Professional Wrestling, Women's Mental Health and Sexism
Updated: 4 days ago
Seven days ago, a shockwave was sent throughout the world of professional wrestling. Kylie Rae, a 29-year-old wrestler announced her retirement via her Patreon page, citing that she was 'unwell' and no longer a pro wrestler, coupled with her deleting her social media accounts, bar her Instagram and Patreon. This was after she was signed to new start-up company All Elite Wrestling and made her debut on the inaugural show Double or Nothing, before seemingly disappearing off the face of the Earth (albeit for some sporadic appearances on Impact Wrestling).
While the release of the promising young wrestler was described at AEW's All Out by owner Tony Kahn as "very amicable", it sent the wrestling rumour mill into overdrive. Why would she ask for her release after one appearance? Did she do this for her mental health? Was there a fight backstage? Or, and this could be a likely one, was she bullied out of pro wrestling by the fans?
Women in wrestling has always been a hot-button issue. Only up until recently (2016) are women finally featured in prominent positions on the card, having mainly been an eye-candy/side-show attraction since the implementation of the Attitude Era in the late '90s. However, there is evidently a long way to go. While men's mental health usually takes up a lot of the conversation due to men being more likely to commit suicide, women's mental health seems to be rooted in sexism. A prominent example of this is in professional wrestling; aside from Kylie Rae's suspicious retirement, whenever retired wrestler Paige makes the news, fans (mostly men) immediately swoop into the comment section to remind her that she is (insert sexist slur here) for having a sex tape made with male wrestlers Brad Maddox and Xavier Woods leak to the Internet without her knowledge or consent. Meanwhile, the men in the videos were subject to punchlines on television, but there was no real malice behind comments aimed at them, and the fact that they took part in the first place was mostly forgotten.
Of course, mental health in men is important, with several men in professional wrestling tragically taking their own lives over the years. However, while these deaths are undeniably tragic, the things that some of these women have gone through (some of which has lead to the unthinkable) have been abhorrent. It's Kylie Rae's mysterious disappearance from the sport. It's Paige's constant online harassment, which is irrelevant to the story that's being reported 99.9% of the time. It's the 22-year-old Japanese wrestler Hana Kimura taking her own life after receiving death threats due to how her character was portrayed on a reality TV show. Mental health problems are something that everyone goes through, but with women, it's seemingly rooted in something far bigger.
Picture credit: Freepik