With the reign of President Trump finally upon us, we have bore witness to mass rallies and protests from minority groups all across the country – be it the Muslim protestors at JFK International Airport, or the prominent Women’s March in Washington D.C. However, minority groups have all experienced marginalization at the hands of society long before the rise of President Trump. It is only in recent memory that these resistances truly began to attract national attention.
These empowering social movements have begun to transcend the realm of politics and have made their way into our everyday lives. Take, for example, the introduction of a women’s division in UFC and the uprising of female superstars in WWE. With the advent of social revolution intermingling with pop culture, the issues of marginalization are now exposed to those who may have previously turned a blind eye to these issues.
With prevalent organizations like UFC and WWE taking aim at the gender disparity in combat sports, it serves to show that our world is continually progressing towards equality for men and women.
Franchises like UFC and WWE have always been perceived as “a man’s world,” given the fact that events are usually male-dominated. However, the uprising of female stars within contemporary combat sports can be traced back to Ronda Rousey’s meteoric rise in UFC.
Noting Rousey’s dominance in the octagon, UFC capitalized on her toughness and quickly made her into an overnight sensation. Rousey began drawing in millions of dollars and viewers for the top MMA promotion in the world, and essentially became the leader in highlighting female efforts within this facet of entertainment.
Rousey’s marketability allowed for WWE to usher in their own “Women’s Revolution” in the summer of 2015. The arrival of tremendous female wrestlers like Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley gave fans new hope that women’s wrestling would no longer be a laughingstock in the eyes of wrestling fans.
No longer overly sexualized and underutilized, women for this was a new era in WWE were finally allowed to shine in the ring.
To prove the rising prominence of women in this arena, at 2015’s WrestleMania 31, there was only one women’s match, which lasted a grand total of six minutes and 42 seconds. Fast-forward to 2016’s WrestleMania 32, where the Women’s Championship match was placed near the main event and lasted nearly 20 minutes. The aggregate amount of matches being so low is forgivable still, given that there are far more male competitors than female – but the real value lies within the fact that the women went from five minute matches to producing a high quality main-event caliber match on the Grandest Stage of Them All. Five years ago, such an idea would have never seemed possible.
For too long, women have been marginalized within this realm of entertainment, but no longer is that the case. Man or woman, the act of stepping into an octagon, ring or mat is a testament to the willpower and toughness of these individuals in and of itself.
I can proudly say that the future looks bright with men and women being portrayed as equals, and if the realm of combat sports can achieve gender equality, then I’m sure that we as a society ultimately can as well.
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