Female fighters: Fan sexism kinda sucks
This video of Cat Zingano warming up at the TUF 17 Open Workouts video got 43,000 views, and rising:
This one of Tate and Zingano actually training at TUF 17 Open Workouts got 4,500.
“It kind of sucks,” said Zingano. “My warm-up is something that’s very calculated, something that I do a few times a day. To look at it the way it was portrayed in that video was strange.”
You don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing, or a social scientist to know why the first video will end up with 10 times the views of the second.
MMAJunkie’s Ben Fowlkes recently reminded male fans that despite the growth of MMA, when you solely focus on a female fighter being hot, she may well notice, and may well not appreciate it.
Many female fans feel no shame in ogling Georges St-Pierre (you think he’s the “pay-per-view king” because his fights are all so thrilling?). So why shouldn’t an intelligent, knowledgable, respectful fight fan… be able to appreciate, simultaneously, the talent and the aesthetic appeal of female fighters?
If you actually care about the sport of women’s MMA rather than just the sports bras, it’s worth considering what it’s like on the other side of that equation.
Take Zingano, for instance, who never asked for anyone to shoot a video of her stretching routine and make it into its own Internet curiosity… Even after she and Tate nabbed a “Fight of the Night” bonus for their three-round battle, the next morning you could still find fans on the Internet debating their looks, watching videos of them stretching, all that.
“I thought it was a good fight for people to see what women can bring to the Octagon,” Zingano said. “So it is kind of disappointing to go on and see what people thought of my fight and just see a bunch of unrelated, sexist things. It’s like, ‘Oh. OK. Never mind then.’
“You don’t see fans saying the same things about guy fighters, but that’s because it’s usually guys talking about this sport. Male fighters don’t look and see a bunch of people talking about his pecs or how rounded his ass is or if they can see his jockstrap lines through his shorts.”
As Sara McMann pointed out, it’s not that meaningful for a female fighter to be lusted after by a bunch of half-drunk dudes out in the darkness.
“Guys wanting to hook up with you is probably the lowest form of compliment a guy can give you,” McMann said. “It really is. That’s the bare minimum of saying something positive. If they say you’re intelligent, if they say they respect you, if they say you’re a great athlete, that is so much more meaningful in a male-dominated sport than saying, ‘Yeah, she looks hot.'”
That might be tough for some men to understand, since we’re not so accustomed to strangers commenting on our looks. It’s just not as much a part of our lives (unless you happen to be GSP). And when it does happen, it’s more likely to happen in an appropriate, expected setting, like when we’re out actively trying to meet people who might like (or at least not totally hate) the way we look.
Female fighters? They’re at work. They suffered and sacrificed because they wanted to compete, not because they wanted to look good in a pair of tight shorts. As Julie Kedzie put it, “I like compliments…but I’m not looking to get laid through my fights. I just like the sport.”
Male fans and female fighters alike have that in common – we all like the sport, passionately. That should be enough to remind fans that when you post something lurid about a female fighter, she may read it, and it may feel creepy.