Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Kaitlyn Leaves WWE

Farewell, intrepid traveler. Safe journeys.
Photo Credit: link

Kaitlyn's contract has expired, and she will be leaving the company. Her final match was with AJ Lee taped in Philadelphia last night for Main Event. Reports say after the match, the two embraced. She has not given any specific indication of what she's going to be doing post-WWE, but this tweet from her fiancé PJ Braun indicates she'll be keeping herself busy outside of the arena of professional wrestling:

Braun is a fitness type personality, so if I had to guess, the project probably would still involve cultivating body image. I don't want to speculate about anything else, however, because I just don't know.

I have to say that while I am saddened and disappointed that Kaitlyn is leaving the company, I am certainly not shocked to see her pursue other opportunities. WWE is not a company that I think of when it comes to progressive, feminist culture. Total Divas may have been a step forward in giving certain women within the company agency, but having only followed it through Trey Irby's recaps on the site, I can't judge for better or worse. However, on the main programming, women are still often only given a story either through stereotyping of typical woman behavior from the lens of the straight white male, or they are attached at the hip to a male performer.

Case in point, AJ Lee is the one character who actually bucked this trend in 2012-13, and for all her efforts at being a real person, her only story recently has been to have matches with very little story other than jealousy over not being on Total Divas. The best actor in the company and a credible wrestler who was doing her best to make the Divas Championship a thing to be coveted was relegated to background noise to advertise for their cable reality show.

Admittedly, on screen treatment can be a red herring at times, a projection of frustration by the fan onto the performer, but in the case of Kaitlyn, her departure is the part of a precedent that has been frighteningly ongoing in WWE's history. She joins the long list of women like Eve Torres, Beth Phoenix, Jillian Hall, Maxine, Maryse Ouellet, and Gail Kim, just to name a few, to leave WWE in the last three or so years. More harrowingly, most women performers in WWE rarely make it five years of service time before leaving.

Something's wrong in WWE when it comes to its female performers, and they need an overhaul, quickly. Contrary to popular belief, women are people too, and they deserve the same opportunities to succeed in the workplace, whether it be a wrestling company, a Fortune 500 business-type firm, or even in manual labor-type jobs. I am sad to see Kaitlyn go, but at the same time, I'm happy that maybe she'll be able to flourish in a career outside the company. The fact that I'm more apt to say that about a female performer than a male one is the problem.