The answer is simple.
Oh, were you expecting me to elaborate further?
Alright, I can do that. Judging from what WordPress tells me, the question “Are female bodybuilders actually men?” is a question that frequently brings people to my humble blog. That also includes questions similar to it such as “Are FBBs really men?” or “Do female bodybuilders become men?” Aren’t you glad we have tools like Google at our disposal in this curious age?
This curiosity is unto itself curious. Is there a small group of people in this world who genuinely think female bodybuilders are actually male bodybuilders in disguise (or female bodybuilders who’ve magically transitioned to a different gender)? Or is this meant to be a joke? Or, these folks do know female bodybuilders are actually female…but they just want to make sure? Hey, the world can be a confusing place. It never hurts to ask, right?
Uh, right. It doesn’t hurt to ask. I’m totally in favor of people quenching their thirst for knowledge. Human beings are curious creatures, which means we constantly need our curiosity taken to its rightful conclusion. Ignorance has never served anyone well, as far as I can tell.
So I have no beef against anyone who does an innocent Google search in regards to this question. It may seem silly, but I don’t think it’s spiteful. Biology can be a fascinating area of study. How can a translucent jellyfish with no discernable internal organs survive? How can some creatures like Komodo dragons and hammerhead sharks reproduce asexually? Not all of them do, but scientists have observed many of them being able to. How is that even possible?
Well, it is possible. Life is full of mysteries. This is especially true when our worldviews are perpetually being challenged, poked, and prodded. You don’t need a degree in Gender Studies from Oberlin College to know that our traditional male/female dichotomy may not always accurately describe all of us. Postmodern philosophy has broken apart our black and white way of thinking about the Universe, for better or for worse. I’ll let you decide which it is.
But what cannot be argued is the existence of doubt. Are we human beings truly born male or female? Are these the only two categories that can possibly exist? Could there be more? Or, is gender unto itself not a real thing, but instead an artificial social construct created for arbitrary reasons? To tell you the truth, I will not take a stand either way. How the heck am I supposed to know?
At the heart of this discussion is the concept of doubt. There are many truths that we think are true…but in the back of our minds we know that there exists the possibility that they may not. Unless we’re not terribly self-reflective, people should consistently challenge their own beliefs so that they can continue to grow and mature. It’s not a sign of moral cowardice or intellectual fraud, but rather an admission of humility. We do not know all that there is to know, and what we think we know we may not actually be right about. To admit that is to convey wisdom, not foolishness.
People who are familiar with female bodybuilders but are not closely connected with them are right to be curious. Those of us who are intimately familiar with FBBs – we either have met many of them for muscle worship/wrestling sessions or we pay close attention to them from a distance – have no doubts as to the gender identities of these gorgeous ladies. They’re women, simple and plain. Of course, they’re women whose physical appearance is unusual. But that doesn’t change who they are as people. They may not behave like “normal” women and could perhaps accomplish feats of strength that surpass that of many men, but that still doesn’t make a difference whatsoever. Female bodybuilders are female, period. There’s no argument there. However, one could frame this debate in terms of how we define “gender” to begin with.
Simply put, is “gender” a purely biological trait or is it an indicator of one’s personal identity? Without getting too deep into the weeds, let’s just say that there probably isn’t a definitive answer to this question that will satisfy 100% of us 100% of the time. We don’t live in that type of philosophical atmosphere anymore. We have far too many diverse ideas and viewpoints out there to establish any kind of universal understanding. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it could be when these differences are used to intentionally divide and conquer us.
A better angle to take is to analyze who female bodybuilders are and what makes them so special. In addition to reading every single one of my previous blog articles (which, um, you should), let’s gain a better grasp of this topic together by establishing this concept:
Female bodybuilders challenge the way we see the world.
More than anything else, this nugget of truth cuts to the core of the matter. This is the meat and potatoes of our discussion. Female bodybuilders cannot help but turn our worlds upside down. They may not intentionally try to do so, but they do so nevertheless. It’s nearly inevitable to start to rethink how we view the world when we see photos of a woman with big burly muscles. The sight of them goes against how we view femininity, masculinity, human potential, and sexuality. All our lives we’ve assumed that women are the “weaker sex.” Is this not actually true? Are women indeed the weaker sex, or are they just at a natural disadvantage? You know, sort of like a sprinter who begins the race 20 yards behind the other competitors. The sprinter can still win, but it’ll take some extra effort (and perhaps a bit of luck) to do so.
The presence of a woman with muscles also challenges how men view themselves. If she can get that big, why can’t I? If I’m struggling to bulk up at the gym, what excuse could I possibly have when I’m scrolling through Instagram and notice some Finnish chick named Minna Pajulahti deadlifting more than me? Female bodybuilders can, understandably, create feelings of inadequacy in guys who are already somewhat insecure about themselves. This is not an indictment. It’s just the way things are.
Seeing a woman with big muscles also begs us to ask the question: Is there a limit to what humans can do? And to be clear, this goes for both men and women. Can human beings slowly but surely evolve to be able to swim under water for hours at a time? Or fly through the sky? Or become as strong as an ox? Or upgrade our intelligence level to unprecedented heights, where we will be able to teach advanced physics to grade school children? I cannot say yay or nay, but how one cannot stop to ponder such possibilities is beyond me. After all, seeing a female bodybuilder be able to lift heavy weights at the gym is like a smack in the face. If that doesn’t wake you up to challenge your preconceived notions about the Universe, I don’t know what will.
But more than anything, female bodybuilders force us to move the goal posts in terms of what is possible and what is not possible. Don’t say that certain physical feats are impossible because the moment you do someone will come around and shatter that opinion into a million pieces. Don’t say that a woman with muscles can’t be sexy. I can provide you with a list of hundreds of names that will test that belief. Don’t doubt the fact that female powerlifters can’t surpass the accomplishments of male powerlifters. Just do a Google search of Becca Swanson. You’ll be glad that you did.
What we thought we knew we need to reevaluate. What we were taught may be wrong; even if it was taught to us in good faith. But in addition to beliefs, female bodybuilders also change the way we view sexual attraction.
Before, we assumed that people who are attracted to women are attracted to just, well, “normal” looking women. However, the discovery of muscular women (and to be fair, other nontraditional-looking ladies) throws us for a loop. We ask ourselves how we can possibly be attracted to a woman who has bigger muscles than most men. Does that mean I’m secretly gay? Or is this perfectly normal? How can I tell either way? These questions abound, much to our consternation.
Eventually, many of us will reach the conclusion that it’s perfectly fine to be attracted to muscular women because…they’re still women. Obviously, they don’t look like most other women you encounter in everyday life, but that’s not an indicator of anything unnatural. It’s unusual, but it doesn’t cross any forbidden boundaries. To repeat the answer provided at the beginning, female bodybuilders are not men. Not even close. So why is there even a debate?
Well, there deserves to be a discussion about this topic because of the initial, involuntary gut feeling we received when we first encountered the world of muscular women. Due to all the reasons listed above, the presence of muscular women triggers in our minds an adverse reaction. Like side effects from taking prescription medicine (we’ve all wondered whether vomiting, cramps, and possibly death are acceptable trade-offs for alieving us of the sniffles), it’s like our brains are fighting off a foreign agent when we look upon an image of a woman with big muscles. We feel repulsed. Or confused. Or extreme cognitive dissonance. Or maybe, unexpected and uncontrollable sexual arousal.
These reactions are unexplainable. They’re inconceivable. They’re not normal, yet we’re intrigued to learn more. The sight of a muscular woman stirs up in our imaginations all sorts of thoughts and feelings. We begin to question our previously held assumptions about, well, everything in the damn world. We feel compelled, for no logical reason, to do a Google search about whether or not female bodybuilders are actually female or if they’re somehow “male” by some perverse definition.
We realize it’s silly. We know in the back of our minds that female bodybuilders are definitely women. But we can’t help but feed our curiosity. We must know for sure. In the dark recesses of our imaginations there’s a tiny part of us that thinks that maybe FBBs are not really women in the traditional sense of the word. Or maybe they’re women…sort of. Kind of. Maybe they’re men…sort of. Kind of. Or perhaps they’ve transitioned into a third option. Uh, right?
Yikes. What the hell am I thinking?
You want to slap yourself in the face, but resist the urge to do so. That’s good. No need for self-flagellation. At the very least, you can smile to yourself, look into a mirror, and whisper to no one in particular: “Hey, what I Google in the privacy of my spare time is my business and no one needs to know about it!”
Which is true. Of course it is. No one will ever know what you choose to Google, unless you believe all sorts of wacky conspiracy theories. Do search engine crawlers count?
There’s nothing male about female bodybuilders. There are plenty of FBBs who exhibit masculine qualities, but that’s a whole other story. Masculine/feminine are behavioral and physical signifiers that have no biological connections. A man can have a “feminine-sounding” voice and still be 100% a man. A woman can have “masculine-looking” facial features but still be 100% a woman. Biology is more objective than arbitrary gendered descriptions that societies have used for centuries. Whether these identifiers are good or bad is up to you to decide. Volumes of books have been written on the harm produced by gender roles, so I don’t feel too obligated to rehash these ideas at this time.
Suffice to say, it’s not a bad thing to have questions. Being inquisitive is a sign of wisdom, humility, and practical intelligence. Nobody knows the answers to everything. That’s simply impossible. Heck, as incredible as this sounds, despite all the breakthroughs we’ve made in recent generations in regards to theoretical physics, we still don’t know even a fraction of a fraction of what there is to know about the Universe. Theorists like Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking are like the One Eyed Kings leading a pack of blind subjects. But in this case, they have one eye that’s peering into the world through a coffee straw. They are able to speculate about the world at levels that most of us will never be able to comprehend, and even they can’t manage to scratch the surface. Far out, man!
Makes you not feel so guilty about wondering if Denise Masino is secretly a dude, huh?
I can assure you that Denise Masino is not a dude. Despite the impressive amount of meat dangling between her legs, I can assure you that it’s all feminine meat. Nothing masculine about it. She doesn’t have a penis. Though her phallic-like clit sort of resembles a really tiny penis (especially when she uses a clit pump), there’s no doubt that it’s a clit, end of story. Beneath her impressive feminine endowment is her vagina, an organ I don’t believe too many men can say they also have.
As far as I can tell, it is not possible for a woman to become a man without an intricately planned series of hormonal therapy sessions administered by trained medical professionals. I am no expert about the female-to-male or male-to-female transition processes, but lifting weights at the gym (and yes, even taking synthetic steroids to help you bulk up more) will not do the trick. Of course, I don’t think too many folks actually believe this. So to reiterate, it’s hard to not question your assumptions when you’re faced with examples that challenge them.
Female bodybuilders are not actually men. I understand why someone would allow their minds to drift in that direction, but at the end of the day there’s no evidence to suggest that such a phenomenon is even scientifically possible. But that doesn’t mean we should mock people who do dare to Google such a titillating question.
There’s an old saying that “it never hurts to ask.” Well, that’s not entirely true. It can hurt if the person(s) to whom you’re asking the question retaliates in any sort of way. However, that’s the beauty of the Internet. You can ask away with little risk to your reputation or ego. I may not have all the answers, but I am qualified to provide a small degree of insight onto the issue of female bodybuilders and their gender identities:
Female bodybuilders are female, not male. You can take it to the bank and bet your life’s savings on it. But if even a slight hint of doubt creeps into your mind, remember this: That’s perfectly okay.