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Why Gary Bettman's stance on offensive chants is infuriating

The NHL's commissioner, Gary Bettman, made some foolish remarks about a sexist chant in Winnipeg from last week. Instead of admitting the chant was derogatory, he likened the incident to heckling a goaltender for being a "sieve." What he didn't realize was how alienated he made female fans.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

A sieve is a piece of kitchen equipment used for sifting flour, draining water from fruits and vegetables, getting the lumps out of your gravy and many other things. Traditionally, calling someone a sieve means they miss a lot of things whether they be comments, or literal objects.

A goaltender is habitually associated with being a sieve when he or she lets in an amount of goals deemed unacceptable by their or the opposing team. It's a joke, and I'm sure no sieves are offended when the joke is made time and time again.

According to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, the use of the phrase used to demean a goaltender is akin to an arena full of fans screaming Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry is a girl. As the "KA-TY PER-RY" chants rained down from the MTS centre, Perry sat on the bench and ignored them.

For decades it has been acceptable for men to call other men girls when they are not performing to their expected potential. It has been OK for men and boys to go down the path that paints women and girls as frail, unequal, inadequate, and lesser than the men they live, work, and interact with daily.

It has never been OK in my eyes for a man to make a comparison between a kitchen appliance and a woman. I thought we had jumped this hurdle and began to clear the next.

I completely understand the world of professional sport. A small part of it is welcoming and accepts everyone who holds the same interests as many communities do.

There is still a large part that holds women to a very high standard of knowledge when it comes to "truthfully liking a sport" or being "a real fan" without another man in the picture. We revisit this same place every month and the same things are said. It is unacceptable to liken a woman to weakness.

It's tiring to repeat myself so often. Even after fighting for and receiving the right to vote (1919, Canada), women continue to experience inequality on many different levels almost 100 years later.

"It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. We should stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are." - Emma Watson

What Bettman doesn't understand about his comments is he alienated the whole female fanbase singlehandedly by saying a sexist, extremely common chant was meant without harm. Bettman reiterated the chant was just a joke, it's just part of what happens during a hockey game.

If this is the league Bettman wants to run, I'm not sure I want any part of it. If a sexist chant is met with complacency from the commissioner of the league stating the unequivocally demeaning chant was not harmful to women, he's speaking for people he's never met and never intends to.

He's speaking on behalf of all the women who consume NHL games and is telling them the chant doesn't matter. Bettman is telling women a sexist chant is nothing to worry about. Mocking a woman's strength, success, and talent is just fine. There's nothing wrong with over 15,000 Jets fans chanting Perry is a girl.

So long as the language is acceptable for TV. So long as the broadcast can continue without fail. So long as the NHL continues making money without hitting a snag, women can be degraded by fans and the commissioner will stand by it. Those are some vile ethics.

When I first heard the chant, I rolled my eyes. It's the NHL playoffs, chants happen but this one I didn't find funny. I didn't take offense to the chant at first, it's low-hanging fruit and honestly being Katy Perry would probably be pretty awesome.

It wasn't until Bettman decided the intent of the chant was to taunt Perry with acceptable for TV language that the wheels started to turn. At what point do you cross the line? Is it appropriate to start a chant about Semyon Varlamov's domestic abuse case? Would a chant mocking Jordin Tootoo's personal struggle with substance abuse be off limits? Where do you draw the line when your policy for chants states as long as the language is safe, you're good to go?

"Whether I am meant to or not, I challenge assumptions about women. I do make some people uncomfortable, which I'm well aware of, but that's just part of coming to grips with what I believe is still one of the most important pieces of unfurnished business in human history - empowering women to be able to stand up for themselves." - Hillary Clinton

Whether I am meant to or not, there is always a light that goes off when a man in a position of power decides what should offend me and what I should take as a harmless joke.

I cannot sit quietly while Bettman trots out an excuse for a chant. I do what I can with what medium and voice I have because I can't be part of a world that can't see demeaning women degrades society as a whole. Breaking down a sexist chant as a joke is a worrying statement shedding light on the future of the NHL.

Will a woman become a general manager, coach, assistant coach? If there is no regard for the rights and respect of women, there is no future for women in the NHL.