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Ronda Rousey is the ‘fighter feminist’ we need

It took mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey just 34 seconds to beat her Brazilian opponent, Bethe Correia, in the Ultimate Fighting Championship battle this weekend. This win came after Rousey’s prior two fights, which lasted 14 seconds and 16 seconds, respectively. Her record remains spotless with 12 wins and no losses. Rousey has become the biggest name in the UFC, and the former Olympic judo bronze medalist has made waves beyond the fighting world. As Gareth A. Davies wrote in the Daily Telegraph, “If you are a woman and you don’t know who Ronda Rousey is–you should.

Not only was Rousey the catalyst behind UFC including women just 30 months ago, but she recently won the ESPY for Best Fighter, beating out a category of all male competitors, and has quickly become a merciless voice of feminist values. Most notably, Rousey beat out Floyd Mayweather for the ESPY award, who has been charged with domestic violence six times, and served two months in jail after abusing the mother of three of his children. In her red carpet interview following her win, Rousey asked “I wonder how Floyd feels being beat by a woman for once?” Merciless.

Rousey’s unapologetic and inspiring self-confidence has led her to be called a pioneer, a megastar, a badass, and a beast, but she has also been called “arrogant, brash, and cocky.” But this hasn’t quieted Rousey’s voice and goals; she knows exactly who she is. To the media’s focus on her physical characteristics and muscularity, Rousey has called her body “feminst-ly badass as f***.”  But with this confidence also comes an honesty about her insecurities with her body, which led to substance abuse and bulimia in her teens. With such a strong voice, Rousey has also opened up about her struggle to speak–Rousey revealed having been born with an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck; nobody knew if she would ever speak an  “intelligent sentence.” This balance of confidence and honesty about the path of arriving to a positive body image is an openness needed in the world of feminism, because Rousey portrays the real woman’s path of acceptance through struggle and not an idealized reality. Rousey admitted in the same Yahoo interview, “I was unhappy and thought when I got the right body I would be happy. But I was going at it backwards. I had to make myself happy first and then the body came.

Rousey’s career has exploded beyond the UFC ring, with modeling for Sports Illustrated, to appearances in Furious 7Entourage, and an upcoming movie about her life titled My Fight, Your Fight. And this is what Rousey embraces, as she calls it her modern-day take on what femininity entails: “the beauty and the beast.” Discussing this balance between being the best mixed martial arts fighter in the world, and a beauty icon in the Washington Post, Rousey goes on to comment “I don’t think you have to forgo or shame women for embracing their sexuality, or their professions.”  You can read the full article here.

Aside from her incredible record, honesty, and self-confidence towards embracing every muscle tone on her body, Rousey is also the fighter feminism needs because of her unparalleled level of passion and standing up for what she fights for– literally. As Rousey prepared for her latest fight against Bethe Correia, she wrapped her hands, which were adorned with the words “My lovely father,” a reference to her father who committed suicide when Rousey was 8 years old. Rousey transcribed these words on her hands after Correia’s comments days earlier knocking Rousey’s record, her honesty about the struggles in her personal life, and stating “I hope she does not kill herself later on.” Rousey’s fight against Correia lasted 34 seconds.

While feminism is always in need of more positive remodels to represent woman of every background, Rousey’s position as a fighter, in and outside of the ring, allows her to be a pillar every woman can look up to. As she stated, “Some people like to call me cocky or arrogant, but I just think, ‘How dare you assume I should think less of myself? The problem isn’t me thinking I can achieve any goal I set for myself, the problem is you projecting your own self-doubt onto me.”


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Written by Morgan Palermo

Morgan Palermo is a third-year law student at Penn State Law, who spends her days prosecuting domestic violence and sexual assault offenders, and her nights desperately avoiding her reading load. She loves all things related to travel, food, feminism, and her future home--the City of Brotherly Love. She is an East Coast girl, brought up by the influences of the Rolling Stones and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and her strong desire to shatter the glass ceiling.

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