CBC's HNIC tries on misogynist, condescending alternative commentary track

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture
CBC's HNIC tries on misogynist, condescending alternative commentary track

While the men watch

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A year ago, we would have rather spent the afternoon lingerie shopping with our mother-in-laws than watch a hockey game.  You should really meet our mother-in-laws for full effect, but that's a whole other blog. 

As two women married to sports fanatics, there was really no escaping hockey on TV - especially during playoffs.  As our men were glued to the game, we were on the phone talking to each other about what we saw on the ice in a way that was completely different than what our guys or the real announcers were saying.  Why were the players getting a seat and a drink in the penalty box if it's supposed to be a punishment?  And how exactly did that coach pick out a brown suit and tie combo four sizes too big?

 

Hate Hockey? Hate Women? The CBC’s Women-Only Stanley Cup Feed Is For You

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Canadian national broadcaster CBC announced today the network's Stanley Cup Finals coverage will include an alternate audio channel featuring Lena Sutherland and Jules Mancuso of While The Men Watch, a site dedicated to "sports commentary that women actually want to hear."

By their own definition, this commentary means "things that have nothing to do with the game." Indeed, these women have no interest whatsoever in actually describing or understanding the events happening onscreen:

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Thanks guys, but if we really wanted to, we could probably figure out how to analyze a five-on-four situation. In all seriousness, there is no shortage of talented female sportscasters out there who we respect. We just think it's more fun to talk about why so many gorgeous players come from Welland Ontario and why they all skate around with scotch tape holding up their socks.

Issues Pages: 
Regions: 
Caissa

thread drift/mothers-in-law not mother-in laws, one of my grammar peeves./end thread drift

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Wow just when I thought the CBC could not sink lower than the racist, misogynist Dragon's Den.

It does go hand in hand with the "support our troops" theme that HNIC hypes.

Slumberjack

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Indeed, these women have no interest whatsoever in actually describing or understanding the events happening onscreen.

They'd probably fit right in with HNIC's play-by-play announcers in the broadcast booth.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Hey-o! Bob Cole, babble's got your number.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I wonder whether they can find a couple of stereotypical airheaded men who know nothing about hockey but like hot chicks to blog about the next Women's Championship in The Hague. It could really boast their TV viewing numbers for women's sport.

Money mouth

Slumberjack

It'd probably be similar to Danny Gallivan describing Guy Lafleur's hair as he's moving with the puck.

Unionist

This isn't about the CBC. This is about "professional" sports. Besides glorifying violence and mindless competition and obscene wealth accumulation and jingoist-style municipal/regional chauvinism and homophobia and racism, it is fundamentally and profoundly misogynistic. I don't see women's hockey on prime time. I don't see women in the NHL at all. In a humane and just society, sports would be about health and recreation and friendship. Women and men and everyone would have their equal and natural place. In our society, it is equivalent to gladiatorial contests, with the sole exception that contestants are only maimed and crippled, not (usually) killed.

 

writer writer's picture

He shoots, he scores! Not only does Unionist skate past the many elephants on the ice, he gets into the corner and brings the puck back to the feminism forum!

The simple fact is that our national TV broadcaster soaks weeks of its primetime schedule in sweaty men skating back and forth on the ice and causing each other physical damage from time to time. Oddly enough, some of us couldn't give two shits about this and similar activity, and would rather not pay for the privilege of having it relentlessly shoved down our brain stems. But we certainly care that it is instead constantly, chronically claimed to be our game. That it inhales endless time during the news and in pre-and-post whatevers outside the actual, you know, airing of the action that fans can watch for themselves so why do they need it on the news, etc., and why do they need endless commentary about what just sucked up too much time in the first place, at least for those oddballs who haven't bought into the whole package?

We do care that we don't seem to really, truly be part of this culture if we don't lurv it and everything that goes with it.

Overwhelmingly, the category of the indifferent-to-hostile includes women, but there are others who feel the same way. There is absolutely nothing comparable within the realm of what is acknowledged as of particular interest to women, populated by women, chewing up everybody else's primetime, pushed as somehow universal. I sometimes kiddingly opine that we'll know there's gender equity when quilting bees get as much coverage as these tedious grunt fests.

Yeah, let's talk about misogyny and patriarchy, shall we?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Perhaps I'm naïve, but I don't think that spectator sports are inherently patriarchal, or at least I'm not totally convinced. That's not to say that the production, dissemination, presentation and practice of sport isn't patriarchal--it doubtless is--just that it doesn't have to be. There was a very offensive article published in the Vancouver Sun last year about how women were terrible hockey fans who couldn't understand the offside rule (and thus, obviously, couldn't really enjoy the game), which many of my feminist colleagues took extreme issue with.

The reason this is (also) a "CBC" problem is because this is a strategy of power which seeks to curtail the pleasure women who enjoy sport have rustled up despite the overwhelmingly patriarchal way sport is presented in society. Patriarchy: one battle, many fronts.

Bacchus

Won't happen on the CBC now that they really really depend on the money they get from advertising on HNIC. Lots of other programming would suffer if nthey lost it. Which would not happen, of course, if they go decent funding from the government (or that they would handle it appropriately if they did get it)

writer writer's picture

Quote:
 Perhaps I'm naïve, but I don't think that spectator sports are inherently patriarchal ...

Who said they were?

What *is* evidence of patriarchy? There is one spectator sport, peddled as the "national" sport, in which one league that exclusively features one gender gets the lion's share of attention, money, coverage etc., and it features a significant amount of aggression and violence, with the rationalization that these elements inhabit the core of the game.

Enjoying sport ≠ enjoying the ceaseless glorification, preoccupation and promotion of a male-dominated culture of the male version of play. Sure, some feminists do love the NHL, the Stanley Cup, the playoffs, trades, statistics and so on, despite it all. Most that I know don't. And while I count myself among the latter, I can still agree that sexism is sexism, when it comes to men saying that women's little heads can't handle the complexity of the blessed rules. Or whatever.

Maybe there are other, better, reasons so many of us are just not that into it. And that we'd kind of like to see something else get as much time and space as this recurring cultural feature.

Believe me, I don't mean the kind of cutesy gals-in-the-kitchen-while-their-guys-bond-watching-the-game  "Oh, that rookie's buns are so tight! Tee hee!" crap that the CBC seems to want to peddle as balance.

In 1981, Justine Blainey started a process that ended up in the Supreme Court of Canada, all because the Metro Toronto Hockey League denied her the opportunity to play hockey for them. In doing so, Blainey played a role in "striking down the portion of the Ontario Human Rights Code allowing for sexual discrimination. Her battle opened the door for women to compete with men in sports in Ontario."

Where are we now, exactly? 30 years later?

Bacchus

writer wrote:

We do care that we don't seem to really, truly be part of this culture if we don't lurv it and everything that goes with it.

Overwhelmingly, the category of the indifferent-to-hostile includes women, but there are others who feel the same way. There is absolutely nothing comparable within the realm of what is acknowledged as of particular interest to women, populated by women, chewing up everybody else's primetime, pushed as somehow universal.

 

Soap operas and Maury Povich shows and shows like the View, Ellen or Oprah *ducks and runs*

Bacchus

writer wrote:

 

Enjoying sport ≠ enjoying the ceaseless glorification, preoccupation and promotion of a male-dominated culture of the male version of play. Sure, some feminists do love the NHL, the Stanley Cup, the playoffs, trades, statistics and so on, despite it all. Most that I know don't. And while I count myself among the latter, I can still agree that sexism is sexism, when it comes to men saying that women's little heads can't handle the complexity of the blessed rules. Or whatever.

 

 

I am not a sports fan, but Mrs Bacchus is a NFL nut and used to do Stats for college Basketball in the US. Its both amusing and dispairing to see men dismiss, demean or act unbelieving that she could know anything about football. Until, of course, she starts questioning them on plays, stats and stuff that they dont know and she knows very very well

6079_Smith_W

@ CF

That reminds me of a jaw-dropping comment by some Saskatchewan player in the NHL (don't know his name, as I am not really a fan) earlier in the season after a number of serious on-ice injuries. He went on and on about how enforcement wouldn't work and was not the way to deal with violence. It was just something players needed to do. But when the subject came around to women's hockey he just dismissed it by saying "it's not an issue for them", even though he rejected everything, even the idea of serious suspensions and fines, as a means of stopping it in the NHL.

I'd say this is a problem particular to hockey and perhaps American football. Can't say as I have seen it in curling or figure skating, which are the other two sports my in-laws are mad about, and the only two I can think of that are of a comparable profile on the regular networks.

As for the alternate commentary you are posting about... What the fuck where they thinking? I first learned about this when several women friends - hockey fans - posted on facebook about it and were completely insulted. As a one-off it seems like a stupid and insulting joke. But as an ongoing part of the show? 

writer writer's picture

Quote:
Won't happen on the CBC now that they really really depend on the money they get from advertising on HNIC. Lots of other programming would suffer if nthey lost it. Which would not happen, of course, if they go decent funding from the government (or that they would handle it appropriately if they did get it)

Yes, Bacchus. This is how it works.

The elephant. The room.

Quote:
 Soap operas and Maury Povich shows and shows like the View, Ellen or Oprah *ducks and runs*

Notice that "primetime" thing I wrote? Yeah, that.

Bacchus

Not so much in canada, but in the US a large part of 'prime time' programming is aimed at women (and teen ones at that). Prempted by sports as needed of course. But thats not a 'enlightened' approach merely a mercenary one. Women watch more tv now, we need to target them. On the networks that cater to men(or just women for that matter) this rule does not apply, only to the general networks like Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC

 

Aside from that, I would like to see the BBC model more as they seem to be pretty independant of government interference and funding cuts

6079_Smith_W

So I went and checked out the "while the men watch" website. Seems they do this commentary for a lot of American sports, including tennis.

Whoever at the CBC thought this was a good idea, I don't know.

Bacchus

A bunch of old white men perhaps?  Thats the only grouping I can think of that would think its a good idea. With sychophants at their side

6079_Smith_W

Personally  I really dislike hockey, But I know enough women hockey players, mothers of players, and fans to guess this is, if anything, an under-estimation of how seriously many Canadians take the game.

And when you think of how lop-sided the sport is when it comes to women's hockey, it is doubly insulting that the CBC would even think this was remotely a good idea.

 

 

milo204

On the issue of womens hockey, all the international tournaments are broadcast here, but there's obviously not the same draw as men's hockey since there isn't a comparable pro league to garner interest.  But i've noticed that as amateur leagues start getting airtime (qmjhl, ohl, etc) there have been many more broadcasts of womens hockey as well (all the international tournaments).

part of the problem is that womens hockey is pretty young in terms of the vast numbers of women playing, so the talent pool is tiny right now (hence the 30-0 blowouts in international tournaments) and let's face it, that's not very interesting to watch.  While i love the canada US games, there's only a couple of those a year. And as much as i enjoy watching those it must be admitted that the skill level is just not the same yet.  But look at the difference between this year and last, it's improved a fucking ton because it's getting more popular!    

@6079 SMITH:  Sounds like what he meant was because there's not much hitting in womens hockey, different icing rules and everyone is wearing cages they don't have much in the way of fighting and the games don't get out of hand because of it.  Have you watched womens hockey? its a very different game.  No body checking--way less injuries-- so he's correct, it's not an issue since the incidence of concussions, fighting and grievous injury isn't as frequent in the womens game

@ WRITER actually there was a female NHL player at one point.  i think her name was Manon Rheaume?  goalie, played an exhibition game i think?  But in all seriousness, there aren't any female players at that level right now and the physical difference in size and strength would be totally unfair.  The national womens team played a series of games against some teams before the olympics and i think they were 15 year old boys and they weren't allowed to body check.  even then, the womens team only won a little under half the games.  imagine them playing against NHL players with full contact...totally unfair i think at this point.  A team of 15 year olds vs an nhl team would get absolutely killed every time, even the vast majority of 18 year old nhl rookies end up in the minors or stay with their junior clubs until they get bigger, faster and more skilled.

 

6079_Smith_W

@ milo204

I probably didn't explain it well, but the feeling I definitely got was that this guy felt that violence was an integral part of NHL hockey, that it was just natural for men, and that nothing - not even long suspensions - could stop it. When pressed, he did fall back on the line that it would be unworkable for the game to have star players benched .

As for his assessment of women, he was very clearly of the opinion that women have no inclination to be physically aggressive at all. He did say something equally offensive - that they can be verbally aggressive, which he said could be even worse (than having your career ended by a concussion? perhaps not).

It put my jaw on the floor, anyway. 

And yes, I have seen women's  hockey.

 

milo204

ha, perhaps he's never seen womens MMA or the many other contact sports played by women?  I play in a mixed hockey league with no hitting and believe me the women are often the more physical players....i shouldn't generalize, since this is only one league, but the female players are often dirtier with the high sticks, slashing, punching, cross checks etc than the male players so they are plenty aggro when the skates are on!

6079_Smith_W

No, I believe you milo, and I know for myself.

It's the professional NHL player whose perception I question.

writer writer's picture

Could I ask that this be moved from the feminism forum?

6079_Smith_W

I'll stop posting

 

 

jas

writer wrote:

Maybe there are other, better, reasons so many of us are just not that into it. And that we'd kind of like to see something else get as much time and space as this recurring cultural feature.

Had a hard time choosing which statement to quote, so much do I appreciate your comments on this.

There are so many problems with this hyper-ized focus on professional sports in our culture that I don't even know where to begin. So I'll start with the personal: I hate that I can't go to a pub or bar (and not that I even go out that much) without having this moronic televised spectation dominating the atmosphere, the conversation and the mood of everyone who partakes. As if there aren't hundreds of other things going on in our lives and in our world to put our attention on, to laugh about or share. As if there aren't hundreds of other kinds of programming on television, even. I don't get it. And I don't get how those who consider themselves leftist or progressive justify their daily consumption of what, in the end, is obviously just heavy, heavy marketing. To me it's like environmentalists buying Dodge Rams ("Guts. Glory.") to get around because "well, fuck, they're cool."

 

 

Slumberjack

I don't watch sports at all anymore, except for my 9 year old's soccer games, and his little dragon Taekwondo, and only because I'm his ride to and from.  Mostly I just pick a spot on the wall to stare at until he's done.  I'd make a piss-poor hockey parent.

Slumberjack

6079_Smith_W wrote:
I'll stop posting. 

What..altogether?  This is just too sudden.

Michelle

OMFG, this is so gross.  This is how CBC is planning to add more women to their hockey commentary line-up?

I love watching HNIC, and throughout the winter I watch it many Saturday nights with the fambly. I really like watching hockey.

But god, I've been complaining for years about the fact that HNIC is the whitest, malest commentary on television.  Even the other private stations have the occasional woman or racialized man (a racialized woman would probably be too much to ask) doing visible commentary on hockey games.  But not the publicly-funded CBC, heck no.

It's so infuriating.  Week after week, if I want to watch hockey, the only people they have calling the game, and doing the commentary between periods are men.  I think HNIC has one woman who does five second interviews with the players as they're coming off the rink.  Otherwise, it's white middle-aged men all frigging night. 

Coach's Corner after first period - two guys, one of whom is obnoxious (although I will admit, he's a guilty pleasure for me - it's a comedy routine to me).  After second period - Hot Stove, with a panel of four white guys each trying to out-testosterone each other.  I swear, their voices drop an octave between the first sentence they utter at the beginning of the show and the last one. 

Don't get me wrong - I know there's an audience for the testosterone sports commentary - I don't even mind watching it myself.  But does that have to be all there is?  Is the only alternative really to put a simultaneous sportscast on with vapid women not even talking about the game?  Or is the solution a mix - have your Coach's Corner, then have another commentary show by women alongside it in the same sportscast.  Have your Hot Stove and stick a couple of women into it.  Or, actually, since I can't imagine any woman getting a word in edgewise in Hot Stove unless she plays the same testosterone game, let Hot Stove stay the way it is, and have another commentary show along with it.  There's lots of time between periods for commentary, so stick something else in with it.

All commentary on CBC's HNIC is done by white men.  It's unbelievable in this day and age.  And then their solution is to put on an alternative HNIC with female announces who talk about how cute the players are?  Like, are you fucking kidding me?

Newsflash to the CBC: Lots of us women like hockey.  The game, you know?  Not just the "cute guys" who, by the way, aren't so cute when they're sweating from head to foot and are bleeding all over the ice after beating each other up.  Now, maybe many women focus on some different things about the game itself than many men (and I don't mean how pretty the colours are in the uniform, not how cute the guys are, I mean stuff about the GAME) and maybe we just might have some different opinions about stuff that happens in the game than white men.  For instance, I know that I don't give a shit about player stats and stuff like that.  I don't memorize how many goals so-and-so has had this season and in his entire career. I don't feel the need to be able to rattle off every name of every player on every team.

I would watch women's hockey if they had it on TV as much as they had men's hockey on.  Maybe a women's sports network, or show on the CBC, where they focus on women's leagues, with a majority of female announcers and sports analysts who know what they're talking about when it comes to sports could be fun.

This idea?  Not so fun.  Really stupid-sounding.  Really condescending, really sexist.  Thanks, CBC television.  You just keep getting more and more relevant to my life every single day, between this, and your fawning interviews with felons like Conrad Black, and your stupid "At Issue" panels where the range of political opinion moves from centre-right to Harper-right.

Maysie Maysie's picture

If everyone can remember that this is the feminism forum that would be marvy.

I agree with writer's point about the iconic place that hockey has in the colonial Canadian identity. I'm not a fan, and while I imbibe in my share of mainstream cultural offerings (*cough* Big Bang Theory *cough*) there's something very wrong with how much space and attention male professional hockey in particular gets, and how pervasive it is across Canada. As for the show of the OP which I've never seen and don't plan to: more of the same from the brains of the male MSM establishment. Yawn.

Newsflash, advertisers. Women have money. Duh. But my revolution doesn't include becoming a target market in the capitalist shell game. This is why I rarely look to the mainstream corporate media for representation or accurate portrayals of reality from a POV other than something that comes from the script of a Mad Men episode.

Kids (and adults) playing hockey, or other sports, fine. But this isn't about that. Let's stay on topic here, guys.

Edited to add: Cross posted with Michelle. *waves to Michelle*

Slumberjack

Now just where did Smith get off to?

Michelle

By the way, this quote by the women doing the show illustrates the whole problem in a nutshell:

Quote:

Thanks guys, but if we really wanted to, we could probably figure out how to analyze a five-on-four situation. In all seriousness, there is no shortage of talented female sportscasters out there who we respect.

Actually, there IS a shortage, certainly on the CBC.  That's the WHOLE PROBLEM.

I actually don't have a big problem with what these women are doing.  They started this up as a joke, did their own video or audio casts and got a cult following, and that's awesome.  Longsuffering women who don't give a shit about professional sports but wind up with their television commandeered by their sports fans husbands might just find this really funny - and the funny and subversive part about it is that they're blatantly not giving a shit about this stuff that the guys in their lives take so seriously, and they're mocking it.  They're saying that their vapid crap is just as valid as the vapid crap their husbands are watching.  Good on them.

My issue isn't with what these women are doing.  I might even enjoy listening to their commentary - it's probably pretty funny.  My issue is with the CBC holding a white malefest every Saturday night, and the only thing they can think of to even it out is, instead of covering more women's sports in prime time and having more serious female commentators for both male and female leagues, they figure instead they'll just include this, and that will even everything out.

bekayne

Michelle wrote:

All commentary on CBC's HNIC is done by white men. 

There's Kevin Weekes