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post #27 of Old 04-19-2013
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Re: Is Sailing Sexist?

Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
"Pray Tell", very Connecticut.

I have to retract my comment, as I looked above and must recall comments made in another thread. There are a couple going right now. Many women are not shy about posting critical comments about men. Although, it usually a seagull attack. They swoop in, crap all over the place, then fly away never to be seen again. In fact, I bet I could find more male bashing in "her-sailnet" than I would female bashing in all the other forums combined. If there was a "his-sailnet" we would probably catch up.
I'm from California and haven't heard the "pray tell" expression used in the two years I've been in CT. Maybe its sumbliminal.

Sexism isn't about "bashing" except in its cruder forms, just like racism isn't simply about trashing people not like oneself. And you can trash / bash people in ways that don't fall into the realm of either -ism.

Where one crosses the line is when one makes sweeping generalizations about other groups - positive or negative - or when one creates or perpetuates an environment where members of those other groups don't feel safe or welcome. What started this thread was the observation that the title of a particular book implied that a woman's role on a boat is predominantly supportive - i.e., that skippers are men and first mates are women. And the question was: Is the title sexist? The thread then veered (or backed) into the larger question of whether sailing, itself, is a sexist environment. My position is "No" to the first question and "Yes" to the second.

But sailing is sexist to the extent that it reflects the larger society in which it takes place, where women continue to be economically disadvantaged, compared to men, and are disproportionately responsible for the kinds of tasks - e.g., child raising, housekeeping, etc. - that present obstacles to sailing, in general, and boat ownership in particular.

Beyond that, in the racing community with which I'm intimately familiar, women tend to occupy their traditional "roles" of wives/girlfriends of men who go out and commune with one another on the water. The more serious the racing program, the less likely you are to find women on the boat.

However, let me say that the advent of sport boats like the Melges 24, Melges 20, J-70, Open 6.50, etc., has opened the door to more women at every level, for a variety of reasons, and this is a good thing. At the same time, when I raced in the Melges 24 circus for several years, one could hear no shortage of disparaging / crude remarks from men about the top woman skipper on that circuit - i.e., it was okay to have women on the 24 in "supporting" roles (to help make weight targets), but not so okay (with some) to have them in leadership roles.

And, at the risk of appearing ungenerous, your own remark comparing women's infrequent critiques of men to seagull attacks, strikes me as rather problematic, along the lines I've noted above.

In closing, I'm stepping onto a new boat for AYC Spring Series and I don't think there are any women on the boat. And there weren't any women on the last big boat I crewed, on which the conversation was frequently crude when the topic of women (or gays or minorities) came up. Contrast this to the Laser fleet I sail in, where women (and juniors) are well-represented.

We deal in lead, friend.
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