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Mayhem and Rampage want to Remind You, it’s Still Misogynistic Martial Arts

April 6, 2012

Mixed Martial Arts is still a man’s game, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I mean, sure, the casual MMA fan will lower himself down to watching a women’s MMA fight, just as long as one of the participants is a knockout aesthetically as a primary trait, and capable of delivering one as a distant second priority. Because after all, if a woman athlete isn’t sexy, what’s even the point? Sure, this is a horribly embarrassing truth of the average view of women involved with MMA, but if you think it’s wrong you’re fooling yourself.

In the past I’ve discussed the absolutely horrific treatment of Maggie Hendricks on nearly any article she posts, as well as Bloody Elbow’s Brent Brookhouse who had the audacity as a male writer to not think demeaning women is the bee’s knees. This week, two of MMA’s most popular personalities are here to drive home the point that misogynistic attitudes are still accepted, even praised as hilarious, by an embarrassingly large percentage of the MMA community.

First on the docket is Rampage, who has far from the greatest track record of treating women like actual people as opposed to simply objects on which he can rub his groin. Whether it was dry humping a female reporter mid-interview or pretending to motorboat Karyn Bryant, Rampage has proven more than once that acting sexually aggressive towards a woman while he is supposed to be giving a professional interview is the highest of comedy. So, it’s really saying something to note that his latest offering is offensive by the standards he has already set out. Have a gander at this lovely little piece on the finer points of picking up a woman using chloroform and zip-ties.

Now wasn’t that just the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. I mean, it has all of the funniest things you could ask for. Making light of rape? Check. Insulting the transgender community? Check. Labeling the only disgusting in it that Rampage had to be close to another penis? Check. A trifecta of deplorable behavior. The response from the UFC to Jackson can only be deemed appropriate with his release. Some are arguing it’s what Rampage wants, and made the video for that sole purpose, to which I say who cares? Mixed martial arts is a sport whose fans argue tooth and nail that the sport we love is no worse or corrupting on its viewers than the big four, and if we want anyone to take that seriously than we have to hold companies in it to the same bare-minimum standards we’d expect of any major company. I think “don’t make videos which ‘jokingly’ tell people how to rape women in empty parking lots with no surveillance,’ is a pretty good bare-minimum ethics requirement. If it’s what Jackson wanted all along, well good for him, all he had to do was prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a classless, gross person to get it. The thought of making him hang around to fulfill his contract as a punishment, and earn another seven-figure payday in the process, is absurd. The only response should be immediate termination. Sadly, history says it’s an outside shot he’ll get more than a slap on the wrist.

One would hope that response from fans would be one of unanimous disgust, but of course that’s wishful thinking. Instead, opinions are split between those who don’t believe in letting PC go mad, and the uptight, no-fun killjoys who can’t take a joke.  And don’t try to point out that we live in a society which helps to enable rape, in no small part due to attitudes such as those who claim that saying “creating a ‘humorous’ blue print of how to rape women isn’t funny,” just proves that people need to lighten up. Rape and sexual assault is a disgustingly under-reported crime. A society that continues to make light of it, and continues to blame victims for totally asking for it with their short skirts and cleavage is to blame. Stopping bullshit like this video is one admittedly-small step towards rectifying that and making things just a little less terrible.

As for Mayhem, he has the less offensive video of the two, though before you go handing out medals for that it’s not exactly saying much. Mayhem was recently interviewed about his upcoming bout with CB Dolloway, and decided it was a good time to channel some classic Rampage by hitting on interviewer Iris Garcis who is trying to do her job while having the audacity to also be attractive.

Mayhem has actually shown in the past a willingness to speak progressively on matters that a lot of fighters would rather stay away from, including in this very video when he asserts that he’s happy to have gay fans and thinks who wants to sleep with who is none of his business. On the other hand, even that he does with the cringe-inducing phrase “the gays.”

Throughout the interview, Mayhem is dismissive of Garcia, and let’s it be known right in the beginning that he thinks she is hot. Then he asks how she gets into those pants. He’s one leg-hump away from going full-on Rampage. So, how does this video get shared on the MMA blogosphere?

Oh, it’s no big deal. Just Mayhem being Mayhem. Hilarious!

Sorry, but wrong. Do you know what would happen if an NFL player attempted hit on a female reporter. He’d be fined, and likely suspended. He’d be derided up and down the media for his unprofessional, immature and gross behavior. We should be holding our MMA stars to the same standards, if not out of a desire to be given the same respect as major sports from the general public, then so that at least there could be a reason to have self-respect on the issue. Because right now the stance where this is an action that is not just acceptable, but applauded as hilarious behavior, is not one to be proud of.

Imagine if you would the shoe was on the other foot. What if Ariel Helwani was interviewing Ronda Rousey and before any serious questioning could even get under way Rousey was telling Helwani how much she loved a man in a flannel shirt, and asking if he wanted to date her. What if she Rampaged it and ground against Helwani. The response would be massive, with pages upon pages of proclamations that she was an embarrassment who shouldn’t be taken seriously as a professional athlete if that’s how she’s going to behave in a professional setting. If that comparison doesn’t float your boat, flip the script a little bit and say Helwani was acting toward Rousey how Mayhem did toward Garcia. How long would he still have a job at SBNation and with the UFC? Spoiler alert: Not very long.

I’m not saying Mayhem should be cut from the UFC. As mentioned above, while well, well out of line, his transgressions are not on par with Rampage’s. But similarly his actions are not ones which should be embraced and praised. People make mistakes, it’s part of being human. On the other hand, one of the most basic ways we learn from our mistakes is through negative feedback. I touch my finger to a stove. I burn my finger. I don’t touch hot stoves anymore. As Rampage has already demonstrated so wonderfully for us, that negative reinforcement for improper behavior toward women is all but non-existent in the greater MMA community, and without it the door remains open to go from fingertips to slapping a hand on the burner.

It’s a simple solution really. Step 1) Remember women are adults and equals in our society and treat them accordingly. Step 2) Judge women in MMA on their merits in their given fields. Step 3) Criticize and punish those who refuse to do so. Step 4) Congratulations, we’ve all made things just a little bit better for everyone! Step 5) Hooray!

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