Thursday, July 11, 2013

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back...

This week, it was announced that Geraldine Heaney would be among the 2013 inductee class at the Hockey Hall of Fame. As was the case when Cammi Granato and Angela James were inducted in 2010, misogyny reared its ugly head. “Who?!” said men everywhere. And sexist rants prefaced by “I am not a sexist” disclaimers surfaced. A third woman in the HHOF?! What a travesty!

If you don’t know who Geraldine Heaney is, then that’s on you. Arguably the greatest female defenseman of all time, Heaney was a pioneer of women's hockey, along with Granato and James, and was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame with the other two women several years ago. Heaney is often referred to as “the Bobby Orr of women’s hockey” (likely because of this goal), but her style of play was more comparable to that of Larry Robinson. Seven world championships. Two Olympic medals.

But I’m not here to argue the merits of ladies who I’m clearly not alone in thinking are deserving HHOF inductees, but rather to question the outcry from crotchety old men when discussing the three women that have been inducted. It’s not the NHL hall of fame. It’s not the men’s hockey hall of fame. It’s not the white people hall of fame. It’s the HOCKEY hall of fame. Last time I checked, these women had ice under their skates, sticks in their hands, and gold medals hanging from their necks.

Why is it that whenever the perfect storm of strides towards gender equality and debate collide, there is outrage, shock, disbelief, and most disconcerting, gaslighting from men? (side note: I of course don't mean ALL men, and given the nature of this piece, I realize how dangerous of a generalization this is.)

Gaslighting is a term that I’ve become familiar with from a vocabulary standpoint, thanks to an article that I read recently. In reality, gaslighting is something that I’ve had to deal with my entire life, being someone who is outspoken on equality (and I’ve never limited myself to gender equality; I’ve always been extremely vocal in my opinions on marriage equality as well. But that’s another topic for another day. I digress.)

What exactly is gaslighting? In short, it’s being goaded into a debate, and then being made to feel crazy, overly emotional or sensitive when taking up your cause or viewpoint. Any time that I don’t find a misogynistic joke funny, or try to point out an instance of blatant sexism, before I can even get two words out, I’m met with “here we go”, or “don’t you have a sense of humour?”

Given the profession that I’ve chosen, sexism is something that I have to deal with on a weekly, daily and hourly basis. I’ll always be someone who knows a lot about sports FOR A GIRL. I’ll never be able to admit which athletes I find attractive without losing all credibility (YAY DOUBLE STANDARDS!). I’ll always be asked about what it’s like to be a female in a male dominated sports media world before being asked actual questions about the sports that I cover (hey guys, what’s it like being a man in the sports media world?). I’ll always be accused of liking sports to impress and snag a man (because there’s nothing insecure men love more than being schooled in hockey knowledge by a girl… Cricket, cricket…) It comes with the territory, and it’s something that I’ve learned I'm learning to deal with, and sadly, that usually means ignoring it. But sometimes, I can't keep my mouth shut.

I’m sorry if being marginalized isn’t something that I fancy. I’m sorry if I don’t enjoy being likened to a farm animal. I’m sorry if the fact that I was raised to be an independent, secure woman who doesn’t NEED a man to take care of her make YOU think that I’m a lesbian (because what single, sports loving girl ISN’T a lesbian?! HURRAY FOR STEREOTYPES!) I refuse to settle for mediocrity, I refuse to be made to feel like a lesser human being, and I refuse to keep quiet when I see something that I deem to be an injustice. I am not a man hater. I am not na├»ve. I simply call it like I see it.

There are many undeserving people enshrined in the HHOF in Toronto, but Granato, James and Heaney are not among them. And brace yourselves, “old school” boys (side note: why are sexist, racist, homophobic people referred to as “old school”? Sure, sexist, racist and homophobic are words that possess negative connotations, but these are negative attitudes, are they not? But once again, I digress.), these ladies are not the last to be inducted. Danielle Goyette, Kim St Pierre, Cassie Campbell. These are all names that will see consideration in the coming years. I hope that someday, this won’t be cause for national debate and outcry.

1 comment:

Kyle Roussel said...

Nothing further for me to add, Robyn. Well said all around. Males have never liked having "their territory" tread on...of course, they assume that sports, media, access, and post-career accolades are all "their territory".