Bayley Being Bayley: Bucking the Internalized Misogyny of "I'm Not Like Most Girls"

Wrestling Features Bayley
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Bayley Being Bayley: Bucking the Internalized Misogyny of "I'm Not Like Most Girls"

In years past, the Women’s Division of the WWE has had a slight problem that has never really gone away completely. For as long as there is someone who is a bit different from WWE’s typical mold of a woman superstar, there has been the Special Snowflake Syndrome that has run rampant in the writing for them.

If you don’t know what I mean, think about how often you’ve heard the phrase that runs through Nia Jax’s theme song: “I’m not like most girls.” Often times, this is a phrase said by a woman trying to differentiate herself from her peer group in some way. For the most part, it is teenage girls who are trying to be different and not associate with what the “popular” girls like. It’s a phase plenty grow out of, especially when the realization that that way of thinking is actually loaded with internalized misogyny. It’s not about being proud of one’s self, but rather the internalized hatred of expressed femininity different from one’s own.

Still, WWE hasn’t quite gotten the memo. From Lita back during the Attitude Era to the “Freaks and Geeks” tag team of Paige and AJ Lee against The Bella Twins, it seems like all WWE can do in those regards is fall back on the Special Snowflake line of thought. Even now, the phrase “I’m not like most girls” has become super loaded in association with Jax. Yes, her stature sets her apart from the crowd, but declaring “I’m not like most girls” and saying that Sasha Banks is nothing but a little girl isn’t the bold stance you’re looking for.

Naturally, the fear set in among some observers that WWE was going to go this route with Bayley at some point. Bayley doesn’t drift as boldly alternative as Lee and Paige, but she’s still presented as different and more youthful than stars like Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks in regards to her personality and appearance. This past Monday on Raw, I even braced for the Special Snowflake speech from Bayley when Stephanie McMahon declared that there was nothing special about her. That Bayley was just… Bayley.

Surprise: That’s not what happened at all.

Instead, Bayley turned the words around on McMahon, saying, “I may not be what you think a champion should look like. I’m just… Bayley, and that’s good enough for me.” It’s such a simple thing, but it was a revelation to me, especially with some faces behaving badly lately. What made Bayley so appealing during her time in NXT was that she never had to sacrifice who she was or drag others down to succeed, and for a brief moment, it was nice to see the main roster hasn’t tried to take that out of her.

Despite what WWE has acted like, the Women’s Revolution hasn’t been won yet. The writing sometimes reveals how misogyny still runs roughshod over the company.There can be minor victories along the way, though, such as Bayley being happy to be herself and not having to declare how different she is from the rest of the division to do it.

Ashley Leckwold is a freelance writer based out of Atlanta who specializes in comic books, professional wrestling, and pop-punk music. Besides being regularly found at Graphic Policy and The Outhousers, you can find her at her blog and on Twitter @misskittyf.