On the Dragging of the Baddest Bitch in the Building

I’m taking a break from Twitter for a few weeks. I’ll tweet this out on the blog’s account and stuff, but I took the Twitter app off my phone and I’m going to avoid @carnycorporate as much as I can for as long as I can stand it. This unprecedented break for your Twitter junkie here was inspired by the dragging of my beloved Ivelisse over her comments about depression. I’d include her tweets, but she appears to have deleted them. Here’s what I remember: she mentioned being depressed at a point in her life, and someone asked her about how she dealt with her mental illness. She said depression isn’t a mental illness, but a state we all go through at different times in life, and that a positive attitude helped her through it.

People come from a vast diversity of family, cultural, education, and socio-economic backgrounds, and thus don’t always understand everything in the same way at the same time in life. Dog-piling the Baddest Bitch in the Building for what looked to me like an unintentional (or perhaps naive, but not malicious) gaffe seems unproductive and mean. Her whole point was that she’d been through dark times and had emerged a healthy person thanks to perseverance and positive thinking. This is a good message to share with people.

Yes, I know, she said something factually inaccurate about depression. But did anyone stop to consider whether there was a cultural or language disconnect mixed up in Ivelisse’s misunderstanding of depression? What if a career luchadora from Puerto Rico, who has spent a good chunk of her life in the Spanish language, has been so intensely focused on wrestling for so long (she began training at age fourteen!) she just never got the memo on the concept of clinical depression? I for one am still discovering things everyone knows that I didn’t know, and I also see a lot of nice people on Twitter speaking ignorance about topics on which I am savvy. Ivelisse dug in her heels on the subject, but I know I too get flustered and defensive when people come at me like a swarm of angry hornets, which is how I saw people coming at Ivelisse. There may have been some tweeters trying to educate her respectfully, but I saw enough hostility to quit bothering to look for them. What I saw come at Ivelisse was knee-jerk, divisive Twitter toxicity, which is never going to solve problems or encourage growth. It’s just going to alienate people.

There are ways in which she wasn’t wrong, you know. The different usages of the word depression are murky, not at all well delineated. We all feel depressed sometimes and it can be described as depression, but this is not the mental illness known as clinical depression or its related variants that also have the word “depression” in their name (chronic, manic, major, and such). The same word is used for both a transient state of mind and a mental illness that is beyond the patient’s control. Ivelisse is an asskicker, not a writer or pundit or thinker, and somehow her point about the power of a positive attitude (about which she is correct, by the way) got screwed up in a semantic minefield for which she was not prepared. Somebody asked her about her personal experience, and this is just how she explained it. To drag an indy wrestler because she’s a person in the public eye who should know better about any given topic is its own form of cruelty. She works harder than I can fathom working on anything in order to destroy her body for our entertainment, and she’s an outsider to The Company where wrestlers can make enough money to live comfortably after their bodies gives out. In my book such dedication from such an inspiring woman earns her the right to screw up once in a while, as well as the right not to engage with people being jerks on Twitter, even if the jerks are the ones who understand the nuances in the definitions of depression correctly.

I saw some claims that she is politically problematic in other ways, the specifics of which I don’t know and don’t care about at this moment. I have mad admiration for the baddest bitch in the building for what she is, and I’m choosing not to put her on the wrestling blacklist for the areas in which I disagree with her, or understand things she doesn’t. She’s a lot younger than me, but she’s been a powerful role model for me in terms of feminine aesthetic, attitude, determination, energy, and the overcoming of pain and injury. I’m not blowing smoke, here—Ivelisse is one of my wrestlers. I shouldn’t have to question her value to me because of her depression tweets (which I doubt legitimately hurt anyone or discouraged them from seeking necessary mental health treatment).

We all have to pick our battles with the wrestling blacklist, of course—I myself have backed away from all of WWE for mostly political reasons—but I can’t write wrestling theory if the project becomes a labyrinth of needing to continually shun and scorn my faves because they have a few ideas that don’t grok with mine. All the wrestlers I love must surely disagree with me on some triggering point. As do all of my beloved readers and Twitter followers, I promise you.

I’m harping on this because I’ve been trying to write about a match between Ivelisse and Sexy Star from Lucha Underground that tells a vastly superior women’s wrestling story than anything I remember ever seeing in WWE. I’ve been planning a new series of posts about the quality literary narratives I’m seeing in independent women’s wrestling, and suddenly Ivelisse, whose work specifically inspired the series, has this ding on her Twitter record. Well let it be known, The Spectacle of Excess still has room for those with a few internet blemishes. (My own Twitter presence is checkered as fuck, and I’m here to profess that you haven’t truly experienced Twitter if yours is not.) As one whose areas of interest take me all over the spectrum of high and low art, I cannot expect everyone I admire to meet any kind of perfect intellectual standard. (But don’t fret—I have a proven track record of burning bridges good and proper when the right time comes.)

So, consider this rant a foreword to a look at Ivelisse vs. Sexy Star, which will inaugurate a series of posts about non-WWE women’s matches that don’t rely on men to drive their narratives, and that explore the untapped possibilities of feminine archetypes and the complexity of the female psyche.


Photo Credit: Ivelisse-Velez.com

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