GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (2012)
A GLOWing review
The Olympics are in full swing, and I couldn’t be more excited. Not because I am a fan of events such as Short Track Speed Skating or the Nordic Combined. Let’s face it; nobody has given a damn about the majority of the sports that comprise the Winter Olympics for the past three years and 50 weeks. So I don’t feign excitement when some nincompoop from Moose Jaw makes it down a mountain faster than some dingbat from Helsinki.
So what has me excited, then? Well, as opposed to professional sports, I feel male and female Olympic athletes are treated as equals. People care as much (or as little) about a female luger as they do a male luger.
Contrast that with the spotlight (or lack thereof) that is shone on female professional athletes. The WNBA has been around since 1996, but legendary female basketball players such as Swoozy McBossoms and Sassy Fannypants are far from household names. In fact with the upcoming increase to the Ontario minimum wage, a woman would be financially better off working at an Oshawa Arby’s restaurant than trying to make it as the point guard of the Indiana Fever.
Luckily there is one professional sports league that is at the forefront of gender equality, that being World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). While the ladies of the WNBA and LPGA are segregated from their male counterparts, performing in front of crowds of a dozen or so in church basements, female professional wrestlers are treated with the utmost respect. They perform on the same events as the male wrestlers, and therefore their competitions are shown in primetime on major television stations, and broadcast in colour. Those are claims that other female pro athletes cannot truthfully make.
It wasn’t always a bed of roses for women wrestlers, however. Back in the 1980s, female and male grapplers were not on equal footing, and as a result, the women were forced to compete in their own league, known as GLOW, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.
GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling is a fascinating documentary that details the short history of the women’s-only pro wrestling organization. The company was founded in 1986, when a group of young women with little to no grappling experience were brought in and taught the basics in a short boot camp. From there they would appear in a very successful syndicated program that featured rap videos, comedy skits and of course, wrestling matches. Stars such as Hollywood, Mt. Fiji and Tina Ferrari battled it out, under the watchful eye of Jackie Stallone (Sylvester and Frank’s mother), who portrayed the organization’s owner. What the women lacked in athleticism, they more than made up for with over-the-top personality. They were tremendous performers who gave it their all. The only thing that differentiated them from the likes of Andre The Giant is that Andre was not able to write off halter tops and Daisy Duke shorts as a legitimate business expense.
The show became an international phenomenon, before it was shockingly cancelled after four seasons. In this documentary we get to learn not only about the company, but more importantly we are taken behind the curtain, and learn about the women behind the characters. In yet another example of wrestling promoters bending the truth, only a handful of the women were gorgeous as advertised. The rest of roster was, quite frankly, rather homely. But Homely Ladies of Wrestling would not look very good on a marquee I suppose. Plus HLOW sounds like Dutch profanity, which would have affected the promotion’s chances of success in the Netherlands.
I assume that it is every young girl’s dream to grow up and become a professional wrestler. Therefore, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling is an absolute must-see film for young women. The names Gloria Steinem and Susan B. Anthony get bandied about when people discuss great feminists in history. If you ask me, there are some other names that have played an equal, dare I say greater role in the feminist movement. GLOW stars such as Matilda The Hun, Jailbait and Babe the Farmer’s Daughter should each have their own page in Encyclopedia Britannica.
While great women of the past burned their bras in the fight for equality, these tough-as-nails women did them one better. They scratched, clawed and maimed one another so that the next generation of competitors, names such as Trish Stratus and Stacey Kiebler could perform in their bras in front of appreciative audiences. I can only hope that one day the women of the WNBA, LPGA and Lingerie Football League are held in the same regard.