On Summer Rae, Christy Hemme and the Blossom Twins

I was going to start this blog with an apology for returning to a subject I’ve highlighted many times before.

But then I decided not to. I make no apology for highlighting appalling behaviour where it occurs, and it’s occurring far too much in professional wrestling at the moment.

I could perhaps overlook the slightly sinister leering of WWE’s announce team, who have a particular Summer Rae fixation at the moment. She’s a gorgeous girl, and goodness knows, I’m not in any position to tell people that they shouldn’t comment on the attractiveness of wrestlers. However, when that’s all you have to say about someone, and you’re saying it twice a week on international TV, and you’re old enough to be her father, and you’re veering into the territory of telling her to take her clothes off, then it gets rather uncomfortable.

And maybe I could overlook Austin Aries thrusting his crotch in Christy Hemme’s face after she flubbed her lines if the matter had ended with him apologising and TNA taking action, as they did and indeed should have done. What was shocking here was the response to the situation. Chavo Guerrero washed his hands of the matter, tweeting: “For the record, I saw Hemme after that segment, & she didn’t look bothered at all. Just saying…I was there,” adding, “I think we should just let Hemme fight her own battles. If she needs help, she’ll ask.”

Fair enough? No, not really. Who is Guerrero to pass judgement on whether Hemme was “bothered” or not? And who is Guerrero to object to other people finding that kind of behaviour objectionable? His attitude then elicited some horrid responses: those who reckon they’d love to have Aries forcing his groin in their faces (clue: if you’re consenting to it, he’s not forcing you); and those who say that Hemme deserves such treatment because she “dresses like a slut” so is clearly “asking for it” (clue: nobody ever asks for non-consensual sexual activity. That’s why it’s non-consensual).

I suppose I could ignore the Blossoms selling off the lingerie they wore for a photo shoot, except it’s creepily reminiscent of obsessive fans begging their crush objects to send them worn underwear.

And perhaps I could ignore PCW booking an “adult entertainment star” as Scott Steiner’s valet if their shows really were for adults only, and they weren’t one of the best mainstream UK companies, and there wasn’t such a debate at the moment about the ways in which pornography consumption affects men’s attitudes to women, and women’s attitudes to themselves.

As an aside, there were a handful of women who did object to the announcement, who were shouted down by the male majority; and there was also a woman who said that booking a porn star for the show was fair enough, because straight women would be enjoying looking at Chris Masters. The problem here, of course, is that Masters is a wrestler, booked on a wrestling show because he wrestles. His attractiveness is a side order next to his skill. In a company where Kay Lee Ray, April Davids and Carmel Jacob have taken on the men, booking a porn star just reinforces the idea that women’s only real role (in wrestling, and in general) is to be sexually available and sexually attractive.

And of course I can choose not to read comments threads on articles that object to sexist and homophobic terms being used in wrestling promos. But I do read them. I saw one man attempt to defend the use of “bitch”, “woman” and “faggot” as insults by saying, “They’re not really calling anyone a woman or a homosexual – they’re just calling someone weaker and not as good as them.”

Which is the whole point. And it’s why I can’t ignore this, because all these things are happening at the same time – in the 21st century, when people keep trying to argue that everyone receives equal treatment, and some even try to tell anyone who’ll listen that women and gay people are now getting preferential treatment at the expense of straight men.

I saw the ads for Wrestletalk TV reprinted on flyers at the TNA fan party last month – the ones with Kat Waters in lingerie, and the tag line, ‘It’s not just for boys’. But it is, isn’t it? A scantily-clad Waters looks like she belongs in FHM and her presence is an attraction to men. Waters kicking ass in an action shot – yes, that might attract women. But Waters in her undies, advertising the only TV programme on Freeview which has any British wrestling content, indicates that wrestling is, indeed, only for boys. Straight boys, at that. The words are superfluous.

Wrestling might exaggerate real life somewhat, but as a rule, it holds a mirror up to what’s happening. Do we really think that what we see reflected back at us is acceptable?

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5 Responses to On Summer Rae, Christy Hemme and the Blossom Twins

  1. Scott Wilson says:

    I really don’t enjoy WrestletalkTV. It’s very low-brow and does sports entertainment a disservice by making it seem like the only people who watch it are knuckle dragging men, so they need to appeal to them by having women in the studio to take shots at.

    I dislike The King’s commentary a lot too because of the slurs he uses towards women. For a long time, he’d criticise Vickie based only on her appearance, and not her genuine heel heat that she had by being intentionally shrill to annoy people. His commentary during Summer Rae and AJ segments is usually pretty horrific as well.

    We’ve come a long way from lingerie pillow fights and “puppies!” but there’s a long way to go.

    And the Austin Aries thing was horrific.

  2. Pete Cunningham says:

    I agree that hearing The King learing about the Divas is uncomfortable at times, but I do feel that it’s not just his fault and some and I repeat some of the blame has to lay with some of the women in wrestling.

    It’s undeniable that there are some women in wrestling that do play on their sexuality as part of their characters which in my opinion encourages fans, both male and female not to take them seriously as wrestlers. If you think of the entrance of Velvet Sky when she’s going through the ropes. Considering the fact that TNA are supposedly wanting younger ans to watch the show, why isn’t Dixie Carter telling her to drop that or at the very least telling the director no more close-ups of Velvet’s backside at that moment.

    I posted on the RQW (remember them?) forum about 5 or 6 years ago about the female British wrestlers and how generic they were especially when it comes to their look.
    They all seemed to rely on wearing costumes that showed lots of flesh, bare medrift etc, looking sexy/hot, smiling a lot if they were face and that was it. Where was the characterisation? If you want to get more work in what is a small area of a small market you need to stand out as being different, get a distinct look. Three of my favourite female wrestlers are Cheerleader Melissa, Mischief and Amazing/Awesome Kong. When you see them they look different from each other, have different styles and thus stand out from each other. Is being a cheerleader anything radical and different? Of course not, but it worked for Melissa because as well as being a great wrestler she was the only one doing taht gimmick and more importantly doing it well. She isn’t playing a bubbly, giggly sexy look at me kind of cheerleader played for fun and sexiness. She comes out looking professional and intimidating.

    British female wrestlers need to start to look at their images and characters more to see what makes them look different and stand out from the others that also have good bodies and look sexy/hot etc, If you are a heel be a stroppy official in professional office attire, but when you wrestle, cover up more, don’t suddenly take half your clothes off as it kills the character. With Game of Thrones being so popular, go for something related to that. Yes some people will get a kick out of it on a fantasy/sexual level, but at least you are creating a character and getting recognised for that as much as what you are wearing.

    When you look at the other two I mentioned, both with very unique looks and identities they have one thing in common. Their cosutumes don’t have a bare midrift. Yes they are often heels, but it does go to show that bare flesh isn’t always needed. In recent years two of the best and most popular female wrestlers covered up. The fantastic Jetta who only had beare arms on show and Eden Black. Both different in look, neither playing up to their feminity or sexuality and both over with fans of women’s wrestling.

    To close, whilst the comments of Lawler and Taz as well as the way that Vince uses women is very questionable, I think the women workers need to do more to change things from within. When you are talking about big money and the expose (no pun intended) that you get being on TV with TNA and WWE it is difficult to say no, but on the indie scene and particularly the Brtish scene, you do have the freedom to not use the “sex sells” ideaology.

    • Carrie says:

      You make some really articulate points. Obviously this piece was mostly about the US promotions – and those wrestlers you refer to, great as they are, have never really made it in the big time. I’d speculate that it might be because they don’t fit this “image” the big promotions want – SDR has talked about creating a new “look” that’s “appropriate” for a Diva when she was looking for a contract; Natalya has talked about the advice John Lauranaitis gave her if she wanted a WWE contract (she lost weight and did a pile of bikini shots).As you say, there’s very little leeway for the women workers to say no to this – if they want to make a living as a wrestler, they’re going to have to do as they’re told and put up with this kind of specification.

      Your thoughts on the UK scene are interesting – obviously this is a slightly different issue but I’d argue that while promotions are booking porn stars as their special attractions, that’s going to make it tougher for women wrestlers to be taken seriously.

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