This article by Gareth May explores the world of session wrestling to a mainstream internet news source known as vice. It seems that sometimes the mainstream can catch up to the subculture and then present it as a new phenomenon. For female muscle and bodybuilding fans this information is hardly new. It is interesting to see how the mainstream judges what it does not understand. That is why research is critical. Session wrestling does have a major sexual element, because it is linked to a particular sexual fetish. That is not the only reason women participate or men seek women to show them their physical strength. The article is a fascinating read for people unfamiliar with this microcosm, but more the more knowledgeable would have some disputes with it. It does something different and gets the female perspective. Normally, such writings focus on men’s motivations. There are some minor statements of fact that could be debated.
The claim that “session wrestling combines hardcore fighting with BDSM” is not entirely true. A majority of sessions involve wrestling without the hardcore BDSM. Session wrestling should not be confused with the act of muscle worship, which is another category of fetish. This does not mean elements of BDSM cannot be found in session wrestling. However BDSM specifically refers to bondage, dominance, submission, and sadomasochism. Role play is also a part of this practice. A dominatrix has expertise in this area, where the session wrestler does not. There are some women who can be both a dominatrix and a session wrestler. Yet the two are separate categories. The article confuses the classification of fetishes.
This desire for session wrestling can either be described as sthenolagnia or cartolagnia one is arousal from the presentation or sight of muscles and the other functions on the demonstration of physical strength. This is not exactly BDSM, because pain, bondage, or dominance is not the main purpose. The purpose is for the client to seem the full range of physical strength of the session wrestler. The session wrestling match also involves arm wrestling, human dumbbell lifts, or lift and carry. Strength feats are just as important as the wrestling its self. Muscle worship can be involved, but not always. That is more about feeling the muscle of the woman and admiring her greater physical strength. Saying that session wrestling is equivocate to BSDM is not accurate. There is some relation and overlap , but it is not by definition similar.
This can be confusing to a reader who knows nothing about the subculture. The article can be misleading. It makes it sound as if this rise in session wrestling is recent. Session wrestling could be as old as female bodybuilding and fitness . A precise date is unclear, but it was around even during female bodybuilding’s golden age of the late 1970s to early 1990s. Mixed wrestling predates session wrestling, which had men and women wrestle in mainstream venues. It was rare, but there were some who made it popular. Andy Kaufman the eccentric comedian and entertainer wrestled women in the 1970s and 1980s. Intergender wrestling as it is sometimes called happened in the WWE and WWF. Chyna became notable for her matches with male opponents. If it had not been for mixed wrestling of the mainstream venues, session wrestling would not have emerged. Gradually, women and men got together to construct this subculture in fitness. Bill Wick was a pioneer shooting videos with female bodybuilding champions during the golden age. Kay Baxter his wife and also a bodybuilder made appearances in the videos he produced . These were at first just for entertainment purposes, but later women would see the financial value in it. Women who are involved in fitness sports sometimes do sessions to raise money for competing and extra income. This allowed some women to be financially independent in a sport that was underfunded and payed them less.
The author mostly focuses on the session wrestling subculture in the UK. The United States has maintained it longer, so in the UK there session wrestling is still evolving. There the sessions are expensive going for 150 pounds. The Submission Room is a wrestling business that seems to be making a good profit. There is a 50 pound entry fee and demand continues to be high. Men come as spectators and participants. There are matches between women that are semi-competitive that is viewed by spectators. The founder of this company goes by the stage name Pippa the Ripper. She got involved in wrestling by answering an ad in a newspaper. She said “it looked like it was fun and was intrigued by the unknown.” At the time she had student loan debt and did sessions to pay it off. Four years ago she decided to start this business. This was clever considering there is a growing fan base and demand for session wrestling.
This unique company is not like the information technology or energy sector. Many wrestlers have other professions besides their participation in the Submission Room. The article states ” Many are personal trainers, fetish and alt models, or professional dominatrixes.” Recruitment occurs simply by word of mouth. Although by no means a traditional business, it seems like one women have firm control over.
When discussing a topic such as this gender politics will inevitably enter the conversation. Observers claim that this is nothing more than the sexual objectification of women. Men are once again using women to satisfy personal desires. This is not true when you hear the perspective of the women themselves. Pippa the Ripper gives more insight : “ultimately, wresting is play fighting, something we did when we’re kids, and it’s really fun.” Women get enjoyment out the physical contest. This throwback of unrestricted play brings a nostalgic feel of childhood. Then there is a new sense of empowerment. Pippa says “I like using my strength and my skill and my body to dominate a man in a wrestling sense. ” Women are finding that physical strength is not a male only characteristic and has benefits. Women have been fed the frailty myth for so long they believed it to be fact. Now it has been challenged as more women are becoming involved in sports and other physical activities. Men who are participants in sessions seem to have a respect for women’s new power. Ashley Starr who wrestles as well gives a description about the motivations for session wrestling. She says its all about “feeling a woman’s power.”Ashley Starr has wrestled men for 12 years travelling the world from Australia, Middle East, and East Asia. Through her experience she says that their is one theme that is cross cultural. The men want to feel and witness the strength of a powerful woman. Ashley Starr says men love feeling her large biceps.
Women gain a new sense of power and confidence doing this activity. There are detractors who condemn this as perverse or say it is close to prostitution. This seems to be a distortion. This notion or feeling may have to do with misogynistic attitudes that are present in certain societies. Women defined traditionally were placed into two dichotomies known as the whore or mother. This sexist definition of womanhood was not only designed to control, but to lump women into one simple group instead of being complex individuals with different personalities. The women who do this are multifaceted and live interesting lives. Society tends to harsh to women who do not follow the status quo. The people who disparage women who do this are feeding into misogynistic attitudes . As long as it is their personal choice and they enjoy it, there is no harm. Women as girls have a little more freedom when it comes to gender roles. As women age it becomes more strict than in childhood. The phrase “it is not ladylike to behave or do certain things” becomes more so communicated. Thankfully this has been challenged with women’s push for equal rights and cultural changes. The women participating in session wrestling are not solely doing it for sexual reasons. The innocent act of play just like a child does can be recaptured. This is an age where there are limited gender issues that boys and girls are conscious of. It is a stage before prejudice or negative perceptions of one another develop. There is a carefree freedom that society constantly restricts. Men and women recapture it in these sessions. Examining session wrestling from that perspective elucidates many motivations.
One question that is left out of the article is why is liking physically powerful women considered odd? Women of the 21st century are becoming a powerful force in business, international politics, and science. There are still problems of discrimination and violence , but that has not stopped their success. Women are becoming a greater presence in global leadership. The Pew Research Center reported in 2015 women increased their role as leaders around the world. With women have a place in areas traditionally dominated solely by men, there has been a major paradigm shift. Gradually, it is becoming normalized rather than an abomination as traditionalist once claimed.
The majority that does not hold anti-woman convictions have no problem with a female president, CEO, soldier or scientist. Then why is it so hard to accept the physically powerful woman? Women have entered into bastions that were all male and fitness including sport is the last one. May be the appearance of the physically powerful woman is a metaphor for women rise in society. It is celebrated at times, looked at with fear or uncertainty, or just unwelcome.Some men who are threatened by women’s growing role feel society is leaving them out. They feel as if physical prowess is the only element they have left. Seeing strong women just disturbs their sexist prejudices or hatred, which explains negative reactions. It will take time for people to accept women of this nature. There are men who already do. The article makes it seem as a recent phenomenon, but it is much older. The tendency for sensationalism has become a common component in media. Whether written or broadcast it at times distorts or deceives events or activities. The author at least made an attempt to be objective and put emphasis on interviews from the women. However the public feels about the subculture, it seems to be getting more exposure to a wider audience than in the past.