I was rooting for the American women’s hockey team on Thursday as it faced Canada, but I have to admit I was very impressed with the way the Canadian women celebrated their victory. About an hour after having gold medals placed around their necks, the team spilled back out onto the ice, smoking cigars, drinking cold beers and popping open Champagne.
I was in the minority. The celebration caused quite the stink. Many were upset at the sight, and the International Olympic Committee promised an investigation.
Why the fuss? Athletes the world over celebrate big wins by smoking cigars and basking in the spray of Champagne. Nothing is bigger than hockey in Canada, and winning gold (on the home country ice, no less) certainly qualifies as a big victory.
I think there’s something more at work here. Had this been a game won by the men’s hockey team, had it been guys instead of ladies puffing on Cohibas at center ice, men having a cold, celebratory beer instead of women, I think this isn’t even a story. Dog bites man versus man bites dog.
Maybe some people just aren’t used to seeing, or don’t wish to see, a woman smoking a cigar. I think it’s sad, and a bit silly. Women enjoy cigars just as men do. I see plenty of women smoking cigars at our Big Smokes, and plenty of women read our magazine. My own wife, bless her, enjoys smoking cigars. She has smoked them longer than she has known me!
It’s somewhat ironic that right before this controversy, the Cuban cigar industry debuted a cigar made specifically for women at the Habanos Festival. (Read James Suckling’s account of it here.) This presents a different problem entirely: the U.S. cigar industry tried, and failed, in the mid 1990s to make cigars for women. I think Carlos Fuente Jr. said it best: “All our cigars are for women. Women have the same taste buds as men.”
I’m with Carlos. Forget the double standard. Get used to seeing women puffing on cigars. It’s not going away.
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