WWE News: Is Nikki Bella Turning Into A Feminist Role Model?

Despite all of the wrestling and reality television fans who complain about Nikki Bella's unabashed materialism and alleged backstage politicking, her public persona appears to be evolving and transcending the confines of WWE. Most recently, Bella stepped out with boyfriend John Cena for an appearance before a women's group in Tampa Bay, Florida. 24Wrestling and other sports entertainment news outlets report that Nikki spoke before an audience at The Helen Gordon Davis Centre For Women on October 15, discussing women's empowerment and the difficulties faced by female performers in the male-dominated wrestling industry.

On their official Facebook page, The Helen Gordon Davis Centre For Women posted an account of Nikki Bella's appearance, noting that the audience was comprised mostly of ladies involved in a program that helps women gain experience in "non-traditional" fields like the construction industry.

"In a rare speaking appearance, Nikki Bella Professional Wrestler with the WWE, talked about empowering women tonight at The Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women. She spoke about her experience in becoming established in her field of work that is male dominated and how she earned her respect in a dream-come-true job for her. Nikki's goal is to give back and help other women find success in their respective fields. She spoke to about 50 people, participants in the Centre's Women Building Futures (WBF) program which helps women to learn the construction trades, another non-traditional field for women, along with supporters and sponsors of WBF."
All in all, having one of the world's top female wrestling talents appear in such a context seems more than appropriate, given the fact that professional wrestling is still considered to be a men's endeavor by many, including WWE Hall of Famer Greg Valentine. As previously noted by Inquisitr, earlier this year Valentine said that female wrestlers have "no place" in pro wrestling, adding that if he could, he would "send them all out to the strip bar and fire them." WrestleZone also noted that Valentine further asserted that women belong in the the kitchen, washing dishes and cooking.

WWE News: Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine Rips Female Wrestlers
WWE Hall of Famer probably won't be getting any invitations to speak before women's groups.

In addition to the aforementioned agency's social media post about the event, Nikki Bella and John Cena mentioned it in their online activities. In one of her posts to Instagram, Nikki said she hopes to do similar speaking engagements in the future.

"Today I took one step forward in conquering my dream. It was scary, I was nervous, but I was so happy I did it. I learned so much. You will definitely see more of my motivational speaking in the future!"
Although Nikki Bella has her sights set on making a difference in the lives of women outside the ring, some female grapplers have accused her of engaging in career-damaging politics backstage. In 2013, former WWE Diva Maria Kanellis publicly accused Bella of sabotaging her return to WWE. In an interview with WrestlingINC, Kanellis said that Nikki Bella was jealous of her because they were both friends with Dolph Ziggler and subsequently dissuaded WWE's top brass from offering her a contract.

"There's no real reason to talk to her," Kanellis said of Nikki Bella. "She's not worth my time. She took something from me and it wasn't a man, or it wasn't a piece of candy, it was a contract. It's my career and I think for me, that's probably the worst thing you can do, is mess with my money."

Over the summer, rumors also surfaced alleging that John Cena was actively involved in an effort to discourage WWE from taking the company's women's title from Nikki Bella and giving the strap to Charlotte. Charlotte ultimately won the WWE Divas title at Night of Champions in September.

WWE Diva Charlotte with her father, Hall of Famer Ric Flair.

For her part, Nikki Bella says she is no longer affected by the hateful comments, speculation, and allegations of online critics. Indeed, her current activities in the ring are part of a larger story in which up and coming talents like Becky Lunch, Sasha Banks, and Charlotte are receiving valuable exposure on WWE programs. As an integral part of the ongoing "Divas Revolution" angle in WWE and a key member of the Total Divas cast, Nikki Bella has established herself as a confident and prominent figure in sports entertainment with a voice that will carry her message well beyond the squared circle.

[Images via WWE]