Women’s Surfing: More Than Meets The Eye
In our misty corner of this blue planet, the female surf scene thrives, from professional surfers, photographers, entrepreneurs, and competitions. Women have truly broken into the male centric world of surfing, casting a whole new light on the sport, and in diverse ways which is dependent on place. Doing this Pacific Northwest style, in the temperate air and fog, is the Queen of the Peak all women surf competition, which is running from September 27th-30th 2018, its ninth year in a row. This competition is all about “showcasing and celebrating the amazing female talent we have on the west coast. Women from all over show up to be part of this event, inspiring, encouraging and celebrating their love for surfing, the ocean and the community.”
Just as female surfing flourishes, it’s also apparent the number of incredible women activists on the coast, which brings one particular wave of feminism and environmental theory to mind. In the 1970’s ecofeminism was conjured to describe the connections between women and the natural world. This theory posits that there is a direct correlation between the oppression and exploitation of women and the environment. Both women (as well as minority groups) and earth’s systems have been seen as infinite resources to fuel growth in the industrial age, which understands growth as linear. The flip side of this theory uses the connection between women and the environment as one of the root solutions to solving ecological and social injustice, as these afflictions are ultimately one in the same. As scholar Ynestra King states, ““ecofeminism is about connectedness and wholeness”.
How does surfing fit into the ecofeminist picture? Surfing undoubtedly connects people to the sea, and is a sport bridges the human-nature divide, as one rides a wave, it is clear there is no separateness. Women's surfing in particular continues to break down barriers around gender, geography, culture and economy, with women surf camps popping up and thriving all over the world, from Iran to El Salvador. This movement is empowering females and minority groups all over the world, helping individuals to claim their voice, to express creativity through the movement and form of the sport, as well as gain inspiration that is fuel for action in protecting and restoring the great blue sea.
Within this evolution, what makes the Pacific Rim scene special? Krissy Montgomery, owner of Surf Sister and organizer of Queen of the Peak shared that this area is raw and rugged, and the women here aren’t afraid to be a part of that. Unlike warm locales where people can “look the part” but not necessarily be an authentic part of the community, here, once you are in a wetsuit, there’s no pretending. Queen of the Peak honours this conscious community of women surfers, who are also activists, entrepreneurs, artists, gardeners, politicians, mothers, sisters, aunties - individuals who are all passionate about this place, and through surfing, can tap into the reality of this landscape, which is endlessly electrifying. And as ecofeminism would extend to say, the best kind of female surf competition is also a celebration of the ocean, beaches and waves, and brings along everybody for the journey. When discussing this with Krissy, she affirmed this idea, “it’s a contest for women, but an event for everyone.”
One again, Surfrider is stoked to be present at the competition, lowering the amount of waste produced, providing education on coastal stewardship, offering ways to get involved in programs and campaigns, healthy treats, refreshments, activities for groms, and ensuring the beach is sparklier than before the event took place! Tofino Yoga will also be offering free beach yoga for attendees! We look forward to seeing everyone at the event, which will once again strengthen our community of stoke and increase our zest for our biggest supporter, the ocean. The winner of the longboard division in the 2017 Queen of the Peak, Leah Dawson, has probably said it best: “If someone watches me ride a wave, I want them at the end of it to know that I’m in love with the ocean.” A sport and competition is soulful when it can make you love yourself, humanity, and the planet more than ever before. Now, that’s something we can all rejoice in!