chapter  8
20 Pages

Stories of surfing

Surfing, space and subjectivity/intersectionality
ByRebecca Olive, Georgina Roy, Belinda Wheaton

Over the past decades there has been a boom in women’s and girls’ interest in surfing as consumers and as participants, including increasing participation across different social classes and age groups, as well as minority ethnic groups. However, research has tended to focus on the experiences of young white men who short board, or the representation of the normative heterosexual female. This chapter attempts to explore the existing limitations of research about women and surfing. We draw on our own empirical research on female surfers in surfing spaces in the UK, California and Australia to consider the multiple ways of being a female surfer. Our research explores different surfing subjectivities, including different abilities, crafts, ethnicities, sexualities and ages. We advocate intersectionality as a productive research framework, which is a mode of feminist thinking that engages with differences between groups and between individuals and the dynamic process of marginalisation (and at times, privilege). Emerging from critiques by women of colour, as well as queer and trans, of the historically white, middle-class and heterosexual focus of feminism, intersectionality pushes researchers to account for more diversity and complexity in the scope of feminist work. An intersectional approach that interrogates the complexity and diversity of subjectivities has much to offer feminists exploring embodiment, difference and belonging in the dynamic context of surfing spaces. Our paper illustrates how intersectionalities play out in surfing spaces, and offers some of the shared experiences of belonging and exclusion for minority ethnic, lesbian and ‘local’ women. As feminist surf researchers, it is our aim with this chapter to invite a more deliberate delving into the possibilities of intersectionality within future analyses of surfing identities and culture.