Following WWE programming last week, two story line points emerged which caused some stir on the internet and on social media, and lead to accusations of sexism towards women on WWE TV.
One of the story line points in question was when Ric Flair, at last Sunday’s Royal Rumble, forcibly kissed Becky Lynch during her match to distract her from Charlotte, an act which was mostly lauded by the announce team as a joke. The second story line was on WWE Raw this past week when The Rock delivered a speech to Lana describing an apparent sexual encounter the two had last year.
The story lines prompted writer Alex Groot to pen an editorial over at Vocativ.com, called “WWE’s Looming Sexism Problem”. The following is an article excerpt:
Sadly, such treatment is nothing new for Lana, real name C.J. Perry, who was once positioned in storyline as a strong, confident manager and mouthpiece for Rusev, the “Bulgarian Brute” who tore through much of the roster upon his arrival. But before long, John Cena was calling her a “ho” and suggesting she performed favors to procure matches, rival Ryback was taunting her about “going all the way” with a fellow competitor, and lead commentator Michael Cole led off an interview by probing into her sexual history.
What do all these characters have in common? They were positioned as babyfaces in their storylines, the good guys that fans were expected to support and cheer for. That, for far too long, has been the strange ethos of the WWE, where women are objects, crude name calling is to be cheered, and slut-shaming is righteous. Indeed, it is no secret that the company has a checkered, problematic past, not only with women, but with race, homophobia, and taking care of its own employees. The empire Vince McMahon built has a rather retrograde history, much like that of American professional wrestling, more broadly.
WWE issued an official statement to Vocativ, responding to the article, and it reads as follows:
“WWE programming, which features fictional characters that cover a range of personalities similar to movies and television shows, tells stories of good versus evil. In addition, as our on-going storylines develop, we will continue to position women as both strong competitors and compelling individuals.”