Mixed martial arts fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is scheduled to have his last Ultimate Fighting Championship fight on Saturday, but women's groups are calling for his removal due to a video he made that makes light of sexual assault.
The video, which was posted last year but resurfaced in recent days, is titled "How To Pick Up A Gurl." It shows Jackson — who also has a sponsorship deal with Reebok — plotting to incapacitate a woman using chloroform so he can rape her. Says Kathleen Tucker, executive director of the anti-domestic violence group Between Friends, "There are many subtle ways of disrespecting women, and this isn't one of them. It isn't subtle at all."
Between Friends is one of several women's and anti-violence organizations to sign a letter calling on the UFC and Fox, which will broadcast the fight, to remove Jackson from the card.
Sharmili Majmudar, executive director of Rape Victims Advocates, says that many rape victims feel "that what happened to them is not taken seriously, that it's minimized, that they're told theyre lying. So when you hear or you see people in prominent roles essentially echoing those messages that sexual violence is a joke or it's no big deal or it's funny, it just compounds that experience for victims."
She adds that "sports are one way in which boys and young men learn what it is to be a man." So "for the people in those roles to essentially be saying that this is not something that's serious, that it's something to joke about, those are not just problematic but really dangerous and damaging messages" for young male sports fans to get.
Majmudar is also concerned about Jackson's recent sponsorship deal with Reebok, and while her group isn't planning a campaign against Reebok at this time, they do "want to make sure the folks at Reebok think hard about the message they want to send their consumers."
It's not the first time a UFC fighter was involved in a rape-joke controversy — in 2011, fighter Miguel Torres was dropped from the league after making an apparent rape joke on Twitter. He was soon reinstated after apologizing and visiting rape crisis centers.
Neither the UFC nor Jackson's management have yet responded to requests for comment. Doherty isn't optimistic that the UFC will actually pull Jackson, but she says that the campaign is important even if it doesn't succeed: "It pays to speak out because that's one of the only ways that change is going to happen."