I’ve written about Ronda Rousey a couple of times on this blog (here and here) and so it seemed like a natural thing to write about the controversy surrounding the fact that Walmart has decided not to carry her autobiography My Fight / Your Fight in stores. Contrary to what has been reported in a few places, such as this tragically alliterative piece, the retail chain is carrying her book, but only in for online purchase. It’s reported in Jezebel that the book will even be physically present in the stores’ stock rooms, just not displayed. As for why they’ve chosen to make it one of the millions of items sold online rather than one of the hundred thousand or so items sold in stores… who knows. Apparently their spokesperson will neither confirm nor deny that the content of the book has anything to do with it.
The Page Six report above said that the reason why Walmart wouldn’t carry Rousey’s book is that she’s too violent. Which, naturally, sparked lots of outrage and accusations of double standards, given that their stores carry plenty of books and media with violent content, plus guns and other weapons that one could use to perform, well, actual acts of violence. As well as this Instagram response from Rousey herself.
So look, we really have no idea what’s behind all this, and I’m pretty curious myself. The fact that the “too violent for Walmart” idea was so easy to believe, and the caginess of Walmart’s spokesperson on the subject makes it a bit of a marketing mystery. Arguably the most dominant athlete currently fighting in the UFC today? Why wouldn’t her autobiography be a huge seller?
Wildly speculative as the initial reason was, it’s a bit of a reminder for many of us of just how tenuous the acceptability of women’s fighting actually is. It makes you wonder whether Rousey’s success is only cool because she’s gorgeous and, well, singular. I agree with Justine Randall’s post about Rousey last year, saying that she can’t be the be all and end all for women in the octagon. This is not only because the sport thrives on real competition, but because no athlete lasts forever. Even though Rousey is (hopefully) many years away from the end of her career, it’s got to end sometime, and subsequent generations of women fighters will need to step in instead. And while I’d had my hopes up for Cat Zingano, it didn’t go that way in the end.
Does anyone in charge of marketing worry that Rousey will set a bad example for young women everywhere and encourage them to strive for a life of violence? Hopefully not, because they already sell plenty of pink guns. But maybe take a few of those pink guns off the shelf and make some room for the book. There can just be one section of one aisle dedicated to bad examples for daughters. Because I really like the thought of little girls seeing Rousey’s book on the shelf in a store, and deciding that’s what they want to be. Especially if one of them grows up to kick Rousey’s butt in the ring.