Women Wrestlers: Sex Symbols

The front cover of the July issue of Musclemag International showed two very sexually inviting, almost nude body-building females, one of many front covers used by this magazine to attract readers (Appendix I). Ironically, the editorial was entirely addressed to the readers under the title “An important message to all our readers” discussing the theme “when is too much too much?” The editorial was about the criticisms to the magazine accusing it of making its sales from building on the sexual exploitations of female body-builders and wrestlers. The editor, Johnny Fitness, defends this policy saying, “We think of our ideal male athlete not as being a muscle freak hiding away in the womanless world of a male-only gym, but as an attractive and powerful man possessing a balanced mind and lifestyle” (p.9). However, the almost-nude shots of women all over the magazine obviously have nothing to do with a balanced mind or a lifestyle, and are directly aimed at pushing the magazine sales volume up.

More ironically, in that same magazine, shots of female bodybuilder Emilia New York falling in a very seductive way, showing her bottoms and selected moments of weakness were set under the title “Oh, no! She’s done it again!” The model justified the fall saying that she was not yet used to her high heels, but then added, “The promoters jokingly gave me a ten-count, and the crowd loved it, but I promise you it won’t happen again” (p.13).

Magazines such as Musclemag, Muscular Development and Flex all reflect the same culture, namely the focus on sexy female bodies, and the presentation of women in positions of power and domination, or weakness and submission.

The Showtime Network recently started airing the “Female Wrestling” show on Sunday nights in order to boost the declining number of viewers of TV Land. The promotion spoke of an exclusive show full of adrenaline and the spots from the show focused on a strong display of power and submissiveness at the same time, sufficient to stimulate the basic animal needs of viewers, especially male viewers.

The fact that models are often viewed as symbols of sex is completely understandable. The feminine and sexy image of models is certainly used by the media for commercial purposes, but femininity and sexuality go together hand in hand. However, the exploitation of women in the wrestling business is yet more subtle and sophisticated because rather than combining comparable factors such as femininity and sexuality, it combines contrasting elements, namely domination and submissiveness.


Catfights between ordinary women usually stimulate basic sexual instincts in many men who envisage themselves playing the role of the watchful God. To a great extent, this may also be the reason behind the obsession of many men in lesbianism, a realm where they take the passive role of audience. To a similar extent, female wrestlers trying to dominate one another and to bring one another under submissiveness is just what it takes to arouse these basic instincts in men to a far more extent that the view of ultimate power of two male wrestlers in action.

Some women wrestle as professionals, but in most shows covered on TV or in the media are mainly symbols of sex, with the main objective of their presence on stage being to generate revenues from selling themselves to a male-dominated audience as symbols of sex and sexuality. Such reality cannot be missed by anyone watching a number of female wrestling contests. The symbolizing of power or weakness, the shrieks, the moans, the expression of pain, and the stimulation of the viewers surrounding the stage, are all factors that are used to attract commercial attention and to lure more attendants who will pay to have more adrenaline secreted in their blood.

Careers in the field

There are women wrestlers who are actually seeking careers in this field, and there are also others who are lured by the media and popularity. Yet, these women have to behave on stage in a manner that arouses the sexual needs of viewers and that gives basic pleasure to these audiences. Moreover, every expression of pain, suffering, or domination is used to rock the minds and feelings of these viewers. This is not to mention that one of the wrestlers or at least both of them have to be beautiful, attractive, sexy and almost nude. If these realities show or say anything, it is the fact that women wrestlers are exploited sex symbols.