The Female Muscle Dark Web

Faceless hooded anonymous computer hacker
You’ve just entered the Matrix…er, the Dark Web!

Deep within the shadowy depths of the Internet, there exists a dark and mysterious space where few dare to tread. You may have heard of it, or perhaps you’re hearing about it for the first time. No matter what, you’re scared to acknowledge it. You’re frightened to visit it. You cannot wrap your mind around why it exists in the first place. Its very existence is a conundrum to you, a macabre riddle that cannot easily be solved.

To attempt to understand this enigmatic space is to dip your toes into a New World that you never knew existed. Even if you’ve already heard of it, there is nothing that can prepare your mind for what is to come. No one is ever “ready,” even those who claim to be. No one.

And once you discover this New World, your mind is changed forever. Your attitude is permanently adjusted. Your worldview flips upside down. Your paradigm doesn’t just shift; it shatters into a billion pieces and is unable to reform itself. You aren’t sure if you would ever want to go back, but that debate is now over. You’re past that threshold, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Resistance is futile. That’s for damn sure.

What type of Internet space am I referring to? Shouldn’t the answer be obvious by now?

Of course, I’m talk about…

…Bronies.

Grown men who adore “My Little Pony,” a Hasbro-developed entertainment franchise aimed at little girls. Apparently, there are adult men – at least, they claim to be adult men – who are into this sort of thing. Very into it.

Wait. That might not be right. Maybe I’m talking about furries? “Twilight” fan fiction? Uh, people who actually liked the Star Wars prequels?

Nah. That’s been done before. Nothing to see here. Move along now. Outside of activities that are clearly criminal, there aren’t a whole lot of fetishes, strange fandoms, and social perspectives that we, as a whole, won’t tolerate. Chalk that up to our “live and let live” attitude that, for the most part, still permeates throughout our society. You don’t need to “approve” or “understand” these subcultures to acknowledge that it’s fine that they exist as long as no one gets hurt.

Arguably, the very concept of “common culture” is starting to go by the wayside. Sure, there will always be things that unite us as a culture – at least temporarily. The Super Bowl, the release of a new Marvel movie, and catchy pop songs are a few examples (this, despite the fact that sports is becoming increasingly more politicized in the wake of high profile protests during the singing of the American national anthem). However, what’s becoming a more significant facet of modern life is the growing acceptance of subcultures as acceptable off-shoots of our main culture.

Dark web - Angela Salvagno
Angela Salvagno chatting with her fans through webcam.

For example, once upon a time ago drag culture was an underground subculture that existed out of sight and out of mind for the majority of us. Today, it’s still not quite a “mainstream” culture (properly understood), but it lives just outside that bubble. Or, it lives tangentially within mainstream culture. Or on the fringes of our main culture. Or, drag performers like RuPaul have one foot inside main culture and the other food inside the drag subculture. RuPaul’s popular TV show certainly contributed to the evolution of drag going from “out of sight, out of mind” to “not quite out of sight, not quite out of mind.”

Female bodybuilding fandom, on the other hand, is still considered an underground subculture. While going to a strip bar or smoking weed are still fairly taboo activities, they’re not as taboo as they once were. You don’t need to “approve” of what goes on inside a strip club, but you can accept it existing right next to your favorite nail salon. You don’t need to like the smell of marijuana at a public park, but that won’t stop you from walking your dog along his or her favorite dirt path. Just try to avoid the odor if you must.

Yet, engaging in a muscle worship session with a female bodybuilder is not like going to a nudie bar or getting high while watching reruns of All in the Family. It’s not a very well-known activity. In our mainstream culture, female bodybuilders are nowhere close to being within an ear shot. Thus, for those of us who love FBBs, the Internet is the only place where we can enjoy our mutual love for them.

Is there such a thing as the “Female Muscle Dark Web?” Eh, sort of. But not really.

There are popular websites like HDphysiques.com, saradas.org, sexymusclegirls.com, wb270.com, areaorion.blogspot.com, and sessiongirls.com. Heck, a small number of you might consider my humble blog to be among them. I’m also a fan of Female Muscle Slave. He’s an incredible blogger who is keenly tuned-in to the competitive side of the industry in addition to the fandom side of the industry. Check him out if you haven’t already.

So are there popular female muscle-themed websites where fans gather to congregate? Sure. Does that qualify as a “Dark Web?” Meh, probably not.

Hold on. Before we proceed any further, let’s try to define what the “Dark Web” actually means.

The terms “Dark Web” and “Deep Web” sometimes get used interchangeably. This shouldn’t be the case. Technically speaking, the “Deep Web” is a portion of the Internet that exists below the Surface Web. The Surface Web are things like Amazon.com, Facebook.com, Twitter.com, NFL.com, ESPN.com, StarWars.com, Reddit.com, and any other “normal” website you come across every day. These websites – and countless others that aren’t as popular – are indexed by Google and other search engines for easy access. The idea of the “Surface Web” doesn’t need too much explaining.

However, beneath the Surface Web exists a whole host of websites that aren’t indexed by these search tools. The concept of the Deep Web includes all the websites that are intentionally (or unintentionally) hidden from traditional search applications. Most of them are beta sites or old websites that have gone out of commission. Most of it is useless junk. Most of it is boring.

Dark web - Callie Bundy
Callie Bundy has become sort of a mini Internet “celebrity” due to her Instagram page.

Some of it can be exciting. Or useful. Journalists and human rights activists who live in repressive regimes use channels like Tor that are outside of the Surface Web to network with peers in other countries. How do you think we’re aware of the diabolical starvation methods employed by the Kim regime in North Korea or the anti-theocratic movement in Iran?

That being said, there’s a portion of the Deep Web that is a bit more, uh, scandalous. This includes websites where you can sell and purchase illegal guns, stolen credit cards, drugs (both narcotics and prescription medication), child pornography (and other kinds of illegal pornography), leads to hired assassins, and anything else you can think of that you can’t exactly find at your local Target.

This is what is meant by the Dark Web. Dark, scary, frightening, unethical, illegal, and potentially deadly. Terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda communicate with each other through Dark Web channels. So do Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other extremist groups that are under FBI surveillance.

Not exactly the type of stuff that you want your Grandma to know you’re into.

To be clear, female muscle fandom exists solely on the Surface Web. I highly doubt much of it exists below that. And if any of it does, it’s probably there for a reason. By and large, female muscle fandom can be found through a simple Google search. No need to go further than that. Thanks to Instagram, our access to our favorite FBBs, fitness models, and weightlifting enthusiasts is more open than ever before. Thanks to video curating sites, I can watch endless footage of Denise Masino playing with her clit without having to put on my detective hat. Of course, such videos shouldn’t be viewed during work hours or on your office computer.

Yet, FBB fandom remains an Internet subculture. An Internet subculture that can be found on the Surface Web. So while the so-called “Female Muscle Dark Web” isn’t really a thing, we can use it euphemistically to describe the forums where this subculture is alive and well.

Dark web - Lindsay Mulinazzi
Not following Lindsay Mulinazzi on Instagram? Shame on you!

In many ways, the Internet is the only substantial place where female muscle fandom can happen. Not too many of us get to attend bodybuilding shows. Only a small number of us have the expenses, inclination, and opportunity to meet an FBB for a muscle worship or fantasy wrestling session. So when it comes to experiencing these beautiful women, our computer screen and smartphone are really the only avenues in which we can do that. I can easily go to my local shopping mall and purchase a brand new Star Trek shirt. I cannot easily go to that same mall and find any paraphernalia affiliated with female bodybuilders.

This is why many FBBs utilize social media as much as they can. It’s their best way to connect with their fans. Or to put it another way, it’s the only way they can regularly connect with their fans. Many FBBs offer webcam appointments, AMA chats (“ask me anything”), and members-only content through their personal websites. This is a classic example of meeting your clients where they’re at. Why break your back working a traditional 9-5 job when you can easily make $100 per hour just chatting with a bunch of strangers from the comfort of your living room?

The Female Muscle Industrial Complex – a term that apparently I just coined – is a niche market with a fairly undefined consumer base. In any given city, town, or municipality, you could have 200 female muscle fans, 2,000 female muscle fans, or 20,000 female muscle fans. You don’t know exactly. But it doesn’t matter where they are geographically. It doesn’t even matter what language they speak. The only thing that does matter is whether or not they have Internet access and enough privacy to feel “safe” to experience their love of muscular women. That’s it, practically speaking.

The Female Muscle Dark Web isn’t dark, nor is it just confined to the web. But it is a real space full of real people who share a mutual interest in women with lots of muscle. And this space hasn’t been driven underground by some prudish cabal of anti-FBB misogynists. In fact, it’s always been underground. Or rather, not within the mainstream. Just because something isn’t considered “mainstream” doesn’t mean there’s some massive conspiracy to ensure it remains outside of the mainstream. Some things just don’t pick up steam. Some things are just destined to stay put where they are.

This isn’t a tragedy by any stretch of the imagination. Muscular women will always be here, regardless if mainstream bodybuilding organizations want them included or not. As long as there are women who desire to become a better version of their current selves, female bodybuilders will always be with us. As long as there are women who believe being “strong” and “independent” means being something beyond a simple corporatized rallying cry, FBBs will never die out. The demise of female bodybuilding has been greatly exaggerated. I don’t see any evidence of that happening anytime soon.

Dark web - Goddess Severa
The 6’5″ Goddess Severa is a fan favorite of female muscle/dominance enthusiasts.

Long story short, FBBs and fans of FBBs cannot wait for legacy media outlets to give them their due. It just won’t happen. Sports Illustrated or ESPN aren’t going to cover female bodybuilders (or male bodybuilders, for that matter) like they do basketball or football stars. Those athletes enjoy a powerful perch that doesn’t appear to be eroding. To expect FBBs to ever be mentioned in the same breath as Kevin Durant, Serena Williams, or Julio Jones is folly.

So the obscure and not-so-sinister parts of the web are where FBBs are allowed to shine. And fans don’t seem to mind all that much. Some of us may hope and pray for a day when FBBs can enjoy mainstream status as any normal celebrity would, but most of us aren’t holding our breaths. And the good new is that we don’t need to.

Our access to our favorite athletes is as open and easy as it’s ever been. Just because you don’t feel comfortable talking about Alina Popa’s glutes or Theresa Ivancik’s pecs openly at Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t mean you have a reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed that you are secretly into that sort of thing. On the contrary, you have nothing to worry about. You can be into muscular women without having to tell a single soul about it. That should feel liberating. But if you do want to tell somebody about it, you know where to look. And that can also feel liberating.

Your female muscle community is just a few clicks away. Like it or love it, you can choose to engage in this community, or you can choose to ignore them and keep your interests to yourself.

Either way, it’s your choice. And that’s truly liberating.

Female Bodybuilders are the Original Hipsters

The beautiful Alina Popa, one of my personal favorites. On a side note, you'd be surprised how difficult it is to find photos of FBBs wearing glasses!
The beautiful Alina Popa, one of my personal favorites. On a side note, you’d be surprised how difficult it is to find photos of FBBs wearing glasses!

Question: How do you drown a hipster?

Answer: In the mainstream.

Another question: Why did the hipster burn his tongue while eating pizza?

Answer: Because he began eating it before it became cool.

Last question: Why did the hipster stop swimming in the ocean?

Answer: Because it was too current.

No doubt you’ve heard these jokes before. If you haven’t, you obviously don’t spent enough time on the Internet. But for those of you who love to waste your valuable free time, I’d venture a guess that you should be familiar with the social phenomenon of labeling people who are (supposedly) anti-establishment, anti-pop culture and anti-cool as being “hipsters.”

According to Wikipedia, a “hipster” is defined as “a postmodern subculture of young, urban middle-class adults and older teenagers that first appeared in the 1990s and became particularly prominent in the 2010s, being derived from earlier movements in the 1940s. The subculture is associated with indie music and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility (including vintage and thrift store clothes), progressive or independent political views, and alternative lifestyles.”

Alternate lifestyles. Independent ways of thinking. Doing things most other people don’t. Being involved in a subculture that is as far away from the “mainstream” as you can get.

In other words, marching to the beat of your own drum. Going against the grain. You get it.

After much thought and deep contemplation, I’ve come to a radical conclusion – one that sounds strange on the surface but actually makes a ton of sense once you get down to analyzing it from every possible angle. Are you ready for this?

Female bodybuilders are the original hipsters.

No, seriously. They are. Think about it for a moment.

Female bodybuilders exist outside the, ahem, “mainstream.” When we think about the typical form of a human female, certainly one with the physique of an NFL linebacker shouldn’t initially come to mind. A woman with shoulders the size of bowling balls isn’t exactly typical of what you see every day. Seeing a lady strut around with arms strong enough to bend steel is a rare sight.

Monica Mollica working her triceps.
Monica Mollica working her triceps.

How often do you run into a female homo sapien with bulky legs, a broad back, six-pack abs, a wide chest, burly arms and veins popping out of her skin? If this happens often to you, please let me know where you live!

But outside of what you see on her exterior, consider what a female bodybuilder has to do in her personal life. She has to dedicate her life (not a portion of her life, but her entire life) toward her sport (or art) in ways that go well beyond what any casual hobby would ask you to do. Bodybuilding isn’t a leisurely activity like knitting or scrapbooking. It’s a lifestyle in every sense of the word.

She has to radically change the way she eats, works, exercises, sleeps, drinks and schedules her life. She has to make a commitment to live her life in a way that’s contrary to how most of us conduct ours. She even does this for reasons that most of us wouldn’t understand.

Why torture yourself? Why endure so many long hours at the gym? Why give up eating sweets, fatty foods and other delicious goods? For what end?

And why the hell would you want to LOOK like that?

These are questions that “mainstream” folks ask all the time. These are thoughts that people who aren’t “into that sort of thing” contemplate whenever they encounter a woman with biceps like Alina Popa or legs like Julie Bourassa. Expectedly, you have to be more knowledgeable about the world of bodybuilding and athletics in order to genuinely appreciate what she has to go through to look the way she does.

The beautiful Autumn Raby. You'd be surprised how difficult it was to find photos of FBBs wearing glasses!
Autumn Raby on a bed. Need I say more?

Additionally, bodybuilding is truly a subculture. They have their own slang. Their own events. Their own hierarchies. Their own social rules (both spoken and unspoken). They have their own clubs. Their own circles of friendships. Outsiders. Insiders. Those who are actual bodybuilders. Those who are pretenders. Those who are wannabes. Those who wish to be a bodybuilder but don’t want to lift that heavy-ass weight (Ronnie Coleman reference, anybody?). These are common traits of any subculture.

I will admit I am not informed enough about the world of competitive bodybuilding to write extensively about it. I am not an insider. I’ve only met a small handful of truly professional (and hardworking amateur) bodybuilders, both male and female. But I know enough to know what I don’t know. I know that unless you’re actually a legitimate bodybuilder, you’ll have no idea what it’s like to be one.

This is what a subculture looks like. I am merely an outsider looking in. Many of you are, too.

But what’s even more thought-provoking is when we discuss specifically the world of female bodybuilding, which is a subculture within a subculture. I could go on for days writing about female muscle fetishism, women who wrestle men, men who love to be dominated by muscular women, women who travel the world to book “sessions” with male (and female) fans, muscle worship, BDSM, D/s roleplaying, sthenolagnia, the psychology of admiring female muscle and plenty of other topics related to this sub-subculture.

What this really means, in a nutshell, is that female bodybuilders are so radically different, they belong in a category of their own.

Carla Maria is one very fine female.
Carla Maria is one very fine female.

This should be justification for why female bodybuilders are the original hipsters. Alternate lifestyles? Check. Existing outside the mainstream? Check. Being part of a sub-subculture that’s so hidden most people in the general population probably couldn’t even tell you the name of a single FBB? Triple check!

But let’s look at this from a slightly different viewpoint. Consider how a female bodybuilder is treated by others. Consider how people around her behave when she’s in their presence. Consider what it’s like to exist in a society where you can genuinely be considered “unique.”

People stare at you. Some are disgusted by you. Some are uncontrollably mesmerized by you. Men are jealous of you. Women are flabbergasted by you and can’t stop wondering why you would willingly choose to be that “big.” Children are confused by you. There are those who think you’re weird. Others are turned on by you after one mere look and can’t stop obsessing over you. And all of the above cannot look away no matter how hard they try.

Am I generalizing a bit? Of course. But let me generalize to my heart’s delight.

Considering the world an FBB lives in, it’s not hard to see why more women don’t pursue this lifestyle. Personally, as an admirer of female muscle, I would love nothing more than for more women to look like Deidre Pagnanelli, Lauren Powers, Denise Masino, BrandiMae, Monica Mollica and Yvette Bova. But sadly, these fantastic and gorgeous lasses are the exception and not the rule.

If women with big biceps were the norm, I think a lot of problems with misogyny in our world would disappear (not completely, but significantly). If society at large openly encouraged women to lift at the gym instead of killing themselves doing endless cardio, we would be a lot healthier overall. Eating disorders would slowly regress. Sexism would dissipate. The dynamics of gender-based violence would change (I’m not an expert to say in what regards).

Random fitness girl on Instagram. Does anyone know her name?
Random fitness girl on Instagram. Does anyone know her name?

Therefore, as we all know, this is indeed a rarity. Which explains why female bodybuilders are as counterculture as you can get. A physically strong woman goes against every gender stereotype our culture has engrained inside it. A woman who’s stronger than a man only serves, as many of us unfortunately believe, to emasculate him. A woman with big muscles is a traitor to her gender. She will inevitably scare away men who are intimidated by her statuesque physique.

We’ve all heard this before in some form or fashion, haven’t we?

But I don’t feel that way. And most of you probably don’t either. But enough do to discourage most women from ever picking up a dumbbell at the gym. What a shame that is.

The reason why I’m asserting that female bodybuilders are the original hipsters is because, I’d argue, an FBB is truly countercultural. Unlike those who claim to be “countercultural,” a muscular woman proves it every day of her life.

There’s the conventional wisdom that someone who’s countercultural can’t actually admit to being countercultural. To self-label makes you vulnerable to being attacked.

You’re not really anti-establishment. You just want others to think you are so you can fit into certain social circles. Postmodernism, if my understanding is correct, is a worldview that aims to defy traditional labels and establish a more subjective manner of describing things. So anyone who claims to be a hipster really isn’t one.

This is why an FBB is really the only group of people who can legitimately claim to be outside the mainstream. Whether they openly admit to it or not, they are regardless. For all the reasons I just outlined, being a muscular woman is as far from “normal” as you can get. It’s an authentic alternative lifestyle that is immune to “wannabes” and “posers.”

Being an FBB isn’t something you can casually “be.” Either you are or you aren’t.

Think of it this way. How many of us went through a “hippie” phase during college? Even if you never attended college, maybe you had a similar experience at a different point in your life. The point being, remember that time in your life when you had a so-called intellectual and pseudo-philosophical “awakening” where you became the biggest anti-Establishmentarian in the known universe?

If so, how many of you eventually scrapped most of that crap once you entered the “real world” and saw things to be somewhere in between? I’m guessing a lot of you…myself included.

Another cute Instagram fitness girl. Yowza!
Another cute Instagram fitness girl. Yowza!

Most of us love the idea of being a hipster (or hippie, if you’re from a different era) more than actually being a hipster. We fell in love with the snarky glamour of being “different” instead of embracing the unique facets inherent in whatever makes you truly different. Do you listen to indie rock because you actually like the music…or because people around you are listening to it and you want to fit in?

College Hippie: Hey, Bob! Do you consider yourself an anti-Bourgeois, Proletarian-supporting Marxist liberal free-thinking “citizen of the Earth” socialist flower child?

Bob: Uh, sure. Why not?

This isn’t so with female bodybuilders. You can’t pretend to be one. You can’t put up a façade of being one, unlike people who like to think of themselves as a “don’t-tread-on-me” beatnik. You can’t fake being muscular. Your muscles are either big…or not big. Period.

But the problem with being anti-mainstream is that you never make any attempts to become, you know, mainstream. I really wish female bodybuilding and athletics would become more mainstream. That would be spectacular! Imagine turning on your TV, opening a magazine or glancing at a fashion ad in the mall and seeing ladies like Autumn Raby instead of Giselle Bundchen. I have nothing against Mrs. Tom Brady, but come on! Let’s give women like Ms. Raby some love!

All of us female muscle fans would cheer that on. Trust me.

So I guess this is one aspect to this discussion that I hope isn’t true. I don’t want female bodybuilders, athletes and fitness professionals to hide underground. I also don’t want society to reject them for being who they are. I want mainstream acceptance of female muscle, admiring female muscle and the idea of women lifting at the gym. This is what I want.

If it suddenly became “cool” for a woman to have toned muscles on her body instead of just skin and bones, then count me in!

I’d be as cool as a cucumber.