Ronda Rousey to homeless people: ‘Hustle’

Ronda Rousey My Fight
(Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Ronda Rousey guest-hosted SportsCenter this week, which means the world got a chance to speak at length. Rousey speaking at length means there’s a good chance she says something inadvertently offensive or condescending, and she did not disappoint. Here is Fox Sports’ Damon Martin on Rousey’s comments on her spell as a homeless person (emphasis mine):

On Wednesday while appearing on ESPN’s “SportsCenter”, Rousey says the situation wasn’t as horrible as everyone makes it out to be because she only lived in her car for a matter of days after an argument with her mother led to her Honda becoming home.

“After the Olympics, I came home and I was at my mom’s while I was getting a job while I was looking for a place. I just got a job and me and my mom got into a big argument and so instead of going home, I stayed in my car until I found a place,” Rousey explained.

“People kind of over play it up me living in my car. I was only really there for like a week or week and a half.”

Regardless of the amount of time she was there, Rousey admits that there’s never been a better motivator than going to sleep and waking up in the same car she would then drive to work.

Living there for only a week or so lit a fire under Rousey to work that much harder to get what she wanted and that flame hasn’t been extinguished ever since.

“There’s no better way to get motivated than if you’re homeless,” Rousey said. “If you’re homeless and not hustling, you’ve got a problem because I was never more motivated to find a place than then.”

“I understand 24-Hour Fitness a lot more because if you just have a car and a gym membership, you can sleep in your car and shower somewhere else and it’s actually a really functional way to live,” Rousey said.

It wasn’t the worst way to live, but chances are Rousey is never going back there again.

While Rousey’s situation qualifies under the agreed-upon definition of homeless,* let’s acknowledge that choosing to sleep in your car for a handful of nights while you find an apartment because you got in a fight with your mom is not the same thing as losing your home in a natural disaster or being evicted because you can’t make the rent or leaving your abusive partner and ending up in a shelter. I don’t mean to mitigate her experience (though she herself says that people “over play” her homeless episode), but rather to point out that she had a relatively stable situation (a job, a car, some place to shower, her mom’s house if things cooled off). On the spectrum of homelessness, Rousey had it pretty good.

And that’s an important thing to point out, because Rousey shifts gears from descriptive to prescriptive with the “hustle” remark. Rousey’s comments imply that if you’re homeless, it’s your fault for not “hustling” yourself out of your situation. But it’s easy to “hustle” when you are an adult; are single; have a job; have a gym membership; have reliable transportation; have a place to shower; are not an alcoholic or drug addict (I presume); are not suffering from severe mental illness (I presume); are not suffering from other health issues like diabetes, cancer, tuberculosis, pneumonia, or STDs (I presume); are white; live in a moderate year-round climate, etc.

Here are some statistics about the homeless (via the National Coalition of Homeless):

-39% are under the age of 18
-5% are unaccompanied minors under the age of 18
-33% are families with children
-49% are African-American
-close to half of all homeless women and children are fleeing domestic violence
-16% suffer from extreme mental illness
-around 30% suffer from drug or alcohol addiction

Homelessness is not a “hustle” problem. It’s a societal problem of wage rates vs. rental rates, violence against women, mental illness, addiction, and race. Though perhaps we could solve all these problems by giving everyone a Honda Accord and a 24-Hour Fitness Membership.

* – Generally, a person who “lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence.”

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