Racialized Hegemonic Masculinity in Mass Media: Professional Wrestling’s Role in Normalizing White Male Domination



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Professional wrestling is a sports entertainment form marketed to children in almost 200 countries and represents one of the last places to consume explicitly offensive mass media. Numerous qualitative studies allude to wrestling’s position as a hegemonic man-centric melodrama by taking a micro approach and following a single wrestler to show that wrestling is a bigoted entertainment form. Alternatively, quantitative studies indicated race/ethnicity has some impact on a wrestler’s status in the business when comparing wins and losses. However, not all wins and losses are the same and how one wins a match complicates what appears, at first, to be a simple victory by the dominant wrestler. I conducted a content analysis which observed the type and nature of the end of every men’s match (n=819) held at World Wrestling Entertainment’s major events from 2014-2020 (n=98). Results from a preliminary chi square test of independence found race to be associated with a wrestler’s chances of appearing in the main event match (p= 0.00). The results are important because if white male wrestlers were regularly shown on-screen in hegemonic fashion while non-white performers fulfill subordinated masculinities, then this may produce controlling images of white domination which can reproduce racist, ethnocentric, and sexist ideologies among viewers.



Mass media, White dominance, Professional wrestling, Hegemonic masculinity, Subordinate masculinities