University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Center for Academic Enrichment and Outreach
Academic research has typically focused on men who practice Mixed Martial Arts and their expression of hyper-masculinity. There is a lack of comparative work which examines women who practice MMA as a sport. This article aims to address this oversight by exploring the meaning and importance of the sports for women. The main focus is to explore how women navigate and “perform gender” in the patriarchal subculture of MMA. Drawing on a “grounded theory” approach, semi-structured interviews, content analysis, and participant observation, I developed a preliminary model of female Mixed Martial Artist. I examine three female fighter “types” (“Feminine inclined female Fighters,” “Neutral female fighters,” and “Masculine inclined female fighters”) and explore different aspects of gender performance which helped to signify these. In my research I discovered that in MMA there is a “gender order.” Many times when the gender order is disrupted women seek to recreate it. This results in the adaptation and navigation of the three fighter types that I mentioned previously. I also found that on many occasions women “purposely perform” a gender type making it an “explicit performance.” My findings demonstrate the need to consider the range and diversity of women’s fighter types. Further research should elaborate on the process of constructing a “gender order” amongst woman as well as the sociocultural expectations of female fighters. Other research should also investigate how “gender order” applies to other social worlds such as non-combat sports and other leisure activities, work and occupations, and everyday life.
Masculinity; Mixed martial arts; Patriarchy; Sex role; Women
Gender and Sexuality | Sociology
Borer, M. I.
Gender Performance in Womens' Mixed Martial Arts.
Available at: https://digitalscholarship.unlv.edu/mcnair_posters/46