Radical feminist Julie Bindel has reacted to the Tyson Fury furore with a Guardian piece as ignorant and prejudiced as the heavyweight champ’s remarks about women and gay people.
Fury, if you didn’t know already, has made a number of controversial mysoginistic and homophobic statements that have led to a recent petition, which now has over 100,000 signatories, calling him to be removed from BBC Sport’s Personality of the Year list.
Bindel claims we shouldn’t be surprised by Fury’s comments because boxing is basically evil and wrong. Let’s take a look at some of her more outrageous statements:
“Since when were boxers ever role models? The majority are railroaded into the so-called sport from massively disadvantaged backgrounds.”
This was very well countered by one of the commentators on the article, and I won’t try to improve on it:
Guardian commentator on Bindel’s piece
“I grew up close to some Irish Traveller families where bare-knuckle boxing was encouraged as soon as the boys reached five years old.”
Kickboxing. FlickrCommons. Eric Langley. https://goo.gl/8wFvzj
I’m sorry, but you can’t equate modern boxing with bare knuckle fighting. Boxers wear gloves – very, very large gloves, to lessen the impact of a blow. They wear gum shields so that their teeth don’t fall out. Amateur boxers wear headguards. Kickboxers add foot pads and shin guards. There are rules to safeguard the combatants.
“The ultimate aim in a boxing match is to inflict a blow to the head and render the opponent unconscious. Violence is endemic to this sport.”
No arguing with the fact that boxing is violent. But the ultimate aim of all boxing matches is not to render the opponent unconscious. In pro-boxing and MMA, okay, you’ll win a fight sooner that way. But in amateur boxing and other full-contact martial arts it’s all about points scoring. Did I mention the protective gear?
Amateur martial arts are actually safer than rugby, as I discovered when I decided to try out this ‘middle-class’-dominated sport.
Rugby Injury. FlickrCommons. Colin Howley.
I never came out of rugby training without numerous bruises and at least one strained muscle. Recovery time was a minimum of two to three days. Nobody wore headguards despite repeated blows to the head endured as a result of tackles. The risks of concussion are high, and rugby has been slow to introduce adequate safeguarding in its rules. Recent tragic deaths have emphasised the urgent need to address the issue.
On the other hand, during my many years as a martial artist, the most serious injury I have suffered was a pulled hamstring. That wasn’t even in combat. I was stupidly trying to throw a kick too high for my range. I also got winded a few times, a nasty experience that happily lasts just a few minutes. I did not pummel my opponent into the ground in a vindictive rage afterwards. I learnt to defend better instead.
“Whether we enjoy watching it or not, boxing exploits working class people, is dangerous, and it celebrates violence and individual competitiveness.”
What stupid fools working class people must be, to offer themselves up as sacrificial lambs for the entertainment of their wealthy overlords.
This is anti-working class prejudice disguised as its opposite and is immensely patronising.
And anyone who has a clue about combat sports knows they the attract middle classes in proportional numbers. The various gyms I have trained at in Ireland and the UK at least 40% of those training were “middle class”. One of those gyms was in East London.
“don’t expect those we exploit in such a way to have been on many equality and diversity training courses.”
Only homophobic, misogynistic men are attracted to violent sports?
Has she heard of British Boxer, Nicola Adams? Or, turning to the UFC, of US MMA fighter Liz Carmouche?
Liz Carmouche wearing her rainbow gumshield vs Ronda Rousey
Both female and LGBT. They also come across as incredibly nice people.
“If your job is to knock somebody unconscious, it’s unlikely that they have been raised to think that solving an argument with their fists is wrong.”
If Bindel had ever stepped inside a combat sports gym, she would know that one of the first things you are taught is self-control and respect for others. Combat sports also build self-discipline and self-confidence. They’re fun. They provide a safe space to channel aggressive feelings.
Of course, this whole piece all boils down to Bindel’s crusade against male violence.
Uncontrolled violence against either men or women, inflicted in order to threaten and control, is terrible and wrong. But combat sports are governed by rules – because they are sports, not wars or street fights. Bindel could do with going on a few equality and diversity courses herself.
The worst thing about it all, though, is that this demonstration of ignorance and prejudice just gives feminists a bad name.