Sports Illustrated Salutes “Puck Bunnies”; Shockingly, I’m Annoyed

Girls enjoying themselves at a hockey game

How dare these girls enjoy themselves? Back to the kitchen with you!

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.

17 thoughts on “Sports Illustrated Salutes “Puck Bunnies”; Shockingly, I’m Annoyed

  1. I’ll admit, I do my fair share of judgment of girls who wear heels and stuff to games, just because I think there’s a time and a place for that kind of stuff and hockey games aren’t it. But you have a point. I think SI was waaay, way off base in lumping female fans into this huge category of “puck bunny.” It’s not a positive term, and for a major publication to do that in the year 2012?? I mean, come ON already.

    1. Elena Palmer says:

      Yeah, I mean, I try not to judge women who dress impractically, because I know plenty of people probably judge me when I decide 40 degrees is more than warm enough to wear a skirt outside. But SI is being so ridiculous. It’s not okay for women to paint their stomachs but we celebrate guys going shirtless and painting themselves for football games? Sure, SI, that seems reasonable. In the way where it’s not reasonable at all.

      1. Because women are only doing it because they want guys to notice them. *eyeroll* It’s so dumb. dumb, dumb, dumb.

  2. hockeyhannah says:

    I really hate this, not only because it’s generally incredibly offensive, but because whenever things like this happen, the reaction seems to be ‘well that’s offensive, I’m a female hockey fan and I’m not a Puck Bunny!’, as if the term means anything at all. I mean, I guess it originally meant a women who slept with hockey players, which seems to be all about shaming women for having sex, which is reprehensible. But now it seems to have broadened into this catch all term for women who dress or act in an arbitrarily defined and constantly changing ‘wrong way.’

    I can never understand how it makes one bit of difference if the woman three rows ahead of you is wearing heels and a pink sparkly shirt, or sneakers and men’s shirt that’s two big and doesn’t fit right, but is somehow acceptable, because it’s what men around them are wearing. If someone’s comfortable in five inch heels then more power to them wearing them to a sporting event.

    I feel like there’s a whole lot of self-defensive ‘I’m not like that, I’m a real fan’ that goes on among women, when really we should be hitting people in the head and telling them that all fans are ‘real fans’, and if someone’s behaviour, or choice of clothes doesn’t directly affect you (and in the case of clothes how could it), then it’s nobody’s business.

    1. Elena Palmer says:

      I completely agree. I’d never wear heels to a game, but I salute the people who can, because that seems like it would require a level of dedication I just don’t have. And honestly, it’s none of my business how other people dress or act – and that includes women! I think it’s really important not to put down other women when protesting these kinds of labels. It shouldn’t be “I’m not a puck bunny”, it should be “why are you putting down women who like hockey?”

      1. hockeyhannah says:

        I think there can be situations where the behaviour of other fans can negatively impact the game experience for those around them, but in my experience that tends to be people yelling offensive things at players, not someone holding up a sign for their favourite player, even if I personally wouldn’t want to marry Jeff Skinner.

        1. Elena Palmer says:

          Totally. At least fifty percent of the time, my hockey-going experience is negatively affected by drunk bros, not girls in heels.

  3. According to this article, any girl with a sign at a hockey game (regardless of what it says) is a puck bunny. OK, then.

    Major fail, SI.

    1. Elena Palmer says:

      Major, major fail.

    2. g3ntle says:

      Yeah, I noticed that too. Believe me when I’m not thrilled with the idea that my wife Clever Sign Chick is lumped in with that phrase.

  4. catch108stchs says:

    I don’t watch hockey, but I can relate almost everything in this article to my love of baseball. I have very few male friends who question my knowledge of the game and very few female friends also. I’ve actually converted a couple of them to fans.

    I don’t understand women who wear heels to games, but it’s probably because I can’t wear them and to me, they just don’t seem like practical game wear. But if you’re comfortable in them, more power to you.

    For a publication as big and as popular as SI to even consider saying and publishing something like this is crazy. I’m sure they have several women working for them (I would hope) and they should know that this is not a good decision.

    As someone who is trying to find a job in sports, this disappoints me. It’s unbelievably sad that people still think like this. I am a fan of sports and for someone to tell me that I like the players because they’re hot… They don’t know how wrong they are. Good thing I have several comebacks for those people. :)

    1. Elena Palmer says:

      Yeah, I think this is one thing female sports fans of all kinds can sympathize with one another on. I can’t believe SI published it. Even if they don’t have a lot of women working for them (that wouldn’t surprise me), they all must have at least one woman or girl in their lives – mothers, daughters, etc. Do they really want to run down people they know like that? It’s ridiculous.

  5. wireandroses says:

    i love it when people love things, and i really don’t get it when people are like “but you love it WRONG,” especially when “wrong” = “while being female.” it’s not like i go to movies and yell “you’re only watching this because you want to bang the actor! you don’t REALLY appreciate the film!”

    1. Elena Palmer says:

      It’s kind of inexplicable. Obviously every subculture ever has fights over who’s a “real fan”, but “you’re a woman! YOU’RE NOT A REAL FAN!” is the dumbest argument ever.

      Though really, these people would probably say “you’re a girl”, regardless of the girl/woman’s age.

      1. wireandroses says:

        i particularly love the “they’re wearing pink and drinking pink drinks! OBVIOUSLY they’re not real fasn!” version of that. really? i had no idea my favorite color determined how much i was allowed to know about sports! what if my favorite color is GLITTER, what then, puck daddy commenters?

        1. Elena Palmer says:

          Never change, PD. Never change.

  6. [...] Palmer, fellow Caniac blogger over at Eye on the Storm, had a nice post on this as [...]

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