UFC champ Ronda Rousey has become America’s newest darling as of late and, admittedly, we’re huge fans of this empowered woman — which is why we were surprised to read this week’s Salon exposé revealing some unsettling moments in Rousey’s recent history.
And Salon isn’t alone in calling out Rousey’s questionable commentary. Last month, in response to Beyoncé introducing her song “Diva” with Rousey’s do-nothing bitches speech (more on that in a bit), The Huffington Post‘s Alanna Vagianos pointed out how potentially problematic Rousey’s words were in the context of feminist rhetoric.
It’s not as though Rousey is a shrinking violet to start with, right? She may be the cockiest MMA fighter out there right now but, hey, how about that 34-second knockout against Bethe Correia? Rousey is entitled to her confidence.
Still, there’s a big difference between being charmingly cocky and downright offensive. Rousey is undoubtedly strong and beautiful and inspiring to so many of us, but is there a side to her we’ve previously been unaware of? Here are a few revelations that seem to suggest so.
1. She made comments bordering on transmisogyny and transphobia
In 2013, UFC fighter Matt Mitrione came under fire for offensive comments he made about transgender fighter Fallon Fox. When Rousey was asked to weigh in on those comments, she didn’t agree with Mitrione’s choice of words — but she didn’t disagree with the logic behind those words. “She can try hormones, chop her pecker off, but it’s still the same bone structure a man has,” Rousey said of Fox. “It’s an advantage. I don’t think it’s fair.” (It’s worthwhile to note here that research shows trans women undergoing hormone replacement therapy actually lose muscle mass and bone density, which certainly doesn’t qualify as an advantage over cis women in sports.)
2. Her body positivity isn’t inclusive
One of the most empowering aspects of Rousey’s personality has been the way she embraces her body and celebrates the body types of women deemed “too masculine.” Only, in response to those criticisms, she wound up body-shaming women who don’t share that distinctive body type, dubbing them “do-nothing bitches“: “I’m just like, listen, just because my body was developed for a purpose other than f***ing millionaires doesn’t mean it’s masculine. I think it’s femininely badass as f***. Because there’s not a single muscle on my body that isn’t for a purpose. Because I’m not a do-nothing bitch.” Rousey does have a beautiful body and it is stunning in its strength, but judging other women who have a different physique isn’t fair.
3. She has yet to address domestic violence claims against her boyfriend
Rousey’s feud with Floyd Mayweather is infamous at this point, and it all started with her commentary on Mayweather’s history with domestic violence. Naturally, Rousey has strong opinions about domestic violence and is in a position to raise awareness for this all-too-prevalent issue. But since Rousey has been dating her Glendale Fighting Club teammate Travis Browne — a man who stands accused of violence by his estranged wife Jenna Webb — she has remained mum on the topic. Although Browne has since been cleared by the UFC following a third-party investigation, Webb still alleges the accusations are true. Given Rousey’s seemingly definitive stance on behalf of female domestic violence victims, a statement could have helped clear up any impression of hypocrisy.
4. Meanwhile, she has been a domestic violence aggressor
In her book My Fight/Your Fight, Rousey chronicles the difficult time an ex-boyfriend gave her, even taking nude photos of her without her consent. She found the photos and deleted them, but she also decided to confront “Snappers McCreepy” (as she dubbed him) when he got home. When he realized she’d found the photos, Rousey claims, he started crying. “I slapped him across the face so hard my hand hurt,” she says. Then, when he tried to block the door so he could explain, Rousey “punched him in the face with a straight right, then a left hook… grabbed him by the neck of his hoodie, kneed him in the face and tossed him aside on the kitchen floor.” Clearly, this guy was a tool, but the force Rousey used in response was categorically excessive.
5. She tweeted (then deleted) a Sandy Hook “truther” video
We can all agree that the massacre that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012 was a tragedy of unspeakable horror. Conspiracy theories refuting the veracity of the event marginalize the deaths of the 20 children and six staff members lost that day and discount the unfathomable loss their loved ones experienced. So when Rousey tweeted a video purporting Sandy Hook was nothing more than fake images and falsified records, it struck a nerve with fans. Although she initially tweeted “asking questions is more patriotic than blindly accepting what you’re told” in her defense, she later went on to remove the controversial video.
6. Her attitude toward other women can be disheartening
Listen, we like a good rivalry just as much as the next person, but Rousey’s comments often cross the threshold from playful jabs to full-on jarring. As a woman taking up the mantle of being a role model and a women’s icon, it would be fantastic to see her lift up other women more than she tears them down. Rather, on the state of women’s MMA prior to her arrival, Rousey has said, “Everybody was trying to be Miss America, unwilling to go under any kind of criticism, and taking the safe answers.” And it isn’t just fellow female fighters she goes after. “Kim Kardashian is like a glorified porn star that’s been taken and somehow pushed to be some sort of role model… it’s just wrong in every way and, if I had a chance, if I had to pick anyone, of course I would beat her up,” she recently remarked.