So I know I talk a lot about the inherent sexism in surfing, especially in surf media. I know I also talk a lot about how social media offers a way for individual surfers to make their own decisions about the kinds of images they post and promote in relation to surfing and life more generally. I've been pretty stoked on how social media has contributed loads of new representations of women and women's surfing - @babesonwaves is a great example of this. Of course, it can also be used to sing the same song of butt shots etc, so don't think I'm saying it's all rosy, but still, there is lots of potential and lots of cool things happening. So when I see images like the one below being used to promote a really great cause, and being re-posted by people who want to sincerely want to promote that event, I get bummed out.
I found this image on Kassia Meador's Instagram site, which she uses in part to promote her new wetsuit range (which is pretty great, by the way). I don't know what Kassia Meador thinks about this image beyond it promoting this event, but I feel like the links to past objectification and sexualisation of women in surfing culture is pretty strong. For example, for a while in surf magazine advertising women lost their heads and faces with images focusing squarely on their bodies in the way this image does. There is some really well known research on this by Margaret Henderson, but I thought we'd largely got past that. Yeah, women wear bikinis on the beach, so I get that such images will continue and that's totally fine. But this image is more the kind of angle you would see in a wildlife documentary, and that's totally not okay. Because I feel like these women should be able to pick up rubbish on the beach and not have some guy imagine it as a possibility for something more. Seriously, how creepy is that guy!! Maybe he can look while walking, maybe, but to stop and stand and stare? Creep.
It's an illustration, okay. I know. But honestly, doesn't it make your stomach turn a bit? I feel gross re-posting it here and thus allowing it more airplay.
The event sounds great and I hope it's successful. But maybe they could make their promotions a little less sexist in the future.