About the project.
Professional wrestling has long been of interest to scholars from many different disciplines (French philosopher Roland Barthes was writing about wrestling in the 1950s!). However, the role of women within wrestling still remains an underrepresented topic within academic research - this project will change that.
Such an absence is particularly remarkable when taking into account two factors: the sustained worldwide interest in wrestling as popular cultural entertainment, and the current climate of popular feminism - which is changing the way in which women in wrestling are being presented and talked about.
Through interviews with promoters, wrestlers, and fans, the Fight Like a Girl project will examine the current landscape of women's wrestling, charting the increasingly equal and dynamic roles afforded to marginalised voices within a traditionally hypermasculine world.
If you've ever seen women's wrestling, I want to hear from you! I'd like to understand how people engage with women's wrestling, and what it means to them.
While I am a fan of women's wrestling, I cannot claim to speak on behalf of all wrestling fans (particularly given my cultural and social privileges as a white heterosexual cis man).
In order to include as many voices as possible, I've launched a survey to give fans an opportunity to talk about the issues they feel are important.
Who am I?
My name is Dr Tom Phillips and I am a researcher based at the University of East Anglia, UK.
My work has mostly focused on fan engagement with media texts, particularly how such interaction occurs within online communities.
I've been a wrestling fan since the early 1990s, and have long been interested in wrestling from an academic perspective. As well as being affiliated with the Wrestling Resurgence project, I've published work on fan responses to the Chris Benoit murder-suicide, examined media representations of mature woman fans of British wrestling, and delivered lectures on concepts of celebrity, feminism, reality, and semiology within the world of wrestling. You can find a complete list of all my academic publications here.
I am certainly not the Tom Phillips who features on WWE programming; any similarity between us is completely coincidental.