*This has been a great year for women’s equality.
Specifically I wrote in June about female athletes having reached the tipping point of equality. Not because female athletes are accomplishing things never before done, but because the Women’s World Cup and Hope Solo’s spot on the roster showed that women were finally being treated the same as men.
The recent knockout of Ronda Rousey by Holly Holm is further evidence of women being treated equally. As most people already know, Holm physically dominated Rousey in their championship bout eventually landing a vicious kick to the head/throat area. The blow was so devastating that Rousey had to be checked into a hospital and has been put on mandatory vacation from UFC. This is groundbreaking.
The Olympics feature a decathalon event for men and a pentathalon for women precisely because when the modern Olympics was established at the turn of the twentieth century the thought was that women were too fragile to compete in ten events. Similarly women were denied entry to multiple athletic endurance competitions because of the fear that they would not be up to the challenge physically. Consider the Boston Marathon as proof. The country’s premier marathon started in 1897 and took 70 years to allow women to enter – and only then because of a misleading application.
In this context it makes sense that the Holm-Rousey bout was a step forward for women because of the way Rousey lost and because the reaction has been about Rousey’s overconfidence and whether or not she will continue fighting or transition into making movies. This is the same any male fighter might expect in her position.
It has taken a long time for our society to come to grips with the idea of females fighting. Also earlier this year women were accepted into the Army Ranger program for elite soldiers indicating a comfort level with women getting hurt in defense of the country. Rousey’s defeat illustrates that we are fine with seeing a woman get hurt in sports.
Nobody said equality was all sunshine and rainbows.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.