Guide to Not Being a Creep: Avispa’s Adventures in Social Media

I love my fans. It’s a sort of platonic “your-support-makes-me-feel-amazingly-good-about-what-I-do-in-the-ring-pushes-me-to-do-my-best-and-encourages-me-to-connect-on-a-personal-level-with-those-who-support-me” sort of love. The vast majority of my fans are incredibly respectful and bring me nothing but pure joy. Even the smallest emoji of support is appreciated, and I make an effort to respond to everyone’s comments.

But there’s also the reality that getting bumped up to professional lucha libre’s biggest stage occasionally puts me in contact with folks who may be less than respectful. I don’t think most of them are doing it out of malice or the desire to make me uncomfortable. For most I’m sure it’s just an attempt to be flattering that misses the mark. Hard.

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Real-time image of me sifting through my problematic DMs

I’d like to say this is a new problem, but what you may (or may not) find surprising is that I’ve also received similar messages via dating apps. In other words, this is not a problem exclusive to public figures.

I’ll be honest: Yes. This post is aimed almost exclusively at cis-het dudes. Why? Because I’ve yet to get a creepy or overly-insistent message from a woman, a femme person, or an openly queer person. Good dudes, come get your problematic homies.

So, let’s take a peek at my Guide to Not Being A Creep via Social Media.  These all come from my personal experience as a female athlete and performer.  It’s not a definitive list, but there are a few common themes.  

Theme 1: “When did I invite you to my body?”

If you’re new to my blog or want to refresh your memory about the female body in athletic performance spaces, I’ve written on the topic no fewer than two times (here and here). TL;DR:

  • Yes I’m consenting to having my body viewed in a public forum.
  • No, that does not mean you have license to impose your fantasies or judgements on it
  • No, I’m not a potential sexual partner
  • I’m here as an athlete and performer, have some basic respect and be contextually appropriate.

What are typical messages I get that cross that line? Well, the list is long, but here are my favorites:

“Hey baby.”

There are really only two instances where it’s ok to call someone “baby”: 1) when it’s part of your consensual relationship with another adult or 2) you’re referring to a literal infant. I haven’t been a baby for at least 24 years, and I personally don’t think “baby” is a respectful way to address a grown woman you don’t know. It comes off as either infantilizing and demeaning, or inherently sexualizing. Neither is endearing.

“I want you to have my children.”

Yes, this is an actual message I got recently. So, you blow right past the “don’t view a performer as a potential sexual partner” advice and go straight for procreation? Even if you intended this as a joke, you’re negating a woman’s agency and control over her own body by making demands on her reproductive choices. Not to mention the implied and IN NO WAY CONSENSUAL sex. Lest we forget that in many countries and cultures forced reproduction and marriage is still a big problem for women? None of this is funny or cute. Stay the f**k out of my DMs.

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“😍” (See also: 😘, 💓, 🔥, etc.)

Emojis can be perfectly innocent. On the other hand, in response to, say, a someone’s selfies, they can smack of oogling and objectification. This is especially true if you don’t know the recipient well. From a close friend, 😍 is a cute complement. From a stranger it’s shorthand for “heyyyyy sexy;” a digital catcall. Stop and think: “Do I know you like that?” before sending 😍.

“You have a great body”

Ok. Yes. There are ways to do this one well, too. “You’re in great shape,” “I admire your athletic abilities,” “Wow, you’ve been working really hard in the gym,” “GAINZ!” “I just wanted to say you’re an objectively attractive human” and so on. But stop to think if your phrasing makes it sound like you want to have sex with the body in question. For example, “You’re so hot” isn’t a great choice if you just want to complement someone’s physique because there’s an inherent sexual tone to the adjective “hot.”

Hopefully I’ve made the point that unsolicited sexual passes are an absolute no-no. Consent is important in life, and social media is no exception. If you don’t know someone well enough to ask them out to coffee, you sure as hell shouldn’t be talking spicy to them on social media. There are other ways to express admiration than through a sexual lens. If that’s the only lens you have and the performer isn’t in the field of sex work, please reassess why you’re following that performer.

Theme 2: “Respect a Performer’s Boundaries”

Sent a message? Didn’t get a response? Don’t get offended, and DON’T IMMEDIATELY SEND ANOTHER.

I feel like this one should be a no-brainer, but I’ll break it down anyway. Do you know how many messages I get in a day? I’m by no means a superstar, but let’s just say there’s been a marked up-tick since I debuted with CMLL. There are booking inquiries, messages from personal friends, messages from colleagues… and many many messages from fans. I regularly set aside a part of my day to respond to fan messages because I like most of you! It behooves me to stay in touch and show my appreciation to those of you who come out and show your support.

However, at the end of the day maintaining relationships with my fans is part of my job as a professional luchadora. I have a normal-people life, therefore I put limits on how much time I’ll spend responding to fans on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. This is how I create a healthy work-life balance. It usually looks like a morning batch of responses on weekdays, and maybe another batch again in the evening.

Sometimes I’ll take a break entirely from responding. This can go on for days at a time. Nothing personal against my fanbase: Sometimes I’m too busy with the stress of real life to spend much time on social. I set this boundary for my own mental wellbeing, i.e so I can get to the gym and go to training with my head in the game. You know, so I can wrestle. Which is why I even have fans in the first place.

There are also messages I won’t respond to on principle. A message that just reads, “Hi, how are you?” is a great example. I love a nice chat as much as the next person, but it’s not high on my priority list for fan responses. You’ve messaged my facebook fan page: we don’t actually know each other. I’m not going to let you into my daily life. Sorry if this seems unfeeling: I simply don’t know you, and I’m not in the market for new digital penpals right now.

How about you try repeating the message over and over and over? That’s one of the quickest ways to make sure I don’t respond. To me that shows a sense of entitlement to my time which you simply haven’t earned. Even if it was a simple case of “Message #1 was perfectly reasonable, I just didn’t see it for a couple days to respond in a timely fashion,” following it up with more and more and more messages isn’t a good look. Consider the possibility that I was not intentionally ignoring you. But after you send me multiple insistent messages? I most certainly am I ignoring you now.

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As you can see, the message rate has only increased. Knock it off, please.

 

Theme 3: “You Love me? You Don’t Even Know Me”

There was recently a popular thread on Twitter that can be summed up as “don’t assume that just because a wrestler has been nice at shows, meet-&-greet events, etc. means they’re a good person. This is their job, and they’re obligated to be nice. This is a very quick way to become disillusioned or have your idols shattered.” (Again, paraphrasing. If you’ve seen the tweet, please @ me so I can reference it.) While not strictly under the umbrella of “creepy,” this theme falls in line with the advice of that tweet. I’d say these are more like prudent social lines to not cross on the internet.

I’m not trying to imply I’m being disingenuous on social media. I’m a fairly honest person; generally my responses are true to how I’d respond in real life. I’ll be empathetic if I can. But, that being said, consider rewording or adding context to your message if you decide to send any of the below:

“I love you”

If you mean it in the sense that you love your favorite sports team: thank you! I’m flattered! Please make sure it’s clear you mean it that way.

But if you’re looking for me to reciprocate, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Just as performers shouldn’t be viewed as potential sexual partners, we’re usually not looking for dates among fans either. If you make your “secret admirer” status known over social media, you’re putting the performer in the position to turn you down or ignore you. Bonus points: If you’re insistent about it, that starts to feel like stalking really quickly.

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This is all the same guy. He’s sent about 6-8 more, all on different IG posts. That second one was on a pic of me and my parents, so the “joke” was that my dad was his “father in law.” These all made me very uncomfortable.

Here’s another big problem with expressing the desire for romantic “love” over social media. You’re assuming the performer in question is both interested in folks of your gender persuasion and seeking a relationship. Just because someone doesn’t post about a relationship doesn’t mean they’re not in one, and do I really need to go into why assuming folks’ orientation (or even their gender) is an issue?  Understand that sometimes their job prevents a performer from posting about their sexual orientation or significant other(s). They don’t owe you ANY information about their relationship status. That’s not in the job description.

Other emotionally sensitive information about your life.

Depressed? Personal troubles? I feel for you and encourage you to seek appropriate support. For example, I was glad to receive a message about how someone had been feeling down, but my social media presence helped cheer them up. That’s awesome! I love this line of work because it makes people happy, so hearing about folks’ positive experiences with my work is always cool. But public figures are not a mental health safety net.

No matter how nice or supportive they seem on social media, please don’t assume that performers have the mental or emotional space to accept your issues into their life.  Again, it’s a matter of consent. More often than not, sharing their work is all any performer can do for you. It is a very uncomfortable situation for everyone when you put your faith in a performer but the performer is unable to or uninterested in helping. This can be very damaging to your own mental health as well as the performer’s mental health. Please be careful with what information you share.

Let’s Put a Bow on This

Please remember, at the end of the day, this is my job. If you wouldn’t say something to your regular barista, please please please think twice about sending it via social media to a performer. And if you would say any of the above to your barista, you’re missing my point altogether.

Now, If you’ve made it through this post and it was either completely relatable or incredibly cringeworthy, congrats! It wasn’t aimed at you. However, if you find yourself scratching your head why I’m making a big deal of this, go back and read it all again.

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Notes:

While all of the screen shots in this post are in Spanish, the vast majority of the creepy messages I get are, in fact, in English. I’ve deleted all of those already because I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post about creepers, so these were all I had handy for examples. This was in no way intended to reflect a skew of “Spanish-speaking folks are more creepy than English-speaking folks.” It breaks out about even in my experience.

One response to “Guide to Not Being a Creep: Avispa’s Adventures in Social Media

  1. Scarlett Bourdeaux broke character and recently discussed this issue with Alicia Atout during an October AMBY Interviews.

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