How A Female Wrestling Company Is Paving The Way For Equality

Fighting For Fairness: How A Female Wrestling Company Is Paving The Way For Equality

Emily and Dann Read are parents to three children: a daughter, a son (who believes “girls are SO much stronger than boys”), and their company, EVE Wrestling.

Born in 2006, EVE wrestling was an answer to the male-dominated wrestling industry that both Emily and Dann worked in. Dann was actively trying to book more female fights into shows, but was often met with pushback. Emily was, at the time, training to be a wrestler and saw how little opportunity there was – and so they decided to create EVE.

The all-female wrestling company is now paving the way to equality in the industry and providing a never-seen-before platform for women wrestlers. RightsInfo sat down with Emily and Dann to find out more.

A History Of Inequality And Sexualisation 

Image Credit: Provided by EVE Wrestling

When many of us think of wrestling, we probably cast our minds back to 1990’s WWE which bosted characters like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker (played by Mark William Calaway), but it’s difficult to think of a female wrestler who was as big at that time. In the UK, where wrestling was an even smaller sub-culture, it was near impossible for women to get booked onto shows.

“The platform that men have been given for decades to improve and grow as performers was just not afforded to the women,” explains Emily. 

The platform that men have been given for decades to improve and grow as performers was just not afforded to the women.

Emily Read, EVE Wrestling Founder

As well as not having the same opportunities as male wrestlers, female wrestlers also had to contend with being sexualised by colleagues and the audience.

“There was this whole idea that wrestling was a big boys clubhouse and anytime a girl came in it was like a race to see who could get with her,” Dann said.

The problem wasn’t left in the past either, with well-known EVE wrestler Yasmin Lander (who wrestles under the moniker Charlie Morgan) saying that she was told by her former employers to act more feminine for the punter’s enjoyment.

EVE rejects the idea of asking their wrestlers to play up their sexuality, rather focussing on their talent, characters, and storylines.

“We have done a lot of work and it’s now a lot better with people not sexualising women wrestlers and women’s wrestling as a whole,” Emily said. 

Making Wrestling Accessible To All 

Two women wrestle

Image Credit: Provided by EVE Wrestling/Dale Brodie

Wrestling hasn’t only been dominated by men in the ring, but also in the fan bases, but EVE believes their shows, which take place usually twice a month, draw a different kind of crowd thanks to television shows like Glow, a Netflix special based on the 1980’s Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

“We’re the wrestling show the wrestling business doesn’t want but the people, the audiences do,” explained Dann. “We’re not kept in business by wrestling fans.”

Despite drawing a new crowd, EVE is always striving to engage with traditional wrestling fans and open their eyes to a new side of the sport. One way they do this is by offering up diverse characters and storylines which reflect issues in society.

One example is EVE wrestler Yasmin Lander, who was the first-ever wrestler to come out in the ring after deciding it was important for her character, Charlie Morgan, to reflect her own reality.

We’re the wrestling show the wrestling business doesn’t want but the people, the audiences do.

Dann Read, EVE Wrestling Founder

“Wrestling is a show and shows should reflect society,” explained Emily. “In society, not everyone is straight, so a show should never try to present itself in that light.” 

“A lot of the performers are extended versions of themselves, or maybe a darker version of themselves or a version of themselves they wish they can be and in this realm and universe they can,” added Dan. 

Lander received some backlash over the decision to come out in this way, but the company fosters a strict no-hate policy and had her back throughout.

“We want our audience to feel safe, so we have rules. If you don’t allow racism, homophobia, hate speech, slut-shaming, body shaming, if you don’t allow those then people are more relaxed, and if you struggle to follow those rules then you shouldn’t be there,” Emily said. 

A Long Way To Go

Two women wrestle

Image Credit: Provided by EVE Wrestling/Dale Brodie

Although EVE has made tidal waves when it comes to creating better working conditions for female wrestlers, both Emily and Dann still feel there is a long way to go. Part of the problem is the willingness to settle, explained Dann.

“There’s been a very good PR job on making it seem like it’s sorted. It’s absolutely better than it was, but you have to be very careful because better than it was doesn’t mean good enough,” he said, adding that as a “stats nerd” he frequently tallies up the ratio of men to women fights and women shows often take up less than 10 percent of fights at events. 

EVE feels the frustration across the board when it comes to women’s equality in sports, with Dann feeling like the attitude towards female accomplishment is nothing more than condescending, even when the achievements are huge – as seen with the women’s world cup.

There’s still very much a treatment of ‘aren’t women doing well’ and not taking it seriously. If you don’t believe it’s sexism then you must believe it’s condescending.

Dann Read, EVE Wrestling Founder

“This year the women’s world cup did phenomenal television views over here, absolutely astronomical. There is an audience out there of people who want this and yet where’s the coverage? 

“There’s still very much a treatment of ‘aren’t women doing well’ and not taking it seriously. If you don’t believe it’s sexism then you must believe it’s condescending.”

Both Emily and Dann have resigned that they can’t just simply change the minds of those in control of booking shows, but they hope that as they continue their two-year streak of sell out all-women shows, bookers will cotton onto the fact that there is a demand and begin to offer more opportunities for women.

“People aren’t changing quick enough. The people hiring the performers can change overnight. They can say ‘I’m going to hire more women performers’, and hire more women performers,” Emily said. “They are the ones making those decisions and it doesn’t take time, it takes effort.”

Featured Image Credit: Provided by EVE Wrestling/Dale Brodie

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Meka Beresford

Freelance News Editor
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Fighting For Fairness: How A Female Wrestling Company Is Paving The Way For Equality
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