Friend of Bloomer Girls Blog Genevieve sent this story over last night, which plays right into Things We Hate: assuming that women don’t like sports. The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), which airs NHL (National Hockey League) games in Canada (popularly known as “Hockey Night in Canada”), announced that it would be broadcasting “While the Men Watch Hockey Night” on their website during the Stanley Cup Final. This show has been referred to as “Sex and the City plus ESPN” and “follows the discussion of two women watching sports ‘from a woman’s point of view including everything from interpreting the rules of the game to coaches in need of a makeover.’” This is offered as an alternative to the commentary that will be broadcast on the actual television channel. Predictably (no seriously, how do people not get this stuff yet), this has set off accusations of sexism. While CBC is presenting this show as an alternative for women who will be “forced” to watch hockey (oh no, don’t make me watch sports, I can’t take it!), many are complaining that perhaps instead they could include the voices of actual female hockey fans.
As Julie Veilleux says in her post on Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog, however, the backlash against this show shouldn’t just be because the hosts are “girly girls” or they like pink and stuff (“I like pink. I like men. I like stuff. That doesn’t make me a bad fan or less of a fan.”) She found many other reasons to criticize the show, such as the internalized sexism, advocating for women to “put out” when a playoff team loses to placate their man, and criticizing men who don’t like to watch sports as weak. In one episode, they had a male guest on who said that the two were “changing the game” by being female and talking about sports. Veilleux writes:
“Changing the game” though? I would argue that they are playing the game humanity has been playing forever which is called We’ve Internalized Misogyny So Much We Think It’s Hilarious And Perfectly Normal. Then the host laughs about not listening to his significant other because SPORTS! I hope his wife thinks about hockey while they’re in bed together.
According to The National Post, Marsha Boyd, an Edmonton Oilers season-ticket holder, said she has a group of female friends who love hockey just as much as the guys do. “It’s quite insulting to anyone who’s a woman and a sports fan, as if we don’t exist or we can’t possibly enjoy hockey without looking at pretty boys . . . [t]his is not a play on sports, this is a play on women being dumb, or liking shoes, and not having any depth.”
Even established sports broadcasters are annoyed by the whole concept:
It can be tough to be a female in a dude-dominated world and feel like your opinions and knowledge are legit. Hockey Barbie does not help.
— Shannon Proudfoot (@sproudfoot) May 23, 2012
While it’s clear to many of us women who actually enjoy watching sports that female sports fans can have a voice that is not sexist, CBC promoting this show on their network legitimizes the sexist views of the hosts of “While the Men Watch Hockey.” It also marginalizes the “regular” female hockey fans: you know, the ones who actually know the rules of the game and follow passionately and would be offended if they weren’t just called “hockey fans.” When we talk about sports fans, it’s okay to lump men and women together. Some of us, in fact, would prefer it.