chapter  4
Surfing With Sharks
WithRoslyn Appleby
Pages 13

This chapter examines the political and cultural meanings of shark attacks in relation to gender and sexuality. Most of the recently recorded shark ‘attacks’ on humans in Australia involve male surfers, and narrative accounts of such events reflect a particular construction of masculinity in surfing culture. The chapter surveys statistical data on incidents of human-shark interactions and discusses media reporting of shark attacks, including an encounter between an Australian champion male surfer and a great white shark in a World Surfing League competition. The chapter argues that sensationalised media reports of these relatively rare encounters comprise a public pedagogy that demonises sharks, exaggerates the threat they pose to humans, and contrasts markedly with the comparative lack of media attention given to everyday incidents of gendered violence that threaten the safety and integrity of women in public and private domains.