“She’s a wrestler.” You’ll hear that statement echo through arenas, music venue, legions, and wherever Kimber Lee wrestlers. Since wrestling mentor Drew Gulak at Beyond Wrestling last summer, that’s become her catchphrase. You may remember Kenny Johnson as the filmmaker who produced the documentary short on Veda Scott we featured a while back. This time he’s turned his camera to Kimber Lee, one woman who hopes to break down barriers in wrestling one vicious chop at a time:
Despite the thousands of women in professional wrestling, they’re still viewed by most as a monolith. Those who pay minor attention start to see separations, but still categorize Joshi into one mindset (the superior in all ways), female indie wrestlers as another (either positive or strictly negative with no in between), and WWE workers as the bottom of the barrel. Regardless of where we are in our level of fandom, we need to stop acting like calling women wrestlers while putting down Divas is an admirable thing to do. Exulting one women while deriding another is not how being complimentary or empowering works. Not all women are are the same, just as all wrestlers are not the same. Each woman has a different story, and a different reason for wanting to get into a business that refuses to see them as equals.
Just as it’s important to differentiate between female competitors as individuals, it’s equally important that we stop the same tired arguments about intergender wrestling people inevitably throw at videos like this. Saying “I just can’t watch a man hit a woman” isn’t a noble statement. Claiming that you were raised to “never hit a girl” removes the idea of two athletes from the equation, and distills it to “I cannot view a woman as anything but a victim because a patriarchal society has taught me that’s all they can be.” Defensive statements like that don’t challenge anything about how you came to feel that way, nor does it exonerate you from being an unintentional proponent in the idea that women should not be treated as equals when they step into the ring.
Kimber Lee’s wrestling is not free from critcism, but it’s important to remember a few things: Kimber Lee is not a victim. She is a dancer. She’s a fighter. She’s a wrestler. But most importantly she’s a person who deserves as much respect and and much consideration for what she does as anyone else in this business.