Interview by: Yasemin Tanriverdi
“For the girls”, an edit in which Pro Wakeboarder Nicola Butler wants to share a strong message to the industry. She states there’s still a long way to go in gender equality. The video is made after Carro Djupsö’s Instagram post asking Alliance Wake why there hasn’t been a ‘Female Rider of the Year award’, whereas posting a ‘Wake Butt award’ only.
Carro started to use the hashtag #changingtheconversation to make people aware of the fact women are being discriminated in the wakeboard sport and women in general are being sexualized in sports. Nicola decided to follow by collaborating and collecting awesome video shots of girls to prove the industry wrong.
Nicola Butler’s message was spread on International Women’s day. The video made it to the NBC news and even women that kitesurf are responding to the video: “Together we can change the reality of how action sports women are treated by brands and the media. All your kiteboarding sisters are united behind you. We believe in you. We're inspired by you”.
We asked Nicola Butler to answer some questions about the video and some fun questions about her wakeboarding experiences in general.
Could you tell us something about the idea behind your video?
I first decided to make this video when my friend Carro Djupsjo called out Alliance Wake for not having a Female Rider of the Year award. Their response was that there was no girl "deserving" of the award so I decided to put together something that would prove them wrong.
When did you first experience being discriminated by being a female wakeboarder?
Probably right when I turned Pro around 15 or 16. I realized the girls almost always have to ride last or in the worst conditions in competitions or photoshoots.
There's people assuming that women aren't contributing to the sport. What do females contribute in the wake sport?
Diversity. I think there are so many sports that are male dominated and don't welcome women at all. I think we connect brands to a bigger audience and inspire people's wives, daughters, and sisters to get out on the water without the fear of judgement.
'Ride like a man' or 'ride like a woman'?
Ride like a woman! I don't want to do anything like a man...
Doubles with a boy or a girl?
Both! I like to have fun and learn tricks from both guys and girls.
Boat or cable?
Boat! The landings are softer for me (most of the time).
Cover shot or winning a competition?
Cover shot! I've won many competitions but I've never had a cover shot...
Wakeboarding with or without make-up?
Probably without. Unless it's waterproof mascara but anything else just gets smudged everywhere.
Boards shorts or bikini?
Board shorts for riding! Bikini for relaxing.
Pro model board or (Unit) signature feature?
Pro model board!
Best power food for Wakeboarding?
Quinoa, black bean, veggie, avocado bowl!
What should be the next step? What can female riders do to 'change the conversation'?
I think they just need to continue to stand up to sexism. The goal is to make our voices heard and change the conversation so that the future generation is treated equally.
Any advice for talented female wakeboarders or other action sport women?
Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard. When you want something bad enough your actions off the water are just as important as on, so staying fit and healthy is key. Remember to always RIDE LIKE A GIRL, and if the guys in the boat try hard enough maybe one day they can too ;)