So…I have an extremely trivial subject to talk about, which is that I was watching an old (2013) interview my favorite wrestler was conducting and he said something sexist about women wrestlers and it really upset me. I know it’s tiny! But that’s why they’re called microaggressions, because they’re MICRO, and the thing is, I felt sad about it all evening yesterday and most of this morning.
So here’s what Kevin Owens said:
INTERVIEWEE [in response to a fan request for his rendition of “Beauty and the Beast”]: [Girl’s name I couldn’t hear] wanted to do a duet on your show!
KEVIN: I don’t want her. I don’t want her. I don’t want girls on my show.
INTERVIEWEE: No? Why?
KEVIN: […]I just don’t think it’s interesting.
INTERVIEWEE: She could have been in her underwear.
KEVIN: That’s not interesting to me at all[…]There’s so much of that on the internet.
Because a woman in her underwear = porn. Which, DUDE. Hilariously hypocritical. You have lots of close friends who wrestle in their underwear. Your best friend wrestles shirtless in leggings. But I guess a guy in his underwear is still a human being, while a girl in her underwear exists solely to jerk off to.
My point is NOT Kevin Owens and whether or not he’s a jerk. 95% of the time he seems like a sweetheart and a mensch, but that’s really not the point. I’m not interested in talking about whether he’s changed his mind or what he meant or why he might have had negative views of women’s wrestling or whether of course an athlete in a male-dominated field BLAH BLAH BLAH. Today, I don’t want to center Kevin Owens in this conversation.
I want to center me.
I want to talk about how fucking sad I felt when he said “I don’t want girls on my show.”
It just hurt my feelings. And I feel so stupid that it did. That this shit hurts every fucking time. It’s not like the existence of misogyny comes as a surprise. It’s not like I didn’t know Kevin Owens was a dude. It’s not even that bad a comment in the grand scheme of things. But it hurts to hear someone I have a lot of affection and respect for say that he barely sees me as human.
I’m sure he didn’t mean to say that. I’m sure he didn’t mean for anyone to take it personally. It’s personal to me, though.
And look, I KNOW I don’t have a personal relationship with Kevin Owens, and yes, the way one-sided fannish relationships function is also a very interesting topic, but that’s not the point either right now to me. Guys I DO know, guys who love me back, guys who I have real-life personal relationships with, say fucked-up shit all the time too. My desire to preserve those relationships—and in some cases my loyalty to them—just prevent me from calling them out on my blog.
Although if I’m being TOTALLY honest, shit like this is part of why the majority of my close relationships with men ARE fictional these days.
But it doesn’t just hurt coming from someone I care about. Microaggressions from strangers hurt too. It hurts when someone I don’t know tweets me like “I saw a movie yesterday with a Jewish person in it and I thought of you because you are also Jewish!” Yeah, it’s more likely to manifest as churning rage and not this bleak betrayed sadness, but.
And to add insult to injury, I feel humiliated, because here I am caring about the opinion of someone who doesn’t even see me as really human.
Somehow I never get to the point where that just rolls off me like water off a duck’s back, even though I know I’d be happier if I did. That there’s no point to getting hurt and angry.
I seriously considered tweeting Kevin Owens this morning to tell him how much he hurt my feelings. I didn’t do it, but I really wanted to. And when I asked myself why…I wasn’t even hoping for an apology. I wasn’t hoping to hear that he’d changed his mind and he was embarrassed by his past self. I just wanted him to know. I wanted him to have to face for however brief a second that I’m human and I have feelings. I wanted to assert my existence and its value.
But why the fuck do I need Kevin Owens to see me in order to feel visible? I want to be able to validate my own existence.
There’s this bit in Courtney Milan’s Suffragette Scandal that, look, probably you’ve read it, but if not, here it is (with some of the best bits chopped out for length so if you haven’t read it, you should really go do that):
“Your cause may be just. But you’re delusional if you think you can accomplish anything…Rage all you want, Miss Marshall, but you’ll have more success emptying the Thames with a thimble.”
…“You’re right,” Free said…“If history is any guide, it will take years—decades, perhaps—before women get the vote…Do you think I don’t know that the only tool I have is my thimble? I’m the one wielding it. I know. There are days I stare out at the Thames and wish I could stop bailing.” Her voice dropped. “My arms are tired, and there’s so much water that I’m afraid it’ll pull me under. But do you know why I keep going?”…She lifted her face to his. “Because I’m not trying to empty the Thames.”
Silence met this.
“Look at the tasks you listed, the ones you think are impossible. You want men to give women the right to vote. You want men to think of women as equals, rather than as lesser animals who go around spewing illogic between our menstrual cycles.”
He still wasn’t saying anything.
“All your tasks are about men,” she told him. “And if you haven’t noticed, this is a newspaper for women…You see a river rushing by without end. You see a sad collection of women with thimbles, all dipping out an inconsequential amount…But we’re not trying to empty the Thames,” she told him. “Look at what we’re doing with the water we remove. It doesn’t go to waste. We’re using it to water our gardens, sprout by sprout. We’re growing bluebells and clovers where once there was a desert. All you see is the river, but I care about the roses.”
I try and focus on the roses.
Even so: fuck you, Kevin Owens. You hurt my feelings.