Since watching Jordynne Grace’s performance in the All In Pay-Per-View last year, I quickly found myself a fan and started watching this awesome wrestler and her rise to become one of the bigger names in the industry. As perhaps one of the most powerful Knockouts to enter IMPACT Wrestling, she was also the youngest signed. Before signing a contract there, she’s worked a number of different indie promotions including Queens of Combat, Women Superstars Uncensored, and Women’s Wrestling Revolution. Currently, she’s just become the First Ever World Series Wrestling Women’s Champion, and she’s gearing up for a number one contender’s match with Tessa Thompson for the Knockout’s Championship for IMPACT.
Born Patricia Parker, and wrestling under the name of Jordynne Grace, she’s been wrestling since she was a teen and debuted on the indie scene eight years ago. It’s safe to say that Grace has an idea of the ups and downs of her profession and the business. You know, setbacks like injuries, booking decisions in any promotions…yet, of course, Grace, aka “Thick Mama Pump,” the now 23 year old wrestler, was not spared what happens to women everywhere and to a more definitive degree thanks to social media now: unwanted messages from everything creepy to disgusting and in between.
Choosing to include the DMs, direct messages, that she’s received over the last eight years, she put together DM’s of a Female Indy Wrestler: Volume 1 which included “28 pages of funny, gross, and absurd DM’s that Jordynne Grace has received over the course of her career via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.” Book one of zine was popular enough to make way for another volume. In her forward in the first volume, Grace mentioned that as “a means of therapy, she would often post some of the zanier ones on social media.” While noting that she was quite sure this was something other women experienced in this digital age as more people empathized with this issue with women, especially women who wrestle.
“I’d like to Play with you”
“You Have Pretty Feet”
“Somehow Your Meaty Body Attracts Me”
“Answer, My ? Bitch”
I think about how W-I-L-D it is that for women, femmes, and female identifying and presenting persons to almost be normalized to this type of harassment via our favorite social media platforms. A DM isn’t always something to look forward to thanks to those who think it’s fine to drop in such messages–you know those with no home training and no social graces. Grace’s effort here is transformative in a way and turns the tables on those who thought that it was fine to send such a DM. In the forward of DM’s of a Female Indy Wrestler: Volume 2, she wrote that “the unfortunate truth is that she has enough DMs from years past to publish ten of these books without having to ever receive another.”
The content of what makes up these zines is a great example of what also happens when you’re seen as a public figure–when you are an athlete which includes wrestling. (Of course, if you’re one of those ‘Wah, wah, wah, you know wrestling is fake,’ I’ll probably hurt your feelings so watch yourself.)
Think of the social commentary of how entitled people, but especially men, feel in regards the bodies of women. Think of how with more and more technological advances and platforms that give us access to the folks we admire and follow…I just stay baffled with how much access men feel that they have to women, their bodies…and I suppose how hard they fight to keep certain institutions from changing. We know that this type of behavior isn’t new: it’s steadily impacting women from everywhere–in Hollywood to women who are activists and journalists.
I was wondering why this guy was so cross about my book of DMs…then I find out it’s because he’s afraid he’s actually in the book. Guess I should have responded in 2017? pic.twitter.com/J5NVG6cUkh
— Jordynne Grace (@JordynneGrace) August 14, 2018
When I sat down to put this together, I was mad worried; loving that Grace decided to make the zines–but would I be fanning the flames and encouraging more gross DMs? I mean sincerely–some obviously would see this as an opportunity to send more–Grace answered a question from Dan Greene regarding just this topic last year for Sports Illustrated:
“What’s so funny is no, I’ve gotten less of these creepy messages, and I’ve gotten more positive uplifting messages. When I put the first book out, I got literally hundreds of messages of people saying: I know the DMs you normally get are really bad and creepy, but I just wanted you to know that you’re an inspiration—stuff like that. So, I’m just really happy that people are doing that.”
This is why my DMs will stay open. pic.twitter.com/nwchYE1ie6
— Jordynne Grace (@JordynneGrace) November 30, 2018
In a time where women who wrestle now have more visibility in part thanks to social media, they still have an occupational hazard to be aware of. In an industry where perhaps one of the biggest wrestling promotions broke new ground in a country but
forgot weren’t allowed to bring along their female talent, persisting pay inequalities and the fact that unions for those who put their bodies on the line still don’t exist, the bizarre and vitriol wave after wave of accounts of gendered harassment shouldn’t come with the territory, but it does.
A quote from Grace from a piece that covered her books on Broadly regarding the question of whether anyone tried to talk her out of publishing them for fear that they might hurt her career: “A select few [fans] did express views about the book shaming men who ‘pay my bills.’ What I have to say to that is, if you’re one of the men harassing me through DM, I don’t want or need you to pay my bills.”
Grace’s approach to the years of messages that are so common to women everywhere is a twist providing some laughs and turning a critical eye to the behavior that’s not acceptable–not then and certainly not now. Whether a woman has her DMs open or closed, I can only hope that as a society we’re taking a harder look at how to protect women from digital harassment and, more importantly, I want men to take a closer look at themselves, to figure out the best versions of themselves that they want to be (one that helps protect ALL women), and hold other men accountable.
Consider Grace’s efforts, in her own words, as someone who strives to uplift other women and ultimately leave the world a better place for women. Here’s to hoping in the future female wrestlers have to deal with this less and less and their DMs are places for more booking and promoting and of course, more uplifting messages instead.
Digital and physical copies of both books, as well as a T-shirt featuring some of the DMs, can now be purchased on Grace’s website. Ten percent of profits from both books go to RAINN, a non-profit for survivors of sexual assault.
[Photo of Jordynne Grace in Cover Image Collage Courtesy of CLP_Designs]