Another issue that Wrestling with Manhood raised for me (apart from, as we discussed in class, the ethical questionability of the entire film) was how women are treated in wrestling. I'm particularly bothered by the direction that WWE has taken in the past few years around de-emphasizing women as wrestlers and presenting them more as generic Barbie-ish eye candy. Along these lines, I may somewhat be agreeing with Sut Jhally (horrors!) but as Sam mentioned some of his basic points are good even if he doesn't really prove them convincingly or draws conclusions about them that are far too wide ranging based on the available information.
WWE's recent strategy regarding women competitors really puzzles me for two reasons. One is that wrestling audiences have always seemed to respond really well to women who can actually wrestle. I don't get the sense that fans are clamoring to see women in the ring who are incompetent wrestlers but look good in a bikini. In fact, my impression that things like the WWE Diva Search are treated with disinterest at best by wrestling fans, since the purpose is not to find women who are wrestlers but women who are simply there for decoration (if I recall correctly, the open call for the most recent WWE Diva Search specifically stated that wrestling experience was not necessary). The other is that given the, uh, very easily accessible alternatives (e.g. porn on the Internet), I am not sure why WWE thinks that having skimpily clad non-wrestling women on its shows will make those shows more appealing or interesting, or make people more likely to buy or watch them. If a 13-year-old kid with raging hormones has the choice of looking at a partially clad Diva on a WWE show or PPV, or seeing a whole lot more of women on the Internet for free, it seems pretty obvious which will be the choice.
Some of my male wrestling fan friends observe that the "look" of the divas - the quasi-porn-star look, with silicone-enhanced chests and bleached blond hair - is too generic and that the divas would be more interesting to them not only if they could actually wrestle (or if the ones who can wrestle were allowed to do so, rather than having to tone things down to work with the non-wrestlers in matches), but also if there were more "types" and they looked more like real women. Do others agree?