This morning I opened my inbox to an email from Nathan Oldfield with a link to his latest clip. As always, it's pretty and fun.
T.C.S.S. Presents: A Doc-umentary from Nathan Oldfield on Vimeo.
But it had the added function of reminding me how annoyed I felt that there were, as ever, no women invited. And it wasn't just me! According to Facebook, there were quite a few crew commenting on how of the sixteen spots open, not one was offered to a woman. As far as I could tell, this was not officially a 'men's' comp so don't you think that is a problem?
Of course, this is not an uncommon story. Big wave riding competitions rarely invite women, and when they have it's been as an 'exhibition' event. (Maybe something has changed recently. I haven't been following these kinds of events as they're not on my radar for now. I doubt it though.) This is usually argued on the basis that women are not as strong or involved in this kind of surfing as men. Sure, okay.
But log riding, with its emphasis on style and technique, seems to be one of the areas of surfing where men and women should be able to compete against each other without it being such a problem.
Especially when this event has a US$10,000 prize pool.
Men who surf constantly talk about how supportive they are women's surfing and like to associate themselves with women who surf. But it seems that often this is lip-service. I'm not saying that the surfers, organisers and film-makers associated with this event aren't totally encouraging of women in the surf, because these men are! Very much so. Nathan Oldfield always features women in his films, and Dane Peterson is well-known for his images of Belinda Baggs, Kassia Meador and Isabelle Braly to name a few. But highly publicised events like the Duct Tape Invitational also need to take the next step to show how great women surfers are by including them as competitors In that way, it's up to the organisers I suppose.
Joel Tudor, I'm looking at you, sir!
Sure, it might take a few years before we see a female winner or even a woman in the finals, but let women get some experience competing against the guys in these kinds of events, and I reckon they will quickly make their competitive presence felt.
Inviting women to participate in contests like this not only promotes women's surfing on the event days, but also over time through associated media and widely-promoted clips such as Oldfield's. It would help normalise that women surf, and that they surf well, and that they should be invited to take part in contests like this one.