Unleashing Manhood in the Cage: Masculinity and Mixed Martial Arts

Authored by: Christian A. Vaccaro and Melissa L. Swauger

Unleashing Manhood in the Cage: Masculinity and Mixed Martial Arts addresses the question “Why do mixed martial arts participants endure grueling workouts and suffer through injury, with little or no pay, just to compete?” The answer is because the participants enjoy a form of idolization from their supporters, each other, and culture more generally, which is linked to masculinity. In fact, MMA organizers, from the very beginning, purposefully created elements of the sport that are linked to dominant narratives about manhood. In this context, men don thin open-fingered gloves, lock themselves in a caged enclosure, and slug it out in a fight with few rules to see who comes out on top. This all occurs while “ring girls” in high-heels and skin-tight shirts and shorts stride around outside the cage holding signs and peddling t-shirts. The sum of these elements is the creation of a type of a publicly accessible and consumable form of masculinity. The sport of mixed martial arts is a rich and intriguing space where the construction of gender can be explored through a sociological and ethnographic lens.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreword, by Robert Heasley
Chapter One: “Bitches Get Stitches”
Chapter Two: “More Testosterone than a Herd of Water Buffalo”
Chapter Three: “I am in Invincible Mode”
Chapter Four: “It’s Every Heterosexual Guy’s Dream”
Chapter Five: “Lean Back On It Until It Breaks”
Chapter Six: “She’s My Property and Always Will Be”
Chapter Seven: “Biology Is Not Destiny”

Christian Vaccaro discusses the background information regarding the book “Unleashing Manhood in the Cage: Masculinity and Mixed Martial Arts”

Dr. Melissa Swauger discusses her interests and contribution to the book as well as reading and commenting on a few passages within Unleashing Manhood in the Cage: Masculinity and Mixed Martial Arts.