Tonight sees a significant breakthrough in women's combat sports, if not women's sports in general as women's mixed martial arts (MMA) debuts in the sports premier organisation, The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The bout, which is also headlining the event, is between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche for the Bantamweight Championship. The bout also stands out because Carmouche is the UFC's first openly gay fighter.
The event raises interesting issues for feminists. Many have likened the sport to human cockfighting and believe it should be banned. They might point out that women's liberation is unlikely to be found in a 32ft diameter cage surrounded by thousands of beer swilling bloodthirsty fans. The sport's defenders point out that it is now highly regulated and highly skilled. By extending MMA to women, they might argue, the UFC is repudiating the dogma that women 'can't and shouldn't fight' while giving world-class martial artists the opportunity to showcase their artistry
Either way while the sport exists, is it not rather arbitrary, not to say patently sexist, to allow men to compete and not women?
Here is the UFC's president giving his thoughts on women's MMA only a year ago
...here is Liz Carmouche talking to a liberal political blog on being a gay athlete in MMA
...here is Ronda Rousey talking about beating up men
...and, for those interested in watching the fight, here is last night's weigh-in.