The Canadian women’s hockey team won the gold medal at the Olympics. Pandagon would like to congratulate these fine female athletes for their performance on the ice during the game, but also after the game, where they showed the world how to celebrate an Olympic gold medal.
They also commandeered the ice surfacing machine and drove around on it. To folks with common sense, this entire party on ice is about as surprising as the sun coming up in the morning. You don’t have to follow women’s hockey to know that female hockey players are athletes, and as such, will behave like athletes do when they win and win big. Which is, they party. They guzzle champagne and goof off. They celebrate themselves for kicking ass, as they should.
But of course, they are women and we all know that it’s just unladylike to show that much pride and ambition. And so they must be smacked down! But it’s also unseemly nowadays to be an overt sexist who comes right out and says, “Female athletes are illegitimate to begin with, and so the mere fact that we let them play sports should mean they act with extreme humility when they win, ideally taking those medals they win and immediately handing them over, heads down, to family members or perhaps the men’s team.” But I wish that people would just come out and say that, because the other option—besides the impossible “grow up and be happy for these women”—is fucking concern trolling.
The Canadian women’s ice hockey team have been forced to apologize for celebrating their Olympic gold by swigging champagne and smoking cigars, The Sun reported Friday.
The partying took place after the players had collected their medals for their 2-0 win over the United States Thursday.
The International Olympic Committee had said it would investigate whether the public celebration was harmful to the image of the players and ice hockey in general.
Oh, I’m sure people will swear up and down that men would get the same treatment. And maybe they will….from here on out. But let’s not fool ourselves here. Some of the complaints are serious reaches, and not just when you express the idea that hockey players guzzling champagne (which is what the male winners of the Stanley Cup do as a tradition) is somehow an embarrassment to hockey’s image. That they had to fend off complaints that this encouraged smoking is even sillier, but the mother of all concern troll complaints is that a player on the team was “underage” at 18, which is the drinking age in many parts of Canada. That’s the sort of thing that screams “reach”, and the reaching is obviously due to the fact that a whole lot of people still have problems with female athletes, especially when they behave like athletes.
This tension seems pronounced when it comes to the Olympics, where a lot of properly feminine sports that involve costumes and the athletes starving themselves—like ice skating and gymnastics—are promoted heavily, and where women’s ski jump is still being kept out, with outdated arguments about ovary-jiggling being employed. A lot of the Olympics organizers take the notion that the athletes are role models way too seriously, and when you start talking “role model” expectations and women, you’re going to start seeing a lot of sexist assumptions about ladylike behavior being employed. Tracy Clark-Flory found at least one blogger using this incident to slam the very idea of women play “men’s” sports. I wish hockey was that much of a threat to the patriarchy.
But what this concern troll outcry really made me think of was a similar incident in 1999 that caused a million pointless op-eds of faux concern.
Yes, when Brandi Chastain kicked the winning goal for the women’s World Cup championship, and a million people used “modesty” as a cover to shame her for daring to celebrate her own athletic powers in the same way male soccer players do. To this day, the 2nd search when you type “brandi chastain” into Google is “brandi chastain controversy”, after “brandi chastain playboy”.
We’ve come a long way since then, I think, but clearly there are still a lot of people who think female athletes should only be permitted to play if they affect a ladylike humility about their own skills, perhaps even being a bit ashamed about doing unseemly things like winning.
If this is really a matter of role modeling, I’d say that the Canadian women’s hockey team are great role models for young women. Seeing a bunch of strong women go out there, kick ass, and then be proud of themselves for it, while telling naysayers to shove it up their asses? That’s the sort of thing young women need to see. Young women already are inundated with self-esteem stripping messages about how it’s naughty to win, shameful to be proud of yourself, and unsexy and threatening to be competitive. Nor do they need more messages about how achievement is only acceptable in women if it comes with self-effacing perfection.