The character Archie Bunker was explicitly created by Norman Lear as a distasteful sexist and racist, but instead he was embraced by the audience, and became one of the most beloved figures in television history.
Andrew Dice Clay made a career out of a distasteful sexist and racist persona that offered nursery rhymes like this one:
There was an old lady
who lived in a shoe.
She had so many kids...
her uterus fell out!
A commentator once noted that his audience consisted of men who hate women, and their girlfriends. Dice appeared on The Arsenio Hall show and when gently confronted about his act, he broke down into tears, a moment he never completely recovered from.
In 1967, commentators told Kathrine Switzer that her uterus would collapse if she competed in the Boston Marathon. She did; it didn't.
The world record for a women marathon runner is now 2:15:25. You can't run a marathon in 2:15:25. It would have been the men's world record in the late 1950s. The men's record is just 10% less, at 2:03:23.
But sexism in sports is not ancient history. Like the Nobel prize winning novelist William Faulker said "The past is never dead. It's not even past."
The Olympics offers the world its greatest display of athletic performance. Sports that emphasized overt displays of aggression or strength are seen as masculine, and non-contact sports that are either traditionally dominated by women like volleyball or emphasize aesthetics like gymnastics are seen as feminine. Olympic coverage showcases women’s figure skating or gymnastics, while sports such as women’s shot put or discus are virtually invisible.
Mixed martial arts is different.
The arguably most compelling figure in MMA is Ronda Rousey. And when the TUF show had alternating women's and men's fights, the weeks where a women's fight was highlighted were more popular. The audience voted with their eyeballs, and women won.
Luke Thomas interviewed several prominent WMMA fighters including Invicta matchmaker, UFC and Strikeforce veteran Julie Kedzie, about what it is like to train with men, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
"They always try to correct you," said Kedzie. "Especially if you're the lone women in the room, everybody just finds some reason to correct you, some reason to try and teach you more when sometimes you're just there for your workout. That drives me bananas. I have a lot of confidence in my own abilities. 'Oh, that's wrong! That's wrong' tends to get my hackles up even more.
'Oh, she's a girl. Let's show her what to do.' I hate that."
"You can hit a man pretty hard. They may say 'ow', but they probably won't and that might be their ego. You can get a sense of how hard you can hit.
"It's nice to go with someone that's stronger than you. Many women are stronger than me as well, but it's nice to go with someone that's always stronger than me so that I can get a sense of how hard to go in an actual fight."
"The only times I've been knocked out in training has been by men, not women. I would take the blame on myself for that because it wasn't that they were going too hard for me. It was mostly they were going light and I was going to hard.
"It's not that they would actually have too much pressure on me, but that I would slam into them."
"I don't think you're missing out on something, but there is a benefit to having female training partners in the sense that you fight women, you don't fight men. I don't know the actual scientific ratio, but there's a muscle density difference you have to deal with with women vs. men. Women tend to be a little more flexible when you put submissions on them.
"At least in my experience training with women, our competition level against each other is higher than if I were going with a male training partner because the male training partner will either take it too easy or maybe go hard without meaning to. With a woman, we're basically trying to take each other's heads off the whole time."
"When I choose to train with men, I choose to train with more experienced men than less experienced men because they know what they're doing. I know what I'm doing and we can work situational things a little bit more than going ape s--- and trying to take each other's heads off."
"I don't think you can be world-class fighter without training with good training partners. Whether they're male or female, I think you just have to have the right training partners. If you have a whole bunch of men, but they suck, then no, you're not going to be a world class fighter. If you have a whole bunch of women and they suck, you're not going to be a world-class fighter. If you have a whole bunch of men that are really good, then you'll probably rise to the occasion, likewise with women."
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