Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Art of Listening and Letting Everyone Speak: A Short Essay

While WWE should give women like Brie Bella more time and attention, fans and writers should give the women among them more of a say as well
Photo Credit:
The #GiveDivasAChance hash-tag has blown up in that it's still going strong after four days of existence. It has a powerful message that fans aren't about to tolerate the shoddy treatment of women on the WWE main roster. Fans may not be able to do much about WWE's inner workings, even if Vince McMahon, or more accurately his Twitter intern, promises to do something about it. However, something important can be done as fans, especially male fans and doubly especially for white, straight, cis male fans. Those, including myself, can concede the floor, whether partially or wholly, to the representative fans of those wrestlers who are getting the short end.

Yes, you can still be a "good" feminist ally by speaking up, and honestly, situations exist where voices within the establishment can do well enough to get the ball rolling. But if you find yourself in a situation where you're attempting to speak for women, you might as well step aside and let them have the floor themselves. Experience counts for a lot, and no matter how much empathy someone like me has, it can't make up for shit that women have to face on a daily basis.

It isn't to say you can't have a voice in the matter, but I would hope the first inclination would be to let the firsthand experience speak up and then chime in with supplementation, support, and non-overbearing defense. I know coming from me, one of the most outspoken liberal douchebags within the alternative pro wrestling media, it might ring hollow, but I'm trying to shut up and let others do the talking. I'm going to fail, because I have a big mouth (keyboard? I'm bad at these mixed-media analogies). But I'm never going to stop trying to let every voice be heard.

So encourage women and other traditionally silenced groups to speak up. Support great women writers like Danielle Matheson, Shelly Deathlock, and here on TWB, Lacy and Erica Mo. Signal boost their words so that they can get a piece of the pie that folks like me have had for the longest time. And for god's sake, don't attempt to mansplain like fucking Corey Graves did on Tuesday. #GiveDivasAChance is a noble cause to get behind, but don't pretend that this is some charity case. It's a cause that will give a voice not only to female performers, but to women in the wrestling fandom. Again, I want to remind everyone that anywhere from 35-40% of WWE's fanbase is comprised of women.

Don't let conversation, especially the one involving women in wrestling, be dominated by the same old tired voices. Let everyone have a turn, especially the ones whom the issue is affecting most. Don't just #GiveDivasAChance; give women fans and women writers a chance to chime in, and maybe figure out that the best thing you can do is listen to what they have to say. You never know, you (and I) might learn a thing or two.