Friday, November 02, 2012

The Prototypical Hockey Fangirl?

Ed note: We like having people write guest posts for us. Here's one by our friend Ashley. You can follow her on twitter: @arguela15

What’s a hockey fangirl?

It’s quite the question, isn’t it? The topic came to mind when Eric Prime asked his followers to define the word ‘Puckbunny’ last September and it got me thinking about how female hockey fans are painted as a whole.

Chances are there will be many answers given by different people. Some will say that they’re girls who are more interested in a hockey player’s looks than the game, some will say that they are girls who are just big fans of a team, and others will say that it’s a girl who doesn’t know much about the game but enjoys it.

What I find however is the fact that the word ‘fangirl’ tends to have a negative connotation, particularly with the male population.

And for the male population, it’s not that surprising. In a male dominated contact sport like hockey, like all other major league sports in North America, one would not associate women liking such a brash sport.

And maybe that’s applicable to a point. One would perceive that males do like hockey more than females.

Yet there are many women and girls who do like hockey, and in sports in general.

Most people, mostly male but some females too, look down on female fans of any sport or fandom especially if it’s a male interest. Being a “fangirl” to others means that we’re not actually very serious about what we’re watching. Someone might think that these “fangirls” are watching because of the players on the ice and not the game their playing.

But in all honesty, as a female hockey fan, most women watch the game because we enjoy and love it.

There is something about hockey that makes my heart pump like no other. The adrenaline rush I get from a tight hockey game is one I don’t think I could ever experience while watching another sport. It’s something that I feel like I can relate to people with and it makes me feel like I’m part of something great.

However, I still get the surprised looks and the glares whenever I come out as a hockey fan. Am I not allowed to love the game of hockey? Actually, every female hockey fan that I know has had this kind of experience. A friend of mine even asked me “Is there any girl who hasn’t had that experience?” while I talked to her about this topic.

Touché, my friend. Touché.

Fangirls are fans that are female. Another friend (who is a male) even said that he defines a fangirl as a super fan of a team. And I think there’s a lot of truth in that definition.

After all, there are fanboys right? They are so passionate about hockey and they are so diehard that one might even think they’re crazy for being such a big fan. And one can argue that these fans are embraced simply because they’re males.

So why can't women be big fans too? We do love the game as much as the guy next to us at the hockey game. We wouldn’t be spending the money on jerseys and hockey tickets if we didn’t love it.

People put women down because they don’t think these women and girls care enough about the game. And sure, there are women who don’t really care about the game but still watch because of the attractiveness of players. However, every female fan has seen at least one hockey player that they find attractive. I have yet to meet a female hockey fan that hasn’t. And that is perfectly acceptable.

But let’s look at those women who do just watch the game for the players' attractiveness for a moment. There is another term that many people use to define these fans: puckbunny.

Puckbunnies are women that just want to sleep with hockey players and use them for their money, good looks, etc.

Interestingly enough, a friend also threw this definition at me "Puckbunny is a term used by men and other women to shame, trivialize, and exclude women from being ‘real’ hockey fans."

True enough. Puckbunny is a term that does degrade females for being fans even if the first definition isn’t true. One would usually use ‘puckbunny’ to try and make girls not feel like fans of the sport, even if they are.

Should we use this 'puckbunny' terminology? That’s arguable between fans. Some will say yes and some will say no (the same friend who gave me the second definition went on the say that puckbunnies actually do not exist). But should men shame women for being fans because it somehow doesn't seem right for women to be fans? No.

Also to my fellow female hockey fans, we shouldn’t use this term to degrade other women. Why? Because I know that you wouldn’t want another fan saying that you’re a puckbunny.

And who’s to say that we should care about other women wanting to sleep with players anyway? That’s not our business. They can do whatever they want, and it shouldn’t affect you because it doesn’t affect you. Yeah, puckbunnies do give female fans a bad name, but only because we make such a big deal out of it.

Which brings me to this point: the explanation of ‘puckbunny’ sounds like the misinterpretation of ‘fangirl’ doesn’t it? I hear fangirl used in the same context as a puckbunny.

Fangirl does not equal puckbunny.

It really doesn’t. Even though fangirl isn't and shouldn't be a negative descriptive word, it is treated as such.

There are women who just want to sleep with players but not every female who watches the game is like that. I do find players attractive but that's just normal I’m a young woman and I will say a guy is attractive if he is to me.

At the end of the day, as a female hockey fan, I love the game as much as the next male fan.

I embrace being a hockey 'fangirl' because I am one. I'm a huge Leafs fan and I always will be. I like watching different levels of hockey because it interests me. I am a hockey fangirl and I am so proud to be one.

I shouldn’t have to be ashamed to be a hockey fangirl. I’m just a regular fan just like you and it’s time people started to understand that.

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