Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bad news story of the day: MMA Underground's "Is the outrage over Cyborg really about aesthetics?"

In just bad news reporting, MMA Underground has an article that is titled "Is the outrage over Cyborg really about aesthetics?"  It mentions how Cris Cyborg seems to be excortiated for steroid use in a way that many other male fighters aren't.  He mentions how the most popular women's fighters - Gina Carano and now Ronda Rousey - are attractive as if it's relevant.  It is not.

But . . . what makes the article horrible isn't that it wonders if Cris Cyborg is being discriminated due to comparisons with prettier fighters.  What the article does is talk about how, y'know, when men are caught for steroid use it doesn't effect their popularity.

The question asked isn't if Cyborg is being discriminated against because she's not pretty but if she's being discriminated against because she's a woman.  Not because she's a not a pretty woman, but more because she fails to satisfy the criteria that most men have for "womanhood".

The answer to that is, "Well, duh, yeah."

A deeper analysis would talk about how men like to define acceptable womanhood and Cyborg has always been a contentious fighter because she destroys male stereotypes about what a woman should look like and how a woman should be.  The idea that a woman should be as physically powerful as a man, more than most men, with the kind of aggression in a fight that one associates with someone like Wanderlei Silva . . . well, that's disturbing to a lot of men.  That she then totally fails to court any particular image of conventional womanhood is doubly troubling - which is why male fight fans embrace fighters like Rousey and Carano, because while they fight, they still "look like women".  They don't challenge as many stereotypes about what a woman should "be", or, more precisely, what a man thinks a woman should be.

So when this unrepentant physical woman fighter, incredibly strong, not just for a woman but period, who has the kind of aggression we associate with the most terrifying fighters, who then goes on to reject most of the forms of womanhood - she doesn't try to go around pretty, she walks around pretty much exactly like any elite male athlete might go, lots of t-shirts and comfortable shoes, sexist men look for a reason to hate her.  Her steriods bounce merely gave them that rationale.  They can say she's bad for the sport, she's a cheat, so forth and so on, even when they're far less interested in condemning male fighters for the same misdeeds (much less the discussion about testosterone replacement therapy, where men can legally acquire anabolic steroids!).

The question isn't if Cris Cyborg is discriminated vis-a-vis other women.  It's simply how much she's being discriminated due to sexist bullshit.  (Right answer: a lot.)

So, bad article!  Bad!

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