Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Randy Orton Puts Foot in Mouth

Criticizing her in-ring? Cool. Insinuating she's a slut? Totally not cool.
Photo Credit:
Via Cageside Seats

Randy Orton recently did an interview with a local rock station in Arizona where he made some hair-raising remarks. The one he's catching the most flak for is his insinuation that Kelly Kelly may be a bit on the promiscuous side:
Egged on by the two hosts, he makes some very unflattering remarks towards current divas champion Kelly Kelly after noting he worked a short romance angle with her in early 2009. ("I would be a method actor, and actually sleep with her," jokes host John Holmberg. "I could name a few method actors in WWE," Orton says. "Like, ten guys.") The disparaging remarks about who Kelly has or hasn't slept with continue throughout the show. Kelly has yet to directly respond to the remarks, sans a cryptic remark on Twitter which could be interpreted as a response to Orton: "The best way to fight stupidity, is by ignoring it."
On the surface, those some pretty heavy implications. These comments have caused a furor on the Internet, both by people outraged by the continual double standard about the number of sexual partners you can acceptably have based on gender and by people who think those complainers are taking things way out of proportion. I feel like I sympathize more with the former, but there's a lot of context here that we need to wade through before we start carrying effigies of Orton through the street with our local chapter of NOW. That isn't to say that what Orton said wasn't heinous, because it was. However, I'm not so sure he's the only one upon whom we should be heaping scorn.

First thing's first, there is an overt double standard in society about the acceptable number of sexual partners that each gender can have. That number for men seems to be infinite, while the number for women approaches zero. It's awful, heinous and it supports the culture of victim blaming in sexual assault cases where "she was asking for it" is an acceptable defense of a predator. This double standard seems to be more prevalent in the sports community, even moreso in the combat sports/sports entertainment community. I mean, look at how poorly women seem to be treated in WWE. That treatment has gotten better over the years, but in a promotion where babyface Jerry Lawler fat-shames heel Vickie Guerrero when Vickie Guerrero is not fat, there's still a lot of work to be done. And of course, who could forget the whole Joe Rogan/Maggie Hendricks hullabaloo where people were falling all over themselves to make excuses or defend Rogan's use of the word "cunt" as a modifier for Hendricks' justified calling out of a borderline sociopath who just happened to work for the same company as Rogan.

That being said, there is some merit to the argument that Orton may have been goaded, or that he realized his mistake and backtracked or that maybe he was just joking. For one, the actual wording reads like a joke. If you listen to the actual audio, the host, John Holmberg, keeps hounding and hounding Orton for salacious answers. This is his MO according to Arizonan and TWB superfan Joe O'Toole. Orton also tries to backtrack, and his tone is never really all that sure. There's an argument for mitigation here.

That being said, any mitigating factor, to me, is trivial at best and irrelevant at worst. It certainly does not absolve Orton of criticism. Whether he was sorry or not or whether he was goaded or whatever is irrelevant to me. It still speaks to a much larger problem in this double standard, or slut-shaming as I'll be calling it from here on out. It wouldn't be as big of a problem if it didn't affect people professionally, which I really feel it does. A woman has to feel shame for whom she chooses to share a bed, regardless of whether it's for a sinister motive or not. Regardless of any ulterior intentions, whom people fuck is their own damn business, and if they choose to share that business with you, you're a piece of shit if you share it against their will to an audience of strangers. So, for that to affect a woman professionally, especially if those relationships were non-career advancing, is beyond reprehensible. No one has the right to know these things, and now they're making an impact on the work environment?

Furthermore, those mitigating factors? They're out the window when looking at Orton's history. He has a history of anger issues and disrespecting other co-workers, ESPECIALLY women. I mean, do we remember his alleged bag-defecation? Yeah. When you're a repeat offender, you're looked upon with much more scrutiny than if you're a first-timer with a clean track record.

Then again, the truth is Orton is a product of his environment to some degree. This doesn't excuse him, but it means he isn't the only one whom we should be blasting. Again, going back to the fat- and slut-shaming in angles (hell, Impact's entire Knockouts division is built upon accusations of sleeping to the top) in both major companies and the general "boys club" atmosphere of wrestling, it can be hard to make changes. That doesn't mean the business is long overdue for a women's equality movement. Change has to start with the workers, especially as women wrestlers are starting to become more than just tits, asses, pretty faces and personality-devoid automatons built for nothing but boner fuel for the target audience.

And again, if Orton realized he said a dumb-shit thing and started backtracking, that's a start. However, he needs to train himself to not make those kinds of comments in the future. I don't know if you've noticed, but with the Vickie fat-shaming, John Cena making homophobic statements IN CHARACTER and then backtracking by saying the problem was us, not him, Michael Cole calling Josh Mathews a "faggot" on Twitter and a couple of questionable segments involving R-Truth, the WWE isn't exactly setting an example for being the friendliest or most accepting company for which to work. The WWE shouldn't be so accepting of these kinds of incidents, and they need to start cracking down. Whether you agree with it or not, sponsors don't generally like associating with companies that are seen as controversial in a bad way, or harboring unsavory characters.

However, I'd rather see change be made by the wrestlers themselves. I know that's a tall order, but instead of having to backtrack on the air or make excuses, maybe in the future, Randy Orton should not make those kinds of comments towards fellow co-workers, and most importantly, maybe he ought not to think those things either. Then again, I can't police a guy's thoughts.

Therefore, I'll just take him shutting his mouth and not insinuating that a female co-worker of his sleeps with everyone she can spread her legs for, okay?

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

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