We all know that our culture reinforces the oppression of women (if you don’t know, you might want to look into that). Skate culture is a microcosm of society at large, the best and worst of it. Our words say that women should be treated with the same respect given to men, and that we men need to do our part to oppose the deep-rooted sexism that permeates our lives; that benefits us and oppresses women and girls. But the truth is that these oppressive attitudes, ideas, and tropes are alive and kicking, even within our scene, and we are all complicit.
The idea of this post is simple. Women are not objects. Their bodies are not for the visual and physical gratification of men—not commodities to be consumed—and their value comes from their existence as human beings, just like we expect of our own value. This notion is so simple yet so difficult for us to grasp, collectively. I invite you to start observing your underlying thoughts and attitudes on the sexism that is loud and clear all around us—especially where it benefits men at the expense of women.
If you’re supporting brands, people, or organizations that perpetuate the idea of women and women’s bodies as objects for consumption, you need to look at why. What’s that doing for you? Where did you learn and decide that it was okay? What kind of message is that sending to young boys and girls?
I need to check myself day-to-day, moment-to-moment, and I still have a lot of work to do. This becomes easier when we can become honest with each other about the problem, but that requires being honest with ourselves.
I was reading an article in the June edition of @stokemuch that was discussing racism in culture, and using examples from skateboarding. The writer acknowledges up-front that anti-black racism is nuanced, and is not just overt hatred of others, or use of the n-word.
As such, to be anti-racist takes vigilance, humility, and a desire to change oneself constantly in order to help undo some of the damage that racism does to marginalized populations; “policing your own thoughts and actions to combat any conditioned racism that may have found its way into your life”.
His sentiment that “most white skateboarders want to believe that skateboarding is a welcoming community of all sorts of outcasts, and most white skateboarders want to believe that they’re not racist” rings true to me. Taking it a step further, I—myself, a person of color—have to take on the work of anti-racism every day.
Our culture breeds internalized racism, internalized misogyny, meaning that we hold harmful attitudes toward groups that we very well may be a part of. It’s on all of us to check ourselves constantly and step back when we see the harm we’re causing, and make changes. Even when it comes at the cost of our comfort, our friendships, and the way we see ourselves in the world.
Talk to your friends, ask questions, and realize that it’s okay to make mistakes—no one does any of this work perfectly—but the actual work is acknowledging and finding ways of correcting these errors to make this community, and our entire culture, more inclusive, fair, and loving.