Nylons and Midriffs: What’s Happening in Women’s Wrestling (June 14, 2018)

Nylons and Midriffs, Scholarly Wrestling Reviews

Hello, good wrestling fans!

I’m back with another entry into the Nylons and Midriffs series. Not exactly the same time as I promised in my last post, but ’tis life sometimes. Due to circumstances out of my control, this post is one week later than I hoped it would be. Therefore, this week I’ll discuss the events of the previous two weeks of RAW and Smackdown Live, not including the go-home shows to Money in the Bank. I’ll discuss those in my next post, to talk about everything MITB-related.

With that, let’s jump right in.

The Good

Image credit: WWE.com

I liked that in the weeks leading up to the go-home for MITB, the women were given more time than usual in segments and matches. We saw women receive attention that are typically disposable when it comes to airtime, like Lana, Naomi, and Mickie James. The primary exposure for them were matches rather than segments, and ones that were given at least a commercial break in the middle of them. This is great! I just want to see women wrestle!

And the wrestling was sound. While the pacing and sequence choreography could use some work, the female Superstars have the moves to carry matches. Fans also have new rivalries to daydream about — can you imagine Sonya versus Naomi, Sasha versus Ember, Charlotte versus Becky (again)?

And as one small aside in this section, Becky Lynch picked up a victory over Charlotte! While I have a lot of feelings about the pedestal that Charlotte has been put on during her time on the main roster, it is undeniable that at this point, having her put you over means something. I hope it signals a push for Becky in the future, because that woman is criminally underutilized for her wrestling ability.

The Bad
The most bothersome thread throughout the last couple of weeks has been that WWE is confused on how to make women clear-cut heels and faces. Let’s look at two examples.

The first: Nia Jax. She only just finished a triumphant, anti-bullying feud with Alexa Bliss to win the title, but now she’s in the murky area of tweener against Ronda Rousey. She used a jobber to show off her power to Ronda while cutting a very heelish promo.

Image credit: DigitalSpy.com

Then, the next week, she quasi-injured Natalya, and acts overly concerned for her to seemingly irk Ronda, who we are supposed to believe is Natalya’s actual friend. What? Is Nia the heel or the face? Being less half-assed about Nia’s characterization would really help the fans invest in this feud, because we have schemas for face v. face, heel v. face, etc. Even if it’s silly to turn Nia heel so soon after her feud with Alexa, it would be a lot better than what we’ve been given thus far.

Second: Lana. She is a part of Rusev Day, who WWE are for some reason trying to push as heels. She teased breaking Rusev and Aiden English up when she returned to TV, only to have Aiden give her an endearing song for fans to sing during her matches. When she qualified for MITB, she celebrated with Aiden like a face. But during her dance-off with Naomi, she attacked Naomi after teasing a truce with her. How does this benefit Lana?

Last: Sasha Banks and the Tale of the Never-Ending Feud. One week on RAW, we had Ember Moon, a face, tag with Sasha Banks, a…tweener(?), and Alexa Bliss, a bonafide heel. Why??? I understand that sometimes heels and faces tag together to build tension in an ongoing feud, but a) none of these women are feuding, and b) it only works if the characters are distinct and use that to play off one another. Sasha being lost somewhere between heel and face made this trio very odd.

And then, when Bayley came out to “save” the match after Alexa left to gain victory for the face team, Sasha took the win like a face. But afterwards, when Kurt Angle told the team that they lost by DQ, Sasha instantly hated Bayley again, like a heel. Who is this feud for?! Who is the face? Who is the heel? WWE is wasting some of its best and most unique talents by damning them to purgatory. No one likes you when you’re in purgatory.

The Thorny
I would be remiss in my ranting if I didn’t mention my rage at the Gauntlet Match on RAW a few weeks ago. The announcers spent the whole night touting the match, spewing “historic” and other hyperboles into our ears. And it was all well and good, until we entered the third hour and there was still no match. We got to half an hour before the end of the show, still no match. We got a damned comedy segment about barbecue before we got that Gauntlet Match.

WWE insulted our intelligence by assuming we’d forgotten that the men’s gauntlet match from several weeks before lasted nearly two-thirds of the show. The women’s Gauntlet started at 9:43pm, Central Daylight Time. Twenty minutes. Less than twenty minutes. A match with seven participants, one of which who was in her hometown. This is disgraceful and unacceptable.

Photo cred: CagesideSeats.com

I am glad that we have reached the point of doing. Yes, we now allow women into previously uncharted territory. Now we need to work on the execution, and I don’t mean on the part of the wrestlers. On the part of Creative, producers, and decision-makers in WWE. They need to advocate for women to get the exposure they deserve.

We cannot tout women’s liberation if we are going to only allow women to shine as long as the men shine brighter. That is “women’s empowerment” that fits politely within the patriarchy. If WWE really wants its women to transcend the shortcomings of the past, the company needs to execute the booking of their women’s division in a more audacious way. They deserve to take up space.

***

Through and through, I’m still amped for MITB. My thoughts on the go-home shows are mostly positive in terms of the female Superstars, so hopefully the pay-per-view itself delivers some satisfying results.

Until next time, stay legit bossy,
AC

CFP: Professional Wrestling: Politics and Populism

Calls, Works-In-Process

Professional Wrestling: Politics and Populism

Call for book chapter proposals

Deadline for abstracts (250 words): 15 March 2018
Contact: Sharon Mazer (smazer@aut.ac.nz)

Provoked by the disruptive performances of Donald Trump as candidate and president, and mindful of his longstanding ties to the WWE, this edited book will look at the infusion of professional wrestling’s worldview into the twinned discourses of politics and populism. In so doing, contributors will consider the ways that professional wrestling as an embodied, cultural practice might be seen to perform, represent, model, interrogate, and even resist diverse manifestations of populism across the political and national(ist) spectrum in the USA, Mexico and Latin America, Britain and Europe, Japan, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

This book project began as a cross-disciplinary conversation – theatre, performance studies, anthropology – presented first in a panel (‘Rasslin’ in the Trumpocene: Politics and Pro-Wrestling in the 2016 Campaign and Beyond’) at the American Anthropological Association’s 2017 conference. The editors wish now to expand the field to allow a wider range of perspectives and voices to weigh in on the question of how professional wrestling might be implicated in the current resurgence of populist politics, whether Trump-inflected, right wing and reactionary, or indeed leftist and socialist. Publication in the ‘Enactments’ series, edited by Richard Schechner (Seagull Books), is scheduled for 2019.

Proposals are invited for chapters (approximately 6000 words). Topics potentially include:

  • The introjection of professional wrestling’s power dynamics and its constructions both of the ‘Other’ and of anti-establishment stances into the political arena;
  • The ways the Trump administration has leveraged various forms of social consent, negotiated power, and recast or silenced oppositionalities to create a new normal in politics, in the USA and beyond;
  • The staging of masculinity and violence, power and ‘truth’ in populist politics as in professional wrestling;
  • Feminist readings of the relationship between professional wrestling, populism and politics, including professional wrestling’s simultaneous complicity and questioning of masculinist power;
  • The connection between the popular and the populist, between the mediated and the live, and between the quotidian and the exceptional in professional wrestling as in contemporary politics;
  • The (dangerous) practices of representing race, immigrants and other Others in professional wrestling as in populism and politics now and in the past;
  • The ways key concepts, such as kayfabe and heat, can be seen as invocations of the various commercial and fictional worlds and universes that inform and create our politics today;
  • The reflection of the ‘rigged game’ in the fixed fight of professional wrestling.

Timeline
March 15, 2018 – abstracts (250 words) due
August 15, 2018 – draft chapters due
December 1, 2018 – final chapters due
January 31, 2019 – book to press

Editors
Heather Levi is an assistant professor of anthropology at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. She is the author of The World of Lucha Libre: Secrets, Revelations and Mexican National Identity.

Nell Haynes is a visiting assistant professor in anthropology at Northwestern University. She is currently completing her monograph, Chola in a Choke Hold: Remaking Indigeneity through Bolivian Lucha Libre.

Eero Laine is an assistant professor of theatre at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He is one of the co-editors of Performance and Professional Wrestling and is in the process of completing his monograph, Professional Wrestling and the Commercial Stage.

Sharon Mazer (Auckland University of Technology) is author of Professional Wrestling: Sport and Spectacle. Her article ‘Donald Trump Shoots the Match’ was recently published by TDR.

The link to call for papers: https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/cfp/2018/02/12/professional-wrestling-politics-and-populism-edited-volume

Taking Back Today: Reconciling Subversiveness with Status Quo in Women’s Royal Rumble

Fan Reviews, Scholarly Wrestling Reviews

Image credit: Vickie Benson (Guerrero) Facebook profile

It began as anyone may have expected it would, with two solid workers from WWE’s women’s division, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch, getting the crowd hot for the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble. Both competitors are two of the most memorable women to ever step foot in a ring, with Banks as the biracial, purple-haired cousin of a rap star and Lynch the roughhousing siren with a thick Irish accent. This was as fitting a start as the current women’s roster deserved, especially considering the plurality of women who would follow in succession to the ring after the first bell rang.

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Image Credit: http://www.wwe.com/shows/royalrumble/2018/gallery/women-over-the-top-royal-rumble-match-photos#fid-40199616

On paper, the list of entrants reads like a checklist of diversity. There were women of color as well as women over 30, 40, and 50. There were mothers, old and new, women who are married, women that remain single. There were plus-size and fat women, visibly tattooed women, and even one gay woman. In many ways, the women’s Royal Rumble was more inclusive than the men’s roster ever has been. WWE even allowed an Asian woman — a vastly underrepresented, if not stereotyped, group — to win the Rumble. It seems the brand is becoming less and less afraid to roll with the tides of changing times.

The beauty of the women’s Rumble is one that male fans can only appreciate in the most basic sense. Because it was the first installment, it was a celebration and homage to where the women’s division has been over the last 20 years, where it is, and where it could be going. This was evidenced by the large number of nostalgia entrants, ranging from forever faves like Trish and Lita to beloved athletes like Molly Holly and Beth Phoenix.

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Image Credit: http://www.wwe.com/shows/royalrumble/2018/article/5-best-moments-2018-womens-royal-rumble-match

Thoughtful recognition of these female legends took form in the fact that more than a third of the eliminations in the match came from women not currently active on WWE’s main or NXT rosters. While usually a tactic that is bemoaned when done on the men’s side, in the women’s Rumble it worked because we can be pretty assured that none of the women who appeared from the past are slated for full-time returns anytime soon. It was all in good, lighthearted fun, and a metaphorical way to say, We see the road you paved for us; you get a piece of this pie, too. As a woman who grew up watching each of these Superstars in their own ways make the best of what they were given, the place of nostalgia in this match was more than heartwarming.

Regardless of the era that each woman represented, one of the better, lesser discussed aspects of the match was the ways in which the women let each other shine. While the match did lag in parts (with the women doing the equivalent of twiddling their thumbs trying to find opponents to pummel), these slower moments allowed almost every woman in the match to get some visibility. We were able to see most of the entrants’ finishers or face-offs with old rivals plain as day, and it felt that this was a calculated move by all of the women.

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Image Credit: http://www.wwe.com/shows/royalrumble/2018/gallery/women-over-the-top-royal-rumble-match-photos#fid-40199634

In addition, because of the magnitude of the match, it was one of the first times we were given the opportunity to see how truly unique the characters these women have crafted are from one another. From Kairi Sane to Ember Moon to Carmella to Bayley, there are few women on the roster with identical gimmicks. With increased visibility, standout personas, and a spectrum of female identities, this match was easily the most feminist WWE has ever been with its product, and it wasn’t because Stephanie McMahon was on commentary shoving “history” down our throats. When it comes down to it, feminism is more about doing than saying.

Taking this further, the women’s Royal Rumble had all of the same things that the men’s did. Storytelling, fan-service face-offs, comedy, surprise returns, suspense, and feel good moments. Yet, the women’s Rumble still had a different feel to it, instead of a copy-paste vibe that women’s segments often have. The match felt fresh, and as long as WWE is interested in telling different stories with the women, it has the potential to grow into something out of the men’s division’s shadow.

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Image Credit: http://www.wwe.com/shows/royalrumble/2018/gallery/women-over-the-top-royal-rumble-match-photos#fid-40199639

Feminism, in the nuanced sense, is about acknowledging the foremothers who have laid the groundwork for the present, and uplifting other women to create a better future for all women inclusive of race, gender identity, sexuality, and religion. This often takes the form of women trying to achieve the same social and political freedoms as men by subverting structures that have created power imbalances. This is where Ronda Rousey complicates the Rumble’s progressiveness.

With Rousey interrupting Asuka’s moment at the end of the pay-per-view, we were are snapped back to reality. WWE is a product to be sold, and the company needs to make a profit. Rousey is a gold credit card to the McMahons and Rousey knows that she is viewed as such, and therefore expects to be compensated accordingly. Just as the men have a (white) UFC fighter who occasionally wrestles to collect a giant paycheck and “legitimize” the product, so now do the women. Only in this case, the added stinger is that Rousey isn’t even a homegrown WWE talent. Is this the “equality” the women were striving for?

As one Twitter user put it, Rousey’s appearance at the end of the Rumble (arguably dulling the shine of a woman of color’s moment) in many ways felt like a white feminist statement unto itself. Even though she has signed a full-time contract and swears up and down that she’s not in it for the money, fans can assume that eventually her ego will grow with her paychecks.

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Image Credit: http://www.wwe.com/shows/royalrumble/2018/gallery/ronda-rousey-crashes-royal-rumble-2018-photos#fid-40199693

Capitalism is the name of the game, and WWE’s biggest stars know this all too well. Feminism cannot thrive if money is the motivation for the people who have the most power, even if those people happen to be women, too. True solidarity comes from advocating for your sisters to get to your spot rather than ascending to comparable power as your male counterparts.

Some have made the argument that Rousey’s star power will bring greater exposure to the women’s division to casual fans, thus elevating it. There is room for that argument, and it may prove to be true. But, it still can’t be denied that if it weren’t for the women who put in the work for decades, Rousey would have never been in a position to “elevate” any division. It is even more metaphoric that only after 30 women fought in a ring for almost an hour did Rousey made her entrance. The work was already done; she was only there to steal the glory.

However, my hope for the division lies in the fact that despite all of the rumors and buzz that Rousey would be in the Rumble — she wasn’t. For once, WWE trusted the women on their roster and the legends that came before them to put on a good show with enough time to do so. The women were able to pull it off without a big mainstream athlete. They did that. If WWE doesn’t fall victim to the same fallacies of the men’s division with the women and actually allow their fantastic roster to shine, they can revolutionize not only women’s wrestling, but wrestling in general, for the better.

From far and wide
And light years away
The one force of nature they call by name
Fallen idols, scream yesterday
Cast from the shadows
Now light my way[…]
I came from tomorrow to take back today
I am the future.

 

Allyssa Capri is a Chicago-based writer and pop culture critic. You can read more of her pop culture critiques and analyses on her blog. Or, you can follow her on Twitter for cultural hot takes and random thoughts at @allyssacapri.

Featured Image Credit: http://www.wwe.com/shows/royalrumble/2018/article/5-best-moments-2018-womens-royal-rumble-match

A League of One’s Own: South East Women Wrestlers

Scholarly Wrestling Reviews, Works-In-Process

South East Women Wrestlers (hereafter SEWW) are an artist collective in Athens, GA consisting of female and female-identified performers who seek to subvert patriarchy and the male gaze through spectacle and role play.

Started in Summer 2017, SEWW has produced performance events — such as SumHERslam, Fall BRAwl, and HalloKWEENhavoc — as well an exhibit at the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art and Ring Boi tryouts. Inspired by League of Lady Wrestlers, SEWW produces events that appeal to wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike. Tentatively planned for next year are events such as WrestleKWEENdom and WrestleWomynia.

As you may be able to tell from these event names, if you had to choose a theoretical framework for SEWW, it would include intersectional feminism and a large dose of postmodern play. According to SEWW founder Kaleena Stasiak, “Aside from an entertaining event of throw-downs, elaborate costumes and scripted role-play, SEWW promises a body-positive space, free from the male gaze where fantasy alter egos can be constructed, cultivated and performed. The humor and absurdity of these performances comes with the serious promise of a moment of optimism and possibility in the face of oppressive cultural values in order to promote empowerment, gender equity and community.”

Poster_SEWWER

Image Credit: https://art.uga.edu/news-and-events/school-art-mfas-wrestle-gender-through-performance

This summer, when I first heard about SEWW, my reactions ranged from horrified (“that sounds so dangerous”), to delighted (“that sounds awesome”), back to horrified (“they are going to build their own ring??”*) and finally to nervously excited. This idea of wrestling free from the male gaze drew me in. I knew the planning, scripting, and executing of events would be primarily done by women, but I was worried about the crowd because audience participation is crucial to pro-wrestling.

About 90% of my wrestle-friends and wrestle-demia colleagues are male, and wrestling audiences are primarily male. Even the good ones sometimes slip into oppressive cultural norms at times, and I’ve seen female wrestlers stoop to using misogynist language to get over with male-dominated crowds. Additionally, I have been witness to some absolutely shameful instances of toxic masculinity at wrestling shows. We at SEWW have a code of conduct, but haven’t needed to enforce it. I’m not entirely sure how this has worked out, or if it will continue, but apparently SEWW’s environment leaves no room for this type of behavior. I suppose it’s partially, if not fully, because SEWW is so obviously not for those male fans, but I wish there was a specific thing I could point to and say “do this, promotions, and you, too, will be free from toxic masculinity.”

The character I developed is named Joan of Snark. I’ve loved Joan of Arc since I saw Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure as a child, and a friend gave me the excellent pun. As a medieval studies PhD student, I now like her even more. My initial characters had nothing to do with my discipline specifically, but after reading The Public Medievalist‘s series on “Race, Racism, and the Middles Ages” which interrogates the historical inaccuracy of white supremacists’ co-opting of the Middle Ages, –particularly Paul B. Sturtevant’s “Leaving ‘Medieval’ Charleston” — I decided to be a female knight.

South East Women Wrestlers

Image Credit: https://art.uga.edu/news-and-events/school-art-mfas-wrestle-gender-through-performance

Sturtevant reminds people involved in any kind of medieval role-playing that “you have a responsibility to ensure that the Middle Ages the white supremacists cling to is not the one you revel in.” My role-playing activities do not involve me working with white supremacists, since we don’t have any in SEWW and I don’t wrestle elsewhere currently, but I wanted there to be more medieval characters out there that are emphatically not in line with white nationalists’ racist project. Though Joan judges all other SEWW performers harshly and doesn’t like any of them except Catherine Crusader (her tag partner), she high fives everyone she can reach in the audience in an attempt to create an inclusive atmosphere aligned with SEWW’s mission.

If you have ever seen any of my conference presentations on wrestling, or read any of my writing in zines (under various names) and on the web, you likely know a few things about me: 1) the stuff above shouldn’t be surprising, 2) I study gender roles in wrestling, and 3) I love the absurd spectacle that is the Japanese promotion DDT. Typically, I am intensely disappointed in the very limited types of female characters present in women’s wrestling, i.e. I don’t think dating a man or being related to a man counts as a character.

If you, like me, are frustrated with such things, I have good news: there’s none of that in SEWW. Since wrestling is performance, and gender is performance, we present wrestling as gender performance. We have performers that include everything from party girls to cougars, business women to post apocalyptic warriors, Catholic school girls to Catholic saints, and mad scientists to dominatrices.

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Image Credit: https://art.uga.edu/news-and-events/school-art-mfas-wrestle-gender-through-performance

In a world full of dragon wrestlers like Super Dragon, Último Dragón, Drago, and Dragon Dragon, have you ever wondered what issues a female dragon wrestler would have to face? SEWW has an answer for you in Dragon Yer Ass’s fight with Amazona Prime (hint: it has to do with female bodily autonomy and reproduction).

Are you wondering who would cheat more in a fight between religion and science? We may be able to answer that for you shortly.

Love matches with ridiculous props or matches with stipulations so complicated we should really make a PowerPoint? We have those, too.

Without worrying about the constraints of what wrestling has been and instead thinking about how fun it could be, SEWW undermines the hetero-patriarchal hegemony of normative professional wrestling.

Obviously I am biased, but as a wrestling fan, scholar, and now performer, I think promotions like SEWW offer a radical new perspective on the creative potential of professional wrestling. We are not alone in doing this, and there are performers who have been doing this for as long as wrestling has existed, but the more the better! I also think there should be more female-run wrestling promotions, and enjoy our place as the little sister to League of Lady Wrestlers and Pro Wrestling: Eve.

-JH Roberts is a PhD student studying medieval literature, gender studies, and popular culture. Her work on wrestling has appeared in The Atomic Elbow, Pro Wrestling Feelings, Girl Wrestling Fan Will You Marry Me?, Uproxx, Critical Studies in Men’s Fashion (“‘Don’t Call Me White’: Fashioning Sami Zayn’s Arabic and Transnational Identities”), and forthcoming in Popular Culture Studies Journal (“The Well-Wrought Broken Championship Belt: Object-Oriented Professional Wrestling Criticism”). She trains at Landmark Arena. You can follow her on Twitter at @jh_roberts.

*We didn’t build our own ring, don’t worry.

Tom Phillips on Netflix’s GLOW

Audience Studies

Britain’s real female wrestler activists are better and badder than GLOW’s could ever be.

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Tom Phillips, University of East Anglia

Professional wrestling is a man’s game – or at least that’s what you may be led to believe, thanks to popular favourites such as former WWE wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who made an easy transition from wrestling to super-stardom after appearing in a number of blockbuster films.

The “masculine melodrama” presented by modern professional wrestling programmes such as WWE represents the epitome of masculinity, fighting in epic showdowns for a mostly male audience. Of course, there are female wrestlers – as there are female viewers – but WWE has in the past been criticised for its poor portrayal of women. There are those who say WWE aims its coverage at “15-year-old boys who will cheer for any woman so long as she looks sexy”.

Against this backdrop, Netflix’s new hit series GLOW has entered the ring. The show gives a fictional account of the real-life 1980s wrestling television series “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling”, which featured exclusively female performers. Starring Alison Brie as Ruth, a struggling actress who needs a new role in order to make a living, GLOW follows a group of women from Los Angeles who, with no prior experience, get involved in a new televised wrestling venture.

GLOW’s feminism is made explicit from the outset. Despite the proposed show ostensibly being about “gorgeous ladies”, the women are literally fighting the male gaze. The nuances of feminism within the show can be seen at first by the replacement of the white male trainer with Cherry Bang, a black woman. With Cherry in charge, the women find their way together, relying only on themselves to figure out how to wrestle.

As the series progresses, the female wrestlers become more confident in using their bodies as part of their performance, ultimately triumphing in the ring and winning over fans with their physical prowess rather than their looks. As Cherry says to her fellow wrestlers: “We’re empowered, we’re the heroes”.

Sydelle Noel as Cherry Bang.
Erica Parise/Netflix

At first glance, GLOW’s strong portrayal overtakes even the newer ideals of WWE, which has recently made small steps to embrace more explicit feminist politics. It has rebranded its “Divas” division as the “Women’s Revolution”, for example, now showcasing female performers who have historically been marginalised at the expense of their male counterparts.

Yet academics have observed that, despite lauding a catalogue of “powerful” women in their promotional materials, WWE still have not outright addressed issues such as “sexism” or “feminism”. Instead, researchers say, they fall back on the fact that “although feminism may be fashionable in many areas of popular culture, it is still too risky to be named outright by a company with legions of male fans”.

Girl gang

So is there any room in the ring for female wrestlers, outside a fictional context? Definitely. London-based Pro-Wrestling:EVE sells itself as “a secret underground feminist, political, socialist, humanist, punk rock wrestling promotion, for those who identify as women and non-binary folk”.

Though it is aimed at fans of all genders, EVE uses wrestling to help women feel empowered. Its founder Emily Read has noted that: “It’s so conditioned in women to be quiet and small, it’s a real hindrance when it comes to wrestling. And I see women learn to be big and loud and take up space”. EVE gives women a place to enjoy being physical: promotional material shows images of bloodied faces and hard-hitting manoeuvres, adorned with slogans such as “fight like a girl”, “support your local girl gang”, and “follow your fucking dreams”.

 

EVE goes further than the scripts of GLOW and political restraints of WWE could ever allow. It encourages taking the feminist physicality outside the ring and into the real world, explicitly endorsing and encouraging political activism. Not only do the official social media feeds for EVE promote their wrestling brand, merchandise and events – but they are also used as a means for political communication.

The company posted material firmly in support of Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign during the June 2017 general election, for example. And when Donald Trump recently used his involvement in wrestling to hint at his own brand of masculinity, EVE printed a Donald Trump-a-like figure on their “piledrive a fascist” t-shirt design.

For EVE and its supporters, women’s wrestling acts as a training ground for feminist practice and a way to build confidence to take political activism into the public arena.

The ConversationWith GLOW being such a big hit, WWE taking small but progressive steps in the right direction and EVE smashing through with a thoroughly empowered ideal, it’s about time that wrestling’s masculine image was redressed. After all, there’s no shame in fighting for your rights like a girl.

Tom Phillips, Lecturer in Humanities, University of East Anglia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.