With Holly Isemonger’s lament about the inferior place she and other female surfers are granted in their beloved sport fresh in my mind, I found myself wandering past the front windows of the big five surf retailers that have branches in my home town. I was interested in checking out how the surf retail industry presented itself to passing shoppers through its posters.
This is what I discovered.
Pictures of men surfing – DOZENS
Pictures of good looking dudes on the beach fully-dressed and just looking cool – SOME
Pictures of women in bikinis performing semi-erotic poses – MANY
Pictures of men in similar “sexy” beach shots – A FEW
Pictures of women surfing – NONE
Shop fronts that juxtaposed two professional surfers, one male (surfing) and one female (standing on the beach displaying significant amounts of bare flesh… not surfing) – ONE
“it is hard to not get the impression that while men are surfers, women are beautiful adornments to the beaches”
I am not trying to pretend that my one-person stroll was, in any way, a scientifically conducted survey. Neither was it an attempt to find any fault in the valued shop keepers of the surf stores that play such an important role in my surf-driven tourist town (after all, proprietors can only display the promotional images that are provided to them). I can’t even complain about the sexy images of women in bikinis, in that similar images are plastered all over the shop fronts of women’s swim wear stores as well. I am not even pointing the finger at any individual surf-wear companies per-se. The point is, however, that when window-shopping in this surf town it is hard to not get the impression that while men are surfers, women are beautiful adornments to the beaches. In other words, as the grommet in Puberty Blues said, “chicks don’t surf.”
It is as plain as the little ginger hairs on my moon-white bum, however, that the impression displayed by the surf industry, through its marketing, is inaccurate. Any paddle through the line-up of any popular surfing spot here in Australia will quickly make this clear. Women (and girls) do surf… and in large numbers. How it serves the marketers to imply otherwise is beyond me. Women who surf are customers too. I don’t get it!