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Men Are Stronger Than Women (On Average)

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Citation: Leyk, D., et al. “Hand-grip strength of young men, women and highly trained female athletes.” European journal of applied physiology 99.4 (2007): 415-421.

51bCI-7YlbL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Every now and then there is a debate on who is more “anti-science”, the Left or the Right. I’m not too interested in the details of that, but, a few years ago I expressed my skepticism to Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science, that liberals were somehow reflexively more “pro-science.” I suggested to him, for example, that when it comes to aspects of the biological basis of human behavior, with the exception of homosexual orientation, liberals are highly resistant to accepting any differences across groups because of their adherence to social constructionism. Chris brushed this off, suggesting that the “science wars” were over, and even when it came to evolutionary psychology (broadly construed) the liberal Left had conceded to the best evidence on hand. I was not moved, because I’ve had years of exchange with many liberal Left folk who defy Chris’ assurance to me. This is most notable when it comes to sex differences, which are usually seen as less controversial, and evolutionarily should have some prior expectation due to dimorphism.

To give a concrete example of how far this goes, there are many liberal Left people who won’t even accede to the proposition that men are, on average, stronger in terms of upper body strength than women. A few years ago this came up on social media, where a friend who has a biology background from an elite university, even expressed skepticism at this, when I was trying to get her to be open to behavioral differences between the sexes by starting with something I thought she would at least agree with as reasonable. When I saw the lack of unequivocal acceptance of this point I decided to opt out of the conversation. This was basically face to face with Left

This is not to say that people are totally in denial. Rather, the standard educated tack by those with progressive tendencies kicks in. There are “problematic” terms which need to be “contextualized,” and “difference” needs to be considered as an expression of socially preferred categories and measurement. After the critical theory verbiage is hurled usually sane people want to run out of the room.

But on Twitter recently I saw an article which quantifies the difference in concrete ways. To be honest the difference shocked me. The paper is Hand-grip strength of young men, women and highly trained female athletes. As you can see in the figure above the sample sizes are large. The N = 60 of top female athletes consisted of those who competed in judo and handball, to select for individuals who were already geared toward upper body activities. The very weakest male in the data set of nearly 1,700 males looks to be about at the 20th percentile for average women.


The upshot is that the very strongest female athletes are barely above the median of grip strength for men. The top 75th percentile of female athletes are below the bottom 25th percentile of men. Another way to look at it is cumulative distributions. You can tell looking at this that there is overlap between the two sample distributions. How much? Ten percent of women have stronger grips than the bottom five percent of men. The difference in distributions is big enough that the very strongest non-elite athlete female in the whole data set has a weaker grip than most of the men.

fig4 At this point the intelligent obscurantist will probably make an appeal to something about a confound. But the researchers had a data set of men and women in their early 20s, of a wide range of body types. To the right you see a plot of average grip strength as a function of lean body mass. The further to the right, the more muscular the individuals are. As you can see the more muscular men and women are, the stronger they are. But you can also observe that even the most muscular women can barely beat the least muscular men.

To a great extent I feel like an idiot even writing this post. Who doesn’t know the extent of this biological difference? Well, lots of people at a minimum pretend not to. I’ve interacted with people about genetics for 13 years now. I’m someone who leans to the Right, but I want to think the best of everyone, and really empirical data is my summum bonum. It doesn’t make me happy to know that the flight from reality has gone so far in some sectors. I am aware that most reasonable people on the Left half of the political distribution would have no problem assenting to the facts here. The problem is that a vocal minority who will “problematize” what should be rock solid facts are not marginalized. This group is so loud and fixated on these topics that they begin to shape perceptions. After all, it isn’t every day that a man is going to challenge a woman to an arm wrestling match. And if you watch superhero movies you know that there are plenty of “butt kicking babes” who more than hold their own. But here’s the thing: superheroes don’t exist, movies are made up!

Perhaps these ideas are stronger than I think, because I’ll be honest that I was a bit surprised by the magnitude of the difference. It is fashionable, and defensible, to talk about averages, but these results point to the possibility that on some biophysical metrics men and women exhibit disjoint distributions. In other words, it is reasonable to treat them as distinct and separate categories in near totality.

Mind you, in a population of millions there will be many strong women who can beat many men. But the results from top level athletes should make us aware just how rare these individuals will be. As individuals they are somewhat sui generis. On the whole I am willing to grant the value of individualism on the legal level. Men and women should be allowed to become fire fighters with sex or gender no bar, and honestly I feel the same for volunteer combat troops. There are women who are physically and mentally in the population capable of competing with and besting most men at tasks which they would have traditionally been barred from on account for their sex. But for some traits they are very rare, because sex matters a lot in development. That is a biological fact.

• Category: Science • Tags: Sex Differences 

165 Comments to "Men Are Stronger Than Women (On Average)"

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  1. There is now a significant pool of people who believe that the physical characteristics are formed, rather than described, by cultural values. This is the end result of the post modern idea that language acts on biology not ideology. Thus if a difference appears in our present reality it is caused not by biology but by the patriarchy. This might seem ridiculous on one level but nevertheless it is a widely propounded idea within certain academic circles. I once encountered a student whose honours thesis, in philosophy, was that women only experience pain during menstruation because their bodies are devalued in our culture. She also told me the Republican Party was the party of stupid because it’s voters reject science ie. evolution/global warming.

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  2. Yep. And note that the simple facts Mr. Khan mentions are 1) immediately obvious to anyone alive, and 2) trivially verifiable by hard scientific studies.

    This little inconvenient fact is also why 1) women have no place in the army, and 2) there are separate events at the Olympics for the two sexes.

    We used to have a saying where I grew up – “men should never hit women.” Looks like the sentiment expressed in that saying was not a residue of medieval chivalry. No – the problem is that if a reasonably well-fed guy smacks a woman, he might seriously injure or kill her with a blow that would barely phase another guy.

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  3. In my experience, leftists, or ‘social constructionists’ even, have never denied average differences in body size, weight, strength, etc. between men and women, but the real taboo amongst them is differences in behaviour between sexes. I agree with some of these people that a lot of research in this field has been spotty, in the disciplines of evo-psych, sociobiology, so on. But the real issue is the knee-jerk reaction to the discussion of the subject. No matter how good the scholarship value of the literature you present them. It’s easy to prove to them the physical differences between sexes, and difficult for them to obscure and deny, but not the case for behavioral differences. The same idea is with transsexualism, transgender etc. where the acceptance of these phenomena as biological is taken as a given, and as a sacred cow, but discussion of actual biological, biosocial causes is tabooed.

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  4. Maybe it’s that liberals *think* they’re more pro-science but just don’t realize they’re not as informed as they profess to be due to their filters and sources. See that a lot in reddit comments. Things they like are true “Because Science” and things they don’t like are “junk science.” I would note that there are a LOT of younger, well informed people on the left that know and understand “controversial” science topics but will do nothing more that admit they’re true when asked anonymously online. That’s all you’re gonna get from them.
    Anyway, most people probably heard about how the female physical fitness test for the Marines went (not well.) They couldn’t do pull-ups!
    That said, I’d still like to see Ronda Rousey fight Floyd Mayweather and knock him out.
    I’m just gonna leave this right here:

  5. Fred Reed just published an article on this website about attempts by women to do the more physically demanding jobs in the military “Women in the Military: Fiat Equality” from January 22 of this year. His conclusion? They can certainly try to become Marine Infantry Officers or Army Rangers, but the evidence is that they can’t, even the elite ones, anymore than they can compete with men in Olympic or professional sports. He has some data and some tables, the gap really is huge. GI Jane, the movie about Demi Moore becoming a SEAL is as much pure fantasy as 115 pound pixie actresses beating the snot out of 230 pound athletic guys in movies.

    On another note, why would you even argue with Chris Mooney? He is either colossally uninformed or ideologically blinded by his own leftist world view or maybe both. A guy with no scientific training at all painting everyone with a broad anti-science brush who doesn’t subscribe to his brand of politics.

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  6. I don’t know what Mooney says, but in techie fora like xkcd you’ll still find plenty of the type of left who denounce evolutionary psychology pretty roundly. We’re talking about people with solid math and physics backgrounds, just the type most removed from the spread of identity politics around campus. I suppose those early undergrad years you’re forced into indoctrination camps known as writing electives is just enough to slant people.

  7. says:
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    I’m more impressed by the few women beating >50% of men than anything else, personally.

    The highest LBM for a female judoka in the sample was 73.4 kg (shame that they only used calipers though). I assume it must be one of the higher fat% ones but damn, that’s pretty impressive.

    consisted of those who competed in judo and handball

    I wonder how other athletes, like say powerlifters or olympic lifters, would fare but those two sports already seem to be good selections for this sort of thing.

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  8. Razib:

    The women’s world record times in track and field are slower than top male high school competitors. The women’s world record times are barely 1 second faster per 100 meters than average athletic 14 and 15 year old middle school boys.

    These type of things should be immediately obvious.

    There is a reason there are 0 women in military combat roles, why women are entirely scarce in construction labor, or why women cannot pass normal physical fitness tests for fire fighters. Think about it. If needed, I could pick up two women like my wife (105 lbs) and carry them over my shoulders or on my back. No woman the size of my wife could pick me up even off my feet (215 lbs).

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  9. I became firmly convinced of sex differences in athleticism at the age of 14 when my junior varsity boys’ soccer team, half of whom had no prior soccer experience, scrimmaged the varsity girls’ soccer team from my high school (which went on to win the state championship two years later with mostly the same roster).

    I naively thought beforehand it would be close since they were more skilled but we were boys. It turned out that it wasn’t even close to a fair fight. We beat them to every loose ball and were just flat out more aggressive. The final score was 5-0 and that understated how close the game was overall.

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  10. I’d think with the increased popularity of Crossfit, there’d be less delusion about the difference in male and female upper body strength.

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  11. Celebrity Death Match! Female (sort of), wrestler, Chyna, vs Joey Buttafuoco. Nuff said!

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  12. A related point, as the father of two young daughters I can’t fathom how anyone could seriously think at some point gender was a social construct. I promise anyone neither my wife nor I showed my 3 year anything about dancing but the girl was born to sashay around our living room and I notice a number of the boys in her daycare seem born to climb and throw stuff and run into each other. I mentioned this to a lesbian colleague and she seemed genuinely offended but we both let it go. Also the mean girls thing starts shockingly young.

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  13. Also, I recall realizing the point of the post as a teen playing basketball at the YMCA. As a gangly but big kid at 6’1 and 170 and a marginal HS player I could simply overpower a female college player (D2) but I was to embarrassed to do so.

    This reminds me of the 50 year old transgender ex-marine who is 6’8 and was playing woman’s basketball at the local JC.

  14. Not that I subscribe to the “if we treated everyone exactly the same there would not be differences” fantasy. But we are not comparing apples to apples. I bet all males in that study got a thorough training in hand grip strength since the onset of puberty.

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  15. Kind of pathetic how desperate the announcers are to concede points to her she she spends half the match on the floor or shying away from him…this girl can throw a punch (she lands one beautiful one on his jaw that nevertheless does nothing but piss him off), but she doesn’t seem to have any footwork or idea of how to control distance when he closes. What’s up with that? Did she honestly think she could go toe-to-toe with him?

  16. She was probably offended because it is likely in her experience that people had expectations of her gender she did not meet (being attracted to men) and was socially punished for it. Information like this seems simple to interpret when you’re an educated person — granted, being educated doesn’t automatically make you a wonderful human being with little prejudice in his life– but this kind of information has constantly been grabbed by the populace to RESTRICT behavior. Look at IQ differences and performance evaluations among the races.

    I believe the fear your lesbian friend had isn’t the type “x race tends to display less competence/intelligence at y”, but more the type “because x race tends to be less competent/intelligent at y according to this data, we should have these exclusive social, professional, and financial perks”. What you think is an innocent observation might have been warning bells for your friend given her past experiences with people who react negatively to nonconforming individuals.

    Let’s be honest here, women were not barred from combat roles for mere practical reasons. It’s more likely around the lines of why female MMA is not as popular. Many men are conditioned to find the thought of a woman being hit offensive/repulsive, while they can watch a MMA match of another man being beat into a bloody pulp and not blink an eye. It’s always been about social sensibilities and people’s tolerance for violence against men vs. women. And many people just aren’t comfortable with the idea of sending women into physical altercations with enemy males.

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  17. This whole subject takes being nuts to a level not reached since burning the witches who floated.

    And the thing is it’s not even a big deal to concede as with technology there’s only a few things nowadays where upper body strength really matters even in the military.

    You wouldn’t even need to bar women just keep the original test and the few who could pass could pass. Unfortunately TPTB don’t want that, they want most of the applicants to pass which means the bar has to be lowered to the point where the test is a joke.

    Then again maybe having loads of really fat and unfit male soldiers because it’s so easy to pass the physical is a secret pacifist plot.

  18. Priss Factor [AKA "K. Arujo"]
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    But in our gender-fluid age, a strong man can put on a wig and claim to be a woman. Then you have a very strong ‘woman’.

  19. Dave Pinsen,

    Crossfit is very prole and lower-middle class. The type of people who hold these views about sex differences don’t do Crossfit.

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  20. Yeah, if you think about it a woman who’s stronger than an average guy has to be seriously impressive.

    Actually the strongest, most athletic girl I know is really into handball, in addition to being a dedicated gym goer. So, handball’s a good choice for this study, though a sport with weight classes like judo or weightlifting is the best place to look for truly extremely strong women.

  21. Did they measure both hands or just one? And if just one, which one? I couldn’t find it in the article. Though I just flipped through it, I tried to search for the words “both”, “left” and “right”, and couldn’t find any of these.

    However, I wouldn’t characterize the training you refer to as “thorough”, as anybody who starts some weight training regimen can attest to.

  22. I knew a girl once who had worked at Baskin-Robbins during her summer vacations . Her right arm had remarkably good muscle tone and she had a grip like man . Just from scooping ice cream all summer.

  23. Men and women should be allowed to become fire fighters with sex or gender no bar, and honestly I feel the same for volunteer combat troops.

    Razib, these jobs require more than just strength. They require camaraderie, high to moderate willingness to sacrifice oneself for a comrade or for the task at hand, the ability not to take criticism or harsh and offensive rude words personally.

    While I would argue women have these things in them to a much lesser degree than males, I would also argue that the presence of females disrupts these even among males. Males will to a higher or lesser degree compete for the favors of the females, will be not only more willing to sacrifice themselves for females than vice versa, but also might be more willing to sacrifice themselves for females than for their male comrades.

    Or even if not, females might be offended if they saw guys not giving them extra attention (or even not enough special attention!) when in danger. For example in the military it could happen that some guys need to be kept in danger or outright sacrificed for the greater good, like in the past militaries have routinely sacrificed rearguards to protect a withdrawing force. Women might find it offensive to be left in danger by males even if the males did nothing but what they’d do with guys, or even if they were already privileged but not enough for their perception.

    It’s bad enough that some guys will get more attention from the gals than others. What’s worse, some gals will get more attention from the males than others. What’s still worse, in such an extremely physical environment those gals will get the most attention from guys who do worst on the job: physically very strong and hence more masculine women often appeal less to guys than the more feminine ones, however, the feminine ones will be less likely to do well on the actual job. This will create additional resentment among the females, where the stronger (but less pretty) ones will resent that while they do better on the actual job they might still get less attention from guys, and what’s worse, from superiors. It will be made all the worse because probably even the physically strong females will only be good compared to the prettier (but less physically strong) ones, but not compared to the males. In other words it won’t be “well, you’re not attractive, but at least you can do the job well”, instead it will be a “well, even if you’re somewhat better at the job, you’re basically still useless, and not even pretty”. (Just an aside note, I work at an almost all-male company, and the first time two colleagues outright refused to talk to each other was when the second lady was hired for a position: after a few weeks they wouldn’t talk to each other at all, to the point they needed their desks to be moved far from each other.)

    And then there is sexual contact: you cannot keep a bunch of guys together with at least one gal and expect them to stay celibate. So there will be pregnancies, unwanted sexual advances, sexual harassment (both real and made up accusations), rape (again, both real and made up accusations), etc.

    That’s the cost side. And the advantages? They can tap into the pool of the 1% of women who might be capable of being marginally useful to military at the level of barely trained average guys…

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  24. Then choose any basis for comparison you like. Choose lower body strength and running. Girls run. Pre-puberty, the fastest girls run faster than all or most of the boys. Post puberty – no contest.

  25. My interviews with female professionals and others in the world of women’s sports confirmed the importance of boys’ physical development at that age. Aaron Heifitz, the publicist for the U.S. national women’s soccer team, described how the women’s squad performs against the best youth club players in Southern California: “The boys’ 13s we can handle pretty consistently, but when the boys start really developing at 14, and especially 15, that’s when you start to see real separation and they pass even the best women’s players. They’re just bigger, stronger, and faster.”


    Nor is the 100 meters an aberration. In sport after sport, evidence shows that the top female professional athletes in the world are on par with the best American 14- and 15-year-old boys. Nearly every female Olympic record in speed, strength, and endurance events falls between the records set by the best American 14- and 15-year-old boys.

    which becomes even more amusing once you consider that some of these women’s records have been on unchecked steroids era of the 80s and are considered unbreakable.

    As distance runner Joan Nesbit Mabe puts it, “a man can only become a faster man. A woman can become a man and get faster. They have a double boost. A woman who becomes more male, she’s basically not a woman.”

    And Chyna wasn’t a mere girl.

  26. In college, my C-league intramural basketball team, composed entirely of average guys who happened to be living in the same tiny dormatory (7 players out of about 15 men total), scrimmiged against the women’s varsity team. We easily tripled their score before the game was cut short by the women’s coach.

  27. The women’s world record times are barely 1 second faster per 100 meters than average athletic 14 and 15 year old middle school boys.

    Not really. Women’s 100m WR is 10.49.

    14 and 15 year old boys who run 11.49 are world class talents. Talented sprinters with some years of training and more than average talent run 11.70-12.50. Average athletic boys who don’t specifically train track, but typically soccer, hockey and handball in Sweden, (where I have been a track coach for twenty years) usually run about 13.00-14.00.

    Some girl track athletes are very strong. I recently trained a female pentahlete. First time I had her to do pull-ups, she easily did a full rep with a 25 kg plate hanging from her waist. And she is six feet, not a pixie gymnast.

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  28. “women were are not barred from combat roles for mere eminently practical reasons…

    many people just aren’t comfortable with the idea of sending women in their prime child-bearing years into physical altercations with enemy males in which they will be subject to high rates of serious trauma and death.

    There, fixed it for ya’!

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  29. I do find this pretty funny, that people can not get past the averages and extrapolate a few outliers.

    I will never forget the time when I saw a woman walk up and break a guy’s nose in a bar fight- the left hook that he threw in response literally sent her six feet away to land out cold. Alcohol makes everyone ten feet tall and superman, but the difference in strength was significant. I have seen martial arts instructors talking to women about how well their training can work, but also to talk about the reality of what it means, and that they are significantly at risk fighting anyone who outweighs them. The instructor then demonstrated by having a female black belt kick him in the chest- he stepped back a foot from the impact, but was not even off balance from it.

    The folks who live out at 2 standard deviations plus are quite well aware of the differences to the common person. I welcomed the new automatic blood pressure instruments, because that stopped the manic overpressure of the nurses who were sure I would have high blood pressure.

  30. My addition:

    many people just aren’t comfortable with the idea of sending women in their prime child-bearing years into physical altercations with enemy males in which they will be subject to high rates of serious trauma and death and the risk of rape in case of captivity

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  31. re: women in combat. setting aside unit cohesion argument for a moment, the fact is that very few women are likely to want to be in high risk combat positions in the first place. so in some ways this is an academic debate. but 1% is different from 0%, when u are talking about millions…

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  32. The main problem with women in combat is that women break down into tears in stressful situations. I was a soldier for a while, both in all-male and mixed sex units. Of the women that I was around, I personally witnessed a large fraction of them sob uncontrollably in typical, non-combat military situations. I have no doubt that a majority of women in the military have cried in uniform. I never, ever saw a man cry in uniform. Are there women that have the mental toughness for combat? Probably a few, but selecting them from the masses of crybabies would be difficult (it isn’t always clear who is going to cry) and politically impossible.

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  33. how about mandatory supplementation if your levels are too low? that would be sex/gender blind, and the mental and physical changes would allow one to be ‘combat ready’.

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  34. My addition:

    many people just aren’t comfortable with the idea of sending women in their prime child-bearing years into physical altercations with enemy males in which they will be subject to high rates of serious trauma and death and the risk of rape and pregnancy in case of captivity

    Female combatants can come home carrying the enemy’s child. Or, depending on the length of captivity, with the enemy’s child on hand! What a hideous thought.

    In the realm of powerlifting, I took at a look at the world open equipped records for powerlifting for the squat. The lightest men’s weightclass winner weighed in at 58.06 kg/127.73 lbs. He squatted 300.0 kg/660.0 lbs. The only women’s record that beat him was the highest weight class, a woman weighing in at 120.62 kg/265.36 lbs, who squatted 310.0 kg/682 lbs.

    The man weighed half of what she weighed!

  35. prosa123 [AKA "Peter"]
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    If any person says to my face that women shouldn’t serve in combat roles because their lives are too precious ( which necessarily means that men are expendable ), it will take every bit of my self-control not to physically assault him.

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  36. I think it’s enough to say that unit cohesion will suffer (and people will die as a result, we’re talking about deadly combat), and the 1% females will on average be at best mediocre soldiers, and even the most outstanding ones will be barely better than average.

  37. Don’t think it’s necessarily a Men’s Rights thing. They don’t want to be held back or put at risk due to a weak link. If you’re in danger and literally need to be carried out of it do you want a man or a woman there? I’ll take the man. When I saw Obama speak an enormously fat man in the upper seats had a heart attack and turned completely blue. He was dead! Only reason he was revived was because the male EMTs went into total beast mode by physically carrying him down the stands on a fabric stretcher and performing CPR on him once they got him down. ZERO chance a woman could’ve done it.

  38. How will the side effects be different from those of steroid use?

    And again: what is the point? I think we’re all in agreement how the costs far, far, far, far exceed any possible benefits, so why go through all this?

  39. Not really. Women’s 100m WR is 10.49.

    That was set by Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988…..

    There’s a lot of controversy surrounding that number:

    Drugs: FloJo was pretty obviously on steroids:

    Florence Griffith Joyner is rarely mentioned without an invisible asterisk next to her name when the women’s 100 and 200 meters comes around in Olympic year.

    Current runners bemoan the unreachable bench mark she set. Double Olympic 200 meter gold medalist Veronica Campbell Brown got nowhere near it, saying it was beyond her reach.

    Former 200 meter Olympic champion Gwen Torrence said that she “did not acknowledge those records … To me they don’t exist and women sprinters are suffering as a result of what she did to the times in the 100 and 200.”

    In 1988, Griffith Joyner suddenly packed on muscle and improved her times by half a second. After the Olympics, she just as suddenly retired, right before international track and field expanded its drug testing procedures. Flo Jo did attempt a comeback in 1996, but quit after hurting her Achilles tendon. In 1998, she died after suffering an epileptic seizure.

    Frankly, lots of female running records from the ’80s are highly questionable

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  40. Obvious follow up is to replicate the experiment in other primates to understand the extent and or novelty of sexual dimorphism within the metric.

  41. Totally agree with @ola. I find it so weird that anybody would deny this. Reference to track and field records is your best bet. Anecdotally, I (female) am 3 yrs older than my brother and I beat him at 100 m time and time again until his puberty kicked in, then he beat me no trouble. Testosterone makes a huge difference in muscle mass and strength regardless of training. I thought the world was unfair!

  42. “But on Twitter recently I saw an article which quantifies the difference in concrete ways. To be honest the difference shocked me. “

    At first glance I thought you meant the opposite of what you wrote here.

    The 3SD difference in upper body strength sounds menacing when stated as average man is stronger than a 99.9th percentile woman or as a sexual dimorphism on the level of gorillas. Have been plugging those at reddit for a year now.

    There is however much confusion in today’s age of widespread usage of steroids. Too many ‘exceptions’ to the rule to make it suspect.

    In fact, one of the difficulties I had when lecturing on the subject is that the photos of East German women swimmers, the Wonder Girls, no longer evoke much surprise at all. When I showed photos of swimmers Kornelia Ender and Rosemarie Kother, whose musculature once scandalised audiences, students are underwhelmed. They’re accustomed to seeing women who have even more impressive physical development, even actresses and ‘fitness models’.

    “That’s something I do need to be concerned about because I take care of people of all ages and what kind of effect is that going to have, socially, on the young athletes that we take care of,” he said.
    “Because, believe me, I see high school kids and junior high school kids that are dabbling in steroids and HGH [human growth hormone]. It’s amazing what happens. And their parents know it. Including girls, by the way, especially girls.

    “Girls’ soccer is rife with anabolic steroid use. It’s amazing.”

    Then there’s the problem of the egalitarians thinking that it’s the difference in physical exercise and they point to the olympians, for instance the sprinting gap is half among them than the general population.

    Gives rise to misguided souls like Colette Dowling and those who buy her ‘The Frailty Myth: Women Approaching Physical Equality’.

    PS – why are the links going in caps?

  43. prosa123 [AKA "Peter"]
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    Further thoughts:
    Yes, it’s undeniable that there is a big male advantage in upper body strength, but it seldom matters. Men and women almost never compete against one another in competitive sports. By “competitive” I’m excluding such things as after-work softball leagues, which if co-ed are much more recreational than serious athletic activities. Come to think of it, very very few people past college age participate in serious competitive sports at all, especially team sports. The vast majority of men and women who participate in marathons or triathlons, to name common examples, are trying only to beat their own times (or finish at all).

    There have been enough women in public-safety jobs (police officer, firefighter, paramedic) for long enough that there should be some idea as to whether lesser strength has had some effects on performance. Other than a very few dubious anecdotes I haven’t heard anything.

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  44. Other than a very few dubious anecdotes I haven’t heard anything.

    Oh, why do you think that is?

  45. Sure, I consider it very likely that FloJo was on steroids. Also, the wind reading from that meeting is very suspect. Most track statisticians believe the real wind was more than +5m/s – far exceeding the legal limit of +2 m/s.

    Still, there have been hundreds of 10.70-11.00 races over the years made by women sprinters during legal conditions. Some of those were undoubtedly steroid aided too, but not all. And those times are a still heck of a lot faster than average athletic guys of any age can run during wind controlled conditions and with fully automated timing.

    My point being: Don’t underestimate elite female athletes in highly competitive international sports. Also: most fit and athletic guys are much slower than they think they are.

    Not denying the obvious differences between the sexes of course. We will never see a woman run a sub-10 100m.

  46. But of COURSE men are expendable. Always have been, always will be.

    After all, sperm is cheap while eggs are precious.

    A 1:1 male/female ratio is usually inefficient and rarely seen in traditional societies. Polygamy is the norm and the winners of male competition get the surplus. In traditional societies all fertile women breed, but many men do not. Better the losers die gloriously in battle or bravely hunting ferocious beasts than mope around the village causing trouble.

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  47. In traditional societies all fertile women breed

    Depends. According to Greg Clark, in 17th century England many women remained spinsters. Off the top of my head I think it was something like 20%.

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  48. prosa123 [AKA "Peter"]
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    We’re not some primitive society. If some women die in combat it isn’t going to threaten our demographic survival.

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  49. Anyone who has worked in jobs that demand strength would know this. I worked in carpentry/general contracting as a summer job while in school, and having a woman on the job would have been worse than useless. So much of even skilled labor involves strength that lack of it can make many parts of the job very difficult or impossible. Even simple things like prying out nails. Far fewer people today than in times past use strength to earn a living, so they can pretend these differences don’t exist.

    Today, not having worked in manual labor for many years, whenever I have to work with a guy who does (say, help carry something) even my own relative weakness is pretty obvious. Not long ago I helped some young neighbor who works in manual labor move a large fish tank with a layer of gravel on the bottom (I’d estimate that it weighed around 250 lbs), and it was killing my soft office hands. He had no trouble at all. A woman couldn’t have even gotten it off the ground.

    So, obviously, when you live in a world where nobody has to do this kind of thing, it’s a lot easier to deny these differences. This is why feminists and the like should have limited input when it comes to any jobs that involve strength.

  50. On topic of expendable males in our species: I just listened to a lecture on long-range organization of Y chromosomes in different species, and it was full of examples of evolutionary lineage-specific families of testes-expressed genes on Y and X locked in meiotic drive kind of a battle. Deletions of copies of the putative meiotic-drive genes in murine Y-chromosomes do shift the progeny sex ratio towards more females. In the primates, these genes are known as VCY / VCX and the remarkable balance of the sexes in the newborns seems to demonstrate that Mother Nature doesn’t want to tinker with the levers of meiotic drive to churn out fewer “expendable males”. Ergo, they aren’t expendable? Any thoughts why?

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  51. Simple mathematics, males usually have less children, but some males hit the lottery ticket and have a lot of children. Females tend to have average fitness with little deviation from the mean. However, the average male has exactly the same number of children as the average female, if and only if the sex ratio is 50-50. If the number of males drops below 50%, the average male will have more children then the average female, hence you’ll have selection in favor of males. If the number of females drops below 50%, the opposite will happen and there will be selection in favor of females. The equilibrium is around 50%. (Except if producing one sex is cheaper than the other. Obviously mostly investment in male/female offspring should be 50-50, but if producing one is significantly cheaper it could result in skewed sex ratios.)

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  52. yep, fisher showed this verbally. more formally

  53. You do realize that women are not the only prisoners who get raped, right? And suddenly women should be held back from combat roles because some people deemed their function as child-making factories too important to let them choose? (as if all these women will choose to have children or as if we’re in some terrible danger of population decline if we allow women in combat roles).

    Please let’s skip the unit cohesion spiel as well. They drummed up the same talking points for gay men in the military, but lo and behold the military didn’t descend into chaos and decadence.

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  54. “Yes, it’s undeniable that there is a big male advantage in upper body strength, but it seldom matters.”

    Ag… But it always matters, man!

    Take a look outside. See that posh apartment building where the young female professionals are setting up their nests? Or that house where the recently divorced now-single mother is raising her child?
    Both were built entirely by men. Because construction requires muscle – it’s that simple.
    In fact, the entire city you live in was built by men. And only men.

    Now let us look through the window and into the kitchen of some nice young lady. There are all sorts of things in that kitchen – surfaces of fine marble, tables of quality wood, knives of stainless steel… The production of all those things required raw materials, and all of the raw materials were extracted by men. Because the extraction of raw materials is tough work that requires steeliness and muscle.
    Look at the young lady’s car – it was made by men; it’s powered by gasoline extracted, refined, and delivered by men; and if it breaks, it will be repaired by men.

    Now let us look behind the young lady’s building. Somewhere around there we will find a dumpster. The trash that the young lady produces will be collected and disposed of by men – because trash collecting is a dangerous job done exclusively by men.

    The “Sex and the City” single feminist columnist living up at the penthouse can only exist because of the unsung sacrifice and the blood and sweat of all of the blue-collar men drinking beer and playing Playstation in all the basements of the city.
    And let us never forget that.

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  55. Thanks reiner Tor & Razib. So the preservation of 50:50 ration through the evolutionary history of our species depended on equality of costs of raising boys and girls? Which, in the pre-agricultural and probably early agricultural societies, must have been defined by usefulness of adolescents in the family economy (how much food they need / how much food they can procure / what else they can do to care of the siblings and the elders / to ward of dangers etc.). Boys and girls being equal in their potential until such time when they leave the parents’ family.
    Does it mean that if someone posits that in the contemporary society, females have reduced innate physical / economical / military potential, then one must also hypothesize that these supposed differences between the sexes emerge only after puberty?

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  56. I’d consider 17th century England well over a millennium removed from being a traditional society. English men and women of the 1600′s had both feet firmly planted in the modern world.

  57. Please Please let’s skip the unit cohesion spiel as well. They drummed up the same talking points for gay men in the military, but lo and behold the military didn’t descend into chaos and decadence.

    You don’t know this. The experiment has only just begun.

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  58. World class under 15 boys already run under 11 seconds. The Australia U15 record is 10.44 until recently it was 10.96. The English record is 10.99. 15 year stars of the future like Khalfani Muhammad run under 10.7. These are the stars of the future.

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  59. If some women die in combat it isn’t going to threaten our demographic survival.

    What is your definition of “some”?

    Whatever that proportion of the female population is, the corresponding proportion of males who can die without threatening demographic survival will be many, many multiples higher.

    Another thing to consider is that a female soldier will be, by definition, healthy and of breeding age. A 20-year-old woman can raise a large family with a 50-year-old man. But not the other way around.

    Look, I’m not arguing that women shouldn’t ever be in combat. What I am arguing is that young men truly are expendable by their very nature.

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  60. And suddenly women should be held back from combat roles because some people deemed their function as child-making factories too important to let them choose?


  61. that’s a dumb response. many nations have had gays in the military long before us (e.g., i had a roommate from singapore who mentioned this, as all singaporean men are conscripted and he had a officer or something who brought his ‘partner’ to events, back in the 90s)

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  62. There will always be early developers. Very few of those 15-year olds will ever break 10 s as adults. Most likely none of them will.

    20 miles from where I live there is a danish guy, Kristoffer Hari, who ran 10.37 in 2013, 6 months before he turned 16. That was an european record, beating Mark Lewis Francis’ old record by 0.06s

    Hari then ran 10.47 in 2014 and I expect he will run about the same this summer. Francis peaked in his late teens and never ran sub 10. He is 33 this year and havent given up yet but it seems less and less likely.

    It is possible though! I watched Kim Collins run in Malmö yesterday. He is 39 and faster than ever, world leading with 6.48 in 60m this winter.

    Anyhow, maturation rate is a confounding factor. For fair comparisons between 15 year old boys and elite women you should rather look at elite men and the average times they ran as boys.

  63. With all due respect, how many wars has Singapore fought since it began allowing openly gay men to serve? Unit cohesion only really matters when the shit hits the fan. In peacetime, much can be faked.

    A quick perusal of Wikipedia seems to indicate that Israel is the only nation that has experience with gays in the military under actual combat conditions. I have not heard that this has created any problem. But Israel also has done unusually well in integrating women into combat. It might be that feeling your nation’s existence is at stake helps everyone focus on what’s important. (The Soviet Union did a good job of integrating women into combat positions during WW2 — until it started winning. )

    Any IDF veterans out there?

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  64. @ Ola:

    To find a time for an average atheletic boy 14-15 (not an average boy), I looked up the Archdiocesean record for CYO track in my area by 7th and 8th grade boys. It was 11.49. The 14 year old who won our region (one of five) in the diocese last year ran a 12.27 – he will certainly break 11 seconds this year. I similarly looked at CYO records for my diocese for 200 m, 400m, and 800 m and found the same 1 second slowerrecord. These aren’t world class times. They are just times for a boy with average athleticism from a small subset of athletic boys.

    We all know the women’s world record of 10.49 was set by a woman on steroids or someother performance enhancing drug. Everyone candraw their own conclusions about this.

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  65. says:
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    You’re right. It does sound ridiculous.

  66. Hear! Hear! And never forget that Feminists do not speak for women as a whole – they represent a relatively small segment of women. Most women have no difficulty in acknowledging sexual differences of all sorts and actually prefer to take on the jobs that women traditionally do throughout the world – raise the children, attend to household responsibilities, and maintain a garden. Outside of the home, women usually choose to take “clean” jobs such as office work, teaching, and health care. Few women consider working as a truck driver, plumber, electrician, or engineer, positions where physical strength is not much of an issue.

  67. I don’t understand the interest in human sprinting when Sarah the cheetah does the 100m in 5.95 seconds.

    Then there’s Secretariat whose 2:24 time in the 1.5 mile Belmont Stakes is less than half that of the fastest human 1.5 mile run.

  68. I was shopping recently in a large retail store in Guadalajara, Mexico. I went to the men’s room, which happened to be next to the employees’ lounge. A sign on the wall caught my eye as it said that males could lift no more than 50 kilos and females could lift no more than 20 kilos. (For the non-metric, that’s 110 pounds and 44 pounds.)

    I’m aware that Mexico has different social standards than north of the border, but I was surprised to see a sign spelling out the difference between the sexes. Is there a similar rule in the USA about how much weight men and women can lift?

  69. It’s easy to prove that women should not serve in the armed forces using an assumption of liberalism.

    If women are not at least 50% of an institution, then the women in that institution cannot perform optimally. Since it is impossible for women to ever be at least 50% of the armed forces (according to Razib’s data), women never will be at least 50% of the armed forces, and will therefore never be able to perform optimally. If women cannot perform optimally, then they should not be there at all.

  70. I think children cost very little after puberty, being capable of work. Pre-puberty, I think there could hardly have been a difference in terms of childbearing costs. Sex ratios have historically been skewed by infanticide practices, wars, famines, etc., but I’d bet they have usually been close to 50% in humans throughout the history of the species.

  71. Pretty much. If your women die, your population takes a huge hit in the next generation, so the natural inclination is to protect them.

    Of course, growing up where we were supposed to be equal in every way BUT I was the only one expected to die for my country put me against feminism before I knew what the word was.

    And in a battle, I’d have no problem shooting female enemy. You live longer? Well, maybe on average, but this particular one won’t! [BLAM]

  72. Well, as commenter Marissa has already remarked, men cannot get pregnant and cannot bring back the enemy’s child from the POW-camps.

    Please let’s skip the unit cohesion spiel as well. They drummed up the same talking points for gay men in the military, but lo and behold the military didn’t descend into chaos and decadence.

    Yes, it didn’t descend into chaos and decadence, but who said it would? My prediction would have been a weakening of unit cohesion, and as a result some people getting killed in combat. (Just a reminder, we’re talking about deadly combat.) I think it’s indisputable that unit cohesion is better in all-male units. Of course the military will keep functioning, only worse.

    some people deemed their function as child-making factories

    I find this language offensive. Neither my mother nor my wife are “child-making factories”, please mind your foul language and stop insulting mothers. You do realize that without an uninterrupted chain of mothers going back to the time of our first sexual ancestors, you would not be commenting here?

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  73. The current top ranked female boulder (Alex Puccio, USA) is #19 overall in the world, placing her obviously above an awful lot of extremely strong men. Note however that climbing ability is (a) a function of strength to weight ratio rather than absolute strength, and (b) also extremely technique-dependent.

    It’s a cliche that good female climbers tend to develop efficient technique early because they can’t fall back on brute force as (some/many/most) male beginners can.

  74. Oh, and since we’re all nerds here: looks like a realistic upper bound for human female strength is 12 rather than 18(50), eh?

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  75. But Israel also has done unusually well in integrating women into combat. It might be that feeling your nation’s existence is at stake helps everyone focus on what’s important. (The Soviet Union did a good job of integrating women into combat positions during WW2 — until it started winning. )

    Any IDF veterans out there?

    “As the United States moves to integrate more women into combat roles, some have looked to Israel, which on paper has one of the most gender-neutral militaries in the world, starting with a universal draft (although, since many do civilian service instead, only half of women enlist, compared with 70 percent of the nation’s men). But the episode near Mount Harif in September highlighted some of the complex realities behind the policies of the Israel Defense Forces, where it remains rare for women to kill or be killed, and questions persist about their fitness.

    While more than 92 percent of I.D.F. jobs are now open to women — they are fighter pilots, infantry officers, naval captains and Humvee drivers — just 3 percent serve in combat roles.


    The main combat unit for women is Caracal, named for a desert cat that looks similar whether male or female. Since its founding in 2000, the unit, which has been up to two-thirds female, has guarded the borders with Jordan and Egypt, and was the one involved in the Mount Harif episode. While most female soldiers serve two years, women in Caracal are required to serve three, like the unit’s men.

    Arielle Werner, 21, who grew up in Minnesota and immigrated to Israel in order to join the combat unit, said female recruits underwent the same training regimen as the men, except for occasionally shorter runs or treks with full regalia. “Once in a while we can guilt the guys into doing the heavy lifting” of huge water bottles or stretchers, she said, “but girls do the same as guys; it’s pretty equal.””

  76. prosa123 [AKA "Peter"]
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    @Ken Smith: at the Major Home Improvement Retailer where I have my second job, and which sells many very heavy items, there are no rules about male vs. female lifting limits beyond a general exhortation to “team up” when necessary. Beyond that, men tend to do the heaviest lifting, but not always: some of the younger women seem to want to prove themselves and will decline a male employee’s offer of help when it comes to lifting such things as 60-pound fertilizer bags or 70-pound shingle bundles.

  77. I read about Israel that after the War of Independence they never used women in combat roles again. Male comrades were supposedly all too often needlessly exposing themselves to extraordinary danger to save females from milder danger. However, I tried to search for better sources, and I couldn’t find anything. Is there anyone more knowledgeable?

    The USSR usually integrated women into support combat roles, and they had all-female units. Women were also used as snipers (I think by current US definitions rather semi-snipers), where they could operate alone and not in groups. I don’t think they had mixed-sex combat infantry units, for example, but I might be mistaken. I read about these a long time ago when I hadn’t yet had an interest in HBD, and to be honest data about female soldiers wasn’t exactly the most exciting.

  78. while the concept of “total war” is not a modern invention ( the” bans’ of the Hebrew bible), if statistics are to be believed, the preponderance of casualties in modern wars occur among the civilian population — firebombings, nuclear detonations, “shock and awe”. In which case, women, children and elders would suffer comparable if not greater attrition….

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  79. Faze.


    As a military reporter for decades I frequently dealt with this. The Pentagon is very aware of the differences but can’t say so. Women are not just far weaker but far more lightly built. A firm handshake could do real damage to many women so men, or many of them, accommodate. Training injuries, especially sprains and stress fractures, are many times more common in women. (Except blacks, according to a study long ago in Military Medicine.) Lower cardiac output, lower erythrocyte counts. With exercise they put on less muscle more slowly than men and lose it faster. This has been studied to death by exercise physiologists who train Olympic and other athletes.

    In a civilization of office workers, the gap can easily be overlooked, I speculate. Go to Gold’s gym and look at what the sexes are benching, pressing, what have you. The difference will be huge. But feminists do not much go to serious gyms, I suspect, and educated men seldom carry anything heavier than a coffee cup.

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  80. The 14 year old who won our region (one of five) in the diocese last year ran a 12.27 – he will certainly break 11 seconds this year.

    Perhaps one boy in a thousand will improve from 12.27 to 11.00 in a year. During three decades I have competed with and coached lots and lots of 14 year old boys who ran 12.27 or faster. You’d be surprised by how few of them went on to break 11 s even as seniors.

    Looking at Sweden’s national top lists for the last ten years, 12.27 would on average make you the 15th fastest 14 year old boy in the country. For 15 year old boys the average time of the 15th fastest boy during the same period was 11.85. So about 0.4 s is a reasonable yearly progression at that age. Progression will then be harder and harder as maturation slows down.

    There were in total two 15 year old boys breaking 11 s in Sweden during these ten years. Both black (one Jamaican), both competing at world level youth championships

    I don’t know what conclusions you draw. My conclusion is that female elite sprinters are much faster than average athletic boys, but much slower than male elite sprinters.

  81. Homosexuality is officially illegal in Singapore, but is nowadays tolerated. However, I doubt someone in the army would openly bring his partner to an official event, especially back in the bad old 90s.

  82. says:
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    There are two reports showing liberals are weaker on a number of science issues than conservatives.

    See “When Liberals Ignore Science” National Review Feb. 6, 2015

    and “Liberals Deny Science Too” Washington Post Oct. 28, 2014

    jkl phd

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  83. As far as I know even civilian casualties are disproportionately male in most conflicts.

  84. Wrong. Crossfit and the entire paleo thing is middle to upper middle professionals. Proles and laborers either do nothing or if they work out, they go to a bro-curl gym and do bro-curls.

  85. jkl, your last link is actually very interesting in two ways.

    First, Chris Mooney is sometimes portrayed as a knee-jerk conservative-basher. I guess he’s more subtle than that.

    Second, the article actually provides some surprising numbers:

    Eight-one percent found it either plausible or highly plausible that “some people are born genetically with more intellectual potential than others,” and 70 percent ascribed sexual orientation to “biological roots.” Meanwhile, nearly 60 percent of sociologists in the sample considered it “plausible” that human beings have a “hardwired” taste preference for foods that are full of fat and sugar, and just under 50 percent thought it plausible that we have an innate fear of snakes and spiders (for very sound, survival-focused reasons).

    I would have guessed much lower numbers – and also an exactly opposite trend with regard to the questions! Left-wing sociologists believe in heredity of IQ but not in innate fear of spiders or snakes? Well, TIL.

  86. I’m sure there are lots of countries, including the US, with loads of experience with gay people in the military in combat situations. They just didn’t document who is gay and who isn’t.

    Studies have been done on the effects of lifting the ban on openly gay servicemen and servicewomen in the countries like the UK and Canada, and have found no effect on unit cohesion whatsoever. And I don’t think there’s any evidence that UK, Canada or any other country with LGBTQ soldiers fared worse in places like Afghanistan or Iraq. The UK armed forces are widely recognized as one of the best employers for LGBTQ people even. I think a lot of militarizes are realizing that being LGTQ friendly benefits them and helps them attract more recruits.

    It’s not like the US has fought many major wars in the last 50 years either, at least no ones that have gone very well.

    In peacetime, much can be faked.

    I really don’t get the concern. What’s going to happen exactly?

    For women, I think the only major war where Israel had large numbers of women in combat was 1948. They did pretty well in that war…

    For some reason there seem to be lots of women snipers. I wonder if there’s something biological at work there.

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  87. We are already below 2.1 TFR amongst the founding populations of every decent country (is there even one exception?), so population decline is not a danger, it’s a reality.

    Has there been a thorough study of unit cohesion with and without openly gay troops?

  88. [V]ery few women are likely to want to be in high risk combat positions in the first place.

    This is very true. The media hype and distort the women in combat thing, but the percent of women who join the armed services who want to be in a combat specialty you can count on the fingers of one hand. If there were no media hype pushing the idea, you could probably count them on one finger. In the Navy, 50 percent of women are in the Medical Corps or Medical Service Corps, 25 percent are in intel-related specialties, and the rest are in miscellaneous fields, including 4 percent who are aviators. There’s not a lot of difference in the other services.
    That said, the nature of the wars we have been in this century is such that women in non-combat specialties have often found themselves in combat. Female FMFs know that the Marine Corps mantra of every marine a rifleman is necessary and true. Some 140 women have been killed in combat in OIF and OEF. Many, many more have been wounded, often quite severely.
    The allowing of women in combat was merely an acknowledgement of the existing situation, not the creation of anything new. Once all the hoopla has settled down, not much will have changed. And, I should add, also despite media hoopla, there has been no rape epidemic in the armed services. The typical young man who enlists is not a sexual predator and is fully capable of self-control and self-discipline.
    Incidentally, SSgt Josephine Gebers became the first woman Marine awarded the Combat Action Ribbon after she served under enemy fire in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic–in 1965, long before the era of political correctness. My mother was a nurse with both the 7th and the 45th Surgical Hospitals during the Vietnam War. These units were often mortared and rocketed, and medical personnel were killed and wounded. Women in the armed forces is an old story and so is the story of women in combat.
    Here’s a very even-handed article about women in combat that discusses the strength differences between men and women and the motives of women who want to serve:

    Chris Hernandez wrote a very thoughtful, informative article on women in combat, including the significance of strength differences between men and women, for Breach, Bang and Clear, very much worth reading:

  89. So far, female Marines are not succeeding. Fifty-five percent of female recruits tested at the end of boot camp were doing fewer than three pullups; only 1 percent of male recruits failed the test.

    The three pullups is already the minimum required for all male Marines. Now the Marine Corps has postponed the plan, and that’s raising questions about whether women have the physical strength to handle ground combat, which they’ll be allowed to do beginning in 2016.

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  90. The evidence for racial differences is of the same quality and strength as the evidence for gender differences. Yet this topic is taboo, for good reason. I would argue that, for the same reasons, investigation of gender differences should also be ‘taboo’. I have the same suspicion of someone who wants to investigate gender differences as I do of someone who wants to investigate racial differences. I can only assume that you also support investigation of racial differences, along with a spate of books and articles explaining why black people are like this and white people are like that and asians have these other qualities.

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  91. No doubt it’s biological.

  92. Mike Zwick [AKA "Dahinda"]
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    “To a great extent I feel like an idiot even writing this post. ” No, the only reason you had to write this post is because so many other people are idiots!

  93. I imagine that the reason that they found no effect on unit cohesion is that there just aren’t that many gay infantrymen. Only about 2% of men are homosexual. If there were equally likely to become infantrymen, then most squads wouldn’t have one. However I suspect that they are less likely to join the military, and much less likely to end up a combat arms MOS. So any unit cohesion argument is mostly theoretical, because there just aren’t enough gays to make a difference.

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  94. For some reason there seem to be lots of women snipers. I wonder if there’s something biological at work there.

    Probably several. A couple I can think of:

    - Working alone. (No group cohesion issues.)

    - Patience.

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  95. I have the same suspicion of someone who wants to investigate gender differences as I do of someone who wants to investigate racial differences.

    And what is that suspicion?

  96. Also:

    - No need for physical strength or speed.

    - Absolutely no need to look the enemy in the eyes, to meet him face to face.

  97. Usually I like Razib Khan, but this article is a fraud. How do I know? Because I saw yet another svelte 105 lb. supermodel chase down and beat up a 200 lb. male secret agent on TV last night. That’s like 10,000 times I’ve seen it happen.

  98. “The same idea is with transsexualism, transgender etc. where the acceptance of these phenomena as biological is taken as a given, and as a sacred cow, but discussion of actual biological, bio-social causes is tabooed.”

    Liberals have a very selective attitude to scientific data of these topics. For example, they like data showing that homosexuality is caused by biological differences, but they reject research showing homosexuality is relatively uncommon and that there is no real evidence for a sexuality continuum.

    The left also has a odd attitude to research into transgenderism. The topic of cross-dressing/ autogynephilia is of little interest to them, yet male to female cross dressers are much more common than transsexuals and most heterosexual transsexuals start out as cross-dressers.

    Basically about three percent of males are homosexual, about three percent of heterosexual men engage in some type of transgender behaviour, and a very small proportion of gays and cross-dressers become transsexuals. However, the left likes to ignore cross-dressers, perhaps so they can count them as repressed homosexuals, and deny the connection between autogynephilia and transsexualism so they can claim heterosexual transsexuals are “women in men’s bodies.”

  99. I recall reading an Internet article some six years ago about the attack on the destroyer Cole. In the aftermath of the explosions the service women on board panicked. Even those who were not wounded or near the scene of blow up had to be evacuated . In an aside to the account the male officers aboard were reported as practically useless. The rescue and cleanup work was performed largely by enlisted men directed by senior NCOs.

    I thought the report was so interesting a few days later went back and read it again. I was struck both by the negative psychological reaction of the women, as well as the ineptitude of male officers. Since that time, after having come across several gender related articles, I have gone in search of the Cole report, but it has disappeared from the Internet. Guess the Navy scrubbed it. Has any reader here come across it? I know report was not my imagination.


  100. it is very interesting that there are also huge differences (on average) between different populations, following a pattern one could expect.
    In this study taiwanese males of chinese ancestry had a grip strength distribution which is quite similar to the grip strength distribution for (european) females in the beginning of the article.
    In this study (sorry, not open source) taiwanese had an average grip strength which was on average 20-25% lesser than the international norm.
    One could think that those differences have some consequences for every day life. E.g. those differences again could explain in part some of the racial pattern observed in the partner market, which were discussed in this blog a few days ago.
    Also those data could another aspect to the discussion of the role of women in the military. Why should caucasian / subsaharan african females do not have the right to join any military unit they want to when east asian males do have the right, but both seem to have similar strength distributions?

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  101. interesting! side note: most Strong Men are of european ancestry. is that because they have a biological advantage or because they’re more well practiced?

  102. This is an obvious point that is rarely mentioned. Gays are only a small percentage of the population and gay males are more likely to work in female-dominated professions, hence there aren’t going to be enough of them in the military to be of much consequence.

    As far as transsexuals go, the ratio is going to be something like to one male to female transsexual soldier to every 10,000 males soldiers. Hence the British army probably has less than 10 transsexual soldiers.

  103. Priss Factor [AKA "K. Arujo"]
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    A more interesting sex-difference studies would be across races.

    Suppose we compare black female strength with white male strength, and white female strength with black male strength.

  104. The ratio of men’s hand strength to women’s hand strength is 550:350 (at the median) or 850:575 (at the peak athletic level). In terms of muscle groups I reckon the gap is probably biggest for bench press (having breasts doesn’t help) — the world record for bench press is 1000lb for men and 400lb for women.

  105. To put that in context 400lb is 180kg. Before I had a shoulder op I could do 8x at 130kg. I am reasonably strong but nothing special. Never tried a single lift record but I reckon 160-170….

  106. The evidence for racial differences is of the same quality and strength as the evidence for gender differences. Yet this topic is taboo, for good reason.

    I’m not sure why that or any topic should be taboo, so please tell us what the ‘good reason’ is. Because the facts might be misused, in your opinion? Mind you, I don’t think the present article needed publishing, and it’s likely to be used against the site, but at least it traffics in facts.

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  107. prosa123 [AKA "Peter"]
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    This study looked only at young men and women. It would be interesting to see what the strength gap is like at older ages, for example comparing men and women at age 60. My guess is that the gap narrows with age. Older men have less testosterone and men’s bodies seem to deteriorate with age faster than women’s bodies.

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  108. the above link (gated) indicates it does converge somewhat.

  109. i’m pretty sure that commenter was trolling fwiw.

  110. In terms of deterioration – you go by biomarkers, most important of which for older people is loss of muscle mass. If a man keeps in shape he can keep a lot of his strength into his 60′s and beyond. Same with a woman.

    This is why therapists for the elderly harp on resistance training for them. 2-3 times a week.

    Still they’ll never be equal in the strength department.

  111. That’s what gender norming is for. One pullup for a woman will be given the same value as 10 for a man. Instant fix and happiness for all.

    Doesn’t matter in reality if the female recruit can’t throw a grenade farther than the blast radius or pull a injured buddy to safety or out of a burning vehicle or carry a SAW and ammo for 10 miles then engage in a firefight for the next hour.

  112. More like 14. Old Runequest had it about right – old AD&D was always a fantasy.

    Of course all RPGs have now abolished lower female STR limits, because of Equality.

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  113. “the problem is that if a reasonably well-fed guy smacks a woman, he might seriously injure or kill her with a blow that would barely phase another guy.”

    That is the most preposterous thing I have heard.

    Strength =/= durability. Men who are equally strong, can still kill each other with blows.

    Not to mention, there is suck a thing as moderation. If you hit a woman with only 10% of your strength, nobody is going to die.

    That rule has no rational basis. It’s pure irrational instinct. Probably including The Fundamental Premise, somehow.

    Seriously, I cannot believe that you could be so stupid to actually believe this. A blow that barel phases me killing a woman? Are you insane? Even if that were true, you could get rid of that problem by not using your full power when smacking. (yes SMACKING, something that is often done to children, who miraculously survive)

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  114. It’s a load of shit is what it is. None have proved a harm to unit cohesion much less linked deaths to the presence of a gay man or woman in the troop. It’s ominous speculation and little more. Even McCain, who vociferously opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell under the grounds it would cause grievous damage if not done properly, later admitted in an interview that nothing wrong had come out of the repeal.

    And baby-making factories is exactly what you depict them as when you would restrict them from participating in combat roles for the fear that they could die and not end up reproducing. I’m sorry to pop your bubble, but motherhood is just one of the many paths a woman can choose to take and their liberties should not be taken away because of your paternalistic sensibilities. How sad to squarely place the value of a woman in her reproductive capabilities. It’s similar to looking at men as mere work mules easily expended.

    Test them as you see fit, ACCORDING to the job they will perform in the military (and combat roles in the military hardly involve hand to hand combat anymore).

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  115. I want to also address this poor example about what the sexes do differently in gyms.

    People go to gyms to shape their bodies often according to societal ideals. This is so obvious when you look at straight versus gay men workout routines. Straight men go for the V shape and focus on their upper body more than they do on their thighs or ass. It’s about display of strength, not being passively alluring.

    The ideal image for a woman is not about displaying competence/strength, it’s about being sexually appealing. Look at all those programs about working your legs and ass that men don’t generally participate in. Until you look at gay men, who do worry about body parts they do deem attractive, so something as trivial as a “nice ass” is of different value to the kind of person doing work at a gym.

    Women who bodybuild are socially marginalized. Any woman who looks masculine is, so it’s of little mystery that you see the lifting habits of men and women differ. Image matters. Women work their lower body more while straight men work on their upper body.

    It’s even evident in media. Look at any videogame, and pay attention to the models. Pretty much every female has a perfectly detailed and voluminous ass, but most males end up being flat and usually their clothing is more modest. With highly exaggerated upper body musculature and wide jaws and deep voice.

  116. says:
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    Very well written, excellent summary. Basics of male and female interaction that most normal people begin to understand in junior high, and master by high school.

  117. says:
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    The difference between male and female strength in handgrip is way bigger than the 25% between asian males and european/african males. It’s quite clear that when it comes to athletic performance the differences between asian/european/african males is far lesser in magnitude than the difference between males/females. Both white and asian male top sprinters although not as fast as west african male sprinters they are both much faster than west african female top sprinters for example. The same is true when it comes to asian males vs white/black females in for example weight lifting. In order to find populations were race differences are as great as sex differences you’d have to look at outlier populations such as maybe Aka pygmes

  118. A society in which “motherhood is just one of the many paths a woman can choose to take”
    - like ours – is a society that can’t last. If you could do simple arithmetic, you would already know that.

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  119. @Mig 18
    there are the numbers for the mean grip strength for the right hand, the maximum and and minimum of a tested groups of young taiwanese in the first study by Chaung et al I linked to, s.584. Unfortunately they do not give the data for the 75 and 25 percentile.
    The mean is ca 364-398 (depending on the testing position you get different results, I don´t know which testing position was used in the study which is used in article above), the maximum ca 560-604 and the minimum 215-264. Even if we assume in the study by Leyk et al. used the optimal test posting positions and thus should be compared to the higher numbers of the study by Chuang et al (mean 398, max 604, min 264) the difference is striking. If one lays an imaginary fourth boxplot with those numbers into the graphic above one sees that this boxplot would be nearer to the box plot for females than the one for men. The range in the taiwanese study is much smaller than the range for the males in study by Leyk, probably because the number of tested persons is much smaller.
    But you are right, in professional sports the difference is not as big. And caucasian females would probably not be able to compete with east asian males in most sports, including those which require strength like wrestling, weightlifting etc.

  120. Yup.

    On the other hand, D&D’s about the only place a female version of Conan could exist, so why not let people have their fun?

    If you’re interested in a little counter-PC RPG action, you could try to support Desborough’s Gor RPG. ;)

    This is, of course, heavily nerdy and I feel like I should be encouraging you to learn game or something ;)

  121. By that standard, any society that doesn’t maximize population growth is one that can’t last.

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  122. This is important. I bristle at any discussion of sex differences because the unspoken part after “women have less upper body strength than men” is ALWAYS “and that’s why you should all be locked up doing nothing but cooking and cleaning.” The people who discuss this kind of thing never, ever say that because women have better verbal IQ’s and more fluid verbal intelligence that men should quit being diplomats and let us be in charge of all international relations.

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  123. None have proved a harm to unit cohesion much less linked deaths to the presence of a gay man or woman in the troop. It’s ominous speculation and little more.

    This is true. We have data going back to the first Gulf War on this. Integration of women has had a negligible effect on readiness, cohesion, and morale. We shall see if this continues with women integrating into small SOF units. My speculation is that, ultimately, so few women will want to do such jobs, that it will hardly matter. The few women who do will be exceptional individuals who will prove to be strong assets.

    [M]otherhood is just one of the many paths a woman can choose

    Many women who serve in combat zones become or are mothers. Mothers have been killed in combat (and killed in such a horrific manner that the funeral had to be closed-casket), leaving a widower and motherless children behind. It is not correct to categorize women who choose to serve in the armed forces as rejecting traditional female roles. Very often, they are conservative, Christian (overwhelmingly) and highly patriotic.
    As an aside, as part of the on-going self-segregation of social classes, it is quite normal for women in the armed forces to marry men in the armed forces, and have children who will themselves become members of the armed forces. It’s no different from lawyers marrying lawyers, or doctors marrying doctors.

    Test them as you see fit, ACCORDING to the job they will perform in the military

    That seems reasonable, but the thing is, with the kind of wars we are fighting, you don’t know when you will find yourself in an extreme situation, no matter what your occupation specialty might be. Achmed gets to decide that, not Uncle Sam.

    [C]ombat roles in the military hardly involve hand to hand combat anymore

    You might be surprised at how close it can get to that. But setting that aside, if we are talking infantry, you need to be as strong as a mule to do that job, whether you ever set eyes on the enemy or not. If you loaded down an animal the way Uncle Sam does a marine or soldier, the SPCA would take you to court. Not only will your marine have to hump his own gear, perhaps 100 lbs., if he’s a mortarman, for example, he will also be humping the baseplate or tube and mortar shells. Total load could easily reach 150 lbs. And he won’t be freighting that across a parking lot, but over rough terrain, probably in temperatures of 100 degrees in the shade–if there were any shade. And when he gets where he’s going, he has to dig in.
    Big, strong, 20-year-old he-men collapse under the strain and have to be medevac’ed. One false step and an ankle snaps, a knee blows out. One of the most common physical ailments of combat veterans of our recent wars is severe back problems, leading to addiction to pain killers.

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  124. No, but you see plenty of feminists argue that women’s superior skills at compromise mean they should be more heavily represented on corporate boards and so on.

    In short, heavily male conservatives argue that men’s strengths mean they should lead. Heavily female feminists argue that women’s strengths mean they should lead.

    Or, human beings pick evidence around them to make points that support their position. We evolved to argue in support of our position, not to discover truth.

  125. I don’t follow.

    Let me expound my point:
    1) Men hit much, much harder than do women.
    2) Men are much, much sturdier than women.
    3) Therefore, if a man strikes another person, that other person is much more likely to suffer severe injury if that person is a woman rather than a man.
    (One can extend the argument a bit further:
    4) Men, being stronger than women, are much less averse to resolving disputes through violence.
    5) Men also like to “playfight.” Women don’t.
    6) Hence one can argue that in certain cases it is reasonable for men to settle their differences by duking it out.
    7) However, given point3), one can argue that it is almost universally a bad idea for a man to resolve his issues with a woman by means of violence.)

    All three points of the main argument clearly hold :/. Other posters have even related anecdotes which reinforce my point. You can find instructive videos on YouTube.

    You are saying that one can avoid the “problem” of women being more fragile than men, and men being stronger than women, by “smacking” women with less strength. I grant that, but it’s neither here nor there.

  126. That’s definitely true.
    It’s been my experience that the men most vehemently opposed to women doing X, Y or Z are insecure in their own masculinity at some level and they project negative characteristics onto women to compensate. Self-confident men secure in their own masculinity merely want proof that you are capable, reliable and trustworthy. They don’t want you around if you are not–but neither do they want men around who are not.
    A male who objects strenuously to women serving in combat, but who could not in a million years become capable of night-trapping an F/A-18 on the rolling deck of a carrier after flying a 7-hour combat mission, has all sorts of twisted emotions bouncing around inside his head when he sees women–women!–do this. It only gets worse when he realizes there are women flying Cobra gunships in combat and blowing up the bad guys, or FETs outshooting Achmed and fighting off ambushes, or coordinating with maneuver elements to trap and destroy Taliban forces–all things he has neither the native skills, nor the physical and moral toughness to carry out.
    He may console himself by asserting those women are all mannish lesbians or something. But it really goes bad for him when he comes to understand that the women who serve run the gamut, just as the men do, and many are quite feminine, most are wives and quite a few are mothers as well.
    Of course, quite a few men fully secure in their masculinity have no interest in military things, and don’t care whether men, women or Martians do that job, just as long as nobody makes them do it.

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  127. I don’t think women do have better verbal IQs. Women are better on average at reading certain social cues (though not threat cues); that’s not IQ although it may be useful in diplomats. Do you think Susan Rice & Victoria Nuland are any good as diplomats? If Hillary Clinton is a better diplomat than John Kerry it may be because of her higher IQ, but that does not seem related to her being female.
    Women are much better with babies, though.

  128. I know how to extrapolate the long-term consequences of a TFR well below 2.0: do you?

    That population disappears. But you, personally, can prevent that by saying something sufficiently stupid! Keep up the good work!

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  129. Strength =/= durability.

    Yes it does. One of the most important factors in resisting a concussion is muscular strength. Same with preventing injury in all sorts of other situations. Of course, there’s a tradeoff with higher mass, because heavier people fall harder and so on, but all else being equal strength absolutely does contribute to durability.

    As an example, a young woman in Seattle was recently struck in the head and knocked out cold — by an egg!

    I’ve been hit in the face with a line drive, kicked in the head, punched on the skull or in the face a number of times and the only thing that knocked me out was smashing my head into and breaking a car’s windshield in an accident that probably would have killed me if I’d been a woman. For the record, I was pretty strong when these things happened, but not out of the ordinary for a young, physically active guy trained in sports.

    Women are much, much weaker than men. If you hit a normal man and a normal woman with equal force, it’s going to hurt the woman a lot more — this is something everyone should know by at least the age of twelve. I refused to play sports with girls past a certain age, because there was just no contest at all, and if I played as I would with a man they’d end up in the hospital.

    Another thing that is too often left out of this debate is that men are not just stronger than women, but better in virtually every single measure of physical ability. So if there’s a woman who’s a freak of nature and able to outlift 90% of men, chances are that when compared to other men at her strength level she’ll be lacking in other measures of fitness such as speed, endurance, heat tolerance, agility, etc. When you consider the statistical likelihood of a woman being as good as an elite man at every single one of these measures the idea of a woman being a Navy Seal becomes laughable. I doubt there is one single woman on earth who could perform at the level of the average US elite special forces soldier in all his tasks. And no, trannies don’t count.

  130. A male who objects strenuously to women serving in combat, but who could not in a million years become capable of night-trapping an F/A-18 on the rolling deck of a carrier after flying a 7-hour combat mission, has all sorts of twisted emotions bouncing around inside his head when he sees women–women!–do this.

    What a load of bullshit. My uncle’s a former top gun Navy F-14 pilot, and he was highly skeptical of women flying fighter planes from the beginning, so he opposed the clearance of the first female F-14 pilot to fly. His and other pilots’ objections were ignored, and she promptly crashed her plane into the side of an aircraft carrier, killing herself and the rio and destroying millions of dollars of equipment if I recall correctly.

    Men don’t have “twisted emotions bouncing around inside [their] heads” — it’s just that they don’t want to have to go to war alongside people who do.

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  131. correct. That’s why i believe wage gaps, to the tiny extent that they actually exist, are a good thing. Clearly women need to be deterred from work, now especially because most work these days isn’t back breaking manual labour but cushy jobs well suited to women.

  132. I served in the U.S. Marine Corps alongside women for four years back in the late eighties/early nineties. We called women Marines “WMs” back then (and probably still call them that, for all I know).

    Except for the first three months of boot camp, WMs were present during my entire four-year enlistment.

    * One of my MOS instructors at Twentynine Palms was a WM.

    * My squadron at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, had around 150 Marines in it. Probably about 10 percent of them (a dozen or so) were WMs. They were in admin, supply, motor transport, and the technical fields that provided our squadron’s core mission of air surveillance. Only one of them – a black second lieutenant – was an officer. She worked in admin.

    * When we deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1990 for Operation Desert Shield, most of those WMs (except for one or two pregnant women) deployed with us.

    * When Operation Desert Storm began in January, 1991, WMs served beside the men in a potentially dangerous situation. My squadron was a forward-deployed radar unit near the Saudi/Kuwait border (near Khafji).

    (Like almost all U.S. service members who took part in the First Iraq War, no one in my unit was actually hurt. So it’s surreal (but gratifying) for me to say that while I’ve been in a war, I still didn’t personally know a single Marine who was a casualty. Not one. The closest I came was when one Marine in our squadron tripped while running to a bunker during an artillery attack and fell on a metal tent stake. Fortunately, the stake hit the eye of the gas mask he was wearing and damaged it more than his face. I’m afraid no purple heart was handed out for the incident.

    But we did have to run for the bunkers a few times because of incoming artillery. This was mostly harassment fire sent off during the first days of the air war in the general direction the Iraqis thought coalition troops might be. Nevertheless, the potential for danger was still there, and so I had the chance to see first-hand how women handled those situations.)


    In my informed opinion, woman are not cut out for combat at all. And even in non-combat units on long-term deployment, they degrade military effectiveness.

    First, women’s physical performance is very low, and it’s not just upper body strength, either.

    Marine Corps’ physical fitness training (PFT) standards for men require separate tests for pull-ups, sit-ups, and a three-mile run. A male Marine who could do 20 pull-ups, 80 sit-ups in two minutes, and run three miles in 18 minutes had a perfect score.

    WMs, however, had a much different standard. Flex-armed dead hangs (instead of pull-ups) and a mile-and-a-half run (rather than three miles). The only part of the PFT that was the same for both women and male Marines was the sit-ups – and from my observation the average WM still lagged behind the average male Marine in that category. (WMs are now made to run three miles, but given much more time than the male Marines to finish without hurting their scores.)

    I also saw that the lower physical standard for women does affect the men’s physical performance in the unit. We’d have squadron runs two to three times a week. A squadron run is when the entire unit forms together for PT (physical training) and ends with a formation run. These runs are supposedly done for esprit de corps, and cadences are usually sung as the group trots along in unison. Trot is a very appropriate word, since the pace is very slow – about nine-minute miles. A four-mile run takes about 35 minutes.

    A tradition on these runs is for the entire formation to occasionally (once or twice every run) turn back to pick up its stragglers. Some Marines – who are either sick or not in good shape or simply can’t run very well – fall out of the formation runs. They can’t keep up. So perhaps in the spirit of “leave no man behind,” the entire formation will find some convenient spot – a parking lot, an intersection, etc. – to turn around and go back so that those runners who fell out of the formation have another chance to finish running with the group.

    (If you want some idea of what a Marine formation run looks and sounds like, watch this YouTube video.)

    Very few male Marines ever fell out of a formation run. Ever. For most young male Marines, a formation run in a co-ed unit was a piece of cake – and for many of us it was so easy as to not even constitute a real workout. A few of us often went out for runs on our own later in the day.

    But every formation run would have a few Marines drop out, and 90 percent of the stragglers in our squadron runs were WMs. Most men who fell out of formation runs without a good excuse would get deservedly reamed in private afterwards by their warrant officer. There was rarely a good excuse for them to fall out. But WMs? What could we expect?

    The problem is that formation runs are designed toward the lowest common denominator in the unit. The squadron Commanding Officer (CO) – who usually leads the run – isn’t trying to embarrass anyone. Or see how many Marines he can force to fall out. He knows he’s in a co-ed, non-combat unit. And he’d look bad to other officers on the base if they drove by his squadron while it was on a run, and quarter of it had dropped out of the formation.

    So the CO deliberately runs slow. Very slow. But it’s still not slow enough, and the quality of the entire unit’s physical training suffers because of the women in the group.

    Does a non-combat unit need high PT standards? Well, we still dragged around heavy cables, lifted heavy equipment, dug trenches, lifted sand bags, built bunkers, etc. So there was work to be done, and if you were not in shape, it would test you.


    The second reason women are not cut out for the military when its on deployment is that they are a huge distraction during a very stressful time. A military unit on deployment is not a nine-to-five job. You are never off the clock.

    A big part of the stress is that while being on a deployment is demanding of your time, it’s also incredibly fucking boring. You are stuck looking at the same faces on the same piece of dirt, twenty-four/seven, for months at a time. Even your friends start to get on your nerves. And since there is a fine military tradition called “Hurry up and wait,” you often have nothing productive to do.

    Taking a shower with hot water is a luxury. Taking a crap is an adventure. During the day, the Arab flies never let a guy sit in the stall for long unmolested without attacking him. I learned the fine art of jiggling my body so that a dozen or so aggressive flies wouldn’t land on my posterior when I was trying to take a dump.

    During the night, there was often no light in the makeshift toilet stalls, and so you had to hope the last person to sit on the toilet had hit the mark. For some inexplicable reason, some Marines did not. Maybe they were in a hurry. Maybe they just missed. Maybe they liked dirty pranks. Who knows? In any case, one of my fellow sergeants who was sitting on the gear with me late one night disappeared for an hour after telling me he was going to the head. Turned out the Marine before him had an accident, which because of the lateness of the hour, my fellow sergeant did not see. So he had to take a truck back the base where we slept to get cleaned up and a change of cammies.

    Getting a decent sleep in a tent in hundred-degree heat was a trick some of us never learned – and then it gets cold during the Saudi winters, a lot colder than I ever imagined. Some guys stop taking regular showers because there’s no regular hot water, which just adds to the natural aroma in the tent.

    The point is that it’s very stressful, and not in the typical way most people think of war as being stressful. In fact, when Operation Desert Storm finally began, it was a relief for most of us.


    Male Marines who are married or have girlfriends back home, and so presumably have regular sex, suddenly find they must do without. Many of them get surly. They want female companionship. To be more precise, they want sex.

    The WMs, too, suddenly needed more romance than they ever wanted or needed back at the base. Something about stress seemed to trigger it in them. Or maybe they, too, were missing the regular sex they got back at the base. Who knows? I wasn’t conducting a survey, and so I never asked them. Like most male Marines (but certainly not all !), I preferred not to deal with the WMs any more than was required. Most of them were hideous looking.

    In any case, I noticed strange pairings of male Marines and WMs walking around the base that I had never seen before. And there were rumors that some Marines were hooking up in the bunkers. This made some of us even surlier. Why did a few Marines get to have sex and the majority had to go without? It’s not that we cared for or desired the object of their affection. It was the principle of the thing.

    But the worst was yet to come.

    We had been on deployment in Saudi for about four months in Operation Desert Shield, when shortly before Operation Desert Storm began in January 1991, our squadron lost its CO (a lieutenant colonel – an O5) and its sergeant major (the squadron’s top enlisted man – an E9).

    Why had we been decapitated right before the war?

    Turns out the CO – a tall, gangly, and very married forty-something-year-old Texan – had taken a shine to one of the enlisted WMs. She was a corporal who served in one of the technical fields, but because she wasn’t necessary to operations had been loaned out to Motor Transport, who needed the personnel. One of her new duties was driving the CO around.

    He took a liking to her, and she to him, and the Sergeant Major caught them in flagrante delicto. I don’t know if it still is today, but fraternization between an officer and an enlisted person was heavily frowned upon back then, and for it to be between a CO and a lowly E4 makes it even worse. He was twenty years older than her, and the power differential was so vast it’s hard to imagine if you haven’t served.

    The sergeant major did what he should have done and reported what he saw up the chain of command. But the officers in our unit were very unhappy with the sergeant major. I guess they thought he was a tattletale or something, and so he too was removed from our unit at the same time. I later heard that the CO spent some time in the brig.

    Some two weeks later we were at war with a new CO and a new sergeant major.


    One final incident.

    During my time in Saudi Arabia, I occasionally had to stand guard with Saudi soldiers. It was an interesting experience. Most of them spoke no English, and I didn’t speak Arabic. So we did a lot of pointing and pantomime. They were friendly, and I had no problems with them.

    But one of the fascinating things was to see how they reacted to WMs. Their discipline – never good to begin with – broke down completely when one of the WMs came into their view. Even the fat WMs weren’t enough to turn them off.

    One dude – I kid you not – started dancing and singing when one of the more comely WMs walked by one day. Somehow he knew her name, and so his lyrics were a barely decipherable “Allison, Allison, Allison !,” as he walked in her direction with his hands waving and hips gyrating. It was funny as hell.

    But of course we couldn’t allow our WMs to stand guard with those folks, and so the enlisted men in the unit had to pick up the slack. Yet another way in which military effectiveness is degraded by the presence of women.

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  133. This is true. We have data going back to the first Gulf War on this. Integration of women has had a negligible effect on readiness, cohesion, and morale.

    Well, this is not true, but we have so many in the U.S. officer corps who have bought into the prevailing social orthodoxes that I’m not surprised to find one here. Good for personal advancement, I suppose.

    Martin van Crewald: “To Wreck a Military”

    Looking back, clearly what we see is two long-term processes running in parallel. The first is the decline of U.S. armed forces (as well as all other Western ones, but that is not our topic here). The second is their growing feminization. Critics will object that, even as they were being downsized, the forces went through one qualitative improvement after another. In particular, the so-called “Revolution in Military Affairs” is supposed to have increased their fighting power many times over. That, however, is an illusion. To realize this, all one has to do is look at Afghanistan. Over there, “illiterate” tribesmen—not, take note, tribeswomen—are right now about to force the U.S. to withdraw its troops after a decade of effort in which they achieved hardly anything.

    Are the two processes linked? You bet they are. Consider a work by two female professors, Barbara F. Reskin and Patricia A. Roos, with the title Job Queues, Gender Queues. First published in 1990, it has since been quoted no fewer than 1,274 times. As they and countless other researchers, both male and female, have shown, over time the more women that join any organization, and the more important the role they play in that organization, the more its prestige declines in the eyes of both men and women. Loss of prestige leads to diminishing economic rewards; diminishing economic rewards lead to loss of prestige. As any number of historical examples has shown, the outcome is a vicious cycle. Can anybody put forward a reason why the U.S. military should be an exception to the rule?

    Are the processes welcome? That depends on your point of view. If the reason for having armed forces is to guarantee national security, then the answer is clearly no. By one count, almost one third of enlisted military women are single mothers. As a result, whatever the regulations may say, they are only deployable within limits. Adding to the problems, at any one time, one tenth of all servicewomen are certain to be pregnant. That again means that there are limits on what they can do on the job. Women are unable to compete with men when it comes to the kind of work that requires physical fitness. Those who try to do so nevertheless are almost certain to suffer a wholly disproportionate number of injuries. As a result, the part of their training troops of both sexes spend together often borders in the ridiculous and represents a gross waste of resources. Furthermore, women’s retention rate is lower than that of men on the average. As a result, bringing them to the point where they are qualified to do their jobs also represents a gross waste of resources.

  134. Guys like you are the bullshitters–to use your word. The aviator you are referring to is Lt. Kara Hultgreen. Her RIO, Lt. Matthew Klemish, was not killed in the crash. She did not crash the aircraft into the side of the aircraft carrier (the Abraham Lincoln). This incident happened more than 20 years ago! Yes, the crash was the result of pilot error. It happens.
    How many men have crashed over the years? How about Lieutenant Commander Kevin Davis who fatally crashed his F/A-18 while flying with the Blue Angels? Gee, Marine Capt. Katie Higgins also flies with the Blue Angels and hasn’t crashed her F/A-18. By your very twisted emotional logic, men shouldn’t be allowed to fly with the Blue Angels.
    There are plenty of female naval aviators and have been for years and they have been flying combat missions for years.
    FYI, my grandfather was a naval aviator. My father was a naval aviator. He flew more than 100 combat mission over North Vietnam and commanded a VA during ODF. My sister is a naval aviator. She has flown F/A-18s in multiple deployments participating in both OEF and OIF. Guess who urged her to become a naval aviator?
    Are you a naval aviator? If not, take your bullshit comments and get lost.

  135. “It’s been my experience that the men most vehemently opposed to women doing X, Y or Z are insecure in their own masculinity at some level and they project negative characteristics onto women to compensate.”

    Men’s views on women in male-dominated professions are driven by their political and religious views and have little to do with how secure or insecure they are in their masculinity.

    Also it’s often quite surprising what qualities are needed to succeed in some male-dominated professions. It isn’t all about having social dominance, nerves of steel or physical strength. For example, one of the most male-dominated trades is antique clock and watch repair, yet few people would regard such a gentile business as particularly masculine in an obvious sense.

    As far as flying aircraft goes, a lot of good pilots tend to be lightly built, mild-mannered guys with relatively high levels of neuroticism, and the so-called “worrier gene,” is well represented among male fighter pilots. This is probably because good pilots need a high IQ, quick reactions and excellent fine motor control. Nether-the-less, even those quite a few women have these qualities, far fewer women than men can succeed as successful air force pilots.

  136. So something is one of many possibilities, therefore TFR must be below 2? Might want to check your proof on That

  137. Oh, I see, by “like our society” you meant “in such a way that like our society it has a lower than replacement fertility rate”. Well, I can’t argue with that tautology.

  138. says:
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    Let me start with an analogy. Recently I read a description of the first hostilities between japanese and mongol warriors. The japanese rules of enagement were described as “ritualized”, what ended in easy wins for the mongols until the japanese learned how to fight along mongol tatics.

    Well, “mutatis mutandis”, I believe that maybe some of the perceived inapproprietness of women in armies is due to the fact that armies tatics and equipments were conceived with men’s physical and mental capabilities in mind. But to me it is not a given truth that differently organized armies combining men and women roles should necessarily be less efective.

    In other words: yes of course the sexual dimorphism in our species is real. But – mainly in our technological context – it’s not unthinkable that armies can develop combat roles that take advantage of women’s capabilities. It happens that until now this was not a necessity for most countries.

    In manufacturing, for example, the different roles of men and women is well acknowledged and put to good use.

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  139. UL – Reed wrote one several years ago on roughly the same topic, with some interesting findings by the USN, the Canadian military, and others. If you’re interested, it’s #135 – Women in Combat.

    As to Mr. Khan’s being ok with women in combat, I’m going to have to stridently disagree. The data are incontrovertible. It would cost far too much money to find the 1 woman in 100 (or more) via training washout, to be useful. Some might point to the washout rate at BUD/S or Sniper school, but the people that washout of BUD/S or Sniper school already have some other MOS if they fail at those elite training programs.

    If the barbarians were knocking at our gates (think Stalingrad 1942/43), then it’s no-holds-barred. Lyudmila Pavlichenko is an excellent example of how women can be fantastically good shooters. In that context (Stalingrad), being a good sniper doesn’t make one a competent infantryman capable of long road marches, carrying 60-70# of gear.

  140. I’ve been reading FoE since the article numbers were in the double-digits. We even traded a few emails before you ex-pated.

    According to Jackson and Pollack, within the age group that we’re talking about (privates through maybe S/Sgt, roughly 18-25 yoa), the ideal body fat content for men is about 8-13%, and about 19-24% for women. Keeping the math simple, use 10% and 20%, respectively.

    A 170# man is carrying 17# of fat, and a 135# woman is carrying 27# of fat. He still has 153# of lean body to do work, she has 108# of lean body to do work.

    – if you think that exercise preferences at Gold’s account for these differences, you’re one of the people that need to read and re-read the OP’s article until it sinks in.

  141. Razib,

    The “Insert MORE Tag” doesn’t seem to be working for my #135. I thought the tag allowed a poster to put most of his comment out of sight unless a reader chose to click on [MORE].

    But apparently I either misunderstood the tag’s purpose or it’s not working, because I can’t see the rest of my post when I click on [MORE].

    Whatever the case, can you delete my comment and I’ll repost it without the tag?

  142. Let me start with an analogy. Recently I read a description of the first hostilities between japanese and mongol warriors. The japanese rules of enagement were described as “ritualized”, what ended in easy wins for the mongols until the japanese learned how to fight along mongol tatics.

    If the Mongols used cavalry against machine guns we would have called the Mongol rules of engagement ritualized, too. The Japanese initially used what they knew worked (typically the best plan to start with), only it didn’t work against highly trained cavalry with composite bows, so they adjusted their tactics.

    So you’re using the Mongols as an analogy for women in combat, and the Japanese as the “old” male-only army… Are you joking? I’m sorry, but that is one of the most backward analogies I’ve seen yet.

    In fact, accommodating women in the armed forces – and they sure do require accommodation – is more like the Japanese, instead of changing tactics to effectively fight the Mongols, demanding the Mongols get down off their horses, throw down their bows and fight with samurai swords.

    But – mainly in our technological context – it’s not unthinkable that armies can develop combat roles that take advantage of women’s capabilities. It happens that until now this was not a necessity for most countries.

    I don’t think “necessity” means what you think it means.

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  143. in a comment above I mentioned quite big differences in hand grip strength between different populations and a possible connection to the discussion about racial patterns on the partner market on this blog a few days ago. In this discussion about racial patterns on the partner market there was some discussion about whether south asians can rather be grouped together with east asians or with other caucasians regarding their chances on the partner market.
    There is also some data on hand-grip strength in the indian population. According to this study (s. 15) indians seem to have a hand grip strength distribution rather similar to that of east asians and not to that of western populations. This again makes it rather plausible to put south asians together in one group with east asians, which is quite surprising. while in general malnourishment is a factor which should not be neglected when studying anthropometric data in india this peculiar study is probably not affected by this, as the test persons are students at an university.
    I find this result a bit implausible judged by own experiences, but it is true, again this might be argument in the women in the armed forces debate. Nobody could seriously claim that the men out of the combined east asian / south asian population (around 3.5 billion people) should not be able to join the us armed forces. So why denying this to females who have similar hand grip distributions?

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  144. Fun Stuff & Good Writing Mr Pincher.

  145. So you’re using the Mongols as an analogy for women in combat, and the Japanese as the “old” male-only army… Are you joking? I’m sorry, but that is one of the most backward analogies I’ve seen yet.

    I´m afraid you didn´t understand my analogy. Let´s try again.

    Every time one talks about “evolution”, there is one implicit assumption: this evolution happens against a given “fitness landscape”.

    The evolution of combat roles, tatics and armies organization happened in a context where women was not a part of this fitness landscape. But from the moment that women´s participation in battle is assumed, the fitness landscape changes. New equipment and battle roles will be developed with women´s participation in mind, GIVEN that this participation is perceived to have some positive outcome.

    An argument can be made that women´s participation in battle is not desirable in any circunstance and that men are better soldiers in every conceivable situation. I think we really don´t know. As I said in my original comment, anyone minimally knowledgeable about the history of the organization of manufacture knows that this is not true in that context. There is not a fundamental reason for this not being true also in military matters.

    I don’t think “necessity” means what you think it means.

    Nice cliché. Would you mind to elaborate your reasoning?

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  146. says:
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    I’m not in the least bit surprised by this. I swear to you, if I had had to guess the comparison of female to male strength, I would have gotten it very accurately. I imagine this is in part because I am 5 ft tall and 100 lbs. Thus, the strength differential between men and me is always very obvious to me. I also have perceived that most other people don’t intuit this the way I do. I don’t know why. Influence of movies perhaps? It’s just common sense. The average girl is 5’4″ and has much higher body fat than the average man. Even size by itself would get you to something vaguely similar to the strength ratio. Then you just have to consider muscle mass percentage difference.

  147. An argument can be made that women´s participation in battle is not desirable in any circunstance and that men are better soldiers in every conceivable situation. I think we really don´t know.

    But we really do know. In fact, one has to try very, very hard to be ignorant about that fact.

    Look at primatology. Look at anthropology. Look at the evidence of history over the last several thousand years.

    Hell, even if you want to be ridiculous and reduce all modern warfare to a video game, which gender – by far – is addicted to and better at playing video games which feature violence?

    So what conceivable “fitness landscape” are you talking about?

  148. says:
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    I don’t think anyone would deny females trying out for any profession or job, just that very few will make it. But you cannot seriously claim that South Asian and East Asian males are on level with caucasian and black females when it comes to physical strength, racial differences exist but they are not even close to the sex differences in this regard. The difference between average testosterone levels between the sexes is ten-fold, between the races it’s between maximum 15 – 30 %. It’s not even close.

    Just look at professional sports, there is absolutely no way that the best caucasian/black females can compete with the best east or south east asian males whether it comes to athletics, martial arts or weight lifting.

  149. By the time they have reached their majority most people, of average intelligence, have realized that that ” 1) immediately obvious to anyone alive…” is largely false and always false in some instances.

    As to: “This little inconvenient fact is also why 1) women have no place in the army, and 2) there are separate events at the Olympics for the two sexes.” These “facts’ can not be inconvenient because they’re not facts.

    Many women can hold their mud in military situations as many men can’t. Those who can should be there; those who can’t should not. Gender, for obvious reasons both biological and cultural, is a factor but in well run armies, it is not a determinative factor. Certainly it is not in combat which thousands of valiant woman demonstrated for decades — probably millenia.

    As to averages being a reason for classification in sports, that why golfers have handicaps; in schools people are divided into fast classes; average classes and classes for kids who come on the short bus. That is so everyone can be fairly judged on their performance, at an appropriate level. As we know from experience, even when done with the best of intentions, those classifications are often inaccurate which can produce damaging results. Classification by an abstraction is useful until applied to an individual. Even the best actuarial tables give us nothing — other than a wide range — as to how long an individual will live.

    As to men being better at taking blows, that is macho nonsense. I did martial arts for over ten years. I could, probably, kill you with one blow; so could my 26 year old daughter, who weighs 120 pounds. My son on the other hand who is larger than both of us and a good athlete has never been in a fist-fight in his life. I once worked for an attorney, who defended a client charged with murder for hitting a guy once, in a bar fight — the guy died. Yours are irrational distinctions for irrational behavior, yet, I will accept the argument from medieval chivalry, or any other source, that men should not hit women, in fact — in my world — we don’t much punch one another.

  150. I’ve been reading the comments here with delight.
    I’d like to make a bet.

    I’ll bet that every ranked woman athlete in the world
    could beat every man writing here at her sport.

    Just for fun…jt

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  151. There aren’t many Marines coming out of bootcamp I’d want to go into combat with. Down the road after some further cuts the odds go way up. Certainly the corps give you a better chance of surviving combat than the army, in equal situations which the corps never gets‚ but my point is, I’ve done martial arts training with a few woman who I’d put in that keeper group.

    Just a personal observation.

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  152. Just looking at this thread, I do not think that the small number of people who deny that men are not physically bigger, stronger, faster and have more stamina than women can be convinced by marshalling evidence. If they could be convinced should one need to marshal any evidence in some sort of formal way? They just don’t care, as in they don’t want care whether it’s true or not and it’s pretty obvious as to why.

    ‘Secular values’ as the word is used now, is just another word for utilitarianism. Per utilitarianism pleasant is good, unpleasant is bad, and it applies to accepting and rejecting propositions too. A lot of the time true and pleasant and false and unpleasant go together and when this is so, a utilitarian will care about true/false but when this is not so, they don’t, not caring in these instances is specifically and exactly what a utilitarian is. Sometimes one might find people whose creed says that true/false is what matters, not pleasant/unpleasant, like Christians doing this, but one might have a chance of arguing them out of it since per Christianity behaving like this is called a ‘sin’, to use the traditional term.

    Lest one think this is hogwash, a few years back the president of Harvard said something true but generally thought ‘offensive’ or displeasing (‘offensive’ is a synonym for displeasing, with the connotation that everyone will find what is offensive displeasing but is not there in the literal meaning of the word, that is why that particular word is used for stuff like this) about men having a wider and flatter IQ bell curve than women and was subsequently booted out of office. As he should have been. Harvard is a community of people with secular values, i.e. utilitarians, and what happened was exactly what one would expect from a group of utilitarians doing utilitarianism right, it wasn’t a ‘misfire’ in any way shape or form. Utilitarians doing utilitarianism right don’t care about true/false, only pleasant/unpleasant. So if all those smart people on the Harvard faculty can act like this, why cannot someone less high falutin do the same, though people who find that men are more athletic than women are to be a proposition they find unpleasant are pretty rare.

  153. I’ll bet that every ranked woman athlete in the world could beat every man writing here at her sport.

    I’ll counter your bet. If women’s sports were opened up to men, not a single woman would remain ranked in the top 100 in any of them. Perhaps not even in the top 1000.

    Even Ronda Rousey, perhaps the greatest woman’s mixed martial artist ever and an Olympic bronze medalist in judo, knows the score. She is against transgendered men competing in Women’s MMA, saying they have an “unfair advantage.”

    Since a handful of men have and will continue to break these boundaries, the discussion isn’t academic, either. Yet even this tiny subset of men – those who want to publicly identify as a woman – have found athletic success in women’s tennis, MMA, track and field, basketball, golf, and other sports.

  154. There aren’t many Marines coming out of bootcamp I’d want to go into combat with. Down the road after some further cuts the odds go way up. Certainly the corps give you a better chance of surviving combat than the army, in equal situations which the corps never gets‚ but my point is, I’ve done martial arts training with a few woman who I’d put in that keeper group.

    You’ve somehow equated combat in war with time in a dojo, as if the U.S. military goes to war to find other people to kick and punch and choke out.

    But if that was the purpose of war, if it happened in more than, say, ten percent of the cases where U.S. forces engaged the enemy, then service training would consist of little more than martial arts training. In fact, hand-to-hand combat is almost entirely neglected. Any serious martial arts training by someone in the military is done on his own time.

    So your daughter and the ladies you train with at the local dojo are not ready for war, no matter how many times you’ve seen them choke out some guy who walked off the street.

    Second, if modern warfare were ever to become mainly about hand-to-hand combat, your ladies still wouldn’t be ready for war to the same degree as hundreds of thousands of men who are bigger, stronger, and with even a few months of concentrated training would wipe the floor with your ladies.

    I do find it funny, though, how you believe your 120-pound daughter could dispatch us men with one single blow. Was she trained to use Pai Mei’s Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique?

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  155. “I do find it funny, though, how you believe your 120-pound daughter could dispatch us men with one single blow. Was she trained to use Pai Mei’s Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique?”

    Interesting that you’re so passionate about this but no she’s not a martial artist, she was a rated gymnast, but every year since she was twelve she did do the survival martial arts weekend with an Aikido sensai who was a retired Marine DI. The last thing I wanted was for her to enter the military, which never came up. But, she’s adventurous, and I wanted to see that she had the best chance of surviving life & world travel, without being confined to middle class ghettos. Thankfully, it’s worked so far.

    Plus, as I’m going to assume you know, there’s nothing magical about dripping a man. There are more than five ways to do it — they are all easy if done quickly and are unexpected. None of them require brute strength. But, as I said, I suspect you know that.

  156. […] for the sheer inanity of the ridiculous ones. Further, even if the point that women in general are not the same as men in terms of physical strength is simply an ideologically neutral observation based in science, the tone of articles like the one […]

  157. […] The Army announced last week that all eight women in Ranger School had failed. The Marines had a similar experience with its Infantry Officer Course. There are few roles in today’s military where raw strength still matters, and fewer still outside the military. Where it does, that will create a sex divide, especially regarding upper body strength, as Razib Khan belabors. […]

  158. […] Men have more hand-grip strength than women (on average), to an even greater degree than I thought. […]

  159. […] pronounced but still real in terms of lower body strength, but in terms of upper body strength, the statistically average male is about as strong as elite, olympic-level female athletes. The very strongest non-elite-athlete female would rank in about the 30% percentile of men, in […]

  160. […] pronounced but still real in terms of lower body strength, but in terms of upper body strength, the statistically average male is about as strong as elite, olympic-level female athletes. The very strongest non-elite-athlete female would rank in about the 30% percentile of men, in […]

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