The Slayers of Men

Selma Labat is a true slayer of anyone who gets in her way.

A common way we frame female bodybuilders is through the archetype of “Slayers of Men.” Within this framework, female bodybuilders are strong independent women who are here to smash gender stereotypes, the so-called “patriarchy,” and the notion that women are destined to be the weaker sex.

This explains why FBBs are often described as queens and goddesses. They are conquerors, leaders, rulers, creators, destroyers, punishers, and decision-makers. This, of course, has more to do with our fantasies involving FBBs rather than how we actually view FBBs. There’s some overlap, but the “Female Bodybuilders as Slayers of Men” trope exists more in our imaginations than in our literal fears.

In real life, female bodybuilders aren’t anymore violent than normal women. Sure, they have the capacity to cause more bodily harm than most, but that’s not the same thing. I’d rather take a punch to the face from Sarah Paulson than Sarah Hayes, but either way neither of them mean any harm to me unless I pose a direct threat first. Which is unlikely.

It is true that the mere existence of female bodybuilders challenges what we’ve previously thought about gender roles and biology – and this fact cannot be underestimated. But there is a big difference between admitting that “women can become stronger than men if they work hard enough” versus “a man ceases to be a man once a woman is able to lift more than him at the gym.” The former is a statement of fact. The latter is a subtle (or not so subtle) admission of insecurity.

There are many reasons why certain guys fear female bodybuilders. They fear them because they’re jealous. They fear them because they remind them that their title of “the stronger sex” isn’t guaranteed. They fear them because FBBs destroy any excuse they have about not getting bigger or stronger. They fear them because FBBs give permission to other women to get stronger – both physically and emotionally – and not take unnecessary bullshit from ungrateful jerks like them.

Oof.

But it should be obvious that these fears say more about (certain) guys than they do about FBBs in general. Guys who aren’t sexist jerks love strong women because they have no reason to be fearful or disgusted by them. If anything, we have every incentive to lift them up, celebrate them, and appreciate their impressive achievements. Female bodybuilders do not challenge our masculinity because real masculinity and strong femininity can peacefully co-exist together. They are not enemies, but rather two sides of the same coin.

Raquel Arranz looking as though she could defeat an entire army by herself.

Men who feel belittled by muscular women are actually expressing deep-rooted anxiety about themselves. FBBs remind them of their own weaknesses – both literal and figurative. That isn’t to say that guys who love FBBs are inherently stronger or possess rare emotional fortitude. Instead, guys who love muscular women have learned to move on beyond a cheap, surface-level understanding of gender roles, biology, and relationships. If a rising tide lifts all boats, muscular women also lift up all men.

One other way to look at female bodybuilders is to think of them as surrogate punishers for past sins. They are like movie monsters; larger-than-life creatures who act as destroyers sent to us to teach us all a lesson. Godzilla is Mother Nature’s way of punishing humankind for its sins of environmental degradation. King Kong is an allegorical reminder that pillaging, plundering, and economic exploitation are sins that will one day come back to haunt you. Even in the heart of New York City, a bright shining symbol of Western Civilization’s technological and social progress. Likewise, female bodybuilders are the physical embodiment of mankind’s punishment for sexism, misogyny, domestic violence, and structural gender-based oppression. Maybe not in the literal sense, but certainly in the symbolic sense.

Female bodybuilders aren’t lurking in the shadows ready to bash in the heads of guys who blurt out unsolicited catcalls or grab women’s butts, of course. That’s an avant-garde Frank Miller graphic novel just waiting to be written! However, from a psychological point of view FBBs essentially play that same role; as a constant reminder that if you’re not careful, women can strike back when provoked. And they can surpass you in terms of strength and size if you’re not on top of your game.

Even if the significance is more symbolic than literal, there is something to be said about female bodybuilders acting as proxy “Slayers of Rude, Idiotic Men” and, at the same time, allies of “Kind, Gentlemanly Men.” These battles don’t have to transpire on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram in order for them to have real substance. All they have to do is exist in our minds.

Because this is where the real battles are fought: in our minds. FBBs are often viewed as the Slayers of Men because either we fear that they are or we wish that they could be. It’s sort of like imagining Brandi Mae Akers riding on top of a fire-breathing dragon as it incinerates a town down below, Game of Thrones style. Except in this case it’s Miss Akers who’s slaying the hapless townspeople, not the dragon. Whether Brandi Mae ever ends up ruling her kingdom is a secondary matter. What’s really at stake is whether or not she taught those insubordinate plebeians down below a lesson.

And in this hypothetical scenario, it matters whether you’re rooting for Brandi Mae to succeed or wishing that she’ll fail. Do you love her or fear her? Which is it?

In the real world, this paradigm doesn’t have to exist. Female bodybuilders don’t have to be the actual or figurative Slayers of Men. They can be the Allies of Men. That is, if enough men agree to join in this mutually beneficial partnership. A strong woman does not invalidate the masculine identity of a man – no matter how “wrong” or “contradictory” it may feel. One could argue that there is no such thing as “masculine” and “feminine” qualities in any objective sense. I cannot speak to how valid that perspective is, but I understand where it comes from. For the time being, let’s assume that masculine and feminine characteristics are real – at least from a cultural standpoint.

Do not get Heather Armbrust angry!

Masculinity and femininity aren’t two separate spheres in which there is no overlap. On the contrary, there is plenty of crossover. Or maybe, our definitions of these two words are too broad. “Strength” is neither a masculine nor feminine quality. It’s both. Or neither. Maybe it exists on a list of things that aren’t gendered. I’ve argued before that female bodybuilders don’t redefine femininity so much as they expand it. They transform our thinking in regards to gender by forcing us to not think outside the box, but to shatter the box with a sledgehammer. Men and women are different, but not as different as you might think. Or, those differences are arbitrary. Or, those differences can change depending on who we’re talking about.

Your status as a “man” isn’t defined by how many masculine qualities you exhibit. This is because our definition of “masculinity” is unto itself subjective. Nor does it mean that women can’t also showcase a few “masculine” traits without compromising their feminine status. This all sounds complicated because what we’re really arguing about here is definition of words, not objective ideas. Words are more than what the dictionary says they mean. Words also carry heavy cultural connotations, historic baggage, and emotional context. None of those things can be properly conveyed by a simple one sentence definition.

Long story short, who you are as a man isn’t predicated on who women are as well. The same is true going the opposite direction. Seeing a strong muscular woman deadlift more than you at the gym doesn’t mean you’re “less of a man” or not “measuring up” to who you’re supposed to be. We are all allowed to go at our own pace. That woman, whom we’ll nickname Deadlift Lady, exists on her own plain. She is an island, floating around in an ocean full of deep-rooted cultural expectations. The same goes for every guy at that gym lifting weights near her. They are also islands – one particular colloquial expression notwithstanding. Let’s say Typical Dude is deadlifting next to her. He can only lift 215 pounds for one rep. Not bad, but not terribly impressive. But let’s say Deadlift Lady is lifting 375 pounds for 10 reps. That’s quite a lot. Way more than Typical Dude. What do we make of this situation?

Well, not much.

Typical Dude is going at his own pace. He’s setting his own personal agenda. His goals are his and his alone. As long as he’s happy, that’s all we need to know about him. Deadlift Lady, on the other hand, is also going at her own pace. Her personal agenda is probably much different than her male counterpart. After all, no lady who’s deadlifting 375 pounds does so by accident! There’s intention going on here. She’s worked her whole life to make it to this point. The biggest takeaway from this scenario is that the existence of one does not invalidate the existence of the other.

Would you be intimidated if you saw Shannon Courtney lifting next to you at the gym?

They are two human beings working out. They are trying to improve their strength, health, vitality, confidence, self-esteem, and sense of purpose. He may feel slightly insecure lifting in proximity to her, but that’s perfectly okay. And understandable. But it’s not because he has a real reason to feel insecure. It’s because the culture he lives in tells him that he should feel bad. He has no actual reason to feel that way. Deadlift Lady’s remarkable accomplishments do not denigrate or invalidate the accomplishments of Typical Dude. They are two unique, vulnerable human beings trying to make their way through this hostile universe.

Deadlift Lady isn’t slaying Typical Dude. No matter what people around them are saying or thinking, no one is getting “owned” by these two individuals existing side-by-side. They can co-exist because one does not overrule the other. Strong women do not automatically make men weaker. Guys who feel threatened by strong women feel that way because they’re recognize their own shortcomings. The presence of a strong woman makes those feelings bubble to the surface faster than a malfunctioning submarine. Strong women do not make guys feel inadequate; they only bring out those feelings that already exist.

Female bodybuilders not only directly challenge one’s sense of masculine superiority, they also force us to reevaluate how we draw that line between men and women. Is it a hard line in the sand, or one that can easily be washed away by the rising tide?

Do not fear Kathy Johansson. Instead, lift her up!

Strength and weakness. Confidence and insecurity. Superiority and inferiority. Action and inaction. Accomplished and unproven. Happiness and fear. Self-love and self-loathing. Assuredness and doubt. Self-satisfaction and the endless need to prove one’s self.

These feelings are real, even if the reasons they exist are subjective.

The sooner we realize men and strong women are not in conflict with each other, the better off we’ll all be. Better yet, future generations will thank us. Alas, we are not there yet, but I pray one day we will be. Perhaps we can all make an impact, one grueling deadlift repetition at a time.

Strong women are not the Slayers of Men. Men who hate themselves and other women are the actual Slayers of Men. And how do we defeat this mortal enemy?

Easy. In addition to lifting those weights, lift up the people around you.

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Beauty is Overrated

Stephanie Marie definitely isn’t overrated.

“Beauty,” as it is traditionally defined, makes no mention of emotions, feelings, or involuntary intuitive reactions. Yet, the concept of beauty – especially the way we use it in everyday conversation – goes way beyond aesthetics.

For example:

Merriam-Webster’s definition of beauty is “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.”

“Gives pleasure to the senses” is a great way of phrasing it. There are, after all, five senses – with sight being just one of them. One can appreciate a rose bush by admiring its beauty, then leaning over and smelling its scent. But you probably wouldn’t want to eat it. And roses don’t make any noise, so there’s nothing to hear. And be careful before you touch it! Those thorns can be prickly.

So one can admire a beautiful thing with more than just one sense. Two or three, perhaps. But there’s another sense that is almost never acknowledged. A sense that is, if you think about it, arguably more important:

The emotional sense.

The sight of a beautiful person can make you feel many things. Lust, longing, exasperation, infatuation, nervousness, giddiness, curiosity, etc. Perhaps the reason why a beautiful person has such power over us isn’t just because of how they look – it’s how they make us feel.

Coco Crush is so damn beautiful.

And this has less to do with who they are and more to do with who we are. Or what we’ve gone through, or what we’ve experienced, or what we’re currently dealing with in our personal lives. For example, you could be minding your own business at the grocery store. You just need to pick up a few items – green peppers, celery, a red onion, and a few quarts of beef stock – for tonight’s dinner. You should be in and out in a hot minute. Suddenly, out of nowhere you see a gorgeous young lady perusing through the salad greens section looking for fresh spinach that isn’t too soggy. She’s beautiful. The most beautiful person you’ve seen in a while. The way she walks, moves, and behaves is like poetry in motion. But you’re not just captivated by her immense beauty. You’re reminded of your high school crush, the one who “got away.” You’re reminded of your own loneliness and your burning need for someone to cuddle with tonight when you’re watching late night TV. You’re reminded of how special this planet can be at times, when a flawless work of art can literally appear out of nowhere unexpectedly and make your heart stop beating.

You know she’s physically beautiful, yet she’s more than that. She makes you feel things. Strong things. Things you wish you could forget. Things you wish you could capture in a bottle and uncork whenever you want to. Things you cannot explain, but you know in your heart is as real as a rainstorm. In other words, “beauty” isn’t just an aesthetic. It’s an experience.

This helps explain why many of us love female bodybuilders so much. We aren’t just attracted to their muscles, curves, strength, confidence, and inspiring stories. We love them because they make us react in ways that are both predictable and inexplicable. We love them because we cannot stop loving them. They’re an unquenchable thirst. A hunger that never ceases.

We can look at a picture of Cindy Landolt and notice many things. Her face is pretty and her muscles are poetic, but her appeal goes way beyond those things. We sense raw energy radiating out of every pore of her immaculate body. It’s almost visible. It’s nearly tangible. To look upon her is to feel like you’re in the presence of a Divine Being. She’s often labeled a “Goddess” by her fans (myself included) and for good reason. She looks too good to be true. The fact she actually is a real-life human being adds to her mystique. How can someone be that beautiful? It’s difficult to wrap our minds around this reality. Yet it’s true. Cindy makes our minds rattle in a million different directions. And it’s not just because of her obvious beauty.

It’s because of her – and many other female bodybuilders – effect on our psyches.

Amanda Ferre looking absolutely gorgeous.

Female bodybuilders are alluring for reasons that go beyond what you can see on the outside. It’s not just their unusually large muscles that capture our attention. When we regard upon a beautiful female bodybuilder, our daydreaming activities go into overdrive. We want her to pick us up and toss us to the ground like a ragdoll. We desire to touch her muscles. We want to ask her to flex her biceps while we measure them with a sewing tape measure. How big is she? When she flexes at maximum capacity, how large can she grow? 16 inches? 18 inches?

Uh, 20 inches?

Is that even possible? Has any woman in the history of the world ever developed biceps that exceeded 20 inches? Maybe, but I’m yet to have seen it. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before, of course. Renné Toney supposedly holds the record at 21 inches. I highly doubt too many other women have been able to match that, let alone exceed it.

God damn. The very thought of a woman having 21-inch biceps is mind boggling. It’s inconceivable. It’s beyond belief. Yet, she did at one point in her life attain such a measurement. Guys who are insecure or full of self-loathing will immediately scream at the top of their lungs “Steroids, steroids, steroids!” But those of us who respect female bodybuilders and don’t hate ourselves will instead react with “You go girl!”

See the difference?

The same could be said for Tina Lockwood’s thighs. Or Becca Swanson’s career achievements. Or Nataliya Kuznetsova’s entire existence. Or what Shannon Courtney was able to do at such an early age. These ladies defy our expectations of what the female human body is capable of doing. In their own way, they’ve set the bar higher and higher than any of us (or most of us) thought was even possible. To react with derision is unfortunate. It probably says more about the person choosing to think that way more than anything else. But thankfully, for every troll who types mean comments like “She’s probably got a dick” or “She’s actually a man” on a random YouTube video, there are thousands of other people who treat these women with the respect they deserve.

Isabelle Turell makes me react quite irrationally.

How funny it is that female bodybuilders can make us react in such two completely opposite ways. We react with either scorn or praise. Disgust or lust. Hatred or eternal adoration. Dismissiveness or uncontrollable fandom. There’s basically no middle ground. At all. It’s truly a fascinating phenomenon to witness.

This is why “beauty is overrated.” We value beauty because it’s obvious. It’s plain to see. It’s simple to explain. It doesn’t require any thinking. It’s all around us all the time. You don’t need to travel far to see a billboard, television commercial, print advertisement, or pop-up window that features a beautiful person – male or female. It’s deeply engrained into our multimedia landscape. Sex sells, as the adage goes. Heck, it’s so pervasive it’s easy to not notice it.

Yet, beauty unto itself is fairly limited. A pretty face can be forgettable. A shapely body you see in a magazine may draw your attention momentarily, but it’ll fade off into the distance once something else replaces it. The smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies? The sound of your favorite song playing over the PA system? The feeling of cool air cascading off your face on a sweltering hot summer day? All of those things can replace the memory of a beautiful magazine cover model because she’s a dime a dozen (no offense to her). Her beauty is considerable, but it’s not enough. We want to feel something. A connection. A memory. An involuntary reaction.

A nameless Victoria’s Secret underwear model cannot compete with Isabelle Turell or Lindsay Mulinazzi. The nameless model looks nice but doesn’t elicit any emotional reaction out of us. We notice their beauty and move on with our lives. Isabelle and Lindsay, on the other hand, make us want to beg for their attention. Get down on our knees and worship them. Shell out hundreds of dollars in cash to purchase their merchandise. Praise them as queens or goddesses. Use hyperbolic language when describing them. Travel to the furthest ends of the earth just to meet them for a single hour. Stay up late watching videos of them when we have to go to work the next day. Do things we normally wouldn’t do like set up a muscle worship appointment or fantasy wrestling session – all in secret, naturally.

Beauty in complete isolation is neat. But it does not give us a complete picture of the situation. Some people – and this includes non-bodybuilders – have a pull on us that almost seems magical. Remember your grade school crush? I sure do. I still think about her. I recently stalked her on Facebook and saw that she’s happily married with a newborn child. She’s kind of pretty, but not nearly as drop dead gorgeous as I thought of her at the time. In this case, distance and time did not make the heart grow fonder. Quite the opposite. But I clearly remember being 12 years old and not being able to keep my eyes off her. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. She was sweet, smart, nice, and good looking. I was enchanted with her.

We all have similar stories we can tell. Many of us have current stories in similar vein that we can tell. Crushes are exactly that: they crush us. They shatter our ability to think rationally. They stomp all over our sense of self-preservation and force us to act foolishly. We are enthralled by them, taken in by them, infatuated with them. It’s strong. It’s focused. It’s nearly unbreakable.

And when it does break, it tears our hearts in half.

Do you know what this ultimately means? It means beauty is not just overrated, but somewhat misunderstood. We give pure physical beauty more credit than it deserves. It can initially capture our attention, but it’s not enough to keep us tuned in. We need more if we want to continue to be playing the game. We need an emotional bond. A cathartic connection. A spiritual awakening. We need our heartstrings tugged at in addition to blood flowing to our private parts. This isn’t just explained by love or lust. It’s something else. Something…less tangible.

Now, comparing your schoolyard crush to your adult fascination with female bodybuilders is not completely analogous. They are two different things. Yet, the general idea remains the same. They both have us in the palm of their hands. They control the situation, not us. They have the power. All the power. It’s not even close. It’s more than a magic spell. It’s more mysterious than a love potion because this is completely organic. It’s natural. No special sauce is needed.

What kind of beauty is unforgettable to you?

Go back to the beginning of this article and reread Merriam-Webster’s definition of “beauty.” Notice the word “spirit” at the very end. That’s significant. Do not trivialize this. To “pleasurably exalt the spirit” is quite a turn of phrase. It seems to connotate a religious awakening; a divine experience that transcends the mortal body. This is why we tend to use ethereal language when describing female bodybuilders. It’s just like a religious experience. A conversion. A death and resurrection all happening at once.

Beauty is overrated because it places too much emphasis on the person who is being described as beautiful. This isn’t a knock against them, but rather an observation that what really matters is the person experiencing the beauty. What are they thinking? Hoping? Dreaming about? Fearful of? Wishing would happen with all their might?

The fact I’ve been writing about female bodybuilders and female muscle fetishism for seven years now – yes, it’s been that long – is proof that FBBs have a profound grip on me. It’s everlasting. Sure, sometimes it wanes for a bit, but it never goes away. I don’t think that’s even possible.

FBBs are important to me and will continue to be a massive part of my life. The same is probably true for many of you too. And the reason this is true isn’t just because FBBs are physically beautiful creatures. It’s because they have the keen ability to draw out wild thoughts and fantasies from us. They make us act irrationally. They cannot leave our imaginations. They’re living rent free in our heads – and we are grateful landlords who refuse to ask for back payments.

Because it’s not just about how beautiful they are. It’s how beautiful we make them out to be.

The Hyperfeminine Muscular Woman

Minna Pajulahti is too hot for words.

Female bodybuilders are no strangers to the hurtful accusation that they’re not actually women. That they aren’t feminine enough. That they’re turning into men or want to become men. That men aren’t going to like them because of their muscles. That “real women” don’t look like that. That they actually look like men. That they’re confused about their gender.

And so on and so forth.

These slurs are so common I’m guessing most FBBs have achieved the ability to mentally block them out. They have a filter installed in their brain that allows them to ignore stupid opinions that have no merit. At least, I hope so. I cannot imagine how dreadfully annoying it is to have your appearance mocked just because you choose to lift weights, supplement, and bulk up like any other gym bro. Or that your personal definition of “empowerment” requires you to look different than the other girls – and that not everybody is on board with that.

Because of this toxic reality, it is not surprising that many female bodybuilders have decided – whether this is intentional or not is difficult to assess – to counter these slanders by presenting themselves in explicitly feminine terms. Think of it as compensating for their lack of “traditional femininity” by acting more outwardly feminine than they normally would.

Some examples of this include:

  • Getting breast implants
  • Wearing a lot of makeup (even more than usual)
  • Wearing sexy dresses
  • Wearing stylish clothing
  • Smiling, laughing, giggling, and doing whatever she can to appear less “threatening”
  • Posting pictures on Instagram of her doing traditionally “feminine” activities like trying on new clothes, shoe shopping, kissing her boyfriend/husband, playing with dogs, playing with kids, being a “mom,” cooking, cleaning, etc.
  • Promoting brands/products/stores that are traditionally aimed at women
  • Doing porn in which she has sex with men, with the man (or group of men) being in the “dominant” role and the muscular woman in the “submissive” role
  • Or doing porn where the man and muscular woman are equals
  • Choosing not to talk if her voice is too low
  • Doing photoshoots in which her face is edited to look more feminine and less hard edged
  • Avoiding talking about steroids, hormonal supplements, and anything that can be perceived as compromising her “womanhood”

It saddens me to think that female bodybuilders do these things not because they want to but because they feel like they have to. Yet, I am torn on this topic. On one hand, I am a strong believer that everybody has the right to craft their own identity to be whatever they want it to be. They shouldn’t give in to pressure to conform, fit in, or go with the flow. On the other hand, if being “traditionally feminine” is what they genuinely want to do, then nothing should stop them from being that. It’s a tough line to draw in the sand because I do not know what every FBB is thinking and feeling.

Don’t mess with Jayne Trcka. She has handcuffs!

Maybe some FBBs actually enjoy doing activities that are considered “feminine.” Or maybe they do it because they don’t want to alienate anybody. Or, like I said before, they want to appear less “threatening,” as if the sight of a woman with big muscles is somehow considered inherently threatening. Threatening to whom, exactly?

The Hyperfeminine Muscular Woman is a fascinating case study. What do we think of her? Is she compromising her identity by pretending to be something she isn’t, or is that who she really is?

At the end of the day, we don’t really know. But I do know this phenomenon does exist. For example, I can’t recall where I saw this but I remember reading an Instagram post in which Minna Pajulahti says she sometimes acts overtly feminine because she doesn’t want people to think of female bodybuilders as not being real women. That’s paraphrasing her rationale, unfortunately. So she does things like deadlift a crazy amount of weight, drop the bar to the floor, and strike a Beyoncé-like pose at the end as the “kicker.” Why dance around and strike diva poses? Because it reinforces her femininity, which apparently gets compromised when she’s deadlifting, squatting, bench pressing, and lift a ton of weight.

I am not criticizing Minna, of course. I love her and would never do that! But I will acknowledge that I think it’s a bit sad that she feels the need to do this. Not tragic, but mildly sad. Being strong doesn’t mean she isn’t feminine. Doing masculine-labeled activities does not mean she isn’t feminine. Having a nontraditional physique does not mean she isn’t feminine. All of that is complete and utter bullshit.

Minna Pajulahti is a feminine woman. So is Victoria Dominguez. And Kathy Connors. And Jennifer Kennedy. And Gillian Kovack. And Rene Campbell. And Wanda Moore. And Lauren Powers. And Rhonda Lee Quaresma. And Dena Westerfield. And many, many others.

What do all these beautiful women have in common? They’ve all had their feminine identities questioned. Or challenged. Or denied. I’ve seen them labeled “trannies” or “dykes” and other idiotic slurs. The stupidity of people who feel compelled to insult and troll innocent people is boundless. But that is the world we live in today.

Rene Campbell isn’t here for your rude comments.

What makes the existence of the Hyperfeminine Muscular Woman so frustrating is that we don’t know if it’s genuine or not. Are they acting overtly feminine because that’s who they truly are or because that’s how they think society wants them to be? To segment that last part even further, do they act aggressively feminine because they want to be accepted by society (whatever that means) or because they feel the need to overcompensate? The negative stereotypes that surround female bodybuilders are real, hurtful, and pervasive. Perhaps some FBBs feel compelled to dispel these perceptions by acting way more feminine than they’d normally want to. Either way, it’s sad.

It’s sad because I don’t want any muscular woman to act differently just because they want to please others. That’s heartbreaking. I want female bodybuilders to be who they are and not apologize for it. If being traditionally feminine is who they are, so be it. If they feel more comfortable being “butch” or androgynous, so be it. If acting and appearing more masculine is what floats their boat, so be it. Regardless, I just want every FBB to feel at home in their own skin. Whatever that entails.

But I don’t want to dismiss the fact that outside perceptions do matter, even if we don’t want them to. As individuals, we do have to conform to certain social standards if we want to fit in. At least, whenever we’re in public. Especially in the professional world. Being viewed as a scary butch devil lady may be fun as an online persona, but it’s not going to help you land any customer service jobs. Many FBBs are also personal trainers. They can’t appear too intimidating if they want to gain new clients.

There’s also the moral obligation to consider on top of this. When female bodybuilders choose to act and look “hyperfeminine,” are they actually doing harm to femininity without realizing it? For example, we tend to hold narrow views of what masculinity and femininity look like. It shouldn’t take a Gillette ad campaign to tell us that. Shouldn’t FBBs act however they want to act as a statement that “feminine” can be a much larger tent than it currently is? This could also challenge whether or not “masculinity” and “femininity” are real things. Or to what extent we’re allowed to box in people in these categories.

Roxanne Edwards slaying the bodybuilding stage.

It’s unfair to demand that every popular female bodybuilder is obliged to be an ambassador for female bodybuilders everywhere. They are not symbols. They are individuals. Yet, this obligation is unavoidable. Every time an FBB makes an appearance on TV or in a mainstream Hollywood movie, they represent FBBs as a whole – whether they want to or not. Jayne Trcka appeared in Scary Movie (2000) as the comically androgynous gym teacher Miss Mann. She was great in it, even though I cringe watching her scene. It plays for laughs every single negative stereotype you can imagine regarding muscular women. It reinforces the perceptions that women like Cindy Landolt and Aspen Rae shatter with every new Instagram post. Yet, they aren’t invited to appear in movies or TV shows.

But I am not criticizing Jayne. She’s awesome. She’s beautiful, smart, funny, and kind. She isn’t traditionally feminine, but there’s no doubt she’s a woman. She’s a 100% woman. She doesn’t have a secret penis tucked between her legs. And I totally understand why she took that role. You don’t say “no” to a mainstream Hollywood gig. Unless you’re Leonardo DiCaprio or Margot Robbie and you have studios begging you to be in their movie, most working actors have to accept whatever job is available to them. So I don’t begrudge Jayne one bit. I don’t blame her. And I hope none of you do either.

Therefore, Hyperfeminine Muscular Women are caught between a rock and a hard place. They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Female bodybuilders who make absolutely no attempt to act more feminine are also making a difficult choice. They’re also stuck in a Catch-22. But at the end of the day, all this boils down to us. Whether we choose to accept a muscular woman for who she is depends entirely on us. Not her. We choose to embrace her butchness if that’s the road she’s chosen to traverse. We also choose to deny her femininity if she doesn’t uphold our personal standards of what femininity means. It’s a choice. A personal choice. We can either love her for who she is…or not.

Personally, I’ve never questioned the gender identity of any female bodybuilder. Even the ones who are the most masculine presenting. The ones with the deep voice, shrunken breasts, abrasive personality, large muscles, masculine facial features, and large bulge in their panties. They are women, even if 99% of us don’t acknowledge it. They aren’t tearing down femininity; they’re redefining it. Or expanding it. Or challenging us to rethink how we define gender as it is.

The truth is that the “Hyperfeminine Muscular Woman” persona is a performance. The Traditionally Feminine Muscular Woman isn’t. Most likely, an FBB who acts really, really, really, really feminine is putting on a show. She’s intentionally playing a part. She’s an actor and all the world’s a stage. And we are the audience, even if some of us are throwing popcorn at the performers like low-life jerks.

Or do you prefer someone as unquestionably feminine as Courtney Tillia?

This makes me sad. As it should all of you who sympathize with these ladies. When push comes to shove, I want every FBB in the world to feel comfortable in their own skin. I want them to embrace themselves. After all, how can anyone love you if you can’t even love yourself? I want every FBB to wake up each morning, look themselves in the mirror, and say to their reflection “Damn, I look good!” I want these ladies to take joy in looking the way they look, regardless of what anyone else says.

If they feel beautiful with a butch haircut, tattoos, and piercings everywhere, I support that.

If they feel beautiful with long flowy hair, glowing skin, and pouty red lips, I support that.

If they feel beautiful wearing makeup, I support that.

If they feel beautiful wearing no makeup, I support that.

If they feel beautiful slaying in a sexy red cocktail dress, I support that.

If they feel beautiful wearing sweatpants and a hoodie, I support that.

If they feel beautiful acting flamboyantly sexy, I support that.

If they feel beautiful acting quiet, humble, and lowkey, I support that.

If they feel beautiful with big bulging muscles, I support that.

If they feel beautiful with smaller curvier muscles, I support that.

If they feel beautiful playing the “tough girl” role, I support that.

If they feel beautiful playing the “nice girl” role, I support that.

Hopefully, you get my point. I want every muscular woman to feel empowered to be who they are. I wish every FBB can one day figure out who they truly are. Not everyone reaches that point of self-realization. This conversation shouldn’t have anything to do with haters, critics, or trolls. They can go to Hell. Instead, this should be more focused on what muscular women want out of their lives. Do they want to change the world, or do they just want to change themselves? It doesn’t matter as long as they eventually find the path they want to walk down.

And once they reach the end of that path, nothing should stand in their way. Not the haters, not anyone. Because it doesn’t matter what anyone says. When a female bodybuilder is at the peak of her powers, she isn’t listening to what the outside world thinks of her. She’s only celebrating her accomplishments, her goals, her dreams, her life. She’s at her most beautiful when she’s doing this one simple thing:

Being herself.

5 Types of Female Muscle Porn that We Need Right Now

Just make sure you aren’t watching porn on a work computer. And remember to erase your browsing history every so often.

Gone are the days when we had to hide contraband copies of Playboy magazine underneath our mattress, praying Mom wouldn’t find it when she does the laundry.

Today, we don’t need physical copies of magazines to get our fill of whatever erotic media we find titillating. All we need is the Internet. And the ability to escape detection. And the smarts not to do any of this on a work computer.

Oh, how spoiled we all are!

Yes, spoiled. This is especially true for fans of female bodybuilders. Whether we know it or not, we live in a Golden Age. Hundreds of thousands of photos, hours upon hours of video, and a copious number of social media accounts can be accessed right at our fingertips. We can enjoy our favorite muscular women without breaking a sweat. And in many cases, we don’t even have to pay a single dime. What a miraculous age we live in, indeed! This is a reminder that we cannot take this for granted. Many moons ago this wasn’t the case. But it is now. Hurrah!

And yet, despite the high volume of free or affordable female muscle porn we have at our disposal, there’s still a void yet to be filled. Perhaps the first step is to speak it into existence. After all, the Wright brothers didn’t come up with the blueprint for creating the first ever successful flying aircraft by twiddling their thumbs and daydreaming about how cool it would be to do that.

No, they did it by taking action. The idea had to materialize silently in their heads, yes, but that wasn’t sufficient. Once the idea was born, action had to lead to results which then led to accomplishments. That’s the way new inventions are made.

Most of the female muscle-themed porn out there is pretty basic. Flexing their muscles. Posing. Dancing. Having sex with men, women, or both. Working out. Masturbating. Using a clit pump. Talking dirty. In other words, nothing out of the ordinary. These are things that non-FBBs can do as well (including using a clit pump). But many of us want more. I want more. So I’d like to put on my Hollywood producer hat and suggest some scenes/scenarios that I’d love to see created sometime in the future.

Without further ado, in now particular order here are 5 types of female muscle porn that we need right now.

I’d like to imagine Kathy Connors would host a massive female muscle orgy if such were to transpire.

  1. A large-scale female muscle orgy

I’ve seen videos where four female bodybuilders come together (no pun intended) to enjoy each other’s company. I’ve seen threesomes. I’ve seen scenes involving a guy. I’ve seen scenes involving absolutely no guys – at least no guys in front of the camera. But picture this: An empty room. Maybe it’s in a fancy upscale mansion like the one in Eyes Wide Shut. You can probably guess where I’m going with this.

In the middle of this room are mattresses, pillows, blankets, bottles of lubrication, and plenty of sex toys. All the dildos, vibrators, and stimulators you could possibly ask for. The room is dark but lit strategically by candlelight. Or, there could be Chinese lanterns hanging overhead, giving off a sensual orange glow. Soft music plays in the background, perhaps a lone piano player or cellist. The scene is set.

One by one, muscular women of all shapes and sizes enter the room. They are all nude. A few might be wearing lingerie or nightwear to begin the night, but we all know they will eventually be discarded. The women are diverse in every sense of that word. Women of all ethnicities, ages, body types, and personalities. Some are as young as 18, others are as old as 70. But they all have one thing in common: they take care of their bodies.

There are big massive bodybuilders in contest shape. There are curvy bodybuilders in offseason shape. There are figure competitors, fitness models, track and field athletes, amateur gym rats, long distance runners, and everyone in between. There are Caucasian female bodybuilders, black female bodybuilders, Asian female bodybuilders, Latina female bodybuilders, Middle Eastern female bodybuilders, and so on. All of them confident, strong, and aroused. Some are more beautiful than others. But all of them are worthy of our awe and respect.

The participants lie down in the middle of the room and begin the festivities. They kiss, stroke their bodies, caress their muscles, masturbate, and make love with whomever is willing to be made love to. Many of the toys are used. The bottles of lubrication nearly run empty, but thankfully there’s plenty more yet to be opened. Eventually, there are 60 or 70 women partaking in this orgy. An orgy of female muscle. Strong feminine flesh is strewn around everywhere, carelessly and artlessly.

Yet, it is the most beautiful piece of art ever conceived.

Soon, cries of orgasm resonate throughout the whole house. Orgasms pile on top of more orgasms. The screaming is deafening. It’s a pleasure fest. Pure pleasure. Everybody gets what they want…and then some. There’s cunnilingus, sex with dildos, masturbation, muscle worship, and making out happening everywhere.

The image of this orgy will forever be burned into your memory. Arms, legs, hands, feet, heads, torsos, and butts are intertwined in a messy pile. An observer cannot tell where one FBB begins and another FBB ends. It’s a free-for-all. Everybody is covered in sweat and other illicit bodily fluids. At its peak, there are 100+ women involved, maybe more. Nobody can tell for sure.

It should be noted that there’s one rule that must be followed. No exceptions.

No men are allowed to participate in the orgy.

Period, end of story.

Men can watch from a respectful distance, but under no circumstances can they join in. In fact, there are a few men present. They keep their distance. Some have pulled out their manhoods and started masturbating. Others are watching with intent fascination. But what happens in the peanut gallery is unimportant. What truly matters is what happens in the middle of that room.

After an hour or two, the orgy starts to dwindle. Participants either move to a different part of the mansion – to grab drinks, use the toilet, or meet up with their male partners – or fall fast asleep. Less than a dozen are still active. After their orgasms subside, everyone decides to call it quits. The last few FBBs with energy still left in their systems chat about their hopes and dreams.

You, as the observer, cannot be happier. Even though you weren’t allowed to partake, you leave the party feeling like you just saw the Greatest Show on Earth. And it ain’t the circus. It’s an epic female muscle orgy.

Denise Masino pleasuring herself.

  1. Clit comparison session with Denise, Angela, Brandi Mae, Colette, Amber, Autumn, and others

Now this can get really interesting! Imagine a living room with a half dozen or so female bodybuilders sitting around. At the very least, we have Denise Masino, Angela Salvagno, Brandi Mae Akers, Colette Guimond, Amber DeLuca, and Autumn Raby present. There could be others too. But let’s focus on these six for now.

The mood is more light than the previously described orgy. The room is better lit. All the ladies are nude or nearly nude. And…they’re all equipped with their very own clit pump.

What’s a clit pump, you may ask? Oh you have much to learn, grasshopper.

After exchanging pleasantries, the six ladies start to play with their toys. They place the clear plastic (or glass) tubes over their engorged nubs of flesh and pump it until it gets as large as it can be. Then, they compare sizes. Who’s got the biggest meat? Is it Denise? Angela? Colette? If I were a betting man – and I am not – my money would be on Colette. But I would be glad to be wrong. Unless I put a lot of money down.

How many inches are these ladies’ clits when elongated in these tubes? Two inches? Three inches? Uh…

four inches?

After they’ve had their little “competition,” you can probably guess what happens next. The next portion of the video would feature so much cunnilingus it would make every customer at a Portland lesbian bar blush. The beauty of this clit orgy is that it’s no longer a competition. It’s a celebration. A party. A pure hedonistic ceremony. Every participant experiences so many orgasms she forgets how many she’s had when all is said and done.

That would be hot.

Natalia Gorbachev and her male counterpart showing off their sexy bodies.

  1. A tastefully done cinematic sex scene featuring a muscular woman

This doesn’t need to be a full-length feature film – although I certainly wouldn’t complain if such a thing were to come to pass – but at the very least a 15-20 minute short film. The setting can be simple. A secluded beach house. A cabin in the woods. A high-rise condominium. A mansion. A castle. A hotel room. A campfire. Anywhere. It doesn’t really matter.

Let’s keep the cast of characters also simple. Just a male and female performer. The guy should be someone famous and good looking. Chris Hemsworth or Henry Cavill would be two great choices. So we’re not talking about some shlubby Average Joe or a (and I shudder to write this word) “Schmoe.” We’re talking a guy who’s handsome, charming, and also in great physical shape.

And that’s the rub. The world desperately needs (alright, alright, I desperate need) a short erotic film featuring a good looking guy and a good looking muscular lady getting it on. But it’s not just doing the deed. It should also show foreplay, flirting, the build-up, and the aftermath. And repeated coital shenanigans as necessary, of course! Something like this that’s tastefully and artfully produced could go a long way in changing people’s perceptions about female bodybuilders.

They can be sexy, attractive, and desirable too. We know that, but not everybody agrees. So not only would this be self-gratifying, this could also serve a larger noble cause by shifting society’s paradigm with regards to female beauty and strength. As female bodybuilding fans, we value strength not just in the figurative sense, but also in the literal sense.

I’m sure there are plenty of film school students or Martin Scorsese/Christopher Nolan wannabes who would jump at such an opportunity. It’s bold, considered unchartered territory, and has the potential of going “viral.” No R-rated film can ever go viral in a “Gangnam Style” kind of way, but it doesn’t have to. And that’s the other part of this too. This shouldn’t be too graphic in terms of nudity. We don’t need to see gratuitous close-ups of genitals banging against each other. There’s plenty of crap like that out there already. Yuck. Rather, this should be something that everybody involved can feel proud of. I’m talking about a film that uses professional-grade equipment, employs a professional-quality production team, and produces a cinematic-quality final product. It’s not pornographic. It’s art.

Is that too much to ask? So far the answer appears to be “yes.”

Linda Steel in the middle of a busy highway. I wonder if she caused any car crashes?

  1. A “hidden camera” video of a female bodybuilder strutting around in public

I’ve written about this fantasy before, so check it out before reading further. But here’s the gist of what I’d love to see:

A camera operator follows a female bodybuilder around. Or, maybe there are multiple cameras. At first, she’s wearing something skimpy but legal. For example, cut off shorts, a sports bra, and high heels. Or a bikini. Or a crop top and yoga pants. Or a low-cut cocktail dress. Let’s say a bikini, just for kicks and giggles.

So she’s wearing a bikini. It’s a hot summer day. Maybe she’s near a beach, or maybe she’s not. Let’s say she is, just so her decision to wear a bikini in public doesn’t seem weird. The camera follows her. She looks incredibly attractive. It could be Cindy Landolt or Minna Pajulahti or Theresa Ivancik or Tina Nguyen. She’s smoking hot. Drop dead gorgeous. Eye-popping. Unforgettable. Unavoidable. Alluring.

She walks around a crowded part of town. People will inevitably stop and stare. Men, women, children, even a few dogs and pigeons. She has nowhere in particular to go. She’s just strutting around. As cool as a cucumber. She’s in no hurry. Her pace is slow and methodical. She wants everyone to look at her. She’s intentionally trying to draw attention to herself…by just being herself. She isn’t loud. She isn’t flamboyant. She isn’t aggressive in trying to garner attention. All she does is just be herself. And let her sculpted body speak for itself. Which is more than enough.

As people stop and stare, she also stops and allows people to drink her in. If people take out their cell phones and film her, she enthusiastically lets them. If this moment goes viral, all the better! They have her permission to amplify her.

This hypothetical female bodybuilder walks down every busy street so that the maximum number of people can see her. She’s a living, breathing piece of art that has escaped from the local museum. No stone is left unturned. This is her moment to shine. Her fucking moment.

Eventually, she stops. If she’s drawn a crowd of followers, they also stop. Then, she shocks the world.

She strips completely naked.

There will be audible gasps. Rude comments. People scurrying away. Onlookers seeing if there are any police officers around who will arrest her for indecent exposure. A few car crashes may ensue. Teenage boys everywhere finally accept the existence of the Almighty. After the initial shock wears off, she poses for her admiring audience. Bodybuilding poses. Glamour poses. She’s Beyoncé, that is if she ever decided to become a bodybuilder. She bends over to expose her genitalia. She clit is as hard as a rock and jutting out so far people are asking the same question:

“Is that a penis?”

It’s not, of course. But how can the general public not think that? How could it not cross their delicate little minds? Eventually, she either dresses back to “decency” or runs away into hiding. The camera captures it all. The buildup, her antics, and everyone’s reactions. These folks certainly didn’t wake up that morning expecting to see a show quite like this. But they’re glad that they did.

Nothing is sexier than watching Shannon Courtney deadlifting and squatting heavy weights.

  1. A compilation of female bodybuilders lifting really, REALLY heavy weights

These videos already exist, but wouldn’t it be awesome if you could sit down and watch a 60-minute compilation of several female bodybuilders, powerlifters, athletes, and amateur gym rats lifting really, really, really heavy weights?

Deadlifts.

Power cleans.

Squats.

Lunges.

Bicep curls.

Bench press.

Shoulder press.

Triceps press.

Hammer curls.

Standing T-bar row.

And whatever else it is that bodybuilders do to bulk up.

Imagine just watching this for an hour straight. Hopefully, all the video footage is shot on a good quality camera, not a grainy cell phone that captures only a few hundred pixels at the most. And unlike a lot of female muscle porn, this video isn’t meant to be glamorous, enticing, or sexy.

Yes, you read that right. This isn’t meant to be sexy.

But it still is.

For fans of female bodybuilders, workout videos are a form of pornography. It’s not explicitly sexual. They don’t get nude or anywhere close to nude. In fact, they often are the complete opposite of nude. These ladies are in the gym to work, not play around. They’re wearing sweat pants, sweat shirts, earphones, weightlifting belts, straps, knee pads, gloves, and a lot more clothing than you’d normally expect from a video that’s considered “pornographic.”

That’s because the thrill isn’t in what the ladies are wearing, but in what they’re doing. They’re lifting. Heavy weights. Really heavy weights. They’re sweating. They’re swearing. They’re chugging Gatorade between sets. They’re not wearing makeup or have their hair done up fancy. They’re not in the mood to talk. They may even get annoyed that there’s a camera recording their every move. They’re not there to show off. They’re not putting on a performance. Instead, they’re getting down and dirty. They’re working their asses off.

They’re looking unglamorous in the gym so that they can look irresistibly hot once they leave the gym. All the heavy lifting, eating, supplementing, and drinking of protein shakes goes toward one goal and one goal only: Getting pumped, vascular, shredded, chiseled, and as massive as possible.

Oh yeah.

There’s nothing more arousing than watching a female bodybuilder labor hard in the weight room. Watching her grunt, breathe hard, and struggle to complete that one last repetition makes our blood boil. It sends electricity throughout our body. We cannot get enough of it. It is – for lack of a better word – pornographic.

***

So there you have it. These are five suggestions of the types of female muscle porn we need right now. These are my ideas, not yours. Obviously. Did I miss anything? Do you have anything you’d like to add? Or, do some of these videos actually exist and I’m not aware of it yet? Please provide your feedback in the comments below or send me a friendly email at ryantakahashi87 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Perhaps I’ll follow up this article with another one if I get enough creative suggestions. Thank you!

The Unlovable Female Bodybuilder

Love is a many-splendored thing.

Female muscle fans have quite the collection of tea cups. Since, after all, female bodybuilders aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But they are our cup of tea. So for folks like us, we’re in grave danger of running out of cupboard space.

Time to go to Ikea.

However, as painful as it may be to admit this, even the most ardent FBB fan will admit – especially if this confession must be obtained through torture – that not every muscular woman is deserving of our affection. Or attraction. We may still respect them as human beings, but are we “into” them the same way we’re into Cindy Landolt or Shannon Courtney?

Eh, no.

So yes, even for (as Bane would say) the “initiated” like us there are a small handful of female bodybuilders who aren’t our cup of tea either. This isn’t a reflection of who we are as people, nor is it an indication that we’re “sell outs” or not totally “down with the cause.” It just simply means that even we have certain boundaries that we aren’t always willing to cross. Or, simpler than that, not every FBB appeals to us for whatever reason.

There are a variety of reasons why we may not like a certain female bodybuilder. This isn’t to say that these reasons are justifiable, but they’re reasons nevertheless:

  • She isn’t “feminine” enough
  • She’s too “manly”
  • She’s had way too much cosmetic surgery
  • She’s done the type of porn that’s too disgusting, distasteful, demeaning, or nauseating
  • She has a personality that doesn’t mesh with yours
  • She’s personally done something to you that you find objectionable – such as cancelling out on a muscle worship/wrestling appointment, not returning a deposit, or being abrasive when you met her in the real world
  • She’s done things that have hurt other FBBs or the bodybuilding industry as a whole
  • She isn’t beautiful enough
  • She isn’t muscular enough
  • She “sold out” in some way
  • She isn’t your cup of tea – for whatever reason

Yes, even yours truly has a few FBBs that he can’t entirely get behind. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect them as athletes and human beings. I do. But what can I say? Even I have some limits. Maybe not a lot, but enough to justify an article like this.

Out of respect for female bodybuilders, it will do us no good to list names of specific women who are on our “unlovable” list. That’s disrespectful and counterproductive. But every FBB fan can rattle off a few names of ladies who aren’t quite to their liking. We may not want to admit it out loud, but we can.

It’s hard not to love Cindy Landolt.

So what are we to do?

Well, that’s the rub. On one hand, FBB fans tend to feel defensive toward their beloved ladies and hate seeing hurtful comments made about them. On the other hand, there are a few FBBs that even the most ardent fanatic can’t defend in good faith. This dilemma usually results in us not talking them altogether. After all, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I think our parents taught us that.

The inclination to remain quiet makes logical sense. What’s the upside of pointing out FBBs who are a bit “too manly” or “was cute before she got all that plastic surgery?” Not much. It only adds to the already toxic atmosphere that surrounds female athletes. It can also reinforce people’s pre-existing negative beliefs about female bodybuilders. The downside certainly outweighs the upside.

Yet, one cannot ignore one’s personal tastes. Even if we’re not willing to say it out loud, we do have these thoughts.

It goes to show that FBB fandom isn’t an “all or nothing” proposition. You can love certain female bodybuilders and not love others. That’s not a sign of hypocrisy or that you’re not pure of faith. It’s a simple indication that we all have different tastes. Or in some cases, different thresholds for what we consider to be “beautiful.”

Or rather, “not ugly.”

Hm. A fascinating concept, that is. There is a difference between “beautiful” and “not ugly.” Here are two examples (alright, so I guess I’m going to break my own rule and name a few specific names). I am a big fan of both Kathy Connors and Yvette Bova. But I am fully aware that not everyone can say the same. In fact, many devoted FBB fans will place both ladies on their “unlovable” list, just like Santa Claus has a list of children who have been naughty or nice. I understand that Kathy and Yvette are not everyone’s cup of tea (back to that expression again!). I will also admit that neither of them are what one would define as “classically beautiful.” But I find them both unbelievably sexy. See the difference?

You may not like Marse Manios, Kathy Connors, and Sheila Seger Benditz, but someone out there does. And that’s all that matters.

Kathy and Yvette aren’t beautiful. But they aren’t ugly either. They’re compelling figures who demand our attention, tantalize our senses, and electrify our fantasies. I can’t stop thinking about them no matter how hard I try. They’re both way more memorable than a roster full of NFL cheerleaders or a stage full of bikini models. Society accepts the latter as being beautiful while shunning Miss Connors and Miss Bova as misfits. These ladies will never grace the covers of fashion magazines or be seen in advertisements at your local Target. But nobody who does will elicit the same giddiness that you get when you watch yet another video of Yvette joyfully giving a blow job to an ordinary looking guy.

FBBs who are “not ugly” are those we acknowledge aren’t attractive in the conventional sense of that word, but are still irresistible nevertheless. Their appeal comes from nontraditional means. They compensate for their lack of natural beauty by beefing up other parts of their selves that people will find attractive. Kathy has perfected the “bad girl” attitude. Yvette has maximized her smutty persona for all it’s worth and more. I – and plenty of others – find Kathy and Yvette attractive because they aren’t afraid to embrace who they are and refuse to conform to anyone’s narrow expectations.

“Unlovable” female bodybuilders are, therefore, less a reflection on who they are and more of an indication of who we are. It demonstrates that we love female bodybuilders for a plethora of reasons…their muscles being one of them. Of course, it’s a significant reason. But it’s not the only reason.

By that same token, if we don’t particular like an FBB, it’s probably for reasons you aren’t expecting. It’s not just because they “look gross” or “have too many veins.” It’s could be because their personality is dull or the kind of porn they choose to do is not to our liking.

But we should be clear on this point: Female bodybuilders are under no obligation to be liked by you or me. They don’t ever have to get breast implants or wear makeup if they don’t want to. They don’t need to conform to anybody’s standards. If looking traditionally feminine isn’t on their to-do list, then so be it. If being glamorous on Instagram – and posting regularly – isn’t a high priority, then that’s the way it is. If they’re fine having a muscular chest and small boobs, well, live with it.

A tea cup.

I’m a strong believer in people – and this includes both men and women – being allowed to live their lives the way they want to as long as they don’t hurt anyone. No one should feel compelled to fit society’s expectations – however one defines that. Therefore, “unlovable” female bodybuilders aren’t unlovable because they choose to be – rather, they’re “unlovable” because that’s how we think of them. Not every FBB will make our hearts flutter or our breathing stop or our jaws drop to the floor. And that’s fine. Someone out there will disagree with you. But even that’s not the point. This isn’t about popularity or the perceptions of others. It’s about something more personal than that.

Female bodybuilders don’t need to be beautiful. They don’t need to be super strong. They don’t need to be glamorous. They don’t need external validation. All they need to be is themselves. All they need is one goal in mind: to become the woman they want to be. Whatever that means. Regardless of what anybody thinks of it. No matter what.

That’s what the game is all about. Self-love. Self-empowerment. Self-confidence.

Anything beyond that is just collecting more useless tea cups.

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Exploit Me: The Exploitative Nature of Female Bodybuilders

Exploitation - Denise Masino

Denise Masino exploits every single one of my deepest and darkest fantasies.

Sometimes, all we want is to be exploited.

Not “exploited” in a materially oppressive sense, but exploited in a sensory/emotional/aesthetic sense.

Beginning in the 1960s – although film historians would argue it actually began earlier – a new genre of moviemaking emerged in our pop culture: exploitation films.

Exploitation films took different forms, but the basic purpose was the same: allow viewers to vicariously experience outrageous, hideous, graphic, taboo, or socially unacceptable content in cinematic form. The genre could be horror, action, science fiction, comedy, erotica, or satire. Regardless, you watched those movies – and still do – not for the storytelling, artistry, or critical accolades. You watched them because they made you feel naughty and you secretly loved feeling naughty.

Or, they made you feel emotions that you rarely get to feel in real life: Fear, dread, sexual arousal, disgust, giddiness, catharsis, and so on. Whether we love slasher horror flicks, softcore porn with gratuitous nudity, or ultraviolent action movies that generously bends the rules of physics, these movies are short on plot and character development but rich in shock value.

Popular titles include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Pink Flamingos, Shaft, Foxy Brown, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit on Your Grave, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Isla: She Wolf of the SS, and many other titles too numerous (or distasteful) to mention. Note that not all of these movies are alike. Some are splatter horror movies that intend to make you sick to your stomach while others are sexually titillating flicks meant to “get a rise out of you”…if you get my meaning.

There are also a few mainstream films that have won critical acclaim and Oscars that could be included in this list. The Exorcist and A Clockwork Orange immediately come to mind.

Exploitation entertainment is the direct descendent of pulp novels known as “penny dreadfuls” that emerged in the United Kingdom in the 19th century. Ghastly and forbidden stories were passed around inconspicuously to curious people desperate for that tingling sensation that comes from being naughty. They exploited our dark and dirty imaginations in ways few “mainstream” literature could. Their cheapness made it all the better. You can’t feel too guilty about sinning when it only cost you a single penny to sin!

Exploitation - Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

All of this is setup for a comparison that may seem strange at first but makes complete sense when you think more about it. In a previous post about Yvette Bova, I likened her to an exploitation film. Her brashness, uncompromising style, unapologetic attitude toward her body and sexuality, and enthusiasm for participating in hardcore porn make her peerless in the world of female bodybuilding. Many FBBs will do porn. But few will do it with as much gusto as her. She doesn’t hold back. She goes all in.

If Nataliya Kuznetsova is the “Human Photoshop Illusion,” then Yvette Bova is the “Human Exploitation Film.” She does it all. Yvette indulges our fantasies in the dirtiest ways possible. It can be gross at times, but we cannot look away. And once one of her nasty videos come to an end…we do not hesitate to wait for the next one to autoplay.

But I’ve spent enough time examining Miss Bova. Let’s talk about female bodybuilders in general. In a strange way, female bodybuilders as a whole are exploitative in nature. Even to those who aren’t “into” female bodybuilders but are still fascinated by them nevertheless. Think of the laundry list of thoughts and feelings FBBs can elicit out of us:

  • Arousal
  • Disgust
  • Confusion
  • Intrigue
  • Lust
  • Horror
  • Surprise
  • Curiosity
  • Perplexity
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Obsession
  • Excitement
  • Nervousness
  • Insecurity
  • Embarrassment
  • Humiliation
  • Defensiveness
  • Hopefulness
  • Inspiration
  • Giddiness
  • Absentmindedness
  • Envy
  • Motivation
  • Coarseness
  • Passion

Whew. Female bodybuilders provoke strong emotional reactions out of people, regardless of how you actually feel about them. FBB fans and haters alike cannot help feel strong feelings when they see images of muscular women in action. However, this discussion really centers around the thoughts and emotions that are more positive in nature.

Generally speaking, there are very few “casual” female bodybuilder fans. Most FBB lovers are fanatical in their devotion to their beloved ladies. We get that same tingly feeling rushing up our spines every single time we scroll through our favorite FBB’s Instagram feed. We ceaselessly search for new photos and videos to satisfy our appetites. We need our “daily fix” of muscular women as if we were junkies. These behaviors certainly fit the definition of fanatical.

Exploitation - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

However, for many of us this is not enough. Sometimes, we need something more. Something stronger. Something more extreme. Something that will satiate our darkest fantasies. Something way more exploitative than we’d normally experience.

It’s one thing to see yet another photo of Cindy Landolt strutting around in sexy lingerie. It’s quite another to watch Brandi Mae Akers give two guys a hand job at the same time before both of them spurt all over her face. The former arouses us. The latter makes us feel dirty. Heck, it may not even turn us on in a traditional sense. Instead, our experience of watching Brandi Mae act filthy for the camera is pure entertainment. Not porn, but entertainment. Porn only exists to sexually arouse us. Entertainment exists to amuse our senses.

Cindy is art. Brandi Mae is smut. This isn’t a criticism, but rather an observation. Miss Akers isn’t trying to appeal to our classy high-brow sensibilities. She’s only interested in making our blood boil to the point that we really need some “alone time” by ourselves to, uh, relieve the pressure. There’s nothing inherently wrong with smut if that’s what one wants to achieve. There’s also nothing wrong with watching a Peter Jackson film festival that features both The Lord of the Rings and Bad Taste. Two completely different movies. The same director. It boggles the mind.

But even the non-smutty FBBs who prefer to keep it modest are still able to elicit strong reactions out of us. Women like Karen Zaremba, Deidre Pagnanelli, Monica Brant, and Shawn Tan have kept things fairly clean over the years. They may do some nudity – or none at all – in photoshoots that are intentionally sexy, but they try to maintain an air of classiness all throughout. Whether an FBB chooses to keep it clean or forego any façade of decency, one cannot deny the enthralling allure these ladies emanate.

That intoxicating allure can only be satiated by having our thoughts, emotions, and fantasies exploited. So, what is it about female bodybuilders in particular that cause us to react this way?

Exploitation - Foxy Brown

The biggest reason is that female bodybuilders, just by being who they are, are so taboo. They don’t even have to try to be taboo. That’s just who they naturally are. A woman with big muscles goes contrary to everything to think we know about men, women, gender roles, biology, culture, and history. Yet, there is a (regrettably) small number of women in this world who dare to break that mold.

Female bodybuilders challenge our perceptions of what women can achieve. If we think they’re always the “weaker sex,” Alina Popa is ready to take you to school. If you think women with muscles look gross, Shannon Courtney will gladly shift your paradigm so fast it’ll register on the Richter scale. For straight men, FBBs challenge our masculinity. They stab a dagger right into our fragile sense of superiority. They prove we are not destined to be the dominant sex and that hard work (and laziness) matter more than genetics. These assaults on our undeserved sense of supremacy can either make us feel insecure or angry. Or both. Regardless, these are strong emotions. And strangely enough, strong emotions have an odd way of turning us on.

Taking our masculine identities out of the equation, FBBs just seem like they’re bigger than life. And not just in a literal sense. Their strength, power, magnetism, personalities, and physical abilities seem superhuman. As if FBBs aren’t actually real – they’re really comic book characters manufactured in a Hollywood studio. But alas, FBBs are very real. And very beautiful. And mind-blowing. Once again, these are strong emotional responses.

As I wrote in a previous blog article about The Scarcity Principle, the fact FBBs are a rare breed also adds to their appeal. In short, we tend to value commodities that are in short supply more than ones that are in abundance. We look forward to holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving precisely because they only happen once a year. If every day were Halloween, dressing up in silly costumes and eating candy would lose its appeal. The fact we have to wait an entire year makes the heart grow fonder, as the old saying goes. Likewise, female bodybuilders are not a dime a dozen. It is extremely unusual to see a woman with big muscles under any circumstances. But when you do, you intuitively gain a deep appreciation for the experience because you know it’ll be a while until you get to experience it again.

Exploitation - Brandi Mae Akers

Brandi Mae Akers is pure smut. And that’s a compliment, not an insult.

The taboo nature of FBBs combined with basic human psychology explain why muscular women are able to exploit our senses like they do. In a world where sexuality has become so commercialized and manufactured that it’s become boring, we deep down inside crave something more raw, audacious, electrifying, and challenging. Female bodybuilders check off every single one of those boxes.

Scroll back up to that long list of emotions that FBBs are able to elicit out of us. Can you say the same for yet another photospread of a nameless and ultimately forgettable plastic surgery-enhanced Instagram model? Maybe a few of them, but certainly not most of them.

This is because female bodybuilders are not just “beautiful” in the traditional sense of that word. Many are definitely beautiful in a conventional manner, but their appeal goes well beyond that. FBBs are not for the simpleminded or faint of heart. They assault our senses and challenge our preconceived beliefs. One cannot simply look upon an FBB flexing her muscles and say “meh.” A million thoughts will start to race through your mind. You’ll get a jolt of energy that reinvigorates your soul. Certain deeply held fantasies will suddenly pop into your head that you never consciously knew you wanted to experience. You’ll want to scream from the rooftops your newfound love for muscular women for all to hear. You don’t care who knows it or what they think of you afterward.

These reactions are common for many people who love FBBs. Not everyone will feel the same way all the time, but that doesn’t have to be the case. A common theme emerges that we cannot ignore: In an increasingly dull and formulaic world, we secretly crave something that will reawaken our senses and make us feel uniquely alive.

Exploited, even.

Beautiful Monsters

Monster - Isabelle Turell

Isabelle Turell is one beautiful Lady Hulk.

Growing up I’ve always been a huge Godzilla fan. I was first introduced to the franchise when I saw the original 1954 film on VHS as a little kid. Yes, it was the American version featuring English dubbing and Raymond Burr unnecessarily shoe-horned in for no good reason other than to give U.S. audiences a white person to identify with, but it was nevertheless the landmark film that introduced the world to Godzilla. Despite Perry Mason.

As if the Big Fella himself wasn’t enough of an attraction!

I may have been eight or nine years old when I first watched it. Then I saw several of the “Godzilla vs. <Insert Name of Random Kaiju>” movies. I believe those films are known as the Toho Showa Era. Some were better than others. I always loved Mothra and King Ghidorah (this may sound blasphemous, but I was never really a fan of Mechagodzilla), and will appreciate the underrated Gigan.

And yes, I am secretly a fan of the horrible 1998 Roland Emmerich film starring Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. Sue me.

Just kidding. Don’t sue me. I have very little for you to take…

Do I like other monster movies? Of course. King Kong is a classic. I think the original 1933 film holds up pretty darn well. It’s not just a “classic movie” that deserves recognition because it’s historically important. It also works as a solid piece of entertainment. Even for our modern standards. There’s something refreshing about seeing a puppet move via old-time stop-motion animation instead of everything just being animated by CGI artists in a dark sterile room.

Both Godzilla and King Kong are not just silly monster movies. They’re allegories for societal fears of the time. Yes, the filmmakers insist that King Kong isn’t a racist archetype of black men in America, but you can insert your own meaning into a story about a wild animal being captured in the jungle and brought to “civilized” society only to run amok and go on a rampage. At the end of the day, King Kong can be interpreted as a warning against the Western world exploiting the Third World (or “exotic” world) for glamour and fame. Or it can be an allegory of immorality of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Allegory.

Godzilla is more obvious in its messaging. It’s a parable of the Atomic Age and a metaphor for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s critical of nuclear weapons, the fallout of nuclear testing on the environment, and the foolish nature of the U.S./Soviet Cold War. Godzilla is the offspring of humanity’s destructive nature, a constant reminder that death and destruction only begets more death and destruction. Not less. It was Japan’s way of coping with the traumas of World War II – both the traumas they suffered and the traumas they caused.

Monster - Godzilla

Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Need I say more?

Like Frankenstein’s monster, Godzilla is the result of mankind playing God. In this case, mankind created massive weapons of war and decided it can be the judge, jury, and executioner for no other reason than they believe that “history is on their side.” Sound familiar? To a smaller extent, the dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park movies serve the same thematic purpose.

For American and Japanese audiences, King Kong and Godzilla are monsters who represent hidden fears that can’t always be talked about in academic terms. We all know that Nuclear War is a bad thing. Yet, when we go to the cinema and watch images of cities being destroyed by a humungous uncontrollable man-made creature, it makes the threat of Nuclear War seem both more frightening and intensely personal. We caused this mess; and we are therefore the ones who can (and should) clean it up.

In this way, movie monsters are fictional representations of our own deeply ingrained fears. King Kong is a critique of how far mankind will go for fame and fortune. Godzilla preys on our fears that we will be the cause of our own destruction. We need these monsters because they make our fears seem real. They are the physical manifestations of our nightmares. They are the nexus of bedtime stories ripped straight from the headlines. It’s a cathartic form of punishment to see helpless human beings be murdered by the millions by creatures we either created or kidnapped. And when we leave the theater we feel a sense of guilt relieved and a valuable lesson or two learned.

But monsters don’t always have to prey on our fears. They can also tap into our hopes and dreams. Our ideals. Our best intentions. Godzilla isn’t always the villain. Sometimes he’s the hero defending Earth from alien kaiju. In a twist of fate, Godzilla is the savior we need. He’s a horrifying monster, but he’s our monster. He’s on our side. So monsters are not always a negative thing. They can also be an asset.

Take female bodybuilders, for example.

You knew I was eventually going to get back to them, right?

Like King Kong, Godzilla, Jurassic Park’s Tyrannosaurus Rexes, and slasher killers like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, female bodybuilders are also monsters. They’re beautiful monsters. Gorgeous monsters. Flawlessly angelic monsters.

And strangely enough, they tap into both our deepest fears and highest aspirational dreams.

Monster - King Kong

Got to give some love to King Kong too.

At casual glance, it’s a bit strange why straight guys would be attracted to muscular women. Most people assume that men would be naturally repulsed by female bodybuilders. And many are. But many are not. Conventional wisdom tells you that guys wouldn’t like female bodybuilders because they would make them feel inadequate. The sight of a woman with bigger muscles than you’ll ever achieve is enough to make you feel insecure, lazy, and a pathetic excuse-maker.

I mean, if she can get that big, what’s your excuse, buster?

This probably explains why guys are so quick to yell “Steroids, steroids, steroids!” in YouTube comments as if they were Jan Brady from The Brady Bunch. They need to remind others (and themselves) that the reason why these ladies are so big is because they’ve become so through unnatural means. It provides them psychological comfort knowing FBBs “cheat the system” by taking anabolic steroids that infuse them with an unnatural level of male hormones. And this, in turn, makes it easier to build so much muscle mass.

So if they see photos of Alina Popa or Nataliya Kuznetsova and scream “steroids!!!” as loud as they possibly can, that’s enough to protect their fragile egos from being shattered by a complete stranger they’re peculiarly stalking on Instagram.

In other words, for these Female Muscle Haters (FMH), FBBs are an attack on their masculinity. Or their title as the “Stronger Sex.” Female bodybuilders are monstrous to them not because they look freaky or weird, but because they remind themselves of how inadequate they are. They have a constant need to be better than women at every aspect of life (including professional and personal achievements) and treat every woman who is superior to them at something as a threat. It’s a sad commentary on how many people view the world, but that’s the way it is.

But for Female Muscle Fans (FMF), we choose to put our egos aside and embrace these strong beautiful ladies. We celebrate their impressive achievements and cheer them on to get bigger, stronger, and more famous. We don’t feel threatened by them. Rather, we feel an odd sense of empowerment by them. We know that we’re not as strong as them, but we don’t feel emasculated by that fact. We feel turned on. We feel – and this will sound strange to anyone who isn’t initiated into female muscle fandom – stronger because of them.

Stronger, you say? Oh yes.

Female bodybuilders inspire us to be better. They are the living embodiment of “strong independent women” that too many people claim to be but really aren’t. They give us a warm tingly feeling inside that cannot be explained. They are a reminder that women are not destined to be the “weaker sex” and that men can lose the label of being the “stronger sex” if they get complacent. It’s both scary and empowering to know that our destinies are in our own hands. We control who we are and what we become. Nobody else. That can be frightening because it makes us responsible for our own failings.

Monster - Jay Fuchs

Jay Fuchs is both beautiful and a Goddess you don’t want to anger.

Female bodybuilders take the initiative. They refuse to make excuses. When they fail, they learn from that failure and adjust accordingly. Nothing is given to them on a silver platter. They have to earn their muscles, going as far as having to work harder than men if they want to achieve the same level of muscularity. And the bodybuilding industry is doing them no favors either. They’re on an island, swimming upstream in a hostile and indifferent world.

And so when they do achieve eye-popping physiques that make our jaws drop to the floor, we are turned on by them even more knowing how damn difficult it is to look that way. I’ve written before that female bodybuilders “earn their beauty.” It feels more meritorious. An average-looking woman who isn’t born with natural beauty can transform herself into a Supreme All-Powerful Muscle Goddess by following a strict diet, workout regimen, and supplementation schedule. She can go from being an ugly duckling to an Unstoppable Muscle Queen Who Slays Her Enemies through means that are totally within her control. That’s true empowerment.

Charlize Theron hit the genetics jackpot and was born naturally drop-dead gorgeous. Not everyone is so lucky. However, bodybuilding is one way (certainly not the only way) that someone can transform themselves into a more physically beautiful person without having to resort of cosmetic surgery. I love Kathy Connors dearly, but unlike Miss Theron, she was not born with natural beauty. But right now, Miss Connors is a Devilishly Sexy Muscle Siren through her own blood, sweat, and tears. And I applaud her for it!

This is why female bodybuilders tap into both our deepest fears and highest aspirations. Depending on how we choose to view the world, FBBs can make us feel either inadequate or inspired. Emasculated or empowered. We either reject their uniqueness or we embrace it. We see their muscled physique as either a reminder of our own weakness or a celebratory example of human perfection personified. We love them for who they are or we hate them for who they remind us we aren’t.

Who knew female muscle fandom could be so complex?

That being said, like all cinematic monsters, female bodybuilders are not inherently grotesque or beautiful. Those are labels we attach to them. We could look at Godzilla as the destroyer of humankind or we can look at him as a mere animal – granted, a very large animal – doing what all animals do: try to survive. Is Michael Myers a mindless psychopath who kills people because it’s in his nature? Or is he the product of a sick and twisted society that treated him like dirt and murdering hapless teens is his way of avenging that miserable childhood?

Monster - Bride of Frankenstein

Bride of Frankenstein was created to make sure the Creature didn’t get too lonely.

Perhaps this leads to an obvious conclusion: Monsters reveal our inner most fears because deep down inside, we’re actually afraid that we deserve the punishment that monsters levy upon us. When Godzilla stomps all over downtown Tokyo and kills scores of innocent people, it’s actually poetic retribution for mankind’s carelessness with regards to the environment. Or, a valuable lesson that man’s militaristic nature will eventually come back to haunt him. Peace begets peace, while war begets more war.

The vitriol aimed at female bodybuilders can be harsh, but not unexpected. People can be terrible when they can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet. Calling them “man-like” or “gross” or “freaky” may hurt their (and our) feelings, but in today’s trollish culture we must come to expect such idiocy.

Some FBBs use their haters as inspiration. Others choose to ignore them and instead focus on the people who genuinely love them. I think this is a more healthy route. Indeed, female bodybuilders are Beautiful Monsters. They are truly polarizing. Either you love them dearly or you are viscerally repulsed by them. Your reaction to seeing a photograph of a muscular woman can cause you to post bigoted misogynistic comments or unzip your pants and masturbate. I’ve received plenty of emails from fans who claim they’re “addicted” to female bodybuilders and that this fetish is so strong it’s causing their relationships with friends and family to break down.

Oof. I usually recommend they step back, take a deep breath, and seek the assistance of a counselor. That’s not healthy. That’s not fandom. That’s an obsession taken way too far.

It’s really bizarre that FBBs can elicit such totally opposing reactions.

Sexist hatred. Uncontrollable lust. Blatant misogyny. Animalistic sexual urges. Vitriolic comments. Fascination bordering on unhealthy obsession. Regardless, all of this leads to a much more disturbing but ultimately truthful assessment:

Perhaps female bodybuilders are not monsters after all.

We are.