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Gina Carano and … tennis

The hardest fight for female mixed martial arts isn’t in the cage … it’s for legitimacy. It blows me away that every time we post something about female MMA, things usually devolve into an argument over the merit and skills of the chicks, with may people saying they can’t stand it, it’s unskilled, and (my favorite) people telling me that people only watch it to sexually objectify the women. Hey, Cris Cyborg looks like a burnt piece of beef jerky. I ain’t objectifying shit about her.

As the face of women’s MMA, Gina Carano must get all that sexist crap 1000x times over. Even when people try to compliment her on her skills they often unconsciously insult her place in the sport as a whole. People can’t help it to a certain degree … we were raised with a general idea of how shit should be and some of us just can’t get over it. None of this is unique to mixed martial arts, which is why Gina just spent the evening at a “Salute to Women in Sports” ceremony in New York, which highlights the accomplishments and struggle for legitimacy that all women’s sports have and still do go through. One of the key people there was Billie Jean King:

When King took up tennis, she had to deal with people who told her a tennis court was no place for a girl. By the time Carano was born, King had won the Battle of the Sexes, established the Women’s Tennis Association and championed Title IX. But Carano still has to deal with people who tell her a cage is no place for a girl. Carano said that because of that, she thinks she had a greater understanding of the issues King spoke about last night than female athletes in more traditional sports do.

“If there was anybody in the room who knew what she was talking about, I did,” Carano said. “I could relate to her in a huge way.”

I dunno about that … sure, MMA is probably more ‘in ya face’ with it’s chauvinism, but I can’t think of many women’s sports that are held even remotely close to the same level as their male counterparts. Tennis is the only one that comes to mind, and that’s a side product of the fact that tennis was one of the first sports to be declared as a suitable ‘womanly endeavor’, with women officially competing in the sport since 1884.

So the only reason most people think women’s tennis is acceptable and women’s MMA isn’t is because we were raised to think that women playing tennis was normal, and women were actually allowed to compete and develop alongside the men in this sport. And wow … how about that! When you actually have a system that encourages women to train and compete, they’re pretty fucking good. Crazy how that works, huh?

It will be interesting to see if people will be able to wrap their heads around females fighting enough for it to really catch on, but I’d like to think that we’re intelligent enough not to dismiss such a huge contingent of great fights and fighters on account of SEXISM. Seriously … what year is it again???