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VICE has stepped into the intergender wrestling debate with a new article that poses the question: does mixed gender wrestling promote equality or violence against women?
The article focuses on the Australian wrestling scene, where there are ongoing campaigns pushing for mixed gender wrestling to be banned. VICE spoke to domestic violence researcher Dr. Anastasia Powell, who reasoned that it promotes violence against women:
“How can we promote respectful gender equitable relationships in education with our young people, when men’s violence against women is held up as entertainment?”
To get the other side of the story, they spoke to Melbourne-based Kellyanne, who has competed for SHIMMER in the US. She sees mixed gender wrestling as empowering women:
“I love wrestling men as I believe it definitely empowers women. There is no sweeter satisfaction than winning your match against a male and a little girl coming up to you after it telling you you’re their hero.”
The article also includes an account from a mother, who took her son to a wrestling show and was appalled to see people cheering at the sight of a women in pain:
“Some of the kids see this stuff, and they don’t realize it isn’t real. They see these women get beaten, and they hear the crowd cheer, so they’ll think its OK. The kids should think it’s a foreign, abhorrent thing to do.”
Rookie wrestler Tallara George adds her two cents, expressing her belief that wrestling men allows women to become more than merely figures that are ogled by men:
“When the girls share the spotlight with the guys, it becomes an actual competition, rather than a feminizing display of two women ogled by the crowd. We’re willing to endure a ton of pain to prove that women can be bad-asses too.”
The article reveals that Melbourne’s Platinum Wrestling Enterprises has banned intergender wrestling due to audience complaints. A PWE spokesperson lamented the decision, saying:
“The goal was to treat everyone as equals knowing that the female wrestlers in this country are every bit as good as the boys, however it seems that some just aren’t ready for it.”
The article closes with some strong words from Kellyanne, who suspects that those who are opposed to women wrestling men don’t understand the sport. She calls the push for segregation sexist and absurd:
“The female stands toe to toe with a man, confident in her strength, skill, and courage. It’s completely different. To forcibly segregate genders from competing for whatever reason is not only sexist, it’s absurd. Most the people who are offended by these matches don’t understand the sport. By their logic horror movies should be banned.
Read the full article on VICE.