6 Things In Longboarding That Girls Need To Stop Doing
I don’t rant very often but the following six things really grind my gears when it comes to girls in longboarding. Whether you agree or disagree, I think the following topics have the potential for really great dialogue and debate, and are necessary for the progression of female longboarding.
Any views or opinions presented in this post are solely mine, and do not necessarily reflect those of Skate [Slate] or my sponsors.
1. Wearing short shorts while fast freeriding or downhilling.
This seems like a no-brainer, but everyday, whether on social media or at events, I see girls wearing short shorts while pushing their limits! What in the world makes them think that that’s a good idea in the long run? I’ll admit, I’m guilty of having worn short shorts in my early years of longboarding. But after having experienced my first bouts of road rash, I quickly learned to cover up while pushing my limits freeriding or downhilling.
It’s actually the repeat offenders that irk me most. The girls who should know better, have influence over newer generations of skaters, and yet still wear inadequate clothing; the ones who post photos on social media of their m’ass’ive rash hoping to rack up likes. To those ladies, it’s not ‘gnarly’, it’s idiotic. At the end of the day, women prioritizing their looks over their safety is simply not a sustainable way to grow and progress the sport. Ladies, let’s start breaking more boards, and less bodies.
2. Believing there are women specific longboards.
There aren’t. There are only boards that are “marketed” as womens specific boards. Believing there are women-specific longboards is like believing there are grom-specific boards. The way I see it, boards are either longer or shorter, wider or thinner, and heavier or lighter than one another. At the end of the day, longboards are made for human beings of different heights, weights and shoe sizes, regardless of gender.
3. Expecting the same cash purse as men in racing.
How can women expect the same prize purse as men when men have to beat over 100 other racers to podium while females only have to beat a handful. Not only that, but females often have the opportunity to compete in opens as well as juniors (if they’re young enough). What I think many people don’t understand is that the majority of prize purses in racing are made up of entry fees. With such few female entries and limited financial support from event sponsors, there simply isn’t enough money to distribute back to women’s prize purses.
I’m not saying that women shouldn’t be paid equally. In areas like sponsorship, media incentive, and budget, women should definitely receive similar pay to men, as we have the same, if not a greater ability to influence others to skate. But until the rate of participation for women’s racing increases to a level where it’s financially feasible for bigger prize purses, it just isn’t going to happen. Moral of the story: start inspiring other women to downhill skateboard instead of complaining about money.
4. Never skating with guys.
Having female-only events and sessions is crucial to the growth of the sport – there’s no doubt about that. Yet, on an individual level, never skating with guys is a mistake and a great disservice to both the progression of your skating and the movement towards gender equality. Not only can guys push you in ways women sometimes can’t, they’re also a huge part of the greater longboarding community. You’ll be surprised just how supportive guys can be at events and during sessions if you’re willing to put yourself out there! Read my post on being the only girl at event here – own it!
5.Thinking you’re the shit just because you’re sponsored.
It takes time, sacrifice and a certain amount of respect to earn your place in the community and sponsorship won’t get you there any more than being a female. Sponsorship is not the end-all and be-all to anything. To those ladies getting sponsored for knowing how to cross-step or downhill in straight lines and look pretty, please put down the camera, and actually get better at longboarding. Please go learn how to properly shut down slide, take a good line, and land other tricks – PLEASE! When you rely on promoting products based on your looks (or just being female), and not by your skill, you are decreasing the value and legitimacy what it means to be a sponsored female longboarder. So please, for the sake of female progression, stop thinking you’re the shit and taking selfies with your free product, and go skate. Leave your mark on skateboarding, not the internet.
On the flip side, to those ladies who are sponsored for progressing the sport, taking media to the next level or building their local communities, keep on being awesome ambassadors of what it means to be a woman in longboarding!
6. Mistaking gender equality for sexism.
Women need to stop saying there needs to be gender equality, while simultaneously wanting the bar lowered for them or expecting special treatment. Take sponsorship and media exposure as an example. Many females get sponsored when their skill level is far below that of a males. When this happens, women have no complaints. However, when these same females then create skate media and it doesn’t receive the level of exposure or praise they think it deserves; instead of seeing it as a skill level anomaly, they place blame on patriarchal industries or brands. There is always going to be a mixture female privilege and male privilege in any given situation. It’s understanding these nuances and starting healthy conversations around them that’s key to building a greater skate community.
In sum, what I really want to see is less ladies taking advantage of their gender, less ladies complaining about gender inequality and more ladies out there getting after it in a positive, stoke-filled, We can (I can) do it attitude. As a gender, we can do it, we need to do it and we will do it, but it’s going to take more than some drums to bang on for people to hear us roar and respect us. We need to hold ourselves up for being the talented, intelligent, community minded ladies that we are, not being cute or even simply being a woman. We cannot ask for or expect that we are simply given what we don’t go get for ourselves. To me, this means we need to actively be a part of the greater community, actively support each other and those around us, and lastly, not take for granted the opportunities we do have, but rather work with them to create even greater opportunities for ourselves and others. I hope that for 2016, we can realize some of this together and help empower more ladies to find their stoke in skateboarding!