The Deplorable, Rape-Trivializing Mindset Must be Wiped out of MMA Community
Rape is a subject often poorly handled when given wide-spread attention. Whether it’s rioting in support of a football coach fired for failing to report a serial child-rapist to police, or talk show hosts attacking the character and making sexual jokes about the last name of an alleged sexual assault victim, there is a common theme that arises in high profile sex crime cases — “innocent until proven guilty” is far too often perverted into “opportunistic liar until proven victim.” The tendency to vilify the alleged victims in an attack works in conjunction with a second element which contributes to rape culture, the cavalier attitude with which rape is used as a joke or an insult. The former came to prominance in the MMA community when former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Forrest Griffin tweeted “Rape is the new missionary,” just days following a reward from the UFC for being one of the organization’s “most creative” tweeters.
Brent Brookhouse picked up the quote and noted both its inappropriate nature and the poor timing, just days before the UFC’s network television debut on Fox this Saturday, at a time when several top news stories revolve around sexual abuse. Several sites followed with reporting on the tweet, including Yahoo! Sports’ Maggie Hendricks. In responding to the articles, the MMA community happily provided ample examples of the “rape as an insult” side of the cavalier attitude.
In addition to hate mail received over the article, the comments section below quickly filled with over 1,000 comments. Many of them rational, many of them highlighting everything that is wrong with the mindset maintained by many MMA fans. After the jump are some quotes which exemplify the gross attitudes some fans hold which have to change, as well as a look at the even more vile response to Maggie Hendricks’ story.
The “MMA Fans are Insensitive Meatheads” Response
The problem with this sentiment is two-fold. First of all, the less important way of looking at it — when an old school journalist writes an article slamming MMA as a brutal blood sport for savages, the community is quick to flood the comments with swears and assertions the writer is a no-nothing old hack who doesn’t understand that the UFC is a major sport with classy athletes. When a UFC fighter acts in a manner that is unprofessional, well what do you expect? He punches people for a living and the people who watch him like watching bloody fisticuffs, so why should they care about trivializing rape a little? Sorry, but that double standard doesn’t fly. More pertinently, if what the above poster is claiming is correct, that’s not a reason to excuse Forrest acting inappropriately, it should be a call to the community to change its way of thinking so that such behavior is something that the MMA community minds. Nearly any subject can be handled in a manner to make an acceptable joke, even one which has a positive effect. Saying “Rape is the new missionary,” a joke where the punchline is “man, so many people are getting raped it’s not even worth mentioning because it’s ordinary now” is not appropriate in any way. It’s disgusting, it’s offensive, and it’s something that, if it doesn’t offend the community on the whole, damn sure should.
The “Man, Just Move On. Nobody Will Notice if You Stop Pointing it Out” Response
If you don’t care about trivializing rape, you should. In the United States for every two reported cases of sexual assault, three more assaults go unreported. Why is it that more than half of all assaults aren’t reported? Because of people who don’t care when rape is made into a joke, and victims are attacked. Beyond caring as a UFC fan worried about how it makes your sport look, you should care as a human who understands that rape is horrible, and anything which contributes to a culture where shame and fear allows perpetrators to get away with it should be changed. Sweeping rape stories under the rug for fear of it shining a negative light on something you love is why Jerry Sandusky was allowed to continue raping children after he was seen sodomizing a ten year old boy in Penn State showers. If the strictly decent-human motivations don’t cut it for you, though, let’s be slimy and look at it purely from a GO UFC! perspective. Maybe the mainstream media wouldn’t have noticed without MMA sites calling Forrest out. Then again, Forrest also wouldn’t have subsequently been sent on a sensitivity mission, and the lesson wouldn’t have been laid out for all UFC fighters, meaning something would be more likely to happen later, after the Fox show, which the UFC hopes will start them on a catapult to mainstream. It will be noticed by the mainstream if it happens again when the UFC is in the public eye.
The “What About Free Speech, Man?” Response
This isn’t strictly a MMA community, or rape-related grievance, I just wanted to point out how much I hate people waiving around Constitutional rights they do not understand. The Constitution dictates how your government can encroach on your rights. It doesn’t mean others can not then freely comment on how terrible you are for how you freely speak, or that an employer does not have the right to punish you for your stupid words. The fact that comment has 14 recommendations is sad. Moving on.
As bad as the comments section on Brookhouse’s article became, it had nothing on the comments for Maggie Hendricks’ piece. This isn’t the first time the MMA community has turned deplorable on Hendricks’ articles, most notably when Joe Rogan referred to her as “cunty” and the community took up for their hero to blast her repeatedly. Now, I’m no Rogan basher. In fact, I’m a big fan. The Joe Rogan Experience, The Bugle and Sklarbro Country are the only podcasts I listen to every episode of. But tearing into a woman with the most disgusting hate speech imaginable for rightly pointing out that there is a distinction between Rogan speaking as a comic (on stage) and Rogan as a UFC representative (on the Underground) is a sign of a deeper problem. With the story on Forrest, another fan favorite, the hate came out full force again.
Yes, let’s weep for the poor persecuted males of the world. Life’s been so hard on me because I have a penis and am white and as such people expect me to not treat others like shit. It’s sooooooo unfair.
That dude really just said only feminists think rape isn’t funny. I… I quit. I can’t actually explain why these comments will be wrong because, well, just fucking look at them. They speak for themselves:
There’s far more, several pages of them, but frankly I’m sick of reading hate speech. It’s also worth noting the worst comments, those wishing Hendricks herself would be raped, were thankfully pruned by moderators.
Now, MMA is not the only community that has this problem, but that doesn’t mean that we, the MMA community, should not want to change them anyhow. Making light of sexual assault, and attacking those who speak out against it, creates a culture where sexual assault is allowed to happen. When the result of words and actions is to cast shame upon and intimidate victims of abuse, it’s something we should want to stop contributing to, not because we have to, but because why the Hell wouldn’t we want to?