sports

Definitely a Samantha: My Take on While the Men Watch

While the Men WatchTaylor had a longer response than we could include in the Gender Focus panel on While the Men Watch, so here’s the whole thing, cross-posted from his blog No Greater Male Supporter.

Been here yet? This is WhileTheMenWatch, a live sports talk show “for women”. From the “About” section.

“Hosted by real-life girlfriends in New York and Toronto, the female-friendly commentary keeps women entertained during football, hockey, basketball, baseball games and more. The lively discussion follows sports from a woman’s point of view including everything from interpreting the rules of the game to coaches in need of a makeover.”

In a more recent interview on The Current they claim to be an “alternative” female voice and not a representative one, in which case they might reconsider language so broad as “from a woman’s point of view”. WhileTheMenWatch has caught on enough that CBC is giving them an online segment during the Stanley Cup Finals. Don’t like where some of our tax dollars go? As Jon Stewart says, “Join the ****ing club.”

Stereotyping, reductive, gross, yup, it’s all of those. But I do question the “Setting Women Back” conversation that’s happening around WhileTheMenWatch. First though, my reaction to Lena and Jules’ (WhileTheMenWatch Hosts) interview last year on Urban Rush. It sums up quite perfectly the belief system behind their commentary (which CBC has deemed valuable enough for a national audience), and is indeed the most difficult seven minutes and five seconds I’ve struggled through in a very long time.

They discuss how it originated:

“One afternoon…we were on the phone together while both of our men…were watching the football game and Jules and I started doing our own commentary…We talked about which coaches needed a makeover…We found it entertaining and so did our men, so we thought we’d take it to the next level.”

Fright is a great word to describe what I felt listening to that. Maybe their boyfriends find it endearing, but if it were me I’d find the way they said “our men” not just possessive but also treating me like I’m interchangeable (Listen to their voices when they say “our men”. Play it back a couple times. Ack). Do these men have names? We never do find out. No long term partner I’ve had would have felt valued if I’d called her “my woman” Read more

Posted on by Taylor Lewis in Can-Con, Feminism, Pop Culture 1 Comment

Gender Focus Panel: While the Men Watch

While the Men WatchThis past week the CBC ignited a teeny firestorm when it announced Hockey Night in Canada would be partnering with “While the Men Watch” – an audiocast and website hosted by two women friends and billed as “a first of its kind, live sports talk-show for women.”

According to the site:

“The female-friendly commentary keeps women entertained during football, hockey, basketball, baseball games and more.  The lively discussion follows sports from a woman’s point of view including everything from interpreting the rules of the game to coaches in need of a makeover.”

Co-host and co-creator Lena Sutherland appeared on CBC’s The Current earlier this week to defend the show, stating: “Well we recognize that it’s not for everyone. We’re having fun with it. It’s meant to be entertainment. All in good fun.” She made it clear she and co-host Jules Mancuso are not trying to replace or emulate female sportscasters, but that this is “an alternative option”. Canadian women’s hockey legends Cassie Campbell-Pascal and Sami Jo Small also appeared on the show to say they didn’t see the harm, but hockey blogger Julie Veilleux and some hockey fans who were interviewed say “While the Men Watch” is far from harmless.

“While I agree that it is entertainment I think that the way it’s executed is a little bit problematic….some examples like ‘Things Not to Say to Your Man After His Team Loses in the Finals’…they’re saying you can’t really refuse sex to your partner, basically. You need to take one for the team,” said Veilleux. She continued:

“What I think is that a lot of female fans are kind of tired of being put in that same box all the time and it really does feel like CBC or Hockey Night in Canada is treating all the female fans differently…it’s really hard not to feel that way when it’s called While the Men Watch, while they say themselves, you know, it’s the female perspective.”

OpenFile blogger Saira Peesker calls it  “brutal”, “unwatchable” and “taxpayer-funded sexism”. But what do Gender Focus contributors think about this? Check in with the panel after the jump.

Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Pop Culture 1 Comment

2011 in BC Women’s Sports

Olympic gold medallist Maelle Ricker is currently competing in the snowboard World Cup

The Georgia Straight published an article entitled “Vancouver and BC Sports Teams Make History in 2011″. The article provided pretty solid coverage of major men’s sporting events, but left out the key achievements of Vancouver women athletes. It also failed to mention achivements at the 2011 North America Outgames, which Vancouver hosted this year, as well as the lowlights of 2011 for women in sport.

Here’s my attempt to bring a bit more balance to the discussion, starting with the 2011 highlights. I’m sure I’ve missed some, so if you know of any more BC women athletes’ achievements over the past year, please comment below.

Highlights:

  1. Women’s ski jumping was finally approved for the 2014 Olympics, after the hard work of Canadian women ski jumpers who had hoped to compete in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
  2. The Winter X Games were good to Canadians, especially women. Whistler resident Sarah Burke took home gold in the women’s superpipe, and Kelownatonian Kelsey Serwa won gold in Women’s Skier X. Serwa also won her second consecutive World Cup ski cross gold medal just last week. Vancouver sports fans should also keep an eye out for Squamish resident and Olympic gold medallist Maelle Ricker, who’s competing in the snowboard World Cup this week.
  3. Vancouver hosted thousands of GLBT athletes (as well as friends and allies) for the 2011 North America Outgames this past July. In addition to sporting events – which included conventional summer events as well as some with more local flavour, such as dragon boating – OutGames also put on a human rights conference and cultural events.

Lowlights:

Ad for the Vancouver Whitecaps

  1. The Vancouver Whitecaps kicked off their first season as a Major League (men’s) soccer team with a sexist and objectifying ad campaign featuring a model in a body-painted Whitecaps jersey.
  2. The Amateur International Boxing Association announced they are considering regulation changes which would force women boxers to wear miniskirts in competition. This isn’t BC-specific but may effect women athletes from BC in the future.
  3. The Lingerie Football League announced they were bringing a league to Vancouver in 2012. This wouldn’t necessarily bother me except there’s no real choice for women to choose to play fully-clothed in another league and still get the same amount of attention. Then, to top it off, the league makes money off objectifying the women but doesn’t even pay them. Here’s a description from Global News:

The play is full-contact and players are outfitted in shoulder and elbow pads, knee pads, and hockey-style helmets with visors, along with skimpy panties and garters.

Players are not paid, but their travel costs are covered by the organization.

But it’s safe, right? Maybe not. After the Toronto Triumph Lingerie Football Club played its first game earlier this year, four players walked out, citing poor management, shoddy equipment, and safety concerns: “Sprained ankles, concussions and pulled hamstrings were among the injuries sustained by Triumph players in their first game against the Tampa Breeze in September, Dalla Giustina said, adding their team had no medical staff.”

And in case you think there’s a chance the LFL is interested in athletes who don’t meet beauty ideals, let LFL representative Mitchell Mortaza dispel that notion:

Mortaza, who flew in from Los Angeles to get the Toronto Triumph started, said the women are assessed on their skill as well as their appearance.

“It’s primarily athletics,” he said. “And then they have to be marketable, they have to be in shape, they have to have an element of beauty. And more important than anything they have to be confident.”

And so another year goes by and women athletes continue working hard, achieving within a society that puts tremendous pressure on them to conform to gender norms and prove their femininity by playing football in bras or posing in swimsuits. When conventional beauty and sex appeal become a pre-requisite of athletic fame, that’s a problem.

Women athletes frequently get left out of the year-end sports highlight lists like the one the Georgia Straight did or the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year shortlist. Women athletes should be recognized for their wins just like men are, and so too should the issues they face be considered when evaluating how good a year it was for sport.

-Jarrah

(Lingerie Football photo by John via Wikimedia Commons, photo of Maelle Ricker also via Wikimedia commons, by Tyler.)

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, LGBT Leave a comment