Shit talk culture: a female fighter’s perspective on the trend of using snipey back-and-forths to generate publicity
Written by: Jane Doe
When I started creating humans, both pregnancies, I had the same thought walking into the ultrasound appointment to find out the sex: For the love of god, please don’t be a girl. (Lucked out. I’m two for two on producing males.)
I wasn’t worried about the younger years -- a little toddler girl throws the same fits as a little toddler boy, has the same complicated emotions and the same distinct lack of experience on which to draw in order to know where to direct those emotions. Not too worried about figuring out little girl fashion (as ridiculous as that concept is anyway) -- though my standard go-to is jeans, t-shirt and hoodie, if I had somehow happened to produce a little girl who was determined to participate in what we consider standard little-girl stuff, retail stores basically spell that shit out for the uninformed. Aisles and aisles of frilly pink lace, lilac purple, floral patterns. Easy enough.
No, the concern was teenage years and beyond. I grew up with two sisters and a brother. And we’re all old as balls now and have figured out how to have adult relationships and communicate well without stepping on each other’s toes too often or too badly. But, you know, I have distinct memories of one of my sisters throwing the other out the kitchen window because of an article of clothing. Not an exaggeration. That happened. And the clothing-related bad blood continued for months on end.
Girls -- and as it turns out, many grown-ass women -- hold on to past arguments and fights and incidents, carry that shit around in a designated pocket of their minds, sometimes for years, always ready to pull it back out and reengage when the time seems right. (Is the time ever right?)
To be clear, I am also a grown-ass woman. I realize that what I’m discussing here sounds like a sweeping statement, like all girls and women do this. Obviously that’s not the case. But it seems to me that this trait of carrying around past woes is far more common among girls and women.
Contrast that with boys and grown men. What I repeatedly saw growing up was a pair or more of teenage boys getting in an argument, being red-face pissed off about it, then having it out with the adversary of the moment -- and then moving right the fuck on.
Really -- there could be two dudes beating the shit out of each other after school, over who the hell knows what, and then the same two dudes playing video games together an hour later. They get it out, they process that emotional information in real time, and then leave that incident exactly where it actually exists, in the past, and move on.
For this reason, yes, I was very relieved to have learned twice that the human I was about to start raising was a boy. That is something I can understand. That’s something I can relay to another human -- the idea of expressing, resolving, and coping with negative emotions and interactions as they arise in order to enable oneself to let go of the thing that exists in the past and move forward rather than carry it around forever and ever, Amen.
Now we examine how that pertains to fighting. I’m gonna touch on a point very briefly that I may expand on later in a separate article.
The idea of shit talking a future opponent is baffling to me -- only because it really is just two humans stating the obvious publicly and repeatedly.
When you agree to an MMA fight, what you are agreeing to is getting locked into a cage with every intention of tearing another human being to shreds -- and with the understanding that the other human in the cage has exactly the same intention. In fact, if either party who has agreed to an MMA fight has any intention other than tearing another human being apart and doing his best to avoid sustaining too much damage -- then for fuck’s sake, that human should not be getting locked into a cage at all.
So when we see two fighters engaging in a publicly snipey, pre-fight exchange, no matter what words those two humans are using, here is what they are actually saying: “I have every intention of doing my best to beat you up when we fight.”
Well no shit, guys.
I think that some fighters need that exchange in order to engage in a way that they could not otherwise, but that itself is the aforementioned entirely separate topic. And I think that some fighters are really fucking clever and good at generating publicity using this method. The ones that are not make fools of themselves.
But more to the point here -- I have noticed a difference in experience between men and women in this arena.
In situations where we see two fighters engage in a pre-fight verbal exchange -- when we see male fighters engage in this exchange, what we see is them then fighting, then usually immediately showing some sign of respect (a post-fight handshake, a post-fight hug, a post-fight respectful social media post, etc.). And then in most (but not all) cases, that’s the last we fucking hear of it.
We see the pre-fight verbal exchange. All the same snipey shit we see from the men who choose this route. We see them fight, and then usually see some sort of post-fight show of respect along the same lines as the ones men display.
But that shit does not go away. The grudge lives on, indeed forever and ever, Amen. I (foolishly) allowed myself to get wrapped up in pre-fight bullshit precisely once, almost two years ago, and that girl still thinks we are engaged in actively disliking one another. Two years later. I literally forget that that human being exists in between her random snipey reminders.
I am not at all surprised by this -- that’s that thing that so many women do. But I bet if I were a dude and had foolishly gotten wrapped up in that same bullshit, I sure as hell wouldn’t be hearing about it two years later. And I know it’s not just me, either. You see high-profile fighters who publicly hold their grudges. I know many local female fighters who have exactly the same thing going on, opponents from the past who still choose to live there -- in the damn past.
I have no call to action here. I’ve been told before that an opinion piece should conclude on a call to action, a way for the reader to actively engage. I’m not naive enough to say, “We shouldn’t shit talk each other!” or “Find a better way to cope with your emotions!” or “You can engage in a fight for the purposes of sport without engaging in a verbal fight! That’s possible!”
No, I don’t think I could make a case for any of those things that would really stick. I guess my only intention here is to maybe generate a discussion or inspire reflection on the matter.
For my part, I am too damn old and a little too curmudgeonly to use pre-fight words just for the sake of using words, just adding to the noise with exactly the same message as every other damn fighter in the world: “I have every intention of beating you up.” Did that once, and honestly, it was more of an energy drain, way way way more exhausting, than the actual fight that followed.