"When I'm in the sea I feel content and happy. I put myself in God's hands."
Golda Meir was referred to by then-Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion as “the best man in the government”. The French prince Charles of Valois was so moved by Joan’s britches that he gave her armor and troops to fight the English in France.
Meet women who exist under the most ferocious of patriarchal jackboots and who refuse to obey, even on the threat of death, the command not to surf.
Bangladesh: Bengal started out as a Hindu and Buddhist region and were probable mid-length enthusiasts. Women with boards, however, and as fabulous Bruno would say, is a “nish nish.” Not an easy place to be a gal. Marriage at twelve. Rampant domestic violence and the threat of rape everywhere from buses to blood banks.
But then there are women like Sobe Meheraz. She belongs to a surf club at Bangladesh’s only beach resort town, Cox’s Bazar. She is one of twelve surfer girls in a country of 160 million people.
Best quotes from an interview with PBS: “My friends surf. Once we surf, and I can ride a big wave, then I feel really good. That’s why I love surfing. When people see me, they say, wow, you rode such a big wave. Everyone watches me at the beach. Everyone says, good job, good job.”
Then there are her male counterparts who are studying in the madrassa, “The issue of girls surfing, to me, isn’t a good thing. Girls are meant to be covered, so that boys can’t see them. Girls have been told to stay out of boys’ sight. Girls are respectful beings, and they have been asked to stay hidden. So, if girls are surfing and go into the ocean, then a lot of people can see then. And that’s a sin. It’s not good.”
Iran: Ramin is a small Iranian village with a beach. Italian photojournalist Giulia Frigieri visited the town after seeing a trailer for Marion Poizeau’s 2014 documentary ¨Into the Sea¨ about Waves of Freedom, a not-for-profit organization that helps empower girls and women through surfing in the poorest parts of Iran.
Shahla Yasini is one surfer from the village. “Surfing is more than just a sport. I hope the scene will develop and that this generation will pass it on to the next. As women have always been struggling for their freedom, I want them to ride a wave to feel true freedom.”
Liberia: Liberia was founded in 1822 as an African paradise for freed slaves from the Americas. Americo-Liberians, as they called themselves, were psyched on their American heritage. They basically built the US south on African soil. They even had names like William Tolbert and Samuel Doe. And, just like they were viciously taught, the Americo-Liberians subjugated the indigenous population.
Revolts and Coups ensued, ravaging the country, and its women.
English writer Graham Greene wrote, ¨Liberian politics were like a crap game played with loaded dice.¨
According to International Federation for Human Rights, ¨Violence against women, including female genital mutilation, wife burning, dowry-related violence, rape, incest, wife battering, female foeticide and female infanticide, trafficking, early marriage, teenage pregnancy, summary ex-execution and prostitution, is a women violations and not only a moral issue but human rights violation according to the Geneva Conventions.¨
Surfing in Liberia is not new, been around for years. But women in the lineup is very fresh. In the past it was considered taboo for women to enter the lineup. That changed when three women from California visited in 2013. They taught local girls to surf.
Robertsport is home to a reeling, consistent left. During their fifth annual surfing contest, the Superintendent of Robertsport, Imam Mohammed Paasewe, was quoted as saying: “What you are doing is breaking local taboo. Never before have the women of Liberia dared to venture to the sea; that has been a place for the men. To see the Liberian women surfing is groundbreaking. What is transpiring is highly impressive and is paving a path towards equality. We hope to see more Liberian women take part in this great sport of Surfing.”
Palestine: Do we have to? Best way to review the Palestinian area is with Dr. Seuss’ The Zax. The point is profound. One north-going Zax was walking in an empty field. One south-going Zax was doing the same. They bump into each other. Both refuse to move.
So they stand there and wait….. and wait…. aaaaannnndd wait.
Twelve-year-old Gaza surfer Sabah Abu Ghanim couldn’t care less about any of the impediments, like religion or pollution or the country’s never-ending war with Israel. “I feel the sea belongs to me,” Sabah told The Guardian. “When I’m in the sea I feel content and happy. I put myself in God’s hands. I said my last prayers. And I surfed a very high wave.”
In a town as old as the first Christmas, sewage ain’t the only problem for a female surfer.
“When I am older, my society refuses to allow me to surf. It’s shameful. I will keep surfing until then, and then I will have to stop. I will be sad.”
When Sabah’s sixteen-year-old sister came to the beach to watch her surf, “I found her sad. I said, ‘You keep wishing to go back to the old days because then you could surf and swim.’ She said, ‘I wish those days would return.'”
New Jersey: Landmines litter the Jersey line-up, closeouts, shifting sands, small waves, rarely good form. But the real danger lies on land in the form of Americo-Italian gym studs. These second and third-generation offspring of the OG immigrants from The Boot possess enough hair gel to submerge Copenhagen, have personally kept the tanning bed industry alive and rock enough 10 carat gold to fit the grills of every rapper from Cali to Calcutta.
Best quote from ones of these soldiers when he told a girl she was ¨beautiful baby¨ and she responded with ¨Ewww, your disgusting!!¨
¨I GOTTA BETTA BODY THAN YOU BABY!!!¨