Given the allegations surrounding Patrick Kane this past summer, and the way that the situation was handled (or not handled) by both the Chicago Blackhawks and the NHL, a lot of fans decided not to cheer for Kane anymore.
Whether they made this decision because they're rape survivors, feminists, female hockey fans, or just human beings who couldn't stomach another athlete potentially getting away with sexual assault, this decision was theirs to make.
Some Blackhawks fans, and some hockey fans in general, made the decision to remain Kane fans. Again, this was their decision to make. These fans are being rewarded for their loyalty, with one of the best seasons by an American forward.
Kane is in the midst of a 20-game point streak, the longest ever by an American-born player. Kane is a legitimate contender for the Hart Trophy this season. Kane has multiple Stanley Cup rings, and lives a very comfortable lifestyle.
He also has no idea who you are, and doesn't really care about you. Sure, he cares about his "fans", but only as an entity. You are but a number, a faceless crowd member. He doesn't know who you are. He would not miss you if you were gone.
That said, this happened Tuesday night.
Much to my dismay, it would appear that some people are unaware as to why this sign is offensive.
No, not offensive. Hurtful. Hateful. Malicious. For those of you that fall into this category, and think that those of us who were upset are simply being "too sensitive" and "playing the victim card", allow me to educate you.
My first impressions when I saw this sign:
1) Rape victims shouldn't report their assailant(s).
2) Rape is funny!
3) Patrick Kane is 100% innocent because no charges were laid.
Believe me, the last thing I want to do is "play the rape victim card." I'd much prefer to have never been raped. I also don't consider myself a victim, but a survivor. Survivors fight back. Survivors refuse to be complicit in a culture that oppresses them. If that bothers you; if survivors of sexual assault FIGHTING BACK against rape culture bothers you, perhaps you need to take a good hard look on the inside.
What's perhaps most disturbing in all of this is that someone in a production studio, or behind a camera, made the conscious decision to get a closeup shot of the girl holding the sign with the aforementioned ill-advised message.
Hey, guess what? It isn't funny, and it won't ever be funny. Whether or not Kane is innocent (something only two people on the planet know), using it as a punch line is indescribably tone deaf.
The conversation shouldn't be about whether or not you believed Kane or his accuser, but rather how we can be better as a society.
Why would you go out of your way to make others uncomfortable, and then tell them that they're not allowed to be uncomfortable? That if they don't like it, go somewhere else. Where else would you like us to go? Fostering an environment where it's okay to ridicule, harass and torment alleged rape victims is NOT okay, under ANY circumstances.
Don't tell me I'm being overly sensitive.
Don't tell me to pick another sport.
There are rapists in every sport. In every profession. In every city. In every country. On every continent.
It doesn't matter if the proverbial "she" was drunk. It doesn't matter if she went home with him. It doesn't matter how short her skirt was. The only thing that every rape has in common is a rapist who raped someone. Let's try to find a solution to the problem, rather than decrying the outcome. Let's make hockey something that EVERYONE can enjoy, without a trigger warning.
For what it's worth, I desperately hope that the girl holding that sign never knows what it's like to go through the very thing that she's making fun of.