Posted June 7, 2014 by Sydnie Jones in Editorials

Shannon Knapp totes chill, opts to roll with blatant sexism instead of criticizing MMA legend


Earlier this week, legendary retired mixed martial artist Fedor Emelianenko had some dumb things to say about women fighting in MMA:

I respect the girls who defend the country’s honor at the Olympics, in wrestling, boxing… But I do not support female MMA.  A woman must be a domestic goddess, raise her children and be feminine. There a lot of different sports which help her in that. But MMA is not one of them. – source

Do we need to fully explain why it’s dumb? To be on the safe side, we will. A woman must not “be” anything, and it’s sure as shit not up to Fedor or anyone else to decide what’s best for women, or what they should do (have children) or be (domestic goddesses, feminine). It’s up to the individual to decide for herself, just like Fedor has decided for himself to live in centuries past and preach the glory of gender roles. Sexism doesn’t have to be misogynistic to be sexist. It’s called benevolent sexism, and it’s bad for everyone, including men.

Also, I’m not sure how the individual elements of MMA are acceptable to Fedor, but when combined, make women unacceptable to him. It’s almost like sexism and paternalistic gender roles don’t make any sense.

In an interview with Bloody Elbow,  Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp said, regarding Fedor’s insights,

He’s very traditional and very religious, and I can understand that old school view he has on it. Everybody has the right to their own opinion, and I don’t hold his opinion against him. I mean, he’s Fedor, come on [laughs].

“Understand”? In what way, like she can comprehend it? Cool, so can I. But instead of expressing any disappointment that an MMA legend would not support the thing Knapp has currently chosen to make her life’s work, she gave a diplomatic non-answer and deferred to his renown. Even though her life’s work (women’s mma, that is, not Invicta FC) is an undertaking routinely not taken seriously and met with derision.

Maybe Knapp actually feels the way she claims and doesn’t hold his opinion against him. However, apparently one rationale for not doing so is that he’s Fedor. Luckily, womensmma.com is not so magnanimous and finds the high road boring, or we don’t think people are beyond reproach despite their past relevancy. Or even current relevancy, if applicable. Instead, we’re happy to point out that people are entitled to their opinions and sometimes those opinions are full of shit, and we’re really happy to do it if said opinions perpetuate harmful systems of oppression.

The apparent kowtowing in response to Fedor’s proselytizing isn’t quite what we would’ve anticipated, and definitely not what we would’ve hoped for, from the woman who’s president of the only all-female MMA promotion in North America.

Sydnie Jones