Big wave surfers seek equity, not equality

Despite it being 2016, despite being nominated for a slew of big wave awards and despite women having their own stops on the WSL Big Wave Tour, there are still those in the surfing community who seem stuck in a 1950’s mentality toward female surfers.

A group of female big-wave surfers who call themselves the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing have submitted a proposal to the California Coastal Commission requesting a women’s division in this year’s Titans of Mavericks surf competition.

The group consists of four big-wave surfers: Bianca Valenti, Keala Kennelly, Andrea Moller and Paige Alms. You may remember that this year, Keala won the Barrel of the Year Award (an open gender category) while Andrea won the Women’s Best Overall Performance Award at the Billabong XXL Awards. That they are qualified to surf big waves is undoubtable.

Well, it is to most of us. Unfortunately the Titans of Mavericks organisers have so far failed to include a single woman in the invite only event after dropping the four women announced initially.

The Mavericks organisers have expressed interest in having women go head-to-head with men, but the women want their own division.

This isn’t about equality, it’s about equity. This image shows the difference.

Meme adapted from the original by Craig Froehle

The Mavericks organisers (and to be honest a bunch of keyboard warriors around the world) argue that if the women are good enough, they should compete against the men. In very few other sports in the world (I can’t think of a single one of the top of my head, but I’d love to hear of one) do women compete directly against men. There is a pretty simple reason for this. We’re not the same and, as the meme above shows, equality isn’t the same as equity.

The Coastal Commission next meeting is on November 2nd – 4th and the organisers have until October 31st to submit their application. You can let them know that women should get their own heat by emailing them here.