While skateboarding may not be against women, it is most definitely a ‘boys club’ in the traditional sense. Go to any skatepark in the world and you will be met with young boys just learning how to manoeuvre the concrete waves and forty year old men reliving their youth. Groups of friends will be making sure that everyone is pushing their limits as this kind of team dynamic is what skating is built upon. What you will not see however, is a big group of girls enjoying the skatepark together. Now don’t get me wrong, you might get the odd girl skating the park, but more often than not, she will be with a group of guys or even by herself. Catherine Penman, a skater from Edinburgh, saw the sheer determination of skaters and had to get involved.
She said, “ I got into skating whilst I watched a competition at my local park – there was one girl skating in it and she was just so determined to land this trick and the fortitude and commitment she had to just do a dangerous and untimely pointless trick just expressed how clearly she must just love skating for skating’s sake,”
It would be easy enough to say that this imbalance is simply down to the fact that girls can not handle the harsh slams that skaters take – this is obviously wrong though, and the lack of girls in skateboarding must be down to more deep seated issues within the community. The fact that the underside of many decks down the years have been printed with sexualised images of women on them may have been an issue for some girl skaters but not for Lauren Moffat, a 21 year old skater from glasgow.
“I never really cared about the images of girls on decks, it’s not as if every single skateboard has some derogatory image on it. I think less girls get into skateboarding because it’s not a very girly thing to do, simple as,” Moffat told us.“ Unless you’re talking about ballet or some shit like that, then you’re always going to see more boys into it than girls.”
The skateboarding scene has seen an influx of female professional skaters coming to the forefront of the skate community recently. People like Lizzy Armanto who recently won the Van Doren bowl competition and Lacey Baker who has been making waves as a street skater. These girls who are pushing the boundaries of modern female skateboarding could be the role models that people need to get more girls into skating;
“I think we need to be showing more girls people like Lacey Baker because she’s badass!,” Lauren Moffat said excitedly. “You can’t tell me that little girls wouldn’t think that Lacey Baker is cool. It’s difficult obviously – especially over here – because skateboarding isn’t that big anyway. But if you show little girls that there are women out there, pushing the boundaries of skating, then surely you’re going to get more girl skaters.”
What can be done to get more girls into skateboarding? Promoting skating as a more gender neutral activity would be the first step. Thrasher magazine has been in publication for thirty years and has had only a handful of girls on the cover in that time. If we want more girls getting involved then we have to show people that girls who skate are important to the industry, rather than just a never ending line of male skaters on every cover of every mag!
Some people’s attitude to girls in skateboarding is definitely evidence of a wider problem we have in society. As long as the girls who shred keep doing their thing and influencing a new generation, surely this macho shtick that surrounds skateboarding could be and should be on its way out!