Document Type

Honors Project

Abstract

This study contributes to sociology of gender by analyzing male spectators’ perceptions of women’s violence in the sport of professional mixed martial arts. The emergence of women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) in recent years provides a new and interesting case for examining performances of violence and gender in sport. MMA is the fastest growing professional sport in America over the last 25 years. In 2013, the world’s premier MMA organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), organized its first women’s division. Women’s MMA has experienced tremendous success, with a gender pay gap much smaller than most sports. How do male spectators of women’s mixed martial arts frame their consumption of violence performed by and upon women? Through a series of interviews with young adult, male spectators of MMA and ethnographic observations at live MMA viewing events, I show that spectators manifest “hybrid masculinities” (Bridges and Pascoe 2014). Spectators of women’s MMA combine traditional components of masculinity with selective elements associated with subaltern masculinities and femininities. In doing so, the young men who consume women’s MMA obscure gendered inequalities, further strengthening the power associated with hegemonic masculinity.

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