(Ed. Note: The "While The Men Watch" controversy rages on, as CBC Sports presents a new program featuring two women who commentate on hockey while the "sports addicted men" in their lives watch it. The backlash was palpable, but it's not without its defenders. We asked blogger/Montreal Canadiens fan Julie Veilleux, a.k.a. @MetricJulie, for her take on the program.)
By Julie Veilleux
When I first heard about "While the Men Watch", I thought to myself, "Great. More women in sports acting ditzy and pretending they're Sarah Jessica Parker."
Then I saw the backlash on Twitter and in various blogs. While awesome for recognizing sexism and outdated gender roles, something about the intensity of the criticism toward the two hosts bothered me.
I mean, okay. They ARE willingly enforcing the myth that all female sports fans are really just sports widows who reluctantly and begrudgingly learn the sport to please their man or spend more time with him. They DO contribute to a system that, while maybe being "fringe" and letting women to join in on the conversation, still only allows those corresponding to a standard of beauty to take part.
But to hate these women because they like pink, or talking about men, or hinting at wanting to have sex with them, seems pretty unfair. I like pink. I like men. I like stuff. That doesn't make me a bad fan or less of a fan. Most of the outrage I've seen has been directed toward the CBC for putting this show on the air, but there have been personal and gendered attacks on the hosts as well.
Well, that's not solving anything. I hate the way the system works just as much as anyone else who's been discriminated against based on gender, orientation or color. But there are a whole lot of things wrong with While the Men Watch that are worth your ire. Let's take a look at just a few of them, shall we?
It's sexist (duh) and shames women's bodies
(Head to the 5:10 mark of this video)
On playoff beards — they're not fans, which, what the heck is wrong with them? — they said: "I know it's a tradition, but would a woman ever let all the body hair grow for the Oscar night?"
Then everybody laughs uncomfortably and is horrified by something most people on the planet are born with. Women, your job is to be pretty and smooth and nice and soft and not have hair anywhere on your body because it's disgusting, except of course the hair on your head which should be long otherwise you're butch, which by the way is somehow a really bad and shameful thing, but also don't play too much with your hair otherwise you're asking for it and AAAAAAARRRGH!
Honestly, this is your level of discourse, ladies?
The host isn't any better though. After Lena & Jules make a hilarious pubic hair joke about the Sedin twins, he says "This is what you do, ladies, you change the game for people."
"Changing the game" though? I would argue that they are playing the game humanity has been playing forever which is called We've Internalized Misogyny So Much We Think It's Hilarious And Perfectly Normal. Then the hosts laughs about not listening to his significant other because SPORTS! I hope his wife thinks about hockey while they're in bed together.
On "5 Situations When it's OK for HER to Grunt" …Women should not grunt. They should also be in their lingerie 24/7, never fart and have no body hair.
It's degrading and dehumanizing
In their piece "What NOT to Say if His Team Loses the World Series", Lena and Jules advise against refusing sex.
"Make it happen girls -- under any playoff circumstance. Take one for the team."
So on top of not being good enough with our disgusting body hair, our bodies are basically just the consolation prize. Reducing women and women's bodies to what men want is another way they're "changing the game" no wait this has been going on forever.
Anyways, girlfriends, remember:
His Needs > your needs.
More great insight into the physical act of love
In "The Bases & Sex: Why He & She Can't Agree", my girls break it down for us and tell us that "men like to steal a bit of penetration" at 3rd base. STEAL. Sounds super consensual and healthy to me!
It's derogatory towards men, too
In "15 Reasons We are Thankful for Sports Addicted Men", sisters, we can be grateful for the fact that "He's Not a Dork":
"Babe, I'm going out with the guys to watch the game." — sounds much better than: "Honey, I'll be home around 10pm from the dad's book club."
No, GOD FORBID intelligent, well-rounded men get any recognition. It's much easier to obey the gender binary and expect men to be lumberjacks, show no emotion (except during sports), not respect the women or the gays and steal some penetration whenever they can.
In "Every Man's Fantasy", girlfriends ponder serious questions:
What would the female equivalent be? Wedding Planning? No! It would be an actual fantasy — likely involving a member of the opposite sex, preferably a whole team of them for that matter.
Women are obsessed with weddings and babies and their uterus! Also women go with men, in case you needed that reminder again.
4. "Mad cleaning" is no fun and takes twice as long when combined with "mad walking" in circles.
LOL. Cleaning. Get it. Women are useless without a Swiffer. Why don't they just marry their kitchen since they spend so much time there and love planning weddings!
…you get the idea.
CBC has embarrassed itself by thinking its audience will swallow this garbage because it's wrapped in a soft, purple and pink wrapping. I honestly wonder whom the people at CBC thought they were catering to, and how dumb they think we are.
So keep criticizing what you see on TV because that is just really important in general, but also be smart about it: If you're going to talk about this show, or any other show featuring women, don't make gendered comments and don't conflate some women with all women. Keep it clean, otherwise you're just exacerbating the problem.
While the Men Watch is cheap for many different reasons. The hosts being women who like pink and purple is not one of them.
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