chapter  3
20 Pages

ird-Wave Feminism, the Global Economy, and Women’s Surng: Sport as Stealth Feminism in Girls’ Surf Culture


Women’s and girls’ sport marks one arena where the contradictions between and reformulations of terms like modern and postmodern, second-and thirdwave feminism, and subcultural and post-subcultural most reveal themselves. Girls who have grown up with the opportunity to play sport in the 1980s and 1990s-perhaps particularly “extreme” sports such as mountain climbing, snowboarding, and surng that until very recently remained coded as “male”—have experienced gender and identities in very dierent ways from women of earlier generations. Instead of having to renounce femininity to prove themselves athletes, these women assume their athleticism and strength and therefore demonstrate less concern about issues of gender. However, the same commodication of athleticism in both traditional and nontraditional sports that helped gain wider acceptance for female athletes now limits the potential of sport as a politically transformative space. Taking the sport of surng as a test case in its shi from a female-hostile, primarily “male” space to a sport whose iconography and industry is increasingly inclusive of women, the chapter asks why and to what extent female surfers are being utilized as a sign for the positive aspects of the global economy, and what eect that usage has on popular representations of women’s surng practice-especially as these relate to larger problems within feminist theory, such as the divide between conventionally “second-” and “third wave” approaches.