The top story in Tuesday’s Roundup was the situation which occurred on last Thursday’s TNA Impact Wrestling show between Austin Aries and Christy Hemme – a situation that TNA (publicly, at least) was slow to react to. However, TMZ reported that Aries has indeed been fined an undisclosed sum by the promotion for putting his crotch in Hemme’s face after she fluffed he and Bobby Roode‘s introduction. It also says that Austin personally apologised to Christy, who was apparently “satisfied” with the apology.
Officially, that’s the end of the matter, but it still seems strange that Hemme went onto Twitter to call the situation “unacceptable” following the show – though she later deleted the tweet – though TNA says it immediately dealt with it. In addition, it seems strange that Spike TV was the first to make a public statement about it, calling it “sexual harassment” and saying the network has a zero tolerance policy for such occurrences. While Aries probably did not mean to commit an act which was deemed as sexual harassment – as it is the victim that gets to decide if it was over the line and the employers to agree or disagree with the accusation – TNA could be seen to be guilty for dragging its heels.
On the Wednesday update of the Wrestling Observer, a poll was conducted to see what readers’ thoughts were on the incident, with the majority (26.1%) saying that Aries should apologise, which is what he has done. Underneath were three situations with close results, with 22.7% saying Aries should be suspended (a bit harsh, I think), 20.2% thinking TNA should have done nothing, and 18.1% saying he should be fined (which also happened). The rest (12.9%) thought he should be fired, which – despite the upset caused – would have been a massive overreaction. The man made a mistake which hurt a colleague, but he said sorry and is also being financially punished – and will probably have an eye on him to behave. If anything, a closer watch will be put on everyone, so an incident such as this shouldn’t happen again any time soon – and if it does, that person will probably be dealt with much more seriously.
On a side note, following some legal clarification, what happened was not sexual harassment, as that would be classified by repeated incidents. If you want to be accurate with the solitary incident with Aries and Hemme, it’s sexual assault, albeit the mildest of cases. However, the fact that a big stink has been kicked up about it is technically a compliment for TNA.
Consider the Vince Russo era when women were being called “skanks” and “bitches” on a regular basis, with insults about fake breasts and bleach blonde hair not uncommon – sometimes ironically, such as when Taylor Wilde once used the boobs insult to the Beautiful People, despite having had breast augmentation herself. If you wanted a more credible sexual harassment argument, it could be directed towards the person who was writing said scripts, though such a case may be difficult to make stick.
With this being a standout negative moment, it shows that TNA has cleaned up its act to a certain extent, but it needs to be seen to be more proactive at times, like it did with the Bully Ray incident mentioned in the Roundup. Consistency is the key here, especially if the women in the company are made to feel that they can feel comfortable at work and can go to management and be taken seriously should a problem arise.
– Lee Burton