Girls In Sports Are Expected To Be Assertive, Not Violent

True/Slant blogger Bob Cook feels conflicted about this video depicting a female high school hockey player striking back physically at two male players who tried to tag-team her.

He wonders how to reconcile the two contradictory feelings, saying:

Fighting is bad. But I couldn't help but be filled with pride if No. 07 were my daughter whomping the crud out of a male hockey player who tried to push her around. Is this the same sort of mixed signal like how guns are bad, but a gun in the hand of a woman is empowering?


Cook's feelings are quite common. Due to defined roles for women, it's tempting to respond to anything that makes women seem like they are breaking down barriers. Pride at seeing a girl "whomping the crud" out of male players symbolizes three different things.

The first thing is that she is good enough to be able to participate on the same field as boys. One of the arguments for gender segregated sports teams is that women cannot physically perform at the level of men, so the fact that a woman is playing in the same rink is a big deal.

Secondly, it demonstrates that she is a full participant in a space usually dominated by males - as the boys do, she does.

Third, it shows her willingness to defend that space (i.e. not take shit). The video contains graphic notations as to where she is being pushed around by the other players, and the fact that she was able to brush herself off and bring the fight right back does exhibit an indication of her being on equal footing.

Where Cook feels conflicted, however, is a longstanding item of contention. Does this encouragement of women to defy gender roles and fight for their space still hold when they're doing something potentially harmful to others? I am not familiar enough with ice hockey to know if there is a movement of any sort to stop fighting on the ice. From the few matches I've watched, I received the impression that altercations are to be expected.

Interestingly, the reaction this video prompts is different from the one soccer player Elizabeth Lambert received when she exhibited aggression on a field of peers. She was playing in a female- dominated soccer environment and her confrontational style of play (in addition to a ponytail yank, among other things) prompted her suspension earlier this year. But one of the major differences between the two situations is the context in which the behavior occurred.


In Player Number 7's case, she was well within the bounds and conventions of the game she played. With Lambert, her behavior was unsportwomanlike, and not really worth applauding - even if she was behaving just as aggressively as a male soccer player would.


Just because men get away with horrible behaviors, it doesn't mean we should applaud when women do the same. And so, in this case, Cook shouldn't feel conflicted - it's fine to be proud. But if player number 7 decided to take the fight off the ice, it wouldn't be commendable - just violent.

Girl Beats Up Boys In High School Hockey Fight [True/Slant]

Earlier: Violence In Sports: Suspended Soccer Player Speaks Out



This taps into a discussion on feminism that I have been on both sides of. Male or female, I think unnecessary violence is gross, no matter what the arena. I still can't get over that at the high school level, the adults present let that go on so

On the one hand, I'm glad that there is a female on the ice who can hold her own, and maybe in the context of the game (not a huge hockey fan), her behavior is appropriate. On the other hand, I have a real problem with the notion that throwing punches is somehow empowering to women.