Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Young Women Tearing Up The Ice: Now that's more like it!


While watching the Olympics this past weekend, I happened upon a startling ad...

A stern coach chides his team of young hockey players: “We came here today with one goal, and that’s what we’re leaving with today…one goal.” The ad turns out to be a cute, if somewhat unrealistic ad for McDonalds (yeah right…all those Olympians reached great athletic heights by eating Micky D’s??), but what really stands out about the ad is this: the hockey youngsters in this ad are young women!

Not so long ago I was one of two women on an otherwise all-male hockey league in Bellingham, Washington. And not so long before that, Legal Voice was busy suing the City of Anchorage to get the Firebirds—a nationally-recognized girl’s hockey league—the ice time they deserved. In fact women’s hockey was only added to the Olympics in 1998. Since then participation in the sport has increased over 350 percent. I remember the thought very clearly, that if I had had female hockey Olympians to look up to, I may have started the sport much earlier and gone much farther.

After I recovered from my excitement over this shout-out to female badass-ness, on came another. This time for big-box ethically-questionable-at-best WalMart. No matter how much I despise them, I couldn’t help but melt at this depiction of a little girl’s mother helping her affix her shoulder pads and tie up her laces. We’ve come a long way from the days when the girls you found on the ice were almost always donning toe picks.

I also couldn’t help but recognize the disparity between the ads I was seeing on CTV and NBC and the ones that aired on CBS during the Superbowl. During breaks in the football game, women were depicted as boring and overly-emotional, controlling nags , shopaholics, and even property. And so it’s nice to sit back during these Olympic Games and see women portrayed as the strong, inspiring people that we are.

Photo credit: Northern California Women's Hockey League

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