Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Duct Tape Invitational. Another chick-free event!

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.


  1. I agree - there is a similar invitational event held in Cornwall called Hip Wigglers. First year - no women at all on the list, last year only one woman invited. Yet we got loads of v good lady longboarders in this part of the world too. Ironic that the so-called 'cooler' events are just as mysogynist & exclusive as the mainstream.

  2. Hey kk. Been getting any warm(er) summer waves?

    Bummed (but not surprised) to hear it's the same over your way.

    But I would like to clarify that I don't think it's about misogyny. Like I said, some of the men involved with this event - Oldfield and Peterson in particular - have been important in contributing to the increasing levels of visibility and respect that women have in longboarding cultures.

    The problem is that at the competitive level, organisers just don't think to even include women. And then no-one around them thinks to point that out at the time. Like you say, it creates an exclusive culture that becomes self-perpetuating.

    In that way, it's about a total shift in thinking, huh.

    And, as you say, it seems that it is in these kinds of surfing in particular - where women do have a higher visibility - that you would expect things to be different from larger, more mainstream contests.

    The weird thing is that the guys who forget to include women in these events, actually surf with women all the time! That's the bit I find so confusing.

  3. Hi Rebecca, you nailed it again with your comments - maybe it's not really misogyny, but more a kind of male arrogance... I don't know. I'm not interested in surf comps particularly, but it does focus how male dominated that side of surfing is. Whereas in our local line-ups the gender split is very healthy with a decent percentage of women paddling out regularly.

    Anyway, I always enjoy reading your blog and hope you're get plenty of waves in your hemisphere. We're sliding nicely into summer here (just got back from a beautiful day at the beach)..

    Cheers kk

  4. Apart from all the insightful wordage above and blogged the two additional issues I take umbrage with are:
    1 why is there no footage from the water?
    2 what's with the subliminal promotion of tobacco?????

  5. I guess it was a comp, so it would have been a bit tricky to get footage from the water - not so common right?

    But as for smoking... good point.

    Remember kids, smoking kills. And it's gross.

  6. You've inspired some reflection in me. Thanks for all the sharing.