Happy International Women’s Day, friends! If you haven’t yet, go and tell your mothers, sisters, cousins, girlfriends, wives, or any woman in your life how special they are.
I’ve been ruminating on this post for a while, and today seemed like as good a time as any to post this: the experience of being a female WWE fan.
It’s an odd feeling, loving something that has historically treated your gender like pieces of meat to be gawked at and objectified. I don’t blame my mother for not allowing me to watch wrestling when I was a really young girl: that was the age of bra and panty matches, the age of Sable hosting bikini contests in the middle of the ring, of Lita being mercilessly pelted with a chorus of “SLUT!” every time she entered the ring after cheating on Matt Hardy.
The current crop of women on the WWE’s main roster now, even, are some of the best in the world at their craft. In Sasha Banks, the WWE has one of the best performers on the planet, male or female. Yet they are still given woefully short matches, and women like Eva Marie are given pushes far too soon merely because they are on a reality show. Corporate refuses to put Chyna in the Hall of Fame while Sunny remains enshrined. And don’t get me started on the WWE’s woeful characterization of one of their most gifted athletes: AJ Lee.
And it’s not just Creative who is to blame. The WWE Universe has had a hand in this for years, whooping and hollering for the return of bra and panty matches, calling women like Charlotte a man, and refusing to stop their relentless sexualization of athletes like Bayley. If you don’t believe me, look in any Youtube comments.
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with women being comfortable in their sexuality. It’s healthy, even. But the WWE has, for years, taken things beyond empowered sexuality, tailoring everything for the male gaze.
Even I cannot escape the rampant, internalized sexism of certain parts of the WWE Universe. Ever since I began livetweeting and blogging, I can’t seem to go a week without being called “fucking gorgeous” by some strangers on the internet. I appreciate the compliment and all, but it can be aggressive and frankly, makes me uncomfortable. I doubt this happens as often to my male counterparts.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve also met some incredible people who haven’t once tried to flirt with me through Twitter, guys who treat me with respect and will talk wrestling with me all day. But for every good apple, there’s a bad one just waiting to pounce with a sleazy comment about my looks, because that’s all that matters about me, right?
So why do I stay? Frankly, it’s because of everything I wrote above. The world is changing, folks. The Four Horsewomen, Paige, Emma, Asuka and all of the women of the WWE are stepping up their games and changing the world’s perception of wrestling. The media is rallying behind them, calling Creative out for their abysmal booking.
And if women like me and the other women who love wrestling, give up, then our voices will never be heard. We would be letting down the trailblazers in the ring today who are working tirelessly to change the world’s view of women’s wrestling, the women of promotions like Shimmer, the women making magic in the indies.
That’s why I started this blog in the first place. The voices of women in the WWE and wrestling matter. Girls like Bayley’s biggest fan Izzy matter. Athletes who break the mold matter. And it’s not just about the WWE: it’s about the entire world.
I love wrestling, as imperfect as it may be. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. And I hope that one day, if I have a little girl, we can tune into Monday Night RAW and see them do their women justice. Equality is rarely ever given. It’s taken by hook or by crook. So I’m not going anywhere. I know the WWE can do better. I have faith in the unrelenting drive and passion of its Divas. And I have faith that maybe, someday, I can see the women main eventing Wrestlemania.
A girl can dream, after all. And this girl will never stop.