Lesa Lewis

Female bodybuilding does have athletes that may not win as many  contests, but they definitely are remembered fondly by fans. Lesa Lewis was such an athlete. Her competitive record was nine years in total. The unique part about Lisa Lewis is that to date, she was probably at the time from 1993 to 2002 the biggest female bodybuilder to ever  appear on stage. Lisa in her physical prime stood at a height of 5 ft 10in and weighed 193 lbs pounds in competition. Her off season weight was close to 215 lbs. Lisa Lewis was literally an amazon in both the height and strength sense. It does not seem so far fetched that she also worked in construction during her competitive career as an athlete. Lisa once said ” I love the competitive part [of the sport].” Lisa also stated ” I love looking in shape and being fit.” She also has expressed she enjoyed traveling around the country to contests and expos. Based in Kansas City, she was probably at the time the most famous female bodybuilder known to fans in the area. Born in 1967 she be came a professional at the age of 30. Lesa retired from competition in 2002 at the age of 35 and some believed that it was too early for a woman with such potential. It is a real shame she never won the Ms.Olympia title, but she demonstrated that a large physique could be balanced.

Her best wins include the 1993 Missouri State, 1994 Heart of Missouri, the 1995 Red River Classic, 1996 Lone Star Classic, and the 1996 NPC Junior Nationals. Her professional debut came in 1997 when she came in first place at the NPC USA Championship. There was a mishap in 1998. That year Lisa was disqualified in the IFBB Ms.International for testing positive for a banned diuretic. This was only a minor setback and she won the 1998  Jan Tana Classic. Lisa Lewis only was able to get a 4th place in the 1998 Ms.Olympia and a  5th place in the 1999 Ms.Olympia. It is shocking that she did not win at least one, but there may be a reason for this. The 1990s to early 2000s was a transition period in which female bodybuilding judging standards were changing. This period was the Lenda Murray and Kim Chizevsky period, so the competition was formidable. Lewis competing as a heavyweight was a dominating figure. Her arms measured 17 1/2 inches and a chest of 43 inches. Lesa consumed a total 7,000 calories to maintain such a body.

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There were times that Lesa had mixed feelings about her size. Sometimes she was shocked looking at past competitions at how large she became. She once said that in response to a question what she could change about bodybuilding was “don’t let the women get too manly.” This seems like a ludicrous statement, because muscles do not make women manly. Strength and power have been associated with men for so long many forget that women can be that as well. Lewis presented a physique and grace that was exceptional on stage. Lisa Lewis also made an appearance for the TLC documentary Bodybuilders in the year 2000.  During the interview Lesa’s mother and sister were interviewed.  They were not as supportive at first. Her mother admitted that she thought it was an activity that was more suited for men. Lesa’s sister thought it was weird. They became supportive, when they saw her perform and that changed their minds. Lesa’s mother revealed that Lesa was the tomboy growing up.

Lesa’s mother was her greatest role model. When Lesa was asked who was her favorite bodybuilder. she did not have one. She cited various athletes which body parts that she wanted to emulate on her own physique. She liked Lenda Murray’s shoulders. Lesa also liked the look of Puala Sukzi’s back and Vicki Gates’ biceps. Sue Price she proclaimed had impeccable vascularity and cuts. Lesa also cites Laura Creavalle and Kim Chizevsky  as excellent bodybuilders. Women can carry mass and make it look good. Staying in that kind of shape requires a strict diet. However, Lesa just like everyone else loved certain foods. Donuts were her favorite junk food. Turkey and salads were also some of her foods of choice.

lesa has stated that her legs and shoulders were her best body parts. However, it is hard to say that the overall physique she presented was not excellent. Her efforts created an impressive aesthetic of both size and symmetry.  This is difficult to master and present on a bodybuilding stage. Her observations of other competitors paid off. She also for her training incorporated walking and running into her fitness routine. Lesa would do this for at least 45 to 60 minutes. Other than working out, Lesa enjoys jazz music and movies. Normally, there are a section of fans who say the larger aesthetic is too much, but even detractors have to admit that Lesa Lewis was impressive. By the early 2000s  there was a move in the direction to a female bodybuilder with less mass. Lesa said in the Bodybuilders documentary that it was not a negative development, but the judges needed to give some time for the women to make adjustments. Lesa Lewis retired from the competitive stage in 2002 with nine years as a bodybuilder. It was an incredible number of years and ever since it seems Lesa has been away from the fitness industry. She was a talented IFBB pro.

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Lesa Lewis

Mina Farook: The Main Reason Women Should Build Muscle

Why Women Should Build Muscle

Mina Farook a weightlifter and athlete explains why women need to build muscle. This is not for the purpose of a fitness trend or sudden leisure activity, rather for the improvement and maintenance of women’s health. As more information is being uncovered by biology and health science, there are more techniques to combat chronic illness and other health risks. Women should be physically active to have a high quality of health. Women on average live longer than men. Having longevity also increases the risk of getting age related diseases such as dementia or heart disease. Taking the necessary steps to preserve health can reduce risk factors. Mina Farook hopes that women building muscle will be the next beauty trend. To a degree it has, with crossfit and women’s involvement in sport at a record high. Farook gives a basic explanation of strength training and proceeds to give the benefits it gives in terms of health. Strength training can improve not only muscle and bone health, but protect the body at a cellular level.

       The general definition of strength training as Farook explains involves using resistance to induce muscular contraction. This results in the building of strength, anaerobic endurance, and skeletal muscle. One misconception must be addressed. A persistent myth is that women’s bodies are not designed for strength and that such training is not for women. These ideas are false and based around the frailty myth. Women’s muscle cells are the same compared to men’s muscle cells. The difference is related to muscle fiber type, size, and endocrinology. Women could benefit more form strength training. Another myth is that women cannot not build muscle. This is incorrect as well. Muscular hypertrophy can be induced by weight training. Depending on diet and training method women can gain considerable size on relative to their skeletal frame.

Women’s bodies can respond to training stimuli. There has been a longtime stigma about women and exercise, which as been decreasing over the past decades. The old pseudoscientific convictions are being discredited about women’s physical abilities. Women can now enjoy the health and psychological benefits of physical activity. There is a possibility that strength training may be a good anti-aging technique. Besides the obvious health benefits there is also a paradigm shift that women go through in the fitness culture. Farook explains it best as “imagine a process of living that actually makes you super human.” She delineates further : “imagine a lifestyle that makes you better, stronger, and smarter and keeps on improving your personality.” As Farook articulated it is more than just working out to look a certain way rather, it is a transformation in mentality. Women just do not want to look strong they want to be stronger mentally and physically. There is a new found sense of self and confidence. This spreads to other areas of their lives.

There has been a new era of human history reached. Women are enjoying more power and living longer lives than ever before. There are still some areas, which women lag behind. There are nations in which gender disparities are wider. However, it is only a matter of time before these problems will be reduced. Reproductive rights and access to adequate healthcare are challenges facing women globally. There is a means of taking control of ones health. Women are becoming more active in sports and fitness. Strength training is no longer considered a male only activity. Women can lift weights, use kettle bells, and other exercise equipment.

It can be more than just a hobby or serious sports endeavor. There are enormous benefits that can improve and maintain health. Mina Farook only examined the benefits from the point of mitochondrial physiology, but it goes beyond that aspect. Keeping the skeletal, muscular, and circulatory systems healthy protects a person for chronic illnesses.

       Mitochondria are essential to life. These organelles must take carbohydrates and fatty acids then break them down for energy production. This allows fro the generation of adenosine triphospahte. Mitochondria also have the ability to synthesize proteins for their own use. They are involved in the transcription process of both DNA and RNA. Ribonucleic acid then does transcription for amino acids. Amino acids are the components of proteins.

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ATP has to transport chemical energy to allow for metabolism. ATP cannot be stored so this requires consistent production within mitochondria. This explains why mitochondria can take up to 25 % cell volume. Mitochondria are so important to biological function cells certain cells can have as many as 2500. The average cell can use up to 10 billion ATP a day. An average adult would needs 3.0 × 1025 ATP to be functional. The typical athlete would be using more considering their activity level would be higher compared to an average person. The athlete requires more, because the higher activity level demands it.

This is no simple feat, seeing as ATP has to be recycled from ADP close to a 1000 times a day. There could be close to 250 g of ATP present in the cell. This correlates to to at least 4.25 watts. When calculated that means a person can produce up to an estimated total of 1200 watts. Health is important even at the cellular level. Cytology does not only reveal the world of  cells, it provides clues to the true nature of health and physiological function.

       The mitochondria are vulnerable to nutrient deficiency. Toxins and oxidative damage are also responsible for health decline. There are nutrients that are necessary for ATP production. These include   riboflavin , niacin, and CoQ10. Carnitine is required for fatty acid transport. These nutrients are part of the β-Oxidation of fats.

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The citric cycle needs iron, magnesium, manganese, B1, B2, B3, lipotae, and  cysteine. ECT has other requirements. CoQ10 must transport high energy electrons. Magnesium assists in the final phase of ATP production. Riboflavin complex II and NADH also contribute. If there is a long term deficiency or disorder with mitochondria, this can lead to chronic illnesses. Such disorders with mitochondria have been linked to dementia, autism, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Amytropic lateral sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome , and Alzheimer’s disease. Mitochondrial disorders have even been hypothesized to have links to migraines and early aging. It is possible that mitochondrial health can be the key to increased longevity. The body requires a certain level of exercise and a proper diet.

        Weight training has the the ability to increase ATP production and the amount of mitochondria in the human body. Damaged mitochondria can be replaced when new ones emerge from training. High intensity training has even been found to improve muscular and mitochondrial function in people with Parkinson’s disease. Such a discovery will revolutionize medicine and health science. While some people have this knowledge, many do not act on it.

Busy schedules and certain obligations may get in the way of consistently exercising. Then lifestyle choices can effect health. The prevalence of high fat and sugar saturated foods combined with limited physical activity has caused an increase in health problems. Another problem is related to medical practice. Over prescribing medicines has created a level of dependency. The increase of opioid use occurred under medical professionals, using it as a cost effective method for pain medication to patients. As a result, a large portion of American citizens got addicted. The philosophy about treatment must change. Patients should not be loaded up on multiple medications. The goal should be to have a little as possible and change health habits. If there is no change in habits a person could end up taking multiple medications which could induce more health problems as the result of side effects. While some aliments require medication, others can be controlled through exercise. High cholesterol can be dealt with through this method, depending on its severity. Weight training is a simple way to avoid certain age related health conditions.

         Bone health is critical more so for women. On average, women have lower bone density. Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bone mass is lost and does not produce enough to maintain a strong structure. Bones become weak and are susceptible to fracture. When women go through menopause, bone mass can decrease. If women have lower bone density then that means osteoporosis could be more severe for there bodies. While skeletal mass develops as a person goes from youth to adulthood, bone formation is higher. The problem is that this does not continue and the rate of bone formation and breakdown are now set at different rates. Lifting weights can also contribute to building bone mass.Women overtime could lose up to 35% of their bone mass. There are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of getting osteoporosis. This includes having a thin body type, smoking, having a sedentary life style, a low calcium diet, high caffeine, and alcohol intake. Family history is also a factor including race. White and Asian women may have a higher risk of osteoporosis.

Bones

The total mass of calcium decreases with age. This is why it is recommended that  older women get at least 1,500 mg per day. Vitamin D is just as important as calcium. That is why low fat milk can be helpful,because it is Vitamin D fortified. Seeing as women have lower peak bone mass in terms of grams of calcium, it important to make load bearing exercises or simple jogging a part of a general health routine .

Having a healthy bone structure will allow an aging person to have more independence later in life. Senior citizens may not want to go to retirement communities or nursing homes. Some want to remain in their own homes, yet are not healthy enough to remain independent.

      Women report having better body image and improved self -esteem form weightlifting .  It also challenges gender stereotypes. For a longtime the female body has been associated with weakness or inferiority. Even though these ideas are falsehoods they persist. Body image conformity is constantly projected over media outlets. This causes in some women to have body image issues and it may result in psychological disorders. Anorexia and bulimia are more prevalent in women than in men. This could become a public health crisis if unchecked. Thankfully, there is change that has prevented such an event from happening. There has been the rise of a new body positive movement. It wants women who are larger to accept themselves and reject a single paradigm of beauty. This also needs to be extended to women with muscle. Even female athletes are criticized for being “too big.”

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If women are becoming more powerful in other areas of life, why should they be denied the physical power of their body? There is no rational argument against women developing themselves physically. It may offend certain preferences or be repudiated by traditionalists, but there should be no reason they should be denied control of their bodies. There is the dated and conservative idea that women and muscles do not mix. Even the most liberal or people who consider themselves open minded either repudiate such a look or are apprehensive about it. It is time for society to realize that a woman is more than just her appearance. The double standards must be challenged. Strength is not a masculine or male only attribute. Women can be strong and they should not have to be vituperated for demonstrating it.

Women should also partake in the benefits of physical fitness. This is a dramatic statement and a very empowering one. Some third wave feminists use the term empowerment ad nauseum, but do not seem to put that into practice. Here women have taken that message literally and have made their bodies strong.  Besides this benefit of improved self-esteem and more positive body image to can go beyond just mere health improvement.

          Women are not physically safe in many societies around the world. Domestic violence, sexual assault, or physical abuse is directed at them.  There is the false idea that men are the protectors of women, when it is more likely they will be their abusers. Women have absorbed this idea thinking they need a man to feel safe and for protection. The harsh reality is that their partner could end up being their abuser. This is why women need self-defense and physical strength. Having such precautions can contribute to reducing the problem of violence against women.

Map3.1NEW_Womens_Physical_Security_2011_compressed Women must learn to take control of their own security. One problem with the # Me Too Movement is that it does not emphasize an offensive approach. While institutional and legal changes can combat rampant sexual harassment and assault, this may not be enough. Part of being proactive is that women must learn physical skills and build the strength to properly execute them. Doing this will deter violence as well as more strict laws.

Self defense is important for women.

Having at least some strength will help women combat violence directed at them. Violence against women is a major public  health crisis. There have been improvements in regards the rise of women’s shelters and rape crisis centers. However, these services are not evenly distributed throughout the world. There was a time in which the practice of wife beating was not considered a crime. Women in many societies were considered property and such violence was not considered criminal. There are still countries in the world that do not have domestic abuse laws. There are even some nations that want to reverse them. The Russian Federation decriminalized some domestic abuse laws. Women attempting to flee from violent abuse or protect themselves have a more difficult time in Russia. The push came from the Orthodox Church to change the laws. Normally, women are worse off in a traditionalist or religion based cultural atmosphere. Now more than ever is the time for women to understand they are responsible for their own protection. The legal system or government may not be there to provide protection against violence. Learning physical skills and building strength can ward off some of these attacks.

            There is also the problem of the growing rate of obesity. This is no longer confined to the developed nations, but is spreading to developing nations. The prevalence of fast food and high sugar based diets has caused weight problems across the world.Sedentary lifestyles and limited physical activity have also contributed to this development.   The United States and the United Kingdom may find themselves in a huge public health crisis if this is not addressed and if the healthcare systems are not functional. Combine with the fact that people will live longer and beyond the age of 65 this poses a financial and social problem. Relevant to women’s health, they would be more vulnerable to obesity due to their endocrine function. Naturally women have more body fat no matter what their physical fitness level is. Differences relative to metabolism are significant, because women burn less calories compared to men in a resting state. This would mean obesity could harm women more in comparison to men. If women have lower bone density, adding large amounts of weight to the skeletal frame could cause more severe joint issues. Obesity has been linked to cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Being active has long term benefits. It can prevent such diseases and disorders that occur later in life. Women on average live longer than men, so it is a wise investment. Most importantly it will prevent possible strain on healthcare systems and improve the level of public health.

Mina Farook: The Main Reason Women Should Build Muscle

Whey Protein Supplements and Exercise Help Women Improve Body Composition

 Whey and Women

Whey protein products have been known to be effective for men, but now it appears that it is useful for women. A study conducted by Purdue University revealed that women can benefit from Whey. Nutrition experts also contributed to the study. There has been more attention directed at how supplements react in a woman’s body. Most exercise physiology and nutrition or fitness related studies are done with men. Seeing as women are more active in sports and fitness it is important to do such studies that take into account biological and physiological differences. According to Wayne Campbell professor of nutrition science : “”There is a public perception that whey protein supplementation will lead to bulkiness in women, and these findings show that is not the case. “Simply taking a supplement would not increase muscle mass without a particular exercise regimen. However Whey can as the study discovered can allow for modest gains while not influencing fat mass. The study like any scientific investigation should be questioned, but it becomes more suspicious when the Whey Research Consortium financed the study. Robert Bergia  a Perdue  graduate research assistant led the study. Joshua Hudson a Purdue postdoctoral research associate who also contributed to this examination.

       Whey protein is used as a supplement to contribute to muscle protein synthesis. It consists of beta-lactoglobulin, alpha lactalbumin, bovine serum albumin, and immunoglobins. Using too much can cause headaches or nausea if not consumed in the recommended amounts. These are the only side effects and it does not pose a serious health risk. Some may experience cramps, fatigue, stomach pains, or reduced appetite. There are several different types of Whey protein. This includes concentrate, isolate, and hydrolsate. Whey may have health benefits. It could possibly help with lowering    cholesterol. Oddly enough, it may also be a method in combating asthma. Whey protein may have the ability to improve immune response in children with asthma.  Other studies suggest Whey may also be a way to manage blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular disease. Whey is not the only protein supplement, yet it has gained popularity in fitness circles. There has yet to be a massive comprehensive study that compares various protein supplements and powders. There must be one that is better than the other . There is no scientific literature that proves which supplements compared to Whey are better, so consumers have to do their own research. It becomes more confusing when one is a neophyte reading fitness materials.

      The need to study women and supplement effects is necessary. More women are becoming active in fitness and this also has business potential related to expansion of new consumers. Most importantly female athletes need supplements and training methods that are suited to their physiology. Taking this into account it can maximize athletic performance. Women are underrepresented in studies related to Whey protein supplementation. A majority of studies focused on men with 68% in total. Women are different in terms of biology and endocrine function which have an effect on physical fitness capacity. Knowing this training regimens and supplements can be designed to be more efficient. Otherwise women could be using methods that may not work for them. The reason why there is this underrepresented statistic is for a long period of time women were excluded from sports and discouraged form physical activity. Supplements were once seen as a male only consumer product. The only exception to this was diet pills marketed to women.

The fitness industry still markets weight loss and weight management to women, when there is a increasing interest for women who want to gain musculoskeletal mass. Women are no longer afraid to use weights despite persistent traditional gender expectations.  This phase of study is still in a state of infancy. There are some issues with the study that can be noted. The method seemed logical, but there may be a problem with replication providing different conclusions. Other variables must be accounted for when conducting an experiment.

         The study involved screening about 1,800 articles from journal databases. From these databases 13 studies were identified  along with 28 intervention groups that were relevant to the supplement studies. The selection process involved obtaining studies that included healthy women participants , consumption of whey supplements, exercise activity, changes in lean body mass, and a minimum duration of six months of training. The question here is what exactly were the health conditions of participants? Health could simply mean that their is absence of disease from the body. This does not equate to physical fitness. There can be people who are healthy, but not physically fit. Women who may have been part of this study could have altered the results if they were athletes. Depending on what sport they are active in, their body fat levels could be lower than the average woman. This would distort the results of proving effectiveness.

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The study if it wants to be precise it would have to use women with no athletic or fitness background as one group. Then take another sample group of physically fit women and give them Whey protein. Doing this for the same duration would produce a true result of Whey’s effectiveness. Then there is also the question of exercise. Which types of exercise were performed in these studies? This is significant due to the fact that other types of  exercise is more effective at burning fat. It was once thought that just using a treadmill could be more effective at reducing weight or altering body composition. Although this can improve cardiovascular endurance it will not dramatically reduce weight. Weight training seems to be more efficient in this regard. If all of the participants were either exercising using treadmills, weights, or a combination of both this also may distort results. The six week duration seems like enough time to witness significant change and thus should not be changed in another attempt. Multiple factors matter when conducting a scientific inquiry. The first step would be to get a large sample of women then make detailed observations of progress.

There may be different results depending on a person’s genetic body type. The only way to know for sure would be to document the changes in women with endomorphic and ectomorphic body types. If changes can be seen in them it is at least moderately effective. If there is a change in women of high physical fitness level, then it can be said this is highly useful supplement. Bergia concluded: “Although more research is needed to specifically assess the effects of varying states of energy sufficiency and exercise training, the overall findings support that consuming whey protein supplements may aid women seeking to modestly improve body composition, especially when they are reducing energy intake to lose body weight.”

          Whey can work on women. The question remains can women “bulk up” from it. The term bulking up in  a colloquial and inaccurate term. The process of building muscle is muscular hypertrophy. The previous statement from  Wayne Campbell may be premature. Changes related to the body depend on several factors. Genetics has a powerful influence relative to body type. Women who are naturally mesomorphic will have more potential for muscular hypertrophy. Exercise and training method are also pivotal in this equation. Women who are either using solely a treadmill will not get as strong compared to a woman lifting weights. Fitness goals are also a factor. Some women may merely want to burn fat, rather than build muscle mass gains. Sex has an impact relative to endocrine function. Seeing as women produce more estrogen and progesterone this means they will always have a higher body fat percentage. Hypothetically it is possible for a woman to make muscle mass gains if she does heavy resistance training, supplements with Whey, and eats a specific diet. This regimen must be consistent to produce a changes in muscular strength and size. Male and female muscle does not differ at a cellular level. The difference is in total mass. Supplements are not just for men. Women could probably benefit more from supplements. Whey may not be the sole protein supplement that is best, but this study could encourage more research into female athletic potential.

 

Whey Protein Supplements and Exercise Help Women Improve Body Composition

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

Dr. Mark Griffiths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Science Says Putting Women Into Combat Endangers National Security

Women In Combat Debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Krav Maga
Female soldier learns Krav Maga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women In Combat

Women In Combat

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

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

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

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

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

The Science Says Putting Women Into Combat Endangers National Security

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

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

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

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

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

Thin woman compared to a slightly athletic woman 

A larger woman compared to a slightly more muscular woman. 

The highest degree of development 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introduction to Sport Psychology

Sport psychology is a field that uses the study of the mind to improve athletic performance. Athletic performance is not just physical; it is also mental. With the rise of numerous professional sports many teams have sports psychologists on their staff. The role of the sports psychologist is to get athletes motivated, contributing to practice sessions, and learning to control emotional states under extreme pressure. This is essential to any athlete competing at the highest levels in professional sports. Psychology is the scientific disciple that examines the human mind. This should not be confused with psychiatry, which is a medical field of study. Psychiatry takes the perspective that people can be treated for mental diseases and it can be cured. Psychiatrists hold medical degrees meaning they can be licensed to prescribe medicines and perform medical procedures. Both psychiatrists and some psychologists treat mental disorders. That is the only aspect of similarity. Psychology has a wider field of study which encompasses behavior and mental processes. Sports psychology is an example of applied science. This means it goes beyond mere research and is used to solve particular problems.

      Sport psychologists could be involved in numerous elements. They could be examining and developing techniques to improve participation satisfaction or performance enhancement. This could also involve sharpening mental skills. Athletes may require counseling or clinical issues assistance. Athletes may deal with stress or negative emotions, which could effect how they play. A sports psychologist can help them manage issues or tribulations that might emerge. Sport psychologists can also assist in organizational elements of sports counseling. Sport psychologists may also study the social and developmental issues regarding sports participation. The sports psychologist applies their specialized knowledge  to training and competition.

Sports psychologist must also know the technical elements of competition and have an understanding of sports organizations’ rules. Sport psychology thus becomes an important tool for coaches. Anxiety and stress are major hindrances to overall performance. This requires a set of mental skills and techniques to manage such emotions. They cannot be eliminated, but controlled for the period of competition. Coaching style and philosophy of game play can make a difference. Sports psychology employs a number of methods to solve rapid changes in emotional states.

          There are methods that are used by sport psychology to increase performance. Cognitive skills and behavioral training are utilized in sessions. This includes goal setting. imagery, and performance planning. Goal setting is establishing what performance target an athlete wants to accomplish. Imagery and performance planning is the process and actions involved in reaching a particular objective. These techniques put emphasis on a pathway to success and the actions required to reach it. Cognitive and behavioral skills training also involves improvement of concentration. Having attention and a high level of alertness contributes to athlete awareness as well as response.

There are also confidence and esteem building techniques to deal with feelings of nervousness and self doubt. There is an emphasis on emotion regulation as well as developing sportsmanship and leadership skills. Competence building is also another aspect related to the behavioral- cognitive skills building. Counseling and clinical intervention is another part of sport psychology. Athletes may suffer from depression or phobia and require guidance. Then there are points in which burnout can arise or extreme lack of motivation. People who lose enthusiasm for something they are passionate about is not abnormal. This happens to writers, artists, filmmakers, or anyone with a high level of talent. Counseling can help with reminding individuals like these why they should continue and be dedicated to their passion. Counseling and clinical intervention also assists with injury and rehabilitation. When play sports professionally the risk of injury is high. Sport psychologists can help an  athlete cope with returning to a  healthy state. Medical professionals now understand that there is a mind and body link, which is important to overall health.

Counseling can assist athletes when transitioning to other careers. Major changes in life will take sometime in terms of acclimation. Athletes who choose another sport to compete in benefit from  counseling to make such transitions less cumbersome. Athletes can suffer from the same mental illness that effects the majority of the population. A strong support system and attentive coaching can prevent mental distress. Sport psychologists also use consulting and training as a procedural technique. Team building becomes critical when working with multiple athletes. Team sports require cooperation and coordination on higher scales. This requires an understanding of group psychology and how to get individuals to function as one unit. A soccer team or a basketball team will not successful if all the players either are suspicious of one another or have difficulty collaborating.

20110703000329291611-minihighres The best teams are one that can function as a single unit and helping one another to success. Sports organizations also seek the advice of sports psychologists. Psychology has become interdisciplinary. Sports psychology also uses other academic fields such as kinseology, physiology, and biomechanics. The sciences are more connected to one another than previously thought. Neuroscience, biology, and anatomy contribute to psychology. As more is discovered about the human brain this requires multiple disciplines to decipher and interpret. Sport psychology has been applied to how youth sports are played and function. There are systems of intervention for both families and youth. Psychologically people change as they age and during youth it is a time of rapid development. Youth development follows in stages according to some psychological theories.

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abigail_2Children do not just go through physical maturation, but a cognitive one. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was the psychologist who pioneered the study of childhood cognitive development. According to development happens in developmental stages. The sensorimotor stage is the point in which an infant becomes acclimated to their five senses. This lasts to about age two. The next stage is the preoperational in which language is being learned and used. Children at this stage between the ages of two to six have not mastered logic or the understanding of other perspectives.   The concrete operational stage between six and eleven years of age children gain the ability to reason. The last operational stage happens at age twelve results in abstract thinking. Piaget’s theories can be questioned however it seems that his model does accurately describe the cognitive development of children. A sport psychologist must take that into account when designing programs for youth sports. Coaches also may consult sport psychologists in methods and techniques in regards to motivating a team or developing talent of the athletes.  Such methods make building an athletic team more sophisticated compared to the past.

        Psychology has multiple branches and perspectives. Although it is a fairly recent science, psychology may have ancient roots. Philosophy was the first system of thought to investigate questions of the mind. Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates debated what was consciousness and the mind. African and Asian civilizations also investigated such questions. Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization were exploring concepts of medicine  and the mind. Further east Buddhism and Yoga philosophies focused on consciousness and techniques of mastering the mind through meditation.  African civilizations developed a folk psychology in which shamans would use certain therapies for various aliments that were both of mind and body.

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Modern psychology gradually developed from ancient and modern philosophy. The sciences can trace its birth to philosophy. Many scientists of the past were known as natural philosophers. The rise of the scientific method and more advance mathematics gave birth to modern science. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) proposed the notion that the spiritual mind and the body were two distinct entities. Reflexes and sensations were not products of supernatural forces. Such activities were based on the nervous system. Psychology as the public knows it did not come into existence until the 19th century. Wilhelm Wundt working at the the University of Leipzig was the harbinger of experimental psychology. These early experiments into psychology conducted in 1879 studied perception, sensation, learning,consciousness, and memory. Since then psychology has expanded these elements.

The perspectives of psychology have different explanations for human behavior. The biological perspective seeks to uncover the mind by the study of genes, the nervous system, and endocrine system. Evolutionary perspectives normally fall under this category, but it can be paced under a separate classification.   The cognitive perspective puts emphasis on mental processes such as learning,memory, perception and thinking. The psychodynamic explores the function of the unconscious. The behavioral perspective examines the role learned responses and the nature of human behavior. The developmental perspective realizes that an individual will change throughout a lifespan. The whole person perspective seeks to examine mental health and human potential. Trait and temperament are a focus which explores the attributes of personality and individual differences. The sociocultural perspective realizes that various groups behave in different ways based on the societies in which they live. While some theories have credibility, other can be questioned. The human mind and brain . is more complex than previously thought.

         When discussing sports motivation and emotion are important to an athlete’s performance.  The brain serves a major role in emotion. The amygdala a structure of the limbic system is responsible for a wide range of emotions. Athletes even are going through numerous emotions prior to and during competition. Emotions could fluctuate between joy, anxiety, or trepidation. The brain responds to external stimuli. The barin even reacts to different facial expressions. The physical reactions to emotions happen when the automatic nervous system activates. The energy level of the body can increase or decrease depending on the intensity level.

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when discussing emotions this raises another question. Do people have the same emotions? There are obviously varieties of emotions . This depends on the environment, situation, and temperament of the person. Human populations either experience happiness, trepidation, or sorrow. These feelings are universal, which indicate that emotions and social behavior are evolutionary survival mechanisms.

Emotions and complex social behavior was probably a means of our early hominid ancestors adopting to dangerous environments of the prehistoric past. This may explain why humanity is also capable of nonverbal communication. Psychology also explores motivation and how it relates to behavior. The reason some may perform better during competition has to do in some manner with degree of motivation. Sports competition could either be defined as intrinsic motivation or extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is doing an activity for the enjoyment it produces. The reward or accomplishment is not the ultimate goal. Many athletes get a great satisfaction by simply just playing their sport and being active. Winning almost becomes an afterthought. This does not mean the competitive drive disappears. Extrinsic motivation is reward based. A person can be motivated more when a reward is possible for accomplishment. An athlete could be motivated by money, fame, and an enduring legacy in the sports world. Psychological motive is defined as the internal mechanism that selects and dictates behavior. Drive is separate entity because it is biologically based. Sport psychology does contribute to understanding the mental elements of performance, but it is still unclear how effective it is. More research and exploration is needed to reach full verification.

 

References

Zimbardo, Phillip. Psychology Core Concepts.  New York : Pearson, 2009.

Cherry, Kandra. Essentials of Psychology. New York : Fall River Press, 2010.

Hunt, Morgan. The Story of Psychology. New York : Anchor Books , 2007.

“Sport Psychology.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, http://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/sports.aspx.
Introduction to Sport Psychology