Prepare Your Pitchforks! Why The Sharks Ice Girls Aren’t Sexist, But Some Of Their Critics Are
Here I will address the controversy surrounding the SJSharks Ice Team auditions, and take the unpopular stance, at least among the voices that dominate the internet, that the Sharks’ “Ice Team” is not an example of sexism like some have claimed it is. Please check your pitchforks at the door and enjoy!
A few weeks ago, the San Jose Sharks announced auditions for an “Ice Team.” The news came at a time when Sharks fans were already angry over the firing of Drew Remenda, not to mention the also-important playoff collapse. The “Ice Team” announcement gave these frustrated fans (and bloggers) an ideal excuse in this political correctness-obsessed climate to vent their anger at the organization and create a media stir through the guise of the Sharks being sexist. And vent and stir they did. Now even Puck Daddy has picked up the “story.” I don’t know when fans complaining constituted a story, but I guess we should know by now that all anyone has to do to get national attention these days is call something sexist (or racist).
The main argument that I’m going to address that many “Ice Team” critics are using stems from the fact they noticed some differences in the photos on the “Ice Team” audition webpage between how the men and women were dressed. And if you’ve paid attention to the way these social issues are discussed in our culture now, you’ve probably noticed a trend where anything involving men and women that isn’t the same or “equal” is increasingly being labelled as “sexist.” In this instance, “Ice Team” critics noticed that the outfits for the women in the pictures leave what looks to be about an inch and a half of skin uncovered from the waist to just below the navel, while the men’s outfits don’t reveal any upper-body skin. This is a difference, so many believe it must also be sexist. To them, everyone has to be identical. Men and women cannot feel differently, think differently, or look different under any circumstances. And while not every critic of the “Ice Team” subscribes to this belief system, as some no doubt have their own unique reasons for their positions, it certainly encapsulates the number one complaint I’ve seen critics raise on the issue. In their exact words: the women are being "sexualized" for "eye candy" but the men aren't. This is the central argument critics now use to justify calling the Sharks “sexist.”
Why don’t I agree with them? Before answering, I just want to state that even if some of you reading are against NHL “Ice Teams,” it’s still very possible to dislike the idea for different reasons than I’m touching on here. The only people I’m addressing are the critics who claim that because the men aren’t dressed the same as the women, the Sharks “Ice Team” has to be sexist, and even beyond that, the people who can’t accept or contextualize any differences between men and women, and who probably think weddings are sexist, too, because men wear suits or tuxedos to them, while women wear dresses. “If the women are expected to wear dresses, why aren’t the men? That’s sexist.” That is the logic I’m addressing here. If that’s not you, then this isn’t describing you at all. And if you dislike the idea of “Ice Girls” for a different reason than those people whose argument I’ve heard most prominently among the Ice Team critics, I’m definitely open to hearing yours as well.
As for those of you who do fall into that group which believes men and women cannot be different, if you still disagree with me after reading this, I’ll respect that just so long as it’s on the merits. But just being generally “offended” because someone disagreed with you, a scenario that has been known to happen on the internet, does not mean anything. Just feeling that you’re right and that I’m blasphemous does not make either true. Feelings, especially ones about politics or social issues, can often stem from biases or belief in propaganda. Hell, if you tried telling a group of North Korean citizens that their government was corrupt and oppressive, many of them would deny it and maybe even breaks into tears. A lot of them cried just at the sight of their Supreme Leader King Jong-un during a basketball game. I remember seeing that on Vice when Dennis Rodman visited. Many there worship Jong-un. They grew up with their government-controlled televisions telling them how great he is, and now they believe it and feel in their bones that it is the truth. Even though he’s actually not a very good guy at all from what we’ve all read about him in the US.
I use that example because it illustrates in a definitive way just how unreliable feelings can be in terms of representing, assessing, and responding to truth on an intellectual level. Logic and facts determine what’s true in discussions like these, not feelings and gut reactions of “offense,” so for those that are itching to judge me, just away, but just make sure you do it on the right criteria otherwise it won’t hold up to a jury (kind of a backwards metaphor but still I kind of like it!).
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to those brass facts and the question at hand: do those critics have a point when they say the “Ice Girls” are an example of sexism? If not, how does one explain why the women's "Ice Team" outfits show midriff, but the men's do not?
You already know where I stand from the title. I do not believe they have a point. And no, I don’t agree that it’s sexism. The women's outfits show skin because the majority of NHL fans, who are male (68% in terms of viewership in 2013, according to statista, and I believe much higher in terms of interacting. ***See end of blog for analysis with the full stats***) on the whole either enjoy seeing or don't mind seeing women in revealing, "sexy" outfits at hockey games. The men's outfits do not show skin because the majority of NHL fans, who are male, on the whole do not want to see men in revealing, “sexy” outfits at the hockey games. That’s the distinction these specific critics are missing. Not every domain is an “equal” domain. Not every form of entertainment relies on both genders equally to stay afloat economically and build their brand. Some forms of entertainment cater more to male interests than women’s, and some cater more to women’s interests than men’s. Not everything is “equal” in business because not every market is equal. This is professional men’s sports. Everything about the entertainment experience, including the eye candy, is going to be tailored more to men’s interests than women’s. Why? Because more men watch it, and more men pay for it, than women. Simple. That is not sexism, it is economics. It may feel unfair to all the great female fans out there, just like it may feel unfair to Democrats when a Republican wins an election and vice versa, but in economics like politics, the majority rules. And I know this is going to be frustrating to read for those female hockey fans who know that they’re just as much fans of the game as any men are. That’s true, and I really want to emphasize that. But from an economic standpoint, pro sports leagues don’t care about what’s inside us each as individuals so much as they care about getting our money, and where the most money is coming from. And when it comes to men’s pro sports, the most money comes from men.
“But why can’t women have their eye candy, too?” Some might argue. “It’s unequal. It’s sexist.“
I would respectfully disagree there as well. There are plenty of places where women can get eye candy aimed at them. One example? The Bachelorette. And why is that show filled with shirtless men? Because it is watched by many more women than men. When something is being sold mostly to women, it is going to be tailored mostly to women’s interests. When something is sold mostly to men, it is going to be tailored mostly to men’s interests.
Now I know there’s probably going to be at least one person who tries to put words in my mouth and say, “Oh, so you think all every women does is watch The Bachelorette and obsess over fake reality TV marriages that only last a few weeks?” and that whole straw man type of argument, so let me just address that ahead of time. No, not at all. I never said anything about “every” woman or man. It’s not about “every’s” or “all’s.” Sports teams and leagues are never going to sell every person, men or women. They just want to sell the most people (or tickets to people. Selling people would get them called much worse things than “sexist.”) What matters is the ratio. Professional sports are consumed as entertainment mostly by men, and thus they are mostly marketed and tailored towards men. And most of the men who make up most of the audience for the NFL, MLB, and NHL don’t want to see men in revealing outfits on their television screens. Many do, however, want to see women in revealing outfits. And that’s really all it is. Biology can be a major annoyance.
Let’s just put it really clearly. The Sharks wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t think it would bring in more fans than it would lose, right? If it wouldn’t sell more tickets. Right? They even seem willing to weather some bad PR because, one assumes, that’s just how much extra money they think it will bring in.
In other words, more people want it than don’t want it, otherwise the Sharks wouldn’t be doing it. The number of Sharks fans who are men who want it, or women who want it, outnumber the number of Sharks fans who are women who don’t want it, or men who believe they’re protecting women from sexism by saying they don’t want it, or men who just don’t want it for whatever other reason. That’s all it is. In economics, less money doesn’t get to overrule more money. Less tickets doesn’t get to overrule more tickets. I’m not saying it’s not annoying for the minority in this case and that they shouldn’t make their voices heard, assuming they have a legitimate reason to be “offended,” but let’s stop with the grandiose accusations of prejudice. It’s the NHL. What do men have left if not professional men’s sports? That doesn’t mean women can’t still enjoy the hockey as much or more than any man, and many of do, which is wonderful. The NHL community would not be the same without them. But women still have to understand this is a largely a male past time they have entered into. In fact I can’t think of a more male-skewed past time in America over the last 100 years than men’s pro sports. Women can’t just come in and demand that the NHL take out the things that the men enjoy, and that they make their money off of, when most of their audience is men.
Female NFL fans seem to understand that. When you tune into Sunday Night Football, you’re tuning into a studio full of men in front of high-tech screens and gadgets talking compulsively about every detail of the football game, cheerleaders in tight outfits, and the female reporters all have pretty faces. All of it is tailored to men. Why? Because it’s ***lowers voice and puts on face paint*** FRICKIN FOOTBALL, BABY! There’s a reason all the commercials are for big ford trucks with Dennis Leary narrating in a tough guy voice. These sports leagues are doing no different than the commercials are during their breaks, marketing towards their target, and majority, audience. Many of those commercials even involve sexy women to get men’s attention. Should that be disallowed too if some of the female viewers don’t like it? No, the reality is that, in the entertainment business, you only get your interests tailored to “equally” if you’re providing an equal amount of the viewership and money.
I’ll give another example. If I start watching The Bachelorette one night, does that entitle me to demand that the producers of the show change it more to my liking? “There are too many shirtless guys on this show for my taste. I watch it, which means I deserve equal treatment to all the women who watch it, and I don’t like that part. I want equality. I want it changed.“
That logic is flawed as well. Just because a man watches it, and therefore both men and women are watching it, does not mean that men can demand to have their interests equally represented on the show. It’s about how many men are watching it versus how many women are watching it. Again, ratios, not “all’s” or “every’s.” There is only one show, after all. It can’t be tailored to the interests of every single unique individual person watching. That’s why we have so many different shows in the first place. Different people, and often people from different genders, like different things.
And again, people who are brainwashed by today’s political correctness-obsessed society might confuse that with sexism, because they’ve been told men and women have to be exactly the same and that they don’t have any different interests. But all you need to do is check in with reality, in this case television ratings ratios by gender, to verify what everyone should already know innately through life experience, that men and women often do very much have different tastes in their entertainment and enjoy different things. (Article written in 2010. It’s the most recent one I could find).
The shows viewed by the greatest percentage of men? The Simpsons, Family Guy, Cleveland Show, Chuck, Fringe, 24, and so on. Comedy/satire, comedy/satire, secret agent comedy I think, sci-fi, counter terrorism agent show, and so on.
The shows viewed by the greatest percentage of women? America’s Next Top Model, Grey’s Anatomy, High Society, Fly Girls, Gossip Girl, Private Practice, and so on. Reality, soap with hot doctors (let’s call it what it is), whatever High Society and Fly Girls are, more soap with hot doctors, and so on. As you can see, there are differences. Further down the list, still with two-and-a-half times as many female viewers as male, we have One Tree Hill, in case you thought the data was skewed by shows about women (like America’s Next Top Model). Yes, it stands to reason that men are more likely to watch shows with male protagonists, and vice versa, but you can also see a clear difference in the preferred genres and general interests of men and women. Grey’s Anatomy technically has a female protagonist, but it’s about doctors of both sexes. Gossip Girl follows characters of both sexes pretty much evenly (although yes, the title). One Tree Hill started like Grey’s Anatomy just in reverse, following characters of both sexes, but with a male protagonist at the center. The Vampire Diaries, representing a two-to-one ratio in more ways than one, has a female protagonist but two of the three main characters are male. Brothers and Sisters, 2.43-to-1, sounds like both. The Biggest Loser, 2.06-to-1, I believe involves both. Keep in mind that more women watch TV as a whole, but the shows at the bottom of the list still represent the ones with the highest female-to-male viewership ratios.
So what does this mean? Certainly, men can still watch America’s Next Top Model and Grey’s Anatomy if they want to, just as women can still watch Family Guy and The Simpsons. The point is that it would be ridiculous for men to demand that the their interests be represented equally in Grey’s Anatomy, even at the expense of aspects of the show that the majority of the audience, women, enjoy. There is only one show called Grey’s Anatomy. It can’t please everyone. All it can do is try to please the most people possible. The majority. The target audience.
It’s the same with the NHL. They can’t play each hockey game twice, with one telecast tailored to men’s interests, and one tailored to women’s. There can only be one, and the best they can do is try to please, and attract, the most viewers possible. So once women start buying a large majority of the tickets to NHL games, as men do currently, I’m sure they could demand an “Ice Boys” squad and get it. That’s economics. But as things stand currently, men dominate the audience for men’s pro sports, and if men’s interests can’t even be catered to at hockey games, which have long used blood and fighting to attract male fans, then when can men’s interests be catered to, exactly? “Men’s-only clubs, where no women have to sit through it!” Nope, men’s clubs are under attack as “sexist,” too, because they don’t allow women. So if not hockey games, where around 70% of the fans are men, then where? Everything else in society is much closer to 50/50. Besides men’s-only clubs, 70% is about as high as you’re going to get. So if not in domains such as that, like hockey games, then where? I’m as stumped as you are.
And speaking of fighting, for all the flack about the John Scott signing in San Jose, let’s remember that he’s sacrificing brain cells for the entertainment of many viewers, mostly men, who like watching violence. Sure, he’s supposedly protecting his teammates from drawing instigator penalties on the opposition, but let’s not pretend that fighting isn’t also part of the entertainment package sold to the people who like it most: men. So how is that any different? Yes it’s part of the game, but many would argue it doesn’t need to be. Many teams don’t even have an enforcer. The Sharks arguably just signed two.
Could that also be to draw in more fans? Why is it acceptable to market towards men with violence, but not with pretty women? The “Girls” of the “Ice Team” wear sexy clothes, look pretty, and get lots of attention. John Scott risks permanent brain damage getting punched in the face. Which is worse?
However, just like the “Ice Girls,” no one is forcing John Scott, either. He signed up for the job. He gets paid handsomely for it because people like to see it. The market has dictated, in his case, that people like it to the tune of seven hundred grand per year. Just like the market has dictated that the job the “Ice Girls” do is worth whatever they’ll get paid for it. And if either John Scott or the “Ice Girls” don’t think it’s worth it, they can look for another job. The only difference is that when it comes to fighting, everyone understands that the male DNA just naturally likes that. No one is accusing men of trying to persecute or oppress John Scott. They just like watching him fight, but it’s still his choice. Well guess what? No one is trying to persecute or oppress these “Ice Girls,” or women in general when it comes to the idea of “Ice Girls,” either. Men just like seeing them in sexy outfits, but it’s still their choice.
It’s a direct parallel on both sides, so why is the outrage only over one of them? Yes some people are against NHL fighting in general because they think it’s too dangerous, but no one is calling men prejudiced or domineering for enjoying it. That’s the difference. So the question is, why not? Let’s at least be consistent. If men are ignorant, sexist pigs for liking the sight of women in revealing outfits at their hockey games, then they’re also evil, barbaric snakes for liking the sight of someone getting punched in the face at their hockey games. And the craziest thing is, the second part of that – you know, the part no one is actually arguing, that’s the part where you might actually have a point. Why do we like violence so much? Is this a good thing? But sex? There’s no question why that’s so popular. Excuse the cheesyness, but sex makes lives; violence destroys them. Sex feels good, violence feels bad. And yet which one is everyone upset over? The sex part, of course. Why? Because of the women. Because the fighting just involves men fighting and watching other men. Who cares about that? Let them all kill each other. But the “Ice Girls” involves men watching women. Instant suspicion. All of a sudden everyone is on the edge of their seats, waiting anxiously for the moment they’ll have to jump up and rescue the women from all the misogynistic male eyeballs. “We all need to band together and protect the women from the sexist job that 130 women, reportedly, have already signed up for.” (Or maybe the stat I heard was 130 people. So at minimum 65 women, but probably more).
I actually find that to be prejudiced. You’re calling men sexist based on their biology and their natural inclinations, which is wrong, and you’re reaching for an excuse to line up in defense of women in a case where you clearly wouldn’t do the same for men. Part of that is natural for most men, as I’ll get into later, but not when it involves being self-destructive towards their own natural dispositions in that manner. Since when did you need to damage men to defend women?
Not to mention you’re even putting women in the same box with those labels that you’re putting men into. Some women want to be “Ice Girls,” just like some men want to watch them. Believe it or not, some women want to feel sexy in front of big crowds and meet people at social events and just embrace the fact that men like their appearance and their energy. I came across a blog that detailed an interview with a porn star where she expressed the same sentiments. Freedom means being able to do what makes you happy no matter what it is (as long as you’re not hurting other people). For her, she loved doing porn and being watched and “turning people on,” even though no one around her understood it when she started.
Being in the “Ice Girls” obviously doesn’t equate to porn (could you imagine the outrage then? Logan Couture’s twitter feed would become a whole lot more interesting), but the point is that when we call everything we don’t like “sexist,” we put a social stigma on the people who do actually enjoy those things. We put them in a box. So you better be right when you use powerful labels like that. There is probably a woman out there who would make a great “Ice Girl,” and who would really enjoy the job, but who was too afraid to sign up when she saw the ad because everyone around her said how sexist and awful the concept was, and how all the women who signed up were secretly being oppressed and subjugated but they were just too stupid to know it. I think that line of thinking is what’s wrong. So according to those people, her happiness equates to being oppressed? Some people tend to forget that they don’t get to control everyone else’s lives, that there isn’t a law that says everyone has to be exactly like them, and that not everyone has the same interests they do. Some people actually enjoy social jobs like this. And I doubt that would be the case if the whole concept was sexist.
Now, if there are specific instances where anyone on the team is mistreated, as I believe there have been complaints in that area with some NFL cheerleaders, that’s a totally different scenario where you have to judge each specific incident on its own, or if similar incidents start repeating, you have to investigate that trend and the industry as a whole. But critics here are not talking about any specific incident that happened. The Sharks “Ice Team” hasn’t even held auditions yet. Their complaint is an intangible one, that simply the idea of having “Ice Girls” or being an “Ice Girl” is sexist, even if all the employees are treated professionally. And I disagree.
But whether you agree or not, there’s another aspect to this story as well. Most who have been paying attention to it would probably agree that the “outrage” over the “Ice Team” announcement would not have erupted to nearly the same extent if Sharks fans weren’t already angry over the firing of Drew Remenda and everything else. I’ve seen the two lumped together many times in the blogosphere and social media since this “story” broke. And that’s completely unfair. To comment accurately on serious social issues, or anything else, really, you can’t let your anger over something completely unrelated color your thoughts. The Sharks are sexist because they fired Drew Remenda? That’s a ridiculous fallacy stirring within some people’s minds, and it shows that they can’t even think rationally on the subject at hand without combining it in their heads with something completely separate. And when the subject is something as serious as making accusations of sexism, that is very irresponsible.
Of course, once again that doesn’t apply to everyone upset about the “Ice Girls,” just the people who are, in this case, letting the Remenda situation influence their opinion on it. But you can still be upset over the “Ice Girls” and not be doing that, so this part won’t apply to everyone reading, not even everyone upset over the “Ice Girls.” It’s just something I’ve noticed happening with some of the “Ice Girls” critics the last couple weeks following the “story,” so I wanted to address it.
Now some of the people who are being influenced by the Remenda situation might say, “no, the Sharks aren’t sexist because they fired Drew Remenda. They’re sexist because they’re sexist!” But even then, the implication is that certain fans only noticed the “sexism” because Remenda was fired, or it only bothered them, or bothered them to that extent, because Remenda was fired. I know some of you would have locked onto the story anyway, but from what I’ve seen there’s no question that the collective “outrage” over it in some circles has been influenced by the anger over Remenda’s firing. Whether the Remenda situation comprises the entire motivation for that outrage or not doesn’t matter. I’m sure it doesn’t. But even if the Drew Remenda firing is only amplifying the “sexism” claims over the “Ice Team” by twenty percent, that’s still unacceptable. So you’re telling me the Sharks are still twenty percent more sexist because they fired Drew Remenda? Or 20% more fans think the Sharks are sexist than otherwise would because of the Remenda firing? That is completely illogical and unfair.
Whether it’s intentional or not, when it comes to those people specifically, shouldn’t there be some sort of responsibility to not throw labels like “sexist” or “racist” at people for at least partially false, if not entirely false, reasons? I just think everyone has a responsibility to make sure they’re thinking rationally before they make serious accusations like that, and not letting their emotions over something completely unrelated influence them.
Now earlier I asked the question, “if men’s interests can’t be catered to at sporting events, where exactly can they be?” And some of you may have had the obvious answer jump the front of your brain: Hollywood! So let me address that. Yes, Hollywood, but most the movies Hollywood releases these days are being called sexist by these same types of critics, too. The latest complaint I’ve heard is over the new Transformers movie, but I hear new ones all the time.
Secondly… If I go into this the blog is just going to keep dragging on… But fine. To start with, clearly a lot of men enjoy movies about robots and sexy women, otherwise they wouldn’t make so much money. If you’re investing ten million dollars in a movie studio, do you want to see them stop making those movies and risk losing your money? No. And clearly a lot of men enjoy movies about protecting or saving women they care about (in the movie), which was the other complaint I heard about the Transformers movie, and it’s actually a very common complaint among the people who believe men and women are the exact same. Why do the women always need saving? She could have killed the robot on her own if she’d been given that type of weaponry by the screenwriter! And so on (the last part is probably true. Well, probably not Megan Fox, but any other woman).
The thing is, even complaints like these ignore the natural inclinations of men and serve to make men feel ashamed of their own temperaments. Throughout human history, men have needed women to further the species, not to mention for love and families. Women carried their children! So men have been very protective of women by necessity ever since the dawn of humanity. Of course they have. Especially pre-civilization when tribes of people were very spread out, and they lived in harsh environments. Women often relied on men to hunt game and fight off bears and ancient alien robots and all that stuff (my history sucks but you get the point). And so men have evolved over millions of years to have a protective instinct when it comes to women. That’s a long time. But the (second-wave) feminist movement comes along fifty years ago, and now everyone just wants that millions-years-old instinct eradicated immediately? That’s not how the human brain works, for those that aren’t familiar.
So, many men do indeed respond to movies or books where a male protagonist has to defend his female-love from impending doom. That rarely happens in real life anymore (not that you’d want it to), but men have that instinct in their genes, their bones, their DNA, passed down from their ancestors. That isn’t sexism, it’s normal. And I think it’s time our society started considering the effect that labeling everything men have evolved to be as “sexist” has on men and women alike.
Oh, but Hollywood. The difference with Hollywood is that film is a neutral medium. It’s not something like men’s pro sports that has always had a primarily male audience. In theory, you should be able to make as much money from films aimed at women as you can from films aimed at men. That’s not the case with men’s pro sports. Maybe you could argue that men’s pro sports could, theoretically, be a neutral medium in the right circumstances, too, but if you poll five-year-old boys and five-year-old girls on how many of them are interested in sports, on how many of them basically come out of the womb interested in sports, we all know from experience that more young boys talk, eat, and sleep sports than young girls.
Now if you want to stretch further, you could say that’s only because of the culture and the environment, and then we’d get into the whole nature verse nurture debate. But what we do know is that the average boy is more athletic than the average girl, which very much falls in the nature category, and I’m sure that plays a part in more boys gravitating towards sports, playing and watching them. The easier something is to get good at, the more likely it is to become a hobby.
But the reasons for this aren’t even relevant to the point. All that matters is that today, right now, professional men’s sports is a business consumed mostly by men. And nothing anyone does would be able to change that overnight.
Movies are different. In theory, if Hollywood makes just as many films aimed at women as films aimed at men, and if they are just good, then they should be able to make just as much money off of female viewers. The Fault In Our Stars is a good example. Twilight, of course. However, what the numbers tell you, or so I’ve read, is that it’s harder to get female viewers in the prime demographic into the theater. Maybe that’s because not enough movies are aimed at women? I haven’t been keeping count so I don’t know.
But that’s where you could argue Hollywood is sexist if you were inclined to. A majority of movies are at least made by men. I know that. A majority of movie studios are owned by men, I believe. But that’s not the same as claiming every movie where a man rescues a women is sexist. Men like those stories, clearly. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Men are wired to be protective of women. On behalf of all men, I apologize.
But see even calling Hollywood sexist because more men direct movies than women is tenuous. Because how are many movies made these days? Often with technology, with the aid of computers. What do they often involve? CGI, special effects. Which gender skews more interested in the tech field? Men. Which gender skews more towards liking computers, graphics, video games, effects, and so on, more? Men. What names out there do we most associate with obsessing over and furthering the fields of CGI and motion capture? George Lucas, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis. So there you have at least one reason why more movies are directed and produced by men. It’s a field that was pioneered by men in America in the past, and say what you want about opportunities for women back then when they may have been prevented from getting in the field in the past, but even now, to this day, men just seem to be more interested in those things. Sign up for a class on CGI where you live, if there is one, and see how many men are there versus women. That’s just a reality. Men like gadgets. Men like tech. Men like stuff that looks awesome. If there are going to be more films aimed at women’s interests relative to men’s, then more women need to get involved in the film industry relative to men.
And again I say this is all so tenuous and nuanced because didn’t we establish earlier that more women watch television shows than men? So that would indicate that more shows are being aimed at women than men. So maybe it’s just a case that the things many men like, like explosions and CGI, do better with the big screen, so more men go to see them in theaters on the big screen, while more women are getting what they like on the television screen. Who knows. It’s all very complicated. One job involved in filmmaking that I often see filled by women is Costume Designer. Makes sense, right? Many more women study fashion than men. So if the lack of Hollywood filmmakers is an environment thing, a sexism thing, rather than just that more men are interested in that field, then why aren’t we seeing the same result repeat with Costume Designers? Shouldn’t they mostly be men, too? It shouldn’t matter how many men study the field; if Hollywood is sexist, they will always pick the one option in ten who is male, to ensure that women aren’t employed.
But we don’t see that at all when it comes to Costume Designers, which would lead one to the conclusion that it isn’t Hollywood being unwilling to hire women that is to blame for the dearth of Hollywood films directed by women, but rather that this is a field that interests many more men than women.
Still, if you want to call Hollywood sexist, I’m sure there are legitimate examples you could point to. People just shouldn’t be calling men sexist because of how they are, naturally, and their natural evolution. That is confusing nature with nurture. For instance why are men more naturally inclined to take a CGI class? I don’t know but they are. Why did all the boys in grade school love video games but the girls couldn’t have cared less? I don’t know but that’s how it was. And we’re talking real-time strategy games that weren’t even made in a way that was excluding of women. There’s no reason that I can think of that the girls didn’t discover the same games and enjoy them just as much, but they didn’t. They were interested in other things. Men and women aren’t supposed to be identical in every way.
In any case, men’s pro sports is a different beast. It’s not consumed mostly by men just because not enough hockey games are being directed by women, for instance. The product is what it is, men’s ice hockey, and while things like “Ice Girls” may serve to further sway slightly more men towards consuming the product as compared to women, the reality is that even when you take away “Ice Girls” and everything else from a marketing standpoint, there are simply more men that like the product itself, the hockey. Men are the target audience for men’s pro sports and always have been. So no, when your audience skews mostly male, it’s not “sexist” to include things in your product that men like, and that they will pay more to see, and that will make you more money.
And remember, no one is being forced to be an “Ice Girl,” either. The women who sign up must either think they’ll enjoy the job, or they just need a job, or both. Either way, it benefits them, either through enjoyment, employment, or both. If the job was actually sexist, would any women have signed up for it? It can’t just be because they’re all starving. You don’t think some people relish this unique opportunity to perform and be seen in front of 17,000 people, just to give one example of a potential perk to the job?
So I really believe we as a society need to stop thought-policing everyone and constantly accusing everyone of being prejudiced in cases where they’re actually not. I read a story recently where some college sorority couldn’t even have a “fiesta” and sell tacos for charity on Cinco De Mayo because people called them racist. This is political correctness gone crazy. And it’s the same with accusations of sexism. I probably don’t go a day anymore without seeing someone link to a blog about how something new is sexist or racist. Transformers is sexist. Fight Club is sexist. Basically anything men like is sexist. Orange Is The New Black is racist. Now there’s something wrong with what women like, too.
It’s enough. I’m politically neutral, but it seems that over the last twenty years, whenever the Democrats are in power, everyone is brain washed by the controlled media to obsess over political correctness and to police thought-crimes, while whenever Republicans are in power, they have their media do the same thing, just over notions like “Patriotism” and “being a real American” instead. It’s like both sides have their own annoying “thing,” and we all have to suffer through the same cycle repeating over and over whenever the party in power changes, except that it just gets more exaggerated and more absurd each time.
At least when it’s the Republicans running the show, everyone just ignores them on stuff like that. I don’t care if you think I’m a “real enough” American. Bye! It’s such an absurd message that few people fall for it. But in the US we have such politically involved, caring youth (because this is mostly the younger generation that has become obsessed with political correctness), that when they’re told everyone is being persecuted and discriminated against and “offended,” they care so much, and want to help so much, that they fall for the manipulation. Hearts too big, brains too small, #ConfuciusSay. It’s not some abstract notion like being a “real American.” Everyone knows sexism and racism really do exist. We’ve all seen tangible examples of both throughout history. And that makes them much, much easier to exaggerate, and much easier to manipulate people with. They’re the perfect weapons to tug at people’s heart-strings with. And people fall for it, earnestly, naively.
And many of the blogs and other media out there who are funded by politicians and special interests use that to their advantage. And once someone buys what they’re selling, these are such emotional issues that they then feel like they have a moral duty to join the political correctness task force themselves and to start policing all the racist and sexist thoughts out there. They become like
Jay-Z’s Jehovah’s Witnesses going door to door, spreading the propaganda they bought into. So when their male friend opens a door for a woman he has romantic feelings for, they tell him he’s sexist. And then that guy buys it too, and says “oh my god, how horrible I’ve been, I didn’t even know how sexist I was. I didn’t realize how the Patriarchy had anesthetized me so much to all my sexist behavior. Now that I’m awake to it, I have to spread the word too!” And pretty soon every man either believes he’s sexist, or he’s calling someone else sexist, all as a result of this propaganda that started at the top. It may help politicians achieve their goals, but it’s having a very harmful effect on our society.
The thought-police culture censors and boxes in everyone, both men and women. However, the accusations of sexist behavior, specifically, really do a number on men, because that’s who they’re aimed at. In fact lately it seems our culture has really made an effort to marginalize and criticize anything that is “male.” Simply put, men cannot be themselves anymore. Of course, all men are different, and that can mean something different for every individual man, but on the whole, many men feel like they can’t be men anymore. And then women ask, as I’ve been asked before by many women, “where have all the real men gone?” We’ve all heard that question many times, and it’s a vicious cycle.
If you don’t believe me that our culture is trying to marginalize men and essentially weed out male dispositions, temperaments, interests and even thoughts, because you haven’t seen all the examples that keep popping up, allow me to direct you to the one that really opened my eyes to just how far past crazy our culture has gone in this respect. Written by Nora Samaran on The Media Co-op, this blog attempted to tie the Elliot Rodger murders to all men. Rodger didn’t kill women because he was psychotic, he just killed them because he was sexist and misogynistic, like all men. So here are some instructions for all you men on how to behave without murdering women. Because that’s where you’re all headed if you don’t change your ways. Oh, Rodger killed men too? Well they can all kill each other for all I care. All I know is I’m not retyping my whole blog to reflect that. (These aren’t direct quotes).
As if the whole fundamental idea behind that blog isn’t despicable enough, one line nearly knocked my socks off once I registered what it meant. In case you thought I was joking when I gave the example of a man being called sexist by his friend for opening a door for a woman as a romantic gesture, that’s actually a “thing” now. Feminists use that as an example of sexism (You don’t open doors for your male friends! Yeah but I’m not dating, or interested in dating, my male friends). They even say chivalry is sexist in general. And this blog spoke to that with this eye-opening line:
“Chivalry is risky and disconnected. It is still a man’s game, played in a man’s head.” You can read the whole blog if you want to get the context, but yes, she’s saying chivalry is sexist because it is behavior that is determined “in a man’s head.”
Can anyone think of anything else that happens in a man’s head?
Like just maybe every single thought any man has. The implication is that literally everything a man thinks or feels is sexist because these are things going on “in a man’s head,” that women don’t get to control. It includes lines like, “Being a real safe male presence includes learning to be open to the actual lived reality of the woman you wish to be good to.” Because most men aren’t “safe” as we are. We’re all Elliot Rodger, apparently. She also says every man has at least one friend who’s a rapist, and that they’re ordinary men (“Yes, you know men who have raped, yes of course you do, and yes they are ordinary men”“). Or how about “You are responsible for not retraumatizing the women you care for.” Yes. Yes. I would certainly hope that the average man is capable of not inflicting trauma on their loved ones. Then there’s “Learn what it means to be a safe man.” I’ll try! But it’s just so hard! I WANT TO PUNCH THINGS!!!! BECAUSE I AM MANNNN! MANNNN PUCNH!!! MANNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!
Okay. So when I said they’re even trying to marginalize men’s thoughts, I meant it literally. Everything that goes on in your head, you men out there, whether it be your opinions, your feelings, attraction, first impressions, judgements, whether you think cheesecake tastes good or not, all of it is sexist, according to this writer’s logic. So no wonder people are outraged over the announcement of “Ice Girls.” Men could look at them! And if men look at them, men could have thoughts about them! Risky! Dangerous! How do we know they’re not planning a murder?
This is what our culture is turning into. Is this writer just some fringe crazy woman, and not a good example of what real feminists believe? Well she’s certainly crazy, but I don’t know, a friend of mine linked me to this when it was posted, not in the look how crazy this is! way, but in the she makes amazing points! You have to read this! way. Plus I see similar sentiments posted all the time all over the internet, including extremely popular sites. Oh, and it got 8,200 facebook “likes,” apparently. So there’s that. Clearly, these sentiments are not on the fringe of our culture at all. They should be, but they’re increasingly being pushed to the center, and more and more people are falling for it.
So in closing, is the idea of “Ice Girls” sexist? Not unless you believe men shouldn’t have their interests represented and tailored to by something they follow in the vast majority compared to women. Not unless you don’t understand economics. Not unless you believe men’s interests are sexist at their core, that men’s natural dispositions are sexist to begin with. No, the idea of “Ice Girls” is not sexist. Is it a bit cynical? I mean surely men can go a few hours without seeing scantily clad women and just watch the hockey, right? Yes, maybe it’s a bit cynical. But then again, why shouldn’t they be there? Who exactly is being hurt by having “Ice Girls” at the game? If it enhances the experience even by just one percent for more fans than not, and if it brings in more money for the Sharks to spend on the actual hockey team, then what’s the problem? I personally couldn’t care less about the “Ice Girls” themselves, but since we’ve established the problem here isn’t sexism, then what problem is left? That was the one complaint. If some people like it and there’s no downside, then why wouldn’t you have it?
The only legitimate argument I see against it is the one legitimate argument to pretty much everything: “But what about the children? Shouldn’t I be able to bring my young daughter to a hockey game without having to explain to her why women in revealing outfits are cleaning the ice? What if I don’t want her to think it’s a good thing to focus on being sexy when she grows up? What if I don’t want her to think about notions of sexyness at all at this age?“
Those are all good points, but now we’re talking about what adults can handle versus what children can handle, which is a totally different discussion than how men and women relate to each other. And the children issue is not unique to girls. I doubt many parents of young boys appreciate it when tampon commercials come on during family television, either. “What’s a tampon, daddy? What do they mean ‘fwow?’ Is it wike what Jay-Z uses to wap wiff at his concewts? His sthong sthays ‘awuw bwack evewything,’ but they do kind of wook wike wittle white micwophones wiff fin wittwuw white micwophone cabwuws. Is that what dey awe, daddy?“
“Of course, son. Of course.“
“When I gwow up, I’m going to be a wapper and use one of them at MY concewts!“
“That’s so great to hear, son.
Suffice to say, this is a problem for all parents, and it’s very difficult to avoid. If a young girl isn’t going to be faced with notions of “sexyness” at a hockey game, she’s probably still going to get it watching a Miley Cyrus video on youtube at a friend’s house, or watching ABC Family, or during commercials (just not the tampon ones), or a million other places. Not to mention, this is hockey. There’s fighting. There’s blood. Why can a young girl handle that but not an inch and a half of midriff on the “Ice Girls?” I guess sexual thoughts are something that mostly only post-adolescent people understand, at least fully, where even young children can understand the concept of violence (just not when it comes to staged fights. Even the adults can’t understand the motivations for those).
But still, what’s worse, a bloody fight, or an inch and a half of midriff? And what’s so bad about “sexyness,” anyway? Like I said, kids don’t much think about or understand sex. So if a kid is at a game, they’re probably not even going to understand the significance (or whatever) of the midriff. The significance of the midriff, that should be a song or something. But I can understand parents not wanting their daughters to think being sexy is what’s most important in life or what defines them, but there’s no getting away from the fact that our society values “sexyness,” as do many men. And there’s nothing on the “Ice Girls” uniform that says “this is all that matters in life, and this is all you can be in life.” At most it signifies that this is one thing that matters in life, at least to men, and this is one thing you can be in life, if you want. What’s wrong with that? And when a kid goes to the circus, they see that being a circus performer is also something you can be in life. And when they go see the orchestra, they see that being a musician is also something. The “Ice Girls,” and the notion of “sexyness” they represent, are just two things out of many in life. And I don’t see what’s so evil about them.
Is being an “Ice Girl” the first choice of career I would have for my daughter if I had a daughter? No, although many of the “Ice Girls” themselves probably don’t plan on it being their final career. That withstanding, no, it wouldn’t. But I could tell her that. I could tell her about all the other things she might enjoy, that is if being an “Ice Girl” even came up after the hockey game, which it probably wouldn’t. So what harm is done, exactly? That she comes away from the experience with the conclusion that looking sexy can have value in our society, especially to men? Well, it can (and why is that a bad thing, as long as it’s not the only thing you value about yourself or other people?). Plus she’ll find that out in middle school anyway, if not long before from the TV, the billboards, and everything else. It is everywhere. But hopefully she learns from her parents and just in general that it’s not everything.
But I understand the concern about the children. It’s just a completely different discussion, one about child-proofing hockey games, as opposed to one about sexism. I probably shouldn’t have even spent that much time on it since it’s not relevant to the question of whether the “Ice Girls” are sexist, but I wanted to cover every angle. But in terms of the sexism question, no, there’s nothing sexist about the “Ice Girls,” and as a society we really, really need to stop throwing words around that have the power to change the way people think and interact with each other, and cause people to censor each other and themselves, without thinking long and hard first and making sure the label we’re putting on someone else is justified.
And we really need to stop trying to marginalize men and weed out every natural male thought and behavior. It’s not men’s opportunities in life that are under attack in the same way women have been denied opportunities in the past in America, it is men’s actual identities and biology and evolution. It is blogs like the one I linked to that say men aren’t even allowed to think anymore, that the very idea of men having their own individual identities is sexist because that’s “a man’s game, played inside a man’s head.” As a man, that line of thinking is so disturbing to me, and if we as a society are going to continue being obsessed with political correctness and policing people’s thoughts, then it’s not fabricated or exaggerated claims of sexism against women or other traditional prejudices of the past I’d be most concerned about, given that our culture is more educated and understanding on those subjects than it ever has been in the history of the United States of America, and the opportunities available for people of all genders, races, and creeds are more plentiful than ever as well (the sinking economic tide as a whole in this bad economy not withstanding). The thoughts I’d be worried about are ones like those articulated in the The Media Co-op blog I linked to. Because unlike sexism against women and racism, that line of thinking is new, and rather than getting better, as the issues of sexism and racism in America have significantly over the years to the point where those are prejudices that probably 97% of the population no longer even holds at all, this line of thinking is getting worse. It’s getting more and more extreme, and it’s spreading. Any thought a man has now is sexist simply because those thoughts take place within a man’s head? That sounds like the thinking of an insane person, or at minimum a completely brain washed person who is out of touch with reality. And that is dangerous. So if you’re going to be wary of anyone’s thoughts, be wary of those ones, not anything to do with the “Ice Girls.”
*** In case you’re interested in the numbers and logic that backs up the fact that mostly men watch professional men’s sports, I did a quick google search, without much luck. I see it as common sense but then again, I’ve seen a lot of what I consider to be common sense debated at length within our culture recently, not the least of which some of the subjects discussed in this blog. But here are the stats I found. The Stanley Cup Finals this year had better female numbers than in the past, ranging from 36% to 42%, according to Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy, but he theorizes that this was probably a result of the Chicago Blackhawks being involved. The Chicago Blackhawks marketed their team around two 18-year-old studs starting a few years ago, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and we all know how much Patrick Kane likes to do his part introducing new female fans to the sport. The Blackhawks have been very successful in turning on a lot of teenage girls to hockey, but they’re not the norm in that regard, plus they’ve won two Stanley Cups in the last four years, which attracts more casual fans. And even as recently as 2008, women only made up 28% of the Blackhawks fan base, according to Nina Falcone of CSN Chicago. Other cities may still be much lower than that. I was listening to the Hockeybuzz Buzzcast the other day, and they commented about how 250 listeners were in their chat room, but that not one of them was a woman, or at least none spoke up when they asked. They responded with a comment about how they “really need to get a female co-host,” and that reminded me, I listen to many, many hockey podcasts, especially during the summer when I’m starved for hockey, and not one is hosted by a woman. And almost all of the major hockey blogs I visit are run by men. I’ve criticized aspects of the advanced stats community in the past, most recently in my Diverging Realities series, but all of their bloggers that I’m familiar with are men as well. When I read comments on hockey blogs, almost all of them are written by men.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spoken to plenty hockey fans who were women. Those that are out there, I know are just as knowledgeable about the game and care just as much. The point is that there clearly are not as many. And since the Finals brings in casual fans, that’s why I bring up things like podcasts and blogs to get a true sense of the NHL’s fan base. That’s where you see the hardcore fans, and I’d say at least 90% of the fans there are men.
Okay, here is, supposedly, a stat that shows the total viewership by gender for the 2012-2013 season, courtesy of Statista. It says 68% of the NHL’s television audience that season were men, 32% female. So over twice as many men, if that’s correct. Is that more than I expected? Less? Is it what you expected? It doesn’t matter. That’s a huge difference, and remember more women watch TV in general. There are more women in the US population according to that 2010 ratings blog linked to earlier. If you corrected for that, the split would be even higher. But it doesn’t matter. The point I made earlier is that, whether the split is 80/20, 60/40, or 68/32, the NHL makes the most money by tailoring their product to the significantly higher number, not the lower number. And who do you think is more “hardcore,” the average male fan, or the average female man? I know there are many hardcore hockey fans who are women, but I’m talking about ratios again. And we know from the blogs, the podcasts, the online chats, and just life experience that the average male sports fan obsesses a lot more than the average female sports fan. So not only do men make up the greater quantity of fans, but each of those fans, on average, is also consuming more of the NHL product, whether it be hockey ads, giving more hits to NHL.com, or something else. All of this is significant as to why the NHL tailors its product to men’s interests more than women’s.
And look, I can imagine women reading this and maybe thinking, “are you trying to rub it in or something?” But I’m not! I swear! Haha. I’m just trying to detail the reality of the situation. I would rather someone think I’m rubbing in the truth than slandering people based on lies, which is essentially what these claims of sexism aimed at the Sharks and men in general were doing. That’s harmful stuff so yes, I want to be vigilant in setting the facts straight. But I know there are plenty of great female hockey fans out there, and by the way it’s not a competition. I just have to bring these stats up because that’s the topic at hand. So that’s that.
Thanks for reading!