Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gendered Promoting of Mixed Martial Arts: Strikeforce's Progression

I gotta give it up to Strikeforce here. Not too long ago (August '09), the MMA promotion, Strikeforce, promoted the mega-fight between Gina "Conviction" Carano and Chris "Cyborg" Santos. It was great -- the promotion set the match for five 5-minute rounds, made the match the main event, and promoted the heck out of it. The match had as much crowd energy as any mega-fight in the UFC.

However, one promotional aspect that merited critique was the obvious gendering of Gina "Conviction" Carano (emphasized femininity) versus that of Christiane "Cyborg" Santos (at least in contrast to Carano's presentation, masculinized). See here:

Then last night, Strikeforce promoted their MMA card by highlighting both Fedor Emelianenko and Chris Santos pretty darn equally. Check out this promotional video:

Santos gets nearly as much time, if not equal camera time and respect as Emelianenko. One could argue with validity that in the more recent video, Santos is not masculinized because Carano is not present as a contrasting feminized entity. However, there is progress in that Santos is not eclipsed by Emelianenko (who holds a more impressive record, with a longer history in the sport).

Both stars are distinguished as incedibly dominant athletes, period. Strikeforce has done more than any other MMA organization to promote their female athletes (and there's not too many of them). The journey has not been perfect, but as shown in this latest example, progress in the way of promotion is definitely being made. Good job!

And here's a very gendered comment. I hope for the sake of women's MMA, that Fedor's 1st legitimate loss does not harm the promotion too much.

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