As people have previously requested I share my idea of what equality might look like, I have decided to post my ideas off the top of my head and then embarrass myself by reviewing these ideas with actual research in the next post. This means that you get to see me challenge my assumptions and make a fool of myself in public. Enjoy.
Vish’s Equality Manifesto Retrieved from the Ether
Women in power.
There needs to be an even percentage of women in positions of management. At the moment there are women in the industry but they are not necessarily in control and are negotiating behind the scenes. Some of the most influential voices aren’t in official positions. Obviously this equality should also involve people of diverse ethnicities.
How women are shown in the sport.
At present, women are sexualised and often not shown surfing. To change, magazines and marketing would have to shift to images where women are shown as active participants and also ensure more diversity is shown in the kinds of women on display. This would also apply to men. Sexualising men rather than displaying their talent is just as detrimental to equality.
Opinions of women and minorities available in mainstream media.
The dominant narrative is at present, male. To counter this, female writers and commentators need to be encouraged, trained, attracted and amplified not just in Social Media and online but in events and mainstream media. This will take time as people need to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to do this. In the meantime it would be good if the professional sportscasters commentating women’s surfing or writing about it were more aware of how they can effectively support the sport for women and not accidentally trivialise it or perpetuate sexism.
How sport is financed and what percentage of investment goes towards women and minorities.
The commercial investment in professional surfing is dependent on those companies making money, so funds available from government organisations need to be accessed. Often attracting support for campaigns means meeting criteria that show the sport is making progress in certain areas like equality and diversity. Finding ways of attracting sports funding for surfing is not reliant on the surf industry and it is not reliant on sexualising athletes or having equal performance. Surfing wants access to the Olympics so funding has to be more about accessing the wider sports community resources rather than being solely relying on the surf industry. Corporate funding should also be attracted from corporations who are committed to equality and social justice. This would be a tough criteria to meet for many companies let alone in surfing.
Providing access to education for women who might not otherwise have it
Access to education is a problem for many women. Providing education within surfing and access to surfing through education can give women a pathway to success. Obviously how this access is given has to be seriously considered. Are scholarships to university the main aim or do professionals within the sport already get given access to part time education? Education can provide links to corridors of power through networking so it isn’t just theory and qualifications that are important.
Developing performance criteria that include women and providing ways of improving performance
At the moment a lot of debate is centred around the performance of women in comparison to men. The judging of surfing in particular is criticised and considered subjective because there are so many variants. Women are often considered to be inferior to men in performance but little credit is given to women for performing in spite of disadvantage. As women’s surfing has been trivialised, it has been difficult to attract athletes, retain athletes, and provide appropriate opportunities. The question has to be asked: How does women’s surfing improve when it is constantly at a disadvantage? Usually, performance needs a programme that seeks to address lack of access to coaching, resources, equipment and competition but even the ASP has less competition for women and less prize money. In this regard, performance will continue to suffer until pathways to equality are addressed.
Ensuring the impact on the environment maintains lifestyles for men and women and animals and that surfing is sustainable.
Environmental justice intersects with equality because the products we consume can affect men and women involved in producing them. So if we destroy a local habitat we create poverty and injustice for indigenous populations. If we continue to pollute the environment we reduce livelihoods of people living off that environment. If we don’t consider the impact of the supply chain in the industry then we continue to perpetuate sexist and racist policies that exploit people.
How sport can promote social justice to protect human rights
In general sport has the potential to combat poverty and provide pathways for health, fitness, community building, cultural understanding and peace. In surfing, this should mean that locations and events contribute to the local community, and provide employment and opportunities for local people. It also means that the surfing community has to be more aware of cultural differences and of issues such as privilege. This concept also suggests that to be an athlete with a profile, you have to have a good understanding of how to be a decent person in the first place. Research backs up the idea that sport doesn’t make you a better person- you need to have the social skills in the first place, but research also contends that sport can improve education, health etc. So in surfing athletes need guidance to make better decisions and coaches, managers and officials need to have codes of conduct, access to information and access to support. This also means that surfing should have programmes in place to foster participation in communities and to develop talent from areas that are not wealthy or traditionally would not have access to surfing.