In 2019, the World Surf League made the decision to award equal prize money to men and women for competition surfing, making the league the “First American-based global sports league to offer gender pay equality,” according to a tweet the WSL made at the time. And just a few weeks ago, Tyler Wright made history as the first woman to win a CT event at Pipe. That being said, it’s been a long road to get to where we are today, and there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
The new surf documentary, Girls Can’t Surf, tells the tale of the long-fought battle for gender equality in surfing from the 1980s up until today, augmented with the perspective and stories of former female pros such as Jodie Cooper, Pam Burridge, and the Smith twins Jorja and Jolene, who competed at a time when things were far from equal and the attitude towards women’s surfing was, frankly, disgusting. “I think they just need to look like women,” former world champ Damien Hardman says in the trailer. “Look feminine, attractive, and dress well.”
Instead of doing that, these fantastically-strong ladies stood up and spoke out against the sport’s deeply-disturbing sexism, paving the way for the changes in surfing equality that we see today. The film is set to premiere on January 11 at the Perth Film Festival, and be released in Australia this March. Stay tuned for updates on when this film will reach the states.