Monday, August 19, 2013

In defence of Anastasia Ashley

So, I've been thinking a lot about that clip of part of Anastasia Ashley's pre-comp warm-up. I'm sure by now you have seen it. It contains footage of her sort of dancing on the beach as she warms up. The moves she does involve lots of hip rotations and the person who put it together has set it to a song called 'Bubble Butt' (at least, based on the lyrics, that's what I assume it's called). This clip has been widely circulated on surf websites, blogs and social media, but I've decided that I won't post it up here because I think it's really creepy. If you haven't seen it, I'm sure you can find it if you really want to.

The thing is, Anastasia Ashley can do whatever the hell she wants. I'm not saying her moves in this clip are my thing or that I think it does women's surfing many favours, but if she wants to do those moves on the beach to warm up, then that's up to her. She's doing a dance move and it's provocative. So what? And I'm also not saying that there isn't a problem with the sexualisation of professional women surfers (and other athletes) and the effects that has on women's surfing more generally, because there are some really, really big problems there.

But the thing that I find troubling about that clip is that someone has filmed Anastasia Ashley doing this without her knowledge or consent and has then edited it to some shitty music to drive home the point, 'Hey look! Anastasia Ashley's butt'! Yeah I realise she's on a public beach and in front of (possibly) a lot of people, but that doesn't mean she wanted this person to film her and post it on the web. I do lots of silly physical things while I'm wearing swimmers on the beach, which I would hate for people to film me doing, set to music and post online. Doing things in public isn't an invitation for them to film and ridicule you. In fact, she explicitly says this in an interview with following the blow-up around this clip:
SHAPE: Do you have any special pre-competition rituals or warm-up routines?
AA: Usually before an event, I try to relax and have a super mellow day. Just before my heats, I go down to the beach and try to get in the zone. I have to block everyone out and not talk to them. It's important to me because I've been doing that for so long that I feel like it's part of my routine and that's what helps me do well.

Sarah Beardmore has made a parody clip of Anastasia Ashley's moves. In this clip, Beardmore is performing for the camera, rather than preparing for a comp - the difference brings the parody to life.

Like I said, I have issues with the way some women who surf are encouraged to and rewarded for using their sexuality to promote themselves as athletes, and I think there are plenty of conversations to be had about that, but this is different. What it does more than anything is highlight the different ways that various female surfers are read and understood in surfing culture - I mean, if this filmer was really interested in not putting her down, they might have included some footage of her surfing as well.

Anyway, Ashley seems okay about it - maybe she would even have given permission if the person filming had asked - but I think it sucks that the main response to this clip has been to ridicule Anastasia Ashley when she has done nothing wrong. Any criticism arising form this particular clip should focus on how creepy it is to make and distribute clips like this one, without the consent of the person being filmed.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:23 PM

    yeah yeah yeah love a good in defence of...hitting the right notes on this one for sure satch

    ReplyDelete