Friday, September 14, 2012

The Sociology of MMA: Feminized Labels as Insults

Just another quick example here of how men in sport - particularly those in "rough and tumble" sports where women are largely excluded - continue to put down their adversaries by feminizing them. In this example, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter, Roy Nelson, identifies UFC President, Dana White, as his wife as a way of insulting him. Okay, this broad tactic of men feminizing other men to insult them is nothing new, but it's the way Nelson does it that is interesting. See, below, via MMAMania

"You just got remember that mine and Dana White's relationship is like we're a husband and wife. I do the man's stuff around the house. I do the fighting, all the man's stuff and he does all the woman stuff - all the yapping. He's more the 21st century, he's the one who goes out and probably makes more money. Where as I might make sure the house is clean, and all that, but at the end of the day I still do the man's stuff - the lawn, the fighting, all the hard stuff. It's one of those relationships were there's love and hate. We're in one of those things like a speed bump. I don't know if we need a separation from one another. I think The Ultimate Fighter was our separation ... but now we're back together and holding hands and all that stuff." 

The most interesting part of Nelson's quote is how he likens White to his wife in order to insult him by (1) spotlighting their income differences, (2) associating White's higher income to women's upward social mobility, and therefore (3) trivializing women's increased income relative to so-called "men's work" (mowing the lawn, fighting, and hard stuff). 

As women in societies move closer to men in various spheres, such as work, men will cope with their gendered insecurities by finding ways to re-claim their power and control over women. Hence, with the so-called man-cession, "real" men like Nelson can still point out their physical, rugged masculinity as identifiers of superiority over women (and feminized men), even those who have higher incomes. 

And this is how hegemonic masculinity works. Whether it's in jest or not, men try to feminize others (other men and women) as a way to put them down. White could just as easily come back and feminize Nelson by insulting his physique, lower income, or lack of power in the mixed martial arts industry as un-manly. So basically in this hyper-masculine context, anything associated with femininity is bad.

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