Well, let's see, what to talk about today? Hmm. how about gender class? It was quite interesting actually.
Okay, so to set up this post, here's the backstory on class. It's broken down into three sections: beauty pageants as a standard of femininity, professtional wrestling as a standard of masculinity, and hair. Before sporing break, we started talking about wrestling. We're still working on it. Which leads me back to where I started.
So, I know a little bit about professional wrestling. My little cousin watches it (or at least did the last time I saw him) and a friend's dad is a professional wrestler. Like wrestled for the WWE and such. I've seen an episode or two in my day and I have always thought it was kind of silly. I mean, I'm also thinking about what I knew in the past. When I was younger, the only wrestlers I knew were Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage (remember those slim jim commericals? yum). And then, there were all of those guys from when I was in intermediate school. The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker. Most of the guys in my class liked them (or at least the dorky ones did). Actually, in my 8th grade yearbook, the most popular quote as voted on by my class was "Do you smell what The Rock is cookin'?" (it was actually "no sex til you're 35, but they couldn't publish the word sex in an 8th grade yearbook, but I digress) So, I had an idea that this medium existed. I did not live under a rock. But I also didn't care about it.
The only person I knew who was really into it was my little cousin. And he really like(s/d) it. I mean, this kid went all out. He had the little action figures of the dudes, and a stage for them to wrestle on. Then, while he would watch it on tv, he'd play with the little action figures. I thought it was borderline obsession and a little crazy but who am I to judge? For fans, it seems that wrestling is a way of life. I also learned that watching this video in class today.
And now we've gotten way back to where I started. Class today. So we watching this video Wrestling With Manhood. It was made by a professor at UMass Amherst and it was actaully really interesting. Well, when it wasn't showing that absolutely grotesque clips of WWF/WWE wrestling. I was shocked/horrifed at some of the things that I saw. Not the violence of professional wrestling because we all know that most of the fighting is fake. It has to be. Most of those moves would instantly kill people at the most extreme. At the least, they would bleed. I was more disturbed by the "storylines" created for the characters/wrestlers. I mean, it was insane. There's the obvious question of manhood and what it means to be a man. Something that they deal with in an incredibly primative way if you ask me. Men are supposed to be the pinnacle of strength with these guys. Not necessarily a good provider/citizen, but a guy who will step up to the plate and kick another guy's ass. And we know the show has a predominately male audience so you can see where I'm going with this guys. These wrestlers are telling the men and boys who are watching that they're only a man if they fight. And kick ass, and potentially kill someone. I mean, you should hear some of the stuff these wrestlers say to each other. Of course it's scripted but someone has to be told to write it and what to write. So my question was, why would they want to perpetuate these stereotypes? And ancient ones at that.
One of the other things that interested/frightened me was the homophobic comments/homoerotic undertones on the show. If one wrestler wanted to emasculate another, he would say things to insinuate that the other was gay or less than manly by using words like "sissy" and "bitch". They use bitch a lot. It was shocking. Especially when they talked about the "gay" wrestling characters they had on the shows. One way of further emasculating them was to strip them of their clothes. It was incredible not just to see this but to see the reaction of the audience. They were screaming and cheering on the attackers. Then in video interviews, the fans were calling the gay characters "fag" and "homo" and stuff. This only continues to make gay bashing okay. Frankly, it sickens me.
And don't even get me started on what they say about/do to women. It is disgusting. In the world of professional wrestling, women are nothing more than objects for men to ridicule and abuse. One example of this disgusting practice was between Trish Stratus and Vince McMahon. Trish has done something to upset McMahon and so he decides to make her beg (literally beg) for his forgiveness. He makes her get down on her hands and knees and bark like a dog, before making her strip all of her clothes off. Let me ask you, how does this prove that she is sorry? And before that, he let his daughter, another character/wrestler Stephanie McMahon cover Trish in vomit and dunk her head in it. Then he proceeds to say that he did it because Trish is "trash" and a "slut". Sure, it's okay to violate a woman because she's "a slut." Fuck that. You're trash for even thinking that way Mr. McMahon. And don't get me started on Stephanie. Her "husband"/boyfriend at the time was Triple H. And he basically beat the shit out of her. Oh yes, let's make spousal abuse okay too while we're at it. There's nothing wrong with beating your wife. Not at all. Ahh, it makes me so angry.
Yes, I know that all of this is fake and it's made for entertainment purposes, but look what it's telling its audience. An audience that includes impressionable children. It is saying that all of this stuff, violence, homophobia, and abuse of women is okay because there are never any consequences. The kicker is that they compare it to soap operas. But if something like this happens on a soap opera, there are repercussions for the actions of the wrongdoers. And here, there aren't. Five minutes later, it's like nothing happened. Then one guy they interviewed told the interviewer that he let's his 4 year old daughter watch wrestling. He's like "this stuff happens, welcome to the real world." Are you kidding me?
Anyway, that was my first post. Feel free to leave comments good or bad. I won't be offended.