Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Revolution Will Be Impossible As Long As Vaginas Are Heel Traits

Cherry Bomb can be heeled in so many other ways that don't involve her private parts
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
The current "Divas Revolution" on RAW has been analyzed to death for the last nine days since Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte all were formally introduced as main roster members, and for good reason. Women in wrestling have always gotten a short shrift compared to me, especially in the last 17 years or so. Even when the then-WWF had its serious flirtations with big-time women's wrestling in the narrative (Jumping Bomb Angels, Alundra Blayze vs. Joshi Monster of the Month, etc.), it had major problems in other areas concerning presentation of women. But once Blayze left for World Championship Wrestling, the bottom fell out completely. Pretty soon, Chris Jericho was cutting promos about how Stephanie McMahon was disgusting for being a girl, setting the tone for years to come.

WWE appears to be attempting to undo that damage, "appears" being the key word. The Powers That Be in NXT seem to want to treat women's wrestling and female characters with the same modicum of respect that the men have. The main roster future might be a little sketchier because of the continue presence of "The Woman-Hating Woodchuck," Kevin Dunn. Still, the first four shows of this new strain appear to set them on a better track than before. But even if, beyond all logical and reasonable expectation for WWE's status quo, that this "Divas Revolution" sticks (and again, if you have a brain in your head and a sense of WWE's history, you should not have high hopes that it will), and women start to gain footholds in WWE, it won't fix all the woes that befall women in the wrestling business as long as more promotions than not continue to treat them as heels by biology.

Tomes could be written about the disgusting treatment women get in Ring of Honor. New Japan Pro Wrestling isn't much better with its most prominent regular female competitor, Maria Kanellis, being used mostly as a prop for Karl Anderson to get a distracting boner. TNA still runs cheap, exploitative gimmicks like The Dollhouse that runs counter the attention it gives to women's wrestling. Female managers being set up clearly as non-competitors by companies are still fodder for taking big moves under the guise of babyface retribution, not dissimilar to the actions of Drew Galloway featured on his "suspended from EVOLVE" video reel against Andrea, aka the former Rosie Lottalove, and So Cal Val.

But the latest piece of most damning evidence that women's biology is used against them as a character trait came from Saturday's House of Hardcore show, where Tommy Dreamer took the microphone to deliver these gems against Cherry Bomb:

Of all the things Dreamer could use to get heat on Cherry Bomb, who by the way, is a double SHIMMER/SHINE Tag Team Champion, the current Women's Superstars Uncensored World Champion, and an unquestioned staple in the women's wrestling scene, he had to resort to cutting a promo on her "disgusting vagina." And it was presented as a babyface promo that got cheers from the crowd. I mean, shouldn't that kind of promo tactic be considered heelish? Not at House of Hardcore, I guess.

The stock defense is "she may have done things to deserve being ridiculed," but the problem isn't that Dreamer promoed on her. He did so using language that set her apart from her deeds and made it so that he was attacking Bomb for the sheer fact of being a woman. It doesn't matter if she's better than Dreamer in the ring (she is), and it doesn't matter if she's more relevant as a performer (she more than likely is depending on how one views Dreamer in the ring as opposed to him as the HOH promoter/booker). She has a "disgusting vagina." That's all that needs to be said to warrant her getting a piledriver.

Sometimes, I don't even know why I wade into the intergender wrestling debate when promotions like HOH still consider women as unable to receive respect because of their genitals. How will the morons in the crowd who eat up this misogyny ever consider Candice LeRae or Kimber Lee or Cherry Bomb herself as equals to men in the ring if they can't even get respect as people? Is it any wonder that when the video of LeRae taking the Lumbar Check goes viral the focus isn't that LeRae took a Shawn Michaels-esque bump or that the move looked fantastic, but that Alexander NEARLY MURDERED her? The disrespect runs deep.

I doubt any changes in WWE will take hold, especially when other companies prove time and time again that they don't really respect women. WWE is not an innovator in most cases; it steals from things that other places do, which is why expect it to be the market leader in treating women with respect is dubious. If nearly every other company outside of women's wrestling promotions and places like Inspire Pro Wrestling and Chikara don't respect women, if they all feed into the misogyny that seems to choke the hearts of various fans in the crowd, then how can WWE expect to change its heart about women? Change can't just be expected from WWE, although the pressure put on the company by important media outlets seems to be working in some respects. It has to come from everyone, from ROH, TNA, NJPW, and especially House of Hardcore. Cherry Bomb can't be painted as a heel just because she doesn't have a penis and testicles. To let that kind of heeling technique slide is to play right into the hands of the old wrestling patriarchy, and as long as that is allowed to flourish, you can expect the Divas Revolution to grind to a halt before the next time Brock Lesnar wrestles the goddamn Undertaker.