Man, things I don’t want to wake up to on a Friday morning: a Sports Illustrated slideshow calling women who enjoy themselves at hockey games “puck bunnies”.
Hockey fans come in all shapes and sizes, buy few are as passionate as the league’s female fans (aka – Puck Bunnies). Whether it’s proposing to a player through the boards or painting their stomachs with the name of their favorite team, these ladies are not shy about expressing their devotion. In this gallery, SI pays tribute to the NHL’s Puck Bunnies.
It’s not news that the sports world has issues with women playing and enjoying sports. From fans to athletes, the notion that women are somehow inferior persists. Female athletes get less coverage than their male counterparts; female fans are frequently mocked, called superficial, accused of not knowing much about the game, and yes, in hockey, called “puck bunnies”.
Now, to be upfront with you, I’m not attracted to male hockey players, because I’m gay as God made me. But I do tend to follow, and love, certain players more than others. When I go to a Canes game at the end of March, we’ll be in the 100-level and I’ll be dying over Eric Staal. I’ll probably look like those girls losing their minds at Hall and Eberle hugging. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s also okay to be attracted to hockey players. Dying over how great a hockey player is, whether it’s because you love how dumb the guy’s face is or because you think he’s attractive, doesn’t mean you know less about the game.
I can quote Eric Staal’s stats. I can tell you what constitutes an offside play. I can break down the team’s record since Muller took over. I can analyze a game. I love hockey, and I love being a fan of hockey. But honestly, sometimes I don’t want to talk about faceoff percentages or the Canes’ tragic inability to win in OT. Sometimes I just want to talk with my friends about how dumb Eric Staal’s face is (for the record, it can be very dumb).
It interests me that for the most part, criticizing female fans because they also happen to be attracted to players happens from both serious, stats-oriented male fans, and casual male fans. I don’t know if these guys realize that some of these women they’re mocking see more games than your average casual male fan. There are casual female fans too, obviously, but you never see men being scrutinized and asked if they’re real fans of a team. Why do guys who watch every fifth hockey game their team plays get passes, but every female fan, whether casual or not, gets accused of being a “puck bunny”?
Which brings me to, yes, yet another point. Dear dudes everywhere: why do you care if a female fan wants to have sex with hockey players? Level with me here. Does it make you cry in your soul that a female fan has marginally more of a chance with Ryan Kesler (you know, if he weren’t married) than you do? Do you die every night thinking about how Jeff Carter probably doesn’t want to get with you? Last I checked, what every person on this planet does with his or her genitals was their business. Why does society insist on policing who women have sex with, and how often, and for what purpose? I can think of way stupider reasons to have sex with someone than because they play hockey. And let me tell you, if a member of the USA women’s hockey team came up to me, I would be swooning in a New York minute. And there is nothing wrong with that. “Puck bunny” is a term used to degrade women who enjoy themselves and are interested in hockey players. That’s ridiculous.
I’m very fortunate in that I don’t really have any guys in my immediate circle who treat me like my delicate female brain can’t learn sports. But as a computer science major and a hockey fan, you’d better believe I’ve gotten my fair share of “oh you poor thing you don’t know what icing is do you” from guys I don’t know very well. And you’d better believe I hate that nonsense. My integrity as a fan shouldn’t be questioned because of my gender. Do guys get called derisive names when they paint their chests for their favorite football team? No; on the contrary, they get commercials celebrating it, like this Bud Light campaign.
I’ll probably never paint my stomach, hold up a sign proposing marriage, or wear stilettos to a hockey game. I’ll continue to yell, and heckle, and be comfortable in my jeans and boots. I also, though, won’t be putting down women who choose to dress and act differently from me. They have their ways of enjoying the game, and I have mine. And when I go to a Canes game, you can count on the fact that part of my way of enjoying the game will be squealing over Eric Staal.
So if you need me, I’ll be the one tugging my friend’s arm and saying “HIS FACE, THOUGH”. Oh, and I’ll also be the one rushing back to my sister’s place to post a blog about the game. Where, you know, I talk about little things like zone entry and scoring chances.
And if you want to judge me, my friend, that’s your business. But you’re making yourself look ignorant.
Edit: Angelica Rodriguez has another great post about this issue. It’s a lot more eloquent than my post, so you should check it out: “Girls” And Sports.