WWE Accused Of Sexism In Storylines, Company Issues Statement

After recent storylines on television involving WWE Divas Becky Lynch and “The Ravishing Russian” Lana, the company is being accused of displaying sexism towards its female performers, according to Wrestlezone.

Last week at the Royal Rumble, Lynch faced WWE Divas Champion Charlotte in a title match. However, Charlotte’s father, the legendary “Nature Boy” Ric Flair provided a distraction by surprising Lynch with a kiss, allowing his daughter to retain her championship. The following night on Monday Night RAW, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made a surprise return and encounter Lana during his eventful trot backstage.

Johnson made several references to an alleged sexual encounter between the two of them from over a year ago. Lana’s real-life fiance Rusev eventually entered the segment, cutting Johnson’s recanting of his night with Lana short. As Wrestlezone points out, several people were apparently uncomfortable with those two segments and it didn’t take long for those issues to turn into writing.

Alex Groot from Vocativ.com wrote a column talking about those recent on-screen incidents, questioning the WWE’s intentions. For starters, Flair’s kiss with Lynch was described as “maddening” and “unnecessary.” As a heel (bad guy) in the storyline, Flair kissed Lynch as a means to distract his daughter’s opponent.

Flair and Lynch exchange words during a promo on RAW. [Image via WWE]
Flair and Lynch exchange words during a promo on RAW. [Image via WWE]
“Bringing sexual harassment into the storyline added little, if anything, to Flair’s villainy,” Groot writes on Flair’s involvement. “Flair’s actions took the audience out of it, forcing viewers to contemplate the strange display they just witnessed, rather than focusing on the action in the ring.”

The focus then shifted to Lana, whose real name is C.J. Perry. Groot mentions how Lana was once booked as a “strong, confident manager” for Rusev as he tore through the WWE roster. But several alleged backstage incidents — such as publicly acknowledging her real-life engagement to Rusev — have forced Lana into a more vulnerable role on television. Groot adds that Lana has been continuously taunted about her sexual escapades (both real and storyline) by several WWE personalities in recent months.

Therefore, Johnson’s comments about Lana teaching him the “one-legged Russian vacuum” were not merely a part of a segment, but rather a continuation of supposed “good guys” objectifying women in a crude manner for the sole purpose of entertainment.

“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.”

The Rock and Lana on RAW this past Monday. [Image via WWE]
The Rock and Lana on RAW this past Monday. [Image via WWE]
In response to these allegations, the WWE issued a statement of their own, claiming that all WWE programming is based around fictional characters and that females will be presented accordingly.

“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.”

The WWE has been dedicated to keeping themselves out of trouble for a long time, getting involved with several charitable organizations and other causes to promote themselves and their values in a positive light.

[Featured Image via WWE]

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