Women’s surfing, plain and simple, is about surfing. Or so we thought. After watching the new video released by Roxy that markets for their upcoming competition in Biarritz, France, one might get a bit confused as to what exactly we should expect at this world tour event…is this a bikini contest or will some shredding be involved?
With 12 butt shots in just over a minute, no face ever shown, and zero waves ridden, this video does a very fine job of reducing the image of women surfers to body parts alone. The video, very much skewed towards sexuality, doesn’t even come close to displaying the strength, compassion, dedication, agility, light-heartedness, or, lo and behold, surf skill, of the women on the World Tour.
Yes, surfing can shape and tone you, and give skin a nice glow, but ask any girl why she surfs and I bet you the first thing out of her mouth won’t have anything to do with looks or sex appeal. Surfing is a competitive sport of great strength and agility, but also one that involves artistic style, freedom of movement, innovation, grace, and balance, and more times than not, can evoke a sense of inner peace and a much deeper connection to the ocean. So ask a girl why she surfs and you might be more likely to get a response about how happy it makes her, how she loves watching the sun set over the horizon, or that it makes her feel free and confident, strong and balanced. To reduce a wave rider to a mere sexual object, is not only completely ridiculous, but also quite degrading. And when the medium of this image happens to be one that could possibly be seen by millions of people worldwide, created by a company that happens to represent a huge portion of the professional women’s circuit, well then, it quite frankly becomes a disgrace to not just women surfers alone, but to all women everywhere.
Fortunately, the buzz created by this video seems to be unearthing a lot of important questions and creating dialogue for some pretty cool discussions, from both men and women alike. It seems this video might be bringing direct awareness to an issue that has been able to subtly slide by in the past- a tip of the iceberg, so to speak. The footage in the video in fact symbolizes a much larger problem that extends beyond the scope of the surfing realm: the objectification of women has become so prevalent that it has seeped into all manner of industries, and has even followed women out into the water. Yes, the woman in the video is sexy, and there is absolutely not fault in a woman owning her own sexuality. But there is a fine line between being seen as sexy and being defined completely by your sexuality. To portray woman solely as that of sexual desire, not only perpetuates bias and sexual violence, but also disempowers young girls and brings about insecurities regarding image and what it means to be female. Will a 14 year old girl watch that video and be stoked to get out there and surf, or will she be more likely to run to the mirror to check if her butt looks okay in a bikini?
So as a surfer, and as a woman, I demand that we re-value the feminine. I demand that women surfers get the respect they deserve and that we provide healthy and empowering depictions of women, ones that portray their complexities and beauty as human beings. With surfing, the ocean is a sanctuary- a place to escape, to dissolve, to be free. Let’s keep it that way. But let’s also take that back to land.
Story written by Kirstin Thompson
Watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCji6TiJjbE