The WHL Tries To Address Rape Culture With a Guy Who Doesn’t Believe In It

Just in case you thought the NHL was the only hockey league completely lacking in basic humanity and incapable of making a single good decision that might inspire some trust in them from their female fans, the WHL is here to assure you ‘no, us too.’

Apparently in response to a series of high profile incidents indicating the rampant misogyny existent in the Canadian Junior Hockey ranks, the WHL decided that its players should learn about inappropriate behavior towards women…

from a cop who doesn’t think rape culture exists

and doesn’t understand consent laws

and thinks it’s “unfortunate” that sharing nude photos of someone without their consent is illegal.

“I’ve played in [hockey] culture for a long time and I’m not going to sit here and claim that it’s never happened before… sexual assaults or rapes or whatever, because I’m quite certain it has, but I just don’t believe it’s a culture at all.”

Steve Kelly, a former NHLer and current cop tasked with educating WHL players should probably attempt to understand rape culture before saying he doesn’t believe in it.  Kelly seems to think that ‘rape culture’ means that rapes are happening all the time, everywhere, to everyone.  Which is depressingly not far from the truth, but ‘rape culture’ describes the facets of society that allow rapists to escape without punishment, if they’re even found out at all as well as a litany of other acts of violence directed at women like assault, harassment, stalking, etc.

“Back 15 or 20 years ago, when I was in junior hockey, people would jump on it and quickly dispel the myth of a woman who claimed sexual assault or rape or think she’s lying or whatever, and nowadays I think it’s turned the other way where they believe it, whether it happened or not,” he said, pointing to the recent controversy surrounding NHL superstar Patrick Kane. “So it’s kind of come around the other way, it’s still not, I don’t think, where it should be—an impartial investigation.”

Kelly treats rape accusations like they’re a 50-50 shot of whether a rape actually occurred when historically false accusations are very rare (and the article mentions this in the next paragraph).  And every idiot is entitled to their opinion, but this is someone the WHL has specifically chosen to educate their players on domestic violence, sexual assault, and general misogyny.  This person is being used as an authority of these subjects when they’re clearly nothing of the sort.

It’s even more damning that Kelly, an actual cop, doesn’t know anything about consent laws.

“The program covers the legalities of sexual consent, explaining that a person cannot give consent if they are intoxicated—information that Kelly described as “an eye opener, even for me.” It also talks about recently passed anti-cyberbullying legislation bill C-13, which makes it illegal to share sexual photos of a person without their permission.”

 Again, disappointing but reasonable for a member of the public.  Incredibly frightening for a cop.  Utterly incomprehensible for a cop that someone at the WHL thought should be educating players on these issues.  Surely Kelly agrees with the new legislation though, right?  (Emphasis mine.)

“I played hockey for a long time. I know the fact that there are girls out there that want to send you nude pictures,” said Kelly. Back then, he said a typical reaction would be, “‘Well yeah look they sent me a picture, I’m gonna send it out to everybody else and show my buddies or do whatever.’ And unfortunately, that’s not allowed, and you kind of have to tell guys, at some point here, it’s a brand new law but someone’s going to be made an example of, and I don’t think you want that to be yourself.”

Unfortunately?  UNFORTUNATELY?!?

This person that you’ve tasked with educating players thinks it’s unfortunate that an actual sex crime is now illegal?  Are you fucking serious?  I’m really curious as to what exactly Kelly thinks is unfortunate about it being illegal to ruin someone’s life by distributing naked photos of them without their consent that they’ve shared with you in confidence and intended for your eyes only.

“It promotes empathy amongst players in realizing that they have sisters that are in these spots, they have moms, females in their life and the kind of effect that doing something like this could have.”

At this point it’s almost like Kelly is playing rape culture bingo by acting like close or familial ties are required to expect players to exhibit basic human decency and then dehumanizing said women by referring to them as ‘females.’  I’m actually pretty sure the message here isn’t ‘don’t rape people because that’s someone’s daughter, sister, mom’ and instead is ‘don’t rape someone because you might lose your financial stability and not be able to buy things for your daughter, sister, mom.’

“A portion of a handbook that will be distributed to players focuses on how incidents affect athletes’ reputations, families and careers, he said.”






“Kirk Hill, senior manager of player development with WHL, said rape culture and misogyny in sports did not motivate the programming but that it’s more about “teaching our players about making the right decisions in life in general.”

Holy fucking hell, why are you distancing yourself from efforts to address a serious problem?  The WHL is GARBAGE.


About Alex

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