Steve Bernier and the Policing of Masculinity

Photo from ESPN.

Last night, Steve Bernier hit Rob Scuderi from behind in the first period of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Bernier received a five minute major and was ejected from the game for his hit.  Scuderi left the ice and returned at the start of the second period.  During the Kings five minute power play they scored three goals against Martin Brodeur. I think almost everyone could read the writing on the wall at that point.  Sure there was a lot of hockey left to be played but on the road against the frugal Kings, the Devils had a very tall task ahead of them.

While Bernier was probably in the locker room lamenting his actions “hockey fans” hopped on their computers and decided to channel their frustration through Wikipedia changing Bernier’s write-up.  Puck Daddy provides some of the examples as:

Steve Bernier (born March 31, 1985) is a Bitch ass.

On June 11th, 2012, Steve Bernier became the first NHL player to get his name on the Stanley Cup as the loser in the Stanley Cup Finals.  Bernier is a douche who pees sitting down and cost the Devils a chance at winning the Stanley Cup.

Steve Bernier (born March 31, 1985) is a flaming homosexual that is the sole reason why the Devils lost the Stanley Cup in 2012.  He is notorious for liking Mandingo up his a$$.

Sorry to tell you clever blokes that Bernier did not cost you the Cup. He cost you 3 goals, but he didn’t lose the first 3 games that put the Devils in the hole.  Regardless, pointing fingers is not the topic of discussion.  The issue at hand is how Bernier’s stupid, yes I will say stupid, hit becomes not about his poor decision-making as a player but about his masculinity.  I think there is plenty of room for insults directed at Bernier for being an idiot but neither his intelligence nor his dedication to the team are questioned.

Every single comment feminizes Bernier: bitch, douche, pees sitting down, flaming homosexual (P.S. how could Bernier be homosexual if gays don’t exist in the NHL?). Bernier had his man-card confiscated from him last night, which I find ironic because it was for a pretty stereotypically male action – physically intimidating and potentially injuring someone.  Isn’t that what all men are taught? Be physical. Be tough.  Be aggressive.  Bernier did all of those things.  He did it at the wrong time and under the wrong circumstances but he was behaving in a manner consistent with the connotation of MAN, was he not? I could see if he shied away from a fight or took a dive. These are actions that have already been labelled as unmanly, but since when has being overly aggressive been equated with women or being gay? Or are we just saying that stupidity is equated with women and gay men?

It saddens me to see comments like these. For one, they are hurtful to all women and homosexuals; but mostly, it is hurtful to other men.  What this example should say to all men is that your masculinity has the ability to be questioned and challenged at any time for any reason.  There is no rhyme or reason needed.  These types of comments just make the already tiny box you inhabit so much smaller.  We constantly talk about the women’s movement taking steps backwards, but during game 6 men, as a collective, took a step in the wrong direction.  As the list of what it means to be a woman continues to grow, the list of what it means to be a man shrinks.  Consequently, your odds of being on the outside are increasing.  Are you okay with this?

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