Friday, January 25, 2013

A Guy's Guide to a Girl's Guide to Watching the Rangers

Good idea: Open up a section on your slightly popular fan site, Blueshirts United, where fans unaffiliated with the organization can post their own takes on fandom.

Bad idea: Debut that section with an article about how women can cope with their men's love of hockey, called "A Girl's Guide to Watching the Rangers."

The thesis of the article, which was somehow written by a real, live, possibly self-respecting female, is basically: men are obsessed with hockey, but don't worry! You can try to watch with them, sometimes, and this article will tell you how. Enough, sports world. It is 2013. Why the fuck, as a society, do we still have to deal with garbage like this? Also, do you people not remember the whole "While the Men Watch" disaster from not so long ago?

As a Privileged White Male whose two main passions are nerdy shit and sports, I find myself in some very male-dominated worlds. And I find myself frequently embarrassed by the shit I see there. The Internet has a whole goddamn meme about this weird "fake geek girl" construct, where somehow girls who play video games are automatically not as "authentic" as the guys who do. It's a bizarrely self-victimizing idea, wherein nerdy guys complain about not being able to find suitably nerdy girls, while simultaneously lashing out at any girl who comes anywhere near geek culture for not being "nerdy enough." Look at the most popular criticisms of long-time Attack of the Show! host Olivia Munn: they're always about how she was just there to be pretty, how she didn't really "get" games. Or, hell, go read just about anything at all on Reddit (NOTE: do not actually do this; it is depressing).

In the sports world, for better or for worse, the sexism is a lot more angry and a lot less sad. Absolutely every female hockey fan I know -- every single one, from my girlfriend to people I follow on Twitter who have no idea who I am -- has at least one story about being totally disregarded as a fan because of her gender. My sister told me just the other day that she was at the Flying Puck in her Avery jersey, and some dingleberry called her out with "you wear that just because you think he's pretty."

My sister -- obviously -- took him to school, but that's not the point. The point is that absolutely every female hockey fan has to deal with this, pretty fucking constantly. It's unacceptable. Sure, my sister knows far more about hockey, and about Avery's contribution to the Rangers, than Bar Asshole #3, and she shouldn't have to deal with that, but here's the real point: it wouldn't be okay, even if she didn't. Let's say she was just some casual fan in a jersey wandering into the Puck. If some male casual fan wanders in, the reception is "oh, cool, he's on our side, but he doesn't know that much. Whatever, go Rangers! Maybe when he leaves, he'll even like hockey more!" If it's a female, it's "of course she doesn't know that much, she must just like him because he's pretty," the end.

I take my nerddom and my fandom for granted, because I am a Priveleged White Male. I can wear the Triforce on my shirt, and no one will say "I bet he thinks Zelda's the guy." I don't know fuck-all about the Pittsburgh Pirates, but when I wear my Pirates hat, no one calls me out for not knowing my Andrew McCutchen from my Daniel McCutchen. When I tell people I'm a software engineer, no one's words say "oh, cool" while his face says "oh, really?" And because I am not in a position to be discriminated against as such, I am instead in a position to be very fucking embarrassed by my fellow Priveleged White Males.

And so, cue this sexist garbage, the debut of Blueshirts United's fan-written articles, "A Girl's Guide to Watching the Rangers." We'll dive in in a minute, but you should understand that the reason I'm not linking to it is the good news: we all did our jobs and tweeted and commented at the Rangers about how terribly sexist it was, and the article came down about 2 hours after it went up (with no official word about it, and no further reference to the feature on the site).

But here's the good news! Today's hero, Sports Illustrated's Sarah Kwak, Tweeted before it came down "Because if I know the Rangers, that slideshow will be scrubbed from existence and then they'll deny it ever existed, here are screenshots!" And then she took screenshots of every page and posted them. And then the Rangers did absolutely exactly what she said they would. So, I've taken the liberty of painstakingly transcribing this article for you. And I've added my own guide, Just For Guys, explaining how to deal with your lady when she wants to play sports fan.

Understand: I don't mean to vilify this Mirna Mandil character, who wrote this dreck. She is guilty only of having bad taste and writing about it. The New York Rangers are guilty of thinking that this article was in any way appropriate for its fans, and for thinking that, 1 weeks after a 4-month lockout, a pretty good strategy would be to alienate 50% of the population.

And so, without further ado, I give you... A Guy's Guide to a Girl's Guide to Watching the Rangers!

I was recently one of four females in a house packed with about 20 guys watching the game - football, I think.

Man, it sure is annoying when girls come to watch sports, right guys? I mean, most women are so ignorant about sports, they literally cannot identify football.

The men were there for the game, while I was there for the food: deep fried turkey, which quickly turned into deep frying everything in sight. Sure, I could've sat and watched with the men, but I don't care for football, nor do I pretend to. I'm not going to fake an alpha-male-level obsession with a sport because, frankly, that just seems exhausting.

Now, that's what I like to hear! None of this sissy only liking something a little to get in the way of my liking something a lot! If you don't like a sport as much as I do - if you do not literally have an obsession with it - then you're just getting in my way. Good choices so far, Mirna! You sound hot.

That being said, when having either guy friends, brothers, boyfriends, or husbands in your life, watching games in any sport becomes unavoidable.

Men, take note here. Everyone knows all men want to watch sports, and no women do. Obviously. But I want you to notice how accepting Mirna is of that. When you're with women, of course they don't want to watch sports. Just make them! Problem solved!

And if you live in New York and have one of the aforementioned male figures in your life, then chances are you can't avoid their obsession with the Rangers. The fact that every single one of the guys watching this football game was wearing a Rangers jersey is a true testament to the loyalty of a Rangers fan. It's not just a phase. It's not just an obsession. It's a Rangers lifestyle. News of the NHL lockout's end caused as much excitement in the male world as a 70 percent off sale does in a woman's. If you're completely oblivious to what the end of the lockout means, think of it as the premiere of the newest season of "Girls" being delayed by months, and then suddenly, it's announced that it will be coming back but with a lot fewer episodes to make up for lost time.

Guy Tip! Men, if you're like me, you absolutely cannot wrap your meaty head around what your lady means when she says she's excited about a "sale" or a "television show." Fortunately, Mirna has made the translation for me, and other sociopaths who have no idea how to empathize with anyone of the other gender about even the most basic things. Now you know: those things your woman talks about are just like sports!

Have [sic] said all that, this article is an attempt to help you at least understand their obsession, enthusiasm, and passion, and help you hold your own during game nights.

They're expecting you to ask questions, just know when to do it. Carl Hagelin has the puck. The boys are all standing and screaming and you're going to yell "what's happening!?" Nope.


Guys, Mirna's right. It's a huge pain when know-nothings (or, as I call them, ladies) try to ask me questions when I'm watching the game with my all-male group of friends. My strategy? Just ignore them completely! See if it works for you!

You need to sense the tension at certain points in the game and let them do their jumping, screaming, and cheering thing. You can tell if something huge has happened by their reaction, and if you're absolutely lost, wait for the replay. There's always a replay after a major play.

(Autistic) men, this tip works for you, too. You can tell how your lady feels about something by her reaction to it.

Still confused? Wait until a penalty or other whistle to ask. The clock stopped so there's a pause in the game, and at this level you won't need to know why a penalty was called anyway (unless there's a fight, which is pretty self-explanatory). Everything else? Not important in your world... yet.

It's important to make sure your woman doesn't get too informed about the game. After all, we wouldn't want to risk upsetting the natural order of things! So if there are any women in around when you're watching a game, make sure you explain as little as possible. Otherwise, you run the risk of them understanding the game, and then they might start to like it! You might inadvertently create the world's first female sports fan! Be careful!

Get to know the Rangers. I'm not asking you to memorize a yearbook, but after watching a game or two, last names will start to sound familiar: Staal, Callahan, Del Zotto. You'll get the idea. The Rangers' roster is easily available online, and even though knowing a last name won't do much in terms of understanding the game, it will build up your connection when watching future games. You'll be more attuned to a game when you hear a name you recognize.

Get to know goalie Henrik Lundqvist. If New York were to have a new face on every quarter, it would be his. He's broken NHL records. His nickname is "The King." He played "Sweet Child O' Mine" on guitar during a recent episode of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Don't you want him to do well? Don't you want to watch him when he's on the ice? My point exactly.


Now, guys, this advice might seem dangerous at first glance. After all, Mirna is departing from her usual advice of "all women, stay away from sports" and suggesting a reason that women might find the game interesting. And we know that's bad news! But this actually falls into a separate category: player hotness. It's a little nuanced, but I'll break it down for you.

You see, there actually is a situation in which women are allowed to care about sports: when the player or players are sufficiently attractive. You see, if we let them stay interested in the team's looks, but not in what they actually do (you can even let them know Hank has broken records if you don't let them know which ones!), we can appear to be sharing with them, while actually marginalizing them even further! And the best part is: they'll appreciate it too! They get to stare at something pretty, and they're more likely to keep their traps shut while the boys watch the game! It's win-win.

Congratulations. You've officially graduated level one of what to expect when Ranger fans are expecting. Before I wrote this article, I gave all the guys I spoke with the option of saying, 'I don't want her watching the game with me. It's my sport, leave it alone.' Not a single one of them took it.

Guys, I'm disappointed in you.

Don't be afraid to ask questions, but ask questions they'll enjoy answering. Things like who their favorite player is, or who their biggest rival is. If you have a couple hours of free time, go ahead and ask about the famous Potvin chant. You'll certainly be in for a great story.

Careful with this one. While Mirna's obviously right that it takes hours to explain that Dennis Potvin broke Ulf Nilsson's ankle, this is a great example of something that actually makes hockey interesting. If you tell this story too well, you run the risk of making a casual fan -- worse, a woman -- think that hockey might be fun. We can't have that.

If you feel too forced and uninterested, at least know the Rangers' schedule so you can schedule a girl's [sic] night for those times. Oh, and one last thing: don't give the guys and [sic] grief for their playoff beards. Google it. You'll thank me later.

Yes! This is a great suggestion, men: a ladies' night that takes place during the game will get her out of your hair for sure. Some teams, like the St. Louis Blues, seem to think that "Ladies Night Out" for a hockey game means the women all going to the game together. But the New York Rangers know better. Schedule a ladies' night for the next Ranger game - it's a sure-fire way to keep them away!

Fin

As I finished writing this, my girlfriend called in from the other room that she finally figured out what bothered her most about this insulting disaster is that it came out of New York. New York, she explained, is supposed to be where shit like this doesn't come from. When the rest of the country is spewing hate speech, New York City is where the diversity goes to thrive, where people don't judge you based on your skin color, sexual preference, or gender.

The Rangers are supposed to be New York's team. Today, they did an embarrassing job of representing their city. Meanwhile, at least two of those female Ranger fans I follow on Twitter who have no idea who I am Tweeted "Go Islanders." The New York Rangers owe us, as fans, a bigger apology than this disgraceful backpedaling.

5 comments:

  1. Nice! Thanks for sticking up for female sports fans

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  2. Excellent article. As a female hockey fan and hockey player, I feel as if the team I supported just turned around & crosschecked me. Thanks for articulating the inchoate rage that article caused.

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  3. nice post, followed a link from jezebel here

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  4. JohntortorellaislameJanuary 27, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    Thank you. As a long-time female follower of hockey (go Pens), I was at one time appreciative of the fact that the sport had no equivalent to the Laker girls. But now we have the bimbos on ice spectacle where women in spandex pretend to smooth out the ice during commercial breaks (zambonis actually do this, thanks). One more thing I gotta ignore at the games (other than the excessive use of the word 'faggot' in the stands).

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