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For close to a week now, we’ve been learning about a countless number of disgusting acts of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault of women in the pro wrestling business. These types of accounts and predatory stories are always painful to digest. They pierced even deeper this time due to the fact that they happened in the present day and within a business that I’m close to.
My 17-month-old daughter, who is running around the house with a Macho Man figure as I write this, frames things in a different light, too. She doesn’t know it yet, but the #SpeakOut movement matters to her.
The wrestling business is rooted in art, creativity, and individualism. Its foundation is passion and that passion is how wrestling fandom gets passed from generation to generation. Passion is what lights the fires of potential new wrestlers who’ve decided that they want to be a part of the business that they’ve enjoyed for so long. Passion drives a relentless pursuit of greatness with the end game being achieving life-long goals and being proud of the path taken to achieve them.
Pursuing Passion is a Right
Outside of the pain and sympathy I felt for the brave women that came forward to shine a light on the dark underbelly of wrestling, what planted itself in my brain after hearing the grotesque stories was that those “men” used that idea of passion to flex their power to get what they wanted. The accounts describe a dark, twisted, and manipulative play that stole their young victims’ passion and life’s blank slate from them before they could draw their picture.
As my daughter grows up and lives her life, she deserves a clean slate to write on. She deserves the opportunity to love a hobby, sport, musical instrument, dance form, or any other interest without strings or worry attached. I want her to find a passion and to be able to pursue that passion with a relentless effort – without having to look in the rearview mirror with concern. That’s part of being young. The strong women who came forward this week to tell their stories to the world helped achieve this goal for her.
As my daughter grows up, she needs to be believed. In a world where misinformation flies about faster than ever before, she needs to know that if she speaks out, she’s heard loud and clear. Star power, money, and fame be damned. I want her to be able to flip off a bad situation, stand up for herself, know it’s the right thing, and walk away without worrying about any consequences of losing a dream. Even knowing they were revealing their sadness to the world in an environment that is ripe to side with their entertainment, these women trusted that enough people would listen and work for change. Wrestling fan or not, we all have a stake in that change.
Wrestling Fans Need to Stand Up, Too
The unfortunate reality is this isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with this. The #MeToo movement shocked Hollywood into decisive action and change. Today’s it’s the wrestling business’s turn. As fans and observers of wrestling, let’s shock our business into decisive action, too, and be an example for other industries so women there have a voice as well. The women who spoke out over the weekend started rolling the ball down the hill, but it’s on all of us to keep it moving and picking up speed. We need to do it for them, for my daughter, and for future daughters around the world. We need to do it for our sons as well.
How? Pay attention to where your support goes across all avenues of life. In the case of wrestling, watch who makes sincere efforts to implement real change within their companies. Look at policy and who companies book to perform for them. Protect those that need protection. People who perform on television aren’t gods. They aren’t immune to the expectations that every other person on earth has. Treat them that way. Put aside the fact that you may have 15 t-shirts of a wrestler you love and call B.S. when it needs to be called. Drag their name through the mud if it belongs there.
My daughter’s mother and I will do our part. Our daughter will know that her true role models are parents and family. She’ll be encouraged to find her place in the world and to stop at nothing to achieve her dreams with our full support.
As a father, I’m appreciative of this moment and I’m grateful to the women who relived horrific memories to hopefully force this needed change to occur in wrestling and beyond. Whether my daughter becomes a wrestler or a lawyer, the sacrifice these women made will have helped her future. It only matters if we make it matter, though. It’s on us now and we need to demand better.
NOW CHECK OUT HEYDORN’S PREVIOUS TAKE: WWE takes a foolish risk with Drew McIntyre on this week’s Raw