Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hockey coach on hockey mom

In honor of tonight's debate a political post--in the sense that it is about the political system rather than everything else I write which is political in the more general sense. Since I am so disgusted and divorced from the political system and thus refuse to watch any of the debates, I figure this will be my contribution.

Sometimes it's kind of frustrating being a feminist who likes and studies and plays sports--especially women's sports. In addition to the ways in which women's sports are marginalized in the popular culture, there are the continual frustrations with so many female athletes who conform to the norms set for them by malestream sport. So many of us truly believe in the potential of women's sports to poke holes in hegemonic sport and gender roles. And thus when female athletes--like so many women in general (I have no expectations that female athletes should somehow be more likely to be feminists than women in the population at large)--kind of just capitulate or hide anything that might be construed as feminist, radical, or even non-feminine it just makes me want to find the nearest wall and start banging my head.
Thankfully there are wonderful moments like the one I had when I read an editorial by Michelle McAteer, an out assistant coach of the women's hockey team at Minnesota-Duluth. McAteer takes on the "hockey mom" rhetoric that Sarah Palin has made so ubiquitous in the last couple of months. You must read the whole thing because it's wonderfully written. I would have her guest blog for me any day because she's smart and witty and she's so right about how Palin is using hockey yet has no concept of what women who actually play hockey face.
But pit-bull Palin doesn't seem to understand the complexities of women in the women's hockey world. It's safe to say she wasn't trying to associate herself with me, my community, or my experiences. I'd also wager that the large subset of gay women in the hockey world never crossed Palin's mind as she branded herself part of the hockey minority. At the collegiate level, though, lesbians are a visible part of game.
Hockey will not benefit from Palin the way Palin has benefited from her version of hockey. And that's just fine with McAteer who doesn't think Palin's attention is any benefit to the sport at all.
So tonight while the presidential candidates are debating, I will be doing something truly political: attending a women's hockey game. Because I think the game needs support from people who really care about women's hockey.


Diane said...

Few catch phrases are as nauseating as "soccer mom," and I still cringe when I recall that Sen. Murray ran on that phrase (actually, she said "I'm a soccer mom in tennis shoes"). "Soccer moms," "Hockey moms" are supposed to represent "true" Americans, meaning Americans who have children, and who subscribe to certain values that no one is able to articulate, but that "soccer moms" and "hockey moms" nevertheless understand.

You rarely (if ever) hear a man say he is a "soccer dad" or a "hockey dad," which is part of the little-articulated value system: The men are still off doing "important" things while the women are hauling children to and from soccer games, dance lessons, etc.

It has been pointed out that being a hockey mom is harder than being a soccer mom because of the involvement of very cold weather and sometimes long travel. So while soccer moms are dedicated, hockey moms are both dedicated and tough.

Somewhere along the line, someone decided that being dedicated and tough was a sort of token form of feminism (kind of a "good enough" feminism), and that being dedicated and tough puts you "in touch" with "middle America." Of course, this is a delusion, as are most American myths.

If a female candidate were to say "I'm not married, and I spend my leisure time playing on a hockey team," she would probably not get many votes in middle America. "Soccer mom" and "hockey mom" are the new versions of "PTA mom." Yes, you need to show you are dedicated, but that dedication needs to be channeled into the activities of your children.

I fully support the concept of both mothers and fathers being dedicated to the activities of their children. But male candidates do not have to campaign on that issue. God forbid--as HRC learned--a woman with a brain should turn down the opportunity to bake cookies.

tennischick said...

just ran acros your blog. awesome entry on Palin the literalist.