Somewhat randomly the tweets of one @sarahjeanmaher popped into my feed this morning. The topic was feminism and misogyny, specifically as they pertain to hockey:
- “Puck slut” is a sexist term. End of story. And you look foolish trying to prove otherwise.
- Does she have to know what an offside is to gain one’s respect? Get outta here.
- If a girl “pretends” to like hockey, I’d advise anyone to leave unwarranted negative connotations relative to her sex life out of it.
- Also, shaming a woman based on her sexual decisions is ALWAYS unwarranted. So you lose. Sadly, society still wins.
- What’s the term for male fans who ogle female athletes? Oh wait they “know the game” so it’s perfectly okay. Gotcha.
- …and it’s a male dominated industry so there will probably never be an alternative.
- If you’re extremely bothered by a woman who pretends to know the rules of the game…you really, REALLY need to get over it.
- What is the issue here? The fact that she has interest in hockey that may/may not be at your level? Or the fact that she likes sex?
Is she wrong? No. But she did get herself into a little trouble talking in absolutes. I would say that the culprit here is Twitter’s character limit, but she certainly opined enough on the topic to have the opportunity to provide more nuance. And while her explanation of her ire with how male and female fans are often not judged similarly certainly illuminates what she was really getting at, I still feel her words were somewhat poorly chosen.
Puck Slut is a sexist term if it’s used to demean. (Actually I would call it more misogynist, but that’s not that important to this discussion.) But it’s not always used to demean. Just like gay, queer, faggot, slut, whore, bitch, and, most famously, variations of the word nigger often rely heavily on context for their actual definition. If you want to speak in absolutes and say that these words are never okay, that’s fine, but then you’re no different from the oppressors because you’re telling people how they can and cannot define themselves and their relationships.
I’ll end with a story: I went to Clarkson University in the early 00s, when their women’s ice hockey team had just been moved up to Division I, the highest tier in American collegiate sports. A group of about thirty students, mostly men (Clarkson is an engineering school) started attending games as a group to show support as total attendance in those days was usually limited to parents and other relatives. (Read: 30 to 50 compared to the 2,000 to 4,000 of the men’s games.) Eventually we christened ourselves the Puck Slut Wannabes with shirts to match. (In that context ‘Puck Slut’ was more someone who actually slept with a player. Which is kind of nice because it avoided the assumption that any of the players would automatically want to sleep with our dumb asses.)