Muscle Note: A Shinigami’s Greatest Gift to Mankind?

A Muscle Note. Whose names would you write in it?

“Hear this: I’m not only Kira, but I’m also God of the new world!”

Or so proclaims Light Yagami, the protagonist of the manga (and later anime) series “Death Note.” With the release of the American film version on Netflix happening not too long ago, it seems only appropriate to discuss a Death Note-inspired fantasy that every female muscle fan would love to see enacted in real life.

What if there existed a Muscle Note?

For those of you who need further background information, Death Note is a popular Japanese manga (or graphic novel) series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. It was released between December 2003 and May 2006. The animated television series followed from October 2006 to June 2007. Shortly afterward it was dubbed into English and released in North America.

The plot is simple yet ingenious: From the realm of the spirit world, a Shinigami (or a God of Death) named Ryuk drops into the human world a black notebook known as a Death Note. The human who discovers this paranormal tool is named Light Yagami, an intelligent, popular, handsome, and – for the most part – normal high school student. The basic function of the Death Note is easy to understand: If you write the name of any person in the notebook, he or she will die. There are plenty of other finely tuned rules attached to it, but that’s pretty much all you need to know for now.

Eventually, Light tests it out and discovers that the notebook is no joke. It’s real. Its powers are genuine. Then, he gets the idea of killing off criminals who are either crowding the prison system or just simply deserve to die. Light imagines how much more “just” and peaceful the world could be if criminals could easily be “erased” with the literal stroke of a pen. The criminal justice system is too slow, corrupt, bureaucratic, and flawed to serve justice effectively. Fancying himself as the judge, jury, and executioner all in one, Light exhibits delusions of grandeur as he proudly proclaims that he will be the “God of the new world.”

If you are not already into Japanese anime, do not let that stop you from watching this epic 37-episode long TV series. It’s a compelling watch. You could actually waste an entire weekend binge watching it if you’re not careful. And odds are, you won’t regret it. I highly recommend it for everyone out there, even those of you who don’t normally like Asian animation shows. There are a few moments that unfortunately cross over into “immature” territory, but for the most part the series is intelligently written, briskly paced, and a joy to behold.

What if you could transform Gal Gadot into Aspen Rae?

But let’s spin this in a different direction. As alluded to earlier, what if instead of a Death Note, you stumbled upon by happenstance a Muscle Note? The functionality is essentially the same, except for one significant difference: By writing a person’s name in the notebook, you magically transform their bodies to become as muscular as you desire (within a certain limit).

Here are the rules of the Muscle Note:

  1. The human whose name is written in this note shall experience enhanced muscular growth.
  2. This note will not take effect unless the writer has the person’s face in their mind when writing his/her name. Therefore, people sharing the same name will not be affected.
  3. A number on a scale of 1 to 10 must be written next to the name to indicate the level of muscular growth that will occur. Failure to write a number will result in no change in his/her physical appearance. 1 means minimal muscle growth and 10 means maximum growth. Writing a number larger than 10 will not result in any additional growth beyond the threshold of 10.
  4. The muscular growth will happen within 40 seconds of the name being written.
  5. Muscle atrophy will result if the human does not take measures to maintain his/her muscle structure. Therefore, the enhanced muscle growth is not permanent.
  6. The human whose name is written must be between the ages of 18 and 70. If he/she is older or younger than these parameters, no change in physical appearance shall occur.
  7. If the paper on which the human’s name is written is burned, his/her body shall return back to its original state. Erasing the name is not sufficient.
  8. The human who possesses the Muscle Note cannot use it for their own body.
  9. The same human’s name can be written multiple times if the paper on which his/her name was previously written on is properly burned. Writing a different number will result in that human’s body adjusting accordingly.
  10. No more than three humans can possess the Muscle Note at a time.
  11. No human can lose possession of the Muscle Note unless a Kratos decides to take it away from him/her. A human can request to have the Muscle Note taken away from him/her. A Kratos is under no obligation to honor this request.
  12. Humans who suffer from debilitating diseases or chronic physical disabilities and have their name written in the Muscle Note will not experience better health, only enhanced muscular development.

There are probably additional rules, but that’s enough for now. Also, just for your reference, a “Kratos” is named after the Greek god of strength, might, power, and sovereign rule. A Shinigami is a Japanese god of death, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for them to be distributing Muscle Notes to the human world. So there’s that.

So imagine you encounter such a notebook. Let’s say the Kratos who decides to drop it on your lap is named “Ryanuk.” He seems friendly enough. Sure, a bit frightening in appearance, but once you get used to him it becomes no big deal. Ryanuk unexpectedly visits you in your bedroom one fateful evening. He carefully introduces himself and explains the rules in detail. Nothing is left up to ambiguity. You thank him for this unrequested gift.

Alright. So now what?

Odds are, since you are unable to use it on yourself (sorry!) you have to use it on somebody else. Where do you begin? Do you “test” it out on somebody first, such as your best friend or a random classmate/officemate? Or do you dive in head-first and go for jugular by writing the name of a young lady you’ve had your eye on?

Or Lady Gaga into Aleesha Young?

Oh, the possibilities! Perhaps that’s why the story of Death Note is so compelling. Not only are we watching Light Yagami make these sorts of decisions on the fly, we are also making them for ourselves. What would we do if we were in his shoes? How would we react if unforeseen stumbling blocks like the enigmatic detective “L” or an infatuated fan-girl like Misa Amane with the Shinigami Eyes were to hinder us from properly executing our larger plans? Could we evade capture for as long as he did, especially considering his own father is a police chief? The suspense built up by the plot has more to do with these endless “what if questions” versus presenting a series of boring and pointless action scenes.

Possessing a Muscle Note would present different questions, but equally intriguing questions – especially if you are a female muscle fan. The first question you’d be asking yourself would be:

“Who?”

Who would you choose to magically transform into a bodybuilder? Maybe you write the name of a girl you have a crush on. Or perhaps a famous celebrity like Gal Gadot or Ariana Grande. Or, of course, your best buddy who goes to the gym five days a week but still can’t get gains to save his life (he’s clearly not consuming enough protein). Regardless, you cannot use it on yourself. Sorry. Ryanuk does have his limits. Selfishness is not a virtue he shares.

Ryanuk also values realism. The peak muscularity a person can reach is that of a Mr. or Ms. Olympia (R.I.P.) competitor. He’s not a fan of “female muscle growth” fiction, so fantasies of transforming a person into a superhuman muscle freak with as much bulging flesh as the Michelin Man is not going to become a reality. So, writing a person’s name and the number “10” after it will result in him or her becoming really muscular, but not unreasonably so. If you were expecting anything more than that, you will be sadly disappointed.

A person who loves muscular women will no doubt feel giddy being in possession of such a supernatural tool. One can only imagine how he or she would utilize it. No doubt many of you have already fantasized about possessing such powers (although not necessarily in the form of a physical Muscle Note). It’s hard to not ponder such things when the supply of muscular women is as rare as a solar eclipse (when statistically compared to the entirety of humankind, that is).

Therefore, the candidates whose names would be written down in this notebook would probably include the following:

  • Real life crushes
  • Celebrities
  • Best friends
  • Athletes on your favorite teams
  • Enemies whom you would like to play tricks on
  • Complete strangers who would look more attractive with enhanced muscle mass

The list can probably go on from here, but you get the point. One does not simply possess a Muscle Note and not take full advantage of it. Especially when you might actually be doing some people a favor by using it. This is your opportunity to become a genuine humanitarian. Did that thought ever occur to you? Well, now it has.

Here’s what your first page of names might look like:

Katy Perry 7
Megan Fox 10
<Cute girl who works at Starbucks> 4
<Your wife/girlfriend> 3 (hey, you want her to look good, but not better than you!)
Nicki Minaj 9
Kim Kardashian 10
<Your favorite basketball player who could grab more rebounds if he were a bit stronger> 6
<Superstar athlete who plays for your hated rival> 1
<Idiot jock who bullies you at school> 1
Pamela Anderson 8 (for those of you who grew up in the 90s)

Scarlett Johansson 5
Gal Gadot 8
<Your boss whom you hate with a passion> 10 (just to see him/her freak out!)
<Your best buddy> 4
<That hot chick who jogs around your neighborhood> 9
Donald Trump 1

You delight after reviewing this list. Then you look at your watch for 40 seconds to pass. Then you check Twitter 10 minutes later to see who’s freaking out. And then you relish the fact you’re causing so much havoc on a global scale without standing up out of your chair.

Right, right. This is all fine and dandy. All of that being said, the second question you might ask yourself is this:

“Should I?”

Obviously, the taking of somebody’s life without their permission is an act of moral reprehension. We call it “murder” and it’s highly illegal for a reason. While making someone’s body more muscular isn’t nearly as morally repulsive as murdering them, there are still ethical considerations to be had.

Or Rihanna into Cydney Gillon?

Basically, is it ever right to do something to a person without their permission, no matter how trivial or “beneficial” it might be? Becoming stronger is almost always a benefit, but that’s irrelevant when we consider the question of personal sovereignty. Using the Muscle Note would be a violation of personal sovereignty, even though many of us dream of looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1970s. Think about how many 20-year-olds who dream of playing in the NFL or MLB or UFC could actually get there if someone (strategically) used the Muscle Note on their bodies. Obviously, one should not use it in drastic fashion – such as transforming someone with a “3” body into a “10” overnight – that could arouse suspicion. That would blow your cover and expose the existence of either a Muscle Note or a miracle drug that somehow snuck into the open market.

These folks are not who we’re talking about. Rather, we’re talking about a gorgeous supermodel who wakes up one morning and finds her physique transformed into Aleesha Young without her permission. That might bring joy to many of us, but that would bring feelings of horror to her. You don’t need to be the world’s most empathetic person to know that’s probably a bit unethical.

But let’s face it. Being the owner of a Muscle Note isn’t about ethics, philosophical values, or vague notions of empathy, compassion, or integrity. Instead, it’s about making your wildest dreams come true with the innocuous stroke of a pen. A Muscle Note is the greatest gift to mankind because it can be used to improve people’s lives, not end it. Yet, one cannot help but think about the grave ramifications of using it on a large scale. Could it instigate a worldwide panic much like Kira did in Death Note? Perhaps. Or it could go unnoticed if it’s used modestly.

Yet, wouldn’t this sort of “cheapen” what it would mean to become a muscular person? Bodybuilders, both men and women, earn their impressive physiques through hard labor, perseverance, strategic planning, forethought, and mental toughness. If you could magically transform someone into a bodybuilder in less than a minute, wouldn’t that person lack a certain level of intrigue?

Many of us love female bodybuilders partly because we are turned on by how difficult it is to be one. Those of us who have participated in a muscle worship or wrestling session with a muscular woman deeply appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears that must have been shed during her journey of achieving such muscularity. We love them not only because their bodies are beautiful; but also because we respect what they’ve chosen to do with their lives. They’ve elected to lead an unorthodox life in pursuit of a physical aesthetic that is not only untraditional but supremely difficult to reach.

One cannot rest on their laurels and still be a bodybuilder. Muscles eventually recede if they are not probably maintained. Thus, being a bodybuilder is like climbing a mountain that has no summit. Even when you reach the top, you still have to labor in order to stay at the top. It’s like reaching the peak of Mount Everest and still having to work in order to stay there. You can’t stop to smell the roses. If you do, you will start to slip further and further downhill. What a cruel thing the human body can be at times.

Or Scarlett Johansson into Shannon Courtney?

But a Muscle Note is one way of bypassing all those scientific rules. With a Muscle Note at your disposal, you can reach the top of Mount Everest and stay there for as long as you want without lifting a finger. Seriously. Just keep that pen handy at all times. That’s all it takes.

Yes, that does cheapen what it means to be hypermuscular. But if we’re just using it for fetishistic ends, the philosophical/ethical considerations are a moot point. If you want your girlfriend to look like Minna Pajulahti for one night only, you can do that by writing her name in the Muscle Note and burning it after you’re done “playing” with her in her temporary costume. So on a crude level a Muscle Note only exists to fulfill our primal sexual fantasies. Oh great. Nothing more, nothing less.

But isn’t that the point of Death Note to begin with? Human beings cannot be trusted with supernatural powers because inevitably people will use it for destructive means, even if their intentions are good and noble at the beginning. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, as the old saying goes. No person should ever have that much power because no person will ever know how to control it. Eventually, power will control you. History has taught us that lesson repeatedly. The real tragedy is that we fail to learn it.

Perhaps this means a Muscle Note is not actually the greatest gift to mankind from the spirit world. No matter how “innocent” our fantasies might originally be, one can never anticipate which road our behavior will go. Will we choose the honorable path, or will we be completely consumed by our own greed and carnal desires that we abuse our powers to the detriment of others?

We can promise that we’d use the Muscle Note to help people like victims of polio, aspiring athletes who come from poor families that could earn riches beyond their wildest dreams, insecure people who could gain considerable self-esteem, and all sorts of individuals suffering from debilitating diseases. Yet, we all know how supernatural powers are usually put to use: to punish people we don’t like or to indulge in our own greediness.

You can guess which path most of us would probably take. Be honest with yourself. You know you’d go crazy and use it for purely selfish means.

And that would be wrong. Yet unquestionably enthralling. And arousing. Oh, the possibilities…

Humans are so interesting, indeed.

Like A Tiger Stalking Her Prey: Comparing a Muscular Woman to a Wild Beast

Desiree Ellis is a beast, no question about it.

Desiree Ellis is a beast, no question about it.

Imagine a hungry tiger, crouching low in the sagebrush, stalking an unsuspecting prey. An ill-fated rabbit is drinking water out of a river, unaware of his inevitable fate. He prepares to return back to his home until…

The tiger strikes. The prey is caught. The prey bleeds to death. The tiger eats its defeated victim and walks away from the brief encounter satiated and happy.

The rabbit leaves this cruel and unforgiving world so quickly he has no idea what just happened. One moment he’s enjoying a refreshing beverage from the river, the next he’s being savagely devoured by a bloodthirsty beast searching for sustenance.

So it goes.

Mother Nature can be cruel to the weak and unprepared. Those of us fortunate to live in modern times have conveniences, societal structures, and laws that ensure we don’t need to resort to such barbarity. Human beings do from time to time have to engage in such vicious behavior for the sake of survival, but thankfully that’s the exception and not the rule. Despite its flaw, isn’t the 21st Century great?

Yet, even for us city dwellers (or, Heaven forbid, those of us who live in the suburbs!) the “jungle mindset” has not gone completely away. We may shop at grocery stores, eat at fancy restaurants, drive sporty cars, use smartphones to communicate, read books to learn new information, and enjoy indoor plumbing, but deep down inside, buried in our psyches, we still secretly yearn to live in the wild.

Mankind may have become domesticated, but nature doesn’t go away that easily. We aren’t as far off from our caveman and cavewoman days as we might think (and no, I am not referring to the pop culture fad that is the Paleo Diet). We still enjoy hunting, hiking, athletic competitions, competing with others for a mate, and “earning” our right to live. We may not build our homes out of sticks and stones like the good old days, but we work at 40-hour-a-week jobs in order to pay for the roof over our heads.

Perhaps there’s still a part of us that yearns for our Paleolithic days. Even as a casual daydream. Or as the backdrop of a fetishistic fantasy. For those of us who love female bodybuilders, this fantasy manifests itself through our constant comparison (and association) of muscular women with wild beasts.

How many of you imagined the tiger described in the opening anecdote as a muscular cavewoman instead? How many of you thought about the helpless prey as a small, emaciated caveman who heralds from a rival clan? Or a badass chick slaying a (wo)man-eating tiger? Don’t worry if you didn’t initially. You’re sure to think about that now!

When fans of female bodybuilders describe the women they love, two different analogical themes usually emerge: Deific and animalistic.

Werk it, Aleesha Young!

Werk it, Aleesha Young!

The deific nature of female bodybuilders comes out when we talk about muscular women as being “goddesses” or “angels.” Describing a beautiful woman as an angel is quite mainstream. You don’t need to be George McFly to know what I’m talking about (if you don’t get this reference, ask your kids because they’re going to love it). Even the term “goddess” is more or less common among non-muscular women. But I cannot count how many times I’ve come across – or have personally used myself – terms like Muscle Goddess or Muscle Angel as nicknames for women like Alina Popa and Lindsay Mulinazzi.

It makes perfect sense. Female bodybuilders seem almost superhuman. Or in this instance, above human. And what types of creatures are above humanity? The gods, of course. Like Zeus and Athena looking down upon humanity from their ethereal clouds in the sky, female bodybuilders are like Hercules, a human/god hybrid who is technically a deity but has flesh-and-blood and chooses to live among us mortals.

The other theme is animalistic. One of my favorite football (for my non-American readers, I’m not talking about soccer) players of all time is Marshawn Lynch, a former running back for the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills. His apt nickname is “Beast Mode” because he runs like an unleashed wild beast when he’s plowing through defenders and picking up yardage. Even though Mr. Lynch (who’s being mentioned in this blog post so he doesn’t get fined) is now retired, he still sells merchandise that blatantly uses the Beast Mode brand.

Other athletes who are hardcore and play with reckless abandon are also often compared to beasts. Ronda Rousey, Rob Gronkowski, LeBron James, Manny Pacquiao, and others come to mind. There’s something to be said about an athlete who puts it all on the line, plays with a savage attitude, and doesn’t seem human when he or she is going about their business.

Bodybuilders, both male and female, are a different kind of animal (pun intended). Unlike athletes who compete in football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, boxing, or MMA, bodybuilding is a sport that’s based on subjective judgement, not head-to-head competition. Most of the hard work is done behind the scenes, or more specifically, in the gym and kitchen. Top bodybuilders aren’t dunking over each other, tackling each other, throwing punches at each other, or trying to strike each other out with a 95 mph fastball.

That’s not to say that bodybuilding isn’t a true competitive sport. It’s definitely competitive in every single facet imaginable. But it’s different than other sports. Not better or worse, but different.

However, the beastly comparisons come into play when we think about the physiques of bodybuilding athletes. They look animalistic. It’s hard not to look at a bodybuilder’s hypermuscular body and not compare them to an ox (“strong as an ox”), bull, horse, or lion. So bodybuilders don’t necessarily act like beasts when they’re on the stage, but they indisputably look like beasts.

Male bodybuilders are often compared to beasts. So are female bodybuilders. So what’s the big deal? Here are a few takeaways:

  1. Beasts and traditional roles of women

For as long as human civilization has existed, certain gender stereotypes and roles have also existed. Chief among them is the role of men being the hunters and gatherers and women as caretakers of the family and home. The clear-cut domesticated role for women still persists today in most parts of the world. Who usually takes care of the children? Either their mother or nanny (who is usually a woman). In other words, a maternal authority figure.

Men, on the other hand, are the so-called breadwinners. Men today may not actually hunt for their food, but they are encouraged to work at jobs that pay money intended to help put food on the table. Yes, women do make up a significant portion of the modern workforce, but old habits are often hard to break. Going back several centuries, men hunted for food. Women did not.

This social structure then makes the “woman as beast” motif a rather new phenomenon. Only in cartoons, graphic novels, fetish porn, and pulp literature do you see women portrayed as hunters and gatherers in the jungle (both literally and figuratively). Traditional gender roles make this paradigm not only unusual, but contrary to most of human history.

So associating a female bodybuilder with a wild beast is a definitive break from how we’ve traditionally viewed the role of women in our society. The “man as beast” motif makes sense from an anthropological perspective, but not the “woman as beast” theme. The fact we’ve come to view women in this light is fascinating.

  1. Humans vs. non-humans

An animal is not a human, which is stating the obvious. We don’t expect a human being (not even Usain Bolt) to be able to outrun a cheetah or lift more than a grizzly bear. Humans have certain physical limitations. We can’t fly like an eagle, crawl up a tree like a squirrel or swim underwater for long periods of time like a shark. That’s not in our DNA.

When a human being can (sort of) do things that an animal can, the beast comparisons start to roll in. Mr. Bolt is fast like a cheetah. Andy Bolton is as strong as an ox. Ronda Rousey is as lethal as an anaconda. LeBron James can jump like a kangaroo. We know they can’t literally accomplish feats that a beast can, but sports media (and fans) are often prone to employing hyperbole.

Sporting the shades, Roxanne Edwards is not a woman you want to mess with.

Sporting the shades, Roxanne Edwards is not a woman you want to mess with.

For female bodybuilders, this is even more significant. Because women are biologically not as strong as men, when a woman can achieve a level of muscularity and pure raw strength that surpasses many men, the beast comparisons matter even more. Female bodybuilders are human, but seem almost non-human. They totally destroy whatever notions we hold about the limitations of female physiology.

Male bodybuilders are sort of viewed this way, but it’s exponentially amplified when applied to female bodybuilders. Our perceived stereotypes (and scientifically-backed) beliefs about what women can and cannot physically do shatter when we encounter a muscular woman. She tears down walls that we put around the female species. Like Samson pushing apart the pillars at the Temple of Dagon, female bodybuilders defiantly demolish the box put around them with the ferocious strength of a beast.

  1. The fetishization of beasts

You don’t need to be an expert at Furry culture to know what I’m talking about. If you aren’t familiar with the Furry subculture, Google it and be prepared to feel supremely uncomfortable afterward (don’t say I didn’t warn you!). Yikes.

There exists in our culture the element of fetishizing wild beasts. Additionally, there is something fairly normal to this that has nothing to do with bestiality. Sexuality is a raw element to humanity, something that speaks to our base desires and ability to create future generations.

We like to think of humankind as being intelligent, civilized, cooperative, and advanced. Perhaps the smartest and most resourceful creatures who walk this Earth. It may not seem like it at times (just read the news for five minutes) but for the most part, we humans think of ourselves as superior creatures to wildlife in the jungle, fish in the ocean, and birds in the sky.

However, deep down inside there lurks a desire to reconnect to our animal brothers and sisters. It can get boring and tedious being a human, so why not switch it up for a change and live life (even in a pseudo-sexual manner) as an animal? This is less about anthropomorphism and more about believing that people are really no different than animals.

I’m no expert at zoophilia – and yes, such a term actually exists – but that sort of thing indeed does occur among some folks. Not a huge number of us, but there’s definitely something primal when it comes to thinking about human beings as being wild beasts in need of taming and domesticating.

  1. Beasts are a natural adversary for man

Returning to the hunters-and-gatherers motif, another angle to this discussion is the fact that beasts are also a natural adversary to mankind. Wild animals can be a safety hazard. We treat wild animals as food; just like they treat us in similar fashion. Beasts are not just a common opponent to humans, they often can be an existential threat to humans!

The popularity of the Planet of the Apes and Jurassic Park movies speak to this. People are, for whatever reason, naturally worried that someday their global dominance will come to an end. Endless warfare, environmental disasters, economic collapse, destruction of the civil social order, and other unknown threats ominously loom in the distance. We experience all these things now, but it can get worse, right?

Right. Or not. But fiction rarely gives us a rosy picture of the future. History has taught us that those in power are always paranoid about losing it. That goes for kings, queens, presidents, dictators, mob bosses, war lords, and other people in positions of power. Human beings of all shapes and sizes are the same way. Will super intelligent apes or genetically reconstructed dinosaurs eventually replace us as the dominant species on Earth? It’s doubtful, but one never knows how future events will unfold.

Kim Birtch has gorgeous eyes.

Kim Birtch has gorgeous eyes.

This deep-rooted fear might explain why people have a natural inclination to demonstrate who’s boss. People hunt wild game, eat meat, keep pets, and trap animals in zoos for a variety of reasons, but one hidden reason might be our subconscious desire to remind these beasts who’s in charge. Every time we eat a steak we think to ourselves, “This is what you get for being lower on the food chain!”

Therefore, when men who love female bodybuilders start to compare muscular women to beasts, the same phenomena might be happening. Men, on a subconscious level, view a muscular woman as a threat to his social dominance. She’s bigger and stronger than him, which goes contrary to what thousands of years of biological evolution has brought to us. So in order to retrieve his lost masculinity, he imagines muscular women as being a wild beast in need of domesticating. She’s like a hungry tiger who is threatening to unmercifully consume him and his family. How will he manage to survive?

Perhaps this explains why many guys (not me, but I’m not judging anyone) love to wrestle female bodybuilders. I prefer sensual muscle worship, but I do not speak for everybody. They want to “defeat” her in a battle of physical prowess. While this “victory” is more symbolic than anything else (fantasy wrestling is just that: a fantasy come to life), nevertheless it provides him emotional comfort that he’s still a man and she’s still a woman – regardless of how much muscle she’s packed on her body.

Beasts are either defeated or tamed. A defeated beast is forced to either become food or retreat back into their domains and lick their wounds. A tamed beast can become a subordinate or a partner.

Wow. Who knew female muscle fetishism could be so deeply psychological?

  1. Beasts lack inhibitions and manners

The last point speaks to why many of us love female bodybuilders in the first place: Female bodybuilders are rebels. They defy our expectations for what women are supposed to look like. They defy their biological limitations. They defy their socially-constructed subordinate role to men. They defy our standards of beauty, femininity, and masculinity. They do this whether they intend to or not.

What theoretically separates humans from beasts is that we’re civil and rational while beasts are uncivil and primitive. We live in air conditioned homes. They live in caves and makeshift nests. We can do algebra, calculus, perform symphonies, and write poetry. They can’t conceive of such activities. We can cooperate for mutual benefit. Beasts are forced to kill each other for the sake of survival.

But whenever you read about terrorism, war, political corruption, and crime in the news, it’s hard to say with a straight face that humans are civilized. Who are we to talk? We can be just as violent as a pack of wolves attacking a lone deer.

Beasts, however, lack inhibitions and manners. They are not expected to follow such protocols of rational behavior. A hungry tiger can slaughter a group of defenseless rabbits and none of us will blink an eye. A deranged psychopath can shoot up a public place like a school or a shopping mall and we (justifiably) look down upon that person with shame, disgust, and repulsion. People must behave in a certain way. Animals are, for whatever reason, not expected to do the same.

Beautiful legs on Autumn Raby.

Beautiful legs on Autumn Raby.

In vicarious fashion, maybe we envy the beast for not having to follow these rules. We are jealous that female bodybuilders have the self-confidence to pursue their dreams despite what society says – all the while we don’t possess even a fraction of those convictions. We love muscular women because not only are they physically beautiful, but because they’ve given themselves permission to do whatever they want to with their lives regardless of the consequences. That’s pretty cool. How many of us are willing and able to do the same thing?

We love female bodybuilders because they aren’t dainty flowers who feel constricted by social mores. They defiantly break those molds and create their own rules. They feel free to grunt, bust their tail, and sweat buckets at the gym without a second thought to what anybody else thinks. Their lack of “manners” is liberating. We get a sense of vicarious pleasure from watching this unfold.

I apologize if this post took an unexpected dark turn, but discussions about human sexuality isn’t always a bed of roses. Sometimes it is necessary to travel into the Dark Unknown in order to shine a light on Greater Understanding.

To summarize, there’s something undeniably animalistic about female bodybuilders. From the perspective of straight men who love female muscle, we fantasize about muscular women being wild beasts because it speaks to how we view our place in the global order. Are we at the top? Or at the bottom? Do we have power? Or are we powerless? Is our masculinity celebrated or squashed? Are men the stronger sex or are we secretly afraid that not all of us are able to carry this mantle?

Like the tiger hiding in the sagebrush, these questions are lurking in our minds. And like the tiger’s helpless prey, answering these questions may eventually lead us to an unpleasant confrontation.

Halloween is Every Day for Female Bodybuilders

Dena Westerfield wants to suck your blood!

Dena Westerfield wants to suck your blood!

Every October 31 we celebrate a very odd holiday. People of all ages dress up in costumes, artistically carve up pumpkins, attend spooky themed parties and/or wander around their neighborhoods begging strangers to hand out candy.

No candy? No problem! Unless, of course, you don’t mind your house getting egged, toilet papered or surrounded by flaming piles of dog feces.

The concept of Halloween, according to experts in folklore, dates back to Celtic “pagan” traditions of welcoming in the harvest season. Halloween also might be rooted in Festival of the Dead-type traditions where people honor their dead relatives and usher them into the Afterlife. In the United States, a Catholic-inspired Cajun tradition began in the early days of North America to spend a nocturnal Mass at graveyards to bless the souls of the deceased.

Getting a creepy vibe already?

But today, let’s face it. Halloween is all about having a socially acceptable reason to dress up in silly costumes, watch scary movies and eat too much sugary candy. Plus, Halloween sort of officially kicks off the “holiday season” which includes Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

Some costumes range from the innocent to more “adult.” Some people will go as doctors, firefighters, kittens or Spider-Man; while other will choose the more family-friendly route and become a stripper, dominatrix or slutty nurse.

Whatever. Your choice of costume is your choice alone, as long as the company you work for doesn’t have any strict policies against publicly embarrassing yourself.

Now this is one Halloween party I'd like to attend! Here we have Annie Rivieccio, Aleesha Young and Alina Popa.

Now this is one Halloween party I’d like to attend! Here we have Annie Rivieccio, Aleesha Young and Alina Popa.

We dress up because it’s fun to pretend to be something we’re not, even if only temporarily. As kids, we wanted to be Superman and Wonder Woman. So if we dress up like them, isn’t that close enough to living out our dreams?

Perhaps, but there’s another reason why we dress up: to celebrate Halloween’s macabre roots. Zombies, vampires, serial killers, ghosts, goblins, ghouls, monsters and politicians are all par for the course. Who doesn’t like to channel their inner Jason Voorhees or reenact a scene from Night of the Living Dead? Whatever is most frightening is often the most fun.

These two reasons might explain why, as absurd as this may sound, for a female bodybuilder every day is Halloween. Every day is their chance to “dress up” and become something different. To become something superhuman, unworldly and strange. Many fans of female bodybuilders may not consider the presence of a muscular woman to be “ghoulish,” but unfortunately some people out there do. So let’s celebrate Halloween this year by paying tribute to the ladies we love 365 days a year.

Her body is her costume

Every single time an FBB goes to the gym to train, isn’t she essentially creating the “costume” that she’ll wear every single day of her life? Except in this case, her costume is her own body. It doesn’t consist of hats, tights or capes; but instead muscles, veins and sharp angular curves.

It takes a lot of work to achieve the physique of a Katka Kpytova or Alina Popa. Strict dieting, strenuous weightlifting, supplements, drugs, mental toughness, hardcore dedication and sacrifices are necessary to reach that level of muscularity. Not too many people in this world are that dedicated to their craft. But those who are should be very proud of their work.

When a woman builds bulk on her body, she’s making a decision to sculpt a better version of herself. She’s changing her identity. She’s breaking the mold of convention and embracing the nontraditional. Whether she intends to compete or not is irrelevant. The desire to gain maximum muscularity is a statement unto itself. It says “I’m reinventing myself, whether you like it or not.”

The concept of reinventing one’s self through the lifestyle of bodybuilding is fascinating. If our “traditional” idea of femininity includes slender arms, lush curves and a small frame, a female bodybuilder tosses all of that out the window. Her rebooted identity defies these norms while at the same time creating new ones. “Feminine” doesn’t have to be a euphemism for “weak.” It can mean so much more.

Her muscles are what define this new identity. Because muscles are not typically associated with femininity, women like Debi Laszewski are not seen as traditional women even though their womanhood hasn’t changed one iota. Deep down inside, Debi has always been Debi. Even before she took up bodybuilding, Debi was Debi. Now that she’s a world class athlete, she’s still Debi.

You don't want to get on Maribel Barnes's bad side!

You don’t want to get on Maribel Barnes’s bad side!

Think of it this way: the mere presence of muscles on a woman’s body doesn’t change anything about her. Whether someone changes their appearance for the better or for the worst, who they are intrinsically doesn’t change. Yes, an FBB may gain more confidence during her training, but her inherent identity hasn’t been altered by a single degree. Everyone has an identity. Your body’s appearance is just one facet of that.

In this respect, a female bodybuilder’s muscles act as her “costume” or “uniform.” To put it another way, a football player becomes a football player once they put on their pads, helmet, shoes and protective gear. When it’s not game time and they’re dressed in “street clothes” out in everyday life, they’re no longer a football player. They’re just like you and I. Sometimes, the uniform makes all the difference.

Likewise, an FBB’s muscles acts as her professional uniform. It informs us about who she is and what she does. But that’s not all that there is to her. She’s so much more than her appearance. Her thoughts, feelings, beliefs, actions, relationships, opinions, interests and everything else encompasses her entire identity. Her body is just the uniform she wears as a result of her chosen profession.

Like other self-revealing occupational uniforms (a construction worker’s hat, a doctor’s smock, a radio DJ’s headset, etc.), a female bodybuilder’s muscular body is an instantly identifiable clue as to what she does for a living. It’s her way of announcing to the world what she’s passionate about. It’s an outward expression of self-identification. Her muscles are her costume. Her muscles are her uniform. Her muscles are not her entire identity, but it’s a very important part of it.

Her body as a grotesque costume

It’s maddening. It’s ridiculous. It’s blatantly sexist and stupid. But this train of thought still exists: Muscular women are gross. They’re disgusting. They’re not real women. They’re women who are trying to become men. They’re revolting to look at. They shouldn’t look like that. Blah, blah, blah.

While the previous point talks about a female bodybuilder’s muscles being her living costume, this point discusses her muscles as other people perceive them. Unfortunately, not everyone perceives them in a positive light.

For many people, an FBB’s muscles make her a monster. It makes her a freak. It changes her identity, but not in a good way. It’s scary, frightening, disturbing, repulsive and lots of other synonyms that would tear a thesaurus in half. Her Halloween costume resembles that of a horror movie villain rather than an elite athlete. These perceptions explain why more women don’t lift weights at the gym and are afraid to pick up a dumbbell heavier than 8 pounds.

I've never seen the film "Blood + Kisses" starring Denise Masino, but I'm sure she's very sexy in it!

I’ve never seen the film “Blood + Kisses” starring Denise Masino, but I’m sure she’s very sexy in it!

Thus, another reason why every day is Halloween for female bodybuilders is because for many folks out there, an FBB is a walking and breathing humanistic monstrosity of distorted femininity. Her Halloween costume is her “man-like” muscles that obviously make her so unattractive. Whether her motivation for gaining muscle mass has anything to do with a deliberate attempt at reorganizing her gender identity has nothing to do with this perception. For far too many people, a muscular woman is nothing more than a woman pretending to be a man (or to put it another way, she’s “unnatural” for looking like that).

Or, wanting to become a man. Short of undergoing gender reconstruction surgery, adding muscle bulk to her body is the next best option. This opinion is far from being the most popular reason why women decide to pursue bodybuilding. Most do it for the sport. Others do it for self-empowerment. For many, it might be a “hobby,” but one that they take a bit more seriously than knitting or collecting postage stamps.

For the men and women out there who are genuinely sickened by muscular women…well, that’s life. There’s very little that will change overnight. They might view her like a sci-fi creature from a mad scientist’s laboratory, but the rest of us know better. It’s only a matter of time when women like Lisa Cross are celebrated as much as mainstream female celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence.

If Tina Chandler wanted to arrest me...yeah, I'd let her.

If Tina Chandler wanted to arrest me…yeah, I’d let her.

Trick or treat?

Just so we don’t end this discussion on a sour note, imagine this scenario playing out in your actual life:

You’re going out trick-or-treating. Let’s say you’re an adult, but you live in a neighborhood where it’s socially acceptable for grownups to knock on doors and ask for candy. It’s getting late, so you know it’s about time to start wrapping up this confection excursion. You have one house left to visit. It’s nearing 9 p.m. (your self-imposed bedtime is 9:30 for whatever boring reason) and your bag of candy is still not completely full.

You knock on the door of a strange brick house standing on the top of a steep hill. It’s covered with moss, ivy, chipped paint and cobwebs. You’re alone. Your heart races but you’re still insisting on gathering as much sweet loot as possible. You approach the house cautiously. You knock once. No answer. You knock twice. Still no answer. You knock thrice. Once again, there is no answer. You wait a beat. Then two beats. Then three. Several more beats pass by, then you finally give up and start to walk back to the main street. Then, out of nowhere, you hear the door open. It creeks loudly. You turn around. And you see who answers the door.

Monica Martin. MEOW!

Monica Martin. MEOW!

It’s not one, nor two, nor three, but seven gorgeous female bodybuilders having some sort of a spooky soiree. They’re all in costume, ranging from Elvira to a cannibalistic Nazi zombie stripper to a trial lawyer. Seven tall, thick, highly muscular women with the most beautiful faces you’ve ever seen. They seem intrigued by you. They look you up and down at your wimpy frame and even wimpier costume. A glow-in-the-dark cartoon skeleton? Seriously? That’s the best you could do?

The host FBB speaks first.

“Are you here to trick-or-treat?” she asks. Her low, gravelly voice seems to shake the foundations of the Earth.

“Uh, yes. That’s why I’m here ma’am,” you answer timidly.

The seven start to laugh. You might have heard laughter from several other female bodybuilders inside the house that you can’t see. The leader raises a hand to hush everyone up. Everyone becomes silent. But their gaze is still exclusively on you.

“Good,” she begins. “Then you should come on in. We’ve got a very big treat for you.”

The seven FBBs move to the side of the door, inviting you indoors. You can clearly see that the house is infested with beautiful muscular women, all of them more muscular and more beautiful than the rest. There must be several dozens of them in there. Their costumes are very sexy. Everyone is scorching hot beyond description. You’re speechless.

But you go inside nevertheless. The door closes behind you. The party commences.

Happy Halloween!

How to Deal with Negativity Directed Against Female Bodybuilders

Love the tight red dress Glenese Markes is wearing.

Love the tight red dress Glenese Markes is wearing.

Let’s face it. Being a female bodybuilder isn’t easy.

And I’m not talking about the lifestyle, dieting, excruciating workout regiments, supplementations, lack of financial security, intense preparation, competitive nature of the business, paying for food/personal trainers/gym memberships, or any of that.

I’m referring to the negativity that can be directed against them on a daily basis.

I’m not a female bodybuilder, of course. But from what I’ve read in online comment sections, chat forums and Facebook conversation threads, nastiness targeted against our beloved ladies is all too common. The advent of the Internet has made this type of negativity easier to propagate.

To a lesser extent, fans of female bodybuilders (especially straight men) are also susceptible to mean spirited attacks, jabs, jokes and insults.

Now please don’t misinterpret me. I am in no way shape or form comparing the trials and tribulations of a female bodybuilder to that of their fans. The negativity we face does not even come close to comparing to the social taboo of a human female putting lots and lots of strong muscles on her body. There is no comparison.

But, both sides face unfortunate backlash nevertheless. This explains why so many of us choose to explore our female muscle fandom in secret. Anonymity is a gift from God. In today’s world, we are freer than ever before to pursue our interests without fearing our friends, family or neighbors will ever find out.

Female bodybuilders do not have such a luxury. Not only is the evidence of their life’s calling bare for all to see, it’s very difficult to hide other activities (such as offering muscle worship services, participating in pornographic photo/video shoots, maintaining a sexually explicit website, etc.) from the public’s eye. Not in our 21st century world of high speed communications and the proliferation of user-generated media.

So, it seems appropriate to discuss how female muscle fans should respond to such negativity. Insults, dehumanizing attitudes, negative stereotypes, gender-based discrimination – all of that exists out there for everyone to witness. And this goes way beyond the world of female bodybuilding. Politics, religion, pop culture, sports…the list goes on and on.

Why can explain this? Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems like our ability as a society to conduct calm, rational and productive dialogue has gone totally out the window. But, to be completely honest, this is a whole other discussion for another time.

For the time being, here are some practical strategies, tips and general guidelines both female bodybuilders (and I do know for a fact that a small handful of real-life FBBs regularly read my blog!) and avid fans of female bodybuilders can follow when dealing with negativity directed against our collective interests.

1. Negativity is inevitable and will probably never go away

This is a difficult reality to deal with, but unfortunately it’s true. I’m sure many of you have heard this popular catchphrase before:

Haters gonna hate.

Sound familiar? It should. Basically, the colloquial expression “haters gonna hate” means your critics are going to criticize you regardless of who you are, what you’ve done, or what you plan on doing. Celebrities, politicians, athletes, powerful business leaders and nearly everyone who puts themselves out there in the public domain will experience “hate” from someone.

I should hurry up and say that “hate” is a strong word, as our mothers have all pointed out to us before. While there are disturbed people out there who truly hate certain others (and have very dangerous ill intentions toward them), most of the “hate” I’m referring to is more of a “dislike.” Most of the negativity thrown toward a female bodybuilder on a Facebook conversation thread is not “hate speech.” I wouldn’t categorize it that way.

Erica Cordie showing off her triceps while wearing a gorgeous white dress.

Erica Cordie showing off her triceps while wearing a gorgeous white dress.

But feelings of disgust, distrust, suspicion, jealousy, envy and betrayal are par for the course for any celebrity, regardless of who they are or what they’ve actually done to garner this negativity. It’s going to happen. It sucks, but it happens and there’s no use in denying it or crossing your fingers and hoping it will miraculously go away.

It won’t. Sorry.

Haters gonna hate. It sucks. But you have no choice but to grit your teeth and live with it.

Now that we’ve established this fact, let’s move on to my next point…

2. You don’t have to personally respond to every bit of negativity

It’s tempting to respond to a bigoted comment with an equally bigoted one of your own. My recommendation is that you don’t do that. Try to avoid becoming the attacker yourself even after you’ve been the victim of an attack.

Even though the popular adage “fight fire with fire” is perfectly appropriate to certain areas of life, it simply isn’t always the most prudent strategy. If negativity is inevitable and will probably never go away (as we previously discussed above), then why fight against it? Why fight against every little attack that comes your way? Why pull yourself into battles that will make you lose your temper and could potentially ruin your day?

My basic point is that life is all about picking and choosing your battles. Some battles are more important than others.

If a complete stranger on the web thinks all female bodybuilders are gross and look like men, do you really want to feed into this troll’s desire to instigate a fight? If they truly feel that way and aren’t trolling, will viciously attacking them radically make them change their minds?

Probably not.

If you do feel obligated to respond to a severe ad hominem attack, consider why you’re responding and whether it’s worth the effort. Not every attacker deserves to be counter-attacked. Pick and choose your battles because if you exhaust yourself fighting a series of “little battles,” will you not be drained of all your energy once a truly “big battle” comes your way?

3. Consider the appropriate way to respond before actually responding

The problem with our instant gratification society is that we can speak our minds in a public forum at an instantaneous rate which leaves us vulnerable to letting our emotions get the better of us.

Thankfully, you don’t have to be like that. If you do choose to respond to vitriol, make sure your response is well thought-out, appropriate and productive.

Countering an inflammatory remark with one of your own only adds fuel to an already out-of-control fire. Don’t give in to that garbage. Instead, be the “better person” and take the “high road” if possible. Remember that the person you’re responding to is an actual human being who deserves dignity (and yes, respect!) even though you may not think he/she does.

Melissa Wee showing off her bikini body.

Melissa Wee showing off her bikini body.

I want to highlight the importance of “productive.” In my estimation, “productive” is achieved when you create an open dialogue that tries to reach a level of mutual understanding. You don’t necessarily need to “convince” this person to come over to your side, but you do need to communicate your point while at the same time understanding where they’re coming from.

I’m not telling you what to do. All I’m recommending is that whatever you do you should have some sort of tangible objective in mind. Instead of just satisfying a raw emotional need to lash out against your “haters,” consider what good can come out of this.

4. Never stoop down to their level

This is really important when trying to conduct a dialogue with someone. No matter how tempting it is to get in the trenches and engage in a war of words with them, never stoop down to their level. Even if it means bailing out on a conversation, you should always maintain your own dignity at all times.

We’re female muscle fans. We love strong women. Why should we get defensive whenever someone verbally attacks the women we love so much? We’re better than that. We need to be strong, too. We need to prove that our love for female bodybuilders doesn’t need to be defended. There’s nothing to defend. It is what it is. It’s our interest. We don’t have to justify ourselves to anyone, especially someone who finds our admiration for them disgusting.

Never reduce yourself to the point where you’re trading insults with more insults. Don’t argue that we love strong women because fat women are disgusting or a “real woman” has meat on her bones, not all skin and bones.

I have nothing negative to say about Danielle Reardon.

I have nothing negative to say about Danielle Reardon.

That’s not the right approach. Bringing down others in order to make yourself feel better is never justified. Becoming malevolent rarely ends well. Be cautious about your tone. Respond with ideas, not raw emotions.

5. Point out the positives of loving female bodybuilders whenever you can

I think there is great value in appreciating strong women. Not only are we encouraging women to pursue their dreams of strengthening and bettering themselves, we’re helping shatter the stereotype of women being “weak” or “dainty.” You only stay weak if you start to accept your weakness. By admiring female bodybuilders and athletes, we’re expressing our beliefs that women can be strong too (and that women should be strong). How can you not go along with that?

A great way to respond to negativity is to point out the positives. A positive mixed with a negative becomes neutral, right? I’m no chemist, but let’s pretend I’m right.

Point out that strong women are beautiful. Mention that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Never refrain from saying that female bodybuilders are some of the most driven, rebellious and hardworking human beings on this planet. Discuss the idea that men who love female muscle aren’t weird, but open-minded and open-hearted.

Counter hate with love. Don’t tear down a person’s argument by attacking them. Instead, try building up your own argument. People hate what they don’t understand. Make them understand.

Aleesha Young is simply a spectacle to behold.

Aleesha Young is simply a spectacle to behold.

6. When all else fails, tune out the noise

Sometimes, it’s best to just ignore the vitriol. If haters gonna hate, why even bother listening in the first place? You’re only going to just make yourself more and more angry.

Life is too short to be upset all the time. I understand there’s a lot of terrible stuff happening in the world every single day. I get that. But do you really have to let every little bit of negativity that comes your way affect you on a personal level?

Some people will never understand. Others will try to understand but still choose to be repulsed by it. Oh well. That happens. Shit happens. Accept it. Tune out the noise. Don’t let it drag on your psyche. Don’t let venom cramp your style.

Don’t hesitate to put on your imaginary headphones and play your own music if the tunes you’re stuck with in the real world suck big time. Just make sure you don’t bottle yourself up in a silo of self-righteousness. That is also unhealthy.

7. Enjoy your female muscle fandom in all its glory

Have fun. Go to bodybuilding shows. Watch videos of your favorite ladies working on their craft. Read their blogs. Visit their websites. Set up muscle worship sessions with them if they’re travelling to your area. Live out your female muscle fandom to the fullest.

I’m going to assume that female bodybuilders love their fans. Who wouldn’t? Be the best fan you can be. Don’t let those “haters” prevent you from pursuing your interests. Our interests are unusual. But they don’t have to be suppressed.

Explore your interests in a healthy way, of course. Don’t become a stalker or spend all your money on sessions when you don’t have the resources to do so. But never let society dictate what you like. You decide what you like. So like it!

***

To summarize, the lesson to be learned is simple: Always take the high road.

Always.

I understand why vitriol exists. People feel entitled to their opinions, and consequently, entitled to sharing those opinions! I’m a big fan of freedom of expression and freedom of speech. But with that comes the challenge of dealing with the inevitable hurt feelings, wounded pride and fear of public humiliation.

For all of us female muscle fans (and those of you who are actual FBBs), I suggest taking the high road whenever possible. Don’t feel scared about being attracted to a woman with muscles on her body. Embrace it! Don’t feel obligated to respond to every venomous comment. Life is too short to spend all your free time wallowing in bitter resentment.

Instead, be strong. Be strong in your convictions, your thoughts, your feelings, your interests. Be strong in who you are and what you like.

Always.