Saturday, May 26, 2012

While the Men MOCK

This week, I blogged about the alternate "coverage" CBC will be offering during the Stanley Cup Finals entitled "While the Men Watch". Two women who have chosen to comment on sports without any desire to comment on the game itself will be providing commentary on playoff beards, and sexy coaches, and how to cheer your man up after his favourite team loses the big game. Personally, if I wanted to know who's hot and who's not, I'd watch Access Hollywood. But apparently, it's infiltrated the sports world as well.

The controversy that surrounded this program wasn't solely based on it's blatantly sexist nature, but rather a faction of people who believe that I, and people who were equally offended, were overreacting. I was even told not to get my "knickers in a twist" (I won't even delve into how sexist that comment is in and of itself). 

Apparently, I should commend and applaud these women for their enterprising idea. Well, that just isn't going to happen. And as long as I have fingers to type, and a voice to speak with, I'll continue to tell anyone who'll listen just how insulting it is that publicly funded CBC would endorse such sexist programming.

I anxiously await the CBC to include Stanley Cup coverage entitled "While the Whites Watch", that consists of black Rastafarians with Jamaican accents sitting around laughing at the white men skating in a cold arena, and considering whether DeBoer would look good with dreadlocks. They would never include programming such as this, as it would be deemed racist and insensitive in a heart beat. Well, "While the Men Watch" is just as offensive. In part because there are black men who play hockey, just as there are female sports fans. 

I LIKE SPORTS. I don't watch sports because Lundqvist is hot. I don't watch sports because I want to be a man. I watch sports because I love watching underdogs rise up. I watch sports because I grew up watching the Habs on Hockey Night in Canada with my father. I watch sports because it's entertaining. Don't insult my intelligence by trying to get me to buy into sexist programming. 

If CBC wanted to appeal to the female market, perhaps they could get rid of the crotchety old men who have been presenting us with their prejudiced view on sports for the last 30 years, and hire some young, female talent. Provide young girls with women to look up to. Apparently I should aspire to rating hockey players based on their looks, and satisfying a man's needs. Well that's just bleak. Feminism isn't a dirty word. Stop making it into one.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

While the Men Watch

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CBC recently announced it's plans to provide "alternate" Stanley Cup playoff coverage, inspired by the blog "While the Men Watch". A blog that includes such posts as "Love Me Like Lundqvist: 5 Sex Games for Hockey Season" and "The NHL's Best and Worst Dressed List". While I understand that is a misguided attempt to make Hockey Night in Canada relevant again, I can't help but shake my head at this blatant act of sexism. And I'm not the only one who's upset.

The first issue I have with While the Men Watch, is the assumption that there are no female sports fans. This is extremely insulting to someone like me, who subscribes to nine specialty sports channels, who spends every Sunday from September through February watching NFL football, who suffered through an hour of "Dr. Phil" to remain abreast of Terrell Owens and his baby mamas, who watched over 150 NHL hockey games this season, who has a Montreal Canadiens tattoo, and whose passion in life is watching and talking about sports. Perhaps I'm misguided in my belief that there should be no segregated sports coverage, but I was under the assumption that hockey was a CANADIAN's past time (or way of life, in my case), not a MAN's past time.

The second issue I have with While the Men Watch, is that it makes it apparent that it's unfathomable that a woman could like sports in the exact same way that a man likes sports. Apparently I'm incapable of criticizing Sabermetrics, or appreciating the value of shot blocking, or analyzing special teams efficiency. A woman isn't supposed to provide much more than eye candy in between whistles, or sandwiches and snacks between periods.

Why do I like sports? I must be in it for all the hot men. Or for the attention. I couldn't possibly genuinely love sports. A classmate of mine in a media class that I took at McGill last semester had the gall to question why I "pretend to like sports", ultimately concluding that it must be part of some elaborate ploy to "hook a man". (I feel the need to point out that this class mate is female, 19 years old and married. But I digress.) Luckily for me, the other 100 people in the class pounced on her, which suited me just fine, since my brain had reached it's boiling point, and I was rendered incapable of forming words.

The third issue I have with While the Men Watch, is the assumption that all women are sitting around idly while their husbands watch hockey. This is so disturbingly dependent. Regardless of what a man or a woman is interested in, the idea that their significant other (in this case, their wife) is incapable of amusing herself while her man watches a three hour hockey game is just depressing. Make an effort to learn about and understand why something is important to your partner. Get a hobby. Don't set feminism back 50 years by perpetuating gender stereotypes.

Lastly, stop thinking that women don't like sports. Because some of us do. And while you're at it, stop thinking that ALL men like sports. Because some of them don't. Oh, and perhaps you should check your calendar, CBC; it appears the year is 2012, not 1950. I'd also like to encourage you to watch "Miss Representation" in lieu of sexist programming such as this. It's far more worth your while.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Rational Take on the Student Protests

It is with great reluctance that I write this post, as I have done my best to avoid the topic of the student protests and the proposed tuition hike. My reason for doing so is simple; I’ve been met with mockery when trying to express myself, and my character has been called into question for thinking the way that I do. However, I no longer feel that I can bite my tongue.

I’d like to clarify that I in no way condone the extreme actions that some protestors have taken, and fully support the Montreal Police for doing what is necessary to enforce the law. I understand that crowd control is a daunting and challenging task, and I tip my hat to the men and women who are forced to do so each and every day. 

My issue is not the students themselves, nor is it with the government proposing the tuition hike (because let’s face it, tuition never should have been frozen in the first place), but rather the general public, the non-students, if you will.

It is amazing to me how fast some have forgotten what it is like to live on five-for-a-dollar Ramen noodles. The condescending comments that I have heard from individuals when discussing the student protests is absolutely appalling. It’s one thing to disagree with a cause, or the way in which its supporters go about expressing themselves, but it’s another thing entirely when all you can muster up is a little name calling. In fact, all this tells me is that YOU are the one in need of an education (and perhaps are bitter that you did not take advantage of the tuition freeze when you were young). 

To start, lumping every student together as a "spoiled brat", or most recently, a "terrorist", is a generalization that is entirely irresponsible. It is possible to support a cause without necessarily supporting every aspect of the means. It seems as though every student has become a “spoiled brat” and public enemy number one, simply for being a student who applied to university with a specific budget in mind, and who is now forced to scrimp and scrounge to make up the difference of an increase. If I stumble upon ONE MORE PERSON who uses the argument “these kids with their $500 Canada Goose Jackets and $400 iPhones  and fancy iPads and $10 Starbucks lattés don’t know how good they have it”, I’ll lose my mind. First of all, why don’t you try forming your own opinion rather than regurgitating one you heard or read? Oh, that would require INDEPENDENT THOUGHT. Something it appears the general public is not capable of. 

Secondly, I do not have a $500 jacket, my iPhone was free with the Fido dollars I’ve accumulated over the past three years, and I make my own coffee each morning that I drink from my reusable Habs thermos (which was a Christmas gift from my sister, before you chastise me for the $10 that could have been allocated towards tuition). 

I’ve been told that the fact that I go to school full time, intern part time and hold a part time job, puts me in the minority as a “hard working” student. I’d like to see a report that details how many students are “spoiled brats” whose parents pay for everything and how many, like me, work extremely hard, sleep four hours a night, and pay for everything themselves. Not to mention the gray area in between. Regardless of this phantom statistic, I’d like to point out for the uninformed just how flawed the Quebec Loans and Bursaries program is. The fact that the government takes your parents income into account unless you’ve been self-sufficient for a minimum of two years is absurd. The fact that it doesn’t factor multiple children into this is equally absurd. Perhaps my father could afford to contribute towards my education, but he certainly can’t contribute to my education, as well as that of my two sisters, who are also currently pursuing post secondary education.

Thirdly, I find it extremely ridiculous to suggest that because a young person uses technology on a daily basis somehow implies that they are able to afford a significant tuition increase. I challenge these people to attempt to attend a university class without a laptop, and try to take notes. Lectures have been adapted to accommodate the rapidity with which students are able to take notes with a laptop as opposed to a pen and paper. Simply put, schooling has integrated technology in such a way that it has become a necessity, not a luxury.

Lastly, it blows my mind that someone would possibly use the example of “you don’t know how good you have it”. This is precisely the kind of thinking that impedes progress. Are these individuals of the belief that a woman in the United States should be content to not have the right to decide whether or not to carry her unborn child to full term simply because women in other countries can’t vote or are forced into a lifestyle with even fewer options? Should homosexuals fighting for marriage equality simply “be happy with the status quo” since their gay brethren in other parts of the world are executed for their orientation? While these are admittedly extreme examples, they make as much sense to me as the argument that students should just accept whatever they’re told. The purpose of education is to create free thinkers, people capable of forming their own opinions. It seems that this gets in the way of cramming society into that tiny little box it has created. 

What is my proposed solution? Increase tuition gradually over a longer period of time. Consider a tuition freeze on programs that train essential workers with low starting salaries, like teachers and nurses and social workers. More than anything, all I ask is for a little compassion and understanding from my fellow man before leaping to conclusions. While I understand that the general public is not entirely to blame, as the media’s biased coverage of the student protests makes it difficult for anyone to truly understand the situation. Remember that there are two sides to every story, and don’t take a story or a news report at face value. Do a little research. Inform yourself. Education doesn’t begin and end in an institution, but rather is something you can acquire for yourself each and every day with the tools readily available at your disposal. Perhaps I expect too much of people, as it has become more and more evident to me with each passing day that common sense isn’t all that common.

**DISCLAIMER: I sent the above post to several local publications, none of which would print it. I'm assuming it was far too rational, and not radically one sided enough for them to use. Another perfect example of biased journalism.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bienvenue à Montréal, Marc!

If you are familiar with me, and the considerably hectic life that I lead, you're aware that I rarely sleep. I am able to function due to excessive caffeine intake, without which I wouldn't make it through the day. Therefore, it should come as no surprise when I say that I usually only get about four hours of sleep each night, with a 4AM wake up call (DISCLAIMER: You'll get no complaints out of me; it's all very worth it). 

Not much tends to happen in the way of local sports news between midnight and four, so imagine my surprise when I awoke this morning to discover that the Habs had selected their new general manager... While I was sleeping. (Side note: I hate not knowing things the moment they happen, which could very well be the reason why I don't sleep). All histrionics aside, I wasn't at all surprised to learn that the new hire was Marc Bergevin. 

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Unless you've been living under a rock for the past month, you've known that he was in the running for the prestigious position, along with Julien Brisebois, Claude Loiselle, and Pierre Mcguire. Geoff Molson stated in a press conference earlier today that the Canadiens interviewed "at least" ten people for the job. Marc Bergevin's credentials are impressive, despite the fact that he has never previously held the position of General Manager for an NHL franchise.

A journeyman drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks at the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, Bergevin played in the NHL for eight different teams over the course of his twenty year career, becoming just the second 1,100+ games played player with fewer than 200 career points (along with Ken Daneyko). Notching 36G & 145A, it's safe to say Bergevin's strengths didn't include lighting the lamp. His career highlights include 1,090 PIM in 1,191 regular season games, and 49 fights (opponents include Shane Doan, Owen Nolan, Steve Bégin, Mark Messier and Ian Laperrière). 

Upon his retirement at the end of the 2003-04 NHL season, Bergevin took a job within the Blackhawks organization, though he didn't really get going until the following year, due to the lockout and subsequent cancelled season in 2004-05. 

He spent three years as the Blackhawks director of pro-scouting, before becoming Joel Quenneville's assistant coach in 2008. By 2009, he was named director of hockey personel, during which time he was an integral part of the Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup. He became Stan Bowman's assistant general manager last summer. 

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It's clear that he knows the ins and outs of the game, having played, scouted, coached and managed. A self professed "people person", he's also bilingual, a Montreal native from Point-St-Charles, and has a fantastic sense of humour, as was made evident by the numerous smiles and jokes at the press conference at the Bell Sports Complex earlier today. Bergevin considers himself "a piece of the puzzle", and clearly has a vision for how he wishes to proceed with this team, starting with finding the right head coach, and ensuring that essential cogs in the Habs machine are in place before the start of the next season, like Price and Subban.

Do I think that Geoff Molson made the right decision in hiring Marc Bergevin? Yes, I do. But only time will tell if I, and he, are right.