Ronda Rousey Changing Society’s Traditional Ideals about Women in Sports

March 2, 2015
Comments off

Whether or not you’re a UFC fan, you should know who Ronda Rousey is and what she’s doing for gender equality. More specifically, you need to know how she’s blazing a previously unchartered path down the middle of American society’s traditional ideals about women in sports.

Before Ronda Rousey, just about the only women that stepped foot inside the UFC octagon were ring girls or the occasional female referee. Then, in November of 2012, Rousey became the first female fighter to sign with the UFC. Other promotions, like Strikeforce, had put on fights between women before, but the UFC is the Broadway of MMA.

On Feb. 23, 2013, Rousey busted down the door to women’s MMA and fought in the first women’s UFC match. Rousey beat Liz Carmouche in the first round via armbar and consequently the first female MMA superstar was born.

Rousey isn’t just a tough woman, she’s an elite fighter that has spent her life developing her martial arts skills. Rousey began Judo with her mother at the age of 11, and by the age of 17 qualified for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, becoming the youngest judo competitor in the entire Games. She was also the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in Judo in the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008.

Ronda Rousey - US FlagFast forward to Feb. 28, 2015, where Rousey was the main event in the biggest MMA promotion that has ever existed. On that day, Rousey, a female, was the main attraction in a sport predominantly attended and viewed by men.

The night of Feb. 28, groups of men all over the world were gathered in “man-caves,” sports bars, and living rooms to watch two females fight. Let’s be clear: men aren’t just gathered to watch the UFC on a night where Rousey happens to be fighting, men are gathered because they want to watch Rousey fight.

Male elite fighters of all types—strikers, wrestlers, Jiu Jitsu artists—are all talking about Rousey’s bout. One of the world’s most elite grapplers, Ricky Lundell, and UFC’s own Carlos Condit boasting a record of 29-8, took to discussion of Rousey and her level of skill on Facebook the night of the fight. During this discussion, the fact that Rousey is a female never entered into the conversation; Rousey had a place in the conversation at least as equal, if not more prominent, than that of her male competitors.

> SEE ALSO: Ronda Rousey Logs Fastest Submission Ever in a Title Fight

Rousey’s aggressive, explosive style brings men out to watch, discuss, and debate in a way that doesn’t typically occur in the world of sports. Typically, discussion and debate between men regarding male and female athletics doesn’t occur in the same space. There are spaces to discuss men’s basketball, men’s football, and men’s soccer, whether at the professional level or the collegiate level, and then there are spaces to discuss women’s basketball, women’s soccer, and women’s athletics. Rousey, however, transcends such societal norms.

Rousey could easily become the most important person for gender equality in the year 2015. She’s not just challenging social norms regarding women in sports, but she’s challenging social norms regarding females in general. In a world where society’s traditional ideals have women being beautiful, small, dainty, thin, and subordinate, Ronda Rousey stands beautiful, broad, strong, talented, aggressive, and insubordinate.

And she’s doing it with a megaphone.

(Guest contribution by Trevor D. Osborn)

Follow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

  • hyperbole

    She’s certainly showed me that, gender aside, she can come off as big of a d bag as any of the men. All I’ve seen so far is that she’s a big fish in a tiny pond of female athletes who’ve decided to take up MMA. She’s really good, but we’ll never know how good since great female athletes are playing basketball, soccer, or volleyball.

    • TheCerealKilIer

      Nick Diaz should make a porno with Rhodna. BIG payday!

    • TheCerealKiller

      It reminds me of the HW division right now. Great male athletes are going into other sports where the minimum wage is far more than what MMA pays. Take the NFL, you can sit on the bench for their minimum wage, which in the 2015 season that would include a salary of $435,000 and $525,000 in 2016.

      • Sadstrangelittleman

        Share with us who these “great HW male athletes” are and where they are going.

        • TheCerealKiller

          Between division I and II college football, 25,300 of the countries best athletes are recruited to play every year. There are around 3500 senior players who could be drafted. 254 players get drafted and the rest are left with a college degree to have a career with. That’s only one sport.

          • Sadstrangelittleman

            Gee thanks for looking up random statistics – could have said “football/basketball/baseball players are trying to make it in the pros”

            Pointless comment and pointless statistics just so you could sneak in that MMA fighters make less than other pro athletes.

            Spouting random stats and trying to make people think that actual top fighters are going into other sports is just dumb.

            Oh and “This account is next”
            Edited to:

          • TheCerealKiller

            Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour. – That’s a random statistic. Everything I stated was factual and on topic with his comment.

      • KJK

        Your exactly right. Sad strange little men might think they have a point but the fact is that most elite athletes in the 200 lbs and over weight range get scooped up by football and to a lesser extent basketball just because of pay. Meat head Mitrone didn’t give up the NFL for fighting…he came to fighting because he couldn’t stay in the NFL…he’s not elite but just the simple athletic ability he has makes him relevant in the current Hwt class.

  • Mallory

    GREAT article. Ronda is GOAT. This woman’s technique is unsurpassed.

  • Tha Kracken Neal

    Womans technique is fantastic, but until I see here compete with top knotch MMA fighters I have say it will be hard to redefine anything for the division let alone the “image”. If she cared about that crap she wouldn’t have appeared so smug and vain in the commercial she did with Cain Velasquez. I won’t doubt her as a fighter, but she’s to vain for her own good. Redefine women in sports lol smh

  • Sadstrangelittleman

    We are really going to start posting links about feminism and how women aren’t equal? If every “minority” followed that example we would have about 50-100 campaigns about how unfair it is for a certain group in life. Funny that we don’t hear 99.9% of other groups campaigning for special treatment but we are supposed to because women are saying it? All kinds of people are treated all kinds of ways yet the majority do their thing and get what they want by hard work and determination.

    This women are special BS is crazy – EVERYONE IS SPECIAL AND DESERVES RESPECT – not just women. Start up a campaign for equal treatment of gays, blacks, atheists, Christians, Hispanics, mentally handicapped, physically handicapped, Jewish, transgender……EVERYONE and then I will back you 100%

    Don’t try and single your specific group out as “mistreated” MILLIONS are mistreated and it should be a campaign to have everyone become equal not just about you and your agenda.

    • Diane E. Curtis

      I’m thinking somewhere along the way you picked up the very wrongest idea about what feminism actually is. Because you started out by denouncing it, and finished by making an argument for needing it. “Start up a campaign for equal treatment of gays, blacks, atheists, Christians, Hispanics, mentally handicapped, physically handicapped, Jewish, transgender……EVERYONE and then I will back you 100%” <— This is exactly what Third-Wave (particularly Intersectional) Feminism is and does.

      We believe that everyone should be treated with equal regard. Everyone. Period. We denounce "special" treatment of any kind, particularly the idea that women should be treated as special BECAUSE they are (weak, delicate flowers, child-like, whatever…) women. We don't play the "Gender Card;" or use feminine wiles (manipulation) to get what we want. That is conduct unbecoming of a grown-ass adult; I don't care what your other labels are. Propping up women as victims is distasteful. We don't whine about being mistreated. If this sounds like women you know and those women claim to be "feminists," I'd like to have a talk with them. Because they don't understand the concept, either.

      We don't wallow in the past and present oppression of women or any "minority" group that has experienced or is experiencing it, but we don't ignore it either. We acknowledge it so that we may work to eliminate it and make this world a better place. FOR EVERYONE.

      I've read some of your other comments on other posts, and you seem like a reasonable guy – actually, you seem like a guy I would be friends with. I agree with almost everything you've said, especially in your comment above. Which is why I took the time to respond. I hope I've done a little to promote feminism in a positive light for you, and that you may even realize that, um…actually, you're kind of a feminist yourself. Seriously.

      • Sadstrangelittleman

        Fair enough but when someone wants to identify as feminist: the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

        That pretty much states that they are outright campaigning for equality for women. There are groups that campaign for equality of everyone but when they label themselves as a feminist movement that implies it is a movement for women. If it was labeled something else or just generally called something like “The People’s Equality Movement” then it would be a lot more logical. the term feminism represents solely a female rights/equality no matter what wave it claims to be. And also I would deny being a feminist as it truly doesn’tatter to me what race, sex, etc a person is I’m out for equality of PEOPLE just people. Nothing more nothing less. If you take a stand for everyone then great but if you sit back and want equality for a special section of people only then I want nothing to do with you. In today’s world especially with recent events, people thing that women are the most mistreated group in the world when that’s far from true. Like I said just don’t lump me in as a “feminist” cause that’s far from what I am – no matter the “wave” or how you spin it.

  • gaspergoo

    hope she doesn’t end up looking like mom….she is rough

  • gaspergoo

    Ronda is a great fighter for women. Joe Rogan is making idiot remarks about her beating 135lb men…I don’t see that happening….TJ Dillashaw, Renan, Dominick Cruz, Urija Faber……no way she beats these guys….maybe some lesser low level 135’er….but definitely not any of the top ten or even top 15.
    People that think this is possible are just getting on the Ronda Bandwagon Hype….don’t get me wrong…she is a great woman champion…..but they would be far to quick and hit to hard for her to handle.

  • gaspergoo

    Forget wrestling or judo…they would just do the stand up striking and it would be a knockout within say a minute….she would have a very difficult time grabbing these guys they are so quick.