IWD 2024: Navigating apathy and guilt

I’ve been thinking a lot about International Women’s Day over the last week, mostly because I’m not participating in any events or actions or anything at all this year. I always know it is coming up (as I tell people who seem surprised it’s arrived, "it’s the same date every year") so I can only surmise that my apathy is intentional. By now, we know the critiques of IWD that emerge in Australia – that it is commercialised, corporatized, neoliberal, and focused on White women, middle class women, women with the most privilege – so my apathy isn't so hard to understand.  What has been surprising is that along with my apathy has come guilt.  I know that it’s not my personal responsibility to do something every year. Nor is there a need for my thoughts or ideas to be part of every IWD conversation or action. But I still feel guilty that I'm not participating in a formal way.  Recognising that this year I'm not organising or supporting events or actions, I’ve made time

The immortality of sexism in surfing

This morning, I listened to the key, daily current affairs radio program on ABC National Radio, our national broadcaster. They usually close the show with a lighter story related to the arts, sport, or popular culture and this morning was no different as they interviewed Phil Jarratt about his new book, The Immortals of Australian Surfing . I’d not heard about this book, and it’s not a book I’d take interest in, but according to the promotion material:  The Immortals of Australian Surfing celebrates our greatest ever board-riders. It takes the Immortals concept used elsewhere in sport and applies it to the surfing, choosing the best of the best from over 50 years of the local scene and the world tour. Renowned surfing writer Phil Jarratt selects his top 12 riders then delves into the careers of the true greats. Legendary riders selected and profiled include pioneers Midget Farrelly, Nat Young and Layne Beachley; the world champs of the seventies and eighties such as Mark Richards; Tom

'Surf Life' and stories of women's surfing

Although it happens less and less, there are still days when people will explain the continued absence of women in surf media as a reflection of a lack of interest in women’s surfing, or due to a lack of content created by women surfers themselves. These explanations are as frustrating as they are disappointing (and fury-inducing) because neither of these things are true. The high profile of women surfers like Stephanie Gilmore, Carissa Moore and Layne Beachley are simple evidence, but even more is the success of various media about women’s surfing. Films like Blue Crush  (2002) and Girls Can’t Surf  (2022) played to packed cinemas, Magazines like Sea.Together have endured and connected international surfing communities, reporting in Tracks by Kate Allman, Lucy Small and Selina Steele on sexism in women’s competitive sport was nominated for a Walkely award for Women’s Leadership in Media, and the 2020 all-women issue of Australian surf magazine, White Horses , went into reprint. So

IWD 2022

(Side note: Has it really been a whole year since I last posted?!) I’ve been trying to think about how to write about International Women’s Day (IWD) for 2022.  The theme, Changing Climates: Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow , gives lots of scope to this about how intersectional politics of sex/gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, colonisation, ageism, and ableism, link with ecological issues that I’m interested in, as well as the wars, natural disasters, and the pandemic that are dominating my news feed. As it happens, in my region we’ve been living in catastrophic weather events. I’ve found them deeply distressing and I’ve one of the folk who has been safe and dry, so I can’t imagine what these events have been like for those who will continue to feel the traumatic impacts for many years to come.  For me, IWD is about more than women, because fighting for greater equity for women necessarily includes equity for non-binary and trans people too. Certainly, I’m not here to write

#notallmenwhosurf OR This is not an International Women’s Day essay

This week was International Women’s Day. Much to the seeming surprise of many people, it happens on 8th March, every year.  There is growing critique about International Women’s Day (IWD) day; what it represents, who it represents, and how we should recognise it. Key critiques are of the corporate back-slapping and self-congratulations that it enables, as businesses and organisations host morning teas at which they point out the ways they’ve been less sexist that year, while serving cupcakes to women and taking photos to share in their promotional material. I absolutely agree with these critiques. The history of IWD is one based in the protest and anger of working women about the conditions of their lives in their workplaces, their communities, and their homes. If you want to research the specific origins of this day, then go ahead, but keep in mind that there were similar movements and protests like this around the world, which are also part of this story.  So what did I do this IWD?

the sea is all about us

From The Dry Salvages   by T.S. Eliot (published in 1941) The river is within us, the sea is all about us; The sea is the land's edge also, the granite Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses Its hints of earlier and other creation: The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale's backbone; The pools where it offers to our curiosity The more delicate algae and the sea anemone. It tosses up our losses, the torn seine, The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices, Many gods and many voices. ---------------- I just read this at the beginning of the Afterword by Jeffrey S. Levinton in the 1989 edition of Rachel Carson's,  The Sea Around Us. It is a section of a much longer poem, that itself is part of a set, Four Quartets , that were largely written during World War II. The Dry Salvages was written during the air-raids in Britain, and it is very sad. I'm not vouching for the whole thing, but

The eugenics of surfing

Surfing is one of the great joys of my life.* Being outside, at the beach, riding waves, spending time alone or with friends, encountering all kinds of animals, being away from my computer and phone - it's a feeling of freedom and joy that I find in precious few other activities. The very thought of being in the water and riding waves makes me feel good. But while the joy of surfing is the biggest part of it, darkness, discrimination and exclusion are a large part of going surfing too. These cultural aspects - human wrought - are by far the worst of surfing; worse than the fear of sharks, of wipeouts, of fin cuts. The violence and anger, the sense of entitlement, the commitment to exclusivity that some surfers layer over the pleasures they find in riding waves is the worst of surfing. We've all seen, experienced or practised this to varying degrees, and we've all likely turned our heads at times as well, hoping it will go away, hoping the victim will go away. It's n