Sexism and the women's shortboarding tour

Bronwyn Adcock has written a great piece over at The Daily Life about why the 'Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach finally realises sexism is bad for business'. You can read it via this link.
In 2012, while researching a story for the Griffith Review I spoke to surfing administrators and promoters to figure out why such a retro, Puberty Blues-esque approach was warranted in this modern era. The ASP seemed rueful; of course they'd like to give the girls a better go, but they had to think of the sponsors, and the sponsors didn't see a market for women's surfing. A promoter told me the problem lay with women and girls themselves – girls don't want to grow up to be athletes he said, they want to be bikini models, that's why there's little investment in the "sport" side of women's surfing. 
The problem with the arse-trumps-athleticism "logic" though is that following it wasn't working for the sport, and the ASP was struggling to maintain a sustainable World Tour competition. 
The actions of ZoSea since they purchased the ASP suggest they also are not buying this flawed logic. Under the radically revamped women's competition this year, prize money has been doubled – though still no parity - and Fiji, Hawaii and Maui have been added to the schedule. 
The new chief executive Paul Speaker says it's “time to move these wonderful athletes onto waves that challenge them a little bit more,” promising the women an “equal voice” in the competition. 
Speaker has made it clear that the rules of the game have changed: “It is imperative to understand we deliver the best product for our audience,” he says. “And that doesn't mean the best product for the men and find a way to place the women in.”
As is suggested above, this is not the first piece Adcock has written about the issues women face in competitive surfing. Last year she wrote a great piece called 'Is it hard to surf with boobs?' for the Griffith Review, which you can read here.

And while we're on the topic of awesome people who do the things they love and dream of, even if other people tell them they shouldn't, you should watch this awesome clip of astrophysicist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, explaining the 'chick problem' in science. (Sorry I can't post the clip, it's a clipped one and I'm technically limited.)

Note: This entire post was made possible by the link sharing of my dear friend Jen. Thanks Jen!


  1. No so much interested in competition but the reporting is appreciated.

    What I want to thank you for is the Neil DeGrasse Tyson link- strong!

  2. Outside of how it intersects with my broader work on women and surfing, I'm not so interested in comp surfing either. But yeah, NDGT is so awesome.


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