Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Ring Girl Dilemma

Right off I’ll say it: as a female Brazilian jiu-jitsu student, I dream of the day when female fighters, and not ring girls, will be the most celebrated women in the sport of mixed martial arts.

And why not? The fighters are the ones doing all the work, coming home with bruised faces and hyper-extended elbows.

For example, at a recent MMA event I saw female fighter Jennifer Howe defend her title and display amazing skill at both kickboxing and grappling.

But at the end of her title match, it was a ring girl who raised her hand. Even though I’ve been a fan long enough to know that the scantily-clad girls with the giant placards are part of MMA culture, it was enough to leave me scratching my head.

Why, in a bout between two women, would a ring girl strut the stage?

I guess the answer is obvious enough: even in female MMA, the audience is largely male, and the ring girls are there for the crowd. But there was something in my equal-rights brain that started sounding off alarms.

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