I’m not a fan of Lacey Evans. I wanted to be, if for no reason other than I appreciate her pin-up couture look. But her character hasn’t connected to me, probably because I was hoping to see more of an alt-pin-up attitude from her, that glamour and strength aren’t mutually exclusive.
That isn’t, however, what we’ve seen. Instead, Lacey has leaned into misogynist stereotypes about women and being a proper housewife. Which of course, she’s a heel, if she’s trying to get a rise out of modern women it seems like a great way to handle it. Of course we’re going to hate that and want to see her get veiled hat shoved where the sun don’t shine. I want to believe that was the intent behind her tweeting out about the proper way to be a housewife, including the statement “6pm. Be a good wife and make him a plate.”
Some of the issue is how utterly tone deaf it is for women at large, given how rooted in white feminism the comments are. Consider also that her two major feuds have been against Kairi Sane and Dakota Kai, both women of color, and how that adds a new read on her statements that they’re not “ladylike.” I know there isn’t a racist intent to what’s being said, but there is a history of women of color being unfairly seen in our society as less refined and less innocent. I’m sure everything was cleared with Kairi and Dakota before it was said but again, from the outside looking in it reads pretty gross. And before you attempt to wisely counter me with your exception that should totally shut me up, I’m aware that she’s been teaming with a WoC, Aaliyah. I am not saying she is playing a racist or is a racist, I am saying her statements she made about previous opponents sound as if they have a racist component.
That’s not even the worst of it, though. The biggest problem is the sheer number of men in Lacey’s Twitter replies genuinely cheering on the ideas that Lacey’s espousing. Sincere declarations of women needing to learn their place, that any women arguing against Evans ‘just can’t cook’ or ‘can’t find a husband’ and of course icons showing that adopted alt-right sigil Pepe the Frog. The issue isn’t that Lacey is playing a heel, it’s that too many people still agree with the thing her heel character stands for and don’t get why they should be considered bad.
It’s nothing new for heels to be cheered. I myself have pointed out when heels have a good point or are technically in the right in a feud. So before anyone tries to helpfully correct me over “but she’s acting like a heel,” let me stop you. I get that. And wrestling needs heels.
But at the same time, there’s always going to be people cheering for the heels. So a heel espousing really awful values in this day and age is a dangerous line to walk. Not because fans don’t know wrestling is scripted, the actual problem is they know it’s not, they know these are characters being portrayed for us, and it’s too easy to read a sly wink of approval into their heel actions.
For example: in March the Briscoes tried to score heel heat by grabbing a pride flag from a fan in the crowd. And yeah, in a vacuum this is totally a heel move, great job. But in reality, there is a high likelihood there were fans who saw that and instead of reading it as “heels are doing this so it’s bad and we frown on it” they’re seeing “highly successful talents who just happen to play bad guys are doing this.” They’re getting a wink and nod of approval from the action. It’s the same as not saying anything if a friend in your group tells a rape joke: statistically in that group there is a rapist or someone who at least approves of rape, and they see the telling of the joke, the laughter that follows and your lack of negative reaction to the scenario as a show of solidarity and support.
Beyond that, it’s not like Lacey Evans is booked as a losing heel. She’s dominated many of her recent matches and had merch released before most of her NXT women contemporaries. If the bad guy is winning then they must be doing something right. And if that winning bad guy’s message is “women belong in the kitchen, women should live for their men, and if you don’t you’re not ladylike and should be punished for it?” It doesn’t look like a negative message, now does it? At least not to the sort of people who are going to cheer in Lacey’s responses, who are going to scream at Dakota Kai when she replies. Yeah, maybe that message will trickle down to young women, but even worse it will hit adult men square in the face. The problem with presenting any positivity in a misogynist character is that misogynists will see it as a positive.
And it will influence them. It will affect how they treat other women and they won’t get that the whole message is meant to be that Lacey is a hypocrite and her actions aren’t to be repeated, not without clear and notable comeuppance for her character. These same guys are the ones who will make shows as uncomfortable as possible for women in the audience while proclaiming themselves supporter of women’s wrestling. It’s very empowering…for gross dudes who already think they’re justified in being rude to women fans or taking creeper shots of them at shows or are owed their attention and awe.
I genuinely hope this just isn’t something Lacey has thought of in regards to her heel character. And in case someone rats me out to her and she reads the article I want her to know that I am not trying to attack her over any of this, I feel like this is something that was done out of ignorance more than an intent to cause harm. And if it helps, I was the one who told the guy in Johnstown this spring shouting rudely during your match to shut up, because a lady shouldn’t have to tolerate someone who’s affections she’s clearly not reciprocating. Also, he was ruining my enjoyment of the match, so.
Obviously I don’t think she believes the things she says, it’s probably hard to have dinner on the table for your man every night when you’ve got NXT shows to be wrestling at in order to make your own money. And I certainly can’t blame her for her booking since I’m totally aware that’s out of her control.
But she is in charge of how she presents herself on Twitter and if too many of the wrong people are supporting her comments in earnest, I want to know how she’s going to pull the rug out from under them, how she’s going to get across to them that these aren’t things they should be cheering. Because the least ladylike thing I can think of is selling out other women by giving more power to the sort of misogynist who still think a woman’s place is in the kitchen, not in wrestling.