Fact: sexism is still a problem

September 24, 2017

Yeah, I’m back on that hobby horse again. Feel free to roll your eyes and click away, but that doesn’t mean sexism is any less of a problem.

I’m writing this blog post now because of an incident at last night’s Fight Club Pro, where a female wrestler – a very young female wrestler – was invited to get her tits out.

The culprit has been boasting about it, arguing that this and similar calls (“get back to the kitchen”) are just “banter”.

“Banter” is a word I hate. It’s a term that’s come to mean “things that we know are unacceptable to say, but we wish they weren’t, because we like being grossly offensive to attempt to assert our power”.

It’s to FCP’s credit that they’ve told that fan he isn’t welcome back; and it’s entirely delightful to see Jimmy Havoc as the voice of reasonable people, with Chris Brookes backing him up.

They’ve both been told that it’s ridiculous for “heels” to object to such catcalls and comments; someone even suggested that the entire episode, with wrestlers calling out unacceptable behaviour, is indicative of how “gay” wrestling is becoming.

Well, here are some thoughts.

  • Wrestling is one of the most homoerotic pastimes on the planet, let’s face it. I’ve always been surprised that more straight women and more gay men aren’t drawn to it. There’s a nasty streak of misogyny and homophobia running through it, though, as straight men try so desperately to prove their “macho” credentials aren’t ever in danger, even though they enjoy watching the men in the ring, sporting their skimpy and tight clothing. Constant complaining that women shouldn’t be wrestling, and should be decorative, smiling, passive and quiet, goes hand in hand with that.
  • I’m not sure it’s entirely a “gay” characteristic to want women in general and female friends and colleagues in particular to be treated with respect. I’m pretty confident the majority of straight men would want that too.
  • Shouting sexist, sexualised abuse at a woman isn’t “banter”. It’s a reminder to that woman – and all women in the room, and all women who hear about it afterwards – that whenever we are in that situation again (whether that’s at a wrestling show, in a football ground, or just walking down the street) we can never fully relax, never fully enjoy ourselves, because we’re always on guard. Just in case. Even if it wasn’t directed at us, because next time it might be.

    Sometimes we might ignore it, and just pretend we haven’t heard. Sometimes we might laugh it off. But we’ll always remember it. And if you try to say, “Well, you came back to the next show, so it couldn’t have upset you that much,” you’re wrong. We just don’t want awful human beings stopping us from being part of the thing we love, even if you might have soured it a little, for ever.

  • It is always heartening to see men calling out this kind of behaviour, primarily because sexists aren’t going to listen to women, only the people with the XY chromosome stamp of approval. Similar to Andy Murray consistently arguing for equality in tennis, high-profile men making it clear that misogyny and sexism are not welcome in wrestling has a huge impact.

    Everyone can do better with this, as well. If you’re at a show and some idiot is shouting comments like that, say something to them. They need to be made to feel as uncomfortable as the woman they are trying to embarrass, shame and reduce to the sum of her body.

And just to note: a policy of equal respect and fairness for all is the guiding principle of feminism. Guess what, you’re probably a feminist – hooray for you! If you’re a man, it doesn’t make you any less of one for thinking and showing that a woman deserves to be treated the same as you; if you’re a woman, it doesn’t make you bossy or “unfeminine” to demand equality, nor does it make you weak for appreciating men’s support.

This kind of behaviour is not a joke; it’s not funny, and it’s not to be dismissed or ignored, because that way nothing will change. It needs to be confronted, and challenged. We do not live in a perfect world, but we can certainly try to improve our little corner of it by making wrestling a place where men and women are treated with equal dignity and respect, whether they are wrestlers or fans.




Preview: FPW Reloaded 3.0 – with a Rumble and a Havoc/Burridge singles clash

February 2, 2014

1399591_660798833941047_1736202766_oThere’s lots going on at the Wallington Hall next Sunday (9th February).

First up, there’s the semi-final matches in the ongoing tag-team tournament. FPW have made a point of looking for new talent to add to their roster, and Will Ospreay – one half of the Swords of Essex, who face Project Ego – is one of the newcomers now firmly established as a favourite.

“Will was someone we’d noticed in late 2011,” recalls FPW co-founder Matt Burden. “He’d sent us a compilation video of some of his matches and we were impressed with his athleticism immediately. It was a highlight reel, so of course it was high spots and flips and a pounding bass-line. The fact that he’d edited it himself impressed us and so we asked around. The word from Lucha [where he’d trained] was: ‘Just wait. Let us work with him.’

“And at Summertime Brawl 2012 Will debuted – and now he’s had more training at Lucha, ring experience and a tag-team partner and mentor in Paul Robinson. His work with Mark Andrews at Progress over the past 12 months has been a joy to watch as we’ve witnessed his evolution first hand; Rev Pro have seen his worth also and we’re proud to have been even just a small part of this talent’s growth.” Read the rest of this entry »

Question: should deliberate bleeding be banned from professional wrestling?

August 5, 2013

Jimmy Havoc credit David WilsonFriend of TOWIS Jimmy Havoc was on WrestleTalkTV last night discussing why he participates in hardcore matches and why he doesn’t think it should be banned.

This is partially in response to a hepatitis awareness campaign promoted by another Friend of TOWIS, Nigel McGuinness.

As regular readers (and indeed Havoc) know, I’m not a fan of deathmatches, and will actively avoid a show where I know that’ll be on the card (whether there’ll be extensive bleeding or not), so it’s possible that’s a large influence on my thinking on this.

However, I think that McGuinness would be a tough opponent in this debate. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview: Crazy Mary Dobson on Scotland, Japan, blood and staples

May 22, 2013

crazy mary dobson 1jester havoc dobsonShe stunned the Fierce Females crowd with her match against Bete Noire – and then took on Jack Jester and Jimmy Havoc in a brutal hardcore match at ICW the next night. It’s fair to say Crazy Mary Dobson made a hell of an impact in the UK.

“It couldn’t have gone any better!” she enthuses. “Both of the matches I had were great and the people I stayed with were incredible hosts.”

Yes, yes, back up a bit, though – the internet was abuzz with one particular spot from the triple threat match with the menfolk. Not to be indelicate, but a staple gun to the lady bits?

“Yes! I was in fact stapled to the lady bits, but,” she says, with amazing  indifference, “no balls, so it didn’t hurt as much as it hurt Jimmy when I stapled his!” Read the rest of this entry »

Facts from Future Pro Wrestling Crowning Glory, Wallington Hall, May 12th 2013

May 12, 2013

20130512_145528[1]One of the things I enjoy most about wrestling is when there’s something you can get behind and follow – someone to root for and to urge on to triumph, someone to want to see suffer and get their comeuppance. Not too difficult to do (one would think) when you’re broadcasting globally every week; but a bit tougher when you’re a UK company and run a handful of times a year, and your audience is bound to have a collectively short memory.

How fortunate, then, that FPW, for their second anniversary show, ‘Crowning Glory’, hit on the simplest and best of all wrestling fables – the title challenge.

It might seem odd that FPW have managed to run for two years without crowning a champion; as compere and co-founder Matt Burden said in the ring today, it was something they’d discussed as soon as they came up with the idea for a promotion. So this may be judged as long overdue, and well deserving of the occasion being immortalised in cupcakes (see image, above left).

And it was just as straightforward and compelling as anyone could have wished. Read the rest of this entry »

Facts from FPW Reloaded, Wallington Hall, February 3rd 2013

February 3, 2013

421034_510234235664175_1422120349_nA cold Sunday afternoon in February requires some kind of illumination. Future Pro Wrestling, in their first event of 2013, provided the stars and warmed a sell-out crowd at the Wallington Hall in south London.

Once more the hero of the afternoon was the Cockney Crusader Greg Burridge, dice-thrusting as always, who led his team to victory in the opening six-man tag.

He celebrated by proposing to an obsessive ladyfan in the front row: “I love you TOO, honey! We love EACH OTHER! Let’s get married! We could have a wedding at a show! We could book Jake Roberts to do a run-in!” which garnered loud cackling from those of us of a certain age but went over the heads of the youngsters. Read the rest of this entry »

Fact: Comic Wrestling Alliance need your help!

January 7, 2013

dannygarnell (2)Our friends at Comic Wrestling Alliance seek your assistance!

They’ve been promoting some great wrestling artwork lately, and now have a new series on the go – the ‘Signature Series’, drawn by Dean Beattie.

Promoter Graham Beadle explains: “Each picture in the ‘Signature Series’ will in fact be two pics, with each wrestler putting their opponent in their signature move.”

The first two match-ups in the series are Majik v Jimmy Havoc, and RJ Singh v Danny Garnell.

Thing is, Singh’s finisher is the Ethnic Submission, Majik’s is the Spellbinder – but Garnell’s Texas Cloverleaf and Havoc’s Reverse Piledriver don’t have special wrestler-specific names.
At least, not yet. That’s where you come in. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: FPW Summertime Brawl 2, Wallington Hall, Sunday July 22nd 2012

July 22, 2012

On the first sunny day London has had all year (pretty much), it was pleasing for any fan of British wrestling to see so many people queuing to get into Wallington Hall.

FPW returned to their home venue after all sorts of shenanigans stopped them from hosting Futuremania there back in May, and today’s show was basically a celebration of their obstinacy and tenacity in continuing in the face of adversity.  Read the rest of this entry »

Interview: Iestyn Rees talks IPW:UK and tagging with Jimmy Havoc

June 22, 2012

Saturday night sees Iestyn Rees return to IPW:UK to tag with Jimmy Havoc against the Bhangra Knights.

Frankly I don’t think I need to say anything else. That sounds awesome enough.

“It’s great going back to the promotion where I have had the most success and high profile matches,” says Rees.

It’s been a tough few years for Rees, admittedly.

“Obviously the last two years plus, I have been mainly sidelined with various injuries and two knee surgeries,” he says. “However, I’m back fully fit and in the best shape I’ve been in so my plan is to get back to the top in IPW and get in the hunt for the gold.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: DemonCon 3 featuring NWA Hammerlock, Exchange Studio, Maidstone, Sunday April 22nd 2012

April 24, 2012

Before you ask, I’m not going to do a full review of the matches at DemonCon (Jimmy Havoc v Devin Byrne, Kurupt v Danny Garnell, Dean Champion v Technico). They were little five-minute snippets, intended as a bit of light entertainment amidst the serious business of the comic convention, and it was great.

What I did want to comment on is just how great wrestling is and can be when it’s aimed at the right audience in the right place. We all know the kind of stuff the NWA Hammerlock guys can do in the ring – but this was supposed to be comedy, family-friendly fun, and it was. When you have kids laughing and cheering (and smaller kids crying at the noise the ring makes when someone takes a bump), you know you’re doing your job properly.

“Hammerlock’s always a good family-friendly show,” says DemonCon organiser Graham Beadle. Read the rest of this entry »