The Bodies of Women Pro-Wrestlers and Gender
--Beyond Normative "Femininity"
Written by Keiko Aiba
(Akashi Shoten, 03/04/2013)
Buy this book (jump to a Japanese page)
I spent my TV childhood in between the Beauty Pair and the Crush Gals, I didn't watch women's pro-wrestling until after I became age 30.
*translator's comment: The Beauty Pair and the Crush Gals were the famous women's tag team in Japan. The former were active during the '70s, and the latter were the '80s.
When I watched women professional wrestlers in the ring shouting around "Bitch" or "You nuts!", making attacks, and receiving the opponent's favorite moves "on purpose", I found a different image from the poster of women's pro-wrestling on local tour that I had seen in my childhood (I never had a chance to see such shows and I rather treated them with no respect), I felt like being dropkicked in the head.
I found women's romanticism, toughness, bonds, and heroism especially in the aged women pro-wrestlers who have now become veteran fighters.
It can be said that this book is the first book that tried to interpret the gender issue through women's pro-wrestling. Proposing the new concept "body feminism", the author analyzes that how the experiences and embodiments of women pro-wrestlers could oppose to the conventional gender limit, which forces women to take the fragile and passive roles in Japanese society, and how the bodies of women wrestlers are challenged by Japanese society.
The recording of matches and interviews with twenty-five women wrestlers that the author engaged in is valuable. By reading this book, a lot of readers will know where to find the fascinating aspects of women's wrestling. I myself, after reading this book, could not help watching a Youtube video of an audition of All-Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling.
Unlike previous books on women's wrestling, this book has a large implication for feminism as it tries to deduce the new possibilities of women's bodies which women wrestlers are showing to Japanese society.
In any case, I do recommend all the fans of women's wrestling to read this!
Personally, I love the part in this book where a women wrestler says "My sportswear for training is my formalwear" in an interview (on page189). Because when I try to wear suits size7 (no, actually size8...), I always think why the hell these sleeves and waist are so tight? (At any size, all the ready-to-wear clothes don' t fit to my body).
Sportswear is formalwear. Very good!
Original article written by moomin (07/05/2013)
Translated by T. Muramatsu