A few weeks ago, while we were on holiday dodging beautiful but oh so eerie jellyfish, an online commenter posted this at the foot of our Does sex actually sell surfing piece:
What could be more sexist than COOLER magazine? A mag that chooses content solely based on gender…
And I thought it was a good question that deserved a properly considered answer.
[On a side point eagle eyed readers will notice the commenter cunningly called themselves Sam Haddad using “firstname.lastname@example.org” as their email. Aside from the fact I was always a yahoo girl before gmail’s promise of targeted weight loss ads post pregnancy lured me in ha! it kinda baffles me as to why they used my name and not their own as it’s a fair enough question. But the internet does prompt sane people to do strange things so we’ll ponder it no more and get back to the original ask…]
Why do we just feature females on the site? The odd My Hero and tenuous topical feature aside, if sexism is dictionary-defined as “discrimination based on gender” then we’re being sexist right? Hmm not quite and here’s why:
The second part of the definition is “especially discrimination against women” as historically even the most anti-feminist would surely agree women have kinda had a raw deal when it comes to equality so while we’re still playing catch up we might need a little helping hand in the form of spaces that deliberately promote women such as this site and its magazine incarnation.
Before I started at Cooler I read unisex surf and snow mags and didn’t quite get the need for a female-focused title. I thought it was a bit cringe and combative as it was surely about being a rad surfer or snowboarder not a rad “girl” surfer or snowboarder but the more I looked at it the more I realised those unisex magazines and the sites they evolved into weren’t really as gender-neutral as I thought.* Even if they weren’t running blatantly sexist and really quite creepy content like this stalker-style Alana bum footage, which btw has definitely become more prevalent in these link-chasing days, women riders were often invisible or practically anyway in terms of coverage which not only affects their careers in terms of sponsor love but also provides a lack of decent role models for the girls taking part in those sports.
So that’s the argument for women only action sports web sites and magazines but are we discriminating against guys in our content? I don’t think so as we never diss them or run pictures of say surfer boys looking hot, even though there are many that do and it would send our traffic to Mars and back, as by objectifying guys in that way we’d be just as bad as the dude sites we often criticise for their myopic representing of women.
But enough of our keyboard clacking what do you think? Was my evil twin Sam Haddad right are we sexist, or have we convinced you otherwise? Tell us below the line or on our facebook or twitter and we’ll round up the best comments later in the week.
For more Question Times head here.