Lena & Jules (@Whilemenwatch) May 23, 2012
No sports network is perfect. Not even close. CBC has always been a bit of a mixed bag. The Hot Stove is always better than the NBCSN intermission segments for example and while Don Cherry is a relic, Elliotte Friedman is one of the most measured and thoughtful commentators in the sport.
One thing I always respected about CBC was their inclusion of Cassie Campbell. (There are other great women at CBC as well, but I’ll be honest, as an American I don’t get to watch CBC enough to know all of them.) She’s not treated as either dumb or as eye candy. While the hockey blogosphere is very accepting of women, those inroads have not been made in the MSM. So, as women who constantly deal with sexism in sports fandom (as we’ve written about several times) the position and respect that Cassie Campbell is given means something powerful.
That’s why the new partnership of CBC with the insipid blog While The Men Watch didn’t just make me angry, it made me disappointed and sad. What I’ve seen so far is utterly vapid, unfunny and offensive. Their twitter bio reads: “Live sports commentary by girls while the men watch. Sex and City meets Hockey Night” which really tells you all you need to know.
Twitter has been doing a fantastic job skewering CBC today and there will be endless blog posts on this issue but there are a couple of important points I want to make.
1. Is there anything inherently wrong with these women and their readers being fans this way? No. But the sexism involved at CBC elevating a blog like this is offensive and alienating their viewers, women and men who respect women. Especially since CBC isn’t just a business, it’s a federally subsidized public broadcaster!
2. There is something to be said for reaching out to women who aren’t fans or who are newbie fans. Most of the women I know who are rabid hockey fans became so later in life. Partially because as women they weren’t socialized to care about sports but even more so because they came from communities where hockey wasn’t a part of the culture. Those of who didn’t grow up with the sport had to learn the rules by watching the games, asking questions and reading up on it. Some of us got into because of guy friends or boyfriends and some of us got into because of our girl friends or girlfriends.
So the idea of reaching out to non-fans who happen to be women is fine, even admirable, but you can do so without being sexist and treating those women as dumb and shallow.