Regarding the article by The Sandwich on women bodybuilders: What an awful, sexist piece of crap it is! But let me try to be diplomatic. Amazingly, in this age of political correctness, when you can’t make nasty, derogatory comments about people on the basis of race, gender, religion, sexual preference or national origin, there seem to be two glaring exceptions: Muslims and female bodybuilders. Arab-bashing, however misguided, has its origins in the fear and anger aroused by a series of threats and acts of violence, many of which were perpetrated by Islamic terrorists.
Desperate for villains now that the Cold War is over, Hollywood movie- and TV-show makers and popular novelists (as well as too many journalists) have decided that Arabs make good bad guys, even though most Muslims aren’t international terrorists. As for the bashing of female bodybuilders, you have to wonder what motivates the huge amount of hostility directed at them. How many airplanes have muscular women hijacked? How many embassies have they bombed? What dignitaries have they kidnapped or assassinated?
According to the author, who calls himself The Sandwich (evidently consisting of white bread, Cool Whip and a lot of baloney), women bodybuilders are ‘pseudo drag queens’ and they make him sick. He resents their being judged onstage hitting bodybuilding poses because that was ‘meant for men.’ Male bodybuilders have striated muscles, female bodybuilders have ‘gross striated musculatures.’ Audiences that like that kind of competition aren’t bodybuilding fans, they’re perverts. But, as the author freely admits, his judgment is not really based on some deep philosophical position regarding the appropriate roles of the two genders in various athletic activities nor on his research into the acceptable morphology of gender identity. The crime of female bodybuilders is that they don’t make his dick hard.
Longtime fans of bodybuilding will remember a time in the late 1970s and early ’80s when the AAU and then the NPC had a lot of gays involved in judging competitions. Now, there’s nothing about being homosexual that qualifies or disqualifies you as a physique judge, but those particular individuals misused their position to reward bodybuilders they happened to find sexually attractive and as a means of attempting to seduce them. Of course, that led to some serious problems in the sport, and those judges were eventually forced out of the NPC. They were thinking with their dicks, just as The Sandwich admits he is.
But what kind of juvenile, self-centered, male arrogance would lead somebody to believe that an entire sport should be devoted to giving him erections? What kind of immature sexism would cause him to feel that it’s inappropriate for women to pursue developing their muscles for aesthetic purposes? (Unless, of course, they happen also to be ‘babes’ and score high enough on his T&A peter meter.)
How can somebody who purports to be a bodybuilding fan not understand that women can make their bodies into beautiful pieces of sculpture just as men can?
Charles Gaines, author of Pumping Iron, pointed out decades ago that the aesthetically developed female bodybuilder is a new archetype in our culture, something ‘new under the sun,’ and as such is going to disturb and anger many people. A similar antifemale reaction was frequently evident over the course of the 20th century, as women began to participate more fully in politics, education, science, medicine, business and sports. Even so, women becoming involved in activities and occupations once thought appropriate only for men is one thing, women actually changing their bodies in a way that runs counter to whatever concept of femininity happens to prevail in any given society at any given time is quite different.
Look at the jokes and insults Janet Reno had to endure during her time in Washington because she wasn’t young, attractive and nubile. What on earth did her looks or level of sexual attractiveness have to do with her performance as attorney general? Of course, The Sandwich tries to justify his point of view with more than just what happens to pull his trigger. Women bodybuilders, he asserts, do not look like they do because of very special genetics, years of hard, consistent training and good nutritional practice. Based on his Ph.D. in biochemistry, his years of laboratory research and field studies and his extensive medical education, in his opinion what’s wrong with female bodybuilders’the reason they don’t make his dick hard’is because of steroid use.
Of course, if he’d ever coached women’s sports in high school or college, he might have a different opinion. He’d have seen mesomorphic young girls show up for track and field, basketball, softball or other women’s sports with naturally athletic physiques and abilities that demonstrated a fact of genetics: Most people are fairly normal in abilities, but a very special few at the upper end of the bell curve are simply effing amazing. In other words, some small percentage of women’and of men as well’are genetically programmed for strength, muscle and physical development, and they’ll end up bigger and stronger than the rest of us, drugs or no drugs. The only difference is that we’ve known that about men for many thousands of years. It’s only now becoming evident that it is, and always has been, true of women as well.
The Sandwich praises the early female bodybuilders like Rachel McLish and Cory Everson, both of whom were beautiful and extremely muscular (at least for their time). He doesn’t seem to realize that there were many other female bodybuilders of the time who were criticized and penalized for being ‘too masculine’ even though they were no bigger or more muscular than Rachel or Cory but simply didn’t have their aesthetic gifts. In other words, they didn’t make somebody’s dick hard.
Competing in Sydney at the recent Olympics, sprinter Marion Jones displayed a degree of muscularity that would have enabled her to win most bodybuilding contests in the 1980s’or certainly be in contention. She was far more developed than most of the female bodybuilders of 15 years ago who were viewed as too masculine. But Marion ended up in commercials and on the covers of Vogue and almost every other major magazine. She has more muscle than 90 percent of the men you’ll ever see, but who was calling her a ‘pseudo drag queen’? Who has claimed that only perverts like the way she looks?
Marion Jones has a beautiful face. Evidently, she’s making a lot of dicks hard. The fact is, we perceive with the mind, not the eye. People don’t believe what they see, they see what they believe. Many have their minds made up about female muscle, and there’s no confusing them with facts. For example, it was somehow decided that Kim Chizevsky, who is four inches taller than Lenda Murray and competed at only about 10 to 12 pounds heavier, was nonetheless some kind of steroid monster, so that’s the way many people ‘saw’ her in their mind’s eye. Never mind that she came in leaner and sleeker her last two years in bodybuilding, got rid of the lines in her face and improved her overall appearance with excellent hair and makeup. The IFBB simply ignored her efforts. They only saw what they had already decided to see.
Of course, The Sandwich is not an IFBB official. He’s simply a male chauvinist jerk with a lot of highly discriminatory, sexist opinions. Why IRONMAN decided that such disgraceful comments needed to be published, I can’t say. I would be more agreeable to this if the magazine had shown more support for female bodybuilders than it has over the past few years.
There is one benefit to publishing a nasty piece like this, however. It reminds me of a comment once made by Martin Luther King. Dr. King had led a civil rights march through Cicero, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Life magazine that week was filled with photos of angry whites standing on the curbs, shouting and waving their fists, their faces distorted by virulent anger.
Don’t you feel bad about causing all that anger and hostility? an interviewer asked Dr. King. He replied that no, he didn’t cause that reaction. It was always there. The freedom march simply revealed it.