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The pansification of hockey

The pansification of hockey

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Egale needs something new to do with its time
There’s a new term in the air this month, and it’s a doozy: “pansification of hockey.” The term is pejorative and implies the feminization of our beloved, and mainly manly, national sport.

Hockey Night in Canada commentator Mike Milbury used the term on air several times over the past few months to describe what would happen if the National Hockey League were to ban fighting among players.

The Great Don Cherry — himself no stranger to allegations of homophobia — says he didn't use the term.

We all know what they meant: Banning fighting from hockey will make the sport less manly. It will fag things up. The players might skate around blowing kisses at each other, sharing their feelings and singing Kumbaya like a bunch of faggots or chicks. And what could be worse than that?

Milbury and Cherry were simply substituting a new, more politically correct, term for old-fashioned ones like “faggoty” and “girly.”

It’s homophobic and misogynistic.

The Globe and Mail reported on Jan 29 that Egale Canada executive director Helen Kennedy has filed a complaint with CBC Sports.

“Words like pansification just further the stereotype and perpetuate the homophobic stereotype in our society,” Kennedy told the Globe.

For its part, the CBC doesn’t seem too worried. A spokesperson said pansification was “not intended as a slur against gay people,” and seemed content to leave it at that.

It kind of was a slur.

Stephen Reid of the Toronto Gay Hockey League is unimpressed with Cherry, who he describes as the “Rush Limbaugh of hockey.”

“This is just the rantings of an old man trying to shock and awe a large audience of Canadians who love and play hockey,” he says. “However it does exacerbate the problem of homophobia in sports.”

But Reid says the joke is on Milbury and Cherry because gay hockey teams win all the time.

“Little does Don know that the pansies have been beating the so-called non-pansies in house leagues across the country for a couple of decades,” he says. “Still, Egale has a legitimate complaint, and the CBC should respond with a positive message about tolerance. Someone has to be the adult here and obviously Cherry is playing to the trash-talk crowd. We have to rise above it.”

This is the kind of story that makes me cringe. I’m not sure who elected Egale to represent the gay community. It’s a relatively tiny organization with few resources. I don’t know how it decides what to complain about and what to ignore. I don’t know why it’s national news when Kennedy gets offended. And, frankly, her comments to the Globe seem to me a bit of a dig at fey gay guys who consider themselves proud pansies.

Doesn’t she have anything better to do, some cause more worthy of her time and voice? Does Egale seriously have a mandate to police the language Don Cherry uses? I just assumed that free expression was good for everyone and that Egale understood that.

Kennedy’s complaint smacks of over-sensitivity. Let’s be realistic — this is how some men speak to each other. Hockey is full of trash talk that might appall any outsider. Sometimes the language of the locker room finds its way into the broadcast booth, especially when the commentator in question is a former player and coach.

Crying homophobia at every perceived slight makes gay people seem like a bunch of whiny pansies. I think we need to choose our battles more wisely.

Comments

Who elected Xtra!
I've been honestly trying to wonder WHO elected Xtra! the voice of this community. This paper is rarely inclusive or objective in its reporting. Furthermore, its not accountable to anyone in the community except to a bunch of old relics from the body politic. A gang hell bent on creating a divide and a voice desperate for some Xtra attention. Its honestly dreadful sometimes to read Xtra, but it does help to clean the windows of my apartment. I’ve been reading many an article that CBC has banned the use of the word. Good on you , thats what needed to be done. Perpetuating the view that it’s okay to use words that demean and injure people is wrong in OUR Canadian society. It’s such a shame that we can’t find common ground on this, imagine if the Jewish community or any racialized community was mentioned in such a negative fashion? Whether it was intended or not, words have a history and must not be used to marginalize anyone in society whether on their race, nationality, age, (dis)ability, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Xtraification of Egale
When gay youth are killing themselves over gay bullying in sports and schools we need someone like Helen Kennedy and Egale to act. The research on homophobic violence Egale is doing in schools makes this everyone's business. Hockey Night in Canada regularly has 3 million viewers who were exposed to a message about the realities of being bullied and how it drives some queer youth to kill themselves. Panification would clearly violate the code of conduct for broadcasters. It is pretty bad when even our own community can't support someone taking on homophobia. Helen took on Milbury after Egale got complaints from around the country. I think this is a pretty good use of Egales' time. Check out Helen's interview on youtube.com It isn't everyone who would take on Ron MacLean on national television.
Enough is Enough
First of all calling someone a pansy doesn't mean you are not commenting on someones sexual orientation. You are commenting on there physical behaviour and strength. Second of all in no way was the term pansification of the game directed at gays, It should be taken for what it was ment to mean, by removing the Physical nature of a physical game. By removing fighting. It would create a very soft product. Again this is just another example of a head of an organization with to much time on there hands trying to make a name for themselves. Who here ever heard of this organization prior to recently. Quit being over sensitive or a pansy and suck it up and move on. to Finish for those of you who live as a gay , Mr. Milbury was not referring to you, He was referring to weakening a game and product that thrives on being Physical. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK MIKE
What do pansies have to do with gay people?
I don't get it - am I missing something here? Why would the term pansification specifically imply a derogatory association with being gay? I'm sure there are people who might think that, but isn't this very form of outrage amongst the gay community only directly cultivating that association? What next? Should we ban the word stupefaction became it might offend a certain racial minority, or a nationality? For goodness sake people, if I refer to someone as a pansy now does that mean I'm calling him a fag, or a sissy girl? A huge, emphatic no! There are pansy gay men, there are pansy straight men, and there are pansy women (gay or straight), but it is completely independent of your sexuality or gender, and any attempts to ban the use of this word only further reinfornce this vaguely linked perception. Call a spade a spade, and a pansy a pansy. Suck it up queers, and show that you are real women and men (and not a bunch of pansies!) by not over-zealously attacking every dubiously-associated term that has at some point been used pejoratively towards gay people.
Bravo!
Great article, Josh (and nice pic, too) I agree that Helen Kennedy is oversensitive regarding this tempest in a teapot. She does seem to slight homos who revel in being queeny or effeminate - and who probably don't need her protection. The whole thing makes me wonder: If I argued against the "goonification" of hockey, would that be heterophobic? After all, it's singling out a hetero stereotype.
Milbury CBC commentator who used pansification
Chris Rowlinson is absolutely correct in his defence of Don Cherry. It was Hockey Night commentator Mike Milbury who coined and used pansification not Cherry who apparently asked on air about the term. While he mentioned the term, Cherry went on to say he wouldn't use it "as you do not fool with those guys, a group like that/(gay rights advocates)." Shows you how closely some gays (including me) read the sports pages....
Don Cherry's language
Little did I ever expect to defend Don Cherry before the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse came over for tea, but here it goes. Don Cherry did not actually use the term "pansification". In fact, he came out against it. He has made past statements have been made to support gay hockey and, insofar as his personality functions that way, I would actually call him gay-positive. Take this with a grain of salt. I'm not calling the guy an activist by an stretch, but as someone who has made a career out of being offensive, he has left overt homophobia alone. I encourage everyone to look up an article just done in the Globe and Mail where Cherry condemns the word and expresses his support for the gay community. Be prepared for it to be slightly off colour. But then, this is Don Cherry we're talking about here.
Butchification of gay world counters pansy taint
There is nothing wrong in Egale's Helen Kennedy protesting the use of "pansification" by Don Cherry. In fact he backed down yesterday--another victory for gays as Cherry now says that he has always supported gay rights. Here is a copy of an ironic letter I wrote to the Globe and Mail today on the controversy: "It is a wise thing that Don Cherry has decided to abandon the anti-gay term "pansiification" for as he knows too well the gay world in the past few decades has undergone a butchification that includes aggresively standing up for itself against homophobic language and activities. Besides with all the conspicuously placed muscles many gay men now assiduously cultivate and sport it might well prove risky for straight men to try and out butch some of today's "muscle Queens" (a self deprecating, ironic term used widely by many of us in gay circles today for those who daily spend hours building big hard & awesome muscles in the gym).
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