A Welsh MP voiced her concerns over the treatment of women and girls in wrestling to the House of Commons yesterday.
Alex Davies-Jones (Labour, Pontypridd) referenced the recent #SpeakingOut movement which saw female wrestlers and fans sharing their experiences of sexism and abuse within the wrestling industry and wider fan community.
Ms. Davies-Jones said: “We all have a responsibility to call out misogyny and sexism where we can and wherever we can.”
Speaking to the House, she added: “The disturbing reality and lived experience for many female wrestlers is more often than not entrenched in misogyny. I have heard horrific tales from female wrestlers who were faced with threats of rape or sexual assault all in the name of friendly banter.
“I have also heard from women as young as 13 or 14 who at the start of their careers were the targets of vile behaviours that saw male wrestlers competing to be the first to take their virginity.
“The #MeToo movement shone a light on the inherent misogyny that persists across so many industries, but less well known is the #SpeakingOut movement that has tainted the wrestling industry with its harrowing stories of emotional and sexual abuse.”
The Member of Parliament for Pontypridd concluded: “These behaviours are disgraceful, yet they continue to persist and ultimately the sports industry urgently needs more regulation. The UK Government has a responsibility to engage proactively with governing bodies to support women and to bring an end to this abuse.”
Sport minister Nigel Huddleston responded to Ms. Davies-Jones by saying that the Government’s proposed online harms bill will tackle trolling by making web publishers more responsible for user safety online.
The Speaking Out hashtag began trending on social media in early June, peaking in use at the end of the month. In the immediate aftermath of the movement, WWE released NXT UK referees Joel Allen and Chris Roberts, alongside wrestlers including Ligero and Jack Gallagher. NXT UK wrestler Joe Coffey was also suspended.
In the wider wrestling industry, Impact Wrestling released Joey Ryan from his contract, while AEW suspended Sammy Guevara for comments the wrestler made about WWE’s Sasha Banks. Also in AEW, the company wished British wrestler Jimmy Havoc well while: “he receives treatment and counseling (SIC) in an effort to overcome the mental health and substance abuse challenges in his life.”
Analysis of the hashtag by Bodyslam.net shows that usage of #SpeakingOut is beginning to rise again ahead of the relaunch of NXT UK on the WWE Network this evening.
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