lifestyle

"Why I am picking a fight with the world's toughest woman."

I hope Ronda Rousey gets well soon.

I really do.

Being kicked in the head and then repeatedly punched in the face is a tough day at the office, even for a UFC super-legend.

As you can see, here: (Post continues after video)

If you are scratching your head over the name Ronda Rousey, you have clearly been out of the culture bubble for the past 12 months. The female UFC champion has broken into the top 10 of the world’s most highly-paid female sports stars, is touted as a begrudging feminist icon, has written a best-seller and appeared on every late night talk show of note and guest-starred in an ever-growing list of movies and TV shows.

Rousey is sold to us as an empowering pin-up for young women, someone who refused to become what she rather offensively terms a “Do Nothing Bitch”, and whose body does not conform to the rule of tiny-tinier-tiniest – the body shape of almost every other woman you might see gracing a magazine cover.

I really hope Ronda Rousey gets well soon. A split lip is one of those inconvenient injuries that reminds you that everything worth doing – from eating and drinking, to talking, laughing and kissing – involves your mouth.

But I do not buy Rousey as a role model for our times. I can’t join the parade of people who are convinced that her gender elevates her to hero status.

Because: The UFC is a violent sport. And if there’s one thing that we all need less of right now, it’s violence.

Watch the closing seconds of that fight again. Watch how Rousey’s neck snaps back as she kicked in the head. Listen to how the crowd bays as their heroine hits the floor. See how Rousey’s opponent, Holly Holm, lays more punches to the head of the woman now lying on the floor.

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I really hope Ronda Rousey gets well soon. Spending the night in a hospital, as far from home as you can get, is not fun for anyone.

Her brand, the UFC, used to market itself on No Rules. These days, it’s a “respectable” sport. For example, here are the things you CAN’T do in an official UFC fight:

Biting. Eye-gouging. Hair-pulling. Head-butting. Groin strikes. Fish-hooking.

What’s fish-hooking?

Definition: “The act of inserting a finger or fingers of one or both hands into the mouth, nostrils or other orifices of a person, and pulling away from the centerline of the body; in most cases with the intention of pulling, tearing, or lacerating the surrounding tissue.”

You used to be allowed to do that in the UFC, but not any more. Which is nice.

So, it’s a blood sport. And women’s relatively recent participation in it does not change that.

ronda rousey post
It’s a blood sport. And women’s relatively recent participation in it does not change that. (Image via Twitter)

The UFC is a professional promotional branch of MMA – Mixed Martial Arts. It markets itself as the anti WWE – the wrestling federation where the matches are set pieces with a pre-determined outcome. You can, in some places , bet on UFC matches, because they are apparently “real” – the punches are real, the blood is real, the kicks to the head are real. The money changing hands is real.

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And the adrenalin is real. Like watching a professional boxing match, watching two UFC fighters attack each other can be exhilarating. You can find yourself, like the glamorous crowds at big-ticket events, baying and cheering and willing another blow to land. You can find yourself, in other words, face to face with your baser instincts.

So, obey the rules. No biting. But everything else, go hard. Enjoy the spectacle.

While you do, think about what is being celebrated here – physical dominance, the infliction of pain on another human being, the proof that you can control and destroy someone lesser with your physical power.

ronda rousey in text
Enjoy the spectacle. (Image via Twitter)

Then think about those viral videos that occasionally break into the morning shows. The clips of children fighting in the schoolyard – the especially vicious ones that go “viral” on YouTube. Think of the crowd of kids standing around, chanting, encouraging, loving the spectacle. Think of how they feel afterwards, when one of those two kids is left broken and bleeding, and the other is celebrated. Think of how you felt in your schoolyard, when it happened to you, or someone you knew.

Violence is not sport, and fighters are not role models.

It’s true that Ronda Rousey is an incredible athlete – a person who has used an enviable discipline to break a glass ceiling and reach a previously unimagined pinnacle.

But that doesn’t make it a pinnacle worth reaching.

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I really hope Ronda Rousey gets well soon. But I won’t be willing her back into the ring.

Do you consider Ronda Rousey a role model?

You can follow Holly on Facebook, here.

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