In the height of Superstorm Jonas last weekend, while all of New York was shut down, one show went on, and that show was Saturday Night Live. Leave it to executive producer Lorne Michaels to not let a little (or a lot of!) precipitation get in the way from broadcasting his famous improv show live from New York. After all, this past Saturday’s show came with a much-anticipated host, Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Ronda Rousey.
It’s fair to say Rousey’s didn’t give a knockout performance—her rushed intro made her nervousness somewhat contagious, and the most-talked-about skits from the episode weren’t ones involving her but Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin endorsement and Oscars parody. While the famed athlete and aspiring movie star held her own, of the varying responses to her performances, the one making the most headlines is about the appearance on her hand of a “promise ring.”
Not long after the show’s airing, a social-media war appears to have broken out between Rousey and the wife of the guy she’s dating. Yeah, wife. Rousey’s boyfriend, UFC fighter Travis Browne, is in the process of divorcing fitness model Jenna Renee Webb. To complicate things further, Webb has made claims that her breakup with Browne is a result of domestic violence.
While Webb's claims of abuse remain unproven, it hasn’t stopped Rousey from having to field awkward questions from reporters about what it’s like dating a guy who’s been accused of domestic violence. As Rousey recently told ESPN Magazine, “It’s hard, it’s really hard. I’m very anti-domestic violence. But I know that he didn’t do anything. Now I’m put in this situation where I’m finally happy with somebody that respects me and cares about me, and I’m like, ‘What do I do?’”
Clearly, there is a lot to be said about the prudence of Rousey’s choice to date a married man. Normally, I wouldn't bother with such celebrity gossip, but the fact that Rousey, one of the most-talked about women in the world, is in the middle of a domestic violence spat, I think it's worth discussing.
Browne’s soon-to-be-ex-wife Webb posted a since-deleted meme of Rousey that read “Is Ronda Rousey wearing a promise ring? As in ‘I promise not to hit you like my current wife’ ring?”
What followed from Rousey was an uncaptioned post, featuring a quote from Rocky Balboa in an image graphic:
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you! You're better than that!”
What the what? OK, Rousey and Webb’s fight is clearly a mess; I’d like to put that aside. But I think this brings up an important occasion to stop and clarify something. As a general rule, let it be known: If someone’s talking about domestic violence, unproven or not, Rocky Balboa quotes, literally interpreted, do not apply. Lest there ever be any confusion, taking hits in a boxing ring is fine; taking hits in relationships is never fine. Keeping on going in a boxing ring shows you're winning. Keep going in an abusive relationship and you're losing. Thinking that you should stay with an abuser is a pivotal element that reveals the psychological component of the abuse, and it shouldn't be taken lightly.
For victims of domestic violence, the real meaning of Balboa’s words “keep moving forward” do not mean to stay and keep taking hits from an abuser; they mean to get help at a domestic violence support center, recover from the traumatic experience, and start a new life. They’ve experienced the hits of life in real ways; even separated from their abusers, the psychological work toward recovery is cut out for them. They’re the ones fighting the hard fight, and winning.
Photo Credit: Getty Images