Friday, February 12, 2016

The ROH Quagmire, or Don't Sexually Assault Your Coworkers

Delirious' sexual entanglements are no one's business but his own
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Ring of Honor hit the news yesterday for less than savory reasons. The company cut ties with referee Kevin Keenan after he allegedly sexually harassed a female employee. The story would be cut and dried except Keenan released a statement calling the cessation of retention of his services an overreaction because the female employee he assaulted was, according to him, sleeping with ROH head booker Hunter Johnston, better known to the layfolk as Delirious. In the original statement, Keenan named the name of his victim, which is the utmost classiest thing one can do obviously. Thankfully, at least WrestleChat had the good taste to redact the name. Never, ever, EVER reveal the name of a victim of sexual assault unless they themselves come forward.

Anyway, the allegations against the female employee and Johnston are not confirmed yet. Again, this allegation if true is definitely not something that Keenan should have been at liberty to divulge either. This guy is a real fuckin' winner, isn't he? Anyway, playing devil's advocate here, if the allegations are true and Johnston is sleeping with an employee who is working for him, then yeah, he's in the wrong. That action in itself could be considered sexual harassment. Those in power need to use said power responsibly. That all being said, the chance exists that maybe Johnston and the victim, if they are in fact romantically entwined, can keep their work and personal lives separate. Their sex lives are not anyone's business but their own.

Additionally, any wrong that may be committed by Johnston and the alleged victim pales in comparison to what Keenan himself did. He violated a woman's personal space by assaulting her in a sexual manner. That action is rape. She didn't want to be touched, and yet he touched her. Even if it was a "punitive action" by Keenan (throwing up violently even using that term in quotes), it's not up to him to mete out any action, if any. But judging from people who've seen him around in Philadelphia at bars and clubs, this guy is allegedly nonconsensually handsy with women of all shapes and sizes. The guy basically has a reputation of being a total creep, and his actions against the now-former coworker are par for the course.

So, what is the lesson to be learned here? First and foremost, you do not ever, ever, EVER touch a person sexually without their consent. Ever. Two, a person's sexual lifestyle is that person's alone unless they want to share it with you. Three, wrestling companies probably should not hire Keenan again. Never. That guy probably should be in jail for being a sexual predator based on the ROH incident itself, but also maybe because of his actions around Philly if the scuttlebutt is true.

As for ROH, honestly, the company should probably take this opportunity to step back and change how it treats women in its narrative. It has a long history of hostility towards female characters, and the shame part is that this attempt at jump-starting the Women of Honor has the best chance of succeeding, especially since Veda Scott is helming it. But when your entire company history leads people to believe that women are expendable at best and not people at worst, then you get shit like creepshow Kevin Keenan sexually assaulting female employees. Wrestling in general needs to do better, but ROH appears to be one of the worst offenders. Hopefully, this incident will be a wakeup call to do better by its female fans, wrestlers, and staffers.