The Stigma Against Women’s Wrestling


Image via Ella Taplin

Ella Taplin, Editor

As a female wrestler, I am proud yet timid when I tell people what sports I do. The initial reaction I get from those I tell is usually shock. Although women’s wrestling has been growing over the years, it is still a surprise to a large number of people that we would even participate in a contact sport like wrestling. 

I personally think the initial shock stems from the popular opinion that women are weaker than men, and are meant for less heavy contact sports. I understand where people are coming from if that is their opinion, but I don’t think our audience truly understands how much more work women have to put in to be successful in wrestling. A huge part of wrestling is trying to make your weight class, which often means cutting weight to be where your goal weight class is. Genetically women have a harder time losing weight than men, meaning that our weight is on our minds way more than the guys we are surrounded by. 

I know from personal experience that the thought of making weight can be a little disheartening. Being surrounded by numbers and believing you have to look and act a certain way can be heavily draining. Luckily wrestling helps build your mental toughness, but it really can only do so much. That truly goes both ways, meaning guys can definitely struggle with weight and mentality as well, but people like to act like women are so much more fragile. The common belief is that women are too sensitive mentally and physically, but in reality you see more women putting in 100% while certain men athletes put in little effort, yet they get more recognition. 

It truly is not the men athlete’s fault. Society has made people believe that women are not capable of doing such “manly” things. Meanwhile, many women wrestlers that I personally know can lift double what their guy teammates can. The unfortunate problem with that accomplishment is that people don’t want to admit when a woman can achieve something greater than a man in that sense.  Although our generation is becoming much more open-minded, there are still some windows that need to be opened. 

          It makes it hard to be a female wrestler when you feel so much doubt around you. For the longest time, it was truly hard to believe in me, because I had so many people telling me what I couldn’t do. Obviously, not everyone was that way, I had a great support system, but the people that doubt you sadly have a bigger effect than those who believe in you. On the other hand, those that doubt female wrestlers can also push us to become better. I like proving people wrong, and I know many other athletes or just normal people do as well. It creates a different drive to become better at whatever you are doing. 

          More than anything, I wish people just understood and realized what female wrestlers are capable of and how freaking incredible we are. Female wrestlers truly are a different breed. We are the ones setting an example for the young girls who are afraid and scared. Female wrestlers inspire other women and empower others. There are so many great things that have come from the growth of female wrestling, and it will be even better once we have everybody standing with us.