Posted February 17, 2014 by Sydnie Jones in Editorials

Adam Hunter on Top

MMA’s quest for mainstream acceptance has been arduous – plagued by political opposition, widespread ignorance, and claims that MMA promotes violence – domestic violence, in particular. MMA in and of itself doesn’t promote domestic violence, of course, but the MMA world, like most professional sports worlds, has long been a boys club, with predominately male fans, almost exclusively male fighters, and a generally privileged sense of liberty when it comes to sexism, homophobia, racism, and transphobia. In this piece from March of 2013, Fightland talks about the UFC’s new fighter code of conduct, instated just in time for Matt Mitrione to pay the price for his transphobic rant about Fallon Fox (and here is his apology). Then, of course, there was the even more recent incident where Matt Brown made some poorly-conceived comments about women’s MMA on a podcast, and the UFC consequently chastised him.

It’s great to see this hard(er)-line approach to public gaffes. Allowing sexist/racist/homophobic/transphobic commentary to pass without comment is acceptance, and it’s not hard to imagine those on the receiving end will feel justifiably disinclined to be associated with an industry that permits their mistreatment.

Comedian Adam Hunter is in a promising place. He’s targeted the niche market of MMA, devoting the Twitter account MMARoasted to jokes about MMA, and has a following that includes some of the most well-known fighters, past and present. He’s written sketches for the World Mixed Martial Arts Awards. He’s got a vast knowledge of the history of MMA. Joined with his technical knowledge from being a wrestler and quick wit for live-Tweeting fighting events, Hunter is in, arguably, the best position so far to solidify his apparent status as MMA’s go-to comedian.

Unfortunately, what Hunter terms “brash, deep and hilarious” material is frequently recycled sexist stereotypes, objectifying the women he finds attractive, mocking women he doesn’t, and turning Fallon Fox into a punchline. He panders to the good ol’ boys, previously untouchable in a cocoon of privilege, exclusion, and minimal interest in the sport. Not all men find sexism and transphobia amusing, and the number that does is dwindling. It has no purchase in the emerging landscape of MMA – the one that includes the diversity of all women, including trans women, and the diversity of all men. Part of mainstream acceptance for MMA is the necessity of inclusion, and awareness of what oppressive speech is and how it reflects on MMA as a whole.

While it’s true comedians tend to have freer rein in potentially contentious subject matter, it’s not carte blanche to give a platform to any spontaneous, unexamined little thought that flutters out of your brain because it’s worked for you so far. If you use mediums visible to millions – like The Tonight Show and Twitter and Vimeo – to share the sexist or transphobic little thoughts you parade as comedy, well, Women’s MMA will probably call you on it.

But come on, can’t we just lighten up? He’s just joking, after all. That may well be, but when your jokes are actively harmful and encourage or perpetuate existing harmful constructs, it’s harder to lighten up. Besides, if you’re telling someone to lighten up, you might want to read this, because most people aren’t hyper-defensive reptilian-brained babies just dying to be offended.

Adam Hunter wants you to know – he is a man who loves women. He loves to watch women he thinks are sexy fight. He loves to have sex with women, and perform cunnilingus on them, and put his penis into a sock and masturbate when Ronda and Miesha are fighting. It’s all over his Twitter. As he makes sure to remind us at every opportunity, women fall into three categories for him: 1) sexy, 2) unattractive, and 3) non-entities. This is evident in everything from his Tweets to his podcasts. In no arena are they treated as individuals with a world not centered around their potential as a sex object.​ And why should they be? Adam Hunter’s comedy is generally about himself, how everything relates to him, and what the world can give him. Not searing insight into much of anything, or scathing social commentary…but if you want one-liners about his penis, he’s your man.

Okay, is he actually masturbating into a sock while he watches Ronda and Miesha fight? It’s hard to know for sure, but probably not. He’s probably being hyperbolic. But that’s not the point; the point is that when you’re Adam Hunter and you reduce women to – or even just conflate them with – how they satisfy your libido, you are inherently undermining their successes and gains in their struggle for acceptance into MMA. Additionally, it’s just not really funny; it’s unoriginal and uninspired. This is actually funny. Or this or this. It’s disappointing; Adam Hunter has the potential, but he can’t seem to stop himself from being sexist and transphobic. Here are some highlights, just in case you are unsure how he feels about Ronda and Miesha.
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How clever. These jokes sound familiar…oh, I remember. I last heard them in junior high.

And in the podcast from 9/26, listen to Julianna Pena scramble for diplomacy as she answers his invasive questions. This is after she describes Cody Bollinger as being ‘sexually derogatory’ and asking her inappropriately personal questions, telling Hunter outright she wants to keep her personal life private and expressing her displeasure with the direction his questioning is going. Hunter is more concerned about deposits for the spank bank, so he asks how many dates it would take for him to ‘get some’ (note it’s him getting some, not how many dates it would be until she slept with him), and then if she’s crazy in bed, and then if she body triangles men during sex. He’s also insistent that she address his repeated questions about her “ass cheeks.”  He demands she explain herself against allegations that 1) she’s teasing the men of the TUF house, and 2) she thinks everyone wants to hit it. It’s clear that when Adam is asking her questions not related to MMA, they are for one purpose – fueling his fantasies. Because that’s what every girl wants, to know some skeevy guy is masturbating to fantasies about you. He also likes to tell her what he approves of (she’s hot) and disapproves of (her British accent), because, obviously, in her service to Adam Hunter’s fantasies, what he thinks about her matters to her. Julianna’s segment starts at about 47 minutes.

Well, at least he’s being complimentary, right? But wait! He also likes to fall back into the safety net of classic sexist jokes  (always good for a laugh), even on Jay Leno. As though we hadn’t heard them all before, repeatedly. It’s really the pinnacle of lazy comedy, resorting to recycled jokes based on cliched stereotypes. Promiscuous, weight-obsessed, angry, PMSing women. Or, in Adam Hunter’s eyes, women.
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And in this video of Hunter performing on Jay Leno, he can’t even make it 30 seconds without a sexist joke. The ensuing laughter is overwhelmingly male. I wonder why (besides that it’s a Jay Leno audience). Maybe because women, like most everyone, don’t like having a monumental aspect of their identity mocked and derided (falsely, no less) for its very existence.

Adam Hunter from AdamHunter on Vimeo.

And if Adam Hunter doesn’t find you attractive, or just doesn’t like you, watch out. Apparently, he considers his subjectivity on a woman’s attractiveness universal, and assumes we’ll all laugh along with him. As we all know, making fun of people for being ugly is legitimate comedy gold. Naturally, this is all through Adam Hunter’s heterosexual lens – men he thinks are ugly don’t warrant near as many mentions or as much vitriol.
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Are you getting the gist? Every single aspect of women’s bodies is fair game to Adam Hunter. Whether he’s being the body police, making fun of a woman because he thinks she’s ugly, or discussing in graphic detail his lesbian fantasies, all the women are for his usage as props of one type or another – comedic or sexual.

And if you’re Fallon Fox, you, your life, your identity, your body, and your medical history are some of the most fertile grounds for Adam Hunter to reap. Adam Hunter’s MMA jokes are largely about the UFC, but he makes an exception for Fallon Fox. If his propensity for objectifying women, using sexism as a crutch, and mocking women he thinks are ugly aren’t indicative enough, the unrepentant and enduring transphobia completes the picture. He is still targeting a cisgender, heterosexual, male audience, and he doesn’t care about anyone not in his target market. And he doesn’t care if he hurts them, because in Adam Hunter’s world, men are people, women are for sex, and Fallon Fox is an incomprehensible entity stripped of all personhood. The latter two don’t register as real people and individuals, so there’s no need to worry what effect his words have on them and the groups to which they belong.

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Hunter’s message is clear: he gets to decide what Fallon Fox is, not Fallon Fox. Never mind that Fox has devoted years to having her true self fully realized and has faced myriad challenges, hate speech, and discrimination to do so.  In Hunter’s world, Fox has no agency over her identity, and why would she? Everyone is for Hunter to use, either as opportunistic grabs at self-promotion, punchlines, or masturbatory fantasies. He will classify you and dictate your purpose.

Just in case anyone forgot or had prematurely moved on, Hunter reminds us with a depressing frequency that Fallon was born with male genitalia and no longer has it. And, naturally, this is a state of being that’s unacceptable to Hunter. His ignorance is staggering; he shows no understanding of transitioning, hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery, or the brutal reality of denying your identity for decades. At the crux of this is a startling lack of empathy and a willingness to humiliate a woman who belongs to one of the most discriminated against, at-risk oppressed groups. Here’s an example of what happens when people are irresponsible with and ignorant of transgender issues.

But does it hurt? Who am I – a straight, cisgender woman – to say it hurts Fallon Fox and the transgender community? I turned to the foremost expert on how Fallon Fox feels, Fallon Fox herself, who was kind enough to share her thoughts on Adam Hunter’s tweets about her.

The twitter comments made by MMA Roasted are extremely disgusting. I understand comedy. I really do. And I can take a joke. But, there comes a time when a joke goes too far. Example: Imagine what would happen if MMA Roasted decided to continually make jokes about another aspect of any other fighter that falls within a minority category. Imagine if he repeatedly made derogatory jokes about a black fighter, slamming her or him for being black.

He made this horrible transphobic joke, “I still don’t understand why Big Foot Silva has a tattoo of Fallon Fox’s foot on his back.” I suppose this is supposed to be a crack at me having large feet? (Which I do not.) This is similar to making a joke about the stereotype of black people having large noses. Does anyone reading this think that he would get away with a racial joke like that? And not only making a joke one time, but continuously.

He also said “The New Fallon Fox Action Figure Comes with a Detachable Penis.”. And he took no thought into how that would affect me or the trans community. His jokes in relation to me are transphobic. I don’t believe he understands exactly what he has done or how what he has said incites unnecessary hate and misunderstanding about trans people.

Like I said before. I understand comedy. But, there is a line! Michael Richards found that out years ago. And if this continues, some of them are going to find themselves in the same boat.

Some people may find those degrading and hateful jokes funny. But those people have a transphobic mindset also. Outside of MMA, the conversation is changing on trans athletes. People are starting to wake up a little bit on this issue. Unfortunately, some in MMA are not paying attention to that. And that will likely bite them in the end. Some of the MMA commentators, comedians, and athletes are really giving MMA a bad name. Their misogynistic, transphobic mindset and language will not be accepted outside of the MMA sphere. And even inside of MMA, people are starting to be uncomfortable with their language and treatment of every type of woman. This has got to end. It hurts us all. It hurts trans athletes, it hurts cisgender athletes, it hurts the sport of MMA as a whole. If MMA wants to grow, the culture must change just a little bit, or it is going to have bigger problems within greater society. It seems to me that the MMA culture within the United States has gone off the deep end in some areas. Why is that? What is the reasoning behind the hatred many have in our sport for people who are feminine? I’m not just talking about myself. I’m also talking about some of the sexist comments some tend to rattle off about other female fighters. Why all of the blatant misogyny?

What is going on here is obvious. Much like the editors of the “Dr. V’s Magical Putter” story, MMA roasted is unfortunately negatively exploiting the status of a trans person for notoriety. Because trans people are looked at as oddities by some in our American society, he uses this particular trans woman as a focal point to unload the ignorance, intolerance, and bigotry that is apparently in his heart to help make a buck. This tactic is very shortsighted and unnecessary. There is an easy way around not making a mistake like this. Simply not make the joke. This is not good for business in the end.

To not call out Hunter’s sexism and transphobia is to allow success built on the remnants of other people’s dignity to pass without comment. If it’s to his benefit, Adam Hunter won’t think twice about exploiting someone’s dignity. The cavalier disregard for someone’s identity and struggle for equality is of as little concern to him as the sock he used to masturbate to Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate.

But Adam Hunter’s largely innocent in all of this, really – after all, he just wants to make those who want to laugh laugh. So if you’re not laughing, it’s obviously just because you don’t want to. Where’s your sense of humor? The issue must be with you, because Hunter brings his comedy “to the stage in a hilarious matter (sic) in which everyone can identify with.

Hunter’s Twitter is filled with media of him doing cool things; posing with MMA celebrities, sketches he’s written and directed, shots from his podcasts. He’s going places. So will he be concerned about this post? Should he be? On a practical level, maybe not. It’s just another post on the internet and he’s already got a solid foot in the door. Both feet, really. But on an ethical level, I hope he is concerned, because so much of his humor is alienating and hurtful. And, as Fallon Fox pointed out, representing MMA and its fans as ignorant, sexist, and unconcerned with its image is bad for business – and surely, that’s something even Adam Hunter can be bothered to care about.

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Sydnie Jones