By Kim Artlip, Columnist
Something that I have never quite understood in wrestling, and entertainment in general, is the stereotyping of women in two categories. The sweetheart and the witch (yes, I’m being polite and using a ‘w’ instead of a ‘b’… but you get the drift).
There is no middle ground, and you must be one or the other.
So much time and energy is expended in the sport to build characters for men, but we really don’t see the same consideration given to women. As I was researching this article, one of the most telling stories was from former WWE creative team member Kevin Eck, who had written that he was instructed that there were to be no baby faces or heels in the Divas division. Rather, “it was strongly implied that the Divas are all just a bunch of catty chicks, most of whom are mentally unstable.” .
As much as we hear about this women’s revolution in sports, there truly hasn’t been the writing and effort put into stories. We instead are subjected to seeing women being catty, tearing each other down in storylines, ridiculing body types and other such nonsense. Yet we see elaborate videos and backstories for men. Think of the last time you saw a promo of someone amazing coming to a company: It’s action, action, action, but women get something that oftentimes looks like a promo for a 900 sex line.
Now, I know you are going to toss in Ronda Rousey, but I’m going to argue that one. She was already one of the most well known female athletes on the planet, and had an actual storyline of sorts. Time and effort were made for her, but then again, she was a draw before she ever entered a singles match.
Women don’t have to resort to cattiness and theatrics to get over in the sport.
Look at Tessa Blanchard, as a prime example. She shows up, puts on an amazing show and leaves the crowd wanting more. She is an amazing athlete who has built up an impressive resume around the world at every major promotion. What impresses me if her ability to mix it up in inter-gender matches in a believable manner. She can flat out wrestle.
But the indies and WWE are peppered with women who screech and put out trashy promos and images that don’t really show them as athletes and appeal more to the era of Jerry Lawler and “puppies”. I’m totally over that and for all the work and training that dedicated female wrestlers put in to be taken serious, it’s a slap in the face. I get that they make money and sell merch but what lesson are you teaching girls wanting to go into the sport?
I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be women in the sport who will take offense to what I have to say, but I have been around long enough to know that youth is fleeting. What are you going to do when you start to show some age and there is someone younger and more popular on instagram? Writers and promoters are shortening your longevity in the sport by pigeonholing women and not allowing them to be equals as a performer.
Perhaps the writers and creative teams will realize that women can be powerful managers and stop all the love triangles, jealousy angles and start showing them as savvy business minds. Women in the sport are need that strong role model that doesn’t need bizarre storylines to get over. So believe it or not, you can succeed without emulating Vickie Guerrero or Stephanie McMahon and portray yourself as a strong powerful woman. I got faith in you all and look forward to seeing the rise of women in the business.
Kim Artlip, Owner + Promoter