will have to build up bone and muscle mass in women. If one reads the report thoroughly it is not arguing excluding women; it provides practical answers to the disparity in health for military women.The second source regarding women in combat the authors cite ” The Physiological and Medical Aspects That Put Women at Risk for Overuse Injuries.” The only information it provides is what could be deduced based on the 2011 report for the Army surgeon General’s office. Women have to use more of their maximum physical capacity to perform on the same level as men. The only conclusion is that women must build their core strength and upper body to lift the weights required for physically demanding combat jobs. Both of these reports show the health risks, but provide solutions, rather than using them for justifications for keeping women out of combat. They identify a problem and scientifically assess the situation and formulate a answer. The conclusion is to have women train first before attempting tests for combat positions. Physical fitness level before entry is pivotal to success. However, the text cites one of the writings of Marine Captain Katie Petronio who makes it clear that she does not favor women in combat. Most of her writings are specifically against women in the infantry. Her agenda seemed to support the conservative cause of preventing the ban from ending, but claimed on a CNN interview in 2012 : ” I’m not against women in combat.” Then went on to explain “combat readiness is going to be effected by this.”Women who enter combat are not going to reduce combat readiness or efficiency, as long as they meet the same standards. Petronio claims that her two deployments two Afghanistan caused her health problems. The first was muscular atrophy and weight loss . The atrophy only happens when muscles are not in use. This could have been another medical issue not part of her combat experience. Sudden atrophy would indicate some form of multiple sclerosis or at least symptoms of it. She may not have had this, but it was clear that she was not training her body to maintain muscular strength.
This is Mina Mituskoa which shows her during her athletic career and after. As you can see her muscles atrophied after not doing intense training.
When you stop exercising such gains will be lost. This happens faster with women, due to the difference in hormones. The extreme weight loss was probably induced by irregular meals. Such low body fat levels from irregular meals may have caused her infertility. Endurance issue could have just been caused by the extreme environment of Afghanistan. Maybe if her training were different, she would have been able to handle such rigors. The time in which she entered the new standards had not been established. The footwear and equipment has to be designed for the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. Petronio has in a Phyllis Schlafly fashion promoted an anti-woman sentiment in the infantry. It is ironic that a woman is the one preaching such ideas. Citing her article for the Marine Gazette does not add to the image of providing an honest opinion.
The common health problems of stress fractures and spinal cord injury can be reduced by lighter loads and improving a recruit’s physical fitness level before entry.
The numerous health risks are well know,especially the major one of death in battle. Those injured by gunfire, shrapnel, or suffer a traumatic brain injury are not mentioned in the text. Military recruiters do not tell the truth about the US. There is also a more pressing issue that has often been ignored rape and mental illness in the US military. Women face sexual violence from their male colleagues. Women also suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Hardship and witness the carnage of war makes it difficult to adjust to civilian life.
The military has another health crisis of rape and sexual assault. According to the Pentagon statistics reports of sexual assault have reached an enormous high. Service members reported a total of 6,172 cases in 2016. This does not account for the women and men who do not report attacks. The Pentagon also reported that 58% of victims said they faced some form of reprisal for exposing their attacker. Sexual misconduct is ubiquitous in the armed services. Only recently has the US military taken action, but this may not be enough. Sex based violence is a threat to health and personal security of the women and men who serve. Many times commanding officers may be involved, but are not brought to trial by a civilian court. A military court is more likely to be more lenient. The only way this scourge of violence can be stopped is if punishments are more severe. The problem is not just in attitudes; it is institutionally based. The Marines have this problem with online harassment. It had to deal with a Facebook group known as “Marines United” which often spread misogynist and lascivious commentary about women in the armed forces. There is a hostile work environment that requires dramatic human resources action. If not, this will hinder military effectiveness and productivity overall. A culture of mistrust is growing at a period when it is required to function as a unified fighting force. There has to be a way to challenge the strange hazing culture that is present in the US military. This involves fraternity like antics, which involves the harassment of women. It is no secret that the US military has an unwritten policy of rape of the populations they invade. From World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam War US soldiers have assaulted populations with sex violence. With Iraq and Afghanistan the numbers could be much higher. America now has a declining global image, due to the damage of aggressive and unprovoked war. The authors should realize this is just as much of a health risk to women as combat itself.
Soldiers may leave the service without any physical injuries, but mental health can also be effected. Many soldiers are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. This could also put them at risk for depression. The challenge is there is still stigma surrounding mental illness. This is why people do not seek the help they need. There is nothing wrong with a person seeking help. A study conducted by the US military revealed that soldiers have higher rates of mental illness than the civilian population. The worst case result after service is possible suicide. There are explanations for higher rates of mental illness among military personnel. It could be some had it prior to entry into the US military. Data collected from the Study To Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members revealed that soldiers had six times as high episode of intermittent explosive disorder. This is a mental disorder when rage cannot be controlled and impulse is difficult to manage. The study surveyed 5,500 soldiers. There is the possibility of multiple tours of duty causing the problem. Younger soldiers are more at risk for mental illness. The reasons could be that they become home sick, stressed, or do not have the emotional support system.
There needs to be an honest description of the hardships that will follow military service. However, it is not the case of false advertising. Some people like the idea of danger and adventure as well as possible risk. They want to explore the world, but do not have the means to travel. The military in some ways provides that opportunity for some who are economically disadvantaged. The shock of being in a new environment and acclimating can be difficult. There are reasons for the suicides, which are elucidated by particular experiences. It has been known soldiers may be forced to do unspeakable and unethical acts that were ordered by their commanders. If if violates protocol or basic rules of warfare. The guilt and controversy will eventually get to people engaging in such acts. Killing one’s self is an escape from some from constant mental anguish. Soldiers and the military must realize that getting help or consulting someone is not weakness. The military trained soldiers to be tough and self reliant, but even the strongest people need emotional support.
There are certain realities that the US military has to come to terms with. Women are going to be a part of the fighting force and resisting this change will only hinder operation. Just like African Americans becoming integrated into the US military it will happen. The US armed forces are becoming more diverse and represent the demographic shift in America. The US will have to reevaluate its foreign policy strategy. Women have a harder time due to the fact their ability is put into question. The frailty myth or the idea women just cannot be physically capable is still disseminated through out the mass media. Conservative outlets are the most vituperative. Their argument is that “you don’t see women playing in the NFL.” War is more violent and complex that a football game. A sports event does not involve someone being killed or imprisoned after defeat. The only concern is if a female soldier is disarmed some how. A larger man would have the advantage of strength that she is fighting. This means they would have to be reliant on martial arts skills. Judo and Krav maga are effective fighting styles that can be useful for a person who is smaller.
This is why women must be given the same hand to hand combat training. Doing so ensures women can fight out a precarious situation if disarmed. However, just being physically strong does not automatically make you a great fighter. Limited skill and maladroit movements could be more of a hindrance. Although this is a sports analogy consider this : a hand to hand fight between a MMA fighter and a bodybuilder. The more muscular person may have more strength, but did not learn fighting techniques. The MMA fighter has knowledge of these and knows how to avoid hits. This could be a decisive factor in determining who wins.
Each fighting style has its strengths and weaknesses. As we have seen from women’s mixed martial arts and boxing they do have the ability to fight. There is the question can a woman carry a wounded man off a battlefield if the situation calls for it. The requires a significant portion of upper body strength. Women can lift men with an understanding of leverage. The approach should be to have them practice casualty drags both without gear and with their armor on. Carrying a person without gear is easier, because there is no extra weight. Having women do both can physically prepare them for the demands.
Staff Sgt. Stephanie Piekarczyk of the Non-Commissioned Officers Academy at Fort Dix, N.J., demonstrates a “fireman’s carry” during the Warrior Task Training phase of the 2011 Regional Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition May 3 here.
There could be simple solutions to this problem. Detaching some of the gear and removing the person could be one. Dragging the individual by there shoulders could be another. Yet, there could be situations that require medical evacuation and moving the person could cause more harm. Women who are in this situation should be able to do just fine if the passed their tests and met proper qualifications. Thus the argument “women are not strong enough” seems to lack cogency. Even ones that are qualified still are questioned about their competence. Women who work in mostly male dominated professions have to work extra hard to prove themselves. One simple mistake can be a representation of the group, which demonstrates the general sexist atmosphere in these jobs. The US military has to challenge this culture of women being less than capable. The frontline has been burred with warfare becoming more asymmetric. So, women who go to other locations around the globe may see combat without having trained for it. Physical fitness is important, however technology negates this in some regards. Muscles are of little protection against tanks, jets, bombs, guns, drones, biological, nuclear, and chemical weapons. A physically fit military is essential, however a state must have the technology and tactics to ultimately triumph in conflict. Other nations are also allowing women to serve on the frontline. The UK and India are now in the process of allowing women to fight in combat roles. It is only a matter of time before more countries start doing the same.
There are women who fight in unofficial capacities. This could be in paramilitary groups, liberation movement causes, or other armed insurgencies. The peshmerga and YPG has female fighters operating in Iraq and Syria. The Kurds do not have their own state,but seem to be attempting to carve out one after the battle against ISIS ends. It is clear that women will be a part of that fight as well. The Tamil Tigers also mobilized women in war during the civil war in Sri Lanka from 1983 to 2009. FARC when it was fighting the Colombian government did the same. These places were not states so that is why on the data of women in combat. It seems more women are involved in combat than previously thought. A majority of Northern European countries allow women in combat. Australia and New Zealand are the only countries in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.
It seems people if inspired enough will pick up arms if they deem a cause worthy. Women who are born in countries with less resources do not have the same the training as the US military women and still fight effectively. There is no reason that women in the US cannot do the same. The biggest question is how physically strong can a woman get in order to meet the qualifications of certain military occupational specialties ? A sample from women’s weightlifting scores could provide a hypothesized answer. The women who fall in a fitness category of advanced and elite would be more likely to handle more manual labor compared to the beginner or intermediate fitness level. This may complicate implementing a draft. Women would take longer to reach fitness targets.
The only solution is too either adjust the total goal target of the number women you want to serve or have a fitness program in place. This can be done, but another issue must be addressed. Women should register for the selective service. The fact that one preaches equality means that you also accept the responsibility that comes with it. Men do not have a choice, because they are forced to register. The option of being a conscientious objector is available, yet this may be ignored by a military that is becoming more desperate for a victory in a series of failing military engagements. There should be no objection from any advocate for women in combat to reject women being part of the selective service. By this same line of reasoning, this is not license to end a volunteer army system. So far, it has worked well sense the end of the Vietnam War and allowed for higher skilled and higher paid positions to become available. Americans will not tolerate being drafted for wars that are either imperialist in objective or futile in execution. The point the US military is for security. The United States is more and far beyond capable of defending itself. Most of America’s military engagements have nothing to do with security at all. They either advance a business agenda or a geopolitical strategy of keeping America as the world’s sole superpower. Americans have been taught that its military fights for freedom and human rights when this is a fabrication. If there is a concern about military recruiters being extremely dishonest, this is the part that should also cause concern.
There have been exaggerated claims that allowing women in combat will result in failure in US military operations. Women entering combat will not do this, because the US is continued a path that could lead to major social and political issues. Take the role of policeman of the world has caused much anger and distrust of the US throughout the world. The end of the Cold War gave the US immense power which it has abused. Without the Soviet Union,there was little justification for a large military. This did not stop interventions in Somalia, Iraq, or Yugoslavia. NATO and the US struck Kosovo not for humanitarian reasons,but to dismantle Yugoslavia further. Civil war and ethnic conflict was already tearing the country apart, intervention by other Western European nations furthered the disintegration. The US wants to maintain global hegemony even if it conflates into wider regional conflicts. China and Russia are clearly world powers and the US sees them as a threat. This may not be the case, if diplomacy was utilized. Instead there is a network of shadow wars and wars of proxy occurring between the US, China, and Russia. All these powers use the false narrative of fighting the War on Terror as a justification for reducing freedoms or initiating wars. North Korea, Ukraine, and Syria are countries that find themselves caught up in the nexus of wars of proxy. The United States must accept the that the world is moving to a multipolar world power system.Military recruiters will never be honest about what America is really doing. They will never tell of the numerous atrocities, corruption in the Department of Defense, or the neoconservative war agenda for various countries. To say that women are being more so manipulated by being recruited for certain jobs is no more exploitative than any other aspect of the US military. Opening combat roles to women in a way was a public relations technique to improve the image of the US military. lost wars, war crimes, and the abuses of the military industrial complex have tarnish the institution’s image. Maybe a new generation of leadership in the US military can reverse this. Women should not seek to be just combat soldiers; they should also aim to be generals of the highest rank.
Women should become part of the leadership and maybe with new perspectives some problems can be addressed from a different approach. There has to be also a change in political leadership. The system of world politics should adopt another mode of operation. There should not be preparations for war, rather a sustainable peace. All nation-states are guilty of competing with one another for military dominance of the globe. There are nations that carve out and become power centers in a particular region often bullying smaller nations. On a larger scale world powers bully the entire globe. The US-EU block has done such actions to Libya, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria. It has to be understood that liberal democracy or another governance system cannot be imposed upon people. The US military is an apparatus for security, not nation building. A complexus of skilled diplomacy can prevent war; intervention should be the last resort. These ideas are practical, but with more women and others joining the US military the possibility of peace seems hopeless.
There were rumors that Donald Trump was going to reverse the Obama era measure allowing women in combat. It has not happened, but there is a possibility. He has already targeted transgender service members who do not make up much of the US military. Blatant acts of discrimination are common in America. Even if the individual is qualified hate and the status quo is favored. There are numerous examples that show women are capable.
Although women have proven that they can be capable, there will always be doubts and hatred directed at them for being in jobs that were male only. If combat integration is to be successful there has to be a massive human resources effort. Sexual harassment and assault should be punished quickly and severely. The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs must work to provide a higher standard of healthcare . Veterans too often are not getting high quality care that should be every citizen’s right.If not the US could face a major public health crisis. Soldier health should incorporate mental and physical well being. While there is a movement to improving the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries, the care in regards to PTSD and depression are not adequate. Military recruiters should be honest about the health risks and the challenges involved. Honesty about the military should not discourage individuals with a strong desire to serve. Women should not be discouraged from serving just as long as they know what they are signing up for. A military health maintenance program can solve certain problems and reduce medical discharges.