UFC Code of Conduct

*See below for updates and most recent news*

Copyright GettyImagesIn November 2011 I became the spokesperson of a coalition of individuals and organizations who were seeking to bring change to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) by demanding that they address a spate of hate speech, rape jokes, and more by enacting a code of conduct, similar to those enacted by every other major sport franchise.

My involvement began after a rape-joke tweet by fighter Forrest Griffin. The act was met without comment by UFC officials or CEO Dana White. In fact, Griffin later received a bonus for effective use of social media. In short order, there were more and more offensive tweets and public comments from fighters and White himself, joking about rape and the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State. Meanwhile, they had a legacy of anti-gay public remarks and outbursts.

As a survivor of sexual abuse, this issue is personal to me. The only way we change attitudes about sexual violence is through public discourse and to act as a society to stop it. And there is evidence that awareness campaigns and calls for greater societal standards does change minds — just look at the evolution of “wife beating” to domestic violence and the impact of the Violence Against Women Act.

Joking about rape and off-color remarks about sexual violence are not only offensive, but they are deeply hurtful to those who have survived such experiences. It can be a trigger for survivors to feel a whole host of difficult emotions, including anger, sadness, depression, shame, and frustration. For society as a whole, it is a terrible marker for the pervasiveness of rape culture and its bullying effect on the hearts and minds of women, men, girls, boys, transgendered individuals, LGBT people, and others. Joking about rape and sexual abuse is an admission that taking away someone’s power is not only “funny” but somehow acceptable and even encouraged. (This places a cultural expectation on what it means to be a “real man” just as much as it does to be a woman.) This kind of thinking plays into slut-shaming, in which girls are ridiculed and, in fact, shamed for alleged sexual escapades.

But that’s not the only reason to support this campaign. The UFC has a long history of anti-LGBT remarks made in public forums, including on twitter and in self-made youtube videos. Using gay slurs is another form of bullying and these UFC fighters are considered role models and are idolized by thousands of fans. Just like when Kobe Bryant got fined by the NBA for using the f-word on the basketball court, the UFC needs a code of conduct in place to take swift action when incidents like this occur.

If you feel like me, that it’s time the UFC grew up and enacted a code of conduct, please take a moment now and sign this petition.

The following organizations and groups have officially signed on in support:

Catch up on the SCS campaign here:

Media clips:

  • Brief overview of our call for a code of conduct (AP)
  • Coverage in the Nevada Appeal
  • TV coverage on Channel 13 (ABC)
  • The Bleacher Report
  • Eddie Goldman of No Holds Barred mentioned it on his podcast
  • The press release got mentioned on this MMA blog
  • We were interviewed with Loretta Hunt on KNPR on Nov. 15
  • Forrest Griffin awarded “most creative” twitter bonus
  • Rashad Evans makes joke about Penn State scandal at UFC on FOX presser (SI.com)
  • Rashad Evans’ joke about Penn State scandal is no laughing matter (Bloody Elbow)
  • UFC reinstates a penitent Torres (Yahoo)
  • Dana White responds to twitter troll with prison rape joke (Yahoo)
  • UFC should consider measures to placate anti-MMA lobby (SI.com)
  • Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Barlow invites UFC fighter who used bullying anti-gay hate speech to CCSD role model event (Vegas for the Family)
  • UFC Should shut down homophobic slurs (MMAFighting.com)
  • UFC 133: The sweet stench of homophobia (Bloody Elbow)
  • Fighter threatens girlfriend with beating on twitter (Bleacher Report)
  • Neo-Nazi fighter also convicted rapist and convicted of domestic violence (Bloody Elbow)
  • Inside MMA: Mo Lawal release underscores Zuffa’s need for code of conduct (SI.com)

***UPDATE: The UFC announces a code of conduct at the end of 2012 and uses it to discipline a fighter for transphobic comments in April 2013.***

Tenuous progress, or just very effective PR strategy … time will tell:

  • UFC’s White: Gay fighters should come out (USA Today, 2011)
  • Dana White says only career regret is use of gay slur (Bloody Elbow, 2012)
  • Dana White: Josh Thomson’s gay marriage meltdown ‘dumbest thing I’ve heard’ (MMAMania.com, 2013)
  • The UFC announces a code of conduct.
  • UFC suspends Matt Mitrione for transphobic comments regarding Fallon Fox (Yahoo Sports, 2013)
  • Report: Dana White says Nate Diaz could be cut from UFC for gay slur to Caraway [Editor note: He was suspended.] (Bleacher Report, 2013)
  • UFC to make history with two openly lesbian fighters set to face off in Seattle (Globe and Mail, 2013)
  • UFC President wants to go to Russia [Editor note: Oops! Maybe not a great move, Dana!] (Out.com, 2013)
  • Where’s the love? UFC/Culinary/The LGBT Center (Las Vegas CityLife, 2013)
  • Progressive orgs face off over UFC donation to the Gay and Lesbian Community Center (The Sin City Siren)

Last update: September 2013

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