I have recently seen a lot of buzz on the internet about the IBJJFs lower pay for female athletes and its gotten me thinking a bit.
Heres an undeniable fact:
Women in general have a disadvantage in the work place in that they tend to make less money than their male counterparts. Professional athletes suffer from the same exact systemic discrimination.
There are several justifications that have been offered for this disparity, and I wont bother listing them, but the reality is that womens BJJ is different and should be treated as such, and heres why
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art which is intended to provide a smaller less athletic person the tools necessary to defeat a larger stronger adversary. The vast majority of women in BJJ are physically much smaller than the vast majority of their male counterparts, and many of the entrants into the womens absolute divisions are physically much smaller than their male counterparts
On the other, larger, end, the heavyweight women have a much greater advantage, which means that should a smaller woman win an absolute division it is a much louder and clearer statement supporting and exemplifying good jiu jitsu than on the male side of the sport.
Just look at Mackenzie Dern. Shes tiny. She just beat Gabi Garcia. It is far more impressive to see someone Mackenzie Dern or Bia Mesquitas size competing against someone like Gabi Garcia than it is to see a middleweight man compete against a superheavyweight man. Also the technical prowess that the smaller woman needs to have is far greater given the greater disparity.
Watch some of the womens matches that have taken place recently, and tell me that their performances do not rival the top mens matches in their display of technical, fluid and altogether impressive jiu jitsu.
Another key element is the reality of draw. It is undeniable that many women’s sport franchises simply don’t have the same draw as their male counterparts, thus economically justifying lower wage. However, in BJJ, there are no women’s only events yet. The same people who show up to watch men compete will inevitably see the women compete. It’s all part of the competition. The women didn’t put any less work than the men to get ready for the competition, and at a high level the competition is no less strenuous or impressive to the onlooker…
The sport shouldnt discriminate, as technique doesnt discriminate. Our female athletes have given us some of the most entertaining and well done matches of late, and the cash prizes that they are eligible for should reflect that. It is our responsibility as a community to demand that our female competitors get the respect they deserve, and part of that respect is equal pay to their male counterparts.
The 2015 womens absolute champ, Dominyka Obelenyte (one of the most impressive athletes of the sport) has set up a change.org page,
Sign the petition and give the women of this sport the respect they deserve.
Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer and https://instagram.com/emilfischerbjj/