Believe It or Not, Muscle Worship May Be a More Intimate Activity than Sex

Shawna Strong's last name is sure appropriate, wouldn't you say?
Shawna Strong’s last name is sure appropriate, wouldn’t you say?

I’ve written at length about muscle worship. If you need a summary of what this is all about, please refer to a previous blog post. I’ve even written detailed accounts of two of my past muscle worship experiences with female bodybuilders.

If you have some unquenched need to live vicariously through me (who doesn’t?), go check them out here and here.

One aspect of muscle worship sessions that I’ve formulated in my mind recently is one that I’m not entirely convinced of, but one I believe deserves to be discussed. Muscle worship is, simply defined, an activity involving a muscular participant (it could be a man or a woman) who allows a client to touch their body, usually for sexual gratification purposes. Other side activities usually occur in addition to this, but the crux of the matter involves intimately exploring a muscular person’s physical body in exchange for payment.

One thought I’ve had about this phenomenon may sound crazy at first, but sort of makes sense the more I think about it. Muscle worship may be a more personally intimate activity than sex.

I don’t want to make any blanket statements and say this is always true 100 percent of the time, but in certain circumstances this can possibly be true. Let me explain further.

Sex between two people is without a doubt a supremely intimate act. Perhaps the most intimate act you could do with another person. We won’t even get into sex between three, four, five or six people! So it seems rather odd that I would say such a thing like muscle worship can be more personal than sex.

Obviously, not all sex is created equal. Context matters a great deal. Sex between a long-time married couple who’s going through the motions definitely isn’t the same as awkward teenage lovers wanting to lose their virginities together during a romantic camping trip. There is a great deal of difference between these two scenarios. The same goes between a prostitute meeting a client versus a couple who has just been reunited after several months away from each other (think of a military veteran returning from an overseas war). Context is everything.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume we’re talking about ordinary run-of-the-mill sex between a couple who knows each other well and has no external drama going on. Got it?

Muscle worship, on the other hand, involves a female bodybuilder – and I’ll be talking exclusively about female bodybuilders, obviously! – providing her client access to her body. The degree of intimacy allowed varies from session provider to session provider, but the basic idea stays the same. Generally speaking, sex is an act where two people share their bodies together for the sake of mutual pleasure. Muscle worship is, by and large, a one-way road where the provider shares her body with her client but the client isn’t expected to share anything back (other than monetary compensation).

A female bodybuilder’s body isn’t just the flesh and blood she carries around on this physical planet. It’s her entire livelihood. From head to toe, even if she isn’t competing in contests, her body is what defines her professional identity. Of course, an FBB is way more than just her physical self. She has her own mind, soul, and divine worth. But her means of making a living depends solely on her body. A tax accountant, for example, offers services that are useful but at the end of the day wouldn’t be described as intimate. A tax accountant doesn’t risk anything personal when they work with a client. They don’t put themselves in nearly the vulnerable position an FBB does when they engage in a session with a complete stranger.

Ebony Goddess Coco Crush.
Ebony Goddess Coco Crush.

If, during a wrestling session, an FBB strains her back and cannot walk properly for a whole month, she loses out on a whole month’s worth of financial earnings. If a tax accountant strains his or her back while raking leaves in the backyard, it would still hurt like hell but he or she could still functionally do their job. Not so with an athlete whose physical body is their entire selling point.

Most female bodybuilders are damn proud of their bodies and have every right to be. And they want their fans to be able to appreciate their hard work with every opportunity they possibly can. But it’s one thing to watch an FBB pose on stage from a distance or watch a video of her on YouTube. It’s quite another thing to be in close proximity to her and feel with your own hands her handiwork. Being a session provider can be a dangerous thing. I’d like to think the vast majority of clients are honest, well-intentioned people, but sadly that isn’t the case for everybody.

You never know these days. There are psychopaths out there who love to do harm to innocent people just to satisfy their sick personal desires. It’s horrific to think about, but unfortunately that’s the reality of our world today. I wonder if FBBs think about this when they exchange e-mails with potential clients. Obviously, they can trust the people they’ve seen before. But what about new people from cities they aren’t familiar with? Can you really trust that the happy-go-lucky person you “talk” to over the Internet is as sweet and harmless as they appear? The truth is, nothing can be safely assumed.

That’s one of the unfortunate realities session providers have to deal with. As mentioned before, the risk factor of facing an accident is also ever present. Injuries happen for a myriad of reasons. You can even hurt yourself at the gym while working out (raise your hand if that’s ever happened to you!). Anything is possible. Session providers who offer wrestling put themselves in harm’s way. It’s not inconceivable for a 250-pound man to inadvertently injure a 180-pound female wrestler during the heat of the moment. Even if the large man got carried away and meant nothing malicious about it, accidents do happen. They’re unavoidable. That’s a fact of life.

An injury can sideline you for days, weeks, months, and perhaps (if it’s serious enough) years. If you are unable to work for several months, how will you make money? How can you continue to lift at the gym and maintain your muscular figure when you’re bedridden for months at a time? Muscle atrophy will eventually kick in. She’ll start to lose her size. After she recovers, she’ll need to build her body back up to where it was before the injury. And that takes time and effort. Think about the lost income that results from that. FBBs who hurt themselves for work-related reasons cannot rely on worker’s compensation insurance to support them during their recovery period. Ouch.

The Asian Muscle Goddess Michelle Jin.
The Asian Muscle Goddess Michelle Jin.

Injury is one valid concern. So is the prospect of a crazy kook wanting to do something harmful to you. Another one is this: The psychological toll of being a female bodybuilder and session provider.

I’ve talked at length about the sexism faced by FBBs. That’s a major issue. But another one is a problem that I’m guessing both male and female bodybuilders face: The pressure to be perfect. In essence, this is what being a bodybuilder – whether you compete professionally or not – is all about. It’s about the continuous journey toward attaining aesthetic perfection. It’s nonstop. There is no end in sight. A bodybuilder can never be satisfied with where they’re at physically. The moment you think you’ve arrived at your “goal,” what is there left to strive toward? Will complacency kick in?

Due to this line of thinking, many FBBs are stuck in a never-ending cycle of insecurity. Women as a whole are definitely stuck in this maddening hamster wheel of self-esteem issues, but FBBs in particular are right in the thick of it. Without a perfectly chiseled body, where would they be? In order for them to be able to do what they love doing, they have to look a certain way. Like professional models, their looks define their livelihood. It’s a brutal world to live in.

I’ve read interviews with Rene Campbell where she talks about being a “bigorexic.” She defines this as being constantly insecure about being small. Anyone who’s ever seen Rene Campbell would know she is the complete opposite of small. She’s huge! She has eye-popping muscles that are as large as you’ll ever see on a woman. She’s a very big lady. But deep down inside, she still thinks of herself as dainty, frail, and weak. Call if “Fat Kid Syndrome.” Kids who grew up overweight still think of themselves like that even when they reach adulthood and are no longer medically overweight. It’s a mental block in your brain that doesn’t ever completely vanish.

Rene’s insecurities about her size is just part of this spiteful equation. Session providers also face other pressures. In addition to maintaining their impressive level of muscle mass, they also have to do whatever they can to look “traditionally” beautiful. Many choose to get breast augmentation surgery in order to look more “feminine.” I’m sure Botox injections and faithful usage of anti-wrinkle cream are also par for the course. There are plenty of clients who do not want to see an FBB who looks “too old.” But age is an inevitability. No amount of medical procedures or cosmetic products will completely turn back the clock.

Rita Sargo werking so hard.
Rita Sargo werking so hard.

The vast majority of FBBs I’ve met for muscle worship sessions have been older women. Most were probably older than 40. The youngest was probably in her mid to late 30s. I know for a fact – though I never asked! – a few I’ve met were older than 50. But that doesn’t matter to me. They were all beautiful women. I mean, stunningly beautiful. Yes, they had wrinkles on their face. Yes, they had crow’s feet around their eyes. But they were still absolutely gorgeous.

I think many of these strong female bodybuilders are way more beautiful than “normally built” women half their age. But that’s just me. I’ll bet if you were to meet them up-close-and-personal too, you’d feel the same way.

However, not all guys are think that way. I’m not suggesting I have an “older woman fetish,” but age doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it does other people. You can cover up your age when doing photoshoots, video shoots, and other multimedia projects. Adobe Photoshop is a hell of a software program. Clever lighting can do wonders. There are tricks of the trade to make a 40-year-old woman look like she’s 30. But when you meet her for an intimate muscle worship session, you see her for who she is. Some guys are turned off by this. Others don’t mind it. But regardless, an FBB can’t please everybody. Nor can she stay young forever.

Once again, it’s a brutally unforgiving world we live in.

The idea that people in certain professions have a “shelf-life” is pretty dehumanizing. But it is what it is. I’m not here to lead any kind of social revolution. It’s unnerving that models, athletes, and entertainers (one could put a female bodybuilder in all three categories) have an “expiration date” set by the powers-that-be in their respective industries. But that’s how the system works. The moment you get too old, too fat, too slow, and not as lucrative as you used to be, you get tossed to the scrap heap. There will always be newer and younger people to replace you.

Can’t hit 40 home runs anymore? Don’t draw the sold-out crowds like you used to? Can’t sell perfume like you did 15 years ago? Here’s the door. See you on the other side. Have a good day. Oof. Brutal.

The revolving door will continue to cycle people in and out. That’s why you have to earn every single penny you possibly can while you can. Cut-throat? You better believe it.

Imagine this scenario: You’re a 50-year-old female bodybuilder who is also a mother of three high school children. All three of your kids are considering going to college. You may or may not be married to the father of your children. Money is tight. College tuition continues to rise year after year. You used to compete professionally, but don’t anymore because the winnings weren’t consistent or large enough. You’re still physically beautiful, but you’re also a 50-year-old woman and there’s no denying that. Your name recognition remains strong, but that is by no means secure forever. You regularly travel the world providing muscle worship sessions. You’re always away from your family. You live out of a suitcase for months at a time. Travelling can be stressful. Setting up appointments with clients is equally stressful. You risk injury and physical harm every single time you meet a client. From the perspective of your children, in today’s social media age word can get out quickly that your mom gives out hand jobs to complete strangers in hotel rooms across the globe. That thought is constantly going through your mind. We also live in the Yelp Age where crowdsourced opinions on the web can make or break your reputation. One bad review or two floating around an Internet message board can harm your ability to earn money (even if those poor reviews are written fairly and objectively and without malice). It’s a savage world we live in. If you put yourself in this particular hypothetical female bodybuilder’s shoes, how would you go about your everyday business? What choices would you make?

You’d probably be a bit stressed out. How would you feel if you knew your body, personality, and reputation was being discussed by strangers on the web? Talk about an invasion of privacy. Talk about breaking down the walls of confidentiality with the hammer of Thor.

While the theoretical woman I’ve outlined above isn’t based on anybody in particular, women like her do exist. That story isn’t unique or completely made up out of thin air. There are women (and men too) out there who could probably identify with some of that. Please, think about this the next time you anonymously berate a session provider on a chat forum just because your $400 session wasn’t quite worth every single nickel and dime you paid her.

Jean Jitomir wearing a sexy black cocktail dress.
Jean Jitomir wearing a sexy black cocktail dress.

So when I say that muscle worship may be a more intimate activity than sex, I may not be too far off. Like I said before, context matters a great deal. I could write for days and days on how intimate sexual intercourse can be. But sex is, for the most part, an intimate act that you share with a limited number of people. You do offer your body to another person, but it’s (usually) kept private, low-key, and doesn’t involve your ability to pay your bills. Muscle worship can be dramatically different. As outlined previously, it’s not just your body you put on the line. You put your reputation, health, wellbeing, livelihood, and family on the line as well. That definitely puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

I’m not trying to make any definitive statements or be dogmatic about anything. I’m just trying to offer some perspective about what it’s like to walk this earth in the shoes of the muscular women we love so much. It’s ain’t easy, that’s for sure.

Intimacy isn’t just defined by what the activity entails. Sex can be intimate. Or it can be casual. Rather, it’s defined by what you put on the line. What do you risk? What is the price of success? Of failure? When your life’s passions are defined by your body, putting your body in a vulnerable position is the riskiest thing you can possibly do. While I wouldn’t go as far as to call this bravery, it does require a level of fearlessness that very few people can match.

Female bodybuilders are strong women. Being able to deadlift 400 pounds or squat 500 pounds requires impressive strength. But being willing to put your body and soul on the line in the name of doing what you love requires a level of strength that is beyond comparison.

Fetishism, Fandom and Fortunes: The Awkward Nature of Being a Female Bodybuilder

Chellss gives me the "feels."
Chellss gives me the “feels.”

It’s hard out there for a female bodybuilder.

There are, of course, the obvious reasons why. Her profession is being squeezed out of existence by The Powers That Be. Receiving weird looks from strangers. The pressures of working in a highly competitive field. The lifestyle. The dieting. The workouts. Financial troubles. How time consuming everything can be. There are more reasons, but one in particular stands out above the rest.

Being fetishized.

I’ve discussed at length the concept of female muscle fetishism from the perspective of a guy who has it. I’ve discussed what it feels like, misconceptions about it, why it’s not a bad thing and what lessons we can learn from it. But I am about to attempt to discuss this topic from a different perspective: That of a female bodybuilder.

Obviously I am not a female bodybuilder. I am not close friends with one nor do I regularly hang out with one. But, I’ve had enough conversations with real life female bodybuilders – through muscle worship sessions during the past three years – to be able to formulate at least a few half-way decent arguments on their behalf. I don’t claim to speak for any or all female bodybuilders, but perhaps I can attempt to step out of my own shoes and look at the world from their perspective momentarily.

I might fail miserably, but it’s worth a shot. So here we go.

Female muscle fetishism unfortunately opens the doors to a number of negative consequences. Female bodybuilders are stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, they can make quite a lot of money on the side by utilizing their assets for financial gain. On the other hand, having adoring fans always comes with backlash. Let’s look at the first point in further detail.

Laurie Steele has buns of steel. See what I did there?
Laurie Steele has buns of steel. See what I did there?

The lifestyle of being a female bodybuilder is difficult from a financial point of view. The costs of being a professional bodybuilder far outweigh whatever monetary rewards one gets in return. Competitions don’t usually garner enough money to live comfortably. Only the elite competitors are afforded the luxuries that come with being at the top. The rest, unfortunately, usually have to resort to working a second job (usually in personal training, modeling, consulting, and so on) just to make ends meet. It’s agonizing to not know where your next paycheck will come from.

So, a lot of female bodybuilders will turn to offering “sessions” as a way to supplement their income. Muscle worship, wrestling, BDSM and other erotically-charged services are what we’re talking about. One cannot deny that these sessions are erotic in nature. Even if no actual sex is involved – which is usually the case – eroticism is an integral part of what these sessions are all about.

Consequently, a lot of female bodybuilders are uncomfortable with this reality. Not everyone likes doing sessions, but they feel like they must in order to put food in the table. Sexuality is a very personal aspect to one’s life. So they have every reason to feel uneasy toward being an erotic provider. While it’s true that, technically speaking, nobody forces you to offer sessions to clients, it’s perfectly understandable why one wouldn’t be 100 percent comfortable with being involved in this underground business.

That being said, a session provider – whether you’re a bodybuilder, wrestler, athlete or someone whose physical attributes are in high demand – can make a significant amount of dough if she markets herself the right way. Let’s say you charge $350 per hour. If you see 10 clients over a period of two days, you can make around $3,500 for two days’ worth of work. If you subtract the cost of the airplane ticket you purchased to get to that city (around $600), booking the hotel room (an extra $200) and food expenses ($50, assuming you don’t bring your own food), you’re still making approximately $2,650 in a 48 hour period. Even if it’s less, let’s say $2,500 or as low as $1,700, that’s an average of $850-1,250 per day, or $106-156 per hour, from the basis of a traditional eight hour working day. And these are conservative estimates. Not every city stay will be that lucrative, but you can also expect certain visits to be more profitable than others.

Her name is "DD," but I cannot find out what her real name is. Can anybody help?
Her name is “DD,” but I cannot find out what her real name is. Can anybody help?

My math can be totally off, but you can clearly see why so many FBBs provide sessions on the side. Travelling across the country (and the world, if you’re in that much demand) and seeing clients for an hour or two at a time can be a real boost to your bank account.

The financial rewards she can gain increase if she develops a loyal clientele in certain cities. Especially if she has one or two clients who are really loyal and are not against spending upwards of $500 to $600 for an extravagant session. I personally don’t have that kind of expendable income, but there are people out there who do. And they can make an FBB a small fortune if they love seeing her that much.

There is another way FBBs exploit their bodies for financial gain: Porn. Whether we’re talking about erotic photography, webcam shows or good old fashioned snuff films, we all know what we’re dealing with here. Further detail isn’t really necessary, but suffice to say, pornography is another viable way female bodybuilders can earn a steady income.

When a female bodybuilder chooses (and I cannot emphasize the word choose enough!) to do sessions, porn, or both, there’s no doubt that taking advantage of her erotic appeal is an undeniably important part of the business. There’s absolutely no obligation to do so of course, but the allure certainly is there for the taking. These financial opportunities are rooted in basic capitalistic principles, but this whole “off-the-books” business boils down to this essential ingredient: fetishism.

To review our terms for a moment, a “fetish” is “an object or bodily part whose real or fantasied presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression.” To put it in proper context, it’s when guys and gals receive a strong sexual response to a female bodybuilder’s muscles. It’s no different than any other type of erotic fixation. But this discussion boils down to one very difficult question to answer:

Can you separate female muscle fandom from sexual fetishism?

Or, in other words, is it possible for female muscle fandom to be completely asexual? Certainly sports unto itself isn’t sexual. The ancient Greeks may have conducted their games in the nude, but that mostly was done because clothing can be a hindrance to an athlete’s performance. Today, we have top-of-the-line sports gear that makes that problem irrelevant. Wearing an Under Armor workout shirt almost feels like a second skin. But…we’re getting slightly off topic. Is it possible for our fascination with female muscle to be purely nonsexual? That’s a thought-provoking issue to chew on.

A statuesque Marina Lopez looking triumphant.
A statuesque Marina Lopez looking triumphant.

As discussed before, the sport of female bodybuilding has been sexualized to the point that the erotic aspect of it is probably more financially lucrative than the competitive side of it. To be fair, almost all female sports are sexualized, but that’s a whole other story. What makes bodybuilding (not just female bodybuilding, but male as well) special is the very fact that aesthetic appeal is so foundational to the sport itself. Nobody cares if you have a finely chiseled body if you can hit 40 home runs, rush for 1,500 yards or consistently hit clutch 3-pointers when it matters. Most of these athletes have fantastic looking bodies as it is, but their looks aren’t why they’re valuable. Their value is determined by their on-the-field production. For bodybuilders, their looks are all that matters.

It’s hard out there for a female bodybuilder, indeed. If it truly is impossible – or at the very least, highly difficult – to separate the sport from its erotic undertones, what do you do if you’re uncomfortable with expressing your sexuality so openly? If I were a female bodybuilder, I would have to be very comfortable with my sexuality, or else I would have to be forced to find a new day job. There’s no debate that eroticism, fetishism and the like are deeply embedded within the sport. But is that the way it has to be? Are there alternatives? Can female bodybuilding be genuinely asexual in nature?

To be honest, it can. But it won’t be easy. But that begs a further question: Why does it matter?

Or better yet: Is sexuality inherently a bad thing?

The fetish of female muscle is obviously a taboo subject. Heck, generally speaking the subject of sexuality as a whole is taboo. But from the perspective of a guy who’s attracted to strong women, it’s an especially weird topic of discussion. That’s why this often goes unspoken. From the perspective of a female bodybuilder, things are also probably pretty weird. But “weirdness” is not necessarily an indication of something being wrong. It could be an indication of something that we need to talk about more often.

But, stepping back into an FBB’s shoes for a moment, it’s perfectly understandable why the sport will always be in a tumultuous state. Incorporating sexuality into the industry keeps the ship afloat, but it can also degrade the sport into exploitative territory. Once you start to go down that path, how can you maintain a consistent level of respectability? There’s nothing wrong with sexuality, but must FBBs be reduced down to mere sex objects who exist solely to satisfy our base desires? The answer is an emphatic “no!”

Perhaps we can have it both ways. We can embrace the erotic nature of the sport without degrading the humanity of the participants. That sounds awesome in theory, but theory has a funny way of not always becoming standard practice.

This is an issue that FBBs and fans of FBBs will always wrestle with. I do not believe that sexualizing someone automatically degrades them. But I also believe it can if we allow it to happen. A female bodybuilder is caught in a perpetual cycle of disorder. Their sex appeal can make them superstars in the eyes of their adoring fans, but it also comes with negative consequences that are almost unavoidable.

So, is it fair to say that this is a “problem” every female muscle fan should be aware of? Well, yes and no. One should always be aware of the potential consequences of one’s actions. However, is it really fair to say that this is a problem to begin with? Is it inherently ruinous for sexuality to be so deeply engrained in the sport of female bodybuilding? Does the almost inseparable eroticism associated with the sport do a disservice to its competitors?

Don't get naughty around Wendy McMaster. She might spank you!
Don’t get naughty around Wendy McMaster. She might spank you!

A positive first step is to think of these issues as not being “problems,” but rather things to consider. There is probably no perfect answer. It truly is hard for female bodybuilders and athletes to exist in a business that nearly works against them if they try to downplay their sexuality. As fans, we can hold both sports-related and erotic interests in these women without being degrading to them or to ourselves. But that fine line between appreciation and objectification can be hard to distinguish.

Being fetishized can be a strange thing. Having a fetish can also be strange. If we both admit what we know to be true in our hearts, do we really need to exist with all this pent-up tension? Sometimes the best solution to our problems isn’t to come to a mutual answer, but to a level of mutual understanding. Let’s seek to understand where we all stand and carry on from there, okay?