Wednesday, May 23, 2012

While the Men Watch

Image Courtesy of

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.


Margo said...

"Don't set feminism back 50 years by perpetuating gender stereotypes." lol! Love it.

clara said...

Wow, very eloquently put. I agree with you 100% -- if I was a hockey fan of either sex I would be pissed off about this. What an insult to thinking people everywhere. And also, "While the Men Watch" has got to be the creepiest name for, well, anything. Ick. Ick ick ick.

Anonymous said...

shuddup an make me a sandwich

Summer said...

Well written Robyn, very articulate and absolutely spot-on. It's 2012 but maybe that number isn't as significant as we - as women - would hope.

And regarding your classmate, to quote Madeleine Albright, "There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women."

Kyle Roussel said...

I don't appreciate the content that they create. It doesn't do anybody ANY favours. They see it as light-hearted and fun. Maybe so, but that doesn't grant immunity from scorn.

But I think we may be overreacting *a bit* on this. I avoided publishing my original, impulsive thoughts on this yesterday because, frankly, I've been told that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. I would have said some things about "While the Men Watch" that I would have regretted (they are people with real feelings...I assume).

The real problem here, as I see it, is that our society wastes no time in painting groups, races, genders and anybody else with broad brush strokes. So if these ladies choose to consume & discuss hockey in the way they do, then it must be how every woman watches, right? If these ladies don't understand the intricacies of the sport, then no women do, right?

Well we know this not to be true, and I think those of us who spend every single day interacting with each other on twitter/facebook may know this better than most. Women are every bit as knowledgeable as men are when it comes to sports. Or maybe men are as knowledgeable as women. We all have eyeballs, free time, blogs, opinions and a love for hockey. Where's the difference.

The ladies who produce this content don't help to break any stereotypes, but is that *entirely* their fault, or the fault of the zillions of lazy, knuckle-dragging numbskulls who will gleefully use this as ammo in their "women only like sports cuz they like to stare at the athletes' butts" gun?

The secondary problem is that our national broadcaster decided to publish this on their site. Why? For more hits? More publicity for themselves? How does this positively serve the sport that fills their coffers? There's a niche for everything, and these ladies had their own site working just fine. Their site is just as accessible where it is now as is the CBC site. As a provider of niche hockey content, they would be perfectly allowed to grow their following on their own turf. They're perfectly entitled to consume hockey how they want, and they are allowed to present their thoughts how they like. That's the beauty of our free society. It's not hateful, but it is potentially demeaning. As such, they open themselves to criticism. But why the CBC chose to publish this, and not something a bit more insightful is a question worth asking.

What these women do is not for everyone, and I fully appreciate the anger that it has stirred up. But they do have people who enjoy what they do, and ANYBODY who uses that site to generalize women is a flat out idiot.

But let's not try to stamp this out of existence. Rather, let's reinforce that there is a limitless number of women who know sports inside-out who stand apart from the primped, vacuous, and vain presentation that these women offer.

Anonymous said...

I am saddened by the concept and angered by the spin CBC's Julie Bristol tries to put on the show.

Listen to it here:

I too find it outrageous that these women imply that we can't find anything better to do with our time than make fun of what our men are doing with their time. As a hockey fan for over 40 years I am mystified by who they are targeting. If a person enjoys hockey, they'll watch hockey. If a person doesn't like hockey why would they watch other people who don't like hockey on TV. Exactly who is their target?

I can think of much better ways to draw people into the enjoyment of the game!
I "recruit" them the old fashioned way! I get new people on board every year with my enthusiasm.
Who will ever become a fan of the sport through this approach? What a shame.

And thanks for posting the Miss Representation trailer. I will pass it along.