“In The Future, All Women Will Be Amazons” From The Smithsonian

In The Future Women Will Be Amazons

This article written Matt Novak explores an newspaper released published in 1950. The name of it was “How Experts Think We Will Live in the Year 2000 A.D.”  and it makes predictions based on thoughts from the editors. Futurology and future studies became popular in the 20th century due to rapid technological and sociological change. When the Associated Press ran this piece, two World Wars had happened, cars, airplanes were in use and computers were gradually developing into what they are today. Futurism and futurology more specifically attempts to postulate possible outcomes , perspectives  or futures. It these academic fields are more related to the social sciences. What this branch of study seeks to do is understand why the world changes and the probability of change. To the futurologist there is a pattern in past and present. This method however has its limits. The problem with prediction is that it almost becomes the equivalent to a person reading tarot cards. Some cases these prediction about human society can be completely wrong. There was a time in which humanity was excited about the future. There was an idea that technology, progress,  and the elimination of conflict would create societal utopia. Some believed that by the 21st century humanity would have mastered interstellar travel and cured most diseases. This has not happened. While humankind has reached the moon, there are still the some sociological problems plaguing the world. There has been some advancement in terms of human rights, public health, and the availability of education. War, poverty, and racism threaten human advancement. When discussing the state of women there is a fluctuation. Dorothy Roe one of the editors of the article, described what the typical woman would be like in the year 2000. Her prediction about women entering the world of business and government has occurred. Roe states that the average woman will be six feet tall, wear a size 11 shoe, and have muscles like a truck driver.” It is now the year 2017 and the average woman does not have the muscles of truck driver or is above six feet tall. There are obviously stronger and faster women athletes who fit this description. Her futurist prediction was partly off, yet not entirely wrong. Examining this futurist prediction from a sociological, anatomical, biological, and physiological method could have provided a more precise picture.

      Women have been in some instances in a  subordinate role through out human history. This however was not always the case. Before the rise of long lasting human civilization hunter gatherer societies in some respects were more equal. The rise of agriculture, land ownership, and property created the inequality that is present in modern society. Men had access to more property and land. Simultaneously, women were denied education, equal rights, or full employment. This did not mean women simply accepted oppression. Before feminism, there were female leaders, scientists, and mover’s of history. The tragic element was that historians did not think enough of women to include their narratives. Thankfully, women’s history seeks to reverse this mistake. Historical figures such as Hatshetpsut, Nzinga, Queen Elizabeth I, and Joan of Arc are notable women who had risen to prominence in male dominated societies.

The news piece states the amazon of the future “may even be president.” The way in which that though was expressed made it seem as if a female leader was a new concept. The futurist prediction only examines that world through an American perspective. Other countries have female leaders, but at that time it was far less. Now it has increased across the world. Some female leaders have left their mark on history for good or bad, but have shown they have mastered the art of politics. The United States has not yet elected a female president, despite its rhetoric of supporting women’s rights. Although Hillary Clinton lost, it encouraged more women to run for political office. Women have even been leaders in countries, which do not value them as citizens or protect their rights. Benazir Bhutto and Indira Gandhi  governed nations in which had an ultraconservative view of women’s roles. Benazir  Bhutto was the first female leader of a majority Muslim nation, while Indira Gandhi was the first female Prime Minister of India. The US still lags behind compared with the UK which has had two Prime Ministers to date which included Margaret Thatcher and currently Theresa May. The irony is that their policies are not in alignment with women’s rights or causes. Ellen Sirlef  of Liberia and Tsai Ing Wen of Taiwan represent a new female leader of the 21st century. They vary in political ideology, do not refer to themselves as feminists, and are tactical.

One cannot not say women are not capable politicians. Largely a culture of misogyny has kept women out of politics. There have been biological explanations for why men have domination of society. These theories normally just are designed to justify sexist convictions. History disproves this, because women have been involved in science, politics, warfare, and the building of civilization. The gender gap is still present even when women make progress. The world of business and finance is a place where women have reached a glass ceiling. Discrimination, unequal pay, and sexual harassment are the sociological reasons why women may not advance in certain fields. Even under these unfavorable conditions women are present in occupations that were thought to be male only. Law enforcement, firefighting, the military, construction,  and sports are physically demanding occupations. Due to differences in physiological and fitness capacity women would remain small in number in these occupations. However, despite such obstacles women have become part of these professions. While sociological factors are relevant, biological factors cannot be ignored entirely.

If a society has less technology a majority of jobs would be manual labor based. This could theoretically exclude many women, beside the obvious prejudice. The rise of the industrial revolution saw the replacement of brawn power with machine power. This should have benefited women the most, but cultural mores and gender roles prevented it. Women were regulated to the domestic sphere excluded from public life and participation in it. The working classes had women in menial occupations, with even less independence. Women’s status and roles have fluctuated through out history. There were periods in which they had some freedom and as time passed society degenerated. Ancient Egyptian civilization allowed women to own property and have some legal rights to it. They were not burdened by male guardianship and navigate freely, which Greek historian Herodotus called unnatural. As monotheistic religion emerged, women’s status was then lowered. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam demanded that women have a subordinate role in their religious texts and belief system. Women were regulated to property and not people. The rise of the suffrage movement in the 19th century evolved in the feminist movement of the 20th century. Women then gradually regained their status as free people, while facing  backlash to change. The sudden change in women’s status is part of a consistent pattern in human history. There may come a time in which women create large corporations and companies of their own. Society and civilization is never static it is always evolving.

        The article predicts that the average woman in the year 2000 will have proportions that are perfect though amazonian, because “science will have perfected a  balanced  ration of vitamins, minerals, and proteins that will produce the maximum bodily efficiency and a minimum of fat. ” Dorthy Roe then says “she will compete in all types of sports- probably compete with men athletes in football, baseball, wrestling  and prize fighting.” There is no denying that women in sports and athletics have become very strong, but competing with men on average seems to be inaccurate.

Women now compete in most sports, however there are no organized teams for baseball. Women have teams for softball, but there remains work to be done in some areas. Women do have organized football teams, yet they do not have the coverage comparative to the NFL. The strength sports thought to be out of women’s physiological capabilities, are active in. Mixed martial arts, bodybuilding, weightlifting, track and field are areas in which women are showing their talents. Women’s participation in sport has increased, yet mixed competition has not occurred. The reason is anatomical. There exists an athletic performance gap between the sexes due to anatomical factors. Men on average have broader shoulders and more upper body strength. Generally men grow taller than women. While the muscular and skeletal cells are the same their structure changes athletic outcomes. Denser bones and larger muscle fibers mean males would have more absolute strength. The smaller hearts and lungs of women mean that their aerobic capacity would be lower. The major organ systems that contribute to athletic performance include the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, the nervous system, endocrine system, and the musculoskeletal  system. Movement is not just dependent on muscle, but the impulses of the nervous system. The hormones produced by the endocrine system do influence athletic performance. Testosterone allows for greater muscular hypertrophy. Women with lighter bones and smaller muscle mass in comparison means they are more susceptible to injury the more intense the physical competition. There is a point in which absolute strength levels are equal. Prior to puberty boys and girls do not differ in physical strength. Girls may experience thier growth spurt earlier compared to boys. When gondadotropin releasing hormone is produced by the pituitary gland it then signals the production of lutienizing  and follicle producing hormone. Thus begins the production of sex hormones and growth hormone. Estrogen makes the female body retain more fat. Even the most muscular woman and the thinnest woman still retain a higher fat percentage compared to a man of a similar physical fitness level.

Tendons and ligaments are also contributors to body strength. Women’s tendons may not respond the same way to training, but their looser joints make them more flexible. This means women would dominate gymnastics and figure skating even if their was mixed competition. A wider pelvis and lower aerobic capacity means that women would struggle to keep up with male speeds. Contrary to popular belief women do not have stronger legs than men, but are relative closer in strength in that area. However, despite these differences, women can still acquire physical strength through training. Genetics do play a role giving women of a mesomorphic body type more of an advantage. The average woman has not morphed into an amazon quite yet, but there is a group that could fall into Roe’s description. While nutrition has improved, there is the problem of abundance. Foods high in sugar, fats, and high fructose corn syrup have created a problem with obesity and weight related diseases. Women are particularly effected more by this, considering it is more of a challenge for them to lose weight. The modern age has produce a very sedentary lifestyle, with limited physical activity. As a result heart disease, diabetes, and weight management issues have increased. This has not only happened in the United States, but is spreading across the globe. A low vegetable, fruit, and protein diet can result in poor health. It seems if this is not addressed the average woman and man will look similar to blobs. This can be reversed through diet, exercise, and honest nutrition labeling. Roe’s other prediction seems to have realized the effectiveness of supplements for athletes. Women can benefit as much as men from the use of vitamins and supplements. This has become a lucrative industry and has greatly benefited athletes and the general public. Recent investigations into the importance of vitamin D and it is now believed it is essential to muscular and skeletal function.

The women who are involved in athletic competition, not only have to focus on training but maintain a strict diet. This requires a good knowledge base of of nutrition. From the early 20th century to present exercise physiologists have figured out the role of nutrition in athletic performance. Understanding that women’s metabolism functions differently has led to the structuring of  more efficient training programs. Women still must eat to feed growing muscle,but is should be understood that more of that food could be metabolized into fat. That is why activity level should be adjusted to compensate for the endocrinological function. Even though women have proven to be great athletes, male performances levels are still higher. This extends beyond anatomy, but to biology.

          The difference in physical fitness capacity is rooted in biology, through human evolution. Sexual dimorphism is the reason why on average men are stronger. Most primates demonstrate a degree of sexual dimorphism. These are attributes that are secondary sex characteristics, which exclude the reproductive system. During the course of human evolution the size and strength difference may have been a natural selection tool. Male authralopiths most likely fought each other for access to mates. Larger size and strength would have given an edge to the hominin who wanted to spread his genes. The females did not have to fight, so therefore it was easier to just pick a victor in a struggle. While it is hard to test this theory, it can be seen in mating strategies of modern primates. Gorillas function with a male who heads a harem of females. When another gorilla challenges him he will fight to maintain dominance. So, over time the strength and size genes continued to be propagated in the primates species. A changes in environment can influence evolution. When our early ancestors got access to more protein based diets, endocranial  volume increased. Between six and two million years ago brain size increased. Around 17,000 years ago homo sapiens became the only survivor on the evolutionary tree. Evolution was not a linear progression, but a series of branches that came from divergence.


Humanity occupies the homo branch, with the other species becoming extinct. Relevant to the future woman is it possible that given the right conditions that average woman can become stronger? Evolution has the power to change the body structure of organisms so it would seem like a possibility. During the process of human evolution the body went from being heavily built to adapt to colder climates ( 400,000 years ago) to a lighter body ( 50,000 to 20,000 years ago ). Internally the intestines became shorter to accommodate an omnivorous diet. Assuming what is known about human evolution is correct, theoretically it could take millions of years for women to change their physiology. This certainly could not be witness in our current lifetime. Still with a sudden change it will also effect men as well. The article predicted that women’s height would increase. If women changed it would men could see an increase in height as well due to the genetic attributes of sexual dimorphism.

If men already have the genetic trait for more  height, it is likely it would not disappear because natural selection has favored it. Only when it is no longer favored will it disappear. It should also be understood  many elements of a species can be adaptable. There are women who are stronger than men and taller. They are not the average, but have inherited traits that have been passed down generations. The reason that certain species survive is that they have a variation in genetic information, can acclimate to various environments, and pass on genes through offspring to ensure survival. The phrase “survival of the fittest ” is not a correct description. By all standards homo neanderthalensis should have survived based on the fact it was physically stronger. They survived a colder climate. but died out after 30,000 years ago. They could not adapt to the changing environment. Homo sapiens did mainly due to their increased reasoning skills. Nature favored brains over brawn and humanity began to spread through out the Earth, except Antarctica. Sexual dimorphism continues to be a physical trait that proves human evolution. Humanity and other organisms continue to evolve depending on the condition of their environment. Humanity has acquire such a vast knowledge of science it will be possible to manipulate our own biology. This could be done through genetic engineering, surgery, and technology itself.

            There are physiological difference that exist that products of sexual dimorphism. Men have more type II muscle fibers, while women have more type I. Muscular contraction is essential for movement or any athletic performance. Muscular endurance describes how long the muscular contraction can last. Men  and women can have similar levels of muscular endurance. Women may have more, because they fatigue slower. When comparing men and women of a similar size men would still have more upper body strength. When the size is held constant it is estimated that women could be at least 80% as strong. The remaining percentage points account for the upper body disparity.  Cardiovascular physiology  plays a role in oxygen transport. During exercise oxygen is transported to the muscles to form adenosine triphosphate. This then provides energy for muscular contraction. Hemoglobin housed within red blood cells has to transport oxygen from the lungs to other tissues of the body. Larger lungs and hearts contribute to men’s 50% greater aerobic power. Women however may have an easier time converting glycogen into energy, which aids in endurance. Women’s higher fat levels are useful in long distance swimming and running, because it can aids in metabolism. Estrogen-B could also be responsible for fatigue resistance during muscular contraction in women. A combination of biological, anatomical, and physiological factors explain the gap in athletic performance. There can also be overlap, but this is explained by unique physiology of particular individuals.

Women's growth

Women have grown taller, but the average height is not six feet tall. 

Dorthy Roe’s prediction make the mistake of not taking into account particular factors. If this were to be average as she claimed it would mean that every woman would have to have the same nutrition and access to certain opportunities. Then genetics plays a role in the possible maximum physical potential. Then it also has to do with choice. How many women would actually want to achieve that level strength? The hilarious aspect of this prediction was the statement “muscles of a truck driver.” Driving a truck requires little physical strength. The job is mostly sedentary and therefore would not be the best for your health. Sitting too long for extended periods of time has been linked to heart related and weight issues. The question remains why are there not more women truck drivers? Again, discrimination is an obvious answer, but personal choice is another. Job seekers will only go to jobs that could benefit them the most economically. Companies may just not try to recruit women, even if they have positions opened. Despite this, there are women who are involved in trucking.

The only difference is that the truck has to be ergonomically designed to suit the female driver. All trucks have to in order to make the seat comfortable for the driver. Driving long periods of time in one particular position could cause back and neck issues. Part of the problem is that people still think their are men’s jobs and women’s jobs in the workforce. This dated concept not only harms women, but could be hindering economic growth. A functional economy must have a low unemployment rate to keep consumption up. Women must be part of the workforce to maintain economic stability. There are some occupations in which women’s numbers may still remain smaller relative to men’s due to differences in maximum physiological capacity. This does not mean there will not be any women in those positions. There are women who, even with the noted sex differences can outperform many men.

The female athlete will be in better shape or either just as strong or stronger than the average man depending on which training regimen is used. So, in this sense the prediction was only a part truth. A group of women have become stronger physically across the world who compete in both local and  international sports competition. The total number of women on Earth have not become physically stronger. Health has improved as indicated by women’s increased life expectancy . Women have the edge in terms of durational strength, living longer in most cases. The wonderful element about humanity is that it is diverse and can be flexible with its environments.

There can be strong women who are short. Tall women who are not the strongest or women of average build. The same can also be with men as well. The genetic variation protects the human species from genetically inherited diseases. That diversity helps, but has not completely eliminated such ailments. The article does not say that the average woman will become physiologically similar to a man, just that she will reach at higher fitness level. The implication that women will be able to compete en mass with men in mixed competition does not seem probable. However, there is a possibility that individual elite female athletes could beat an elite male athlete. There it would be presumptuous to say that it could never happen. It is just at the moment is not happening in the future Dorthy Roe predicted. A hypothesis should not be a mere prediction, but thoughtful estimation of probable outcomes.

Women still have to work harder to attain a high level of physical fitness. While their are women who have more natural strength than others, they are a unique exception. More training just enhances their physical potential. There is a new phenomenon. Women are now competing in sports at larger numbers compared to the past. Women’s involvement in sports dates back to the ancient world being documented in Greek and Egyptian civilization. There has never been a period in history to date in which women have embrace sports and physical fitness to this extent. Not only that, but women are seeking to build as much muscle and strength for their particular sports. While their is traditional backlash and divide in public opinion there is a portion of people who are embracing this change. The physiques that women display across various sports would be inconceivable  to many 200 years ago. Some women it seems have become the amazons of the future.

       It is clear that women have enter areas that sole were male domains. The change in women’s status is spreading not just in the West, but in the Global South. Status and progress in a society depends on the historical, sociological, and political situation. There is a possibility that civilization could collapse from mass global warfare, dramatic climate change, pandemics, or economic instability. Such events would mean the reversal of progress and even the end of humanity itself. When the fabric of society is unstable women and other marginalized groups suffer the most. Women could lose the little rights and opportunities they have if there were a change in political regime. Active organizing and vigilance can prevent such occurrences. A faction of futurist believe that in the coming years the world will become a better place. Like the utopian science fiction of the early 20th century, it seems out of reach. Both World Wars and the following Cold War proved that The Jetsons like future seems more imaginary. There is more advanced technology, but with it comes other problems. Roe’s predictions fall into the more utopia version of futurism. Her predictions would not seem so outrageous if she did not say that the average woman would be an amazon in terms of physique. As for height, women have not on average reached the six foot range. The tallest women in the world live in Latvia and the Netherlands. When Roe was writing this, she was only thinking about America.

Height chart

The US does not place in the current record of tallest men and women. This does not mean we do not have our own tall people. It should be no surprise that experts writing this in 1950 were off. They did not have a vast body of knowledge to base predictions on and human evolution was still though of as a linear progression rather than a series of branches coming from a root. The more precise assessment that could have been stated is that women of the future would greatly enhance their physical fitness capacity. Title IX was and continues to be an important law that allowed for many American women to become active in sports. Those women who first benefited from it went on to be top performing Olympic athletes and  the law still continues to make this possible. That is an example of how when barriers are removed  the numbers increased. Then another development happened that was not just in the US, but seems to be spreading around the world. Women who are enthusiastic about weightlifting are becoming serious competitors. It was not until the year 2000 that women’s weightlifting was added to the Olympic Games. Maybe the prediction of Roe’s amazons was not entirely incorrect.

Prior to women’s weightlifting, women had worked out with weights. This was mainly in bodybuilding, which had its origins in the 1970s. The early pioneers of women’s strength sports worked out with weight even when the gyms tried to prevent them from going to such sections and faced harsh ostracism. Now, it does not seem so abnormal to see even the average woman doing some weight training. Their intent may not be to be a professional athlete, but to simply maintain and control body weight. Women are no longer afraid to show physical strength or actual muscular development. Dorothy Roe may have predicted accurately what the average female athlete would be like. The average woman could vary between ectomorphic, endomorphic, and mesomorphic body structure. Height as well will vary as seen from sets of data. The conclusion would thus have to be modified. The average woman will be participating in various fields in the future. Improved health, physical activity, and nutrition will mean some women will reach physiological capacities greater than previously thought. Technology although helpful may cause adverse health effects that lead to a sedentary life style. The tendency for futurologists to be sensationalist leads to imprecise conclusions. To make precise assessments, one most take a rational method of analysis.

“In The Future, All Women Will Be Amazons” From The Smithsonian

Saudi Arabia Approves Physical Education Program in Girls’ Schools

Girls’ Physical Education in Saudi Arabia

According to Arab News,  the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education has approved a program allowing physical education to be taught in girls’ schools. This is more significant than some observers realize. The deeply religious and conservative Middle Eastern nation does not not favor women’s rights or their independence. However, there is a movement for change. The kingdom wants to modernize and that means having women be a part of the larger society and public sphere. The implementation will occur during the 2017 and 2018 school year. Saudi women will no longer accept a second class status or remain under antiquated guardianship. An even bigger incentive is to mobilize women in the workforce and other sectors. This starts with the youth and creating new opportunities. Vision 2030 seeks to enhance the Saudi kingdom economically, politically, and socially. This change is policy is part of that program to ensure the country is not left behind in the 21st century. Sporting activities are being encouraged across the kingdom. This is part of the Vision 2030 program and women will gain the most  from it. The focus on sports clearly has an intention on building high performing Olympic teams. It would not be surprising to see the girls who benefit from this program becoming Olympic athletes in the future. Like Title IX in the United States it will be beneficial both in terms of public health and women’s empowerment.

        The minister of education Amed Al-Issa  issued the decree for schools in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for girls’ physical education. A supervisory committee will be established under the supervision Haya Bint Abdul Aziz Al-Awwad, undersecretary of education for girls.  This program will target both public schools and universities. Three months of intense policy study Saudi officials thought this was the correct time for educational reform. Change will not be immediate. It may be decades before the new policy shows positive results. Discrimination and gender bias cannot be erased by a mere stroke of a pen. There will of course be individuals who object to any form of change. Others are more open mined and fitness trainers seem more enthusiastic about the decree. It is not secret that some girls have been given private lessons in tennis and soccer before the royal decree. Now girls can have schools provide facilities to develop athletic skills. There are less liberal voices as demonstrated by Mohammud M.S :” I don’t think it’s right for a young girl to take a sports class in school, she will grow harsh and rough, which goes against her delicate nature.” He expounds further: “I won’t deny my daughter’s participation in any (physical education) related activities in school but I will draw a line somewhere.” It seems Saudi men who were raised in a religiously conservative society reject the idea of a strong woman. However, others realize  that change cannot be stopped  yet sill wrestle with the idea of  traditional gender roles. This change should be welcome for the sake of the kingdom’s image.

          Western images and ideas about Saudi Arabia either are stereotypical, racist, or Islamophobic. As a way to disparage an entire race, some point to Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women. Commentators say “they are not part of the civilized world”  or use it to elevate Western values as being superior. The truth is like any other country,Saudi Arabia has its problems, but it is seeing women become more powerful. Over the past decade it has happened rapidly. During the Rio 2016 Olympics Saudi Arabia sent four women athletes to compete. Although it was only four athletes the image was important. Prior to that Sarah Attar and Wojdan Shaherkani made history as the first women to compete in the modern Olympic games in 2012.

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These young women were met with harsh criticism at home by religious fundamentalists and extreme traditionalists. These negative reactions inside the kingdom only validate Western prejudices and misconceptions. If one truly loves their nation they should seek to see all members be successful, especially in an international setting. Doing so will dispel the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment so prevalent in mainstream Western media. Many objects to women’s participation in sport come from a religious context. The Quran does not ban or prohibit women from participating in sports. To make the claim it makes women into bad Muslims has not factual support. Religion should not be regressive, but progressive. Islam has a tradition of impressive civilizations which include the Abbasid Caliphate, Umayyad Caliphate, Songhai Empire, Mali Empire, Sokoto Caliphate, and the Ottoman Empire. That tradition must be revitalized in elevation of people and society. Women are the key to saving the kingdom from turmoil. Sports are not the only sector women are flexing their muscles; they are making their mark on government.


Princess Reema  was appointed in 2016 to oversee the women’s sports sector. She works in the General Authority for Sports and it is pivotal that women have leadership positions. Normally, a Western view of a Saudi woman is that of a weak and oppressed creature sheltered from the outside world. Contrary to misconceptions women are challenging old customs. Around 2014 schools Saudi state schools introduced sports for girls after vocal opposition to a general ban on women in sports. The move was incomplete without physical education for all girls. Gradually, the kingdom is introducing reform. Yet, they do not go far enough. The fear of the House of Saud  is that reform in other areas may mean mass political reform or possible revolution. The Arab Spring has increased this paranoia. The trepidation of regime change may halt reforms, which could prevent such events from occurring. The addition of physical education to girls’ education is a great step in promoting social health and stability to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The encouragement of  a healthy lifestyle will prevent disease and reduce healthcare costs in the long term. Seeing as people will live longer in the future, this must be encouraged.

Saudi Arabia Approves Physical Education Program in Girls’ Schools

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

Should “Men Are Stronger” Bar Women From Combat Roles

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statistics from 2014 of the total women in uniform.

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

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


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

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

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

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