Ski like a girl.
About 8 years ago my brother and my husband were talking on a chair lift. My husband commented “I’m taller than Nyree, I weigh more than her and I’m stronger than her. Why can’t I ski faster than her” to which my brother in his very, very dry deadpan manner said, “12 years of ski school”.
I laughed when my brother told me that, but then later I sighed. Why did my husband, who got on skis for the second time at age 33, believe he should be better than I am at a sport I’ve participated in since I was knee high to a grasshopper? Why did that conversation make me think of the phrase ski like a girl? Why does the phrase ski like a girl have an implied negativity and the implicit assumption that girls are worse at Snowsports than boys? Why the hell are we still talking about gendered rubbish like this in 2022?
Last night I read an article on www.outsideonline.com titled “Why I want my daughter to ski like a girl’ which reminded me of the above conversation. Miss Snow It All, from www.snowsbest.com started the movement #showusdagirls in 2018 after noticing a lack of women skiing & riding in PR for Australia’s main snow resorts. We all know if she can see it, she can be it. There is a second version of that though: if she hears it, she’ll internalise it. 2 weeks ago, I listened as a man told his friend on the chairlift, ‘you’re skiing like a pussy’. That’s why we’re still talking about this.
I’ve heard the term “mum skier” used, and it’s always derogatory. It’s the extension of ‘ski like a girl’. That’s an extension of ‘don’t be a pussy’. Shut that front door. Peeps, we need to school this immature, misogynistic and frankly piss weak scared gendered language out of people we interact with.
I’m a mum. I was a girl. I am a skier. My snowplough may not get perfect scores from the APSI, but I can short turn like a cursive S and rip the Summit top to bottom in crud snow in a respectable manner. Many of the skiers and snowboarders I admire the most and gush over for their technical skills are mums and women, all of whom regularly leave men in their wake on the hill.
You want to show the world how tough you are? How good you are? Be a woman.
Ski on days when you’re battling fatigue because you’ve worked 10 days in a row, 12 hours a day. Board on days when you’re struggling to stay upright because you’re cramping so bad that in a tennis match Pat Rafter would be given a medical time out break and been attended to by a physio. Skate on days when you’re exhausted from menopause symptoms that see your internal temperature fluctuate so drastically that one minute you’re piling on woollen layers and the next you’re stripping down to a singlet. Walk past the still available posters in those last bastions of male stronghold workplaces showing a woman with her tits out leaning against a set of skis, a snowboard, or a snowmobile provocatively. Pretend you can’t hear when you’re on chair with the Bro’s who talk about “Chick with Stix, should be chicks s*#^ing on our dicks”, because it’s unsafe to verbally refute a group of three men when you are alone. That’s strength. That’s toughness.
Ski and Ride like a girl doesn’t mean what the Bro’s think it does. The Bro’s haven’t realised that that phrase has been turned into an anthem for women and girls around the world and represents just how tough you must be as a female in this world.
The Bro’s haven’t realised that while they’re obsessed with uploading footage of their mediocre shred on their YouTube channel, women and girls are just getting on with being better at their sport.
The Bro’s haven’t realised that their gendered misogynistic language articulates their fears about their place in the world and their role in society louder than Trump shouting into his own echo chamber about his stolen election.
The Bro’s haven’t realised they are rejecting and repressing the strength and fortitude of the women who raised them for the misguided assumption that to be sexually and emotionally attractive to women they must be rude, aggressive and demeaning. That they’ve bought into the misguided and flawed notion that being a man requires showing a woman she is less than because he’s not figured out where his self-worth comes from yet. That being professionally successful means demeaning the women you work with.
Skiing and riding like a mum or a girl aren’t a weakness. It demonstrates a woman who gets out an enjoys her time on snow after decades of putting her leisure and pleasure after that of her family. It denotes a woman that has had the patience to wait for her time to come after decades of working to support others before thinking of lessons and time for herself. It shows a girl who must push past actual barriers to participation and do want she loves irrelevant of the ingrained patriarchy. Ski and ride like a mum or a girl? Hell yeah she does.
Try and keep up.
First published in This Week In Falls Creek & Mt Beauty, 29/07/2022
Photo of Falls Creek Women from left, clockwise: Fiona Smith, Mimi Bennet, Danielle Brookes, Christa Smit, Noelene Lee & Kerry Lee Dodd, Nyree Fiddes, Jodi Spice, Lisa Allport. Centre Photo: Kendra Etherton.