Armed with a formidable bodybuilding physique and a signature Bearhug finisher, at just 22 years old, professional wrestler Jordynne Grace—who also goes by the self-given nickname “Thick Mama Pump”—is becoming one of her industry’s most sought-after names.
Grace—whose real name is Patricia Parker—has already wrestled for Black Label Pro, Beyond Wrestling, NOVA Pro, and Shine Wrestling. Last September, she debuted for the London-based promotion Progress Wrestling at its Wembley Arena show, the biggest independent wrestling show in England in 30 years. Three months later, she became the reigning Progress Women’s Champion. Prior to her Wembley appearance, Grace was part of All In, an independent pay-per-view event that saw her on the same card as WWE stars Rey Mysterio and Cody Rhodes. And when I spoke to her, she had just wrapped up her first few tapings as part of her two-year deal with Impact Wrestling.
In addition to her in-ring accomplishments, however, Grace has also become well-known for speaking out about the disgusting comments and messages that male fans throttle at women wrestlers. In the past year, she’s released two books—DMs of a Female Indy Wrestler, Volumes One and Two—that expose the reality of being a woman WWE star accessible on social media.
Over the past few years, women’s wrestling has seen significant growth in both mainstream and indie promotions, in part due to the popularity of women wrestler such as Grace. In 2015, WWE fans launched the hashtag #GiveDivasAChance as part of a campaign to give women longer, more substantial matches and storylines. The following year, as part of what’s come to be known as wrestling’s “Women’s Revolution”—the WWE replaced its Diva’s Championship with two new, more professionalized, Women’s Championships and began referring to its women wrestlers as “superstars”—as they do men—rather than “divas.” In January of 2018, WWE hosted its first all-woman Royal Rumble, and in October, the company aired its first all-woman pay-per-view, titled Evolution.
Despite progress, however, professional wrestling remains a male-dominated sport, both professionally and culturally. Whether it’s a WWE or smaller, indie show, most promotions only have one championship title that is open to women, and most matches still star men; according to tracking by the Raw Breakdown Project women’s airtime typically hovers around 20 percent. There’s pay inequity, too: Last year, WWE’s highest paid wrestler was Brock Lesnar, who earned $12 million, followed by John Cena, who earned $8.3 million. In comparison, the highest paid female wrestler, former UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey, earned $1.5 million, followed by Charlotte Flair, who made $550,000.
For Grace, the effects of that cultural imbalance also manifest in a more intimate, nagging place: her Twitter DMs.
“Stop being a bitch respond.”
“I’ll give £500 for a bj with a condom on.”
“Somehow your meaty body attracts me.”
These are just some of the messages that have appeared in her inbox. And now, you can read them in her books, the first of which was published last July, with the second one released just two months later.
As the title suggests, the books are compilations of the gendered, often sexually explicit, and sometime threatening messages that Grace routinely receives from fans. Although she primarily uses Twitter to tweet about her cat or promote her work to her more 40,000 followers, many social media users have taken advantage of her open inbox policy—which she says helps potential bookers reach her—to harass her. During her eight years as a pro wrestler, she’s screen-shotted thousands of these messages, she says.
With screenshots piling up, Grace says that she’s considered publishing them for years.
Finally, last year, her frustration with and disgust over the messages built up enough for her to go public by self-publishing a zine compilation. When the first edition turned out to be unexpectedly popular, she decided to make a second, higher quality volume, she says. Digital and physical copies of both books, as well as a T-shirt featuring some of the DMs, can now be purchased on Grace’s website. Ten percent of profits from both books go to RAINN, a non-profit for survivors of sexual assault.
The books don’t go so far as to name the message authors, but not for the sake of mercy. “My original idea was to expose people completely. Names, Twitter and Instagram handles, their profile pictures, the whole nine yards,” says Grace. “Unfortunately, after consulting with a lawyer, they said that wouldn’t be a good idea, as it could be used in a defamation of character lawsuit if someone was a real asshole.”
Still, Grace’s books are among some of the most public accounts of harassment that women wrestlers have to endure. And she wants to be clear that the issue is not only with fans, but other wrestlers as well. “There’s honestly been times where I’ve just felt disgusted in locker rooms,” she says. “Locker room talk is real, and I remember being amongst it at 14 or 15 years old.
“I was made to feel extremely uncomfortable among my colleagues at a young age, even dating grown men 10 years my senior at a time when I really should have been going to high school dances. There was sort of a brotherhood among the guys back then, where people just kept their mouths shut no matter what they saw or how they felt about it.”
Grace’s books are part of the rising trend of women athletes highlighting years of discrimination and abuse in their respective sports. Tennis coach Judy Murray told the Guardian, for instance, that sexual abuse within the sport was an “open secret.” Meanwhile, several NFL cheerleaders revealed to the New York Times that the instructions they were given on how to navigate harassment from fans included to “never be mean. Never.” And women across industries have, like Grace, used screenshots to expose online harassment. In 2015, for instance, professional violinist Mia Matsumiya created the Instagram account “perv_magnet” to post photos of the obscene and oftentimes racist messages that she receives.
Even with all the in-ring work she’s got lined up, Grace isn’t stopping at just two books. The third installment will be a compilation of messages received and submitted by her colleagues.
Asked her if anyone cautioned her against releasing these books for fear that they might hurt her career in a male-dominated industry, she says: “A select few [fans] did express views about the book shaming men who ‘pay my bills. What I have to say to that is, if you’re one of the men harassing me through DM, I don’t want or need you to pay my bills.”