Thursday, July 3, 2014

Right and Wrong: The Way WWE Thinks About Women

Paige was sexually harassed by Jerry Lawler, and that's not cool
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I am a man. And as a man, there are certain body types I find attractive. Paige is in no way on this list. I will also freely admit that when I see someone who fits what I think of as attractive, I've looked. I state that to say that whatever comes next out of me is not from the point of view of someone trying to suck up to Paige, or anyone else in the WWE, because I am attracted to them. What I am going to say next is, however, from the point of view of someone who wants to do the right thing, because quiet as it's kept, that's what wrestling raised me to do, and to understand how to do.

When I was growing up, the heroes of my youth were men of moral fiber. And you knew that by how they acted. They didn't bully people smaller or weaker than them. And they never were mean to the opposite sex, at least not in the way the WWE's alleged heroes are now. Sure we all knew Baby Doll was evil, but that was because she did evil things. That small, but important, difference is why it was okay, glorious even, to hate Sherri Martel and sort of scuzzy if you were one of those mouthbreathers chanting Hoeski at Eve Torres.

And when you're WWE, the understood top of the food chain, the way you explain to your young fans what they are supposed to enjoy in the coming years is vital. So when you tell them that a real man bullies a woman when she doesn't sleep with him, or insults her for taking control of her own life, that's what they'll believe. And when you tell them that the only real attractive female body is blonde, blue-eyed and enhanced to all get out, they'll believe that too. Mickie James got called Piggy James because she was just a few pounds south of an ideal. Aksana and Kaitlyn were turned into caricatures, and Beth Phoenix presented as something other, largely because they deigned to have muscle beyond WWE's accepted limits.

But that's not what is getting under my skin. The way Jerry Lawler gets a pass on essentially sexually harassing Paige is disgusting. Now look, I know the way we view "Uncle Jerry" will forever be different after his heart attack. But keep in mind this is a man who was not just accused, but indicted, of raping and sodomizing a 15-year-old girl. So forgive me, and forgive everyone else, if when we see Jerry Lawler we don't see a cute and avuncular figure. I, and I'm not alone on this, see a man who should, at the bare minimum, be subject to a greater discipline than he is.

Because let's be clear: If a 65-year-old man gawked at the behind of his 21-year-old coworker at WWE's Corporate Offices, he would be brought in before HR as soon as possible. And that's how it should be.