Originally aired in 2017, this news clip exposes audiences to the world of women’s tackle football. Over 4,000 women play competitively in the United States. Sadly, they do not get the stardom or income of NFL players. There still is a major gender divide in sports in terms of media exposure, pay, and cultural attitudes in regards to the female athlete. Football continues to be a sport that is more male dominated than others. However, that has not stop women from organizing their own leagues and playing. Women continue to be a huge part of the sports world and their numbers are increasing as fans and athletes.
The need for scientific literacy is important. The mains reason is to discredit information that is either false or erroneous. This article in the New York Times claims that women cannot do pull-ups. The irony is that the article was written by a woman. It seems that there is still strong belief in the frailty myth in regards to women’s bodies. This does not negate the fact there are physiological differences in regards to the sexes. The difference or disparity could be the result in training methods. Also there is the difference and upper body volume. The article questions whether or not pull-ups are an accurate measure of fitness. The statement women cannot do pull-ups is false. The article based the statement on an experiment from the University of Dayton. A total of seventeen were given weight training and aerobic exercise. To practice they were using an incline to see how this would effect their results. This was done over a period of three months. The subjects trained only three times a week. Only four of the seventeen women were able to do pull-ups. This reveals several aspects about the experiment. It is possible that training just three times a week was not enough. The training method may have to be adjusted to accommodate women’s anatomical and physiological differences. One part of this study did not state is what was the physical fitness condition of women prior to testing. Having experience can make a difference in physical tasks.
It must be realized that early on girls and women are discouraged from learning physical skills. More boys are active, while girls are encourage not to be. If girls are not taught basic exercises, it is rare that they will develop them in adulthood. If so, it will take some time to catch up in the physical skills they did not learn. The relation between women and fitness is either based on weight loss or achieving a thin body type. Becoming thinner is not raising physical fitness capacity. The majority of exercise or fitness related to women is either about fad diets or simply reducing fat. This does not increase strength, stamina, endurance, or speed. The study had women do aerobic exercise, but this would not be useful to building strength. It reduced their fat levels by 2 %. They were losing fat, but that does not mean it was being replaced by muscle. If they did this without weight training to their regimen there would have been no change in physical strength.
The article even acknowledges there is a difference in physical standards in the government’s physical fitness tests for children. Boys who are 14 get the highest award for doing ten pull-ups, while girls only have to do two. This seems ridiculous, because at this stage of youth the physiological differences induced by puberty are just beginning to develop.The male strength spurt begins at 13 and gradually boys’ bodies with gain more muscle mass. Bones , ligaments, and tendons are also effected during the change. Boys grow slower than women. Eventually with the increase in androgens boys will increase in height and weight.
It is pointless to have different standards, when girls and boys have the same physical fitness capacity. There is a bias against girls and women in regards to fitness, sports, and exercise. While it is acceptable for men to demonstrate physical prowess, for women it remains taboo. Gradually this has changed with girls the rise of the modern female athlete. There is some acceptance to a degree, but prejudice remains. Girls have more role models in sports that can change attitudes relative to women being physically active. Women are scrutinized for their appearance and body image pressure seems to effect them more.
The will effect how women feel about exercise. Many physical education and fitness related programs still function on the notion that the female body is biologically inferior or naturally weak. Myths that were born from 19th century Victorian Age medicine still persist. Exercise physiology over the past decades has begun to examine women’s physical performance seriously. Prior to this, mots studies were conducted on male athletes. This can contribute to creating programs that are best tailored to women’s physiological, biological, and anatomical attributes. If there is to be a change in performance, women must learn physical skills just like boys.
There is the claim that even fit women cannot do pull-ups. The problem with this statement is that it failures to recognize physical fitness markers. These markers include muscular strength, aerobic capacity, and endurance. The women is the study may be in shape, but they have not developed their physical fitness marker of muscular strength. If one is attempting to improve total fitness levels all of these markers should be given attention in a training regimen. There is a tendency to focus on one of these markers for some gym goers. This may also explain why the subjects in the study were unable to do more. They did focus on exercise that strengthened the biceps and latissimus dorsi. It would seem pointless to add aerobic training if the goal was to increase upper body strength. Athletes for example tailor their training to their sport.It would make no sense for a gymnast to focus on swimming or a weightlifter to do mostly cardio vascular exercise. Relevant to those instances they emphasize the physical fitness marker they will best assist them in their sport.
Aerobic activity just reduces fat levels, it does not build strength. The University of Dayton study could have removed that from the regimen. Reducing fat does have a benefit. It does not contribute to physical strength. Excess fat only increases mass, which does not generate force like particular muscle fibers. The main reason for the gap in physical strength in equally trained men and women is the result of endocrinology and body composition. The most muscular women or the thinnest women will still retain higher body fat percentages. Estrogen and progesterone create this difference in fat to muscle ratio in women.
Physical fitness markers are important to measuring progress. While women saw a 36% increase in strength it would be interesting to see what the result would have been if they continued. The fact that four women able to do them indicates that it is not a physical impossibility that women can do pull-ups. It seems that it is an exercise and a physical fitness marker they need to focus on. The last statement of the article seems somewhat comedic in its scientific assessments: ” I look at a volleyball player I so not expect her to be able do a pull-up , but I know she is fit.” This assumption is wrong for several reasons. Fitness cannot be estimated by merely looking at a person. There are indications that come from appearance what type of training a person does. A volleyball player may not do pull-ups simply because the exercise may not help with their performance. Flexibility and adroit movements seem more critical in such a competition.
Training method is just as important as the physical condition of the subject. There is difference between the sexes, but also individuals. This is why training must be designed specifically.
Sexual dimorphism does play a role in fitness performance. Men have more type II fast twitch muscle fibers. These fibers are not have as much endurance, but allow for more explosive power. Men have a large concentration in their upper bodies. This would aid in the men having an advantage in pull-ups. Women have 40% less muscle mass than men. This means their upper bodies can only be 60% as strong as a man’s. These are rough estimates if the height and weight are the same. Broader shoulders allow more muscle to be housed on the male body. The skeletal system does contribute to strength. The bones act as a support for the muscle tissue. The clavicle, rib cage, sternum, scapula, and spine form the upper body skeletal structure. Pull -ups do not just use the latissimus dorsi and biceps, but the rhomboid, pectoralis major, minor, teres major , subscapularis, and coracobrachialis. and triceps. The study siad they conducted exercise that focused on two muscle groups prior to the pull-up test. The problem is that other muscle groups needed to be worked for the test to be successful. Lifting weights and not doing the practicing the pull-ups may have altered this data.
A common myth is that women have stronger legs than men. This is not true, female lower body strength is only 90% of men’s. There is no difference between male and female muscle at the cellular level. As a result men and women can respond to weight training. Contrary to popular belief, women can build strength. The increase in strength was demonstrated by the subjects.If the female subjects were lifting heavy and using progressive overload then results should have been better. The study did not reveal whether or not they use light or heavy weight for their exercise regimen. The most efficient method is to train to the threshold limit, which will increase strength. The process challenges the muscle and induces microtrauama to the fiber. After rest this will allow for muscular hypertrophy. Lifting smaller weights may not be as effective, because it does not cause microtrauma at the same rate.
The average man has more natural strength compared to the average woman. However, if a woman exercises she can see improvements to her strength levels. If done consistently women can see improvements. Although training does not negate the total physical fitness capacity difference. Examining the records of elite male and female athletes shows their is a 10% difference in performance in sporting events. Considering the biological and physiological differences this seems to be small. One would suspect it to be much bigger. This means a woman and even an elite female athlete would have to train harder in comparison to a man. It is possible that there could be overlap, however it is rare that an elite female and match the performance of an elite male athlete.
Women’s tendons may not respond the same way to training. This also explains why there is a disparity in injuries. Thicker tendons can contribute to strength. The women used in the study were university age and could have been at various fitness level prior to the experiment. One factor that was acknowledged. Simply being tall and having longer arms can effect pull up performance. A person with shorter arms would have an easier time lifting themselves above the bar.
It should be apparent given known facts that women can do pull-ups if instructed properly. When women were allowed to apply for combat units in the United States, there was controversy over the pull-up requirement. Most of the women in the US Marines failed to reach the three pull-up minimum. While conservatives claimed that this was evidence that women were not suitable for such military occupational specialties, there was another reason for their failure. Women were allowed to do the flexed arm hang as a substitute fitness requirement. This exercise does not seem effective at building upper body strength. When the requirement changed and women did not receive the correct instruction it resulted in test failure.
When the fitness standards were changed and women trained the right way there was improvement. Exercise physiology has shown women are not physical inferior; they are different. That is why training must be designed to accommodate such biological and physiological sex based differences. To say women cannot do pull-ups is false. The experiment conducted did not produce an accurate assessment. What one could assume without analysis is that all men by default should be able to do pull-ups. That is erroneous, because there are men who are either out of shape or have a weight problem.
This woman can do pull-ups.
The only logical conclusion is that women will have a harder time mastering pull-ups. The difference in upper body mass contributes to this. While women are closer to men in the lower body, this makes exercises like squats and luges easier in comparison. Tara Parker-Pope wrote this article in 2012 for New York Times Magazine. The article does not only recycle dated concepts of the frailty myth, it is scientifically inaccurate. If there was to be a full assessment of women’s physical capabilities, the sample size would have to be larger. I would be fascinating to see a comparison between a sample of athletic women compared to average women. The same could be done for a group of men to get a better understanding. If they are given the same instruction then this would be more than an approximation. Men may still do more pull-ups in total compared to women. Yet, women’s performance could improve. Doing this exercise is more than just about biology. Women at a young age are discouraged from the use of their bodies and as adults are less physically active. Physical strength, power, and prowess are still perceived as male only attributes. This can be changed. If the University of Dayton study is correct it should be able to survive the test of the scientific method. Meaning if this were to be done again the same results would have to be replicated from the experiment. It is dubious that it could reproduced even with a larger sample size.
This was an article published in 2013 documenting the rise of fitness women and their popularity on social networking sites. For fans who have been familiar with female muscle, this is nothing new. What is interesting about the news piece is the mainstream media treatment about it. The text cannot be considered completely full of praise, but it is not negative. This is rare considering how the subject of muscular and athletic women are viewed by mainstream society. Normally the media in both print or on television present something different as bizarre or deviant. The case with the New York Post article is that it profiles the women and gives their perspectives. The men also are given reasons for their love and support of muscular women. It seems in a way that female muscle is going mainstream or that the idea of the muscular woman is not subcultural. The peculiar element of this is that female bodybuilding has been struggling, but more women are either lifting weights or becoming part of the culture. The power of social media demonstrates how fan bases can be joined together and that it is a great tool for self promotion. It also demonstrates that there are more admirers of female muscle than previously thought.
The average American man may not favor a woman who has a muscular body. However, there is a growing fan base of social media users who are discovering the the beauty of female muscle. The thin body type has been presented as the ideal, but subsequently has been challenged by a body positive movement embracing women of larger size. Simultaneously, there is a new zeitgeist that is embracing the idea ” strong is the new skinny.” Although there are different ideas and views about what is attractive, there are a large number of men who are loving the look of a physically strong woman. The article presents this as a recent development. The lovers of female muscle were around since the inception of women’s strength sports and fitness.
Female bodybuilding dates back to the 1970s and with it came a unique subculture. Male fans would not only buy tickets to contests, but would buy magazines and videos of their favorite athletes. The real hardcore admirers are schmoes and they have had a presence since the start of the sport. The article cites quotes from male fans. Johnathan Montes who is an amausement park worker stated : ” I’m specifically into the more bulky professional female bodybuilder type — there’s just something about a massively built woman that I find very attractive and alluring.”Amare Stoudemire basketball star athlete explained his love as follows : “It reflects you worked hard for it, no money can buy it. “Steve Rivers a radio personality quoted ” there is nothing more attractive than seeing an attractive woman working out.” The men surveyed for the article were mostly in their 20s or 30s. It seems the idea of the muscular and physically strong woman appeals to younger men more. This may be a result of being raised in a generation in which women are seen as equals and that women can doing certain activities that were once thought to be male only. A more progressive attitude in regards to women and the change in body standards may explain this sudden shift. There is division among supporters.
The larger female bodybuilders may not be included in the category the article is talking about. The mainstream acceptance of muscular women has shown the image of the toned woman or woman with some definition , rather than the bigger female bodybuilders. Fans of female muscle disagree about aesthetics.There are four camps that fans fall into. The first is that women should have some muscle, but not “too much.” The second perspective is one in which there should be some moderate level ( figure or physique division build). The other favors the traditional bodybuilding with an emphasis on size. The fourth perspective is that any level of muscle is suitable for women. Lita Lewis, Massiel Aris, and Sohee Lee fall into the first two aesthetic paradigms. They are not bodybuilders, rather fitness models. The bigger female bodybuilder would have difficulty getting mainstream acceptance and the moderately muscular female body is just getting it currently. There may be an acceptance of muscularity on a woman to a certain extent, but not to the degree that gender appropriateness deems unsuitable. This demonstrates there still is a long way to go for women in fitness.
The problem is that people still retain the view that women with muscles are not feminine. While the fitness industry likes women who are in shape, they do not promote the image of the very hyper muscular woman. The female bodybuilder of a particular size is absent from mainstream fitness magazines. This does not mean there are not large portions of fans. Schmoes go as far as to book private sessions that involve wrestling or posing demonstrations. Gentlemen preferring buff is hardly a recent development. There was a point in which the only way for the female muscle fan to see a muscular woman was to go to a contest, possibly see them on TV, or go to a gym. There were magazines such as Women’s Physique World and Female Bodybuilding Magazine that provided many images. The rise of session wrestling and muscle worship actually came about from devoted fans wanting to see more muscular women up close and women’s need to finance their sport. Although schmoe has negative connotations and some may view them with disdain, they make the shrinking division of female bodybuilding sustainable.
Even during the golden age of female bodybuilding women were still paid less. It is an expensive sport, but women were and continue to generate money for the fitness industry. Fans keep consuming, while publishers, supplement companies, and the producers of exercise equipment continue to make large profits. Women do not get the full benefit of revenue generation, because they are blocked by corporate gatekeepers. Fans and athletes were circumventing them in a way by organizing their own activities and culture. Mixed wrestling videos have been a source of entertainment which has been pioneered by Bill Wick. Art ranging from realistic renditions to cartoons are produced in the form of female muscle growth (fmg).
These cartoons are classified as female muscle growth.
Artists like to do realistic renditions of their favorite athletes.
Mixed Wresting and session wrestling are common practices in the female bodybuilding subculture.
Forums and websites are areas in which fans discuss contests and the performance of competitors. This fan base consists of men who have been following muscular women for a longtime or younger men who have just dis covered it. The stereotype is that they are all fetishists and have some form of perversion. liking muscular women is not a perversion or paraphilia. The mainstream media attempts to present it in that manner, but it does not fit the clinical definition. Paraphilia can be defined as ” abnormal sexual desires that express themselves through extreme or dangerous activity.”Sthenolagnia has been classified as a paraphilia, but hardly can be considered severe condition. It is a fetish and to a degree everyone has one. It hardly counts as one if defined by a strictly psychological definition of disorder. No one ever says a person has a thin woman fetish. There is a level of bias that female muscle fans face from the general public that does not understand the women or culture. The mainstream tends to sensationalize elements or subjects that are not general knowledge. There is a world of female muscle fandom and it has gotten some mainstream media exposure. The men who form this fan base are neither intimidated or repulsed by women’s strength. Such a paradigm shift reveals that there has been ( although small ) progress in terms of what women can be and do. There still is backlash within the fitness industry, in the public, and online.
An example of the sexist beliefs some still have directed at women who have muscular physiques.
This does not seem unusual. When ever an oppressed group gains power there has been backlash from the conservative or traditional elements. Women who are in sports and fitness are clearly making their presence known. Detractors claim that women only do this to invade or disrupt male spaces. That is not the objective of the female athletes. They want to enjoy and make the culture flourish. It is difficult to say just how large the female muscle fandom is. There could be a large portion of men who hide their support or love. The internet allows one to be anonymous so it remains a mystery. There is no doubt that their is a following of fit and muscular women of all types through social media.
The internet and social media demonstrate how female athletes can use a platform to their advantage to promote their sport. If television or magazines do not cover women’s sports , social media could be a better solution. It is obvious that print media like newspapers and magazines are struggling to keep up in a world of rapidly changing information. Sources that are fast receive more attention. Television will most likely become like the radio. It still is present, but not as powerful as an entertainment medium when television was made widely available. Relevant to the the discussion of female muscle, it gives users access 24 hours and a huge mass of content. Up and coming athletes can introduce themselves to fans without having to go through the fitness corporate structure. There is the threat that the FCC poses which stuck down Obama administration era net neutrality rules. The power was given back to the service providers rather than the users. This means service providers could block particular websites or slow down speeds in certain areas. Net neutrality must be preserved to maintain a free and open internet. Without it, many female athletes would not get any exposure. Mainstream media outlets fail to realize the economic potential of women’s sports and fitness. There is a claim that the muscular woman is not marketable, but the existence of athletes’ pay sites contradict such pronouncements. There is the challenge of online piracy, which may effect sales. Online piracy has not stopped sites from selling content or gaining profits. it may actually just be free advertisement. To those who honestly purchase materials such as videos and photographs they become dedicated collectors.
Social media and the internet have also allowed fans to connect with each other more so than just attending sporting events. This technology is the wave of the future and some companies are slow to adopt it. The athletes are more savvy by doing self-promotion rather than depending on the traditional corporate structure of the fitness industry. This a positive development because women gain some control of the industry or and circumvent people who are an obstruction. There have always been men who like muscular women, now they can be appealed to as a demographic. Athlete’s producing their own content prevents entertainment from being stale and repetitive. This explains the sudden phenomenon of popularity on social media sites of female fitness personalities.
The rise of the muscular woman is in a sense a type of silent revolution. There have been muscular women in the past, but nowhere in history have women developed themselves physically to this extent. People cite women’s rise in business and politics as a remarkable paradigm shift. Yet they forget that women are also making progress in particular areas. The muscular woman changes and challenges the perception of the female body. It is not long seen as soft, weak, or inferior. This new paradigm of muscular female body is new. Strength and physical power were thought to male only attributes, but this is no longer the case. There are multiple forms of beauty, but here women are defining it form themselves. The women who pursue fitness with high enthusiasm are not afraid of the ostracism of the society in which they live.
The image is a powerful statement. It does have feminist overtones, however third wave feminist hardly give the fitness woman any serious investigation. There are also women who engage in the same amount of criticism of the muscular woman just like men. Instead of being supportive they either internalize society’s sexism or cling to the notion of strict gender roles. It is not uncommon for women to say “I would never want to look like them” or state that the muscular woman is “mannish.” Women do not help women as a whole if they are putting each other down. Women come in different shapes and sizes so there is no reason to be pejorative to women who do not fit in to a person’s concept of beauty. The problem is that women are valued more for their appearance, rather than their character or accomplishments as individuals. These attitudes must change. Even though their are some who do not like or approve the look of female muscle, they can at least respect the women as accomplished athletes. Such a development is a positive step in the right direction.
Women do not only want to look strong, they want to demonstrate it. Exercising with weights is no longer considered a male only activity. Women are using them and absorbing the fitness culture. This is not confined to one country either. Women who live in Africa, Latin America, and Asia are now becoming involved in fitness and strength sports. Fitness has taken a global perspective. This has also been enabled by the internet, in which communication across continents is faster than ever. The fitness culture has also disseminated into larger areas of the sports world. Female athletes who compete in track, weightlifting, rugby, or other sports incorporate weights into their training. Doing so increases performance and prevents injury.
The emphasis is not about appearance, rather what the body can do. Women who are serious athletes and fitness enthusiasts have found a competitive drive. They not only want to become stronger they want to be the best at their sport of choice. The life style of hard training and heavy lifting seems to be more popular with women than in previous generations. Women who are no athletes are lifting and older women are becoming engaged to improve their health. The most significant element of this movement is that it is perfectly acceptable to be strong and a woman. Although there is embrace, there are also complications that come with promotion of this image.
There is a sex symbol stereotype that has emerged from the rise of social media fitness personalities. Women who are not competing, but train become popular not for their athletic accomplishments rather, their image. This relates to issues of sexual objectification and what is the line between compliment or admiration. Some do not see it as an issue, however it does become one if their is online abuse. The rude comments are one dynamic, but sexual ones are another problem women face. Sohee Lee states :”I’ve seen crude comments on the pages of other fitness models.” She expounds further ” I just think that if you’re flexing in booty shorts you could be kind of asking for [that kind of attention],” says Lee.”There is a problem with this view point. It seems to blame the individual, rather than the conduct of the sexual harasser. Athletes would probably still have such comments directed at them even if they did not display their bodies.
These statements seem strange considering the point of social media is to interact. Sohee claims she wants to keep things tasteful, but looking at her websites and social media it is clear she does similar behaviors. Being a bikini, fitness, figure, physique, or bodybuilder competitor means you will be displaying your body. The sport is attention based when on stage and off stage. Women who pose in limited amounts of clothing are going to generate attention. That is no excuse or reason to behave in an uncivil manner. Few would harass women or catcall them on stage,but would write such feelings on their social media. Men may feel they can do something like that online, because there is no chance of it having immediate repercussion. Behavior must change and a code of online etiquette must be promoted. Like every technology, social media has a negative aspect. It has become a place in which users project their insecurities, prejudices, and hatreds. It also has become an area that promotes controversy when an event is not that serious.
Maria Kang another fitness personality was criticized on social media for her advertisement of “what’s your excuse ? ” Some how a portion of users convinced themselves this was an example of fat shaming. The illogical conclusion and overreaction to a simple phrase or sentence causes flame wars across social media. Kang later posted another ad on her website saying “what’s your reason?” Granted from a public relations perspective a more motivational phase could have been employed. It could have been “this can be done with the right plan” or “with enough focus all things are possible.” Encouraging women or other people to exercise is not fat shaming. The rise in obesity in the US has become a serious health concern. The logic according to social media is to exaggerate a claim or statement and somehow force an apology. Social media’s negative consequence this that it has created a place for people with extreme views or distorted thoughts or reasoning. There are the arm chair activist social justice warriors and the far-right racist conservatives. Between these two groups are people who focus on cultural or social issues. These user may discuss race, sexual politics, or media. Pseudo-feminists ( preach the ideology, but have no understanding of its true meaning) fall into this group claiming any criticism of women is sexism. They claim to support women and proceed to attack those they deem oppressive. Kang was criticized by this group, however you never see them involved in body positive image promotion in regards to the muscular woman.
The movement that promotes women with curves, does not seem to be very accepting of the strong woman. There is nothing wrong with larger or curvy women, but its seems contradictory if the same women fit shame. The issue is that to an extent social media has made it so that some people see themselves as perpetual victims. This should not be a mindset to organize around. Hashtag movements will inevitably fail, because people have not come to a state of philosophical, social, and political consciousness. The positive body image movement could fall into this trap. Change will only come when women change their behavior in regards to one another and come to a new sense of self. A new beauty standard should not be the objective, rather there should be an acceptance that women all look different. That could be a solution to the sex symbol stereotype that is present in the fitness social media realm.
There is a difference between admiration and obvious online sexual harassment. The unfortunate reality is that some female athletes can not distinguish the difference. The reason being it may be difficult to do so with thousands of messages either being negative or ambiguously suggestive in nature. The best way to understand what admiration is. Compliments or congratulating an athlete is an example of admiration. The user is showing respect for their accomplishments. Sexual objectification or harassment projects itself in crude and or lascivious comments. Actions such as sexting are examples of inappropriate conduct. Objectification happens when a viewer only focuses on the appearance of the athlete rather than her athletic accomplishments. Such attitudes imply women only exist to be attractive to men or be servants to them. Such attitudes are repulsive, yet remain prevalent. Men and male fans must have a code of internet and social media etiquette to combat these sexually charged comments. Most social media sites have blocking mechanisms to comment sections, but it remains a constant irritant. The attitudes some men have in regards to women must change.
The athletes also have a responsibility to be mindful of what they post. Nudes or any other materials may not be a wise decision to post online. There are some athletes who may leave the fitness industry completely and may not want it to be known they had done particular photo shoots. Information can spread rapidly on the internet and what is posted can be seen by millions of people. Employers even search social media pages. Although they should be looking at the qualifications you have for a job, a social media presence could effect their decisions. The photographs posted or what you say could be used against you. Being reckless in this regard could cause problems. Donald Trump writes messages on Twitter before consulting his secretary of the press, resulting in diplomatic and political backlash. This is a catastrophe from a public relations view, because Twitter becomes the White House’s area of official statements. Poor image management can be detrimental. Users must understand when they post, they present an image. It may not represent complete truth, but to readers it may be. Athletes being public figures should be mindful of these facts. Doing so can prevent issues.
There are gentlemen who do prefer buff. However, it is based to a certain degree. Some enjoy a woman with some muscle, others women who are considered in shape. That is a broad definition or description. Women face criticism for bring “too big” or “too much.” This is relative based on preference and culture. Women and men even go as far as to use different terminology to describe the muscular physique. Women rather “tone” or men would rather “bulk.” This is nothing more than gender based terms for muscle. There is a double standard when it comes to women and strength. The maxim among the fitness circles is for women be strong, but not too strong.
There is no reason why women of various muscularity levels cannot be accepted. Whatever level a woman wants to take their bodies, they should be allowed to. No one demands of a painter to produce less art or a writer to produce less novels.An athlete should strive to reach their highest level of potential. It does not matter if there are detractors who disagree to what women are doing to their bodies. There may be condemnation, yet there are a good portion of supporters. It can be disputed that the fitness woman is a new pin-up. To some men who have followed women’s strength sports and fitness they were already pin-ups. What started out of the bodybuilding subculture expanded into various branches. Fitness culture infiltrated sports, health, and popular culture. There are celebrities in Hollywood that have their own personal trainers. The difference now is that the muscular woman has more exposure compared to the past. What might have been considered rare or an oddity is gaining normalization. The mainstream is gradually catching up to the subculture that had existed since the 1970s. That was the period of female bodybuilding’s birth and it progressed from there. There now is crossfit, powerlifing, weightlifting, and a multitude of bodybuilding divisions women can compete in. The past four decades has seen a revolution in terms of women’s involvement in physical culture. The amazing aspect of this cultural evolution is that the legion of male fans continue to increase. This is a remarkable paradigm shift because it is being aided by technology and changing attitudes of younger men.
Physically men on average are stronger, but in terms of durational strength women have an advantage. It has been confirmed, that women live longer than men and may cope better with illness including trauma. There is a gap in terms of old age between men and women. The article from The Guardian examines how there are sex differences in aging and how it relates to overall health. Gerontology seeks to study and explain the process of senescence. Biological aging and death are still a mystery. Biomedical science has not studied women in a serious manner, but that has began to change. Such examinations may hold the key to prolonging life and fighting age related diseases. The information written in the text comes from the Centre for Study on Sex Differences in Health, Aging, and Disease and the Gerontology Research Group. It was once believed that men were better suited for survival, because they were biologically tougher. This was a myth based on gender stereotypes. Medicine had a tradition of casting the female body as inferior or an object that needed to be controlled. Research has shown that women are not biological inferiors, but have evolved to be survivors.
The research demonstrates there exists two types of strength. Physical strength which is the level of exertion and force that a person can induce upon an object. Durational strength is how long a person can live in total years. It is dependent on health condition, genetics, and environment. Steven Austad describes women’s total life expectancy as being more robust. The biologist who is an international expert on aging discovered from his findings that women lived six years longer than men. This would indicate that women on average have higher durational strength. Unlike what Angela Saini claims “the physically strong woman is almost a myth” there is more to the human body and the science behind it. The female body is more capable of amazing feats than once believed by exercise physiologists. Women historically were restricted in using or having control of their bodies. Physical power and fitness are not male only. The frailty myth was born out of 19th century Victorian Age pseudoscience. It stated women need more rest when they reached puberty and that too much exercise would damage their reproductive organs. There was also a sexist bias in terms of what was considered gender appropriate. Since then, women have gain more opportunities to play sports and engage in physical activity. The false claims were discredited and a change occurred. The only reason female athletes are “gazed upon as other worldly creatures” has to do with people’s view of gender and the female body. Cultural perceptions of the the female body being weaker or women lacking physical competence was common place. Now this perception is shifting and with new information in regards to health it seems arguments of women’s biological inferiority are nothing more than fantasies.
The reason people feel “they break the laws of nature” has to do with sex based biases. There are people who still believe that sport is not proper for a woman. There has been a change in attitude in regards to women, exercise, and health. Strength sports specifically, women are becoming more involved in. Even the “everyday woman” has taken a interest in exercise, not just the professional athlete. Robustness, toughness, and physical power are associated with the male body, but not out of women’s reach. The physical strength difference is based on the size and endocrinology of the male physique. However, this does not mean men will live longer than women. Denser bones and more muscle mass of men means they will not be as susceptible to osteoporosis. That is one health difference that is based on sex. What must be understood about physical fitness is that men have higher capacity. Women’s bodies do respond to training an they can increase fitness levels. Men have a higher physical fitness capacity for strength, but this does not indicate a form of superiority. What it reveals is a long evolutionary history still being shaped by genetics and constantly changing environments.
Women have a greater chance of living to old age than men. According to The Gerontology Research Group there are only 43 people today who have lived past the age of 110. Women account for 42 of the group, with one man being the survivor. Violet Brown holds the record of the oldest person being 117. She was born in 1900 and pasted away in 2017. It is a mystery why nature has made men expendable in this regard. Durational strength does not emerge later in life, but starts with the gestation process. Boys are more likely to die when being delivered. Even when healthcare is the same quality, boys are at a 10% risk factor. Research produced from the University of Adelaide indicated that depending on the sex of the baby the placenta may behave differently. The body reacts by bolstering the power of the immune system and girls may get the most benefit. The reason girls and women are protected may have to do with evolution. Reproductive strategies for some organisms involve the female producing large amounts of young. This would mean the female of that species would have to be larger to carry eggs. This can be seen in arachnids and species of birds. Seeing as women give birth to only one child or just a few more ( twins, triplets, or quintuplets), survival of the female would be more critical. They birth offspring and this method seems more efficient than having young all at once. This is a possible explanation why their is sexual dimorphism in primates. This also includes homo sapiens who do have a level of sexual dimorphism. It can be flexible to a degree. Most men are taller than women, but there are tall women. Obviously, there are women who are stronger than many men.
There is a level of genetic diversity among people, which results in variation. A possible method would to solving this puzzle is to examine the life span of primates such as gorillas or chimpanzees. More information could be extracted from chimpanzees seeing as human beings are closer to that ape genetically. If the females of these apes lives longer then that means women’s longevity does have an evolutionary basis. This could mean the reason girls survive even in the early stages has a genetic basis.
Both men and women are vulnerable to disease, but women may fare better. Infections and common colds women cam handle better in terms of immune response. Cardiovascular disease occurs much sooner in men than it does women. Hypertension also a major culprit to health showed a distinct sex difference. Men get high blood pressure earlier. This could not only be a genetic factor, but environment as well as habit based. Americans are becoming more sedentary and getting less physical activity. Combined with high sugar and fat based diets, this will cause problems with cardiovascular health. Exercise and a healthy diet is the best method to avoid cardiovascular disease. The findings of Austud revealed in 2010 that women died at lower rates from heart disease and cancer. Men and women were both equal in terms of likelihood of dying of a stroke or Parkinson’s disease. One problem specific to women comes with longevity. The longer one lives the possibility of neurodengenrative disease increases. Women are more likely to die from Alzheimer’s disease. A powerful immune system also comes with a price. Women are more vulnerable to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Autoimmune diseases are when the immune system attacks cells that are healthy in the body. Women’s immune systems have to be flexible for pregnancy. That is why a woman’s immune system is more active during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Immune response is also related to endocrine function by estrogen and progesterone. It seems that exercise, diet, and general habits can prevent many diseases.
There are genetic and biological factors that determine health. The environmental element is also critical to an individual’s life expectancy. Then there has to be some recognition of how disease and healthcare functions. The medical profession puts an emphasis on prevention, rather than investing in cures. There is too much reliance on drugs for certain aliments that could be addressed with a change in diet and lifestyle. Only recently have doctors been seeing the connection between mental states and physical health. Mental health is just as important as physical health. There has been in the US an increase in mental health disorders, notably bipolar depression. The text does not mention how mental health differs between the sexes. This is a topic that is significant, because a person changes psychologically over a lifetime. The body needs exercise. The brain also requires it. Learning new things or being active may help prevent cognitive decline.
There still is not an exact reason for why some get Alzheimer’s disease. Only theories are proposed for this age related disease. The death of brain cells indicates as well as other forms of dementia that human beings have a cellular limit. Mitosis changes over the span of the human life cycle resulting in dying cells not easily being replaced in various organ systems. Oxidative stress from free radicals will take its toll as a person ages. The only reason it appears more women are ill is because more of them survive. Advanced age women out number advanced aged men.
There are sociological reasons for the difference in longevity. Women are most likely willing to make regular doctors appointments. Men do not do this as frequently, which may result in late diagnosis of chronic illness. It seems in some societies women take the condition of their health more seriously. Men may also eat more unhealthy diets. This may not be entirely true, because if men and women have access to the same food their diets would not be that different. Then another problem would be buying such food. Junk food is by comparison cheaper compared to nutritious alternatives, which may also cause a disparity in health relative to socioeconomic status. The poor or discriminated ethnic groups in a particular country often suffer from lack of medical treatment or adequate healthcare. Life expectancy is lowered by terrible socioeconomic conditions. Affordable healthcare is still out of reach for many of the world’s population. The disparity even extends to geography. Western nations have higher life expectancy mainly due to the fact they have government run programs and the infrastructure to support it. The United States is one of the few industrialized nations that does not want to provide a government run healthcare system. The Affordable Care Act was designed to get people insured who otherwise would not have had healthcare. There is also a divide between rural and urban communities. Rural healthcare is low quality with few hospitals and few options in terms of healthcare plans. Women may also benefit from a difference in behavior. Men are more willing to work jobs that are more dangerous. This does not women would not work these jobs, but their numbers a smaller in comparison.
This difference in risk taking and to a degree competition may harm attempts at creating full equality. Combat positions have been open to women in the US, yet in some areas of the military women have not signed up. This debate comes down to nature versus nurture. The question should not be nature versus nurture. The mystery is how much do nature and nurture collaborate. Granted many women may not be able to fill such positions that are physically demanding due to the difference in physical fitness capacity. Yet, there still is discrimination that is present, even with laws prohibiting it. Women are also discouraged at a young age from going into particular fields. That is just one paradigm of the nature and nurture collaboration. Men are also taught to do things that are deleterious to their well being. The machismo around “proving ones” self leads to perilous situations or confrontations. Men may overwork themselves in pursuit of prestige or to up hold the role of leader of the community. Placing extra burden on themselves can cause health problems later in life. The lugubrious reality is that men inflict more violence on other men. This can be seen in crime statistics. Warfare puts men at a disadvantage, because they will be drafted. Sociological factors such as geography, healthcare, or occupation can effect longevity.
Hunter gatherer societies may allow for a hypothesis why women were given the edge in longevity. Women probably in the ancient past did the same amount of physical work as their male counter parts. Women most likely had to do physical work along with childcare. The need for durational strength was a necessity. Women’s talent for endurance running reveals that women were probably more physical in the past, because it was pertaining to survival. When the rise of permanent settlement changed women’s health and physiques. The bones and muscles shrunk in terms of mass after the Paleolithic and Neolithic Ages. Women’s endurance can best be described as an adaptation to environment. The migration out of Africa was a vigorous journey. That endurance not only protected women, but the young they were carrying. Saini poses the question why are we all nor amazons? The answer is lucid, when looking at other people. There is variation in human populations. This can range from height to skin color and body type.
Human beings do not all look the same because our phenotypes vary due to genetics and environment. The association of the female body being small and waif like seems to be a modern day invention. The article does expose that ideas does not represent reality. There are countries today were women are involved in physically demanding labor. A majority of women in the Global South are employed in agriculture. There are more women going into sports, law enforcement, construction, the military, and occupations that were considered male only. There is not only biological evolution, but cultural evolution. The cultural evolution is the change of women’s roles through history. One change was the improvement of women’s health. Childbirth was in the past could mean for women possible death. Women now have safer medical treatment for childbirth. There still are disparities in terms of infant mortality. What can be extrapolated from this data and evolutionary history is that there is no such thing as a weaker sex. Trying to prove that a weaker sex is real would not survive the test of the scientific method. Although women do live longer and have more durational strength, there are issues surrounding women’s health. Access to contraception, healthcare, and higher rates of breast cancer are persistent threats. Women still remain the long time survivors.
There may be more admirers of the muscular and athletic physique than previously thought. These fans and supporters do not openly admit there appreciation. They tend to remain anonymous going on to forums, websites, and social media. There is a new culture that has emerged from the internet. This article from femalemuscle.com describes the lurker. This type of internet user goes online specifically to search or collect materials that are related to an interest they do not want anyone to know they support. Lori Braun wrote this article to explain this phenomenon. It has been suggested that lurkers make up to 90% of internet groups( Nonnecke & Preece 2000). It actually could be more, because this survey may only be a small sample of a population. The internet is infinite and global. One subject that is still taboo is that of the muscular woman. The image invokes feelings of either objection, support, or lust. There is no reason why the muscular woman should be seen as abnormal or taboo. It does reveal the misogynist and conformist nature of society. It is one that is exclusionary and hates anything that is different. Such animosity that women face reveals how rigid beauty standards encourage sexist prejudice. Simultaneously, it forces men to either conform to a conviction or system that they may not agree with. The fear of fetish seems to be one stigma, but this may not be so bizarre itself. Lurkers and portions of female muscle fans hide their love of the strong woman physique due to pressure, conformity, and the fear of sexual expression.
Images that are absorbed through media and culture do impact our believe system. These value that are transmitted or memes spread. Beauty concepts are no different. Thinness has been valued as the ideal for women’s bodies. The thin body image is constantly presented as ideal and normal, even when in reality women vary in body type. When women do not conform to this standard, they face pressure from the community or wider society. The muscular woman challenges notions about the capability of women’s bodies and what they can achieve. These women face pressure to look a certain way that is valued by the society. The pressure also works in another way in regards to male supporters. Men who are more vocal about their love of muscular women face the same ostracism. Criticism can come from friends or family. Athletes face the same type of treatment. Many ask ” why would a woman do this to herself ?” or “what type of man would be with a woman like that ?” Such rude question demonstrate that the community or group is attempting to pressure men and women to behave and act in a certain way. The pressure is designed to have men in this case like the same ideal.
A man who says he likes muscular faces harsh criticism form the majority. There is also the pressure to have a support stop liking what they have a genuine interest in. The pressure to like one type or version ob beauty is pervasive. Some refuse to acknowledge that there are multiple aesthetics. The secret admirers of female muscle are pressured to not like it by either being insulted or shunned. Pressure is powerful in groups. This is a reason men hide their love of female muscle. Female muscle fans do not present the muscular woman as the sole version of beauty. They like other types of women, not just strong ones. The common misconception is that men prefer one type of beauty.This is one explanation why the internet provides a relatively private space to enjoy something taboo.
The female muscle fan would probably find many types of women attractive.
Peer pressure does not only effect adolescents, but it carries over into adulthood. This unfortunately forces people to behave in ways they may not like or do certain actions they do not want to gain approval in a community. Men hiding their love of female muscle is a means of avoiding backlash.
Conformity has in general made the majority of female muscle fans silent supporters. Female muscle and more specifically, female bodybuilding is not a mainstream sport or activity. A subculture can either generate fear or confusion among the mainstream, which promotes conformity in a dominant culture. Those who do not conform are either outcasts or regulated to that of the bizarre. The fans are also put into this category. Such attitudes even reveal particular biases. The attacks on female muscle fans either are directed at their sexuality . Men are accused of being gay when, they are merely just attracted to women who are strong. This is a projection of homophobia, because the accusation is used as an insult. There is nothing wrong with having a different sexual orientation, however it is used to insult heterosexuals also exposing sexism. Those who project such vituperation are also saying that a physically strong woman is not feminine. This is false, but they still function on the idea that men are strong and women are weak. When this is proved incorrect negative reactions occur. The fan of female muscle may not want to deal with such vituperation and ignorance generated by the closed minded.
There has been a shift some what to accepting larger women. There are plus sized models and women who refer to themselves as curvy. Some call this an outgrowth of fat acceptance. Whatever the case, this does show that the level of body conformity has been weakened. Supporters of this movement do not embrace women of physical fitness. The opposite of this is the strong is the new skinny zeitgeist. So there are some supporters that are not completely in a lurker stage. Women with some muscle are getting exposure and sometimes lauded. Fitness modeling, crossfit, and a generation of much stronger female athlete are responsible for the sudden change. To an extent the female athletic figure has gained some mainstream exposure.
There are some who say they like the look of the athletic woman’s body, yet they have a limit. As long as they do not “cross the line” coded language for getting too big it is accepted by some. Although there is preference and different tastes, there is no reason a woman should limit herself or potential. While large muscles on the female frame may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is their choice. They are not doing this to please people; it is done for themselves. There is no such thing as too much or too big. Oddly, even the hyper muscular woman can be rejected in the sports world. They were the first to show that it was okay for a woman to be physically powerful. That simple act changed the way women thought about themselves in sports and fitness.
It also changed some men’s perceptions about women to a degree. The physically powerful woman is not a threat or grotesque. To the female muscle fan she is another model of beauty. Conformity and the demands of it make fans of female muscle rare reveal their strong approval. Some will even deny it when asked. The internet also becomes a safe space were the female muscle fan can enjoy their interest without questioning or judgement.
It is no surprise that fascination with such women is more than just their athletic feats and records. There is obviously a level of attraction for the muscular woman. This goes beyond just look at pictures. There are men who pay to see women flex and even test their immense strength against them. Schmoes are a part of the female bodybuilding culture and they are not open about their participation of sessions. Some feel embarrassed by their love of muscular women. This extreme female muscle fan is either viewed as a pervert, sexual deviant, or predator. The truth is these are men of various ethnic, class, and religious backgrounds who engage in sessions. There could be a possibility that if society was more accepting men would not have to go to sessions in secret. Many men who do engage in sessions do not talk about it to their friends or family. There are men who are even married who participate in sessions. Having a fetish is not strange, because it is a part of human sexual expression.
There are fetishes related to strong and muscular women. Sthenolagnia and cratolagnia are common among female muscle fans. However, that does not automatically mean that every single female muscle fan has this fetish. They may simply like the look, but not be active in sessions. There may be fans who have a desire to do sessions, yet erroneously associate it with prostitution. There is another smaller element of that that has developed in the bodybuilding subculture. This is a recent phenomenon, compared to the longer existence of sessions and mixed wrestling.
Some athletes go to extremes to finance their sport endeavors. It seems tragic that some athletes are forced to do this when they are participants in a lucrative fitness industry. These elements make some female muscle fans more reluctant to be vocal about their support. It should be understood that sessions are not prostitution. Arm wrestling, mixed wrestling, muscle worship, lift and carry are normally part of sessions. The intent is not copulation( this does not mean it does not occur) . This association between sessions and prostitution although two different practices is another reason there are men who hide their fetish. The problem is that society has an issue with human sexuality and nature. It either attempts to suppress it too much or be extremely puritanical. There is not a healthy balance and it causes people to behave in unusual ways. Being secretive about the love of female muscle seem unnecessary.
The internet has allowed female athletes to gain more exposure, when television has failed to do so. Yet there is a negative consequence. Online abuse and cyberbullying seem to be a common problem the muscular woman or female athlete faces. Rude comments and insults appear on social media or comment sections of various websites. These range from sexist, racist, or homophobic attacks. They even are transphobic with comments stating ‘these women look like men” or ” that is a tranny.” Cyberbullies and what are colloquially referred to as trolls have a platform to spew their hatreds and prejudices without any repercussion. Suzanne Germano for example said she once read a comment about herself that read as follows ” sleeping with her would be like sleeping with a man.”
While this comment demonstrates an intense ignorance and lack of intelligence it also shows how prevalent sexist attitudes are. The author of the online abuse comment shows that they only value women for their appearance and or for sex. There is also another phenomenon that has emerged from the internet. Those people who deliberately attack women such as these to hide their own love of them. Doing this just reveals they cannot accept the fact they like them. Some people are more susceptible to peer pressure and this lack of constitution projects itself in that manner. There are those who are vocal about their opposition, but are not exactly trying to do online abuse. They may say “this is weird ” or “women should not be allowed to do this .” They justify their objections and judgments by saying they are merely expressing their opinions. True, you so have the right to free expression, but that does not give you the right to be rude. Then from a point of logic why post comments on videos or sites in which you do not care for or like ? This is obviously an attempt at attention. Being anonymous online emboldens people who want to act in unacceptable ways, but are stopped in a real life social setting. There is a positive note. For all the cyberbullies, there may be even more supporters.
There is a way that the stigma of female muscle can be overcome. One solution is exposure. The internet has helped in the sense that more people and see that they do exist. This helps normalize the idea and people will not be so shocked when they see them. The public must get used to the idea women can look different from what they have seen in media and other materials. The most important change that needs to happen is that fans of female muscle must be more supportive and not keep their love a secret. Become members of the athlete’s websites and social media. Defend your support when some one questions or criticizes you about it. That change can help break some of the cycle. Do not be afraid to say what you like. People must learn to accept that women and be different and multifaceted. There are women heads of state, CEOs, and women in STEM related fields. These were thought to be male only sectors, but that has changed. So if women can have political and economic power, there is no reason why physical power cannot be a part of that. It is possible with time, the muscular female may get a level of acceptance. Cultural beliefs and perceptions about women will have to change.
The title seems to be some what of a hyperbole. The study conducted revealed that women process exactly 30% more oxygen more efficiently compared to their male counterparts. This has been suspected for sometime,but it looks like it has finally been confirmed. Oxygen uptake is only one element of physical fitness. Women can obviously reach a certain physical fitness level through training and diet. However, men have higher absolute peak physical fitness. This includes attributes such as muscular strength and speed. Women it seems have more muscular endurance as revealed by another study produced this year. The University of Waterloo in Ontario conducted a study involving 18 subjects. All these men and women were active. They performed treadmill exercise and researchers concluded women process oxygen more quickly. Thus it may seem that women have more efficient in terms aerobic fitness. This does challenge the conventional belief that the male body is just naturally more athletic compared to women’s bodies. Women do have athletic advantages and biological sex does not seem to be a limitation.
Peak physical fitness refers to how strong, fast, and how much endurance an athlete can get through exercise and diet.Once an athlete reaches their physical peak, they can no longer improve any further. Men have more muscular strength even when the training regimen is the same. The muscle cells do not differ between men and women. The strength difference is related to several factors . Body size is a factor and on average men are larger. Males have denser bones including larger tendons and ligaments. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association women can produce two thirds the muscular force of a man. This is an estimate of 66% and the remaining percentage has to do with the upper body. Men have more upper body strength.
Women are closer to men in the lower body. Considering the histology of the muscle is similar for men and women, they can gain strength at the same rate through strength training. To do so a person must train to their threshold using progressive overload. Men have higher absolute strength based on endocrinology and body composition. Men have a greater amount of type II muscle fibers and higher amount of testosterone that aid in protein synthesis. Women have a higher estrogen level allowing for more fat. These biological and physiological differences are not entirely closed by training. What stops women from have equal muscular strength after a training regimen is the difference in skeletal size, body composition, and difference in hormones.
Relative to absolute strength levels a female athlete could be strong as or stronger than the average man. It is rare that women could reach the same level of an equally trained man. However, there can be overlap although very small. Running speed and aerobic fitness is important to sports. Women have smaller hearts and lungs which will effect running speed. This means a woman’s vo2 max is lower in comparison. Lower hemoglobin levels mean less oxygen being transported. Oxygen is essential for the tissues of the body.
Women may have more muscular endurance. During exercise they seem less prone to fatigue. It seems in various studies women were able to contract muscle groups over long periods of time. Men still had more strength, but could not keep up with the contract muscle groups as long as women in exercise physiology studies. The title is incorrect saying women are fitter than men. A more accurate title would be women have a physical fitness advantage in oxygen use.
The researchers conducted their experiment following the regular procedure of the scientific method. The 18 subjects did a treadmill test. Their heart rates were monitored as well as oxygen content in their tissues. What was also studied was their oxygen levels between their veins and arteries. The total tests were four in total and were moderate intensity. There are some questions that must be asked. Were these subjects longtime or novice athletes or casual exercisers? This can make a difference in results. There obviously is a difference in physical fitness levels between the average person, moderate exerciser, and the professional athlete.
If this study wanted to be very precise it would have to have a larger sample size. This sample size would have to include those moderate exercisers, average people, and professional athletes. Only then could a more lucid picture be given. Nine men and nine women may simply not be enough for an experiment. Also there needs to be a detailed account of their fitness activity. If women in this study trained harder than the men it would distort results. Comparing a fit woman to an unfit man does not reveal much. The men who were in the study one can assume trained just as hard or with a similar method. Science should aim for precision, rather tan just accuracy. The actual test with the treadmill seems like the best method of acquiring data. Only if the results can be replicated can this be regarded as scientific fact.
The results found that women have a physiological advantage. Their oxygen up take was more efficient resulting in less muscle fatigue. Women’s muscles extract oxygen from the muscles faster. This indicates that women’s aerobic capacities could be more efficient relative to their male counterparts. Normally, the assumption was that men would have the most physical advantages due to biological, anatomical, and physiological differences. Professor Beltrame even stated ” this shakes up conventional wisdom.” It is still unknown why women have this advantage. This study was published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism . One theory is it could be related to women being capable of pregnancy. An efficient oxygen transport would be required to sustain a baby during the gestation process. Another possibility is that it is related to human evolution. The hominins of the past may have needed males to have a higher physical fitness capacity to do hunting, while females concentrated their physical functions on child birth. These are only speculations, not facts.
Why do men have higher running speeds if women are more efficient with oxygen up take? It is related to the structure of the female pelvis. It is wider which alters biomechanical function. The muscles of the legs are the same, but men just have larger ones. This study is still useful even if it has flaws. Analyzing sex specific differences can contribute to designing training programs to improve women’s performance. Women are not physically inferior it is just their total physical fitness capacity is lower compared to men in particular areas of physical fitness. Exercise physiologists and health scientists are just now uncovering women’s physical advantages in athletic performance. Most studies have been done for male athletes and seeing as women are different this did not help understand how to design better training programs. Despite the biological and physiological differences women can develop into impressive athletes. Being female does not limit physical fitness potential.
Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes is a monograph exploring the history of women athletes in Greek civilization. While any devoted follower of women’s sports and history knows about women’s participation in the ancient world, this is something new to the general public. For many the idea of female athlete is a new phenomenon that occurred with Title IX and the feminist movement. This obviously is not true, seeing as there are cases in which women played sports and were athletes. The reason this is not examined to the same extent as male participation is due in part to sexist prejudice and the fact that sports historiography is comparatively new. There are some who may not believe women did such things. Archaeology provides evidence of the ancient female athlete and the types of competitions they were involved in. Seeing as some civilizations either had an oral tradition of record keeping or few documents that still remain, artifacts help solve puzzles of the past. Authors Anne Reese and Irini Vallera-Rickerson combine both history and archaeology to provide the reader with a vivid description of the female athlete of ancient Greek civilization. Originally published in 2002, at the time there was sill few secondary sources on this subject. The monograph discusses the Olympic games, festivals, and mythology in the context of women’s sports.While this is an entertaining and informative book, it does have some minor flaws . Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes does successfully prove that the female athlete is not a recent phenomenon, but they are part of a long history of sports competition.
The text does a great job of describing women’s status in Ancient Greece. it varied depending on the period and area. Minoan civilization was known to worship a mother goddess. This continued into Mycenaean civilization until Zeus became a replacement. Athens and Sparta were two extremes of the political spectrum. Women were restricted in terms of the laws in Athens. Their freedom was limited, yet they were allowed to attend some schools. However, women were under legal guardianship of the men in their lives whether it was their husband, brother, or father. Sparta gave women more freedom, yet this should not be seen as a conviction in equality. The monograph makes that mistake by implying it. The only reason women were allowed to engage in physical activity was so that they could produce stronger children. The males would become soldiers in this militarist society and the women would look after the home while men were at war. Citizens of Sparta male or female were raised to serve the state without question. Thebes and Korinth fell in a political and social middle ground between these two states.
Seeing as each city-state was independent, the laws were different in regards to women. Accounts of Spartan civilization come mostly from Aristotle, Herdotos, Pausinias, Plutarch, and Thukydides. These were mostly Non-Spartans, so accounts could have a level of bias.It was a common Athenian opinion that Spartans were rude, uncivilized, and rustic. The accounts do expose what training for women in Sparta was like. Their exercise regimen consisted of wrestling, footraces, javelin throwing, and discus. Spartan women also developed a type of exercise known as the bibasis. These were exercises of jumping in place. A Roman poet known as Propertius claimed that women also were involved in pancratium a sport which was a combination of boxing and wrestling. Maybe it could best be described as the MMA of ancient Greece.
Spartans had a different attitude in regards to how boys and girls were raised. Girls and boys would perform physical activities in the nude. Gymnos the ancient Greek word in which gymnastics is derived, means naked or without clothing. Athenians saw this and the fact that women had more freedom as vulgar. Athens was a place of the arts and culture. It was not compatible with the militarist and rustic society of Sparta.The fact that Spartan women had more independence did not mean the society valued gender equality. The idea was to have women become strong breeders and produce great warriors. King Lykurgos produced the foundation for a mighty power in the Mediterranean . This did not stop the state from falling to Macedonia and the Achaean League around 195 B.C.E.. When The Roman Empire invaded in 140s B.C.E they divided Greece into provinces to be ruled directly. The Romans admired Spartan militarism and declared Sparta a free city. There was a small rival of the old Spartan culture. Women lived different lives in Athens and Sparta. Women were regulated to a domestic sphere in Athens, while Sparta allowed some freedom for them. Women’s status varied depending on the social and political circumstances of a city-state.
Women athletes may seem like a new phenomenon, yet there is evidence that they were present in Greek civilization. Aegean civilization (3000- 1100 B.C.E) provides artifacts of sportswomen of the ancient period. Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations reveal much about the activities of these athletes . Fresco fragments, clay seals, and reliefs found at Knossos are documentations of history of the sports Minoan participated in. Arthur Evans was the archaeologist responsible for uncovering the mysteries on krete. His excavation allowed him to produce a four volume work called The Palace of Minos at Knossos. The art that Minoans left is a documentation about their society. Women just like the men were active participants in bull-jumping and bull-leaping. These sports were thought to be religious in nature as a way to honor the Mother Goddess. The Mother Goddess may be an indication that women in Minoan society had higher status. There is some disputes over how exactly bull leaping worked. The Toreador Frescoes depict bull leaping. Doing this action would require a huge amount of upper body strength and acrobatic skill. The text proposes theories, however it does not reach an answer. It could be that bulls were trained to perform in a certain way to allow acrobats to jump on them.
If the bull was charging and an acrobat would grab it by the horns, this would be dangerous. To somersault for bull leaping would be physically impossible. It is possible that the fresco is being interpreted to literally. A more logical explanation may be that this was depicting bull fighting rather than actual leaping. The feats were just embellished for the sake of entertainment. One problem with archaeology is that there may be a rush to jump to a conclusion too soon. These scholars have to be detectives of the past gathering artifacts as their clues.
Iconography can be a useful tool in archaeological study. It has revealed that women normally in Minoan art were depicted with white or lighter skin and men with darker skin. Clothing differed in artistic depiction. The loin cloths that women wore had more designs and variation in color. The art also shows straps on the wrist and hands. The function was probably for getting a better grip on the bull. Frescoes were prevalent plaster based paintings. Pigments would be applied to plaster on buildings depicting sporting events or activities of daily life. Buon fresco required a method of applying pigment to wet plaster and the color will then sink into the wall. Fresco secco applies the pigment combine with an organic preservative ( such as egg whites ) to a dry surface.
Bull leaping as depicted from Minoan art would require a huge amount of upper body strength, acrobatic, and gymnastic skill. It seems unlikely that a person would be able to do this without serious injury.
Besides frescoes, seals also leave evidence of female athletes in the ancient world. Seals were carved as well as engraved objects made of stone, clay, or bone. The seals were used to make impressions on clay or wax. It was a means of verification of authenticity. It also was used to denote ownership. Normally seals were used in the home or market place. Seals were also used as symbols of identity among people.
Statues and sculpture are also artifacts that show that female athletes were active in the ancient world. The reason why serious study was not given to such findings was because many male scholars thought it was not important enough to give attention to. The 20th century saw the rise of women’s history as a major academic field. Since then, there have been efforts to uncover women’s roles in the past. There still remains more to be discovered and learned. Heinrich Schliemann only discovered Mycenae in 1876. Prior to that, there was no knowledge of its existence. There could be many lost civilizations globally, but there are limited remains or evidence of their existence. Artifacts, documents, and art are records of history.
Greek female athletes depicted in sculpture.
Still there is a level of skepticism. It appears that the only sports women were involved in were bull sports. There are books and academic journals that state women in Minoan civilization also did running, swimming, and hunting. Opposing views are that the women depicted in art were performing religious ceremonies. Both perspectives could be valid, but there needs to be more exploration and research.
The monograph also reveals to the readers the myth of the Olympic rings. The rings did not have their roots in ancient history. David C. Young revealed in “Myth About The Ancient Games ” that the rings myth can be traced to two American authors. Lynn and Gray Poole had mistaken an inscription from a movie prop and others copied their work. The rings have their origins in the 1936 Olympics. Leni Riefenstahl was the film-maker responsible for their existence. the rings were part of a prop used for her film Olympia. The stone was paced in the film at the stadium at Delphi. The Pooles erroneously thought this was genuine. The Olympic flame runner may also be a myth. Yet, there is reference to hearth that would be lit in the Prytaneum discussed by Pausanias. This building was in the Altis and led to the exit of the gymnasium.
The passing of the torch is a creation of the modern Olympics. This tradition was not needed in the ancient world because the games were held in the same place. The modern Olympics can be hosted by various nation-states around the world. The propagation of this myth just demonstrates how fast misinformation can be conveyed. Athletries provides an explanation into myths and common misconceptions about ancient sports history. A modern day invention was thought to have ancient roots. Through a mistake and incorrect information a myth of the Olympic ring origin was born .What makes the book enjoyable is that it reveals these little known facts.
There were multiple games that women were competitors in. This included the Panhellenic Games, Olympic Games, Pythian Games, Nemean Games, and Isthmian Games. The Panhellenic Games refers to competitions held across Greek civilization. These athletic competitions were local, but expanded to include other city-states. Women could have been charioteers. The evidence found of women being part of the games is revealed in inscriptions with the names of women athletes. The inscriptions found at particular sites also reveal which event they competed in and the game she won. The games were held in honor of gods and goddesses such as Hera, Demeter, Zeus, and Apollo. Games were held in different years to prevent possible conflicts of overlap. The reason this was done was to allow high participation and attendance. All the games ended by 394 C.E. due to Christian belief they were pagan rituals. Emperor Theodosios I wanted an empire of Christian culture. Relevant to women in sports, the Heraea Games was a competition for women. Athletics were also part of festivals, which included poetry and singing. The cult of Hera was widespread, so it was no shock their was a festival and athletic events organized in honor of this goddess. The inscriptions leave us names of the athletes, but other than that there is no other biographical information. One inscription reveals a winner by the name Hedea who excelled at footraces in both the Nemean Games and Isthmian Games. Queens also may have been chariot racers. One inscription commemorates Egyptian Queen Verenike’s victory in the Nemean Games. Athletics served an important purpose in ancient civilization. It was not only a sort of binding adhesive to these societies, but a religious celebration.
The authors propose one theory about the exact date of the Olympic games . A reader should be skeptical of the information they receive. They base this theory on the end of Troy VII around 1190 B.C.E, using Homer’s Illiad as a marker. They are right to assume that 776 B.C.E is correct for the first recorded Olympic Games. However, there are still questions. There is a possibility there were records of previous games that were lost to history. If the authors were to make such statements more evidence is required. This is a challenge for archaeologists considering the Olympiads were at various points continued or discontinued. The renewal date of the Olympic Games was 884 B.C.E. This appears to be the least cogent argument the text makes. The reasoning may be sound, however it does not meant it leads to the correct conclusion. The most reliable sources are taken from the writings of Pausinias. He claimed that the games were discontinued by King Oxylos ruler of Elis. The origin of the Olympics is not entirely certain, but there are numerous myth surrounding the ancient athletic event. One myth is that Hercules stated the competition with his brothers. Another involves Pelops and Hippodamia. Mythology and stories have served a pivotal purpose in the transfer of cultural value systems in various societies. Greek civilization was no different in terms of that function. The authors should have provided more concrete evidence to support their claim.
The monograph concludes with delineating the history of the modern Olympic Games. The first attempts at revival were in 1859 and 1870. This was under the auspices of Evangelos Zappas. This was funded out his own pocket, so the games at a certain point were no longer able to continue. The successful revival would come only with the help of Demetrios Vikelas and Baron Pierre de Coubertin. These individuals had connections to sports organizations and news editors. It was mostly Coubertin’s contacts that made revival of the games possible. The Olympic Games were revived in 1896 with competitors from around the globe. Women were not banned from competing, but there were efforts to exclude them.
This did not stop Stamata Revithi from participating in a marathon in the 1896 Olympics. The IOC refused to recognize her running time. Women were competing in the Olympics by 1900, but it was only in golf and tennis. Pierre de Coubertin made it no secret that he did not want women to be competitors in the games. Sexist prejudice was keeping women out of sports. However, by the 21st century more women would become competitors from around the globe. Decolonization that followed after World War Ii created new independent nation-states in Africa and Asia. From there more athletes would appear on the Olympic stage. The female athlete is not a recent phenomenon, There were women who participated in sports during the ancient period. Athletries is a great book for anyone interested in ancient civilization, women’s history, and sport. Although an academic text it is not so pedantic or intricate that a reader would become confused about what they are absorbing. The brief discussion of Greek myths will entertain those with an fascination with the classics. Certain theories they propose should be questioned. It should be understood that there remains more to be discovered. Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes is a book worth owning.