“It’s Not Real Wrestling”

I have never called myself a wrestler, although I have been categorised as “Wrestler” before by some BJJ friends overseas, which simultaneously filled me with pride and embarrassment. (Apparently, the perception was due to some combination of my “physique” and my ineptitude with lapel grips. Maybe it also had something to do with that Greco class where I took down an 87kg guy a bit more than I should have. )

The thing is that, while I do wrestling training to benefit my BJJ and MMA, I’ve never entered a wrestling tournament. Thus, while I do tell people who ask that I do wrestling training, and for what purpose, I never call myself a wrestler. Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in the world, one which commands a great deal of respect. I would never dream of sullying its name by making unqualified claims about myself.

Imagine my horror then when the subject of Bikini “wrestling” (re-)surfaced in my little sphere of influence. Something in me is strongly repulsed by the concept of women in bikinis or lingerie doing something (which some producers have the gall to refer to as “wrestling”) for the sole purpose of letting cameras capture footage of sweaty cleavages or crotches tangled up in lace or lycra.

As much as I could have done with the money, the more footage I saw, the more repulsed I was. Bikini “wrestling” is clearly part of the sex industry – some of the videos you can buy include “apartment matches” where two women in their underwear roll around in a vaguely competitive way on a bed – but that wasn’t what I found offensive. What I found offensive was that they had associated the sport of wrestling with porn, and made the very idea of women’s wrestling skills subordinate to making a shameless appeal to the male gaze.

The whole porn sub-genre of women “wrestling” has been a thorn in my side ever since I started training, and especially since I started grappling. There will always be some idiot who will say something puerile when they find out what I do, such as, “Wow, that’s sexy”, (how, dipshit?), “Can I watch?”, “That’s hot”, or “Is that, like, mud wrestling?” (I have heard all of these, and more.) I have nothing against women using their bodies and their sexuality, even within a misogynistic framework, to gain money, fame, validation, attention or whatever it is they’re looking for. Women have been objectified and fetishised for millenia, and I’m not about to get on my Amazon high horse and tell them that they can’t play the game for their own benefit. But leave wrestling out of it!

As chance (?) would have it, a week after I had rejected – as politely as I could – an offer of “paid work” (which would have involved beating up models for money while being complicit in my own degradation and that of women’s combat sports for the sake of someone’s masturbatory day-dream), I discovered a legitimate opportunity to wrestle. I’ll be writing more about that opportunity as events unfold, but I just wanted to share this little “event”, as I really felt that “Life” was testing me and that, had I sold out for the sake of easy money, I would have failed.

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