Misogynistic complaints levelled at women curlers must end, Curling Canada says

Whenever there is a professional women's curling tournament in the country, Curling Canada says it receives dozens of online comments from a small segment of spectators complaining women curlers are too loud, among other misogynistic comments.

Professional women curlers endure comments on everything from hair to weight: Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson

A women's curling skip crouches while directing during a match.
Kerri Einarson shouts sweeping commands to her teammates during competition last year. (James Doyle/The Canadian Press)

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson's volume increased with each of three times she belted out "clean" after throwing her final rock in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last month in B.C., clinching a record-tying fourth straight Canadian women's championship title.

The shouting comes with the territory in curling, regardless of the gender of the person tossing the rock, but a small segment of spectators seems particularly bothered by the sounds when they come from women curlers.

That's according to Curling Canada, which says during big tournaments like the Scotties, it sees comments from fans online complaining women on the ice are too loud. Einarson has received some of those comments on social media as well. 

"We have higher-pitched voices, it's just how it is," she said. "I can't help that. I'm an athlete and I just show my intensity out there.... I don't understand what the fans want from us."

On Wednesday, for International Women's Day, Curling Canada's media relations manager Al Cameron reposted a copy of a column he wrote that ran in the Scotties program handed out in Kamloops last month.

In it, he describes a double standard that's unfolded, with some fans lodging misogynistic complaints either with Curling Canada or directly to women curlers over social media, by email and elsewhere online.

The comments have been finding their way to Curling Canada's inbox and social media accounts for some time now and "it's got to stop," Cameron said.

"That double standard is ridiculous and it's just so minimizing to what our female athletes do out there," he said.

"The men yell loudly too, just as loud if not louder, but I don't get emails about those."

The complaints to Curling Canada spike around events like the Scotties, and the most common one coming in is about women shouting or screaming too loudly.

But they also have people messaging or emailing them complaining about women curlers with tattoos, among other gripes, said Cameron.

"When someone says this stuff to me in person, I'll always challenge, 'Would you ever say that to a man? Have you ever said that about a man?' And inevitably the answer is 'no,'" said Cameron.

Women held to 'bizarre standard': CEO

Katherine Henderson, CEO of Curling Canada, said much of the mail and email she receives from women's curling fans is positive. She also receives complaints about the makeup they wear or how they do their hair.

"I think maybe there's a feeling out there that for some reason that women athletes, when they're frustrated or when they're excited or when they're being highly competitive in some way, should behave a little bit differently than male athletes, which we think is wrong," said Henderson.

Guest host Julie Dupre was joined by Curling Canada CEO Katherine Henderson to discuss how they are dealing with misogyny from its fans online.

"It just feels fundamentally unfair that they're being held [to] some sort of bizarre standard that someone else has set," she said.

"It matters not one iota how somebody sounds … or what colour their hair is or what their bodies look like. If they're putting it out there and they're an athlete, we're just super proud of them and we want the rest of Canada to be too."

Einarson said she's received complaints online over her hair, and she's heard of women players being criticized for being overweight. The complaints aren't always online, and they don't only come from men.

"I actually had someone harassing my workplace and phoning there, and saying that I am basically a terrible mother and wife and I shouldn't be leaving my children at home to go and play a game of curling," Einarson said.

"I had a voice recording of that sent to my work and they sent it to me. She's called numerous times and it's pretty sad to see that women in sport that want to chase their dreams, apparently you can't do that."

Four female curlers hold gold medals in their hands while posing behind a trophy.
From left, Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Harris pose with their gold medals and the trophy after defeating Manitoba in the final at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts on Feb. 26 in Kamloops, B.C. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Einarson has twin nine-year-old girls, both of whom are already big into curling.

That's another reason she supports Curling Canada highlighting the harassing comments and calling for them to end.

"I want them to be able to chase their dreams and I don't want anyone to stop them, so that's just something I just want to show to my girls and the youth," she said. 

Team Canada's Einarson, Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard, Briane Harris and Krysten Karwacki next head to Sandviken, Sweden, to compete in the 2023 LGT World Women's Curling Championship. That gets underway March 18.

WATCH | Einarson ready to take on curling world in Sweden:

That Curling Show: Kerri Einarson ready to take on the curling world in Sweden

3 months ago
Duration 6:37
Fresh off her fourth straight Scotties title, the skip joins That Curling Show to talk about what makes her team so dominant, having her kids be able to watch the final and how she's prepping for worlds.


Bryce Hoye


Bryce Hoye is a multi-platform Manitoba journalist covering news, science, justice, health, 2SLGBTQ issues and other community stories. He has a background in wildlife biology and occasionally works for CBC's Quirks & Quarks and Front Burner. He won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award for a 2017 feature on the history of the fur trade. He is also Prairie rep for outCBC.