Scott Morrison’s “Hockey Night Extra” column at CBC Sports was published today with the title:

Public emasculation of John Ferguson is just plain wrong

It turns out that no one is cutting off the Toronto general manager’s genitals, either in public or in private, so that’s a relief. I don’t know WHO could be in favor of that! Here’s what’s actually happening:

As one hockey executive put it the other day, public emasculation is an ugly thing.

…beleaguered Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson being unfairly treated by his bosses. Argue that he is a bad GM, argue that he needs to be replaced, but there is no debating what has transpired in recent days is just plain wrong.

…Leaving Ferguson in limbo, unable to fire a coach or make a trade, while conducting searches for a potential interim successor, is downright cruel…

Ok. So there is some serious crap to unpack here. Of course, “emasculate” doesn’t just mean to literally remove male genitals; people use it much more figuratively in general usage. But the word seems unavoidably, inextricably (indeed, perhaps intentionally) tied up in stereotypical notions of gender. According to the OED it also means

The depriving of force, vigour, or manliness; making weak or effeminate; prudish expurgation of a literary work.

Assuming the account in the quote from the article is accurate, I agree fully that Ferguson is being undermined. But let’s reject the idea that being undermined should be identified with a loss of manliness or with becoming effeminate. This is the year 2008, is it not?

Amazingly, after excoriating the Maple Leafs for publicly carrying on the search for Ferguson’s successor, Morrison spends the second half of his column dissecting whether a particular candidate would be a good general manager… That’s a remarkable lack of self-awareness.

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