Let Women Join the Fight! Lift the MMA Ban in NY!


Let women join the fight! – NYPost.com

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark 1972 federal legislation banning sex discrimination in education, including in athletics. The Legislature could honor this sports milestone for women by finally lifting the outdated ban on mixed-martial arts — for women and men.

MMA, which mixes wrestling, boxing and martial arts, isn’t the testosterone­fueled slugfest that many legislators mistakenly believe it is. And women in MMA are not bikini-clad round-card girls; they’re combatants, whether former Olympians, college athletes, gym rats or master’s-degree holders.

Former MMA champion Gina Carano is amused that “every form of competition in martial arts until you put them together is legal.” Carano attributes the MMA ban to “politics more than mixed-martial arts itself.”

Supporters of the ban insist that MMA contributes to a culture of violence against women. Yet women comprise 40 percent of the sport’s  fan base. Participants sat it raises their confidence and self-respect. Others add that their MMA training has prevented them from becoming victims of violence.

Nor is MMA a sexist sport. Caroline Portugal, an MMA athlete and fitness model, says training with her male peers “has always been a positive and respectful experience.”

Each March, New York’s Legislature takes time out to commemorate Women’s History Month; female military veterans are honored on the floor of each chamber. Yet New York legislators are preventing women from participating in mixed-martial arts in the mistaken belief that it’s “barbaric.”

In the decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, 113 140 American servicewomen have died. Over the same period, zero women have died in sanctioned MMA competition. The Pentagon is opening up more combat-related duties to women.

Beth Hurrle, editor of “Gals Guide to MMA,” thinks that the presence of women in MMA aids the argument for lifting the ban. “It’s harder for New Yorkers to picture women participating in ‘barbaric’ contests,” she said.

From combat to combat sports, women are fulfilling the promise of equity envisioned in the passage of Title IX.

Some 44 45 states and the District of Columbia permit women to compete in MMA events. Lifting the ban in New York would mark yet another progressive embrace of female power.

UPDATE: The state of Wyoming became the latest state to regulate MMA last Thursday.

See Coalition To Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in NY.

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, FoxNews.com LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email MBenjamin9@optimum.net.
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