Gender Self-Expression Througth Bodybuilding

Hegemony is seen daily in our society. Hegemony is when a dominant, more authoritative group has the influence over another. In everyday life, women are represented as the underlying, less authoritative group when compared to men. Women battle gender equality and underly men in many situations, and is “inevitable, natural, or desirable” (Wade, Ferree, 123). At work, the gym, or restaurants, the society has established the familiar idea that men are the most powerful class because men are “seen as people, then men, while women are seen as women, then people” (Brown, 2018).

The existence of hegemony lets us evaluate how women are exposed to societal concepts that surround them. One standardized belief is that women have children and become a stay-at-home mother. Yet, what if a woman keeps her job and does not have children? This could be the case, but the societal pressure that she receives structures her choices. Desires conflict women to settle for acceptable societal roles. A huge issue between men and women exist in the gym with the presence of hypermasculinity.

Hypermasculinity is the dramatized way in which males stereotypically behave. It is the utmost form of the masculine gender ideology because it symbolizes the attributes such as physical strength and sexuality. Hypermasculinity is a vast presence in gym environments. We’re taught to believe boys aren’t supposed to cry or have emotions and are told to “Man up” or “Stop acting like a girl.” Therefore, it is unusual for men when women perform masculine activities in the gym.

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However, these women contradict gendered norms, but obviously feel objectified.

The article, “Big Freaky-Looking Women”: Normalizing Gender Transgression Through Bodybuilding” is a sociological investigation of the female bodybuilder as a gender outcast. The female bodybuilder is described as an individual who is degraded because she neglects what society constructs as gendered norms.

The significance of this article is that female bodybuilders’ experience opposition when trying to establish equality between masculinity and femininity. They try to fit the assumptions of normative femininity that society complies with, “… regulating muscular size to avoid being labeled as “too big,” “mannish,” or lesbian; using body technologies… to counteract “masculinizing” effects” (McGrath & Chananie-Hill). Still, female bodybuilders continue to resist the gendered norms that regulate the gap between men and women.

Female bodybuilders defy and shatter the belief of a natural order. The authors explain the fine line between women being labeled masculine and being fit, “too much bulk on a woman indicates a gender border crossing into the realm of masculinity” (McGrath & Chananie-Hill). Society demoralizes women from being too muscular or strong. Fitness models and athletes display “just the right amount” of muscle, to prompt us that women with muscle are OK, as long as too much is not shown. The authors certify how female bodybuilder figures have revolutionized to “feminine” means, “… competitions place more emphasis on popular notions of femininity and less on muscle development and striation” (McGrath & Chananie-Hill). The motivating facet of bodybuilding may be appealing to some women, but the cultural disgust of visibility of muscles on females may be a hindering element for many. The way gender expression is controlled and how gender order is maintained in our society intimidates women involvement in bodybuilding.

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Gender Self-Expression Througth Bodybuilding. (2022, May 04). Retrieved from

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