Is WWE’s Women’s Wrestling Throwing Sexism Over the Top Rope?

Sports

Is WWE’s Women’s Wrestling Throwing Sexism Over the Top Rope?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

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uring the half-time of the seemingly interminable Sweden versus Switzerland World Cup football game this July, I started flicking through TV channels. I stumbled upon World Wrestling Entertainment and something made me stop. A woman was beating up a legendary male wrestler with a suitcase, and would eventually go on to powerbomb another woman wrestler through a wooden table in a matter of minutes. It wasn’t the outlandishness of the scenario that surprised me – furniture being used to deadly effect is par for the course – it was the fact that the hell-raiser at the centre of this sequence was a woman performer.

If you were a wrestling fan in the early-to-mid-2000s, you would know that women in the ring were nothing like that. They’d look different, dress different, and certainly wrestle different, if at all. They were, to a straight male fanboy hitting puberty, an alternative to the “study material” offered on the notoriously unreliable Indian broadband connections of the time. Predominantly white, blonde, and with massive breasts, they expertly captured the adolescent male imagination. The women would fight in mud and oversized puddings, hit each other with pillows on beds placed right in the middle of the ring, strip each other down to their bra and panties, and do a list of other things as we cheered on the realisation of our fantasies in the flesh.

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