“Women Love Wrestling” is a collection of pro wrestling essays by women about different aspects of the experience of being a female fan and wrestler. This book was edited by Jason Norris. The writers in this book range from pro wrestlers to wrestling fans all the way to the wrestling media and academics, which makes for a really cool mix of opinions and views. The topic of women in wrestling focuses on the themes of empowerment, diversity, the history of women wrestling in the US, UK, and Japan, independent women wrestling, and changes that have happened and need to keep happening.
Some of my favorites were the historical and anecdotal essays. You get the story of Shimmer and its contribution to pro wrestling written by Spenser Santos. You get the history of Pro Wrestling EVE by its founders Emily and Dann Read. The philosophy and aesthetics of Pro Wrestling EVE got me really interested in the promotion and it’s one I will definitely check out. Another thing I loved were the interviews of Sarah the Rebel and Heather Bandenburg, indy wrestlers from the US and the UK respectively, telling their stories and perspectives as independent wrestlers in their countries.
There’s the history of intergender wrestling and a catalog of its most important wrestlers. There is the story of the cholitas in Bolivia, women who wrestle in skirts and bowling hats. I loved how the story of the photographer Amy Moregore starts, taking pictures at ringside during a deathmatch which covered her in glass. You will even find in this book a really cool story of a Victorian age wrestler named Jack Wannop that was somehow popular in the old-timey press but finding information on him was impossible.
There are personal perspectives of being a female fan. You will read about what it’s like to grow up watching wrestling and the stereotypes and misconceptions. Manasi Nene and many others write about this topic in a relatable way. Writer Gemma Coombs touches on the topic of the nervousness of being in a crowd and being judged, which is something that as a male fan I have not thought of that much.
A big topic discussed in various essays is the importance of representation in and out of the ring in the wrestling business and media. This made me think a lot about who is writing and why, how the booking is handled in different promotions, which are important ideas to think about.
This book even has academic essays. One of my favorite ones is the comparison of wrestling and Shakespeare by Manasi Nene, something that as an English Lit major I clearly appreciated. There is a comparison of the separate but equal doctrine in WWE. There is one on queerness in pro wrestling by Shannon Vanderstreaten, which is one topic that has been discussed before but this brings an interesting new light.
The wrestling essays and personal perspectives were the most interesting to me. While reading all of these essays I could gather that something all of these female writers want is more representation in all aspects of pro wrestling and to not be judged for being fans of this silly sport. While I don’t agree with all of the essays, like the opinion of intergender wrestling, it was illuminating to read what others fans think, those outside of my pro wrestling bubble, specifically Twitter, bubble.
That is the major triumph of this book: a collection of voices that need to be heard and which were given a platform. This has a lot of ideas and perspectives that are interesting and important to read. That is something that I appreciate having written here for Voices of Wrestling, for example, where different perspectives and writers are accepted and everybody can contribute to bring new ideas to the fold. “Women Love Wrestling” is a great platform for writers.
I love the spirit of “Women Love Wrestling” and Jason Norris did a great job editing and finding the writers and topics. You might not agree with all of them (for example, I don’t agree completely with some of the intergender stuff) but I still gathered interesting pieces of conversations, and that is what matters. My knowledge of pro wrestling feels richer by reading a lot of the essays, and I always appreciate wrestling history lessons.
All profits from the publication of this book are being donated to women-focused charities.