I sat down at a cafe the other day to find a copy of recently released, The Ninth Wave (compiled by Sean Doherty and presented by Surfing World), sitting on the table. The book is a journey through 100 surfing images, using words from the photographer or the subject to tell the tale behind each photograph. It is very pretty, and a lovely idea.
How much do you bet that I don't find a single woman in this book? I asked my friend as I picked it up. She shrugged.
I flicked through every page of this book and unless I missed something (and I may have), there is not a single image of, nor a single photograph or story by a woman. In 100 hundred images. In 2011. In a publication presented by the Australian surfing magazine that is most supportive of women. In Australia, home to the current and four-time women's world shortboarding champ, Steph Gilmore, as well as one of the most significant female competitive surfers ever, Layne Beachley. In a country with an ever-growing female surfing population.
That is not to say that The Ninth Wave isn't lovely or wonderful, and it's certainly not to say that this book is unique in the ways that it ignores women's surfing, but it is to say that it is just not good enough. Sorry, but in 100 images, I really do feel that there was room for a few women (yes, more than one!) as surfers, photographers and writers, because unless publications like this get on-board and start to recognise the historical and cultural gaps they leave by excluding women, 'women's surfing' will remain 'women's surfing': as something separate rather than being included and known simply as 'surfing'.