Following a defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals in Vancouver on April 22nd, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was interviewed by Karen Thomson for Team 1040 radio. She asked Keith specifically about a two-handed slash to the back of Canucks forward Daniel Sedin after he scored Vancouver’s third goal of the game. Keith condescendingly suggested that no such incident happened.

Oh, no. I don’t think there was. I think he scored a nice goal, and that’s what the ref saw. Maybe we should get you as a ref maybe, eh? The first female referee. Can’t play probably either, right? But you’re thinking the game, like you know it? Yeah, see ya.

Demeaning and unprofessional? Certainly. Sexist? I’m not entirely sure.

Collecting player quotes is never easy, let alone in a hostile environment. Thomson knew what she was doing in asking Keith about the controversial play. She was trying to provoke a response just like any other reporter would attempt. The risk she ran was that Keith would act as he did toward her. Whether male or female, the faulty “never played the game, so you don’t understand” argument is always a possibility.

The only evidence of gender-based discrimination was Keith mentioning that Thomson would be the first female referee in his made-up scenario. The comment hints that Keith might have seen Thomson as a woman first, and a reporter second, possibly motivating his dismissive and patronizing attitude toward her. However, to convict him of sexism in our minds for this would take a lot of assumptive thinking.

Both parties in the dispute quickly moved on, blaming the immediacy of the interview to a tough loss for the contentious tone of Keith’s interaction.

Then, on Saturday night, during his Coach’s Corner segment on CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada, Don Cherry resurrected the incident for the purpose of promoting his own opinion that women shouldn’t be allowed in an NHL dressing room at all.


As we’re all aware, the physicality of the male anatomy is so intoxicating to the female gaze that when feminine eyes are presented with the flesh of athletic men, women are likely to lose all sense of control over their urges and ravish any man in the vicinity, regardless of professional standards. Or so Cherry would suggest.

I really believe this, I don’t believe women should be in the male dressing room.

Why is that? According to the boisterous television personality, the reason, and I use the term loosely, is that allowing women in an area where naked men might congregate is discriminatory toward men.

I don’t feel that women are equal. They’re above us. And I think they’re on a pedestal. And they should not be walking in when naked guys are walking in.

Yes, because whenever I think of professional athletics and sports media, I shed a tear for all of the poor men who have struggled under the domain of female dominated industries.

While this may be what Cherry is laughably suggesting on television, it feels like there’s an ulterior motive for the commentator’s monologue involving the promotion of gender normative ideals. The former hockey coach, a poster child for leaning on nostalgia to promote a fictionalized version of an over-sanitized past, is hearkening back to the good ol’ days with his take, when gender was easily defined and classified by its roles. Men work. Women stay at home.

It’s the promotion of a discriminatory divide. The irony of the situation is that Cherry began his rant by suggesting that Keith’s comments were innocuous, and it was Vancouver reporters who erroneously took his words and shaped it into something that it wasn’t to fit their own agenda. He then proceeded to essentially use Keith’s comments as a launching pad to proselytize on his own blatantly sexist ideals, and voice a far more harmful worldview than any reporter claimed of Keith.

I realize that voicing criticism of Cherry is fishing in a stocked pond, and that the immediate reaction of most is to laugh his comments off and criticize others who don’t do the same for failing to realize his shtick. I get it. He’s a clown. A fool. I’ve even written about it before.

However, in this particular instance, I feel that not standing up to ignorance is more harmful than usual. I hesitate to use the “think of the children” ploy to cement an argument, but watching Cherry’s performance on Saturday night, I couldn’t help it.

I thought of children. I thought of little girls with their brothers, sisters, moms and dads, or whatever combination of family members best describes their specific situation. I imagined them watching this man on television. He’s an older man, of an age for which they have been taught to treat with respect. And I wondered at what sort of impact he might have on them as he purposefully sought to limit what they could do based solely on their gender, all under the guise of telling-it-like-it-is entertainment.

Comments (38)

  1. My girlfriend and I got into a disagreement about whether or not women should be allowed in male dressing rooms. Her argument against it, was that men are not allowed in women’s dressing rooms and that is enough evidence.

    While I agree men probably shouldn’t be in the changing areas for female athletes, why is there not a changing area and a place still considered the teams locker room where equipment is stored and people can do interviews?

    Basically my thought is for men’s teams each team should have a vote before the season starts about whether a vast majority (if not unanimous) to allow female reporters in as a compromise?

  2. What’s your take on male reporters in female locker rooms? Do you think that they would eventually have a sexual harassment lawsuit if they did allow male reporters into a female locker room.

    • I can only speak from experience in Blue Jays locker room. There are areas the press aren’t allowed. And no one is following anyone into showers. You can get changed discreetly pretty much anywhere. Most players just don’t care.

      I have no problems with men in female dressing rooms either. As long as, once again, there are areas women can go if they feel uncomfortable or overexposed, just as it is for men.

  3. “As we’re all aware, the physicality of the male anatomy is so intoxicating to the female gaze that when feminine eyes are presented with the flesh of athletic men, women are likely to lose all sense of control over their urges and ravish any man in the vicinity, regardless of professional standards. Or so Cherry would suggest.”

    This is so unfair. He said and suggested NOTHING of the sort.

    • I’m inferring and questioning whether this is what was meant about how uncomfortable he said he was with the female reporter with naked men around her.

      • So, then, how about, “It’s bad enough that people feel that they have the right to interview me while I’m naked. I could put up with this when it’s mostly straight guys, because I don’t feel any significant risk of uncomfortable sexual tension. When it’s all guys, I can at least pretend that none of them are gay and there’s no risk of tension. When there are women present, I find it much more difficult to maintain that fantasy.” I really don’t find that particularly unreasonable.

        I agree that we’d solve this problem much more effectively by simply stopping this relic of a practice of interviewing players any less than fully-clothed. This would make it much more difficult to justify excluding anyone with press credentials.

        • But J.B., wouldn’t you say that the basis of the conceived “sexual tension” is based on the idea that the other person is attracted to you in your state of undress?

          • That’s one possibility. Another is conditioned prudeness. (Same root, perhaps, but different result.) But even so, isn’t *all* nudity taboo based on the notion of unwanted sexual feelings? It could be attraction, repulsion, objectification, any such. Unless you’re suggesting we end nudity taboos, I’m not sure where you’re going with the question.

      • You didn’t infer anything. You created a false narrative to argue your point against, which is typical amateur blogger bullshit.

    • Agreed. The rest of the media love when Cherry says something like this, it gives them a chance to get noticed by spewing their own take on it. To say Cherrys comments will impact a childs life is laughable.

    • “he purposefully sought to limit what they could do based solely on their gender”. Tell me you’re joking.

      • No. I’m dead serious. The proliferation of an attitude that says you can’t do this because of your gender is incredibly limiting, and absolutely worth pointing out in my opinion.

        • It’s possible that “females” in this case is a convenient-but-ignorant-and-inflammatory shorthand for “not straight men”. In other words, Don might accept hanging around other straight men while naked in the locker room, because then presumably sexuality wouldn’t enter the equation. He doesn’t have to be sexist or prejudiced in order to feel this way: he could simply be a prude, have body issues, or be generally uncomfortable with sex.

  4. I really think that all reporters (and cameras) should not be allowed in dressing rooms. Do we really need a banal quote from a naked athlete so bad that we can’t wait 10 minutes for them to put on some clothes? And besides I think most of the quotes that are pulled from players in the locker room are used in reports published or aired the next day anyway, so why are we rushing to talk to players before they’re dressed? Personally I don’t really want to see a naked or even half-naked player on TV (male or female), no matter what really interesting stuff they might have to say.

    • It seems incredibly absurd. I think it’s preferred by athletes though. Most just want to get out of there after a game. Dressing while answering questions is about killing two birds with one stone, and getting them out of there faster, and in a less formal matter than a scrum in a media space outside the locker room might provide.

      I agree on how the weird emphasis placed on meaningless post game quotes, though. I don’t understand that at all.

  5. The sad part of it all, from reading the comments of the video and of the video with 32,000+ views (I know, why the hell did I subject myself to that?) is that there’s an overwhelming agreement with Don Cherry on the matter. Not just the top comments, but in all of the comments.

    Of course when you take the video to one of Gawker company’s websites you’ll get the opposite opinion, but the fact is that comments to the news like, “For once i actually agree with cherry…woman want their rights only when it benefits them,” are common among hockey circles.

    It would explain why anyone in an official capacity would think that creating a guide for women to watch hockey that involves fantasizing about the attractiveness of specific players would be a good idea. Some (not all) have not left the 50′s when it comes to respecting women.

    • You’re going to a very dark place if you’re going to use YouTube commenters as a sample of public opinion.

      • Unless the video is from a very specific biased source (like a video about men being better than women from a pro-men channel), Youtube and Twitter are good at showing two people arguing opposite sides of an argument.

        It’s very frightening to see the majority of the Twitter audience being in support of Jason Collins right now than a woman’s right to be in a male locker room (for women’s sake) solely because of which voice is sharing the message.

  6. Not really relevant to your argument, but I’m reading that the whole thing started when Keith (in this case, allegedly) slashed another player. Whether or not it happened this time or not, countless times during hockey games there’s this kind of behaviour. I’d say childish behaviour but I think most children would often know better.

    The whole scenario from the “slash” to the comments made after the game to Cherry’s ridiculous views is awful. Since becoming a parent, I’ve realized I can’t honestly put hockey in front of my kids because of this kind of immoral (for lack of a better word) behaviour, which is regular. Do I want my kids hearing what Cherry has to say about pretty much anything or what Keith thinks about women or playing sports less than respectfully? It’s enough to turn me off as well. This hockey “code” exists that whenever someone mentions something in a hockey context, suddenly it’s OK. It is not nearly as rampant in any other sport.

    //Rant over, continue on with your lives

  7. how about “No REPORTERS IN DRESSING ROOMS” there! no more problems! they can wait tell the Athletes are done and dressed! there! one happy world :)

    • This is my thought exactly. It eliminates all the questions of “Should women be in the male dressing room? Should men be in the female dressing room?” It is perfectly fair and equal to all parties.

      Additionally, I am not sure if anything worthwhile has ever come from a locker room interview (well, except for “That’s a clown question bro”). Let the players change, calm down from the emotion of the game, and answer the questions when they are in the right state of mind.

  8. I think the bottom line is that if you can’t get into the dressing room, you can’t do your job as well as someone else who does have access to the dressing room. So many of the quotes that are used in TV, radio, and written pieces come from the interviews in the locker room. If you deny female reporters access to this, you prevent them from doing their job fully.

  9. Come on. As every successful guy already knows, never put the pussy on a pedestal.

  10. Let’em in the change room and let’em die in war.

  11. “Why is that? According to the boisterous television personality, the reason, and I use the term loosely, is that allowing women in an area where naked men might congregate is discriminatory toward men.

    I don’t feel that women are equal. They’re above us. And I think they’re on a pedestal. And they should not be walking in when naked guys are walking in.

    Yes, because whenever I think of professional athletics and sports media, I shed a tear for all of the poor men who have struggled under the domain of female dominated industries.”

    I don’t think Cherry was saying it’s discriminatory toward men; I think he’s saying exposing the fairer sex to boorish men and their icky dangly bits is degrading to women.

    Not that I agree, but I think that’s what Cherry was trying to say.

    • But that in itself is discriminatory because it suggests that women are some sort of fairer sex, unable to handle the rough and tumble world of manly men.

      • Because they can’t compete in manly realms.

        How many women are capable of competing against men in pro sports?

        Why are there so few women who take roughneck jobs?

        Why do they have to drop physical standards in the armed forces and fire fighting in order to make it possible to get in?

        Men and women are inherently different and should be treated accordingly

        • Don’t see how they can’t compete equally in journalism. No physical standards to be met there.

        • Physically, I agree. What we generally accept to be men and women are different. But before you definitely say one way or the other in terms of every other way, I’d encourage you to do some reading and maybe consider some additional information beyond your own observations.

          • It extends past the physical realm.

            Even with there being 3 women enrolling into university for every 2 men there are very few women who go into STEM jobs.

            Tell me, why is it that Engineers are 90% male?

            Why do women only account for 5% of new patents?’

            So no, it extends past the physical.

      • Yes, I agree.

        All I was saying was that I believe you were wrong in assessing his intent. He is still a fool. I’m nitpicking, basically.

        Good piece, keep up the good work!

        • oops. that last one was to dustin (Yes, I agree…).

          The previous one being directed to ggg

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