Over at Yahoo! Kevin Iole is doing his typical fighter fluff piece, extolling the virtues of Gina Carano and simultaneously forcing a storyline about her sister’s struggle with drug addiction into every possible inch of the article. Seems like someone really took to heart those journalism classes where they discussed ‘theme’.
Anyway, one of the more interesting moments comes when Carano expresses confusion at MMA fans and their preoccupation with her as a sex object:
“All the attention has helped me, but it’s also hurt me,” she said. “Sometimes, you get portrayed the way you don’t want to be portrayed. People start thinking about you a certain way. I’m like, ‘What’s everybody talking about with this sex appeal thing?’ I don’t get it. I’m not that way. I’m not that person and I’m never going to be that girl, because it’s not in me to get people’s attention sexually. But that’s what people are saying out there now.”
I have to ask myself a couple different questions when I read that. For starters, do I believe that Gina Carano doesn’t realize that she is very attractive for a woman in general, and extremely attractive for a successful female athlete? I do not. I’m pretty sure she knows by now. I’m also pretty sure she knows that it’s a big part of the reason she’s getting all these career opportunities outside of MMA while other female fighters toil in relative obscurity.
If my assumptions are correct, then I have to ask myself, why is she being so coy about it? If she realizes that the Maxim photo shoot and the tight American Gladiators outfit were designed to promote her as a sex object, why is she pretending to be surprised? The answer, I suspect, is that no matter how great the money and attention is, it probably gets really annoying to have everyone focus on only one thing about you, especially if that one thing is your looks.
This is where I feel the briefest of sympathy for her. She’s a pro fighter who happens to have been born beautiful. She earned her fighting ability and her MMA credentials through training and hard work. She just got lucky in the looks department. At first she probably welcomed that attention because, who wouldn’t? Then there was the money that comes with being the MMA covergirl and the American Gladiators star. Again, who wouldn’t seize the opportunity to get paid?
But at some point it’s going to get old. You’re going to want people to recognize you for what you’re actually doing with your life. Again, she’s fighting on CBS this weekend and she’s the only female MMA fighter most people know, if they know any at all, so my sympathy is so very, very fleeting.
It just seems as if Carano is ill-served by the ‘who-me?’ attitude when people focus on her looks. There’s no getting around it, and it is undoubtedly part of the reason she’s gotten so much attention from the media, so why not take control of it?
I’m not saying she should striptease her way to the cage, but neither should she pretend that she’s not a willing participant in this game. She is, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Just go with it. Go with it, and give to the world more weirdly sexy photos like this one, which threaten to do dangerous things to male-female relations for a long time to come.