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.
Hockey is an emotional game and things are often said in the heat of the moment. I think this is what happened last night. I’ve moved on
— Karen Thomson (@KJT1040) April 23, 2013
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.