Darren Young and the WWE’s Double Standard
Recently WWE Superstar Darren Young (@DarrenYoungWWE) made a statement via social media criticizing the company’s latest tour of Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As WrestleZone reports Young posted, then deleted, this critical tweet and followed it up with two others. The exact words of the original tweet are below:
Why do we bring the best entertainment into a country like abu dhabi and they look down upon women and gays? I get it! #MillionsofDollars
— nodaysoff D-Young (@DarrenYoungWWE) February 10, 2015
After that tweet was deleted, he followed it up with two others.
My freedom of speech is gone. Gone but not forgotten.
— nodaysoff D-Young (@DarrenYoungWWE) February 11, 2015
I feel like this. A picture is worth a thousands words. Block the hate. Spread the word. pic.twitter.com/sowaVUIpCB
— nodaysoff D-Young (@DarrenYoungWWE) February 11, 2015
Mr. Young has a point. The UAE is not a very welcoming place to outside ideology in general, but in particular towards women and homosexuals. With Islam as its declared state religion and sharia law governing many of its people, a twisted web of archaic ideals cast a dark shadow over the individuality and evolution of its people. Women can be thrown in jail for reporting their own rapes, or sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery. Even if these unfairly harsh sentences are not upheld they’re legal to hand down, which must be seen as part of a systemic problem. Women are not allowed to drive cars, or sit next to men in public. A woman needs permission from a male in her family to get a job, or to get married. Homosexuality is punishable by, again, legal stoning or jail time. One gets the sense that the UAE has a long way to go before joining the rest of the modern world in their quickly moving acceptance of homosexuality, and liberation of women. The country may be affluent, and it may still be a popular vacation destination, but the old-world ideals that govern the UAE are seriously hurting its worldwide appeal when you know your money is being used to fund a government bent on making its citizens live their lives on its terms.
The WWE takes a clear “Be A STAR” stance against bullies, and this is the double standard Darren Young is speaking out about. A company with a strong “Be yourself” message of empowerment to children is going to a country where little boys and girls are told that feelings of romantic love and compassion for the same gender are impure, wrong, and will get you jailed or worse. They’re accepting cash from a country in the bottom 10 on the Gender Inequality Index. Read this page on what it’s like to be a woman in the UEA, and tell me if that fits the WWE’s “Be A Star” charter, which goes in-part like this:
The mission of Be a STAR is to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness. Be a STAR promotes positive methods of social interaction and encourages people to treat others as equals and with respect because everyone is a star in their own right.
While the WWE is a business, and able to take their business wherever they like, they’re trying to send a message to the kids and adults watching that they do not tolerate it when people are held back by bullying from others. BUT, if that bullying is the result of a religious law well then…they’re going to ignore that because they can’t change it. So instead of spreading their message of empowerment for women and homosexuals, that they claim to support, they left their gay at home:
“WWE does not discriminate against individuals regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation, and we continue to proudly support Fred Rosser (aka WWE Superstar Darren Young) for being open about his sexuality.
“Unfortunately, WWE cannot change cultures and laws around the world, and thus we did not send Fred Rosser to the United Arab Emirates for our upcoming events for his own protection.
“WWE also fully supports Fred Rosser’s right to express his views on personal social media accounts rather than WWE’s corporate platforms.”
Reading between the lines, it says this: We, the WWE, believe in Darren’s statement, but not enough to actually do anything worthwhile about it. We can say that we support it, but we’re not going to bring him with us to countries that don’t. They believe they can change the future for children, however bringing Darren Young to Abu Dhabi would have been counter-productive for that somehow. They want Abu Dhabi’s money, they don’t care about their ideals. Superstars like Darren Young who take a chance at being themselves in a world that’s critical of every detail are amazing role models for the teens and adults struggling with their own identities, and if the WWE wants to make a real statement about their ideals they need to get him on the screen more, not just issue ass-covering statements that undercut their own credibility. Hopefully this will have a positive effect on Darren’s career as a WWE Superstar, as his supporters are strong, and his message is one worth heeding.
I don’t think this is a slippery slope argument. I don’t think we’ll see WWE shows in Russia, Liberia, or Somalia, but the UAE is a unique place in that they have enough money to gloss over their glaring issues with the way they treat women and gays…and if that works for Vincent K, then there’s nothing more need be said. Please, WWE, Be a STAR here and take a stance against dehumanizing behavior no matter how much they’re paying you.
We’re with you Mr. No-Days-Off, every step of the way.