Female hockey fandom and the good ol' boys' club
What's a girl to do when the hockey world won't let her enjoy the game and the fandom?
By now, I'm probably infamous in hockey twitter as the woman who started the string of tweets that exposed Harrison Mooney as a serial sexual harasser. If I'm going to be honest, it's things like that that drove me away from wanting to be a part of hockey fandom. I didn't want to write about hockey anymore, I didn't want to talk about hockey anymore; I just wanted to enjoy the game in peace without fear of harassment.
I've been harassed by two hockey writers by my count, and I know other women have been harassed numerous times, too. Plain and simple: being a hockey fan online isn't a safe space for women. In fact, it's downright frightening at times.
It's no secret that hockey is notoriously a white bro sport, white as the ice they play on. The boys' club that watches and writes about it is what it is: a boys' club. It's men of all spades who get to dictate what the culture is like. While understandable on the ice (because, well, it is a boys' club in the locker room), why should it extend to how fandom should be? Why should it be around to isolate women?
But! Hockey fans come in all forms — intersectionality exists for a reason — and that's good! Telling them to keep quiet when there's an injustice, such as sexual harassment, isn't helping anyone. If one woman speaks up about being harassed, the response shouldn't be to shame her or to harass her even more or to not believe her. Support her, believe her, let her know it's not her fault (because it's not! No one asks to be sexually harassed).
"She's only doing it for the attention!"
No, let me tell you, most women who have experienced things like these often keep quiet because of the unwanted attention and harassment. If a woman — or any minority, for that matter — talks about being oppressed, you best believe them. It's hard to implement that on a wide scale, but hey, maybe starting in our little corner of hockey might actually do some good.
"Oh, she's a liar."
No, wrong again. What's the point of lying about something that legitimately scares you? Yeah, I thought so.
Hockey needs to be diverse, just as everything else in the world does, but starting to accept diversity on a micro level might pave the way for acceptance on a macro level. Keeping the minority genders out of the fandom only sets everyone back.
Telling women to keep quiet and accept that it's just part of the status quo sets everyone back. It also makes you look like a fool if you do this.
In order to truly enact change, you start with changing the systemic wrong, such as constant harassment. Condoning it only perpetuates the awful cycle that treats women like objects. People who identify as women aren't objects; they're so much more than that. Hell, they're pretty damn good hockey writers, too. Discrediting them because of their gender is such a sophomoric, sexist, misogynistic thing to do. And you don't want to be any of that, do you?
Hockey's a safe space for men, which shouldn't be the case. It should be a safe space for everyone to enjoy a great game.