Last year, a number of female celebrities had their iCloud storage accounts compromised and, as a result, the world at large were privy to their most intimate photos. The news media was up in arms, collectively foaming at the mouth as they denounced these women for being stupid, reckless, and just plain slutty enough to take nude photos of themselves and – shock, horror! – send such vile material to their paramours.
Last week, the wrestling world was rocked by a similar scandal as Seth Rollins (currently one of the hottest properties in the WWE) found himself exposed to everyone with internet access when his allegedly scorned fiancee leaked dick pics that were meant for another woman, via his Twitter account. This account, rather unfortunately, was linked to the official WWE website and, for a short time, the photos were accessible on there, too.
WWE are known for their swift, no-nonsense damage control, and sure enough, COO Triple H soon noted it was an “unfortunate personal situation” as though it had already been brushed under the carpet. This was quickly followed by Rollins himself, who Tweeted his apologies. Otherwise, there was no real fallout. A recent, unrelated Tweet from Rollins (the first since his apology) was greeted with replies such as “SHOW US YOUR DICK SETH”, followed by angry fans scolding their fellow Tweeters for carrying on a joke that, as they saw it, wasn’t funny anymore.
What’s particularly notable about these exchanges (taking place mostly on Instagram and Twitter, along with Reddit, where several posts popped up immediately in the aftermath of the scandal) was that most of them took place between women. Women, by and large, were offended that certain fans chose to take the piss out of Rollins for his indiscretion. They weren’t mad that he supposedly cheated on his fiancee, or that he was outed for it, but that people were being mean to him.
When Jennifer Lawrence’s nude pics leaked, few women leaped to her defense. Most commentators felt like she deserved it, for being stupid enough to take the photos in the first place. The onus was on her, the victim, as opposed to the hackers who had invaded her privacy. With Rollins, the opposite is true: he’s being empathised with while his fiancee is vilified for taking revenge on the man who (allegedly) wronged her.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I disagree with anybody who sees what Leighia Schultz did as anything other than underhanded and cruel. Even if it was revenge for him cheating on her, that doesn’t make it okay, but suffice to say we’ll probably never know the full story (and rightly so). Regardless of what has happened between them, she shouldn’t have shared intimate, private photos of him, whether they were intended for another woman or not. And yet, that’s barely even worth saying because everyone is screaming for justice for Rollins anyway.
As for Zahra Schreiber, the woman with whom he’s supposedly involved (an up-and-coming NXT Diva herself) and who also suffered the leak of a compromising photo, she’s had to publicly defend herself against those claiming that she, too, is engaged. Why is Schreiber seen as more of a villain? Are we assuming she pursued a taken man and led him astray while simultaneously messing with another man’s feelings? Surely Rollins is just as much in the wrong as she is, if not more so, considering she’s now confirmed her single status?
Whenever one of these so-called “leaks” occurs, everyone rushes to condemn those involved for their supposed indiscretion. Statements are made, sometimes even press conferences held, in order to clear the name of the allegedly guilty party, and to express regret. Aside from the fact there is usually no reason to feel guilty for sharing nude photos with a partner, surely the emotional distress caused by the public viewing of such materials is enough “punishment” for the person/people involved?
WWE is an interesting case, because its product is aimed, for the most part, at children. Therefore, the fact that one of its employees had his dick splashed all over the internet should invoke a massive amount of backlash against the company, and the man involved – not to mention the pics were visible on their official site, at least for a while. And yet, we are told, there will be no repercussions for Rollins aside from some locker room jabs from fellow wrestlers and maybe a slight telling-off.
Would the situation be the same if the leaked pics were of Paige, for example? Would she still be appearing on Raw, as one of its main stars, chaperoned by the COO of the company, along with one of its principal owners? Would she still have her big, championship match at the next PPV? It’s hard to imagine a female wrestler getting away with an indiscretion such as this, because, when it comes down to it, we tend to judge women much harsher in these situations.
This is evident even in fans’ treatment of Schreiber, who felt the need to publicly set the record straight when all she was really obligated to do was shut up because it is, after all, her personal life and nothing to do with her job (she has since made her Instagram private). One could argue Rollins wasn’t obligated to apologise either, but he’s in a much higher position than she is and was more than likely coerced into doing so by his superiors. Even so, he hasn’t really suffered anything apart from embarrassment and a bit of slagging.
As scandals go, this is a pretty huge one (no pun intended). So why doesn’t it feel that way? Is it because it was hushed up so quickly? Because his (ex)fiancee hasn’t said anything since? Or is it simply because, when it comes to nude pics, or indeed any kind of sex scandal, we don’t hold men to the same standards as women? It could be because the world of wrestling isn’t as inclusive as, say, movies, but then MTV, E! and a number of other sizeable media outlets picked up the story and added their own little salacious element to it (as if any were needed), so it must be deemed of interest to someone.
This should’ve been a career-rocking, world-ending scandal for Seth Rollins. And, if he were a woman, it’s safe to say it would’ve been. But we’re still going to see him on Raw, at Fast Lane, and most likely at Wrestlemania, in the same top position as always. Is the more worrying element to this whole debacle that we don’t really care about seeing his dick, or that he isn’t seen to have done anything wrong, either by his fans or his employers?
Joey Keogh writes about WWE and horror for several different sites, and is constantly hoping for a bigger push for Dean Ambrose. You can follow Joey on Twitter at @JoeyLDG