There are images of women in the skater community that are meant to be rebellious or humorous which have counter productive side effects. Instead of making skaters have a laugh and identify as a tight group these pictures makes some skaters feel uncomfortable and excluded. The only skaters I have met have been nice, intelligent and including. Still these motifs are present within the skating community. Therfore I ask of you to make sure that you know what your values are.
What motifs do I mean and why are they a problem?
Imitating a subculture
Some skateboard companies imitate the truly misogynist gangsta sub culture because it is cool. The motifs of women originate from the view of women similar to that expressed in hip hop lyrics. This is a culture where masculine status is built on oppressing women.
I can recognize the need for people to rebel and to identify with the underdog perspective of the outlaws. However, I think many skaters would not use these boards or motifs if they genuinely thought about what the images communicate about their values.
Simply being provocative
The need to provoke and to rebel within the skateboarding community generates images of women that seem to be printed just to get a counter reaction in the form of uncomfortable laughter or making ”boring mainstream people” upset. These pictures range from pornographic pictures of women posing half naked to pictures showing women not as proper humans but as objects who can be used by men. These pictures are accompanied by many other types of provoking pictures sometimes of an adolescent nature and sometimes generally violent.
However, these pictures of women becomes an obstacle for women and girls in the skateboarding world because if they are meant to provoke the effect is polarizing men and women into different stand points, if they are meant as pornographic it changes the whole setting of the skate scene into one where porn is consumed in public. Either way it is difficult just to shake it off if you are a young girl or the only woman skating.
Women as ornament
The third category is the saddest and coldest way of excluding women from the skateboarding community. It is not even meant to be provoking. It is just bringing about the fact that girls and women are not needed as active parts in this community. These are the guys using women and girls as pure decorative ornaments like flowers or ”hello kitty”. Even if you make an ”artsy” naked woman who skateboards, she is still there only as a decoration to please men, not as an active part of this sport. One company was so convinced that the word ”girl” wasn’t needed within this industry, sport or community that they simply kidnapped the word and made it their trade mark. Depicting women as passive and men as active is a message that is read by both boys and girls and if the industry keeps doing this there is no way the rest of us can change this.
I can understand what makes the industry pull it off but I can not understand why people keep buying the boards. Skateboarders, make sure you understand your own values. Make sure that you know if you see women as equal human beings. If you come to this conclusion you consequently need to act in a way that communicates your values. This means you can not buy these boards and it means that you will have to start talking to other skaters about this.