Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Angels principle

When I was growing up I used to watch the TV series Charlie's Angels. The episodes would often end with the very feminine looking angels chasing and then bringing down a criminal tough guy. I used to scoff at this even as a 10-year-old. But since then there has been an unending supply of heroines successfully kick-boxing their way across our TV and film screens.

So just how likely is it for a woman to be as fast and as strong as a man? The answer is that it's not likely at all. One comparative study found that the average man is stronger than 99.9% of women. Here's a summary of some recent research:

When fat-free mass is considered, men are 40% heavier (Lassek & Gaulin, 2009; Mayhew & Salm, 1990) and have 60% more total lean muscle mass than women. Men have 80% greater arm muscle mass and 50% more lower body muscle mass (Abe, Kearns, & Fukunaga, 2003). Lassek and Gaulin (2009) note that the sex difference in upper-body muscle mass in humans is similar to the sex difference in fat-free mass in gorillas (Zihlman & MacFarland, 2000), the most sexually dimorphic of all living primates.

These differences in muscularity translate into large differences in strength and speed. Men have about 90% greater upper-body strength, a difference of approximately three standard deviations (Abe et al., 2003; Lassek & Gaulin, 2009). The average man is stronger than 99.9% of women (Lassek & Gaulin, 2009). Men also have about 65% greater lower body strength (Lassek & Gaulin, 2009; Mayhew & Salm, 1990), over 45% higher vertical leap, and over 22% faster sprint times (Mayhew & Salm, 1990).

When I first read this I understood even better why I instinctively dislike seeing my wife lifting heavy items. It's not just that I have a little more muscle for such jobs, I have 90% greater upper body strength. Something that I can lift with ease is going to put a lot more pressure on my wife's body.

How should women react to such data? I don't think they should be too worried. The female body is impressive in its own way. Most young men know that female beauty has a power and a significance of its own. And when it comes to procreation, the female body takes centre stage.

But there have been women who have expressed their dismay at the physical differences between men and women. Alexandra Kollontai was a Russian feminist socialist in the early 1900s. She once gave a lecture in which it was reported that:

[Kollontai] longs for the female body itself to become less soft and curvy and more muscular ... She argues that prehistoric women were physiologically less distinct from men ... Accordingly, sexual dimorphism may (and should) again become less visible in a communist society.

Kollontai was a modern who wanted to make sex distinctions not matter, even the physical distinctions that most heterosexuals find appealing. So she held to the hope that if political conditions were to change that women might "revert" to a "natural" condition of being muscular like men rather than soft and curvy.

Kollontai was intellectual enough to take the autonomy principle seriously. She believed that sex distinctions should be made not to matter, because she believed that the "human" attribute was to be a self-determining individual, unaffected by predetermined physical qualities relating to manhood or womanhood.

She wanted to be free from being a man or woman rather than free to be a man or woman.

Most moderns don't go as far as she did, but the underlying principle is nonetheless at work in the societies we live in. There are still a lot of women raised to believe that there is something wrong with being feminine or that being feminine somehow has to be justified.

Perhaps the Charlie's Angels principle was this: women are allowed to be glamorously feminine as long as they can still pack a punch and match it with the men physically.

It's not a principle that's likely to work too well in real life. Most men will be put off by women who set out to prove their masculine credentials before allowing themselves to show a feminine side.


  1. It's very dangerous when feminists who think they're just as rough and tough and strong as men start advising other women about self-defense. They think women don't need to hit the gym or join an MMA school because they'll just effortlessly beat any puny man who gives them trouble. It is rather ironic that feminists are working so hard to enable women to get raped more easily.

  2. Beware Mr. Richardson, in publishing the discoveries of science about male and female physiology, you may incur the spiteful wrath of the feminists.

    University professors condemn such teaching as "behaviouralist", or else stigmatise it as "determinist".

    That women are constitutionally unsuitable to perform a multitude of occupations, from the fire brigade, to warehouse loading and presiding as umpire in a boys' football match, conflicts with the categorical imperative of left-liberalim, that of absolute, undiscriminating equality.

  3. "Girl power" has been an important part of feminism since the 1970's, and likely Charlie's Angels were a tamer version of that fantasy. Lawrence Auster has documented from time to time the fact that modern, empowered, independent women are all too often putting themselves into situations where they are likely to be assaulted, or raped, and/or murdered with this "girl power" nonsense.

    The high school student who disappeared on Aruba a year or two back is but one example. I'm sure that her parents felt she was fully "empowered" to deal with anything, and that is why they agreed to allow her to accompany her high school graduating class to a Caribbean island on a group holiday.

    It is sad that feminism has created such unrealistic expectations in women. A friend of mine used to instruct in a martial arts school, and he went out of his way to show female students techniques they could use that would give them some hope of escaping an attacker. Not beating an attacker, but hurting him enough to escape, because in his opinion less than 1 in 1,000 women has a prayer of a hope of lasting more than a few seconds in a real standup fight.

    PS: It is this disparity that leads women in America to obtain firearms for self defense, although most of the feminist establishment is opposed to that notion.

  4. Mr Anonymous Protestant, our last conservative government forcibly disarmed Australians, both male and female, excepting the criminals of course who prudently withheld their consent to being made defenceless.

    As a corollary, the government proceeded to settle tens of thousands of dark ruffians in Australia to keep the fearful populace in subjection. Nothing terrifies so much as knowledge of one's danger, and that your continued security depends upon the goodwill and revenue of the state.

  5. Feminist culture has the bizarre pop-Freudian idea that women *want* to have the same power and strengths as men. This approach too tries to depict traditional roles as not merely obsolete, but pathological.

    The interactions between liberal psychology and liberal political philosophy must be nigh-innumerable. But pop culture is surely its most promiscuous venue.

  6. The idea that the average woman is anywhere near as strong as the average man needs to go to a suburban gym and pay attention. The women who do lift weights can only lift a laughable amount compared to the men. With a little bit of training, women can narrow the gap somewhat; but then give the same training to men and the gap will become even larger than it was originally.

    The military, of course, has known for a long time that women are physically nowhere near as strong as men. However, to appease the feminists and male liberals, military authorities have had to tie themselves in knots denying this and cutting women slack (that men inevitably have to take up).

  7. There may be several reasons women think they are much stronger in relation to men than they really are. But, I can tell you one important reason that is seldom mentioned.

    In spite of all the lies about DV, most women have never seen a man hit a woman. In fact, when most men see a woman throwing a tantrum and aggressively attempting to fight a man, he walks away. Or run away. They know they can kick her rear-end, but if they do, other men do horrid things to them.

    So, they avoid violence.

    And, women think men are afraid of the jerky woman who is acting out.

    Often, when a man walks away, the nut will shout things like, "Chicken! Afraid to fight?" They believe men are afraid of them.

    Another theory is once in a while when a woman tells her husband he is being removed from his house; his kids; his car; and most of his money the rest of his life, he beats the crap out of her. Although it may consist of exactly one punch it feels like he hit her many times, heh, heh.

    She suddenly realizes any time in their marriage when she was cursing him and calling him every name in the book, and often hitting him and slapping him as well, he actually could have killed her with his bare hands any time he wanted.

    And, it scares the heck out of her, so he must be destroyed.

    While I do not and cannot advocate DV, I think it would be very beneficial to women if somehow they were taught in a manner they can understand that men are indeed capable of killing their wives with their bare hands. It's like we are being unfair to women to let them think they are stronger than they are.

    Anonymous age 68

  8. Yes, women don't understand this. It is very dangerous. I could kill my wife (not a small woman) with my bare hands, easily, but she doesn't seem to know this instinctively. Perhaps there was a time when women knew this, but they don't these days.

    Women who taunt and strike their husbands should really know how dangerous their behaviour is. Daily, men show enormous self-control.

    I carried my bride over the threshold of our home, in the traditional way, but my relative strength doesn't seem to figure into her understanding. Women don't seem to gauge mental and physical strength very well: either they lack a male capacity to think tactically and assess risk; or the media misleads them. If it is the latter, then I really wonder about women and their capacity to understand what is real and what is fiction.

    David Collard

  9. Years ago I read that when the maniac Richard Speck tortured and murdered eight nurses in a Chicago hospital dormitory in 1966, the only survivor of his mayhem was a Filipina nurse who hid under the bed the whole time. All the nurses whom Speck actually killed imagined, on the basis of their professional training in abnormal psychology, that they could reason him out of his determination to kill them all.

    Chalk up another triumph for "girl power".

  10. "I think it would be very beneficial to women if somehow they were taught in a manner they can understand that men are indeed capable of killing their wives with their bare hands."

    A little bit of wrasslin' before you do the wild thing ought to get the point across - and make her plenty hot, too!

  11. Anonymous Protestant, your friend was mistaken. A woman can become good at fighting if she just trains in realistic martial arts such as wrestling, boxing, muay thai, judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. She can also become stronger by lifting weights.

  12. Richardson wrote,
    "Kollontai was a modern who wanted to make sex distinctions not matter, even the physical distinctions that most heterosexuals find appealing."

    Yes, this is exactly right. Glenn Beck, that "conservative" here in America, has declared his capitulation to the homosexualist "marriage" movement. Ann Coulter, another "conservative", just recently agreed to speak at some gathering of homosexuals.

    Beck, Coulter, and I think a number of regular American Christians, are accepting the latest expression of the Egalitarianism, homosexuality.

    Homosexuality, feminism, emasculation, mass immigration, miscegenation, drug abuse, obesity/physical unfitness, the proliferation of fast food, and countless other "social ills" don't "happen" randomly. People behave in these ways and accept those behaviors in others once they accept the meaningless of their own bodies and the primacy of their autonomy of their bodies.

    The wages of leftism is bodily death.

  13. "the primacy of their autonomy over their bodies."

  14. Mark Richardson writes:

    "Most men will be put off by women who set out to prove their masculine credentials before allowing themselves to show a feminine side."

    If that is true, then why do young men continue to watch movies and TV shows filled with dominant, crotch-kicking females who don't exist in the real world?

  15. Most women don't like fighting, or fantasise about being stronger than men. The butt-kicking babes Lara Croft or Charlie's Angels are men's fantasies, not women's fantasies.

    When my wife plays computer or tabletop RPGs, her character in the game is a man - she had tried playing women, but didn't like to see them getting hurt.

  16. "It is rather ironic that feminists are working so hard to enable women to get raped more easily"

    Immigration, sexual mores - there are countless ways liberalism and feminism work to endanger women. The view seems to be that whatever happens, Reality is at fault, not them.

  17. "99.9%" seems like a bit of an exaggeration to me, although the main point is clearly true.

    When I was training in the British Army Reserve Royal Signals, I had a lot of opportunity to measure my physical ability vs those of other men and women. The Signals has a lot of female recruits. In most respects I was typically a bit below average among the other men. I was clearly superior to most of the women. However I did encounter a small number of women, often with notably lean and masculine physiques, who were superior to the average male recruit, and certainly to me, in most physical activities.

    Were they top 0.1%? Maybe, but I'd have guessed top 0.5% or so. If they were men they would have been in the bracket eligible for the Special Forces. As women, they could compete on equal terms with men in a non-elite unit.

    Of course, they bore no resemblance to Hollywood actresses, and I did prefer the look of their physically inferior but more femininely curvaceous comrades!

  18. "Women don't seem to gauge mental and physical strength very well"

    It's been evolutionarily a lot less important for women than for men. Conversely women seem to have more brain processing power dedicated to reading other interpersonal signaling.

    Now I have to go, the wife is yelling for me to come help with childcare...