Steven Barnes looks at UFC Fighter Ronda Rousey and how she’s leading the charge for equality in the patriarchal world of professional sports.
As the dream of equal pay edges ever closer to reality, there is still one area, that remains impervious to change – the world of professional sport. To some, the legitimacy of women in sports has always been a contentious issue. Some see women as simply inferior at competing against men in certain events, or see it as a novelty, or carry the patriarchal belief that sports are just not for women.
This is reflected by Forbes, with Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams the only women to have cracked the top 100 of their Rich List. Despite the vast gap in fiduciary equality women’s sport is on the rise, with increased professionalism bringing, as far as the audience is concerned, increased legitimacy of women’s sport. The skill and quality of female athletes is now shining through and one person who comes to mind is UFC fighter Ronda Rousey.
Ronda is not just noted for her prowess within her profession (in which she is currently undefeated), but also for the way she carries herself beyond it: standing up against Floyd Mayweather for his domestic violence convictions, her fearlessness and her promotion of positive body image. Despite being an icon for so many, Ronda has her share of detractors. Ronda’s response?
“That’s why I think it’s hilarious if people say that my body looks masculine, or something like that. I’m just like, ‘Listen, just because my body was developed for a purpose other than f–king millionaires doesn’t mean it’s masculine’ I think it’s femininely bad-ass as f–k because there’s not a single muscle on my body that isn’t for a purpose. Because I’m not a do-nothing b–ch!”.
On the other hand, Ronda has a rising sea of support, fighting the tide. Stephanie McMahon is one of the principal owners of WWE says of Rousey: “She’s legitimate, she is a woman drawing in main events for the UFC, and that is awesome. She is unapologetic, and so herself, and is having this incredible career, which is so inspiring. I want my daughters to look up to her. She’s paving the way.”
Can Ronda continue to shoulder the weight of this revolution? The answer is probably not.
The groundswell is coming however; she, along with four women in the MMA (Marina Shafir, Shayna Baszler and Jessamyn Duke) make up the ‘four horsewomen’ – a group promoting women’s rights and unity. Ronda’s appearances in movie roles and the mainstream media have gained her attention on a wide platform. Ronda has started proudly walking the path, she needs her fellow professionals to follow, in order for true change to sweep its way through the sporting world.