Penny Pitou, former United States Olympic alpine skier who, in 1960, became the first American skier to win a medal in the Olympic downhill event, penned the following Op-Ed that ran in the Concord Monitor, Conway Daily Sun, Laconia Sun, Fosters Daily Democrat, and Seacoastonline.
The usually vile N.H. GOP Twitter account hit a new low on Saturday night, when it lashed out at Sen. Jeanne Shaheen for congratulating the Boston Bruins on their recent victory. The @NHGOP tweeted, "You don't know the first thing about hockey."
Why would the New Hampshire Republican Party assume that Sen. Shaheen doesn't know the first thing about hockey? She has celebrated Bruins victories for decades. She was a collegiate basketball player. She coached her daughters' sports teams. She has grandchildren who play hockey. So why, then, would they assume that she doesn't know "the first thing about hockey"? Could it be because she is a woman?
This type of stereotyping is something I've battled as a female athlete.
"You're a girl. You can't be an Olympic skier." "You won an Olympic medal?" "This isn't a sport for girls."
When I was a freshman at Laconia High School, women weren't allowed to join the ski team. So, I tucked my hair into my hat and went by the name Tommy. They told me I couldn't be a female athlete. And now, 61 years later, Jeanne Shaheen — the first woman to be elected as both a governor and a senator in U.S. history — is being told that she can't possibly be a sports fan. Because she's a woman.
The audacity of the N.H. GOP never ceases to shock and disgust me. This is the same party whose former chairman recently compared Shaheen to Betty Crocker cake mix in an op-ed. And it was a N.H. GOPer who, last week, decided that pay discrimination exists because women are less motivated than men.
The string of aggressive tweets that came out of the N.H. GOP were perhaps so unsettling because they came out of nowhere other than from what seemed to be a very angry, bitter place. They were unprovoked and nasty, and made giant presumptions about Sen. Shaheen based on her gender. The Republican Party clearly still has a problem with women and women's issues.
Meanwhile, Scott Brown happily tweeted a congratulatory Bruins tweet from his account with no backlash suggesting that he wasn't a true hockey fan.
Perhaps because his name is Scott, and hers is Jeanne.
Editor's note: Penelope Theresa "Penny" Pitou is a former United States Olympic alpine skier who, in 1960, became the first American skier to win a medal in the Olympic downhill event.