Saturday, March 07, 2015

Girl Power

Sunday, March 8 is designated as International Women's Day which, as the name suggests, is a day to celebrate womankind and more importantly, the trials and tribulations that they have gone through to be treated as equally as their male counterparts. A hot button topic in certain sectors of employment is the disparity in pay between men and women in the workplace.

TNA is not guilt free in their treatment of women. Rumors have long persisted, true or not, that the pay for the Knockouts is greatly below par than that of the men, despite the fact that the Knockouts division has consistently drawn higher ratings than any other division throughout TNA's tenure on Spike TV. Where TNA does succeed, however, on the sexual equality scale, is how it portrays their women. While WWE may sometimes resemble a Hawaiian Tropic convention, turn on an episode of Impact and you'll see that the Knockouts division is more extreme athletes than Barbie girls.

Lately, AJ Lee has voiced her opinion on the chasm that exists between male and female performers in WWE, not just in terms of money but in terms of respect. Watch an episode of any WWE show and it becomes evident that WWE thinks much less of its Divas than it does its superstars. There are plenty of talented women in that company. Paige and Natalya are two of my favorites, but wrestling ability will always be nothing more than a bonus in the world of WWE – looks will always open doors faster than talent. I firmly believe that this needs to change, but the culture of WWE is so ingrained that it's going to be a tough one to turn around. Still, I give their fans credit, because with the #GiveDivasAChance campaign, they're at least trying to make a difference. We'll see if it works.

I'm proud that TNA isn't afraid to have women of different colors, sizes, looks and personalities. Dutch Mantel once said, "If you go see the Rockettes and they all look the same and are all doing the same dance, that's great, but put Awesome Kong on the end of them and which one will get your attention?" To me, that sums up nicely what my philosophy is towards women's wrestling. I want every girl to be different. A bleach blonde tanned model? Great. A punk rock girl with a shaved head and tattoos? That's great, too. As long as they're talented, then they're okay in my book. Please, just treat them as equally as you do the men and pay them as such as well.

I have two young daughters myself; both of them are very different in their personalities and that is something I encourage. I want them to grow up to be individuals and follow their own paths in life. Whatever they decide to do for their careers, I want to see them respected and paid as well as any men that are doing the same job. In my case, I work for a company where the workforce is about 80% female, including the owner, and although that's good, it's a rarity in the business world.

That's why when I look at the two biggest companies in American wrestling, I can't help but smile because one of those companies is ran by a woman and someday, the other one WILL be ran by a woman. Regardless of what you think of them personally, Dixie Carter and Stephanie McMahon deserve respect for not just surviving but thriving in a male dominated environment, and they did it because they are bold, intelligent businesswomen.

For anyone who has followed Knockout Shots over the years, it will come as no surprise that women's wrestling has a special place in my heart and I have the utmost respect for female wrestlers. Sometimes I see comments on Twitter from so-called "fans" sending hateful messages to female wrestlers, calling them out over their looks or their abilities, and others who make lewd or sexist comments towards them. These wrestlers are human beings, no different than our mothers, sisters or daughters. Just because they appear on our TV screens does not give us the right to treat them, or any women for that matter, any way we see fit. A little respect goes a long way.

So, on International Women's Day, I urge all true fans to say thank you to your favorite female wrestlers for any time they have entertained you, and to go check out some matches and footage of great women like Sensational Sherri, Missy Hyatt, Sunny, Trish Stratus, Molly Holly, the TNA Knockouts, organizations like Shimmer, GAEA, anywhere you can find quality women's wrestling.

Much like the real world, pro wrestling is a man's world – but as the great James Brown once sang, "This is a man's world, but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl."