A top women’s wrestler nodded to the #MeToo movement during her return to the World Wrestling Entertainment on Sunday night.
Amy Dumas, known professionally as Lita, sported the hashtag “#TIMESUP” on her ring gear when she entered the women’s Royal Rumble in Philadelphia. The match was the first of its kind for its female talent.
Dumas, a four-time women’s champion and WWE Hall of Famer, appeared to have the names “Luna” and “Chyna” written on her arms, references to two women in the wrestling world who both died of drug overdoses.
Dumas’s appearance and symbolic statement comes in the wake of reports alleging sexual harassment at the hand of current male wrestlers and even the sports-entertainment company’s own CEO.
Wrestler Eric Ardnt, known in the ring as Enzo Amore, was released from the WWE in January following reports from ProWrestling Sheet and Deadspin that a woman alleged that he assaulted her in October. Philomena Sheahan claims that Ardnt assaulted her while she was “passed out” and under the influence of drugs and alcohol at a hotel in Phoenix. Authorities have not released the full police report, according to Deadspin.
The Daily Beast over the weekend reported that Vince McMahon, the head of the WWE, was accused of sexually harassing a Florida tanning salon employee in 2006. According to a police report, McMahon showed a woman nude photos and later repeatedly groped the employee. The case was dropped “because of a lack of witnesses and physical evidence,” according to a Palm Beach County State Attorney official. McMahon denied the allegations.
Female athletes in the WWE, called “Divas,” have also reported claims of sexual harassment while working for the billion-dollar company. Ashley Massaro, claimed that she was sexually assaulted during a trip overseas to visit troops. According to reports in Boston Globe and ProWrestlingSheet, Massaro said she was assaulted in a complaint that was a part of a lawsuit with dozens of other past wrestlers alleging brain injuries as a result of time in the WWE.
According to the Globe, Massaro said she was assaulted in 2006 at a military base and reported it to a company physician who told WWE officials. Those officials allegedly urged the athlete to not report the assault to authorities. The complaint does not explicitly detail the assault.
Reports of sexual harassment in the WWE date back further. Rena “Sable” Lesnar sued the WWE for $100 million in 1999, alleging that “she suffered repeated humiliation and worse, once being groped and grabbed on a plane by a longtime W.W.F. employee,” according to The New York Times. The lawsuit was settled.
As of late, the WWE has been working to highlight the work of their female talent. Women wrestled in four main events in 2017 on Monday Night Raw, and many top Divas appear on E!’s “Total Divas” reality series. Still, the highest-paid women wrestlers make almost 36 times less than the highest-paid male wrestlers, according to a report by Scarlet Harris in The Daily Beast.
A reckoning for gender parity and the time for women wrestlers to speak up about harassment may be near in the wrestling world.