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The Evolution of Women in Professional Wrestling

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On October 28th World Wrestling Entertainment fans will have the opportunity to watch the first ever all women’s pay-per-view in the history of the company. Now the WWE is not the only televised wrestling promotion right now. Nor is it the only wrestling company with female talent. It is, however, one of the biggest names in sports entertainment. Many fans, myself included, got our start watching the WWE. That is one reason why this is so huge. Tons of little kids, as the WWE is PG entertainment, are going to get to watch an all women’s pay-per-view. Tons of them are going to be inspired by it. Evolution, what the pay-per-view has been named, is a step toward the normalization of women in sports entertainment.

To be honest if someone had told me when I had first started to watch wrestling that we would be heading to this I never would have believed you. This has been an amazing year for me to stumble back into the world of professional wrestling. The “indies” are on fire with intergender matches. CHIKARA Pro is a family friendly lucha show which has women fighting in all kinds of matches. There was also a huge event hosted by Cody Rhodes, Matt and Nick Jackson that brought together indie wrestling talents from all over and had a battle royal style match that had Jordynn Grace called All In that was a huge success.  

Women are being celebrated in professional wrestling but it wasn’t always this way. Ladies have been putting their bodies on the line, in and out of the ring, in order to get to this point for years. In the early 1900s women were a part of the sideshows, scantily clad and performing feats of the strength to keep the audience interested between acts. However the road was possibly the most dangerous place for women. Promoters like Billy Wolfe would use his power to have his girls get to wrestle, but only if they had sex with other promoters or wrestlers first. A woman’s worth wasn’t in the ring. That practice continued through the years, even with female promoters selling out their own girls.

Despite the danger in and out of the ring women’s wrestling could not be stopped. In the 1930s and 1940s there was even what would be considered a high time for women in the ring. Women like Mildred Burke  and Mae Young hit hard in the ring and had America watching. Mildred fought both men and women. She held the women’s Title for years and helped to bring in new talent. Later she traveled to Japan and helped to bring her style of wrestling there during a tour. She would return and help shape the face of women’s professional wrestling in Japan which has resulted in such amazing wrestlers as Meiko Satomura

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The next exciting chapter for women’s professional wrestling came in the form of big hair, crazy personas and a lot of glitter. Yes I am going to talk about GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling again. In the 1980s professional wrestling was going through some big changes. The WWE, then the WWF, was televised with some of the biggest names of wrestling at the time. Unfortunately women were not in the forefront this time. Women who did wrestle were once again like the sideshow performers of old. Women were now managers like Miss Elizabeth.

Women dressed up and cheated to help men win. That is how it was on television. Before she had a can of spray and NWO, a faction in WCW, black and white she was the “first lady of wrestling” because she looked like a movie star and hardly spoke. Miss Elizabeth was lauded for being seen and unconditionally loyal to her man no matter what he did. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Miss Elizabeth but not every woman should be have to be her. That is why GLOW was so important.

Suddenly there was a wrestling show that was all women. They did funny skits. They had storylines. They also wrestled. The cast had learned real wrestling moves and used them in matches. Some of them were heels (or bad guys) who wore punk apparel in their pink ring. The women were the stars and they put themselves in a lot of danger to do so. While GLOW was canceled after four years of glitter and goofs it proved that women could wrestle on television.

The 1990s and early 2000s gave fans would would become known as “the Attitude Era.” It was brash, unapologetic and fairly sexist. It was an odd time in wrestling, changes were coming for women but there was still a strong sentiment of a womens role in the ring. Debra, who was a manager who wore short skirts and open suite jacks with push up bras, was a main player while commentators drooled over her “puppies.”  The WCW had the Nitro Girls dancing at every show. However there were also women actually wrestling in some matches. They weren’t long and there was a lot of bra and pantie matches but women like Ivory, Jacqueline, Trish Stratus and Lita were wrestling for a women’s championship.

This was the time I started watching. My first match I ever saw featured Chyna, the Queen of the Ring. Chyna was a female bodybuilder outside the ring. She joined as a bodyguard for two male stars. She was the first woman to compete in a Royal Rumble. Chyna was also the first women to be in a King of the Ring Tournament. She was also the first female Intercontinental Champion. Chyna was big, powerful but also was given romantic storylines. She showed that a women could be many things at once, all of them successful so long as they were given opportunities and support.  

The women’s division continued to bounce back and forth between progress in the WWE. The division became the “divas” division. Women were once again judged more like beauty contestants on beauty show then a wrestling show, particularly on early seasons of NXT. However there were the seeds of the revolution being sown. Divas like AJ Lee called out wage gaps in her scuffed Chuck Taylors. Nikki and Brie Bella amassed an army who, with other fans, took to Twitter with the hashtag; “give divas a chance.” Soon women were being given longer matches and even matches at the pay-per-views.

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The Four Horsewomen; Sasha Banks, Bayley, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair led the charge in the WWE. They have participated in many of the firsts for women. Recently the superstars, formerly known as “divas,” have gotten to participate in some amazing matches. Iron Man Matches. Money in the Bank matches, Royal Rumble matches, Mixed Match Tag matches and now their own pay-per-view. Women from all over the world are also participating in the Mae Young Classic, which is a tournament highlighting female talent in the industry. Renee Young, Beth Phoenix, Paige and two female referees have also been making history as the first female announcers and GM in the WWE.  

Wrestling has come a long way for women. While the focus of this article is about the WWE it is only right to highlight some other sources and female wrestlers. Impact Wrestling currently has a supernatural storyline featuring women with coffin matches. The storyline of friendship between a demon and a bubbly, pink clad wrestler as they fight an undead bride has been drawing in viewers for months. SHIMMER Women Athletes is a group based in Chicago whose focus is giving female athletes a place to shine while they kick butt. Blanche Babish, Solo Darling, Oceanea and Princess Kimberly fight anyone and everyone at the family friendly Lucha show that is CHIKARA Pro.

The history of women in professional wrestling is as interesting and varied as the industry itself. There are many wrestlers and different groups that make it special for fans. I hope that fans will tune in for Evolution on the 28th. It is important that we show our support for something so historic and encourage the women in the industry to continue fighting and taking risks. If you aren’t a fan then I hope you will give wrestling a try as the women can be very empowering to watch.

To all the divas, knockouts, athletes, wrestlers and superstars; I need to thank you ladies for all you do. Thank you for inspiring us. Thanks for the risks, the bumps and the long times on the road. You made one little girl want to be bigger and stronger than the expectations that were laid out for her in me. 

So for now everyone keep fighting and remember to always keep sparkling!    
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Influental Women in the Gaming Industry: Claudia Billie Stræde

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Some women are just powerhouses from a young age. Claudia Billie Stræde is one of those women. She has accomplished so much already and doesn’t seem to have any intention of slowing down.

Claudia is a Danish filmmaker and animator. She was admitted to the Danish Film School. There Claudia was the youngest director in the animation department. However instead of staying there in 2006 she dropped out to attend the Academy of Untamed Creativity instead. Claudia found a better fit for her passions there.

That was when she started to learn about animation. Claudia also found like minded students at the Academy of Untamed Creativity. In 2007 they banded together to create and event called The D.I.Y. Film Club. This event was an opportunity for more obscure films to have a place to be shown. It featured films that ranged from obscure art to homemade documentaries.

Claudia then attended the Copenhagen Film and Photo School. She was able to study live action filmmaking for a whole year. There she got to also experience different aspects of filmmaking. Claudia was able to do everything including; directing, producing, cinematography, editing and sound design. After that Claudia felt the pull to go back to the Danish Film School.

This time Claudia stayed. She got to work on many different projects, including computer games. Here she had access to state of the art equipment. Claudia teamed up with other students to create a horror game called Blackwell’s Asylum.

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Blackwell’s Asylum is a horror themed adventure/roleplay game. The team was inspired by the true life experiences of Nellie Bly, a female journalist who went undercover in an insane asylum to expose the horror in the mental health field at the time. The game has the player wake up, drugged in an asylum in the early 1900s. The goal is to get past wardens and escape. Claudia was the director of the game. Blackwell’s Asylum won the 2011 Game of the Year and winner for the Adventure/Roleplay category in the Intel Level Up 2011 Game Demo Contest.

Claudia is a great example of working toward your passion on your terms. By learning and experimenting your goals will be exceeded.

During this holiday season give Blackwell’s Asylum a try…if you think you can get out with your sanity in tact.

 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

Influental Women in the Gaming Industry: Christie Golden

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Christie Golden joined Blizzard Entertainment in 2017 where she has become a senior writer for the company. Prior to that Christie made a career of writing. She has written fifty novels and even more short stories.  

A native of Atlanta Georgia Christie was born in 1963.  She spent most of her young life in Arlington, Virginia. There she went to high school with Sandra Bullock. Christie went to the University Virginia. After earning her degree in English she traveled.

Christie used her degree and her experiences to help her start her career. At first it didn’t seem like it would pan out. Seven years after receiving rejection letters for her first manuscript Christie was able to use the connections that she had made to help her get the first break of her career. From there she was able to sell her first book; Vampire of the Mists, a Ravenloft book. Yes Ravenloft, as in supernatural Dungeons and Dragons campaign that kills so many of us Tabletop gamers. Thus began a beautiful relationship between Christie and writing novels that take place in the worlds of games.

Writing what are known as “tie in” fiction has been good for Christie. It has also been good for us. She has given the world a plethora of novels to dive into. From there gamers can get a more in depth knowledge of the worlds of their favorite games. Also for some people a love of books does not come easily. Books based in the settings of their favorite games can be a wonderful invitation to a world of reading that some may never have received otherwise.

Fiction of this subgenre is also inspiring for writers. Learning how to channel your interests, such as gaming, into your own projects is always a good skill to obtain. However the only way to achieve that is just to sit down and write. It is a tough enre to get into but Christie has proven that not only can writers make the cut but that it can lead to bigger things from companies that give us the games we love. If you are willing to put in the work the work will work out.

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What Christie has really taught us is do what you want. Game how you want. Write what you want. Put that passion into a career and you will get there. It may take time but you will get there.

You can also keep track of what Christie Golden is up to though her Twitter.

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

Influental Women in the Gaming Industry: Ember Moon

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Every group needs a war goddess. Someone who embodies skill, honor and heart. Or other such values that people hold dear. We nerds have such a goddess, her name is Ember Moon and she is currently battling her way through the WWE. Yes, a professional wrestler.

Some of you may not know her or much about the WWE. Those of you who do may not know that she is a proudly self proclaimed nerd. Also a proud gamer.

Ember was born in Texas. She started her love affair with wrestlingas a child, watching with her grandfather. She also grew up with a love of gaming. Ember especially loved Dungeons and Dragons. However that was a time before it was so acceptable to be a gamer. There were no Esports or livestreams. So Ember, like a lot of us, didn’t get to let her nerd flag fly.

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Ember started to train under Booker T in his wrestling academy. With a lot of hard work she was able to start her career. She began in the WWE’s developmental show called NXT 2016. Ember suffered injuries but still her star rose in the ring. By November of 2017 Ember became the NXT women’s champion. After Wrestlemania 34, the grandest stage of the WWE, she was “called up” to wrestle on their oldest running show Monday Night RAW.

Ember has also been gaming. She and other WWE superstars compete against each other on UPUPDOWNDOWN, a gaming channel created by Austin Creed, who wrestles under the name Xavier Woods. The channel is a great place to watch these superstars talk about gaming and other nerdy things that they love. For example we also found out that Ember also used to write fanfiction in an episode. There is also a new episode featuring Ember and other superstars playing Dungeons and Dragons. Ember also was recently in a celebrity SmashBros tournament where her team won second place.

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Ember Moon is another gamer breaking down stereotypes. Whether she is flying off the top rope in the ring or gaming online she does it with heart.

You can watch Ember fly on Raw on USA on Monday nights.
You can also keep up with updates on her Twitter.

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

Influential Women in the Gaming Industry: Team Sailor Scouts

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Esports is a growing phenomenon that is surpassing even the gaming world. It is a form of competitive gaming. Now team gaming has been going on for years but Esports is a little different. These competitions have it all; professional players, live broadcasts and cash prizes. It has even made it onto ESPN. The one thing that seems to be lacking in the field is female competitors. Team Sailor Scouts is working hard to change that.

Team Sailor Scouts is a group of female gamers who compete in Esports playing Overwatch. This young team of women is taking the field by storm from Canada.

The team meet at Meltdown, an Esports bar. There they discovered a few things. They all loved gaming. There was a lack of female teams and they wanted to change that. Thusly the seeds were planted for Team Sailor Scouts were sown. Funny enough none of the members had known each other previously. They were brought together by a love of gaming.

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The team has meetings throughout the week to play together. Twice a month there is a big meetup to exchange information. The Scouts also try to make time to hang out together outside of gaming as well. Every member of the team is considered important and they want to make sure everyone feels that way.

Team Sailor Scouts have a two fold mission that they are trying to achieve, well other then kicking some serious butt in Overwatch that is. The Scouts want each player to reach her maximum potential. They also, of course, to introduce more women to Esports. They hope to achieve this mission statement by doing what they love, gaming. They know that the best way to get women included is by making space for women to be able to game. To really compete and win against all kinds of gamers.

The members of Team Sailor Scouts are:

Fabulous– Main Roster

IDDQT– Main Roster

Mixy– Main Roster

Quake– Main Roster

Annieonfire– Main Roster

Calypso– Main Roster

Surlysheep– Substitute Player

Tachikoma– Substitute Player

Idkmonkey– Substitute Player

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Team Sailor Scouts are proof that women can make more space for themselves in the world of gaming by fighting like a girl. 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

Influential Women in the Gaming Industry: Brianna Wu

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Brianna Wu is a game developer. She is also the head of Giant Spacekat which is a female lead gaming development team. She is also often a speaker on the subject of women in the tech industry.

Brianna found a love of technology early in her life. This would serve her well as that love helped her to pave her own way. She was adopted into a conservative family that she would not always feel like she belonged in. Learning to program and work on computers are some of her happiest memories as a child. Thankfully her family supported her in her love of technology and provided her with resources that have helped her to become a successful woman in the field of gaming.

That support helped her to start her first business as a teenager. From her parents’ garage she would modify cars and computers. By the time she was in college, she had saved up a nice nest egg, which enabled her to leave the program she was not happy in. Brianna went through many changes and challenges that helped her find her own views and voice in the world during this time. This journey would help her discover what she wanted out of life, and gaming.

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Brianna started Giant Spacekat in 2010. The company was not started with a strong feminist stance in mind. Brianna simply wanted to make things that she liked and wanted to see in games. It turns out that what she wanted was a more inclusive gaming space. This tone led to Revolution 60, the first game from Giant Spacekat, that featured all female operatives and strong feminist overtones in the game.

As she spoke with more women in the gaming industry, Brianna found that many of them were having similar experiences to herself. This led her to changing the culture of her studio. It also led Brianna to taking on more speaking appearances and writing about women in the gaming industry.

Brianna Wu is an example of how life takes us on paths we may not expect. Everything is a learning experience and we are meant to grow on this journey we call life.

Always keep sparkling!

 

Guest Post: The Number of Female Gamers is Rising, Studies Show, so What’s the Problem?

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Gaming research studies for several years have been dealing major blows to the stereotypical view of the typical gamer as a white guy in his mom’s basement. In 2014, a paper by the Internet Advertising Bureau showed that a shocking 52 percent of the total gaming audience is actually women. It indicated a rise from the 49 percent in 2012. By 2017, the most recent research shows that this number had risen to an incredible 65 percent. The 2017 Google Play and Newzoo study revealed that women are now more than half of the gamer population.

The rising number of female gamers should be a positive sign for women in gaming, who have been long marginalized, discriminated against, and openly harassed by fellow male gamers. The million-dollar question now is, is it really? While women are boosting the multibillion-dollar gaming industry, largely by playing various mobile games, the sector is still struggling to accommodate female gamers. Many women gamers, it turns out, largely feel underrepresented in the gaming sector. Let’s consider some of the contributing reasons:

Persistent Stigma
Female gamers may have the numbers on their side, but the general attitudes in the industry largely stigmatize them. Veteran female gamers complain of bias female gamers still have to face. The stigma can be pervasive enough to drive women to pretend to be men when playing. Researchers have noted that a considerable number of female gamers do not disclose their gender because of fear of being alienated by male players. The “gamergate” scandal brought to light the level of misogyny hardcore female gamers have to face. There are also more subtle hints of misogyny indicated in surveys. Another Google Play survey found that male gamers are more likely to spend time playing with others if they know those other players are also male.

Lack of Female Game Developers
While the female percentage in the player sector is on the rise, the same is not true for women game developers, designers, or creators. Women players may be owning it in mobile games or building their own gaming PCs, but according to the International Game Developers Association, only less than 30 percent of developers in the gaming industry are either female or transgender. This affects how women are depicted in games, obviously. The traditional mold of the female characters in games being over-exaggerated sex symbols is still prominent, which discourages female gamers from trying out some of the top ranking titles. It should be noted though that some activist developers are trying to include more diverse and wholesome female characters in games.

Male Toons are Still Prominent
Women are getting into the gaming scene largely thanks to the rise of gaming apps. Women of all ages and from nearly all walks of life can play games while on the move. Some women, like new mothers, report that mobile gaming is a pleasant distraction. Naturally, these female gamers prefer to adopt female avatars and toons for in-game experiences. However, a majority of games still feature male personas rather than female ones. Google found out that the 44 percent of game app icons on Google
Play feature male faces rather than female ones, despite the majority of women consuming these products. A survey found that over 60 percent of female gamers think no more than one-third of mobile games are made for women.

The fact that the number of female gamers is on the rise should be a pleasant and welcoming development for aspiring female gamers and developers everywhere. But as the points above indicate, gender parity is still far from reality in gaming. Hopefully in the future, with more female gamers and developers, these unequal factors may change for the better.

Written By: Tracy Plunkett, Kiwi writer with a love for gadgets, games, and music. I also have an unhealthy obsession with cats.