Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Feminism? well, I don't think so

This morning I read about an all-girl crew competing in the Sydney-Hobart yacht race in December. This one of the tough racing classics and there is certainly nothing idle about taking part.

I have odd feelings about women and sailing, specifically yacht racing (being one who has done it on and off over the last 25 years).  For years women in sailing have been fighting to be recognised alongside men, but now that there are far more girls and women taking part (I don't know any actual statistics, but anyone in sailing will vouch for it), I keep hearing about 'women only' events, all-girl crews etc. and it makes me feel rather uncomfortable.

Apart from the fact that I can't think of anything worse that spending extended periods of time with just women, what are they trying to prove?  Any intelligent person knows that women are as capable as men at some things, better than them at some things, and not as good as them at some things.  On a boat this might mean that where women lack brawn, we may be better at multi tasking eg. with 5 bits of rope to pull at the same time, or noticing something that's about to go wrong. We're different, it's evolution, get used to it.  Personally I would much rather sail on a mixed crew.

Why, after all the years of seeking equality in yacht racing, do women go out on their own and make a big deal of it?   I can just imagine the uproar if somebody decided to hold a 'men only' sailing event....!!  An acquaintance of mine organises a women only regatta, and nothing would make me take part in it.  I admire her for the hard work that goes into it etc., it's just the whole 'women only' thing that goes against the grain for me.

So, going back to this All-Girl Crew (that's what they imaginatively call themselves), they are doing the race all in the good cause of ovarian cancer awareness which is fine. But I really wish they hadn't used the words 'sisterhood' and 'unbreakable bond' on their website.   It made me feel a bit ick, to be honest.  And don't even ask my opinion on the front page picture.


  1. As usual, you speak my thoughts so succinctly. I long for the day when we realize, without gender bias, that it just takes the unique skill-sets of all involved (all shapes, sizes, genders) to make it work. Give me an ape to haul up the spinnaker, and an nymph to trim it ... and I don't give a damn which one is male and which one is female as long as they make the boat go fast.

  2. I totally agree. Isn't Feminism about treating men and women equally and the same? This is gender stereotyping of the worst kind, and as you say everyone would be doing their nut if this was an old male group.

    An all girl crew is the opposite of feminism, it's trying to highlight the differences between genders rather than pulling everyone together and saying gender doesn't matter.

  3. Well said - genderism rampant!

    Of course I had to race off and look at the front page picture on their website... euwwwww :(

  4. Why do they make a big deal out of it I imagine because there is still not equality in yacht racing. I imagine there are still men who do not see it as a womans place, still men who feel its OK joking about a woman breaking a nail pulling on rigging or make sure you don't crash the thing while parking or when it works out that a woman actually is stronger and has the brawn to pull that rope they attack her femininity with comments of built like a bloke ect . When on board a yacht you are classed as one of the guys and are expected to let sexist comments just glide over your head ( I remember many a wane smile in a design technology class where I was the only girl)

    Why do woman create women only events so woman feel safe and can practice their skills without someone saying you are unsuitable for that job just based on your gender and to encourage more women to give it a go. If there was no inequality an all woman crew probably would not turn any heads and just be accepted as readily as an all male crew as I imagine that there are at these events.

    I do agree that I do find the whole sisterhood, girlpower tag lines which are often added to these groups annoying though.

  5. Oh.....don't EVEN get me started.

    *shaking head*

    It IS nice to know I'm not the only one who wants to hand over the spoon and tell 'em to just gag me with it and get it over with...


  6. i think one good thing that could come out of an all-girl sailing crew would be a nude calendar in support of their cause.

  7. @Chibi: I have never raced with men with that attitude - maybe I have been lucky (and don't have blonde hair or sail in a bikini), but if I did I'd be off that boat and onto another one. I think the men that think like that are just twats who worry about being shown up by a girl, and I'm sure they are found in other male dominated sports such as motor racing etc. too (will let you know when I get to try it!).

  8. You're lucky but unfortunately it happens Dull Boys comment highlights the point well its a flippant comment that the professional woman in male dominated sports probably come across all the time. I would be interested to know why your acquaintance thinks there is a need for a female only regatta.

  9. I will ask her!

    I have learned to ignore flippant comments, getting wound up about them only feeds the flame!

  10. To me it shrieks of some media guy wanting them to have 'an angle'. Having sailed a lot with just me and husband, I need his brawn and he needs my colour vision.

    They could have got someone (of whatever sex) to write their website so that it made sense, some of it reads like it has been translated into english using Google!

  11. I only really commenting on this idea of feminism as there had been a BIG discussion (can't write big big enough for the blow up that happened there) about such things on the skepchick site

    Please do ask your friend and post what she says as I would be interested as I have no real experience with sailing and women, my comments are just from the reasoning of a woman who has been in a male dominated situation. Had to endure the teacher of my design lessons saying wench instead of winch for a whole lesson. Hell if I had the attitude I have now I would be dragging his ass into a disciplinary hearing or at least threatening too. We should not have to ignore flippant comments about objectifying woman as they should not be said at all.

    Feeding the flame sometime the fields have to burn for new things to grow.


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