Tag Archives: sexism in sport

Sexist Snowboards

Using sex, and more specifically, the female form, to sell products is one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book, but you’d think in these times of supposed equality and respect for women, that it might have dwindled somewhat. But not in snowboarding it would appear.

sexist snowboards It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise given the way that women tend to be portrayed in the snowboarding media – predominantly as eye candy – but I’m always amazed at the number of new boards that emerge each year sporting graphics that quite blatantly objectify women.

What’s even more surprising is that it’s totally at odds with apparent efforts by the snowboarding media and certain brands over the past few years to recognise, represent and cater to the industry’s female contingent better.These companies seem to reach out to women with one hand, offering female specific products, media channels, and even the odd female team rider, and then slap them in the face with the other, with sexist advertising and degrading graphics on their boards.

Here are some of the worst culprits…

Sims Fader 2003

Sims Fader 2003

Back in the dark ages of 2003 Sims managed to get away with putting a topless image of porn star Jenna Jameson on their Fader snowboard, along with a series of other glamour models posing seductively. Classy eh?

Burton Love 2009

Burton Love snowboard 2009Six years later Burton featured Playboy centrefolds on its, equally tacky, Love series. While they stopped short of showing any full on boob-age, they were still the kind of images that belong on the top shelf rather than the top sheet of a snowboard. Needless to say the boards didn’t go down very well (not like that) and there were protests to have them banned.

Burton Custom Restricted 2014 

Burton Custom Restricted 2014Undeterred by the offence caused by the Love series five years previously, Burton decided to roll out the scantily clad ladies again for the 2014 restricted version of their ever-popular Burton Custom, which featured blurred images of swimwear models posing seductively on the beach. Admittedly not quite as risqué, but still pretty disrespectful nonetheless.

They must have decided that female objectification had become more acceptable in our increasingly liberal and “progressive” society, or perhaps they’d just run out of ideas? As Burton is hardly renowned for its creative graphics, let’s assume it’s the latter.

The fact that the boards were only available in certain shops just made them seem all the more seedy, as if they were some kind of illicit porn or sex toy. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the blurred design looks like it’s being viewed through the opaque plastic cover of a top shelf magazine?

Rome Artifact 2009

Rome Artifact 2009

It may not picture the slightest trace of naked female flesh but the 2009 Rome Artifact manages to be even more offensive than the ones that do with its neon light strip club graphics and “LIVE NUDE GIRLS” or “BENT OVER BABES” emblazoned on the base. Seriously? 

Reprobate Tap Her 

Reprobate Tap Her

I had to do a double take when I saw this board in the window of a snowboard shop in Morzine. Not so much because of the graphic, as it’s hardly unusual to see a semi clad woman gracing the topsheet of a snowboard, but more because of the name. Personally, as a woman, I find the expression “I’m going to tap her” pretty offensive, but given the brand name, I guess that’s their objective. Fortunately their puerile attempt to appeal to snowboarding’s laddish contingent appeared to fail, as I’ve never seen or heard of them since.

Lib Tech Jamie Lynn Phoenix

Lib Tech Phoenix Jamie Lynn series

I have to confess that I feel a little conflicted with this one, as I actually really like the graphics on the Jamie Lynn series of Lib Tech boards. The images are more abstract and arty than the gratuitous lads mag style “artwork” seen on some other boards and I think they can legitimately be considered works of art as opposed to mindless sexism.

Lib Tech Deflower 2014/15

Lib Tech Deflower 2014/15

Jamie Lynn has a real thing for the voluptuous blue nude, and here she is again on his 2014/15 signature board, except this time with no head, super-sized nipples and a flower not quite covering her lady bits. I’m sure Germaine Greer would have a lot to say about this image, and the fact that it’s called the Deflower makes it hard to refute any allegations of sexism. As I said before, I like Jamie Lynn and his designs for Lib Tech, but I think I’d probably have to side with Germaine on this one.

Bataleon Camel Toe 2013/14 (limited edition)

Bataleon Camel Toe 2013/14

Well done Bataleon, we see what you did there. You’ve got to admire their audacity, but the graphics on this board are wrong on so many levels. It’s obviously tongue-in-cheek, but that doesn’t stop it being pretty degrading to women, and er, transgenders.

Yes Great Boobs

Yes Great Boobs

Yes managed to justify decorating this snowboard with nothing but, pretty fake looking, tits by donating the proceeds to help breast cancer survivors “experience the life-changing effects of snowboarding through Retreat Yourself camps in Colorado”. While I commend cause, it seems like a pretty tasteless way of going about it.

Gnu Pickle Stallion 13/14

Gnu Pickle Stallion 2013/14A couple of years ago Gnu eventually hit back at all this flagrant sexism on behalf of the ladies with the delightfully tongue-in-cheek Pickle Stallion that features naked male models in ludicrous poses, on skis no less. Their modesty is protected by pixelated strips, along with their faces, which are obviously of no interest to us girls when there’s a naked torso on display.

It’s a great parody that manages to subvert the notion of sexual objectification and ridicule the offenders. The strategically positioned banana logo is a particularly nice touch.

Lobster Jib Board STD

Lobster Jib Board STD 2011/12

The Helgasons are hardly renowned for being saintly and subtle so it’s no surprise that their range of Lobster snowboards feature some pretty controversial graphics. However, last year’s special edition Jib Board STD was offensive even by their standards. Apparently the board carried a safe sex message to the kids that “STDs will fuck you up”, but that wasn’t enough to prevent it from being banned in several shops. I’m not sure it’s been proven that you can catch genital teeth from sleeping around…

Union Danny Kass bindings – 12/13

Union Danny Kass bindings 2012/13Snowboards aren’t the only culprits. Boobs have even made it onto bindings thanks to Union and Danny Kass. At least the modesty of one of the pair, of bindings, is protected by a little T-shirt, although, as it bears the logo “We Make Party” I’m not sure whether that makes it any less chauvinistic…

Flux RK Visuals bindings 2015/16

Flux RK Visual bindings 2015/16

And it looks like Flux have gone one step further by featuring a close up of a woman’s crotch and thighs on their RK Visual bindings for next season. Awesome.

DC Ply 2012/13, Nitro Addict 2014/15, Capita DOA (most of them), Salomon Man’s Board (all of them) … The list of sexist snowboards goes on and on…

sexist snowboards

However, none are as bad as the Anti Hero Allen Before & After skateboard deck…

Anti Hero Allen Before & After skateboard deck

I guess they do say that snowboarding borrows a lot from skateboarding. Perhaps sexist graphics are just another example?

I’m not a raving feminist or feel personally affronted by any of these designs, (ok, maybe some) but what does make me uncomfortable is the fact that they are representative of this male dominated industry and the issues associated with that. How will women ever attain equal recognition in snowboarding, be that with prize money, funding or sponsorship, when we’re still being presented as nothing more than boobs on boards.

At the end of the day, the market is driven by consumers, and these kind of graphics wouldn’t continue to emerge year after year if people weren’t buying them. So come on guys, show us some respect. Female shredders want to be taken seriously as riders, and not as eye candy to decorate your snowboards and the pages of magazines. There are loads of rad graphics out there that display a lot more depth and imagination, so why not leave the pictures of boobs and bums on the bedroom walls of teenage boys and get yourself a grown up snowboard. And besides, if you want to impress a girl on the slopes, riding around with sexist images on your snowboard is probably the worst way to go about it.

What do you think of these boards, and the representation of women in snowboarding generally?

 

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Sexism in sport: Is women’s snowboarding fairly represented in the media?

While flicking through Stylist Magazine the other day, I stumbled upon a campaign that they’re running to end sexism in sport, and more specifically the bias in the media towards men’s sport. The following, statistics have led them to launch a petition calling for the issue to be discussed in the House of Commons, after an initial request to the Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport, to launch an enquiry into the coverage of women’s sport in the UK, was denied.

  •  Only 5% of sports media coverage features women
  • For every 53 articles written about sporting men, there is one about a woman
  • Women’s sport receives only 0.5% of the total sponsorship income into sport (men get 62.1%)

Kelly Clark at the Winter X Games Europe 2012

I found these statistics both shocking, yet unsurprising. Being a female snowboarder, I’m more than accustomed to being involved in a male dominated sport. However, while there are slight differences between men and women’s snowboarding (there is much debate as to whether or not women should ride the same courses as men), they do receive a similar, although not equal, level of exposure in the media when it comes to competitions. This is largely thanks to the standard of today’s female riders. With the likes of Kelly Clark going as big as some of the men, they are just as incredible to watch as their male counterparts.

Sadly the balance isn’t quite as even in other areas of snowboarding media and women don’t feature too heavily in the majority of mainstream edits, films or magazines, all of which are a fundamental part of the sport today.

However, women within the sport are starting to raise their own profile and there are a handful of production companies, organisations and websites which cater to the (not unsizeable) female snowboarding population, with more emerging all the time.

Cooler Magazine, part of the massive action sports media group, Mpora, which publishes Whitelines and Onboard snowboarding magazines, has been providing action sports loving women with their own dedicated magazine for several years now.

New on the scene is Coven Magazine, an independent quarterly for women which combines action, art and adventure. Issue two is just out and features everything from women’s surfing, skateboarding and motocross, to fashion, art and a fair trade safari in Kenya. Check out the website to view the magazine online or find your nearest stockist, to pick up a hard copy.

While the big female orientated brands, such as Roxy, have been producing promotional edits featuring their sponsored riders for a while, female riders haven’t had much of a presence in full length snowboarding films. However, this is changing thanks to production companies such as Lipstick Productions who last year released the awesome, full length film ‘5 more minutes… please?!’ which features only female European riders, such as Basa Stevulova, Aimee Fuller, Sina Candrian, Conny Bleicher, Aline Bock and Tini Gruber. They recently released the teaser for the follow up, ‘Eurotic’ and it looks like it’s going to be every bit as good as the last!

Some other sites and organisations which represent female boarders are Women in BoardsportsGirly LegsPowder Room, and Chix Shred. And then there are the brands such as Roxy, NikitaVolcom and Burton who also run sites dedicated to female shredders.

So, perhaps female snowboarders are fairly well represented in the media compared to other sports, such as football and rugby. But this is undoubtedly testament to the tenacious female riders who are determined to go as big as the men and refuse to be relegated to easier courses (Canadian rider, Spencer O’Brien has been quite outspoken on the subject – see her blog post on the subject), and also thanks to female riders in the media who are determined to give themselves, and their heroines, a voice.

What do you think? Are women in board sports well represented in the media compared to other sports, or do you think they should have more of a presence? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts and get a discussion going…

Cheers!

Cat

If you want to support Stylist’s ‘Fair Game’ campaign, click here to sign their petition.