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Venus with Biceps: A Pictorial History of Muscular Women Paperback – January 11, 2011


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Venus with Biceps: A Pictorial History of Muscular Women + American Hunks: The Muscular Male Body in Popular Culture, 1860-1970
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press (January 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1551523701
  • ISBN-13: 978-1551523705
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 7.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A celebration of female strength, Venus with Biceps proves that today’s hard-arm look dates way back—even if, as coauthor David L. Chapman puts it, muscular women 'risk being seen … as dangerous.'" —People magazine

"A truly fascinating tour of the hardbodied heroines of the photographic age ... I opened the book prepared to gawk at the weirdness of a past when most women were tiny, fluffy, corseted creatures and those who weren’t were sent to the freak show, but by the time I’d read it through to the end, I’d realized that nothing of any significance has occurred in the realm of thinking about women’s figures for at least a hundred years. An edifying read indeed." —The New Yorker

"Chapman and Vertinsky collaborate for a fascinating portrayal of the world of female bodybuilding ... The authors have created an excellent collection of thoughtfully-curated photos and essays; the result is an intriguing look at a little regarded period in sports history." —Publishers Weekly

"Simply jaw-droppingly amazing ... This coffee table-sized paperback is so heavy and heaving with astonishing images that one builds one’s own bice ps in reading it." —EDGE (New York, etc.)

"This fascinating visual history uses archival images, posters, comic books, magazine illustrations and photography to trace the history of the physically strong, muscular woman and of society's evolving attitudes toward female strength." —Seattle Times

"Visually stunning, rigorously researched, and thoughtfully written, Venus with Biceps is as much a treasure chest of rare vintage ephemera as it is a fascinating and important meditation on a contentious facet of gender identity and cultural politics." —Brainpickings.org

About the Author

Patricia Vertinsky: Patricia Vertinsky is a professor at the School of Human Kinetics at the University of British Columbia, specializing in the social and cultural history of the body. She is the author or editor of four previous books on sports and gender.

David L. Chapman: David L. Chapman is the author of twelve books on male photography and bodybuilding, including American Hunks (Arsenal, 2009) and Comin' at Ya!: The Homoerotic 3D Photographs of Denny Denfield (Arsenal, 2007).

More About the Author

David L. Chapman lives in Seattle, WA, and is the author of twelve books on male photography and bodybuilding, including American Hunks (Arsenal, 2009), Comin' at Ya!: The Homoerotic 3D Photographs of Denny Denfield (Arsenal, 2007), and Adonis: The Male Physique Pin-up, as well as co-author of Venus with Biceps: A Pictorial History of Muscular Women (Arsenal, 2010).

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By CCS on November 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Purchased this as a gift for a power lifting girlfriend. She loved it! The history is fascinating. It's amazing how many exercises are still used today. An educational fun book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A reader VINE VOICE on June 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a worthwhile visual chronicle of the changing attitudes towards women's strength and muscularity and the evolution of "fitness" as a category over the last two centuries. The materials were derived from the private collection of author David L. Chapman, who is known primarily for his books of photography of male bodybuilders. Although the Forward includes a snapshot of South African track and field athlete Caster Semanya, recently at the center of a controversy regarding gender, the book's primary content ends with the 1980's. So you will not find Chinese Olympic weightlifters or CrossFit athletes here.

The commentary is somewhat superficial and politically liberal, but the illustrations and photos are fascinating and speak for themselves. Particularly interesting are old illustrations of the untested, unscientific, hare-brained notions that male "experts" once promulgated regarding what constituted exercise and how that exercise should be adapted for the fragile female form.

Overall the pictures help to mitigate against the old-hat notion that women can't be strong, muscular and beautiful all at the same time, a point of view that is now thankfully atrophying.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Veeya on October 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to love this book. I lift weights and love muscles. However, this book is very dry and textbook-like. The pictures are so interesting, but the text is very scientific. I found it boring and never finished it. I just scanned for interesting tidbits and pics. If you're looking for a an interesting read, this just isn't one of them. Sorry!
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