Gender Equality in Wrestling #2
Lizzy is perhaps the breakout star of the impressive and youthful up and coming wrestling media platform, Chops, Kicks and Near Falls. She has a voice in the Internet Wrestling Community that has raised poignant points about big issues in wrestling such as ethnicity and gender through her writing. She has also become a part of new wrestling media heavyweight, Wrestlejoy.
Welcome and thank you for joining us for an interview, Lizzy! First off, how would you introduce yourself to our readers? What do they need to know?
Thank you for having me! To introduce myself, I’d say that I’m a lover of wrestling who wants to make the wrestling community more welcoming to LGBTQ people, women, and POC as best as I can! I think that when wrestling is utilized correctly, it can be an incredibly inclusive and inspiring place.
So, the reason I contacted you was I was looking for female wrestling fan perspectives on the portrayal of women in wrestling. When I raise this topic what are your initial thoughts, positive and negative?
It’s definitely a conversation that needs to be had! Obviously, wrestling has come a long way in regards to its treatment of women, but there’s still a long way to go. Women like Bayley, Sasha Banks, Jordynne Grace, Taya Valkyrie— I could go on for a while— have shown that women can draw crowds like the men can, and sometimes they can draw even bigger crowds! And, of course, they’re incredible to watch in the ring.
My viewing of the Kenny Omega, ‘I’m a big star’ entrance over the last couple of weeks has been conflicted. I love most of it but the use of the ‘dancing girls’ feels out of place. They seem subservient to him. Subordinate, even. How would you respond to my viewing of this presentation?
I definitely get what you mean. I’m going to show my bias a bit, though, because I love Kenny Omega a lot; in this case, I think it’s purposely very “machismo,” and hammed-up to the point of being comedic and a little cringey. We’ve seen Kenny become almost a heterosexual caricature to get over the Golden Lovers break up. I think the use of dancers is another instance of Kenny playing up heterosexuality to cope, but now it’s with the loss of Hangman in place of Ibushi. Of course, this would work better if AEW had a much better track record when it came to their treatment of women, but I trust that Kenny Omega himself had no ill-intentions.
I do wish Jim Ross would never talk about women again, though. And that they’d give Shida a storyline for once.
This kind of thinking has also been prompted in me when seeing female wrestlers accompany male counterparts to the ring as manager. Yet this is rarely repaid. The most obvious example is Brandi and Cody. Zelina Vega and Andrade, Rusev and Lana, or Lita and Edge. The only exceptions that come to mind are Gargano/LeRae and Sabian/Ford. How do you see the issues around this?
For sure! I remember getting frustrated that with all the times Brandi accompanied Cody to the ring in AEW, he never did the same for her. It’s the same with the other couples! I think it’s kind of an indication that even when women are competitors in the same ring as men, they’re oftentimes brushed aside. I think it’d be really sweet if husbands or boyfriends came out to ringside for their partners, the same that women do for their partners. It’d also be a little statement, like a subtle way for the men to say “we’re here to lift women up the same way they’ve been lifting us up.”
Then of course, we have the AEW Women’s Division. You cannot talk about the portrayal of gender in AEW without mentioning the AEW Women’s division! Some suggest this division highlights AEW’s priorities or lack thereof. Others state that the division reflects the US independent scene’s sexism, and it would be false to push the performers into spots they are not ready for. Where do you stand in relation to the AEW Women’s Division?
Ugh, where do I even start? There’s so much potential for storylines and feuds in the women’s division, but every week it’s ignored in favor of another Dark Order or Cody match, or a 20 minute Jericho segment. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Dark Order and Cody, but I don’t think they need all the screen time they’re getting, at least not as much as the women’s division needs it.
It’s really disappointing that AEW, a company that presented itself as being very inclusive, has given so little thought to their women’s division. What we’ve seen shows a lot of potential! I could go into detail about feuds or matches that I’ve thought about and would love to see, but instead I’ll just say that I hope they build on it in the future, preferably with a tag division.
(Thank you for inviting me to do this! It was a lot of fun.)