Chicks Before Sticks, Always

When I fell in love with hockey, I never knew how much it would change me. My years in the blogging game has changed my opinions, because as always I am a work in progress.  I have some past work here that I think I should take down or at least update to yell at myself for the things I said. But I leave it up. Because, I want to mark the journey. I think one thing I’ve battled with the most is just trying to be a fan of a thing. All kinds of fandom are littered with politics and hierarchy and no one really gives you a map to find your way.

For me, one of the most exhausting parts of it all is just dealing with the attitudes of others. I’m not talking about the superficial rivalries and joshing over team colors. It goes deeper to the downright ugly views and treatment a lot of fans do have when it comes to dictating the female hockey fan. That construct is a coffin at best.

The ongoing narrative is the special snowflake “I’m one of the guys/I don’t like female friends because of drama” that is instilled. The ideal female hockey fan is expected to be one of the guys and engage in the sport in a very specific manner. For a while, I did believe the tripe that I was somehow exceptional because I had very few friends who were women. I thought this was some kind of achievement that I managed to fit in with men,  eat whatever junk food and watch the game.

But it isolated me.

What hurt the most was how toxic these men were.  I sat there and over time was sickened and disgusted by the things they said from their cushy chairs in the power structure. If they thought so lowly of other women, what did they think of me? I felt like I was being poisoned while alone on this island. It fucking sucked. I suspect I was only kept around a joke and a means to pad their ego. Really I’ve felt this in some hockey writing circles as well.

It has struck me in the hockey fandom is how women don’t get to win. I’m so tired of how women are treated if they are new to the sport and know nothing or if they have years of stats and facts packed away in their brilliant minds. I’ve heard fans mock women for confusing players and others insulted for knowing more than a man.  A fan has to start somewhere, is something I have to endlessly remind people.

There is no victory with our minds and there most definitely is nothing to win with appearances. I’ve been slagged on for wearing too much makeup or even not wearing enough and looking plain. It’s just the continued onslaught that women need to be everything and nothing but still won’t get respect. I want to wear my team colors however I’d like because I look cute.

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And I don’t want guys screaming at me “but I’m not like that.” Well, if you aren’t you wouldn’t talk over me and invalidate mine and so many others feelings on this. You would listen. And you would listen to all the times a man has said something shit to us at a game. And you would take all this we carry with us and set a better example for others. You would say sorry and you would call others out to make this space better and more welcome for everyone.  You’d stop supporting the dominating voices that are causing these issues.

The more people bash on female fans, the more I support them and want to be their BFF. I’m not going to laugh when you say a player is fighting like a girl. I’m not amused by players names being feminized to devalue their skill and worth. And I’m not gonna bash the ice girls. Not here for that.

I hold my hockey harlots in the highest of regards. They are seriously amazing women who are supportive above and beyond the sport. They’ve entertained late night emails from me and sent along job postings. We’ve enthusiastically gushed over One Direction and yelled quotes from Bridesmaids at each other. I wouldn’t have these incredible lovelies in my life if I didn’t have hockey. And it guts me how often we are brushed aside and how you want women sequestered.