Friday, August 12, 2005

Rant about the return of the NHL that really does have something to do with feminism, honest

OK, so I'm a hockey fan. I realise that this may make some people want to revoke my feminist credentials immediately but I don't care. I grew up playing field hockey, it's the only one of the American Big 4 sports that I give a shit about, and anyone who doesn't like it can bite me.
Now that we've got that out of the way, the NHL is about to return! After a nasty and protracted labour war there will in fact be hockey this fall and I (and most of Canada) am very happy about that. What I am not happy about is that the team that I have followed for the past few years (Colorado Avalanche) has been completely dismantled - our star goalie has retired, most of the key players have been traded away, and the idiots who run the franchise allowed the best player on the planet (Peter Forsberg) to sign with another team. Morons. So, I am considering switching my allegiance to another team. Bear with me, I will be getting to the feminist part soon.
The situation is that the aformentioned best player in the world is now signed to a team that I despise (Philadelphia Flyers). The reason that I don't like the Flyers is that their GM (Bobby Clark) is a perfect example of everything about American (and Canadian) sports culture that is noxious and deeply fucked up. He spent years trading for players purely on the principle of trying to achieve the biggest team in the league just so they could physically overpower their opponents. Skill was apparently not a consideration. He is most famous for being part of a team referred to as the Broad Street Bullies, and they're not kidding. He is particularly famous for, in an international game against Russia, going out on the ice and deliberately breaking the ankle of the Russian team's best player (who I might add was considerably more talented than Clark). I don't mean they got in a scuffle and there was an unfortunate injury, I mean he deliberately broke the guy's ankle to take him out of the series. This is not a nice man. He is also famous for presiding over the worst case of potential wasted and a promising career derailed in the history of the NHL in the form of a player by the name of Eric Lindros. Clark is a dinosaur, and I'm deeply uncomfortable with the idea of supporting any organisation that has him at the helm.
Here's where the feminism part comes in (and the comment about the ways in which patriarchy fucks over men too that I promised Brian). A little over 10 years ago there was this guy who entered the league called Eric Lindros. For those who don't follow hockey, as a kid this guy was one of the most hyped players in history and was generally regarded as a phenom. He can skate, he has great hands and superior skills, and he's built like a Mack truck. In theory this guy should have been the perfect hockey player, and for a while it looked like he was going to be just that. Then he got hurt. This is where the patriarchal fun starts.
It turns out that Lindros seems to be a bit injury prone. It also seems like there's some wierd genetic susceptability to concussions in his family, as he has had about 10 concussions to date and his little brother had to quit hockey in his early twenties due to a really bad concussion. The interesting part is how Mr Clark in particular and the hockey/sports press in general reacted when Lindros started to suffer from injuries.
To put it bluntly, Clark called him a pussy. In public, in front of reporters. What makes it even worse is that the "what a wimp" type comments were made in reference to an injury where the guy got hurt during a game but decided that he would probably be OK, went back to the hotel and took a bath, and then passed out in the tub and was found by his roomate unconcious and basically bled white. Turns out he had a punctured lung and was suffering from internal bleeding, and that it the roomate hadn't found him he would have probably died. There was apparently a fight between Clark and the roomate, with Clark insisting that Lindros get on a plane to the team's next destination and the roomate insisting that there was no way in hell he was going to let that happen and that the man needed to see a doctor. The roomate won, Lindros recovered, and the whole thing turned into a gigantic mess with the entire Lindros family claiming that Clark was basically trying to kill their son and Clark calling Lindros a big baby and a wimp for complaining and for letting his parents speak on his behalf.
Now that I've given the background (sorry that was so long, I'm assuming that no-one reading would know anything about the history and it's relevant to what happened later) on to what really bothered me about all this. To my mind this whole situation is a perfect example of the way in which a patriarchal culture constructs masculinity, and the way in which it punishes and tries to shame men who don't fit the stereotype. Here we have a guy who's a professional hockey player. He's huge, he's freakishly strong and he's notoriously tough and agressive (for a while even a lot of other hockey players were scared of this guy). You would think that this is exactly what the patriarchy wants men to be like, right? The problem is the guy is also unusually close to his parents (Dad is his agent, Mom helps out with the finances, both parents leap to his defence in the press whenever anyone says anything negative about him). He's also famous for crying at a press conference when his little brother was forced to retire (this fact is brought up in almost every single article I've ever seen about the guy). Also, he loves herbal tea (another fact that every sports writer feels the need to bring up), likes to take long baths (and this is a bad thing why, exactly?), and has been a vocal supporter of women's hockey. He also used to share a house in Jersey with a much older guy (another fact that is inevitably brought up). He once stated that his favourite movie was Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Reporters also tends to bring up how oddly humble and lacking in ego the guy seems, and how articulate he is (with the implication being that this is a bit wierd for a hockey player - apparently they're supposed to communicate in monosyllabic grunts).
I'll bet you can see where I'm going with this, right? For as long as I can remember there have been rumours that the man is gay. Many of the rumours seem to start with his former boss, Clark. When the gay implication is not made there is still the constant suggestion that his behaviour is somehow inappropriate for a hockey player, that he's a bit of a wimp. This despite the fact that the guy is famous for getting into fights and is generally a bad-ass on the ice. And that he really is alarmingly huge and physically imposing.
The way in which the sports media reacts to Lindros has always fascinated me. I have no idea if the guy is gay and I don't really think it should matter. What interests me is that people THINK he's gay apparently based on (1) "too close" to his parents, (2) speaks in complete sentences and does not appear to be functionally illiterate, (3)likes tea, likes to cook (how very unmanly!) (4) likes to take baths (this is a wierd one for me, I was not aware that men were only allowed to take showers - do bathtubs have girl cooties?), (5) is very polite (duh, he's Canadian), (6) cried when his little brother got hurt (apparently displaying normal human emotions is also a bit suspect) (7) gets injured a lot and does not return to the game until his doctors give him the OK (now there's a masculine stereotype within the patriarchy that clearly does harm men), (8) may have non-stereotypically masculine taste in entertainment and (9) tends to keep his personal life under wraps (ie no constant parade of simpering bimbos as accessories).
So, according to our friends in the sports press the only acceptable persona for a professional athlete is to be a grunting neanderthal who doesn't give a shit about his family, has no non-macho-approved interests and is impervious to pain. If someone doesn't fit that profile then clearly he must be a great big fairy, or a complete wimp. Does anyone really think this idea benefits men? Or that this is a healthy way to define masculinity? Is this really the way in which the majority culture views masculinity, or is it just a case of people projecting their wierd psychosexual fantasies onto professional athletes?
This also brings up the fact that, when it comes to defining what is and is not appropriate masculine behaviour, men are a lot more harsh in reinforcing the stereotype than women are. There are very few women reporters who cover hockey, but the few who do are all a lot more sympathetic towards Lindros and a lot less likely to start laying on the judgements than their male counterparts are. Amongst the hockey fans I know the women are also a lot more inclined to go easy on the guy or even to sympathise with him. I don't think that this is a coincidence.
This has all been on my mind lately not just because the NHL is back in business but because I've been running into a lot of MRAs, and most of them seem to subscribe to the same model of masculinity as the sports press do, and I think that's deeply fucked up. If you really want to help men shouldn't you want to remove the pressure for them to conform to a strict stereotype that just doesn't work for a lot of people? It seems to me that the stereotype being invoked here is genuinely harmful to a lot of men in that it's setting the bar so high in terms of what constitutes an acceptable masculine persona that few men will ever be able to reach it. It's also completely screwing over men who are naturally inclined to be quiet, or thoughtful, or intellectual, or emotional, or gentle, or just not interested in the extreme form of gender Kabuki that is being advocated here. What about all the guys who just aren't macho by nature? What do the MRAs intend to do about them? And do they really not see the many ways in which reinforcing this stereotype is hurtful and downright dangerous to men?
I'm confused. What does everybody else think?

30 comments:

Arwen said...

Nothing anti-feminist that I can scan about you liking hockey: but maybe you really do need to move to Canada.

Lindros gets exactly the kind of gender-stereotype-pushing bull that makes me go nuts. There are a hell of a lot of expectations on my toddler boy's gender role that make me utterly crazed; I'm relieved not to have to cope with Barbie, but I've had to fight a constant barrage of boy-child-messages that positively reinforce behaviour he's NOT DISPLAYING. "Hah, hah, hah. Boys are so physically adventurous." When my kid is the most cautious kid I've ever met.
It's weird to the point of worrisome, and has totally blown away any doubts I have had about gender not being a socialized construct.

Anyway, I rant a lot about gender roles. This is where I think I must be lacking in feminist theory because I've had a few inklings that some see this as anti or non feminist. To me it seems that what sex you are is irrelevant in terms of how you like your nails done or what hot beverage you enjoy or what things you like to do or what you like wear. Those things are rigidly socialized, and although I wouldn't be shocked to find slight majorities of one sex or another enjoying one activity or another, I have a feeling the majorities would be slight.

Maybe this is the place where I sound less feminist than I think I am: I see most men these days as having as much restricted movement - if not sometimes more so - in their gender roles as we have in ours. (We've been fighting and getting more crap added to the possible-womanspace pile.) I wouldn't disagree that male privilege still exists; but it's more limited. In the most ridiculous example, we can wear skirts or pants. Men can only wear pants. (And boring ones at that.) I guess my hypothesis is that destroying heavily socialized gender roles would kill many of the sex-based symptoms of patriarchy. Patriarchy sucks for everyone, in the end.

Daddy Chip has written some interesting things about how he thinks that the things that used to be construed as "female" - nurturance, support, etc. - are being put down in general in society. So it's becoming more cool to be macho, whether you're male or female; but it's becoming more UNCOOL to be a "pussy", whether you're male or female.

So the value judgement on gender role - with 'girl' traits being lesser - is still as strong, but it's becoming slightly less twinned with female sex organs.

I'm sorting all this out in my head, and am really interested in other perspectives.

Cassandra Says said...

I'm so glad that you responded. I've actually been mulling over writing about this for ages but have been afraid that every other feminist I know might recoil in horror and accuse me of being a pod person.
I can see how having a son would bring all this to the forefront. Do you read Bitch PhD? She talks about boy-chld related issues sometimes too, though I get the sense she's a lot less stressed about it. I have a nephew who is the sweetest, gentlest kid you could ever hope to meet and it scares me to think the crap that he's going to come up against as he gets older.
(Cute nephew story. When I moved to the States P and I lived with his Mom for a few months until we found a place together, so I saw a lot of the kid who was 3 at the time. When we were about to move out and I was packing he followed me up to the attic one day and asked me if I was really moving. I said yes and he came up to me with big shiny toddler eyes and said "but if you go I'll miss you!". It kills me to think of him being subjected to all the "be a man and don't ever cry" crap)
I'm with you completely on the gender is socially constructed theory. I'm actually involved in a argument about this right now on another blog with a bunch or MRA guys who keep insisting on the "blue is for boys and pink is for girls" theory. It's driving me nuts. The wierd thing is, despite the "man-hating feminist" stereotype, I get the feeling that I actually like men in a real-life sense a lot more than they do. I'm certainly more willing to cut them some slack.
I do feel that society in general is trending towards a denigration of traditionally "feminine" traits, especially in the US (is that happening in Canada too) and that the pressures on men and women in terms of being required to perform whatever version of gender Kabuki the culture requires are starting to equalise. And I agree that I'm afraid to say it for fear of being judged as a bad feminist. This is why theorists like Mary Daly drive me nuts. I think some feminists are doing exactly what the MRAs accuse us of and making the illogical leap from "the patriarchy is bad" to "the patriarchy is men". I just can't understand how anyone could just write off half the human race the way Daly is, and I worry that it's discrediting the movement.
On the stereotype that feminists hate men I also find it interesting that the majority of people who I tend to hit it off with online are actually guys. What does that mean?

Cassandra Says said...

Also, I wonder if anyone who isn't Canadian will bother to slog through all the hockey set-up part of this post to get to the feminism-related part.

Tuomas said...

Oy, no problem with being a hockey fan. I kind of like hockey myself, enough to watch the World Championships and similar events (I don't generally watch NHL or the Finnish equivalent much. Hockey is the national sport here basically, and it is force-fed enough as it is.)

That story about Bobby Clark/ Eric Lindros pisses me off. I mean, he sounds like good guy, responsible, honest, and leaves his aggression in the ice (playing rough isn't bad in itself). Who the hell cares if he's tastes aren't "masculine"? I mean what sort of thugs are they trying to create, I'd think self-control and anger management issues would be a bad things? That Bobby Clark is a complete asshole.

I think a lot can be blamed on... hockey fans (not generalizing, of course, but certain types). I've watched the recent trend in Finnish hockey towards more "physical" game, hiring drug-using criminal thugs who have "a will to fight", that is, will to do anything to win including beating up another players, slamming the stick in face etc (which usually doesn't even help, in fact, quite the opposite, but it is supposed to intimidate the opposing team. Curiously, most friends who have actually played hockey are anything but easily intimidated). The fans come in to play in this because these "badass" players draw big audiences (fights etc.). They sell magazines. They are "interesting and controversial" and are obviously idolized by many.

Reminds me also of Esa Tikkanen (a Finn who played in the New York Rangers at some time) who was famous and controversial for his "Tiki-Talk", a combination of Finnish cursing, English insults and pure gibberish. He didn't do it out of humor - it really seemed like the guy was out of control, bit insane perhaps with all the anger management problems (and he was popular [in notorious way] and idolized for that in the NHL!). He is divorced now, his wife getting a divorce because of frequent domestic abuse. Physical violence, probably accompanied by heave dose of "Tiki-Talking". Sick (not as in forgive-him sick, but as in this pisses me off-sick).

Side note to Arwen, I've noticed too that "masculine" things are encouraged in girls, while "feminine" things aren't encouraged in anyone. I suppose it's the obsession with winning and competition in many societies. Be tough and survive (as if feminine qualities didn't allow that!)?

Tuomas said...

lack of self-control, I obviously mean.

Cassandra Says said...

I've actually had quite a few feminists cast aspersions on my hockey-watching habit, largely because there are a great many problems associated with the culture of the game (most notably a shocking number of rape allegations, particularly against Junior and college players. In Canada it seems to have a lot of the same issues football has in the US). It's something I feel a bit guilty about sometimes to be honest.
One interesting thing (which seriously tarnished my opinion of the guy by the way) is that early in his career Lindros was implicated in a few very sketchy off-ice incidents. In one he was charged with assault, which I believe involved either pouring a drink over or possibly hitting a woman in a bar (the whole thing was hushed up quickly, but it was rather disturbing, especially since he really is huge). There was another incident where a bunch of Philly players led by Lindros (who was captain at the time)approached and threatened/tried to intimidate a guy on the opposing team in the parking lot after a game. Nothing actually happened, but it was pretty clear that Clark had egged them on to do it and was very proud of them afterwards. Really, the man is an ass, which is why I am uncomfortable about supporting his team even with Forsberg there. Also interestingly, I've never heard anything about Lindros getting into trouble off-ice since getting away from Clark, so combined with the parking lot incident I suspect that he may be actively encouraging his players to misbehave.
I agree with you that the fans reinforce a lot of the bad behavior, and also that the level of nastiness in terms of stick fouls etc is getting worse. Also, Tikkanen always seemed like a wacko to me. If it soothes the Finnish national pride any Saku Koivu is generally considered to be a model of good behavior both on and off the ice.
I wonder how much of the increase in disdain for "feminine" qualities is due to the increase of what I can only call social Darwinism (Randian thinking, winner take all mentality).

Tuomas said...

Hmm, I see why one would feel guilty about liking such a violent sport with all the nasty side phenomenoms involved (fostering the jock mentality , which leads to rapes etc.) However, hockey doesn't have to be like that, that is why it might actually be a good thing that there are fans who focuse on appreciating the game, not the violent part of it (and players who behave well, and good coaches). I have to say that junior hockey is rather sucky here too, it seems that many parents (dads) who put their boys there seem to be doing it to ensure their sons turn out "manly and not gay". And these guys sometimes end up having serious entitlement issues.

Now, this Clark stuff is getting me more and more pissed off. Has he been getting good results by the way, besides being allowed to act like a total moron?

Cassandra Says said...

Yes and no. The Flyers are consistently near the top of their division, and always make the playoffs, but they never actually win. The one time they made it to the finals they got their asses handed to them. Now admittedly the Detroit team that beat them was phenomenal, but the Flyers really did crumble very quickly. It was as if the possibility of meeting a better team had never occurred to them. Many people blame Clark for not mentally preparing what was a very young team (I think the average age was about 24/25). Also, Clark made Lindros captain when he was very young, and most of the hockey press at the time thought that Lindros was not a good leader in terms of personality(too quiet, too shy, not much of a cheerleading type) and then tried to blame the collapse of the team on Lindros (a bit unfair since he would have been about 23 at the time). Clark seems to make a lot of bad decisions, IMO, and tends not to take responsibility for mistakes. He seems a bit childish in fact.

Tuomas said...

Could it be that during games that don't matter that much (League season games) the opposing team can be bullied into submission, but during playoffs (in which everyone is really determined) other teams just ignore the macho posing and just win?

Cassandra Says said...

Tuomas, I think it's more that during the regular season each team has to play a lot of other teams that aren't that great. The farther they advance in the playoffs the tougher the opposition they have to fact. By the finals they will inevitably be facing a very good team. Throwing one's weight around can't beat a team who are better on defence, better positionally, play better as a team and have a better goalie. The goon stuff just isn't as effective against a really great team.

Cassandra Says said...

Arwen - out of curiosity, do you see any difference between the gender stereotype pushing directed at Lindros in the Canadian press and the stuff coming out of the US? The US has taken a notable step towards the Right, with a corresponding love of all things macho, in recent years. I'm not sure if the same thing is happening in Canada too. And have you seen the same kind of thing directed at any other public figures? I have always been under the impression that Lindros is very much disliked in Canada for some non-gender-related stuff (contract issues etc) so I'm not sure how much of this is really attributable to gender roles and how much might be some other thing that I'm not aware of.

Anonymous said...

As an aside, Cassandra, if your love of hockey grew out of field hockey, what do you think of hurley and shinty, which are in some ways equally close relatives?

I'm glad to hear another voice in the "patriarchy isn't just men hating women" chorus -- and I think we're a majority. Patriarchy isn't a group of people. It's a social structure. It's a social structure that walls off parts of life, and parts of humanity, based on more-or-less arbitrary gender divisions.

It tremendously benefits men, and it oppresses women. I never forget, for example, that I don't have to worry about being raped.

But as anyone who has studied game theory will tell you, there is a version of the classic "prisoner's dilemma" where the outcome possible from cooperation is better for both sides than the outcome from competition provides to either.

We're trapped in this gender structure, this walled castle that men defend. We man the battlements and try to keep the women from getting at our privilege, we keep the gate barred and we can't leave. The castle is a prison.

In the classic prisoner's dilemma, if the prisoners trust each other and say nothing, they both get released. If they can only trust each other.

Thomas

Anonymous said...

Arwen, I'm raising a toddler boy, too. It is really important to me that he see me as an example that men can have feelings and show affection.

Every morning I get up and get him out of his crib with his bottle (he's just short of 20 months, and drinks from a sippy-cup all day, but still loves his morning milk from a bottle), and I bring him into bed with me to snuggle and wake up. This is often the happiest moment of my day.

Thomas

Cassandra Says said...

Have you ever read Sherri Tepper's "The Gate To Women's Country"? It's a horrifying book in many ways, but it's about jus the kind of men on one side of the castle walls, women on the other situation you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

I generally do not read fiction, and I have never read Tepper. I was so engrossed in Stiffed, however, that I had my head buried in the hardcover and missed my subway stop -- the only time in many years of subway commuting that I ever missed my stop while awake.

Thomas

Cassandra Says said...

On another note referring to Tuomas's comment earlier I have never understood the idea that one can "make" their kid not be gay, or indeed that expose to gender-innapropriate things can "make" the kid gay. To me sexual orientation is like eye color or the shape of one' nose, ie it's part of the package we're born with. All these parents are doing is forcing their kids to take part in ye olde gender Kabuki again. What's the point in making your kids lie to themselves and to others?

Anonymous said...

Cassandra, on the subject of sexual and affectional orientation, I think we have to say we just do not know. First, it is too multifactorial to simply conflate sexual orientation, gender identity and affectional orientation into one thing. Second, it would seem there is at least some genetic causation -- but in humans, where the same genes can express as different phenomena in different circumstances, that is only the start of the inquiry. Finally, there is such a thing as free will, and at least in the realm of sexual activity, if not romance, some people can simply decide to move in a certain direction.

But even if there is some early childhood causation, trying to prevent a boy from being gay be enforcing rigid gender roles is like trying to garden by growing roses in an aquarium -- stupid, and a good way to kill the plant.

We're a long was from knowing what it really even means to be homosexual or bisexual, let alone how people get that way. Hell, serious scientists can't even seem to figure out that what images one gets physically aroused to is not the sum total of sexual/affectional orientation.

Thomas

Arwen said...

It's interesting to me that the encouragement of the "masculine" - which women did fight for the right to express, and I'm not giving it up - is exactly the right thing for a capitalist economy. I wonder: even if women hadn't pushed for admission to the workplace, would the market eventually have brought us there? Especially in pink collar ghettos - seems that the economy loves the underpaid.

I do read Bitch PhD. You're right, she seems less stressed about the thing, but of course, gender construction is really what gets under my skin in general because I've been so "different" than the average girl for much of my life. That's what's been in my face (all the mainstream stereotypes), but I haven't dealt with a lot of out-and-out misogyny in my peer group: as a geek grrl, I've been rather well treated and encouraged.

I don't know if I would say that hockey watching is a bad feminist decision - there is a macho and bullshit culture in so much of society, not just hockey. Does boycotting fix anything? Or just marginalize and alienate yourself? If you love hockey than you can sneer mockingly at the dissing of Lindros, a discussion which might not otherwise happen. I mean, there's feminist discussion where the rubber hits the road: you n' I n' the other blog readers can sit around all day and agree with each other, but perhaps suburban hockey fan X hasn't even started to question these things. And maybe he doesn't want to be queer, but maybe he also drinks herbal tea. As a fan with a spine, a vagina, an opinion, and a sense of self, an offhand comment from you may do more to challenge his house-o-cards worldview more than anything all of our theory and essays will say to him. If we want to change society, the overall culture does need to change, including hockey.

As a woman in a primarily male culture, I get the opportunity to say things about, say, the half-naked video game chicks: whereas Hillary Clinton is going to get a lot of eye rolling.

As for Lindros and coverage in Canada, I haven't heard a lot of name calling on his wuss factor. If anything, I've heard that he's agressive: although, yes, I've heard he's accident prone. He's coming to Toronto this season, I think ... right? Anyway, I listen to CBC and read the Globe n' Mail for news, and both of those attempt some level of political correctness. It may be all the water cooler talk around Lindros has been to question his sexuality or his manliness, but I'm not part of that water cooler group.

FoolishOwl said...

I think what's happened with gender is, roughly, women have had one step forward and two steps back, whereas men have had two steps back.

Thus, you get phenomena like MRAs who insist that women have gained at men's expense -- which is false, of course, but it's bound up with the accurate perception that their own lives have gotten worse.

It's difficult to talk about the problems of gender from a male perspective, partly because there is such a thing as "male privilege," and it's all too easy for men to drown out women in a conversation. Given that, the tendency of genuinely sexist men to ride in and start feminist-bashing given any excuse, and that there are a few women who seem to object to any idea that men have anything to complain about, and actual intelligent discussion becomes very difficult.

Cassandra Says said...

"It's interesting to me that the encouragement of the "masculine" - which women did fight for the right to express, and I'm not giving it up - is exactly the right thing for a capitalist economy"
Yep. There's definately a link between "traditional" masculinity and the kind of hyper-capitalism we're careening full speed towards. Things are starting to look suspiciously like Lord of the Flies, and in that scenario the "traditional" feminine characteristics are a great way to get your ass kicked. They are fast becomeing luxuries that anyone who swishes to succeed cannot afford.
I'm an odd case because I was a very tomboyish gilr (hence the interest in sports - I was the girl who could swim faster, run farther and hit a ball harder than any of the boys pre-puberty). The gender-stereotype-pushing that sets in at puberty hit me as a nasty shock. Ironically I am now outwardly rather femmey, but it took me a long time to get there (in fact it took unitl people stopped pushing it on me, which ALWAYS results in me pushing back).
I actually agree that there is value in feminists expressing non-stereotypical and unexpected viewpoints, partly from a diversity of voices viewpoint and partly to fight the anti-feminist stereotypes that are out there. I am also aware that as a woman who looks traditionally feminine AND has a personality that often allows me easy admittance to the boys club culture it's a lot easier for me to challenge preconceptions that it would be for, say, a butch lesbian, and I'm beginning to feel that there may be a way to use that advantage in service to the movement.

Cassandra Says said...

Also, it's interesting that there's less wussy name calling in Canada. It may be that I hear it more because I know a lot of guys who like hockey who are very un-feminist and traditionally macho. It may also be that Cananda is a bit more enlightened in terms of gender issues. What do you think? I rarely see any Canadian media so it's hard to tell (though I did note recently that you seem to have spawned a conservative fembot. Rachel something? Dark hair, mid/late twenties and speaks like a less rabid Ann Coulter).

Arwen said...

Well, I think that Canada is generally a country of turn-a-blind-eye: there may be as much intolerance but there's less need to do anything about it. That said, we too have a vocal right and BC, at least, is beginning to veer neo-con. Alberta's been there for a while. Ontario & Quebec - where most of the people live - have a strong fiscally conservative bent and are somewhat suspicious of the social conservatives that have recently come to roost in our conservative party...

Anyway, I would define the difference between Canada and America as this: in Canada, there are no truly "private" beaches (aside from some military or security concerns). If you have a house on the water, every 60 feet you need to provide beach access. Beaches are a community resource.

Anonymous said...

I was all signed on to the idea that men enforce patriarchal masculinity. I was talking with my wife about this thread, and she said, "I think women enforce it, too. You show strong emotion so rarely, and I want you to, but frankly it scares me when you do. A lot of women want guys who are strong and silent, and don't cry at hallmark cards. I count on you to be tough when I'm crying."

She's a Mount Holyoke alum, and no adherent to the cult of machismo, either.

She also reminded me how much I am emotionally restrained. I make an effort to be affectionate with friends and family, but I do somewhat live my life with an emotional range that runs the gamut from H to N rather than from A to Z. I could say this is my choice, but my choices are all the product of my responses to influences.

Thomas

Cassandra Says said...

About your wife's comment, I wonder how much of the fear is based on the fact that the only strong emotion men are usually permitted to show is anger? I wonder if women sometimes see "upset" and read it as "angry" even if that's not actually the case.
It can also be very strange to see someone break down if their usual emotional range is fairly limited. It freaks me out to see my Dad cry because he's usually so stoic, if he's crying I tend to assume that something is really, terribly wrong. One the other hand I've had male friends who're even more emotional than I am and been fine with it. It may be to do with seeing someone deviate from their usual pattern.
The funny thing about the strong and silent idea is that I would HATE someone like that. They would drive me nuts. I'm too sociable, I need someone to talk to! I guess part of what I'm trying to do with posts like this one is chip away at that idea male=stoic, because I think it's a crappy concept that has long since outlived it's usefulness. Frankly I think that it's time to give the whole strong silent man vs nurturing emotional woman concept a decent burial so we can all just assemble whatever kind of identity fits us most comfortably.

FoolishOwl said...

Before I forget, you might want to check out David Zirin's Edge of Sports. Zirin writes about sports from a socialist perspective. In particular, there's an article of his on the NHL, CSI: Hockey - How Owners Destroyed the NHL.

Zirin's recently published a book, What's My Name, Fool?, and he's going to be touring the country to promote it -- and will be in the Bay Area September 15-18.

Tuomas said...

A thought occured me about the hockey thing (and the masculinity/fear of feminine thing on the other thread) - Isn't Philadelphia a very liberal city (and liberal is usually associated with "femmey" things like valuing minorities etc.) and aren't many heartland cities in USA more conservative? It's interesting that a team from a "City of Brotherly Love" (I'm not sure if I got that right) plays very rough and has many fans that celebrate that roughness?

I've seen similar thing here: The most rough and physical team is Helsinki IFK, a team that has/had(?) Swedish-Finnish roots and ownership (and everyone here "knows" that Swedes are all either big-breasted blonde women or gay men). Could there be a trend in more liberal places having more physical teams, I wonder? A sort of "compensation" effect?

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