Thursday, November 6, 2014

Because I Don't Shy Away from Tough Topics

As a woman in tech, I see news every day from woman after woman who has been verbally or physically harassed or assaulted at her job, conferences, walking down the street. I have many things I do to cope with that, and escape, but my favorite escape is watching sports. Hockey (Red Wings), Football (Lions), and Baseball (Tigers), in that order.

I love the Red Wings with my whole heart and soul, and the community that I have surrounded myself with on the internet related to hockey and the Red Wings is amazing. I have been especially fortunate in the last few months to find some really incredible people on Twitter, and some of those interactions have led to exchanged emails and other forms of contact outside of the world of Twitter.

You see, the group of people I follow on Twitter in my hockey list give me all the warm fuzzies. They're funny, poignant, and honest. I always have Twitter open when the Wings are playing, because I love watching the list explode with celebrations, thoughts, opinions, aptly timed photoshop jobs, and gripings about the Wings and the NHL scrolling across my screen. A friend of mine said it perfectly, "It's like watching a game with your best friends, every time." He's right, that's exactly what it feels like.

Despite this, it doesn't insulate me from stories like this, this, or this. And it's stories like these that feel like a punch to the gut, like I tweeted earlier.

Thinking on it, it makes me feel like I'm the biggest idiot in the world. Because sexism is everywhere. Though I try with hockey, I can't escape it. Especially because I'm a woman. I am immediately identified as a target simply because I have two X chromosomes. Even before the events that I linked to above came to light, I knew that sexism in sports was there, I knew. But just how bad it really is didn't hit me until today. It shouldn't have been a shock, because I've argued with men over the rules of hockey when they're wrong, and they don't believe me, because I have boobs. We look it up, and shocker! I'm right, but am I given credit for that? No.

I've had a cousin who doesn't watch hockey at all, asks me if I know who Patrick Kane is while I'm watching the Blackhawks play the Wings.

I've answered questions at the rink, and gotten looks of stunned disbelief that the chick in heeled boots knows what's going on.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I actually hesitated at the thought of writing this post, because I am afraid of the backlash. Terrified, actually. But am I any better than the author of the Jian Ghomeshi article if I don't speak up?

I also frequently will write up a tweet or forum post, or whatever, and pause before clicking send/publish/submit. Because a) I don't want to make an idiot of myself and b) if this is shared by someone to the wrong person, am I in danger?

The fact that I have to think about part b in 2014 is depressing. Everywhere should be safe. I should be able to rant about how terrible the reffing has been this season without wondering if I'm going to be told that I don't know what I'm talking about, no matter how right I am. I should be able to profess my undying love for Pavel Datsyuk and his incredible talent on the ice without wondering if I will be taken less seriously if I do.

That's not the reality that we live in. The reality is that I can shout back, all women can shout back, but shouting back can make it worse. Every morning we wake up, shake off the dust of yesterday's awfulness and hope that more allies come out to support us, that more people will realize how wrong they are in their misogynistic views. We tell ourselves it's going to get worse before it gets better, and at the moment, the outlook is feeling pretty dim.

Better days need to be coming, because right now, the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and we can bend.

Please don't make us snap.

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