I hadn’t written anything about this because I actually didn’t know where to begin.
I’m busy working on a piece on the greater issue, which is not, in my opinion, just equal pay in WSL contests, but the long history of sexism in surfing that has informed opinion of what is okay and what is not.
But in the meantime let me say two things. (well, maybe two and three quarter things)
This is not new. And perhaps I am part of the problem for not writing something a year ago when I noticed it at the City Surf Series? I heard someone say on Cape Talk that we have a ‘subculture of gratitude’, kind of ‘Yay, they included us!!’ so perhaps that is why women do not speak out? I screen-shot the pictures of prize money inequality that slipped past us in 2017 with hardly anyone noticing. Zoom in. It’s all there.
This is not the go to policy in South Africa.
- Surfing South Africa and Stand Up Paddling South Africa pay equal prize money to contestants in competitions they run. The Ballito Pro (and the City Surf Series) is licensed to the WSL because, besides the prize money, the competitors earn points that drive them up the rankings in the direction of the Championship Tour (CT). QS stands for Qualifying Series, the athletes are shooting to qualify for the elite CT.
- Bos Iced Tea (a sponsor at the Ballito Pro) has committed to filling the pay gap and equalizing the prize money.
- The media informs a lot of subconscious opinion on gender issues across the board, but the surf media in South Africa has, in my opinion, shifted toward less objectification and greater inclusivity.
You may wonder why I care, why does this issue touch my heart (because we all know I, Queen of Kooks, surfer of a SUP, am NEVER going to personally ever encounter the problem of not getting enough prize money)
Well, I grew up in the time when popular culture suggested surfing was for boys and beach vibes were for girls. Lucky for me, I grew up in a family of skilled swimmers, sailors and windsurfers with access to some of the best water sport environments in the world. So while I sat on the waveriding sidelines until I was almost too old, I did learn other water sports. But many of my peers did not. I want my girls to grow up knowing that they can participate in any water sport they want to, without being marginalised because of gender.
The End (For now)