In Skate Nerd

PHOTO: Emily Pross does the kind of skateboarding she enjoys and doesn’t give a f*ck what you think.

By Maxwell Storey Dubler

As someone who loves skateboarding and wants to see everyone enjoy it, this week’s online gender wars have bummed me out. The subculture of skateboarding is overwhelmingly male dominated and male identified, so instead of yelling at women and explaining how they are Doing It Wrong, I decided to flip it around and come up with a few things men can stop doing to make skateboarding more welcoming to women. Listicles are so hot right now.

If you’re a dude who wants more women to skateboard, stop doing this shit:

  1. Using gendered language to insult each other.
    If someone is skating slow and being a coward, find a more creative way to call them out than “don’t be such a pussy” or “stop being a bitch.” A pussy takes a pounding and spits out people. Testicles take the slightest tap and run back into your pelvis to hide. Be a pussy, not a testicle.
  2. Objectifying women in skateboard media and marketing materials.
    I know the hormonal adolescent straight boys love to see a scantily clad woman next to a skateboard product, but that kind of ad is lazy, boring, uncreative, and subtly perpetuates the idea that skateboarding is for [straight] men only*. If you’re going to sponsor a conventionally attractive woman skateboarder and put her in an ad, at least show her actually skating in that bikini.
  3. Making sweeping generalizations about women skateboarders.
    Male skateboarders get to be judged as individuals. Women who shred are always held up as representatives of women’s skateboarding as a whole and expected to have opinions about Women In Skateboarding. That’s a sexist double standard.
  4. Downplaying women’s accomplishments because of their gender.
    She got sponsored because the company thought she’d help sell boards. The fact that I still get free gear is proof that sponsorship isn’t always about who’s the gnarliest skateboarder. And while we’re being real, yeah, looks matter, even for dudes. Maybe you would get that sponsorship if you stepped up your social media game, got a haircut, joined a gym and stopped dressing like shit so you looked presentable on camera.
  5. Imposing male-dominated, gendered expectations on women’s skating.
    Just as ceramics, watercolor, and other feminine-identified art forms are equally as valuable as masculine-identified forms like oil painting, architecture and sculpture, flatland freestyle and cross stepping is just as valid a kind of skateboarding as downhill and freeriding. This more delicate and graceful kind of skateboarding is extremely difficult to master and execute well, even if the consequences of error aren’t life threatening. There’s room for all styles of skating.
  6. Passing judgment on women’s clothing choices.
    Women are constantly scrutinized and judged on the clothing they wear: everything exists on a scale from slutty to frumpy and there’s no neutral t-shirt and jeans type outfit to fall back on. A girl in tight jeans and a fitted t shirt is showing off her body inappropriately. A girl in baggy jeans and an oversize t shirt looks like a dyke. They cannot win. And when it comes down to it, her denim daisy dukes are more practical for skating than your board shorts or mesh basketball shorts.

While there’s always more work to be done, I actually think we’re doing ok on the gender equality front, at least by the very low standards of the skateboard industry–there’s no longboard equivalent of Hubba wheels. Anyway, yeah. Go skate and try not to be a sexist creep. It really isn’t that hard.

Author’s Notes:
*Speaking from my outside perspective as a gay dude here, the whole “scantily clad woman with skateboard” thing is weird as hell. While I certainly enjoy looking at hot dudes,** the idea that a picture of some naked dude next to a skate product would inspire me to run out and buy that product is ridiculous to me. Like strip clubs, football, and cargo shorts, this is something I will never understand about straight culture.

**I’m not into scrawny 19 year olds, so most of y’all are not my type. But if you are my type, yeah, I’m totally checking you out.

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