When a woman of note in any profession tweets about being treated fairly and like everyone else, the results are…well, quite frankly, it’s never good. The responses are usually pretty predictable (and predictably awful), ranging from most innocuous – the ‘notice me nice guys’ who don’t have stance but really want to make sure you think they do – to the worst kind of vitriol and nonsense you can imagine (and sadly worse than you can imagine if we’re gonna get really real over here).
WWE manager Lana’s mentions are generally not great to sort through because she is a beautiful woman on TV and the internet is full of weirdos, but boy oh boy did they come out in full force to respond to these:
Gee Lana, is your new gimmick a clumsy Brit, because you just spilled a lot of tea right there. But, of course, as very real as the staggering societal inequality and the wage gap are for women, so are the people who feel like this sentiment is nothing but straight up nonsense. Let’s take a look at some of the very worst responses that are much more telling about the WWE fanbase than you’d expect (lol jk we know it’s full of garbage people):
Ahhh, there it is. See, Divas should be given a chance, but not too much, right? Just enough to placate them, but not enough to make them real, fully functional humans with any kind of worth, yeah? How dare someone mistake a (thus far completely mishandled) attempt to spotlight people they pay to literally do the same job as their male counterpoints as a cry for some kind of empathy and equality?
Ohhhh, right, the famous myth of the gender-driven wage gap. Of course. Women are always treated equally and fairly in the workplace, without fear of intimidation or harassment, there are just as many women doing the same jobs as men, and everyone gets paid exactly the same, especially women of colour. My bad. And of course! Why didn’t I consider the high-paying lucrative field of sex work? There are definitely no documented cases of women being abused or treated unfairly in the porn industry. SEXISM FIXED.
“Realising that Lana is a real person with real feelings and opinions who does not solely exist for my benefit makes it really hard to jerk off.”
Ugh, FINALLY someone is speaking up for the men. Why doesn’t anyone EVER want to make a conversation about the marginalization of women all about men? It’s so inconsiderate.
And then, of course:
Well, as long as it’s not degrading that’s TOTALLY fine. I mean, she should totally be flattered, right? Some women don’t even get told all of the graphic sexual acts men think they’re entitled to on a daily basis, and that has to be such a sad way to live. Note: This is not the REAL real Josh Matthews, but oh man, if it were he’s in TNA deep.
Navigating the minefield of misogyny that is social media is tricky, especially when speaking up on important issues of discrimination. It’s bad enough that simply stating an opinion invites a flood of people all too ready to explain to you exactly why you’re wrong, but people jumping in to discredit the degradation and unfair treatment of women in general, let alone in the workplace, but very especially in a place that is built on a foundation of treating women as nothing more than commodities to be objectified and used up and thrown away at a whim. Constantly having to “prove” that things like the wage gap (super easy to look up, I promise) or rape culture exist because people can’t see past their own personal experiences or accept the idea that people who don’t look exactly like them are marginalized is almost as exhausting as dealing with those things themselves.
Pro tip: people who pop in to point out that we should be talking about another, “more important” issue don’t really care about that issue, they just want you to stop talking about the thing that challenges their perception of the world, or makes them uncomfortable because they can see that thing in themselves and aren’t willing to confront their own toxic preconceived notions. Wait, hang on, let me break that down even further. Actually, I’ll even bold it so even those skimming looking for something to be mad about can notice it without too much effort: Discrimination and unfair treatment of others is not a competition.
If you truly want to #GiveDivasAChance, the best way you can do this is by extending the same courtesy you should be extending to anyone trying to educate you on things outside of their own personal experiences: When women talk, listen. Women experience different kinds of hardships in any line of work, and in literally every aspect of their lives. If you don’t think they don’t, it’s on you to exercise empathy and try to understand exactly what they’re trying to tell you. This advice isn’t just important for men, believe me. Intersectional conversations need to be had by everyone.
And don’t forget: you are not owed a conversation. If your first instinct is to try to disprove someone’s own personal experiences, it’s not our job to then water down a cry for fair treatment to make it more palatable for you. “Safe feminism” is pointless if women can’t feel safe in even the most innocuous of situations, like simply walking down the street alone, or riding an elevator with a stranger.
Whether this is a kayfabe heel move or not, at the end of the day we all need to think long and hard about why a woman expressing her frustration with gender equality and a lack of empathy is a thing that gets so much heat.