Often when I’m on Twitter I simply push the mute button to get the sexist tropes of surfing out of my feed. It’s not that I don’t want to hear what people have to say, but so often it is a tired cliche where men feel enlightened and yet are completely unaware of being offensive.
It’s uncomfortable and scary to call people out on Twitter.
What’s also uncomfortable and scary is reading this stuff all the damn time. YouTube comments on surfing, commentary during the competition and magazine articles all contribute to a situation where often women don’t even bother to stand up and speak up. Why put yourself out there when you know that nothing is going to change?
When I first started reading critical surf literature I felt like I could breathe. Suddenly I could put a name to the irritating moments that I couldn’t quite explain before. I could see why I felt uncomfortable with the way the WSL conducted itself. I could understand more about how the myth of surfing seems to permit people to continue to be racist, homophobic, sexist and ignorant.
Recently I called out a popular twitter account for being patronising to Carissa Moore. Carissa doesn’t need me riding in on my horse to rescue her, but I’m so sick of men thinking their approval is needed for women to be considered great or successful.
Carissa Moore is an amazing surfer. That men should finally recognise this is not a cause for celebration. We should be asking why they’ve allowed women’s surfing to be minimised and degraded for so long, but we aren’t allowed to do that while the men are congratulating themselves for noticing something amazing about female athletes.
They’re allies, you understand. They appreciate women. How dare women not take their appreciation seriously.
If you posted a tweet about how, wow, that brown guy is surfing as well as that white guy, would you feel uncomfortable? Would you then say, well, only in comparison to white guys can a brown guy be a great surfer? Is that true? Is it only through the lens of a white male that we declare a surfer to be great?
There are gay surfers, and there are trans surfers, and there are indigenous surfers, and there are female surfers, and there are all sorts of masculinity not represented in mainstream surfing.
I don’t represent minorities or speak for them, but it would be nice if, for a change, when someone spoke up against sexist behaviour, that the status quo listened. God only knows we hear their voice often enough.