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Old 05-06-2013
JennyWren JennyWren is offline
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Re: Is Sailing Sexist?

Hello. First post here, long one to make it worthwhile.

I don’t “get out much” in that we rarely race, don’t use clubs and marinas and sail on our own or with only a few friends. We don’t have much to do with other sailors, so my experience probably isn’t typical.

Most of the sexism encountered personally is attitudinal over boat ownership and knowledge of one’s own boat - not something that has practical consequences, just irritating.

For some – male and female - it seems women only own boats when there is absolutely no boyfriend, husband, brother or male business partner within cooee that ownership can be attributed to. They also automatically view a boat co-owned by a male and a female as “his”.

I own our boats with my husband. In spite of one of them being entered in a particular event at a particular club for many years in both names every single time, he was not that long ago publicly noted as the sole owner with nil acknowledgement of me. I don’t think anybody thought, “let’s make sure we ignore the female owner because wives don't count” but that said, I doubt ownership of a boat co-owned by two men would have been attributed to one name only.

More than once, though it’s a while ago now, I was asked questions about this boat in my husband’s absence, which I answered, only to have the same men ask my husband the same questions about two minutes later. Hardly stops me getting on with life, but the dismissiveness is annoying. Things may be better now, a few years hence ... don't get out enough now to tell.

I note Sal Paradise acknowledges his wife’s 50-50 partnership but feels the boat is his because he does the work. Some comments below are prompted by this, but not aimed at or in criticism of him - everyone’s circumstances and views are different, and this is just my take on that issue.

My husband does the bulk of work on our boats too. He’s the lifelong sailor; I am not. However, he/we only have the boats in the first place because my job pays for them and also buys him the freedom to be primary boat hand. He for his part works long and hard to minimise our maintenance costs and does jobs/makes things that would otherwise cost us thousands. At times I’ve put up with employment situations that if it weren’t for what the boats mean to him would have had me walking out of my profession and settling for significantly lower pay. It’s not “my” money because I earn it, it’s “our” family income, but whether or not we have enough of it to remain boat owners with his time free for maintenance is mostly down to me.

He’s stronger and fitter than I, yes, but not built like a front row forward and there’s enough jobs that need my help. But that’s not the point – I earned and owned our boats well before I ever picked up a sanding block or helped re-step a mast.

(As does – in my view – a non-sailing partner who supports family income being spent on boats instead of retirement savings or things of mutual interest.)

The odd man has tried to take over from me on board, as has the odd man ashore when spouse and I are getting to and from boats. I can tell when a man “gets” that I normally manage for myself and he just wants be useful, and that’s kind and appreciated. When he starts giving me instructions, assuming husband knows what to do but I must be in need of direction from some random male I’ve never clapped eyes on before, that’s another thing altogether. There’s one individual, otherwise a decent bloke, that I won’t have aboard because of takeover tendencies, though he’s welcome to crew in my absence. I don’t “justify” my place on my boat – push me aside more than once and you’re not coming back. I’d blacklist a woman for this too, but so far haven’t had cause. Ashore, if it’s something I want to do myself, it’s a polite “under control, thanks, nice of you to offer though”. Gratuitous instruction doesn't stop me getting on with life, but is an irritation nonetheless.

In closing I’d also note that recognising that some people have a few extra roadblocks put in their way is hardly expecting life to be handed to you on a plate.

(Oh - and those women who say things to me like "there's nothing here [at boat show X] for us girls" or "we women don't know anything about [insert mechanical item or process]" or "we girls don't like [insert any aspect of sailing that might mess up your hair]" really annoy me. Ask my opinion before you presume to speak on my behalf, thanks very much. )

Last edited by JennyWren; 05-07-2013 at 02:56 AM.
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