Note from the Editor: This article is a repost. It was originally published at TheBigSister.net, a website aimed at young feminists. As feminism and other social justice issues are a staple of punk culture, we felt it appropriate to republish this article here at HockeyPunx.
I recently read that the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto recently changed the requirements for inducting women. Men and women used to compete against each other for spots, but now every year, four men and two women will be inducted.
Bill Hay, the Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame said, “The new voting procedures address the basic principle and general view among the Board of Directors and Selection Committee that men and women ought not to compete directly against each other for limited places of Honoured Membership. It creates fair conditions for all candidates while reinforcing that the existing basis for selection and requisite standards of excellence be applied equally to both genders.”
I wasn’t sure how to feel about this at first. Some of the comments on the article I read about it thought it wasn’t fair. They complained that a really great male hockey player might never get in while a woman who wasn’t at all as good as he is would. I saw what this guy meant. And if a woman were inducted I wanted everyone to feel like she deserved it. I didn’t want people feeling like women needed special treatment to excel at a sport.
I’ve changed my mind though. It’s not giving women an advantage, it’s taking away the advantages that male hockey players already have. Women have a lot more obstacles to face than men do on the road to becoming a professional hockey player:
- A lot fewer women’s parents are likely to get their daughters involved in hockey at a younger age. A lot of professional male players have been playing since they were young kids, but women players are more likely to have to discover the interest on their own and start at an older age.
- I would imagine there are a lot fewer women’s high school hockey teams, so fewer women have the support and motivation to keep playing hockey that a team provides.
- Hockey is an aggressive sport. Men who excel at being aggressive are looked at positively…they’re seen as manly. Women are told they shouldn’t be aggressive though, and I’m sure many female hockey players have faced harassment for being too “tough.”
- Women don’t have as many or as easily accessible role-models to look to in hockey.
- Prime hockey playing age overlaps with prime child bearing age and that makes hockey a different kind of commitment for women. A male hockey player can easily be a dad, but a woman who wants to get pregnant has to delay or stop playing. It’s not like other careers where you can keep working until a few weeks before the baby pops out.
So I commend the Hockey Hall of Fame for their decision. Judging women separately is not giving them an unfair advantage. It’s simply recognizing that men and women become hockey players in very different conditions. The new rule judges people who face similar conditions in a similar manner.