Wednesday, 23 November 2016

On Fandom: Chapter 3

Who are we?
And who is SHE?

In Dr. Tanya Bunsell's and study Strong and Hard Women: An Ethnography of Female Bodybuilding, the popular image of who we are was seriously challenged.

It is unsurprising that males who have been attracted to deviant muscular female bodies have been depicted in a negative light. Stereotypical muscle worshippers have been portrayed in documentaries such as Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends as weedy, nerdy, pathetic, "living with their mothers at 40 and saving every penny for sessions", repressed homosexuals with no social skills and something mentally defective about them. So far, no comprehensive study has taken place which interrogates this common knowledge – it was for this reason that I contacted you with the intention of learning more about males who appreciate female muscle.

Despite huge methodological issues, my research in the UK found that the majority of muscle worshippers were middle-class, university educated, and aged between their late 20s and late 40s. The majority were heterosexual and active gym members. That several trained is perhaps surprising and contradicts with other academics that have claimed that schmoes may deliberately "cultivate flabbiness or lankiness, perfecting a feeble physique incapable of lifting heavy weights... [in order to] better the contrast their bodies with the images of the powerful figures of female bodybuilding".

The demographics of those who took part in my study clearly give a counter-presentation of the stereotypes of muscle worshippers as weak and economically dependent, and a common thread between the muscle worshippers is that their attraction to muscular women developed in their teens.

This is a start in the right direction – but it is only that (my sample size was far too small to make any generalisations). Far more research needs to be conducted in this area – both from the women's perspectives (including the lived embodied experiences of the actual sessions) and from the perspective of the muscle worshippers. Indeed, I actually feel that the male muscle worshippers voice has been severely neglected in research on female bodybuilders (including my own) and I would like to see more work out there that begins to break down these taboos and stigmas and celebrates men who celebrate muscular women in all their complex beauty.

Dr. Tanya Bunsell (in an interview with FMS, July 2013)
Some of that complex beauty?

Sadly, the further research Dr. Bunsell called for at the time has not, to my knowledge anyway, been undertaken. However, I can offer my own observations though I'll not add anything more about the British FMS readers who were quoted in Dr. Bunsell's study, those "middle-class, university educated" readers but rather what I've learned from the virtual encounters I've had during my female muscle lovin' travels.

Call it "Dispatches from Schmoeville" if you like!

The main thing I've learned is there is no "type". I've had contact with guys in their 20s and guys in their 60s and pretty much every age in between. I've also had contact with female female muscle lovers (and I'm not talking about guys who pretend to be female for chat room larks, I'm talking about real women and yes, I'm sure).

We come from all over the world. As well as those who are native speakers of English, I've chatted regularly to female muscle lovers from Holland, Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina and the Czech Republic. The blog has received votes for the Hot and Hard 100 from readers in Europe, from North and South America, from Asia and Australia, and from Africa, and as I type, for example, my "audience stats" tell me there are FMS readers online from Denmark, Singapore, Argentina, Belgium, and Canada.

My own correspondence with fellow female muscle lovers confirms Dr. Bunsell's findings that it is more than likely that we discovered our attraction to muscular women in our teens. Wonder Woman, Gladiators, Pumping Iron II, Cory Everson on the cover of a magazine, chancing upon a female bodybuilder on TV... Common first experiences as recounted many times on the forums or related to me personally.

Is this just normal sexual development? Doesn't the guy who likes large breasts or Asian women or other guys discover his preference in his teens - whether he acts on it or not - too? Isn't this something all men, perhaps all people have in common?

I'm not qualified to answer my question, so let's just say it is, in my experience, something we do seem to have in common, whatever our age or location.
Why WOULDN'T you lift?

Dr. Bunsell also found that we tend to lift. Here I have found a kind of 50:50 split between those who do - often because it is thought to be a good way, perhaps the only way of having a realistic chance of meeting a muscular woman as an "equal" - and those who don't and who conform more closely to the "perfecting a feeble physique" type mentioned in the findings of other academics pre-dating Dr. Bunsell's study.

Our experiences of female muscle is, I've found, also very different. I've corresponded with a few who attend shows, who pay for sessions, some who say they go out of their way to surround themselves with athletic, muscular female friends and/or only have relationships with muscular women. And at the other extreme are those whose experience of muscular women is almost entirely vicarious, who have only rarely, perhaps once or twice in their lives, had chance sightings in public places.

I've come across men who are completely open about their passion for female muscle, who are open with their wives and girlfriends, their friends and their families, and work colleagues and anyone else who cares to know. The majority though keep their love of female muscle to themselves, even if they have a strong desire to "come out".

The internet has provided many of this silent majority with an outlet, a safe place to be open and to explore their love of muscular women with the like-minded without fear of ridicule. I'd say it's a fair bet that "It's so great to finally be able to talk to someone about this" (or words to that effect) is a sentence you have actually typed or read at some point during female muscle related correspondence with a fellow head.

At that point though, at least in my experience, at that moment where you feel the thrill of "connecting" with another female muscle lover, with someone who "gets it"... That's the moment where we truly reveal to each other how different and how spectacularly varied our individual appreciation of female muscle can be.
Are you appreciating?

to be continued...

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