Before I get started, I need to set the record straight. There are a few, not many, but still a few, people who probably won’t consider my vantage point as a woman “legitimate” because I’m transgender. To those people, I say, “my genitals don’t define my gender. If you can’t accept that, then you can keep your comments to yourself, because I am a woman regardless of what’s between my legs.”
Now to my point. As female hockey fans, many of us are blind to our own hypocrisy and double-standard when it comes to appreciating the superfluous marketing of the game. Let me be a little more clear: many women, myself included, and some of my fellow PuckBuddys writers, fawn over the players and their physical appearance. We ogle over Chris Higgins’ abs, Jonathan Toews’ hindquarters, Sidney Crosby’s lips, Tyler Seguin’s everything (@GayCanuck, I’m talking about you), and we do so without hesitation or a second thought. Can anyone blame us? No, no they cannot. We know what we’re attracted to, and we feel no shame in that fact.
But when it comes to the other side of the coin, when the straight men (and some lesbians I’m sure) turn their eyes to the ice girls, or the calendar models, or scantily clad women in hockey-themed attire, or even Paulina Gretzky in her scandalous instagram photos, that’s when all hell breaks loose. I know some girls who vehemently hate that ice girls exist, and that NHL teams are using attractive women to provide entertainment for the male fans during games. Let’s be honest, ladies, the intermission events are lack-luster at best, the ice girls and promo crews provide a nice distraction from going mindless watching the Zamboni resurface the ice.
I hear often that ice girls, female hockey fans in provocative clothing, or girls who get dolled up to go to games aren’t, and I quote, “real female hockey fans.” By saying things like this, you become just as image obsessed. You focus on the fact that the ice girls wear tiny skirts and show off their stomachs while they shovel the snow off the ice. You pay more attention to the girls who took a lot of time to put on makeup and put on an outfit. You judge them based solely on how they look. You don’t engage in intelligent conversation with them about the game, because in you’ve already made up your mind about who they are. You consider them bimbos who make you, the “real female hockey fan” look bad.
Do you ever look at a girl in her favorite player’s jersey, screaming at the game, being obnoxious and vulgar and say, “she isn’t a real female hockey fan. She makes the rest of us look bad.” The truth is, you don’t. You say, “scream on, sister!” But as soon as the dolled-up girl in a classy/casual outfit makes one mistake during the game, you pounce on her like a pack of rabid dogs as if it was the most horrendous, unforgivable mistake any human being could ever make. Obviously I’m exaggerating a bit, but you understand my point, I’m sure.
By eliminating those girls from being “real female hockey fans,” you perpetuate stereotypes. The idea that a “real” fan can’t look a certain way is, for lack of a better word, bigoted. The ONLY criteria there should be for someone to be a “real” fan should be 1) they are a human being, and 2) they enjoy the game of hockey. There is no height requirement, weight requirement, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other demographic criterion upon which we should base membership into the ever so exclusive “real” fan status.
Do you know more about the game and your favorite team than some people? Absolutely. Does that make you any more of a legitimate fan than anyone else? No. It means you’re more passionate about your team and about the game. For many people, being a hockey fan isn’t a defining characteristic. They have other interests and cannot devote the time to hockey that you or I can. But that does not mean they aren’t “real” fans.
In my opinion, the more people who enjoy the sport, watch the sport, and support their favorite teams, the better. Hockey is the greatest sport on earth, and we cannot afford to turn people off because they won’t be “real” fans. Who knows how many casual female hockey fans have abandoned the sport because of fan-on-fan hostility? Why would we want to turn away people from enjoying such a glorious sport? Instead of chastising them, why don’t we try to educate them on the game?
Before people come at me and say, “well a lot of those girls don’t know a thing about hockey, and are only there because they think the players are hot. They make us all look like sluts!” Let me just say that almost every time I talk to a guy about hockey, the issue of “hot” girls who don’t know the game never comes up. They don’t talk about how I must be a “puck slut” because I like hockey and think players are attractive. They don’t think I am some jersey-chasing whore who couldn’t give a shit less about the game. What they do think, however, is that I am a female hockey fan who knows the game.
To my knowledge I’ve never been compared to other female hockey fans. I’m judged on my own knowledge and love of the game. To think that people base their views of you on the actions of others is misguided. And the people who do judge you based on the actions of others are ignorant, and shouldn’t be taken seriously on the subject. I’m no psychiatrist, so I’m not going to dive into the actual sources of the hate towards the girls, though my gut instinct is that everything stems from insecurity, jealousy, and competition. Okay, I just contradicted myself, oh well, we’ll all live. We all have things we are insecure about (my list would fill a book), and when we see others with the body we want, or the attention we crave, or the boyfriend we want, jealousy rears its ugly head. I should know, I’m guilty of those feelings.
The difference is that I’ve learned to let that jealousy go. I learned how to turn it into positive things like a desire to better myself so I can get rid of my insecurities one by one. Instead of hating other girls, or being jealous of what they have and I don’t, or competing with them for attention, I let everything go. I’m special in my own way, and that’s enough to make me proud of myself. I still have my insecurities, but I channel them into something that will better the world around me, as well as myself.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am sincere when I give someone a compliment. Do I judge people? Of course I do, I’m human. But what I don’t do is look down on anyone because of it. That’s just bitchy and petty. I honestly don’t hate anyone, and I want nothing more than for everyone to get along with each other within the hockey community. That can only happen when everyone ends their ego trip, puts their insecurities aside, and says, “you like hockey? We should definitely be friends!” We can also help others learn about this great sport, rather than sit there and chastise people for their ignorance of the game.
Let everyone be a fan of this amazing sport, regardless of their looks and other interests. They are real people, real fans, and they deserve to be treated as such.