Just a couple days ago, Dana White finally ate his smirky comment that women would never fight in the UFC.
Rousey and Carmouche went head-to-head in the octagon on February 23 for the women’s bantamweight championship. A lot can be said here about their incredible athleticism, and how excitingly empowering it is for women to break into such a hyper-masculine environment as UFC.
In the midst of the expected assholish comments (the funniest being about how women can’t fight from men who would tap in 5 seconds flat if they were put in the ring with either one of these ladies), one thing stood out to me the most. As usual, women on TV are judged primarily for their physical attributes. And not just because there is some huge conspiracy created by all of humanity to hate on women who don’t fall neatly into norms. The truth is, we are just plain not used to seeing women who look like this on TV.
In fact, media in general seems to be saturated with girls who look like this:
I’m all for women looking exactly how they want to, but in all honesty I think there is something troubling about a world where the vast majority of images produced show exclusively women who are this incredibly thin, although few women are that way ‘naturally,’ and many of these super thin women are physically unhealthy.
Anyways, back to the point.
Almost all of the comments about this fight posted on the UFC Facebook page were about appearances. Most people seem to accept Rousey as adequately ‘feminine’, but this is where Carmouche took an inordinate amount of heat. This means that comments generally consisted of oh hey look, a hot girl and is that a guy?” bro-ishness. I find both halves of the statement incredibly problematic.
I personally think that muscular women are beautiful. Athletic pursuits (not including running on the treadmill desperately trying to work off the calories that were in that package of Oreos) are incredibly empowering. They make you feel good both physically and mentally, and they give you strength which can help you in your daily life (see self-defense, or possibly just opening jars of pickles).
Anyways, whether or not Rousey and Carmouche are attractive is ABSOLUTELY NOT THE POINT. These women are athletes, fighters, and they are not there to be eye candy for every guy eating potato chips lying on the couch. These women don’t mold their bodies for the consumption of the male gaze, something which is absolutely shocking to many viewers, who feel that due to this indiscretion, these women must certainly suffer some sort of reprimand. Enter the white knight of the Internet who speaks his mind even when he must sacrifice the feelings of others.
Furthermore, muscles on a woman are seen as particularly disgusting, dare I say frightening. Even the most badass of female action stars (see Tomb Raider) don’t have muscles (Sarah Conner in T2 aside). Instead, women are expected to take up as little space as possible (well except for two perfectly shaped and enormous orbs on their chest).
Muscles symbolize everything that women aren’t supposed to be. Muscles take up space, they assert themselves. Muscles are armor, they’re strength, and they’re power. Best of all, these muscles, and the amazing women who built them, made Dana White eat crow. What more could a girl ask for?