I don’t believe I can remember a more intriguing and dominating female athlete like Ronda Rousey who dominates in a sport where males typically thrive. While Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) isn’t something I would typically define as a male driven sport, it is something that I think most men watch to see 1) men bash each other brains in 2) guys bleed all over the place 3) see someone get knocked out and 4) wait for the tap out. Oh there’s also the guys who enjoy the “Octagon girls” too. Which is why I find Ronda Rousey such an interesting fighter that demands to be watched when she is on camera.
Rousey isn’t afraid to speak her mind, she’s never afraid to talk smack to an opponent. I’m not typically one to like an athlete who is in someone’s face. It’s not really who I am. But there tends to be this line for Rousey. She knows when to hype it up and when to back it down. I know I’m not alone in saying that sometimes Mike Tyson was nuts when he hyped himself up, “I’ma eat ya children.” Yeah that’s a little nuts. But she doesn’t go that far. She doesn’t eat children and she doesn’t bite ears. She did an interview for the New Yorker in July of 2014 where she said enjoys being the villain, and she likes that fans can’t stand her. But she’s big on respect, and if she respects you (and you have to earn it), you are going to get what you deserve.
She doesn’t back down, yes, she was in SI’s Swimsuit edition and she’s been photographed for many different magazine covers and spreads. I’m not ignoring the elephant in the room here. Guys look at her and think, “oh she’s a woman that fights” and most of them drool. But what’s amazing about her is something that she said in that New Yorker interview. When she was young and had dropped out of high school to train to be a full-time judoka, Rousey struggled with her weight. According to the New Yorker:
“The constant pressure to make weight exacerbated her insecurity about her thick, muscular body; she became bulimic, obsessing over her appearance as she struggled desperately to qualify for her weight division, which was sixty-three kilograms, or just under a hundred and thirty-nine pounds. (At twenty, she moved up to fight at seventy kilograms, which is just over a hundred and fifty-four pounds—twenty pounds higher than the weight she competes at now, with the help of a nutritionist and the occasional salty meal.) “Whenever people talk about how cocky and arrogant I am, it blows me away, because I worked so hard to develop self-confidence,” she says. She recently held a fund-raiser for Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, which treats eating disorders. And when she was photographed for Maxim she intentionally arrived sixteen pounds over her fighting weight, because, she says, she didn’t want to glamorize her body in an “unhealthy” state.”
It’s amazing that people can think that self-confidence in women can be seen as cocky or arrogance but in men, it’s seen as a plus. Look at some of the male athletes that are celebrated: Michael Jordan, Nolan Ryan, Ali, Kobe, Lebron, Bird, Brady…I mean you could go on…the ones that have this super self confidence are the ones that if they were women would be considered cocky or arrogant like Ronda Rousey. They would be the ones that would be booed when they walked in the arena.
So this week Rousey got into with someone else, and I think she’s on the right side of the line here. Rousey said that fighters should get paid more than ring girls. She’s long been dueling with Arianny Celeste, a UFC Octagon girl, since the two were on a Maxim Hot 100 List”
Speaking about about being lower on the list, Rousey said “It would have been really funny if I’d beaten Arianny Celeste, because that would be like a triathlete coming along and beating the runners in a marathon. Like, ‘Ha-ha, it’s your job to show your t—–s – I do that better than you!’ Maybe next year. She’s only getting older, and I’m reaching my prime.”
Celeste hasn’t taken kindly to Rousey calling her a bully this week for all the times she’s been talking about her.
“What did I say that I was a bully?” Rousey asked reporters when she heard about Celeste’s comments, “I said that the fighters should get paid more than the ring girls. That doesn’t make me a bully, that makes me f-cking right.”
Rousey said, “I’m sorry, but she wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for the fighters. She wouldn’t. Do you think her walking in circles around the two guys or two girls out there like, fighting for their lives is worth more? You think she works harder than they do? I didn’t say that she needed a pay cut. I said either the ring card girls are paid too much or the fighters aren’t paid enough.”
“For her to take that personally – you know what would have been the best thing for her to say? Oh my god! You know? These fighters work so hard. And I wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for them and I just admire them so much. Yeah, I definitely think that they should get paid more than anybody in the arena tonight.”
I think it’s the fighters that bring the people to the arena and it’s the fighters who should be paid not the ring girls. But the thing about it is, we need to also re-evaluate the position of ring girl. Celeste questioned whether Rousey was a role model. I’m not really sure how Celeste can really ask that question when her job involves flaunting herself which leaves me to ask the question about what that is teaching the young girls who look up to people like Ronda Rousey when they watch MMA. For the young girls who are interested in MMA and want to watch it, they see these girls in mini-outfits who parade out there and sell skin to teenage to middle age men, which isn’t right.
That’s not a role model. A role model is someone like Rousey who has spent her life training for a sport and goes out there and lives and bleeds her sport. Yeah she’s rough and she’s brash and she speaks her mind. She’s not perfect. She has her moments when she says something that maybe she shouldn’t but we all do. That’s what makes us human. Role models are human too. Rousey has battled things that normal humans battled too, weight issues, family issues, confidence issues, gender equality issues, and for someone to question her position as a role model seems to be a bit of a joke. It’s time to re-evaluate those we place on a pedestal and those that we support.