Village Voice/Headlock...Brainlock

The World Wrestling Federation, already removed from most feminists' Christmas card lists, found itself embroiled in yet another antiwoman controversy last week. And this time, Wal-Mart—not known as a PC retailer—has sided with the women's protesters. The chain-store behemoth, along with Kmart, Toys R Us, and Target, has pulled WWF Al Snow action figures from its shelves following a Halloween OpEd piece in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution that described the doll's plastic accompaniment as a dismembered woman's head. Word spread, violence-against-women charges flew, and the figure was removed from shelves. (For those interested, the toy can be had on eBay, where an oversupply has driven down bid costs.)

Responding to the brouhaha, the WWF released a statement in its defense, which outlined a key misperception about its superstar: "Al Snow is a fictitious character in desperate need of a friend; he finds kinship in an inanimate object that happens to be a mannequin head. This is part of a longstanding tradition at WWF where performers utilize props as part of their on-stage persona. In addition to Al Snow, one of the most popular performers in WWF, Mick Foley, uses a hand puppet called "Mr. Sock-o." Currently, Foley is the New York Times best-selling author of Have a Nice Day.

The tag team of Crash Holly and Hardcore Holly carry a medical scale when they arrive at ringside to ensure opponents fit in the heavyweight category. In the past, George "The Animal" Steele brought a beloved stuffed animal to the ring daring anyone to touch it."

Thing is, a central critique of the WWF today is that wrestlers bring real women into the ring, with unfathomably overstuffed bras, and dares viewers (mostly kids) to ogle them. The brutality-to-women charge, if not technically correct, ain't such a stretch.