Once again, a big name in hockey has done some stupid shit while trying to appeal to female fans. Because I write for a hockey blog while operating a uterus, I am obligated to respond. Admittedly, part of me has become incredibly jaded, but I am not here to speak for all female fans. I am here to speak for myself only, because I realize that my experience being a female hockey fan is not universal. Sorry to debunk the whole “uterine hive mind” thing that presupposes that one woman represents all women, but it has to be done.
I’m not angry that the female broadcasters in question do an alternate broadcast that is not strictly a play-by-play. I know I’m guilty of the same. I make cracks about how certain players look hungover or how someone’s hair looks stupid. But here’s the difference—I’m in it for the lulz. I write dick jokes and most posts are written either with a beer in hand or at a bar. One of my more popular (and might I add, funny) posts was me drunk off my ass reacting to the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup. But here’s the difference between me and the broadcasters who think “While the Men Watch” is representative of female fans—I’m not trying to be a serious journalist or the voice of an entire gender. “While the Men Watch” (abbreviated hereafter as WtMW because I’m lazy), and CBC in supporting them, is attempting to say that WtMW is 100% serious and it applies to all female fans.
I don’t see this thought process of “we need a different broadcast style for a different population” applied to men. I know CBC offers online stream in Punjab, but that’s a translation of the game into another language. Between periods, the intermissions aren’t replaced with cricket matches and segments where players make tandoori chicken. There isn’t the pandering and talking down to a population. The female fan is still seen as a problem to be solved. I don't see this being addressed for different kinds of male fans (e.g., gay men, men of color, etc.) But female fans are relegated to being seen as this strange creature that the powers that be cannot deal with.
As far as I’ve seen, male fans get to be fans. There doesn’t seem to be a test of “real fandom.” Sure, there’s shit-talking and arguing, but that’s on an individual level. When a male fan/broadcast/whatever says something stupid, there’s a reaction of “wow, that guy is dumb. He [specifically, this one person] doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” When a woman does it, there is a reaction of “wow, women don’t know what they’re talking about.” My point is, a male fan can be a fan, even if he hardly cares or puts in effort. As long as he can bluff and say some general opinion, he’s not thought of as less of a fan. Female fans I know, however, can feel as though they aren’t “real” fans unless they demonstrate a level of dedication and knowledge superior to any male present. In short, she has to be better than a man just to be allowed the privilege of being a fan. If she doesn’t, there is a sense that she’s only along because of a boyfriend/husband/whatever or some other stupid reason. (I realize this bit has some sweeping generalizations, so if I’m wrong here, flag me down and maybe we can talk like adults about it.)
The truth is, with me, I could dedicate my spare time to memorizing stats and running simulations, but I choose not to do so because I don’t enjoy it. My theory is that my spare time should be filled with things I enjoy. I’m not obsessive because I don’t enjoy the process, not because my stupid weak girly brain can’t handle manly talk. However, I know so many female hockey fans and writers who do this, enjoy it, and would kill for the chance to be doing a broadcast for the Stanley Cup finals. With the women of WtMW, I find myself scratching my head. I have no idea who these women are. I have no idea how they got a broadcast. (Now that I think about it, I’m disappointed nobody has made a “broad-cast” joke yet. I claim it. Anyway, let’s go on.)
There is something I think I’m the only one to notice. If I’m a woman, and I watch a hockey game while the men watch, without using a separate broadcast…does that mean I’m a man now? Because if I'm a man while watching, I'm really looking forward to being paid more for the same job while never having to worry about getting pregnant. Then again, this means my husband-to-be will marrying a dude, and I don't know how he feels about that.
In short, I don’t think of myself as “less of a fan” because I’m female. I talk about random stuff during games, but so does everyone else. There’s also a possibility of an untreated case of ADHD with me, but that’s a story for another time. Besides, on Twitter there are multiple reactions of the same thing. I like to step out rather than be part of a sea of identical responses. I’m going to keep making fart jokes and drunken hockey heckling while operating a vagina. I’m going to keep mocking players for having stupid haircuts and for missing shots. I’m going to keep going for the lulz and the wins. I know I won’ get picked up by the CBC to broadcast a game, but I’m ok with that.