Tag Archives: feminist

Feminists’ Favorite Sport Should Be Mixed Martial Arts

UFC Women's Bantamweight champ Ronda "Rowdy" Rousey, courtesy rondamm.com.
UFC Women’s Bantamweight champ Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey, courtesy rondamma.com.

Forget basketball, soccer, softball, and those Olympic sports we all pretend to like every four years.  Mixed martial arts (MMA) should be feminists’ favorite sport.  Derived from a blending of martial arts such as karate, wrestling, kickboxing, and jiu-jitsu, MMA is unique in placing its female fighters and champions on equal footing with their male counterparts.  Feminists should love MMA.

The chief example of this is UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.  It was not long ago that UFC President Dana White promised we’d never see  women in the Octagon.  What changed?

Dana met Ronda Rousey.

Since coming onto the scene, Ronda has rapidly become one of the UFC’s biggest stars, commanding a crossover appeal (doing commercials, late-night TV, and movies) without parallel among her male peers.  And she’s not just a pretty face.  The former Olympic judoka has defended her title multiple times, improving her performance with each outing despite a staggeringly demanding schedule.  Also, she got it honest: her mother was an world-class judoka who later earned a PhD.  Talk about a family of accomplished women!

Compare this to other major sports leagues, where women hardly get the same platform that men do.  The WNBA cannot boast of anyone who rivals the star power of Lebron James; most other major sports don’t have a league for female athletes that even comes close to the WNBA’s exposure or popularity (which isn’t saying much).

Contrast that to MMA, where, in the UFC and other organizations, female fighters headline cards and draw pay-per-view buyers and serious sponsors.  Moreover, Rousey and her main rival, Miesha Tate, coached a season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) where they coached men and women.  How many other sports can boast that, in their first 20 years in existence, women coach men at the highest level?  Building on the success of Rousey and the bantamweight division she spearheads, the new season of TUF features an exclusively female cast introducing the 115-pound women’s division.

So in my view women, and those who care about the advancement of women (in a society that still too often treats them as second-class citizens), should be among the most vocal advocates for MMA.  In no other sport have female athletes come to occupy such a prominent position, equal to and even surpassing many of the male stars, in so short a time frame.

If you want to be in the business of rewarding activities that empower women and treat them equally, then MMA is for you.

Feminists, your sport is here.  As Bruce Buffer would say, “IT’S TIME” to give credit where credit is due.

Translation or Catechesis?

Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry

I’ve been working my way through UMC Bishop Will Willimon’s excellent Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry, and came across a very interesting passage, and one that I think I agree with:

Just as it is impossible to learn French by reading French novel in an English translation, so it is also impossible, as Lindbeck notes, truly to learn Christianity by encountering it through the translation of existentialism, or feminism, or the language of self-esteem.  One must learn the vocabulary, inculcate the moves and gestures of this faith, in order to know the faith. (Pastor, 209)

The occasion for this quote is a discussion of George Lindbeck’s excellent but (very!) dense The Nature of Doctrine.  Willimon is part of that postliberal school that went from Yale to Duke, a school I am largely comfortable with as an alternative to either fundamentalist or liberal theologies.  The above quote is explained, to my knowledge, best by William Placher here:

Unapologetic Theology: A Christian Voice in a Pluralistic Conversation

 

The argument goes something like this: in an increasingly post-Christian society (the West), how do we make disciples?  Some favor “translation” and others favor “catechesis” (my term).  The former would be those who use catch-words like “relevant,” “contemporary,” and “seeker-friendly” when discussing evangelical tactics.  The latter favor a more tradition Catholic/Orthodox model, where people are made Christians by learning Christian doctrine through constant exposure to the liturgy and sacraments, through learning the Scripture (and not The Message), and through (and this is the crux) learning to self-identify as “Christians.”  The latter crowd is not composed of people who want to open a coffee shop that talks about Jesus and call it church.

I am largely sympathetic to the postliberal school and its orthodox/Barthian leanings.  But I have concerns as well, that are exemplified in Willimon’s quote above.  It seems to assume that there is some “pure Christianity” that we can somehow identify and get back to.  Moreover, many in Willimon’s camp would affirm the above but still favor reading Christianity through the lens of, say, Aquinas (Hauerwas and MacIntyre), who was himself heavily influenced by Aristotle.  And of course, he was reading Augustine who was heavily Platonist.    Have these individuals “translated” Christianity through Aristotle or Plato, and thus bastardized it, or used the tools of high culture to better understand God’s revelation in Jesus Christ?  Surely it is the latter.  But how is this different from reading Christianity through the lens of existentialism, feminism, etc.?  Perhaps it is merely less popular.

But it seems a fine line.  I firmly believe in catechesis; and while the term “relevant” has many problems (as does the magazine of the same name), it points out something important: our teaching and enculturing must be accessible to people here and now.  The theology of the cross must be balanced out by the theology of the incarnation.  Our teaching must have flesh that can be recognized by our fellow Americans/Southerners/young people/Democrats/etc.  But we must not let this “incarnational” principle be used to justify wishy-washy theology.  It is a fine line, indeed.

Thoughts?