I struggle with writing this tonight but there has been a lot of focus on females being less than zero. You would think that in, what I consider, one of the toughest sports in this country, women would be given little bit of a break. Of course, I’m talking about professional wrestling and of course, debasing women runs rampant here.
At this point, 6 years in, I’ve dealt with my fair share of jerks. I’ve had people call me names, take jabs at my personal life online and in person, I’ve had people threaten me, take swings at me, throw stuff at me…I’ve had to be escorted to my car more than once; this isn’t uncommon for what people call, “heels” (aka “the bad guy”). Some of these people have gotten downright vulgar commenting on my vagina, my breasts, or my butt in overly sexual, very demeaning ways. These words always came from fans. Fans I can deal with because at the end of the day, they paid to see me and others and their words come with the price of admission. They leave, I Ieave, and maybe I’ll see them next month.
The other night I was wrestling at a promotion at a legion hall (for sake of the promotion, I wont say where). I was already in full gear and the show was going on when I went to walk through the kitchen to check the crowd size. I walk walking down a narrow staircase as a man walked in and stopped right in front of me, maybe a foot away from my face.
"You want to wrestle me?" he asked
A lady walked by towards the BBQ grill and laughed, “She’ll kick your ass!”
"That’s what I want," he said, "I want to wrestle you, and get a little spanky spanky, you know?"
I turned and said, “No thanks.” The other lady laughed as I walked off and he followed.
"Come on," he persisted, "You know, I used to be the commander of this post…"
"Well then, I’d hate to injure someone who has served our country," I said as I continued to try and walk off.
"But I want to wrestle you! You know, a little spanky spanky, bend me over, make me write bad checks."
"If you ever wrote me a check that shit better clear or else I’d have people looking for you," I snapped, trying to get off the wrestling topic.
"But that’s how it goes, we wrestle, you spanky spank, bend me over and make me write bad checks!"
A flash went through my mind, my father is in the audience, I could grab him and dad would handle this reeeeeeeeal quick. I could just deck him myself or go off on him, it seems appropriate. I should ask him if he’d talk to his daughter like this, cause that’s about our age gap. Why was the woman outside just laughing? How was this funny? I could lose my shit and go off on this guy right here in the locker room….but then would I get blackballed from certain promotions because I decked a legion member during a show? Would I cause the promotion to lose their venue, and get a bad rep for it and not get booked anywhere?
"Ahh haha," I laughed with obvious sarcasm, turned, and said to a fellow wrestler, "sexual harassment is awesome."
I just walked away to the ladies room and I began to fume. Partly because of all the flashes in my mind, partly because I just let that scenarios and those words become ok to say, and partly because I wasn’t brave enough to say something to the asshole myself. One of my trainers was in the locker room at the time so I went up to him and said, “Hey, if this guy comes up to me again asking to wrestle me and for me to spank him, can I send him to you?”
"What the fuck?," my trainer exclaimed and wanted to know what happened. "Yes! Yes, send him to me. You wanna be spanked, fucker? Ok, lets go!"
Not long after telling my trainer, I saw him pull the promoter outside and have a talk with him. A few minutes after that the promoter came up to me apologizing profusely for the ex-commander and made certain I knew he was not part of the promotion and that the promotion does not condone that behavior in anyway. Also, the promoter noted he had words with that guy and took care of it.
I keep coming back to this, even though it wasn’t very long ago and I admit, I am ashamed of myself. For two seconds I was gonna let that scenario by. I thought to myself that I should have stood up for myself and handled the situation as I would do in the “real world.” Yet here in “Wrestle World” I let myself be stifled, afraid that it would impact my bookings - and what’s worse is that even post-contemplation KNOWING that my trainer is on my side, the promoter was on my side, and the locker room would have been on my side - I still question if standing up for myself in that second would have been the right thing to do.
In “Wrestle World” a lot of shady things happen to girls (guys, too), and we bite our tongues, sometimes so much we makes holes in them. The thing is we’re outrageously outnumbered in this business, it’s a men’s club that women fought to penetrate back in the 40’s/50’s. Then again, the wrestling business is a shady business period.
Did I do the right thing by passing the buck to my trainer? In Wrestle World, almost all would say yes. Also, if I had said anything that asshat probably would have taken it as foreplay anyway.
The point is to stand up for yourself in some way, shape, or form. At least I can have some solace in the fact that I did not just take it and leave it as one of those under-rug-swept moments; moments that plenty of women in this business have. At least I know that my trainer and the people I surround myself with are good people and would have my back. The reason why I don’t mention the promotion is because they did their part, they don’t need to be put on blast for the actions of one asshat.
So yea….maybe I didn’t handle it as I normally would, but it was handled. If all the women who dealt with these situations just stood up for themselves in some way, maybe sexual harassment would decline. Maybe recruiting other men to assist you could help hammer the nail in further? Maybe men would begin to figure out that it’s not ok to harass women in “wrestle world” or the real world?
As for me, I wont ever let that scenario just fly. Maybe I wont do something directly myself, maybe I’ll grab my trainer or another wrestler (I know a lot of guys who are bigger than me who fight for a living that can help), but I will never, ever just let these things pass.