When French philosopher Charles Fourier created the term “feminism” in 1837, he felt women deserved to gain rights that would create equality between the sexes. He probably did not imagine a time would come where we would celebrate two women fighting each other.
But that is where we are in 2013.
UFC president Dana White told TMZ in 2011 he would never allow women to fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but that will change at UFC 157 on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013.
Ronda Rousey, the first female champion in UFC history, will take on Liz Carmouche in the first-ever women’s fight in the Octagon, and their bout will headline the mixed martial arts event at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Originally, the UFC president didn’t think people would want to watch women tear each other apart as members of his company, but that was before he met Ronda Rousey.
It is undeniable that Rousey is a dominant force with her 6-0 record and patented armbar, but her good looks will be key in attracting viewers. It helps women’s MMA that there is other female talent out there with Carmouche, Cristiane Santos and Miesha Tate, but Rousey’s moneymaking ability is what ultimately led White to decide that women can be included in his promotion.
So, everyone…feminists, non-feminists, masculinists…does this matter for women’s rights? Whether it does or doesn’t, how much do you care?
There is a big difference between winning the ability to vote and winning the ability to fight in an Octagon, but if feminists are thankful that Ronda Rousey has come along, is it important to them that money is the main reason why Rousey and Carmouche will battle in the Octagon? If so, how much does that tarnish the history being made?
Another question that seems fair is whether it is a deterrent to gender equality that there are likely women and men who will refuse to watch Rousey vs. Carmouche because seeing women fight would disturb them.
A lot of men would say they would never hit a woman though they would be willing to hit another man. Perhaps some of those men never want to see a woman get hit because it would just feel wrong.
If that is the case and there are men and women who don’t want to see women fight because it feels unnatural to them, do those people deserve to be called sexist or do they have a point?
This is not meant as a defense for those people, but there will always be someone who inherently believes something and is incapable of changing his/her opinion, and that definitely applies to gender stereotypes. Certain people will always think of a woman as a "damsel in distress" in a violent situation, so the prospect of seeing women in gladiator mode will never seem right to them.
Regardless of whether those people can overcome their bias and tune into the main event of UFC 157, it is indisputable that tonight is a step toward equality between the sexes, despite the money factor.
Women who wanted to be members of UFC when the company was started in 1993 were refused entry, but any female in today’s world with the desire to enter the Octagon will have a chance, provided they have the talent.
That means something; the question is how much it means for the progression of gender equality.
After UFC 157, some people will think the event was a momentous occasion for feminism while others will feel it was just another great night to watch UFC.
If it’s possible to believe in a combination of those two things, then put me down for that.
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