19 August 2014

Women are only as weak as they choose to be

If I had to guess, I would say that you would say that you don't believe that women are weak and helpless by default, by virtue of the consequences of their chromosomes.
However, I suspect you do actually believe that.  You are probably being sincere when you claim not to, its just that you can't see it, because everyone believes it, everyone takes it as a given, so much so that the assumption is invisible, like the water around a fish.

I feel its important for us all to realize that this universal assumption exists because it has a huge impact on the strategies we use in trying to bring about greater equality and egalitarianism, to give people freedom not to conform to constructed gender roles, to enjoy love and sexuality in whatever way suits them (so long as they aren't doing harm to anyone else).
It has a huge impact on the approach to take if the ultimate goal is having all of society, male and female, look at women as being humans.  Not a special subset of humans, just humans, period, just like everyone else (where "everyone else" is assumed to be "men" - even though women make up half of all people).
There is a lot of stuff feminist activists say and do which is counter-productive to that goals - and as a result, to all of the other goals listed before it - because of the unfortunate fact that they, just like everyone else, hold the misogynist view that women are naturally weak, and are therefore inherently victims.

I suspect that some of my arguments are going to come across to some people as sounding like something along the lines of "men's rights" advocacy.  But my point here isn't to say "aw, poor discriminated against men".  My point isn't that we should change anything to make men's lives any easier.  My point is that in each example the way we treat women differently is patronizing to women.  We assume they are physically helpless, or lack agency, or are just plain stupid, and need to be protected (including from themselves) in ways that men aren't.  And that patronizing itself is problematic.  When we make certain assumptions universal and even frequently codify them into law, we are strengthening sexist stereotypes that then go on to influence individual people's opinions and from there their behaviors.

It shows up in literally every aspect of how society views sexuality and gender, and just as strongly among feminists and advocates for women as it does among traditionalists and chauvinists.


Take, for example, countless campaigns against violence against women.
We can agree that any violence done against someone relatively defenseless to the attacker, and not done out of self-defense, is immoral (with the possible exception of punitive reactions to misbehavior under certain circumstances, such as minor violence by parent to a child or the government to a convicted criminal - although of course many would argue that one or both of those is immoral too).
But before taking it as axiomatic, we have to look closer at the assumptions inherent in campaigns directed specifically at females.  That so much effort is directed specifically at violence against women, as opposed to simply against all violence, against all humans, implies that there must be something that makes women a special subset of all humans, making them require extra protection.
One might reasonably imagine it must be because women are more frequently the victims of violence.  If this were the case, it would certainly justify more attention being paid to that subset of all violence.

It turns out this is dramatically false.

In reality men make up about 80% of all murder victims, both in the US and worldwide.

http://homicidewatch.org/2011/12/28/homicides-2011-the-year-in-charts/


Men are the victims of aggravated assault roughly twice as often as women, of murder and attempted murder three and a half times as often, and of robbery just under twice as often.

http://www.zanran.com/q/Violent_Crime_Rates_by_Gender_of_Victim


This includes both attacks by strangers and persons known to the victim.  When considering only attacks by strangers, the disparity is even higher.

This means it would make a lot more sense, if we took statistics into account over our assumptions, to remind men not to walk alone at night, and gear self defense classes to men.

The universal rule is "never hit a woman".  Few people seem to notice how patronizing that rule is to women.  In theory it is a reflection of the fact that the average woman is weaker than the average man.  But that makes no sense.  We all know that size and strength are ranges for both sexes, and lots of women are bigger and stronger than lots of men.
There is absolutely no reason gender need play any part in it.
If the rule were really about protecting defenseless weak people from attack by stronger bullies, the rule would be: "never hit someone weaker than yourself".  It would fill the purpose better, while not assuming that all women are weak and helpless.

When this is pointed out, most people will default to bringing up sexual assault, because (presumably) even an unsuccessful rape attempt is far worse than, say, aggravated assault that leaves the victim hospitalised, or even being the victim of murder.
Unfortunately, because of the very assumptions about human gender and sexuality that I'm addressing here, it is completely impossible to get useful information out of what data there is on violent sexual assault.  I'll come back to that issue in greater detail further on, but for now lets just keep all the raw data as is.

Even when including sexual assault, men are still far more likely to be victims of violent crime than women are.

http://crimedime.com/2012/04/24/who-are-crime-victims/


Breaking those stats down farther, it turns out that a man is at dramatically more risk of being murdered by a stranger: 2.8 in 100,000 versus 0.4, or 7 times more likely.


In the past the difference was even more dramatic than it is now, but (fortunately) violent crime by strangers (the kind that most disproportionately affects men as victims) has fallen significantly over the past couple decades, and as a result the gender gap in victimization has fallen as well.




Why is it, if in reality a man is 30% more likely to be attacked and 700% more likely to be murdered, that people regularly suggest that a man should walk a woman home at night to keep her safe, and not the other way around?



Another common retort used to hold on to the ideology of women as victim when presented with these facts is that men are more frequently victims of crime because they are more likely to put themselves into situations where they are likely to be victimized.  Of course, the exact same argument, when used on female victims of crimes, is derided as "blaming the victim".
Given that the vast majority of violence against women is done by the victim's husband or boyfriend, by the same reasoning we might dismiss them as not really being victims, since they choose to get involved with a violent person.




You can't have it both ways.
Either people "get what they are asking for" by provoking violence upon themselves, or there is never an excuse for violence, regardless of what the victim may have done to "deserve" it.

If a woman has a right to wear provocative clothing without being raped, a man should have a right to walk alone in a dark alley without getting assaulted.

Overall, including both attack by strangers and attack by spouses, friends and family, men are victims of violence more often.
Why domestic violence automatically trumps stranger violence is not particularly obvious.

But lets go ahead and pretend that domestic violence is inherently categorically worse than stranger violence is, and just focus on domestic violence.
We all know that the victims of domestic violence are overwhelmingly women... right?




Of note regarding this graphic is that the term "rape", by definition, means "penetration".  Which means if a female were to use any form of force or coercion to engage is sexual intercourse with a male without his consent, it is not considered rape, and will not show up on any statistics or surveys.  Note also that stalking, while emotionally traumatic, does not in itself constitute violence.  It may sometimes precede violence, but as soon as it does, it would be counted under the physical violence category.  If we remove stalking than even with the gender biased definition of rape, men are still the victims of domestic violence more often than women.




Different surveys using different methods, definitions, and samples get different results, but the interesting thing to note is that none of them find the overwhelming disparity of female to male victims that everyone in the general public assumes.  The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010 actually found men being victims more often than women.





Control of reproductive health refers primarily to one partner attempting to force or trick the other into contributing to pregnancy - for example, poking holes in condoms, or claiming to be on birth control when really not.








Due to fairly obvious social factors, violence by women to men in intimate partnerships are far less likely to be reported, and if reported are almost never taken seriously.



Despite similar rates of victimization, nearly all domestic violence resources are geared to women.



OK, so real world data shows clearly and unambiguously that women have a much lesser risk of violence done against them than men do, so prevalence can't be the real reason so much more attention is paid to violence against women specifically.

My point here is not "oh, poor men, why won't somebody help them".  My point is our insistence that women are victims is patronizing and unempowering - it teaches women to think of themselves as natural victims.

But then, maybe, due to biological differences between men and women, women really are just inherently more vulnerable and defenseless than men?

The other explanation that "violence against women" is a special category while "violence against men" is not could be that women are inherently more vulnerable, and therefore need more protection by society.  Men (presumably) have the physical strength to take care of themselves, while women, being naturally weak, need to be taken care of.

On the surface this seems potentially reasonable - after all, its true that overall, on average, American women have about 1/2 the upper body strength of men, which is a pretty substantial difference. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_dimorphism#Humans  This presumably "natural", sex hormone regulated difference in strength could be where the entire idea of women's weakness comes from - right?

This assumption is so taken for granted in our society that it even goes unquestioned by researchers, whose job it is to be more objective than the average person, and uncover truths that get missed by the uncritical eye.  But even they take the 50% number and attribute it to differences due to testosterone levels and continue from there.

That number, though, is from studies done on a random cross section of the adult population.  In order for it to represent natural, biological differences, one would have to ensure the sample contained men and women who had identical activity levels.  Since it is a random cross section of the population, however, it is guaranteed that they don't.

22% of men, but only 16% of women, claimed in a survey over 6 years to engage in some form of "strength training" exercise at least twice a week.   Unfortunately the published report doesn't go into enough detail to take those numbers at face value.  They included "calisthenics" under the category of strength training.  That can mean push-ups and pull-ups, but very often refers to activities like yoga and pilates.  Especially among women.  Not to down play the benefits of those activities, but any strength gains they produce plateau very quickly.  Only 7% of women use free weights.  But that number is still misleading, because even when women do use weight machines or free weights, the vast majority use extremely light weights - light weights which will not cause any significant strength gain.  Strength gains come from lifting an amount which one is physically unable to do more than 3 to 8 times in a row (reps), which is generally about 80% of the maximum weight that can be lifted a single time.   Lifting a 5lb weight 20-30 times will never develop strength.

No such survey exists to give us exact numbers, (as far as I'm aware), but we all know that if the question was whether one engages in full-range-of-motion compound-movement progressive-load resistance training (i.e. using barbells and dumbbells, and using heavier ones each successive workout than the one before), it would still be roughly 20% of men, but drop to somewhere in the range of 0.01% to maybe 0.1% of women.  The only question that survey would answer is just how few women would it be.

Even though its only 22% of men who lift weights (I am making the assumption that a negligible amount of men do only yoga for exercise and call it strength training), that's still plenty enough to skew a sample of random average Americans to make men look stronger by virtue of being male, when the real reason is because vastly more men deliberately engage in activity with the goal of getting stronger.  After all, the difference in strength by gender is only an average: there are lots of women who are much stronger than lots of men.  There are women who are stronger than the average man, and men who are weaker than the average woman, but when you average the entire population, 20% is more than enough to skew the entire sample.

The lines in the following graphs represent the average by gender - but look more closely at the dots.  The thing to notice is not just the average, but how much overlap there is between the solid dots and the circle dots.
The lines represent the averages in muscle mass and strength by gender, but the dots represent individual people.  The important thing to note is how many circle dots (women) are above the solid line (average man) and how many solid dots (men) and below the dotted line (average woman).

Removing the age factor, you would get a distribution something like this:
(note the previous graphs were actual graphical representations of specific studies, but this one is not to any particular scale, it is just meant to illustrate the principal)



The difference narrows further when you consider strength distribution throughout the body.

Among the American population women on average have 1/2 the upper body strength of men - yet they have 75% of the lower body strength.
But there is no difference between a muscle cell in your leg versus a muscle cell in your arm. All muscle cells respond to being used, partially moderated by local testosterone levels.  Why then are women specifically weaker in arm strength compared to men, but with less difference in leg strength?
Culture.
Men lift weights. Women do various forms of cardio.  Whether its step aerobics, biking, or running, most cardio exercises primarily uses the legs.  Go to any gym in America and take a peek inside, you will find 80% of the men either using weight machines or free weights, and 80% of the women on treadmills, elliptical machines, or in group cardio classes.
Outside of the gym, where there are no weight machines to use, things become a little more equal - much more similar numbers of men and women try to stay in shape by running (close to 50/50)  As a consequence, the athletic difference between average runners is extremely small, with the majority of the range of men and women overlapping:



(http://www.warandgender.com/wggendif.htm)



Outside of any attempts at deliberate fitness (i.e. even among people who don't exercise), the same differences in physical activity is present between males and females.
From at least the age where we learn how to walk, boys are encouraged to be active and physical, to run around, while girls are cautioned against getting hurt or getting dirty.
For a lifetime we grow up in a culture that takes it as a given that men are stronger than women; and so when a woman or girl comes across a physically challenging task - say, carrying something heavy up some stairs, or opening a stuck jar lid - she learns early on that the proper solution is to find a man to do it for her.  Every single time she does this, she gives up an opportunity to challenge her own muscles, which would have made her stronger in the long run (whether or not she succeeded in the moment).  Meanwhile a male grows up with the expectation of being strong, and so when he has to carry something heavy or open a stuck jar lid, if he can't get it at first his next step is to try harder.  The result is that he gets stronger.
Men are by far disproportionately represented in occupations that require strength.  We assume that the cause and effect is one way, but it's really circular.  The more men do the heavy lifting, the more strong they become relative to women who remain sedentary.  

This isn't to say that differences is sex hormone levels play no part at all in strength differences.  They do.  The testosterone to estrogen and progesterone ratios in the body are one factor in regulating the proportion of fat to muscle in the body.  Even if male and female twins were to have the same activity levels for a lifetime, and then engage in identical strength training programs, the male would most likely gain strength slightly faster, and peak slightly higher.

One way to separate out how much of the difference is biological and how much is cultural, is to look at a subset of the population which is likely to have similar activity levels and training styles.  About the only place to ensure that is at the highest levels of competition.

The current world records by weight class are as follows:

menwomen% women / men
EventRecordEventRecord
123lblbs127lblbs
Snatch303.6Snatch244.280%
Clean & Jerk371.8Clean & Jerk310.283%
Total671Total552.282%





152lb
152lb

Snatch363Snatch281.678%
Clean & Jerk435.6Clean & Jerk347.680%
Total

787.6

Total

629.2

80%

169lb
165+

Snatch387.2Snatch332.286%
Clean & Jerk462Clean & Jerk41890%
Total836Total734.888%


There is still a difference, but comparing apples to apples, instead of women being 50% as strong as men, it turns out they are 80-90% as strong.

That is a HUGE difference in differences!

What it means is the majority of strength differences by gender is in fact due to culture - due to choices that men and women make - not due to biology.

The range of strength between someone who does regular progressive strength training and someone sedentary is many times larger than the average difference between a male and female who both do the same activities.

What all of this means is, since 80% of men don't strength train, the majority of individual women could become stronger than the average man, if she choose to.


Even a small woman has the potential to develop strength.

Here Kacy Catanzaro - 5 feet tall and 100lbs - completes an obstacle course which literally 1000s of the fittest and most athletic men in the world have attempted and failed:




In fact one of the most common reasons women don't do real strength training is because they want to avoid appearing strong; because our culture has identified strength as a masculine trait - and therefore by default, weakness as a feminine one.
Women believe that if they attempt to get stronger, they will look like men, and therefore be unattractive to actual (heterosexual) men.




Of course, unless they also take steroids, this is simply false.  Women who are strong don't look like men - they look like strong women.

Again,
 Kacy Catanzaro:

                         
http://hotolympicgirls.com/2014/07/16/meet-kacy-catanzaro-the-hottest-ninja-ever/     http://freebeacon.com/blog/who-needs-lady-thor-when-we-have-kacy-catanzaro/


But then, on some level this is probably just an excuse anyway, since most people know that even males don't look like hulking body builders without working out 20 hours a week, counting every calorie, and using massive amounts of powerful illegal steroids.


So then the next question is why?

Why shouldn't muscle definition be as attractive in women as it is considered to be in men?
Why do women consciously prefer to be weak?
Why do we equate weakness with femininity?

Given that a (very small) biological difference really does exist, perhaps the reason the cultural bias developed was to accentuate the relatively small natural difference?

Before we take that explanation as a given, lets consider some of the other cultural gender differences...

The term for differences between the sexes is sexual dimorphism.  In science that term is normally used to imply biological differences, but here I'm going to introduce a new use of the same term, and call it cultural dimorphism.

Human biological dimorphisms include things like breasts and the amount and distribution of body fat and body hair.

The flip side of men having a naturally higher muscle to fat ratio is that women have a higher fat to muscle ratio.  If the goal were emphasizing natural differences, and therefore we feel men should be extra muscular, it should also follow that the most feminine of women should be extra fat, and since men try to gain muscle to emphasize their masculine sexiness, women should try to gain extra fat to emphasize their feminine sexiness.
We don't do that.


Women on average are shorter - although, just like with strength, the range within genders is far greater than the difference between them, so there is a huge amount of overlap.  The area where both curves overlap is about as large as the area under the curves that don't - meaning just under half of men are shorter than just under half of women.





Which means if we didn't consciously choose to reinforce the height differential bias, in at least 1 out of 20 of couples either the two would be the same height or the female would be taller than the male.  In reality this occurs in only 1 in 750 couples.  1 in 750 is a pretty enormous bias, compared to 1 in 20 if height weren't a factor in female mate selection.


The male taller norm is being reinforced by deliberate mate selection - mostly by women.  While both sexes tend to prefer to reinforce the male-taller bias, women's influence on it is consistently much higher, because women care much more than men do about the height differential in their relationships.  Female selection for taller men is significantly stronger than male selection for shorter females (Pierce, 1996), and women prefer that the difference be much larger (10 inches vs 3).  Far more men are willing to violate the norm than women, (23% vs 4% ), and half of men would accept equal height, but only 11% of women.

The normal explanation for why women prefer taller men has do with the male's supposed role as protector and provider - his height implies greater strength and/or status.
However, if that was really the reason then women's height preference should be for either a man's absolute height (strength), or height relative to other men (status).
Neither is the pattern observed - women's preference for their mate's height is relative to themselves.  In fact there is an upper limit in relative height preferences as well - women tend to not want a partner too much taller than themselves.
 If the reason for the male-taller bias were implications to strength or dominance relative to other men then the relative height between man and woman shouldn't be a factor at all, but it is in actuality the only factor.  This implies that it isn't so much that women want their man to be able to dominate wild animals or other men, but that on some level they want their partner to be able to dominate them.
In the big picture, its actually likely that biology is following culture, not the other way around: a part of why men are taller than women may be because women keep deliberately choosing partners that are taller than themselves, and over enough time, this increases the difference throughout the population.
However, there is evidence that this preference is not genetic, nor is it universal across all cultures.
What that implies is that, like with physical strength, our apparent biological dimorphism may be more due to cultural choices we make than the other way around.  Expecting the man to be taller in any given couple, despite the huge areas of overlap in the range of normal heights may be another manifestation of the cultural bias that strength is attractive in men - and by extension, that weakness is attractive in women.




 Just a few examples of apparently hideous and repulsive women,
demonstrating what the female body looks like when its owner engages in activities that build strength





If the reasoning behind cultural dimorphism were an enhancement of natural dimorphisms, we might expect all the other forms in which we deliberately distinguish masculine from feminine to similarly be enhancements of naturally occurring differences.

But that isn't what we do at all.


In western culture women traditionally grow their head hair long, while men cut theirs short.  This doesn't represent any naturally occurring dimorphism.  It is entirely culturally constructed.



                             
     http://www.hairstylesguide.org/women-short-hairstyles/women-short-hairstyles-30/            http://nypost.com/2014/01/10/fabio-saved-my-life/





There is absolutely nothing biological behind the expectation that males wear clothing on the lower body which wraps around each individual leg (pants) and females wear clothing which wraps around both legs together (skirts).



                     

Women don't actually have triangle shaped pointy hips!   Anatomical restroom symbols from http://luminurture.com/?p=3321 


There is no naturally occurring trend for women to have darker eyelids or redder lips or redder fingernails than men that would explain the particular specifics of typical make-up, nor is there any naturally occurring dimorphism being enhanced by jewelry.

Even though men are naturally taller on average than women, its women who traditionally wear high heeled shoes, making them appear taller relative to their dates.

A notable sexual dimorphism that really does occur naturally is that most men grow thick hair on their faces, while women generally do not.
If cultural dimorphisms were enhancements of biological dimorphisms, we should expect long thick beards and sideburns to be universally closely tied to masculinity.


                                            
                                                                https://www.pinterest.com/OnefaithandoneG/awesome-beards/



In actuality we do quite the opposite - some of what are considered the most manly jobs - from soldiers, police and firefighters, to business executives and political leaders - are expected to keep their faces clean shaven - making them more similar to women and children.  Male models, presumably the most (culturally) attractive of men, either keep their facial hair trim or (more often) shave it completely.  


                                
                                          http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90782/8177537.html



While being clean shaven isn't universally considered more attractive by women, it turns out that cross culturally women tend not to find full beards attractive.
There is certainly no clear correlation of beard length or thickness with masculinity.





Having so many examples where our cultural dimorphisms are unrelated to, or even oppose, natural dimorphisms undermines the idea that our cultural expectation of weakness in women is based on any naturally occurring baseline difference.


I propose an alternate explanation:
Thousands of years of misogyny has created an internalized narrative of women as inherent victims that we all on some level want to continue to believe, and keeping women weak on purpose helps to keep the illusion alive.
I propose this is the same reason that we consistently act as though women were at greater risk of attack by stranger despite the fact that this is the opposite of actual reality.  There is some subconscious emotional benefit we get from supporting the narrative we have accepted.

It appears that the potential for physical dominance of men over women has only very small roots in biology, that instead the vast majority of it comes from culture.  In dramatic contrast to what is generally taken as a given - that the cultural differences are ones that a patriarchal society forces on women - on closer inspection it appears to be caused by individual choices; mostly by female choices.
Many women deliberately choose to not get stronger, and most prefer their male partner to be substantially larger than them - 60% larger than the average natural height difference by gender, and 300% larger than the difference prefered by most men.
At least in terms of physical differences, male dominance is not something men are forcing onto women, its something women are seeking out.

The common explanation for this relies on the assumption that our nomadic hunter-gatherer ancestors lived in nuclear families with male "bread-winners" (mastodon-hunters?) and female home-makers.  There is no reason to believe this has ever been true. The one place anthropologist don't see female selection for height and strength in mates is primitive nomadic societies:


Across all species, sexual dimorphism in size and strength is inversely proportional to paternal investment.  I have gone into much more detail on that subject before:


So for now I'll just summarize with, no, that theory is wrong.  Male dominance is not a natural extension of men as protector and provider.  Those roles are cultural ones that developed much more recently than the times of our caveman ancestors.

It would seem biology is just a convenient excuse, and that female preferences for a partner who is able to physically overpower them may be more an extension of the cultural dynamic of male dominance.

Just as women enforce the physical differences within couples, there is increasing evidence that it is actually largely women, not men, that enforce male dominance in interpersonal relationships as well.

That suggestion is, of course, the polar opposite of most normal thinking on patriarchal society, and I'm sure plenty of people will find it highly objectionable.
I'll make an attempt to justify the claim in my next post:

http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2014/08/women-are-not-naturally-submissive.html

12 comments:

  1. You say that strong women don't look like men, they look like strong women. But that's your opinion. You cite no data to show that most heterosexual men share that opinion. I think it's irrefutable that the majority of women don't engage in actual strength training because they don't want to look manly and too strong. Or as you say, "Women believe that if they attempt to get stronger, they will look like men, and therefore be unattractive to actual (heterosexual) men." But what if they are right? What if heterosexual men don't find strong looking women attractive? Then aren't women who want to be a relationship with said men and have children with them being rational for not engaging in activities that will make them unattractive to the group of people they want to find them attractive? If most heterosexual men don't find strong looking women attractive then I think men have an equal part in enforcing at least their physical dominance over women in terms of comparative strength.

    And you then you post some pictures that you selected of strong women. I'm assuming you chose to post the pictures you did because you consider all of these women good examples of attractive strong women. But it seems like most of the pictures of strong women that you chose to use, have large breasts compared to their body fat percentages. Usually women who don't have a lot of fat on their body don't have large breasts. So either most of the women you chose to show are using padded bras, are biologically unusual in that they can retain fat in their breasts when their BMI goes down, or they have had some sort of surgical intervention. I think it would prove your point more to post what strong women actually look like without the addition of enhancement to the size of their breasts. Hopefully you could still find some some women that you thought were attractive :)

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    Replies
    1. That strong women look like strong women is not an opinion, it is a fact.
      It is inherently self-evident, in much the way it is axiomatic to state that 1=1. It does not require any evidence to confirm.

      I don't cite any data on what the average American male in modern America prefers because it isn't really relevant to my point. I'm not addressing whether or not that is a "good" reason, I'm not interested in confirming that many American's have this bias. I'm questioning why we - society - feels women are more attractive if they look weak, why weakness is part of "femininity".
      I feel there is a fairly obvious and extremely relevant and direct analogy here: there was a time, not all that long ago, when women didn't speak up when they had an opinion on a political topic, here women didn't go to college, or were advised by mother not to, because they didn't want to seem too smart and intimidate men.

      Maybe the chauvinistic men of the 1950s really were intimidated by intelligent women. But many women decided to go to college anyway, and they apparently managed to find husbands and have kids. Obviously there have always been men willing to defy social expectations, and who wanted a partner, not a servant. And as it became normal for women to not be stupid, most men adapted. I think the degree to which men found stupidity and ignorance feminine and appealing was a direct result of the association maintained by women acting dumb on purpose.
      In other words, I think at least to some extent, cause and effect is the opposite of what you are implying it is.

      And this is not the 1950s. While I don't show evidence surrounding mens preferences for women's body type, I do show plenty of data (in both this post and the following one) that says that men don't actually like women to be nearly as subservient or socially beneath themselves as women might assume. For the most part men care relatively little about their partners being the same height as themselves, being as or more educated, or making as much or more money. They show a slight preference, but on average it is very slight, and most are willing to violate that preference if other factors are present.

      I could look up data, but I think it is reasonable to just guess that it isn't at all rare to find men who are attracted to fit, healthy, athletic women. Yes, there are some men who are chubby chasers, and others who have a fetish for anorexics - and even a few who are most turned on by steroid using female body-builders who really do "bulk up". But removing the cultural element (which can change over time), it stands to reason that being physically fit would be a sign of health and reproductive fitness, and therefor something one would be at least capable of being attracted to.

      "If most heterosexual men don't find strong looking women attractive then I think men have an equal part in enforcing at least their physical dominance over women "
      I think thats a bit like saying that if most men have a desire to beat their wives, and state publicly that they are unwilling to date any woman who is unwilling to accept being hit now and then, then it is reasonable that women should submit to being beat, so that they can find a husband.
      Stating a preference isn't really interchangeable with "enforcing". If every woman chooses to avoid the unabashed wife beaters - even if they make up the majority - then those men have the two choices of either give up their preference, or else be single.
      If a person chooses to have their own life choices revolve around what they think other people want, it is still a choice.

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    2. "And you then you post some pictures that you selected of strong women. I'm assuming you chose to post the pictures you did because you consider all of these women good examples of attractive strong women. But it seems like most of the pictures of strong women that you chose to use, have large breasts compared to their body fat percentages."

      Hmm, interesting observation. I just did a Google image search for "strong women", and culled pictures which were of body builders that were obviously on steroids. Now that I'm looking for it, yeah, I can see a couple do appear to fit what you are saying, but I don't think most necessarily do, and definitely not all of them (look more closely at the second picture, in black and white, with 6 people in it). I think some of these women are "biologically unusual" which is why they went into bodybuilding / fitness modeling. Others are primarily athletes (and may have artificial enhancements, but I doubt it - and I don't think there is such a thing as a padded sports bra, though I suppose its possible). Breast size does tend to vary with bodyfat percentage, but it definitely varies from person to person independent of fat.

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    3. OK, but of course, me being who I am, after I finished the reply up to here, I did go and look up some information.
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2575262/The-women-whod-Jessicas-figure-Christinas-Both-sexes-prefer-athletic-bodies-curves.html
      There. Actual study finds men prefer athletic female bodies over "curves".

      As I have pointed out before, the skinny ideal of female beauty has always been female driven: the skinny icons Twiggy and Kate Moss are both fashion models - they are meant to appeal to women (and gay guys). The equivalent sex symbols for men were Marilyn Monroe and Jenna Jameson, both of whom were more on the "curvy" end of the spectrum. Point is, women's assumptions about what men want are consistently extremely wrong.
      But you don't have to take my word for it:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-alvear/what-types-of-bodies-do-men-prefer_b_4466912.html

      Here is a perfect example of female wrongness in assuming what men want:
      https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070220204544AAWMt8M
      Notice the first responder is a female who is absolutely sure she knows what men want. According to her "thin yet curvacious woman".
      And then right after, 7 out of 9 actual men say they prefer an athletic female body.

      Here: http://www.sodahead.com/living/hey-men-what-body-type-do-guys-really-look-for/question-278355/
      athletic body type is the choice picked most often (29%) second only to "average" (34%) out of 150 votes (with "curvy coming in at only 24%).

      And here's a bunch more real world answers from actual people, but with choices ranging between fit and extremely muscular (actual body builders):
      http://www.reddit.com/r/AskMen/comments/1ayd9l/how_do_you_men_feel_about_muscular_women_is_it/
      and again, a whole lot more men either find both the 3rd and 2nd models either particularly sexy, or at least find them acceptable, than the number who say they are turned off by all 3.

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  2. Awesome post. This quite eloquently gives voice to most of the nagging little things that get to me when dealing with gender issues.

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  3. Good post, but I think you have overlooked the main reason for focusing on "violence against women" as separate from other forms of violence (all of which are largely perpetuated by men - not all men, of course.) This violence occurs in the contest of a sexist culture that values women less in all ways, and is a result of these culturally deformed values. It has the effect of keeping women "in their place." We are all socialized to accept this, and that is the problem.

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    1. Hmm, my response to your comment seems to have disappeared...

      Your phrase is a perfect example of the almost universal misogyny that feminists internalize so deeply they can't see it.
      "a sexist culture that values women less in all ways"
      "Culture" is made up of people. People is 50% women. Are you saying women don't "value" themselves? What does that even mean?

      How do you define "Value"?
      Women want and enjoy sex. The only way to justify the claim that women are only valued as sex objects is to assume that by default the standard to measure by is the perception of men. Women want and enjoy being parents. The only way to justify the claim that society only values women as a way to make and care for children is to assume that the male point of view is the default.

      It would be *Exactly* as accurate and meaningful to say that "society" only "values" men as a way to impregnate and provide for women and their children.

      By DEFINING "culture" or "society" as "men", YOU are the one who is devaluing women. That statement itself is inherently misogynistic.

      What does it mean in practical terms?
      Well, society used to not even allow women to do dangerous jobs, like solider, firefighter, police officer, miner, BECAUSE they are dangerous jobs.
      Even today military women don't fight front-line infantry. Only males are required (by law) to register for the draft, yet women are not allowed to register even if they want to.
      This implies that men are expendable, and women are valuable.

      Rape, by definition, is an act of "penetration", which means if a female drugs or ties down or beats into a submission a male and has heterosexual intercourse with him against his will, it is considered a substantially lesser crime (if at all), then if a male does the same to a female. While that might seem at first like a minor issue because that rarely happens, it is the basis for the legal double standard that says if two people both choose to get drunk, and then have consensual sex, legally the male raped the female (and never the other way around).

      Then of course there is what I pointed out in this article: the majority of violence is done against males, and yet only "violence against women" gets attention and focus. That is society and culture choosing that focus. Your argument is circular. If culture takes violence against women more seriously than violence against men, then how can you say we value women less "in all ways"? We only care about a victim if that victim is female. That means we are valuing her MORE.

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    2. You seem to have totally missed my point.
      If women are PEOPLE, and all violence, against ANYONE is wrong, why not keep the focus on violence. Period.
      If the reason for violence against women specifically is because of culturally deformed values, then what does it mean that the majority of violence that actually occurs is against men?
      Are you saying that if culture valued women exactly the same as they valued men, then there would be zero violence against women? In other words, valuing both sexes equally = one sex being the victim of violence 100%.

      If violence against women has the effect of "keeping them in their place", then what affect does violence against men have? Between the two groups, that is 100% of people. You can make whatever statements you want, but is there any evidence what-so-ever that it is anyones intention to keep all women "in their place"? It certainly hasn't been working. You are taking a phrase from the post-slavery south and just applying it here, but it doesn't fit. No one is lynching women in the town square to make an example of her. No one is trying to scare women into not going into politics or taking executive jobs. That world only exists in the imaginations of radical "feminists".

      The fact that we think of women as a special subset of humans, that they don't make up and represent "culture" and "society", and that we think they are inherently weak and vulnerable and prone to being victims are a result of our culturally deformed values. We are all socialized to accept this, and that is the problem.

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  4. Very interesting! I've had similar thoughts about this for quite some time but never in such detail.

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  5. This was a very interesting read. The questions you bring up regarding the meaning of masculinity and femininity in our culture are very thought provoking as well. There was one point of yours that didn't quite make sense though.


    //"men are more frequently victims of crime because they are more likely to put themselves into situations where they are likely to be victimized. Of course, the exact same argument, when used on female victims.. "//

    That's not a good argument because you have to put men and women in the same situation and then judge if they would be victimized. If a man and a woman both take part in the same gang related activities, or if a man and a woman both sell drugs in the same neighborhood, or in any case, a man and a woman doing the same activity, is one more likely to get shot or hit?
    You used the example of provocative clothing(which has no effect on the likelihood of her being raped. In fact, rape is something that is mostly planned by the rapist. It is not something that turns any person into a rapist upon seeing a person in certain type of clothing). So I won't use that, but if there was a situation in which a woman is more likely to be victimized by a rapist, then you have to compare that with a man in that situation. Is a man in that same situation also more likely to be raped? So a female and male drug dealer making the same kind of deals are just as likely to get shot. It just happens to be that there are more male drug dealers than female drug dealers. Is a gal and a guy equally as likely to be raped at a college frat party?

    Hopefully that helped with seeing the flaw in that point. In situations in which men become victims of crime, women would also be victimized if they were in the same exact situation. So the statement, "men are more frequently victims of crime because they are more likely to put themselves into situations where they are likely to be victimized," is absolutely true. If women put themselves in the same situation, they too would be likely to be victimized. Whereas in situations in which women are victims of sexual assault, women don't frequent those places/situations more than men. Men are at parties/at office/alone with their significant others no less than women, yet being in that same situation doesn't result in the likelihood of a man being victimized to change.

    Other than that, great article! Our culture and the way it perceives men and women does effect how we are treated. Women wouldn't be more likely to be victimized than a man in the same situation, if we had different attitude towards women. That includes not seeing female persons as weak, fragile, powerless. I'm 5 ft tall and work out because I want to be strong and healthy, so I can carry my own and live a long life. Being petite doesn't prevent me from being able to do ten pull ups because I'm still strong. Like you said, a strong woman, doesn't look like a man, she looks like a strong woman. I couldn't possibly look like a man unless I took some sort of other substance. If working out made a woman's body look like a man, then not working out, should make a man's body look like a woman's. Yet we don't hear that do we?

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    1. Hi Jenna! Thanks so much for your long and thoughtful comment. I've noticed this post is suddenly getting read more and more, I'm curiosis how you stumbled across it?


      The line of mine you quoted wasn't about drug dealers, is was about normal innocent men walking alone at night.
      Incidentally, I think women gang members and drug dealers ARE less likely to get shot. Certainly both men and women go to bars, but men are much more likely to be assaulted. Men and women both walk around in public spaces, but men are mugged more. Being a victim of mugging is not really the same thing as being a drug dealer or gang member. Being a victim of crime is not de facto evidence of being a criminal. Because everyone - even criminals - have internalized the idea that women are meak and need to be protected (never hit a woman), people are more likely to target men, even in the same situations.

      Regarding your example:
      I avoided getting into sexual assault in this post. I go into it in great detail in this post: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2013/01/RapeAndFeminismPage1.html - though it is really long.
      Perhaps more relevant to your specific counter-example would be this post: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2014/08/protective-or-patronizing-framing.html

      I'll summarize my response in my next comment...

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    2. In short, it depends on your definitions. If you define "consensual sex while voluntarily intoxicated, which one may or may not remember afterward and may or may not regret" as "rape", then I would say that yes, males are equally likely to be "raped" at college parties. That constitutes somewhere in the range of 50-90% of what gets called rape (depending on the source) when the female is the one who was drunk and/or doesn't remember whether they consented and/or regrets it later.
      Part of what I am suggesting here, and in my other related posts, is that the whole reason we (society, as well as law) call that scenario "rape" when the "victim" is female and not if the drunk one is male is because of all of our sexist and misogynistic assumptions about women and their inherent weakness and vulnerability. The mere fact that rape *by definition* is "penetration" means we as a culture have decided that heterosexual intercourse is intrinsically an aggressive or dominant act which a male does TO a female - while "envelopment" (the exact same physical act, looked at from a different perspective) is not even a concept that we consider. Even if a woman were to slip drugs into a guy's drink, and then tie him to her bed and have non-consensual sex with him, this would not be (legally) considered rape.

      So, first of all, the asymmetric definition alone guarantees that women will be "raped" overwhelmingly more than men (since a slight majority of male victims of nonconsensual sex acts have female perpetrators, and females taking sex from males are very unlikely to "penetrate" them, since that's just not how sex works).

      Second, those same assumptions we have about gender roles leads directly to women internalizing passivity and victim status, which in turn leads to women allowing themselves to be raped when they could have avoided it had they simply tried. Statistics show that when the assailant is a stranger (even though 50% of victims are drunk, 20% of perpetrators have weapons, and 20% have accomplices), when potential victims try to fight back, the rape does not occur 85% of the time. It doesn't matter how strong they are, or how well they can fight, or even that they are drunk, if they even TRY to fight, they almost always succeed. Yet the majority of victims *don't even try*.
      In psychology that is called learned helplessness.

      Imagine the frat party scenario. A gay guy tries to have anal sex with a straight guy who doesn't want to. There is simply no way in hell he is going to let that happen quietly. The only way it will happen is if he is tied down, or there are a whole bunch of other guys holding him down, or he is drugged to the point where he can't even move. Sure, we every once in a while hear accounts where something that extreme happens to women - but it is newsworthy because it is rare. That isn't what the "epidemic" consists of. The "epidemic" is a result of society changing the definitions, and pathologizing what has always been normal behavior - young people, and especially young women - drink specifically so they can have sex with less anxiety, and/or so they have an alibi to avoid "slut shaming" (well, I was really drunk, I wouldn't have otherwise). What we should be doing is encouraging people to say "yes" when what they really mean is "yes", so that they don't feel like they have to get drunk first.

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