Way back in June, Eszter H., Eric B., and Kasia G. sent in an image that the Chicago Tribune ran, in early June, of Philadelphia Flyers hockey player Chris Pronger wearing a figure-skating skirt with a sparkly hem, referring to him as “Chrissy” and including the line “Looks like Tarzan, skates like Jane” (image from USA Today):
The Tribune was counting on the fact that femininity is stigmatized for men; thus, they don’t have to say anything meaningful about Pronger or make a specific claim. Just linking him to femininity — through clothing, name, and language — is enough to make fun of him. Of course, this isn’t just about mocking Pronger. By default, using femininity to ridicule men involves devaluing women and things associated with us. Someone who “skates like Jane” — that is, like a girl — is laughable.
Angela Ruggiero, head of the U.S. women’s hockey team, clearly understood the connection and didn’t appreciate it (from ESPN):
“I’d like to see that editor out on skates. I’ll take them one-on-one on the ice any day,” three-time Olympic medalist Angela Ruggiero told The Associated Press. “They obviously have never seen women’s hockey and are living in the dark ages.”
Ruggiero found out about the poster via Twitter and expressed disappointment and anger that such demeaning portrayals of women and hockey are still being made.
It’s a great example of the use of femininity as stigma, a process that harms both men (who have to eschew anything associated with women) and women (who are encouraged to perform a devalued and often ridiculed gender ideal).