Thursday, March 07, 2013

Quiksilver promotes women! Hang on, what?

This is an ACTUAL video that Quiksilver have on the Quiksilver Pro website to promote the competition.



Come one, come all to watch the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast!! Everybody is welcome - even women! As long as you're a sick chick who is willing to have guys ogle her and comment on her body openly and in a way that is apparently encouraged by Quiksilver.

But seriously, this is not a joke. That video is on the homepage of video section on the Quiksilver Pro website. On a website that includes women surfers who are also competing. Women who Quiksilver likes to suggest they consider athletes.

I sort of wondered for a while if I would even post the clip here, because posting it is promoting their product and site, so I want you to know that I'm not unaware of the complexity of my including it on my blog in order to critique it. But I also want you to know that I think Quiksilver clearly employs some moronic promotional techniques that encourage and even permit sexist behaviour by men.

And, okay, I get that checking chicks out is historically part of the culture of surfing, but that doesn't make it okay. And the usual argument about 'target audience' that some magazines use to justify their content is not going to fly here. This is a website for a competition that includes both men's and women's professional, competitive surfing. This is a high-profile, world-class competition that surfers (including young people) are going to watch and stream. What I'm trying to say is that the target audience for this website is not only teenage boys (not that that would be any kind of acceptable argument for this pathetic excuse for a promotion anyway). The target audience for this website is 'as many viewers as possible'. So why is this the only clip of women in the home page in the 'Video' section? Especially considering Stephanie Gilmore's barrel this morning, which scored a 9.8!



Oh yeah. That's right. Duh! Because the Quiksilver Pro is only for men. The women's event - the Roxy Pro - is a different competition, which just happens to run concurrently with the men's. Clips of women don't come up on the Quiksilver Pro home page because even though they're all on the same website (because they're the same company) you have to go to the Roxy/Women's section to find them. Marketing can be so confusing sometimes.

And look, I am in no way claiming that this kind of explicitly sexist bullshit is exclusive to Quiksilver, or that it is solely against women whose interest is to sit on the beach watching, rather than doing, surfing. I mean check out this horrendous clip Billabong made to promote Laura Evener, which my friend, Holly, pointed out to me recently.



In case it got lost in translation, Laura Enever is a highly skilled athlete, albeit one who is complicit in increasingly promoting herself as a glamour model. I mean, except that she carries a surfboard briefly, how would you know she surfs. How would you know how well? I'm not sure how Laura Enever feels about this clip - it would be interesting to ask her - but I wonder if she feels at all frustrated at having her looks valued over the years of hard work and commitment she has put into developing her skills as a surfer? I mean, that's what she wants to be, right? A professional, competitive surfer?

As you can tell from my lack of posting recently, I don't really have the time to develop this post any more than this for now (so I hope it's not too rambling). And usually I don't even engage in talking about the blatant sexism that is so rife in culture surrounding surfing as a sport and as an industry. It just depresses me too much and I really don't like getting involved in any kind of critique of professional and competitive women's surfing because it's complicated and tricky - I find everyday surfing culture so much more interesting and fun anyway. But this time I was sparked into fury because I really think that the Quiksilver clip, 'Enjoy the Chicks', is beyond reasonable and is far beyond acceptable, so I have taken the time to write something. Because calling out these kinds of promotions is important (even if it does feel like you're shouting at the moon)!

It's also important for people like me (and you!) to call them out, because I imagine it's hard for the competing girls and women to speak up or out against this kind of thing - their sponsorship is tenuous at best, and professional surfing hates 'outspoken' women (don't even mention feminism!!). So I hold a little hope that some of the men might say something about it. Not for them to implicate the women in how they are treated, but to critique the companies for representing and promoting professional female surfers in this way. Clearly, Mick Fanning is not going to be that man, but I have a hope that some of the other high-profile men might say something, sometime, maybe, one day. Because I know from countless conversations that these are not just 'women's issues' and that not all men think these kinds of clips are okay. In fact, many men I know think it's bullshit as much as I do.

And seriously, it is bullshit.

(And I'm still pissed off that I've even posted those clips on my blog)

12 comments:

  1. Ugh. Thanks for writing this.

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  2. Oh, by the way, Mick Fannig has been wearing pink boardshorts during this competition to show his support for women's breast cancer research. Which is great!

    http://mickfanning.com.au/instagram/view/402468046735428137_4671809

    People. I mean we can be so contradictory, huh.

    My head hurts.

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  3. Wow! I have been surfing for 30 years and seen the progression of women's surfing in the male dominated surfing world. This is an exceptionally sexist video, a huge step back to the 80's. Was it made by a sixteen year old boy going through puberty? Where is all the surfing?
    My personal opinion is that it was made to boost the ego of all the men who can't stand seeing women who surf better than them. Thanks for being brave enough to write this!

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  4. Thanks Bec for your great post. I am also a woman surfer who has seen the evolution of womens' surfing, surfing since the early 1960s. Aloha, Cher

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  5. Anonymous10:48 AM

    The whole direction of Quik just changed moments before the start of the comp when the new CEO started a blood bath dropping most of the US Team, many middle management staff and dropping the brands: Quiksilver Women (Steph's sponsor); DC Women and others. Clearly there just isn't enough money in women's surfing for these corporations to even supprt women with product. Make sure you support the brands that do, they are out there and with online shopping it is getting easier.

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  6. Thanks for your comments.

    And yes, Anonymous, you make a good point. The ways these companies represent women certainly impacts whether I buy from them or not. But then, the unfortunate truth seems to be that their major market is in 'surf fashion', which is more women's clothes that they link to a surfing aesthetic or lifestyle, rather than clothes or products for women who surf. But I get swimmers from Tallow or Gypsy Jacket, I wear old t-shirts instead of rashees, and I live in the subtropics, so don't exactly rush through wetsuits!

    Admittedly, I ride longboards, and in longboarding culture, things are a bit better. But not always.

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  7. Thanks for your comments.

    And yes, Anonymous, you make a good point. The ways these companies represent women certainly impacts whether I buy from them or not. But then, the unfortunate truth seems to be that their major market is in 'surf fashion', which is more women's clothes that they link to a surfing aesthetic or lifestyle, rather than clothes or products for women who surf. But I get swimmers from Tallow or Gypsy Jacket, I wear old t-shirts instead of rashees, and I live in the subtropics, so don't exactly rush through wetsuits!

    Admittedly, I ride longboards, and in longboarding culture, things are a bit better. But not always.

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  8. kelped2:17 PM

    Thanks for writing this. Not always fun to be the one making the critique.

    I like Tetsuhiko Endo's stuff on the topic. At least he's written about it. Yeah, where the hell are the other guys who know a lot of this is bullshit? Surfers have this self-identity as being outsiders. But there's such a herd mentality, and folks don't want to stand out. (Sure, there are different groups in the surfing world. But it's still a pretty small world.)

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  9. Hey Rebecca,

    Thankyou for highlighting this!

    It is such a contentious topic and a driving force for the business I am trying to build in female surfwear and the surf imagery we want to convey and promote - which aims to showcase talented and strong 'everyday' female surfers. I have been making surf leggings (sun protection!) and the only negative responses have come from guys - surprise surprise - and to do with "covering up girls butts." Seriously??!

    I agree with Kelped re: Tetsuhiko Endo of the Inertia, who has written some interesting articles (http://www.theinertia.com/business-media/surfingtits-and-ass/), as does Cori Schumacher - World Longboard champ and writer (http://corischumacher.com).

    Thanks again, its awesomely refreshing to know other women aren`t so stoked on current mainstream surf marketing for female surfers.

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  10. lawless3:44 PM

    I was going to leave some smart-ass comment about the girls on tour enjoying as much as the guys, but I'll just leave you this link instead:

    http://www.huckmagazine.com/features/cori-schumacher/

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  11. Hey lawless. I don't see ho who a person has sex with is in any way linked to whether or not they reduce people to sexual objects. I'm straight, but I don't find any desire or pleasure in sexed up images of overly muscled men. Not at all. I'm not sure what your intention was, but your comment comes across as immature and lame. Sorry if I have mis-read it.

    If you were talking about 'groupies' in surfing, well, I can't speak for those women, but I would imagine the situation could be complicated. It still does not justify the clip that Quiksilver posted to promote the competition.

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  12. "Hmm, not surprised" was my initial reaction.
    Not surprised doesn't mean it's still not disappointing. Yes I'm straight bloke for what that's worth. I see the whole contest-corporate sponsorship-magazinze nexus/circus as one fake troika exploiting the stoke that we love by repackaging it back to us as something we can purchase BUT then using the lowest common denominator ie the mentality of barely literate 14 year old boys. I imagine the planning meeting going like, "who's our key demographic to push units to? Great, lets use a sick online vid to pitch to them". Who needs them and their outrageously priced garments? Apart from, Ms Gilmore most of these "stars" are ill-mannered wave hogs when free surfing.

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