A Cold Shoulder for Women’s Hockey by Gregory Allen

The World Hockey Summit met in August to discuss the future, foundation, and prominent  aspects of the sport of ice hockey. On the agenda, the looming expulsion of women’s hockey from the Olympics. Committee president Jacques Rogge decided to place women’s hockey on notice following several lopsided scores in the most recent Olympic Games, held in Vancouver, Canada.

Also an important topic at the summit, the dwindling participation in youth hockey across North America. Misconceptions of violent occurrences, and notions equipment required is too expensive to play, have kept most children from continuing activities in the sport into their teen years. Statistics revealed at the summit imply that nearly half of all children participating in youth hockey quit before the age of ten. Despite this evidence that the foundation of the sport is in increasing jeopardy, Rogge and others have renewed their push to remove women from participating in ice hockey.
In Vancouver, 20 teams met, both men’s division and women’s, to compete in the ice hockey tournament. Canada won gold over the U.S. in both finals matches. Numerous upsets and highlight reel plays dominated the competition and drew immense ratings and ticket sales. Prominent amongst the men’s tournament was the ousting of Russia, predicted by many to challenge for top honors. Among the Russian players was Ilya Kovalchuk, who recently signed a 15-year deal with the New Jersey Devils of the NHL, worth approximately $100 million. Kovalchuk, a noted goal scorer, failed to record more than a single goal, and mirrored much of the disappointment shown by others. The highlights displayed  by the women’s tournament frequently overwhelmed that of the performances found in the men’s category, most notable of which were Sidney Crosby’s blooper over time goal against the United States, and Miikka Kipprusoff’s allowance of four goals in just about as many minutes to the US team. Members of Canada’s women’s team set new records in goals scored in a game and career goals by a player, Haley Wickenheiser. The U.S. and Canadian women’s teams supplied a slew of impressive tallies, such as Jocelyn Lamoreux’s “between the legs” score against China.
However, the U.S. and Canadian women’s teams have appeared in all finals matches since being allowed into the Winter Olympics, in Nagano, 1998. Rogge’s argument, and that of the IIHF, seems misguided by suggesting the lopsided scores are a genuine catalyst for the discrimination, such as Canada’s dispelling of Slovakia 18-0, beating out Sweden 13-2, and the US’s ousting of China 12-1. When Men’s Ice Hockey first entered the Olympics in 1920, Canada defeated Czechoslovakia 15-0, and Sweden 12-1, two countries now considered elites for supplying the hockey world with some of its most recognizable talent, such as Jaromir Jagr, Dominik Hasek, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Peter Forsberg. But these facts appear forgotten by the committee and those who continue to push for isolating female athletes from the Winter Games. It would seem impossibly offensive to state the same development of talent will not occur in the Women’s category given the same time to grow.
With the foundation crumbling, and youth pursuing interests in other sports, it appears imperative that the hockey world allow for women’s teams to develop, as theirs once did, if the sport is to reverse the trend and thrive. With the Olympics being the only widely televised Women’s event in ice hockey, and little professional leagues being found outside of Canada, more consideration must be made, instead of basing this rejection on contradictory stats shared also by the men’s divisions. Removing female motivation, such as Olympic participation, would prove only detrimental to the sport, as the only category of growth found is in Women’s North American Hockey, which has grown over 400% in the last decade alone. And the this consideration should come soon, as popular female icons in the sport, such as Angela Ruggiero and Hayley Wickenheiser, depart and take the game with them.

Why Women Stay

As a woman, it can be difficult to find your voice and feel comfortable saying no. Because of how society socializes women, we are taught that it is important to please others, regardless of our own desires. If you have ever agreed to have sex with someone when you really didn’t want to, then you know what I mean. Some women pass down the idea to their daughters that they should put others first, perpetuating a cycle that results in the abuse of women. This is one reason that women remain in abusive relationships, or seek them out.

When women try to explain why they stay in abusive relationships, it is hard for those who have not experienced it to understand. When leaving the abusive relationship, it is more difficult for women to gain support and legal resources like housing and money. When an abused woman reports a domestic assault, she must leave, not her abuser, and she often seeks shelter in a safe house while he remains at home, undisturbed. Even in reporting the abuse and escaping from it, others will tell her that it is her fault that she remained in the situation, especially if she has repeatedly sought out and remained in abusive relationships.
Because of the stigma attached to an abused woman, she is not comfortable admitting to anyone that she is being abused because it will not be understood by others why she stays, and the abuse will not be recognized by many when she does. This keeps the issue of domestic violence from reaching public knowledge, discussion, and acceptance as a result of both society and the abuser’s isolation of her from other women experiencing the same thing.
As a result of the abuser socially isolating her in order to control her, she is emotionally dependent on him and she often does not have a support system at this time, such as friends and family who empathize with her situation. Police, and others, may not understand why she is emotionally attached to him if he harms her. It may even be difficult for her to understand this herself.
Because of the male-focused values in this society, women are taught to desire behaviors in men such as physical power, egocentricity, aggressiveness, and social power. It is acceptable for men to express anger physically and verbally, but not to express sadness and insecurity, or even cry. Women have been taught to nurture, forgive, take responsibility to the point of blaming themselves for other’s problems, and to put other’s needs first, leading to women entering abusive relationships and remaining in them. When people these women talk to don’t understand their situation, it makes them question themselves and feel powerless, leading to emotional dependence on their abuser and a reluctance to validate their own experience. However, it is a result of our society’s belief system and a lack of awareness that leads to this issue being buried under a pristine view of society’s gender roles.
30% of women murdered are killed by their husband or ex-partner, versus only 5% of men.[i]
The World Health Organization World Report on Violence and Health finds that “‘one of the most common forms of VAW is that performed by a husband or male partner.’ This type of violence is frequently invisible since it happens behind closed doors. Moreover, legal systems and cultural norms often do not treat it as a crime, but rather as a ‘private’ family matter or a normal part of life.”[ii] More information on gender violence can be found at http://www.who.int/gender/violence/en/ , the World Health Organization.
Katrina Semich, WRC Blogger Fall 2010

“Tuning in on Two and a Half Men” By Gregory Allen

George Carlin. Bill Hicks. David Cross. Bill Maher. All vulgar and obscence comediens. And arguably the best because of their satirical wisdom and stoic personas. Much of their style of humor is lost in modern television, due mostly to ratings and a general lack of interest in moral topics that are, unfortunately, considered rebellious. You’d expect the following intro in an episode of South Park or as part of a discussion on Real Time with Bill Maher, but the source, CBS’ “Two and a Half Men”, is deceiving when considered the target audience is considered mainstream.

Mia (Emmanuelle Vaugier) reluctantly accepts the bracelet Charlie (Charlie Sheen) presents to her. She hesitates before reading the inscription on her new jewelry, “One month, two week, four days?” This is the length of time Charlie Harper has gone without sex. This is a point he elaborates on without encouragement; stating his $80,000 Mercedes and taunting Malibu beach estate, which in dating terms he refers to as, “A G-spot with two mortgages,” have failed to assist in his debauchery.

But before his character should be scorned for this superficial and insensitive technique, Charlie urges her to also read the inscription on the reverse side: “I’m very, very, sorry.” Despite his anticipation and foresight, the apology is quickly made irrelevant as his other girlfriend, Kandi, arrives unannounced. The introductory scene to this episode of “Two and a Half Men” concludes with Charlie attempting to explain his way out of the affair by suggesting a threesome. This fails as quickly as his previous attempt and the credits begin with their typical upbeat jingle.
Charlie, portrayed by actor Charlie Sheen, seems bound to repeat this scene and similar escapades as the series progresses, now into its 8th season.  His character defines genuine expressions of affection and compassion as, “Drunk and in a hurry,” and displays his bravado against the constant backdrop of evil and idiotic women.
To glorify his misogyny and obtain ratings, the creators of the show, Lee Aronsohn and Chuck Lorre, supply validations in the form of contrasting female characters. Charlie’s mother (Holland Taylor) and Mia are confident, charismatic, and intelligent. They’re almost role models, until you witness their never ending attempts to emasculate and manipulate Charlie. These humiliations prove an apt disguise for his sexist retaliation, as audiences have been fooled into providing the show with a slew of awards and nominations.
Diversity appears on the show only in the sad shadows of Alan (Jon Cryer), Charlie’s self-described “pussy-whipped” younger brother, and Kandi (April Bowlby), whose idea of intellectual reading and thought strives no farther than text-messages and billboards. Combined with the other characters, evidence piles each episode, striving to suggest that the independent and joyful masculinity Charlie personifies is under siege from a dangerous feminine threat. The only problem, as Mia displays toward the conclusion of the episode, is that this threat is merely a request for an emotionally rewarding conversation and the rational request that he leave his clothes on for at least a minor portion of the show.
Concern should be found in two places when considering “Two and a Half Men.” First, the show frequently shows signs of strong comedic tendencies that don’t require female objectification to enhance the punch line. Jake (Angus T. Jones) proves worthy of a few of the shows awards, as his vulgar and juvenile humor finds itself perfectly out of place in the company of elite Malibu socialites, whom he has a talent for embarrassing. Tragically, these aspects are wasted and drown in the shows poorly cloaked biases and stereotyping.
Second, Charlie’s behavior is more likely to be imitated than mocked. Sheen was recently arrested himself on charges of domestic violence and menacing. He simply pleaded guilty, and several of the charges, including a felony, were dropped. Although, this scene will probably be parodied in a future episode, complete with a judge acquitting him accompanied by the same fake audience laughter that plagues the show. A viewer might feel astute to argue that Charlie is a foil, and self-destructive, ultimately sabotaging himself by the third act. But this is rarely, if ever, the case. Charlie finds the sex he is looking for, despite his atrocious behavior, twice in this episode, the producers clearly evading any attempt to criticize his misogyny.
It is important to remember that while TV ratings may thwart Charlie’s onscreen actions into a humorous resolution; this display of insecure and combative pseudo-masculinity finds much harsher real life conclusions. Concern and a more realistic focus should arise when awards are provided yearly to a program admired for its demeaning portrayal of women and the culprit who violates them. Or maybe the audience should inspect themselves for similarities, when Charlie concludes the episode in his own philosophical fashion, stating, “Love isn’t blind, it’s retarded.”

A Season of Light. A Season of Stress. By Dr. Juli Parker

I watched a re-run of Family Guy last night. In this episode, Lois freaks out because she is exhausted from Christmas preparations. She sets fire to their tree and goes on a rampage through the town of Quahog. This episode really resonated with me, even though I don’t have children. I have done the majority of the shopping for the approximately 40 people on our list, many of whom are nieces and nephews on my husband’s side of the family. Last Saturday I spent hours wrapping all of those presents. And I’m still not done. I have to pick up something for my Dad, find the perfect book about trains for my Godson, get something for my neighbors who were overly generous last year, a gift certificate for my brother in law and his wife, go to Target and get dog toys for nine dogs, and maybe something else for my mother.

Then I have to buy the ingredients to make a Christmas Eve dessert, develop a shopping list for Christmas dinner, which will include making another dessert, and finish wrapping the gifts I haven’t finished wrapping, including some I need to wrap when my husband is elsewhere.

Christmas has become a race to exhaustion. And while I love to buy Christmas presents, I wonder if we have stepped too far afield of its meaning. While we hear all the time that we have to “get back to the real meaning of Christmas,” like a new group on Facebook called “Let’s keep the Christ in Christmas,” none of this addresses the pressure that, in most cases, women face during this time of year.

And why does the holiday pressure fall on women? I know I am the one who nagged my husband about decorating the house. I was the one who wanted our house to look “pretty” in my neighborhood. I was the one who went to get a tree and then decorated the whole thing while he cooked dinner one night. I did manage to get him to come shopping with me for some of our nieces and nephews, but I couldn’t get him to move at the pace I needed. Am I the one who puts this pressure on me? Do women bring this on themselves? Or are men happy to let us take charge?

I often get a good cold this time of year. Women run themselves into exhaustion, staying up late wrapping presents or baking cookies or decorating. I wonder if next year, instead of getting back to the real meaning of Christmas, maybe we could begin to think of an equality of Christmas, where no one person in the home takes full responsibility for the increased chores that come with this beautiful season of lights.

Dr. Juli Parker,
Women’s Resource Center

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