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Newsweek: The Frozen Closet

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by reese, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. reese

    reese Well-Known Member

  2. Lanie

    Lanie Well-Known Member

    I have a 21 month old son. He loves to watch skating, so I plan on taking him to lessons when he's two this summer. I'm sure he will be the only boy. I get comments about how I shouldn't ever put him into skating, "so he won't turn out gay". It's horrific the things hockey dads tell little boys, or what these other kids tell the figure skating kids--the boys. I would not be surprised if this sort of awful behavior is why so many boys drop out. Or how you shouldn't wear sparkles (my son likes sparkly things. oh noes, he's gay!1! um. even if he does end up gay, who the $#%#$ cares?! my kid will still be awesome while you'll still be an asshole) or anything remotely feminine.

    Just a rant, really. But it makes me so, SO angry that any of this stuff matters/is a problem/etc.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
  3. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    Nice to see Lorrie Kim quoted.
  4. skatfan

    skatfan Well-Known Member

    Really decent article. Glad so many folks got quoted. Apwas a little surprised there was no commentary on all the awkward things eligible US skaters said about the gay laws in Russia -- would have been helpful to note that even commenting on this stuff is fraught with challenges for men skaters.
  5. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    The tot classes I've seen are pretty evenly mixed between boys and girls. Hockey skaters have to learn the same basic skills so the separation of boys and girls doesn't happen until they get to the freestyle level.
  6. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    I've heard parents say they don't want their son coached by a male figure skating coach because all male figure skating coaches are gay. Seriously. And I've heard this more than once.
  7. Iceman

    Iceman Well-Known Member

    I didn't realize there was an effeminacy associated with gymnastics, as stated in the article.
  8. IceJunkie

    IceJunkie Well-Known Member

    Any sport that emphasizes form, pointed feet and line seem to be associated with "femininity." Diving, gymnastics, ballet, figure skating etc.

    Figure skating needs to embrace the fact it will never be seen as what society considers to be a "masculine" sport. And it shouldn't have to try. It is what it is. Anyone should feel welcome in the sport - gay, straight, etc - and be able to skate in a style that they feel most comfortable. Figure skating is about expression and athleticism, which is what makes it so unique.
  9. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

    Fascinating article with a lot of interesting perspectives. It's late so I don't have the time or energy to post a lot of thoughts right now but will probably post some tomorrow.
  10. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Yuzuru, Medvedeva, T&M, Shibs, P&C

    Very interesting article. It seems to deal mainly with American skaters though. I am curious about how FS is viewed in other parts of world- particularly Europe.
  11. Jaana

    Jaana Well-Known Member

    Well, most surprised I am with American skating fans who seem to have a tendency to assume all male singles skaters to be gay, like e.g. they did rather harshly in connection with Michael Weiss. To me it seems that today there are plenty of skaters who are not gay. Gay or straight, it does not matter, but one should not assume anything.

    It is a pity, that many young skaters probably give up the sport of figure skating because it labels them.
  12. clairecloutier

    clairecloutier Well-Known Member

    Really interesting. It's scary how homophobic society still is. I gave a male friend some tickets to the men's final at Natls. When I saw him after the event, practically his first comment was, "Are ANY of those guys straight?" I wanted to say, "Why does it even matter?" He'd enjoyed the event but obviously still couldn't stop thinking about the gay/straight issue. Makes you realize that there's a segment that's probably never going to be able to appreciate skating because it vaguely threatens their worldview. IMO it's a waste of time and effort trying to "masculinize" the sport. If anything, as shown by Johnny's success and popularity, skating should perhaps embrace its gayness--where it exists. Let skaters wear as many feathers and sparkles as they want and just be themselves. Skaters who share their real personalities are those who will have strong fan bases, be they gay, straight, or whatever.
    RFOS and (deleted member) like this.
  13. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    The important point, that sometimes gets lost, is the intersectionality of this kind of cultural hegemony and discrimination. It affects everyone, including girls. As Kirk put it: "We're stuck in the 1950s with these beautiful housewives on ice." And later in the article: 'In singles, men can wear trousers (not tights) and women can wear skirts, trousers and tights - but try finding a female figure skater competing at the elite level in something other than nude tights and a leotard of some kind.'

    The conservativeness of the sport extends far beyond gender issues as well. I remember discussing program ideas with a competitive skater. Since that skater liked rock and metal music, I suggested picking it for their programs, mentioning instrumental arrangements of Metallica, for example. They immediately objected saying it would be too 'out there' and the judges and the federation really wouldn't like it.

    On a different note, it's sad that this article re-inforces the ignorant attitudes towards IJS. "The purpose of the new judging system is to hide everything," says renowned figure skater Dick Button. And by 'everything' he means the judges' names I guess? Because everything else is completely transparent which was never the case under the previous judging system where you had absolutely no clue why the ordinals went the way they did.

    It's even sadder to see Goebel agreeing with and perpetuating the dominant hegemonic discourse.

    And it's yet sadder, and quite shocking, to see that in 2014 USFS still doesn't have sexual orientation listed in their anti-discrimination policy. USOC has added it now, maybe in 50 years USFS will follow suit...

    I really like how the article ended, by exposing the thoughtlessness and/or denial between the 'there is no problem' attitudes.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
    RFOS and (deleted member) like this.
  14. Fan123

    Fan123 Active Member

    I couldn't agree with you more.

    Lanie. I commend your unapologetic attitude, and have fun with your 21 month old son this summer.

    While I appreciate the author’s perspective with many excellent points, I think she’s missing the mark by not addressing enough the stereotyping of masculinity with being straight, and femininity with being gay; and that masculinity is preferred over femininity in male skaters. For example, many of Brian Bointano’s programs were quite “masculine”, yet he was/is gay. Likewise, many of Alexei Urmonov’s were “effeminate”, yet he was/is straight. Then you have Rudy and Johnny’s programs…less masculine, yet they were able to achieve high marks. In many cases, the gender expression of the whole package changes accordingly to the type of character or persona a skater wants to achieve, regardless of his sexual orientation.

    I do however I agree there’s still a certain level of homophobia within our wonderful sport, seemingly unique than other sports…yet it’s interesting to hear of many out gay skaters within the skating community. At the end of the day however, if you can’t land your jumps, you can’t attribute homophobia to the lack of support by skating officials.

    As a side note, I am glad that USFS is planning on including sexual orientation to their non-discrimination policy. Hopefully other sports will follow.
  15. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    It's a newspaper article on homophobia in skating, not a gender studies academic article on how gender and sexuality are constructed and perceived. ;)

    As for traditional ideas of masculinity being preferred in male skaters, the article mentions it many times throughout.

    The point this article is making is that gay male skaters are being bullied into 'manning up' and presenting a 'straight image.'

    Urmanov's skating was only seen as 'effeminate' by moronic North American commentators, like Dick Button. Urmanov's skating style was classical and balletic and it would have never been seen as 'effeminate' in Russia.

    The article mentions that some skating fans thought he should have placed higher at 2010 Olympics and that he wasn't picked by the Stars on Ice tour, despite winning an online poll for who the fans would like to see the most, because of not being 'family friendly' enough.
  16. flippy

    flippy Active Member

    "Urmanov's skating style was classical and balletic and it would have never been seen as 'effeminate' in Russia."

    Russia/Soviet Union doesn't have any homosexuals, doncha know?
  17. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    At his age, the classes in my area are normally 50/50 boys and girls.
  18. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    In Russia, males who skate and dance are considered masculine.
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  19. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    That too. ;)

    But mainly because ballet is held in very high esteem and is an important part of Russian culture.
  20. immoimeme

    immoimeme my posts r modded

    Great photo of the incurably faaaaabulous Johnny Weir!!

    I myself don't care what a skater's sexual orientation is. I care if they are showing me some great skating !!! And fulfilling their skating potential. I do hate how the presentation of the sport insists on making skaters fit into this pre-packaged box or that one or another. Branding. Marketing. Bleh.
    IMO the article covered what fsu has already covered. It just packaged it a different format for middle-America to digest.
    HisWeirness and (deleted member) like this.
  21. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    The article had this line:

    In reality, in the US, female skaters are still referred to as "girls" and males as "boys" by a lot of people in the sport, no matter how old the competitor is. The culture in USFS is a bit old fashioned. It wasn't that long ago that, in order to get into the big figure skating clubs, you had to formally apply, go to an interview with your parents, for which you wore a suit and, if female, gloves. That "looking just so" even if one wasn't "just so" attitude still exists.
  22. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    I agree- I taught toddlers skating (ages 2-5) and they were pretty much equal boy/girl in the class. In the older kids classes, it was maybe 40/60 for boy/girl until basic 5. After basic 5, the boys became more rare. Although our rink has a decent number of boys in freestyle, for the most part boys wanted to learn to skate, not figure skate.

    Really? I've never heard girls and boys, except in the case of juvenile and below. Once they get to intermediate they are ladies and men. (But NOT women! :( )
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
  23. clairecloutier

    clairecloutier Well-Known Member

    Recently on TV, I've heard both Ryan Bradley and Johnny Weir refer to male competitors as "boys." They've said things like: "The other boys in this competition are all doing quads." Or something like that. It's definitely a little jarring, to my ear, anyhow. I prefer "men".
  24. dr.frog

    dr.frog Well-Known Member

  25. Clarice

    Clarice Well-Known Member

    I've noticed it, too, particularly with older coaches, and particularly when discussing pair or dance teams. They'll refer to what the "boy" or the "girl" is doing.
  26. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    Yes, we've been having these discussions for years on this board.
    However, "middle America" may actually read -- and learn something from -- the article.

    It struck a good balance between "general interest" and "academic", IMO.
  27. Fan123

    Fan123 Active Member

    But the author didn’t elaborate on why it’s unhealthy to keep traditional ideas of masculinity regardless of one’s sexual orientation. It’s a disservice to constantly reinforce the idea that less masculine is gay, when it’s not. And even if it is, there's nothing wrong with feathers and sparkles as another poster mentioned.

    Vash01 raised an excellent point. How come all this homophobia and gender issue talk isn’t that much of an issue in other countries? We have had plenty of sequence-costume Russian male skaters in years past who have won many titles. The Asian male skaters have been gaining ground too. Heck, even the Russian tween female skaters are beating us. At the end of the day, it comes down to delivering the goods consistently...and not about one's sexual orientation.

    I wouldn’t think BB be under marked had he come out during his eligible days, the same for Johnny. Likewise, I don’t think their programs would be less or more “masculine”.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
  28. ItalianFan

    ItalianFan Active Member

    I was amazed by this statement:
    Figure skating judges offer input on costumes, personal life, hair and makeup, music choice. With so much interaction, impartiality becomes increasingly challenging.

    The remark about not using "strange edgy" music because the judges are conservative, finally solved the question I have been asking myself for years. WHY do all skaters use the same classical music thousands of times over? How many more Scheherezade or Carmen routines do we have to see? (On the other hand, the Irish music Jason Brown used is definitely out of the ordinary and he seems to be gaining good scores and great popularity)

    Speaking as someone who lives in Europe I think Europeans are every bit as homophobic as Americans (maybe with the excluson of Scandanavia) and definitely, in Italy at least, men's skating is considered a gay sport and not even very "athletic" (!!!)
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
  29. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

    Riverdance is totally overused.
  30. Frau Muller

    Frau Muller #1 Dick Button Fan