I just witnessed the surfing version of Lysistrata and it was amazing!
2019 (ish) has been a good year for women’s surfing. The WSL standardized prize money for equality. Keala Kennelly got a good case of Athletes Mouth and then mobilized a team of minions to go after any naysayers who called her on her mistake in the name of social justice. Caroline Marks became the youngest surfer to ever qualify for the world tour. Bethany Hamilton did better air reverses in a single session BSR as a thirty-something mother of two with one arm than most of our male readership have done in their life, myself included.
Women’s surfing is amazing.
I was able to witness this level of empowerment with my own two eyes last Sunday evening at Uppers. A crowd of women, ages ranging from 20ish-40ish, descended onto the already crowded golden-hour uppers with mid-lengths and longboards and proceeded to trample the ego and bravado of about thirty puffy-chested men who, until that point, had thought they ruled the peak.
Like a majestic pride of hunting lionesses, I watched these women overtake the point. They blocked for one another, sat deeper, faded more gracefully, and did more critical maneuvers than the men on their long and alternate craft. The level of surfing by these ladies on atypical Uppers equipment in the chest high/onshore conditions far surpassed what I had seen while in the lineup from my like-gendered brethren. The crowd of men did not know how to respond or counteract the female dominance in the line-up and eventually, one-by-one men began to paddle in.
I just witnessed the surfing version of Lysistrata and it was amazing.
Even so, I see a lot of vitriol in the comment sections on many a surf Instagram page throwing shade on women’s surfing. I wonder, however, if those men throwing the proverbial shade are doing so from a metaphorical umbrella of their own. Why are you mad at women’s surfing? Because they surf better than you? You can’t back paddle a girl? They didn’t throw three thousand boring ass air-reverses in a single heat? Probably and you should probably shut up about it.
No matter how many times we call a hack a “man turn” it will always be an inherently feminine dance we do on the water. I will argue that for the perpetual intermediate male- surfings everyman, that the Women’s CT is FAR more relatable and aspirational from a day-to-day surfing perspective than the Men’s CT. I can learn far more that I can apply to my own surfing by watching Steph do a steezy wrap than by watching John do an explosive ally-oop (especially considering that despite my best efforts, at most, I have never been more than a foot above the lip intentionally and unassisted by a Grinch).
Hate on women’s surfing all you want, it still won’t discount the fact that: Steph’s Keramas 10 could have won a Men’s final, Caroline Marks at 17 will surf circles around you if given the opportunity, Alana Blanchard earns more than her baby-daddy Jack Freestone, the Women’s tour is dramatic with last-minute lead changes and friendly rivalries than the Men’s CT, and Maya Gabiera and Paige Alms have more metaphorical balls in big waves than you do actual balls in your shorts.
People say the future is female but it’s pretty evident that women’s surfing is at its historical peak right today and we should all stop and enjoy the show.
Also, as a side note, I would like to formally apologize to my wife who has been on the receiving end of far too many “you go girls” and “Yassss Queens” than was necessary since I witnessed the female storming of Uppers.