A woman was standing next to a scout who she is assisting with scouting and statistical information. It was September and they were attending a hockey showcase. Suddenly, a man in front of them asked if she knew that she was standing in the scout registration line up.
She thought to herself how amusing it was for him to assume that as a woman she must have mistaken her place. She hoped that this would have been the last time for her to encounter such a preconception.
But yet again, she walked in a situation where a team’s ticket sales person questioned her possessing a scouting pass. At that point, something that felt at the showcase merely amusing turned into a slight annoyance inside of her. Frankly, it made her feel as if she had time traveled to the early 1800s.
Once more, her gender was seen as an incompetent organic form unable to understand hockey from the scouting perspective. Although, we have women who play hockey all the way to the National Championship level, there are women as referees even in the men’s games and recently a woman was hired as a coach in the NHL.
It is not a stunner if some associate hockey as a culture of hegemonic masculinity with emphasis on anger, violence and mindless group mentality against anything feminine.
But despite all this progress, we still encounter a perception of women solely as a fan, as a spouse, as a girlfriend, as an admirer; or anything else than as a scout who is attending the game to see how certain hockey players are performing.
From time to time, it sounds like for some people “speaking hockey” means using exclusively excessive amount of quantitative terms such as GP (games played), G (goals), A (assists), TP (total points), PIM (penalty minutes), +/- (plus and minus). These are justified ways to build a statistical profile, but the players are also humans. Why therefore qualitative qualities should not likewise apply?
When seeing the boys and young men being measured more by their value of quantity than their subjective qualities, it is not a stunner if some associate hockey as a culture of hegemonic masculinity with emphasis on anger, violence and mindless group mentality against anything feminine.
In other words, how could the men involved in hockey approach women as subjective, when they themselves are constantly living in a state of mind where the emphasis is on how fast or slow you are, how big or tiny, how heavy or light?
Young men and men wish to have a way to reflect on toxic ideals of masculinity. Additionally, they want to support the respectful behavior towards women.
Therefore, The Ontario Hockey League announcing the launch of OHL ONSIDE on November 22nd 2016 was good news. As described on the press release OHL ONSIDE is, in short; a program that aims to educate players and hockey staff to show respect towards women in their actions and words.
Among other points, the program teaches men how respecting women involves more than simply not committing sexual assault. According to the interviewees of the press release, young men and men wish to have a way to reflect on toxic ideals of masculinity. Additionally, they want to support the respectful behavior towards women.
Let’s hope that this program will surge leaders who continue to show an example of taking women as equal spectators, staff members and other hockey personnel along men.
It would be an ideal if the program’s message would reach the players family members, friends and volunteers. By offering a positive narrative we may finally archive false images of hockey masculinity and moreover the stereotypes towards women attending the games.