“Lisa, if the Bible has taught us nothing else (and it hasn’t), it’s that girls should stick to girls’ sports like hot oil wrestling, and foxy boxing, and such and such…” — Homer Simpson
Many many thanks to Sam and Tracy for giving me the chance to guest post on their blog, and to the always articulate Homer Simpson for starting me off talking about women and combat sports. When Sam asked me if I’d be interested in writing something, I’d just caught up on my fight-watching with UFC 157, the first time women had been the title match-up: Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche. Now, most of my familiarity with women’s combat sports has been as a competitor rather than a spectator: taekwondo as a kid, and then again in graduate school, and wrestling in high school. So I hadn’t really been following the competitors’ careers before that point, though I did know Rousey was a former Olympic medalist in judo. And to be honest, I wasn’t really sure how it would all play out for the TV audiences. But what made me optimistic from the start was that their title fight would be run using the same rules as the mens’ fights, with 5 rounds of 5 minutes each (and let me assure you that this is a VERY long time to be fighting).
But let’s back up a minute, so I can tell you what made me apprehensive in the first place.
First of all, it’s the UFC, where there are very few women, except as ring girls. Those are the girls who walk around the ring in bikinis between rounds with a number card so you know what round number we’re on. And the title holder Rousey herself has a pretty sexy image. I just didn’t want this title match to be played as, well, foxy boxing. Most men in the UFC, with the notable exception of Georges St-Pierre, don’t have much of a sexy image. And most of us couldn’t care less.
Because let me tell you, images of hair-pulling and shredded clothing aside, fighting isn’t all that sexy. And that’s not me telling you that violence isn’t sexy, or anything of the kind. I’ve just fought enough matches (and seen photos of myself doing so) to come to the conclusion that you generally don’t look all that great when you fight. Your hair’s a mess, you’re covered in sweat (not all of which is your own), and you’re probably bruising up already. And if you’ve got a solid opponent, looking hot should be pretty low on your list of priorities.
Watching Rousey and Carmouche in the ring did not disappoint. It was a good fight with two obviously skilled competitors. The referees and announcers took them seriously. There were obvious mentions of this being the first women’s title fight, but nobody I heard said they looked hot in the ring, nobody said they fought well – for girls, that is, and from what I could see, everyone gave them the respect they were due.
So I’m hopeful. UFC is a sport that people watch. The exciting thing isn’t knowing who got submitted and how fast, but it’s seeing them do it. Lots of people endorse seeing skilled women in the ring. I want that too. But I also want to see them looking sweaty, exhausted, and in pain, like real fighters do. It’s our right to look as bad as we want when we’re busy kicking butt. So come on, UFC. Let’s help bring un-sexy back to women’s sports. Please?
Audrey is a logician, feminist, martial artist, and rock climber (in no particular order) happily living on a large Canadian island with her boyfriend and their pack of wild dogs.