Canada is trying to butch up figure skating's image with a controversial new marketing campaign that begins next month, in order to attract more boys to the sport. To which I say: Fabulous!
The number of male figure skaters in Canada has been dipping in recent years, and as we all know, a nation is only as strong as its lasso lifts. The campaign, entitled "Tough," seeks to let Canadian youngsters know that figure skating is just as rugged and manly as hockey, and that sequins are optional.
It's a trick as old as the sport, says Queen's University sociologist Mary Louise Adams, whose research focuses on the history of gender stereotyping in figure skating. "They've always been concerned about the number of boys that take the sport up," she said. "They know there is still a perception out there that it's a sport primarily suitable for girls or sissy boys. And of course there's the assumption that sissy boys go on to become gay boys. Skate Canada's strategy is to try and argue that this is as manly a sport as any other."
Skaters have already made appearances at Harley-Davidson motorcycle outlets, but mainly the campaign will center on telling gritty tales.
The campaign will debut next month prior to the World Championships, and some say it's long overdue. Others are saying that it's just blatant homophobia. Because if you take the gay out of figure skating, what do you have?