It can't be easy being Marie-Philip Poulin.
Female athletes can't just be. Not without so many of us passing judgement on their choices, actions and ultimately, their legitimacy. Women bring in fewer sponsorship dollars and have fewer athletic opportunities compared to the vast majority of male athletes.
Classic traits of femininity -- grace, poise, subservience, chastity, silky skin and bouncy hair -- are hard to express in bulky hockey padding, shapeless uniforms and backward ball caps. Men are regaled for the same sweaty look, especially when it's tied to Olympic gold. Not always so for women. Undress us, and you remove us from the context of our success. In mainstream public consumption, our looks still represent much of our merit.
Marie-Philip scored both of Canada's goals against the U.S. and led the women to Olympic gold. The International Olympic Committee then scorned her for celebrating the win by drinking beer and champagne with her teammates. The IOC also reprimanded the Canadian women's hockey program for what a Canadian Olympic Committee member said was "not exactly something uncommon in Canada."
In a developing sport where few are barely able to sharpen their own skates, the best women's hockey competition of the tournament was waged between the perennial rivals, the U.S. and Canada. Whether or not the IOC gets women's hockey (or if Americans can be said to get hockey at all), the celebration was eventually recognized for what it was: champagne-sized bottles of beer, stogies and cans of Canadian at centre-ice, post-victory with players in their sweaty gear and pony-tailed hair was as hoser as Canadian hoser gets.
A Sports Illustrated writer championed these champs. Luke Winn called the Canadian beer "Molsons," an Americanism tailored for his readership, and also declared the moment "the most authentically cool celebration I've seen at these Games."
I agree with Winn: there sure ain't no party like a gold-medal party.
Many Canadians watching the game toasted the newly minted golden Olympians. The privileged Swiss bureaucrats who criticized them came out looking like judgemental, gender-biased and up-tight boors for giving a sh*t that Marie-Philip put a can of Canadian to her lips and enjoyed it. Staring blissfully and starry-eyed up at the ceiling, she embodied what a lot of us viewers felt after the match: relief, euphoria, exhaustion.
The IOC reprimanded the women -- who, it must be said, are much more than 'ladies,' as so many try to classify all female Olympians. Team leaders apologized for the public boozing.
And after such vacuous radio silence following Jon Montgomery's public chugging, why scold the women for their boozy centre-ice love-in?
The skeleton athlete (skeleteat?) was drinking in public, chugging a near-full pitcher of amber-hued ale and has been placed on high. (Where, I should say, I am happy to see him.) It's the double standard that is so obviously frustrating.
Jon is becoming some kind of sliding sex-symbol in a skin-tight suit. He looks fantastic. He is a one-man kegger. He landed a spot on Oprah. Beer companies are salivating over his marketability. We will buy what he sells.
But damn if the response to the women hockey players wasn't unfair.
Maybe they should all grow a beard. It works for wild-man Jon.