Pornstars in powder: sexism and snow

Sex sells and the snow industry is not immune to the odd (and I mean odd) Benny-Hill-meets-Hugh-Hefner style of circa 1973 marketing. The Playboy bunny is the first cousin of the Snow Bunny after all, or some would have you believe.

This style of marketing is a treacherous line to play, especially in a leisure sport enjoyed by both sexes. One step too far and you can alienate the key decision makers and keepers of the household purse, women.

Call me old fashioned, but I've never understood how a bikini, a bare breast or a naked woman in a canine position has anything to do with the performance, fit and ability of a ski boot to get me down the hill.

The Lange Girl campaign from Lange boots in the '70s, where girlie models writhed naked but for their ski boots, was used to sell the revolutionary new plastic ski boot. It has always made me roar out loud with laughter - though more from shock at their daring than "gee I can't wait to get into them" as they are clearly a "comfortable fit".

To this day I can't bring myself to buy a pair of Lange boots. Clearly I'm alone on this as Lange have won more Olympic medals, world championships and the like, than any other ski boot and the Local Lange Girl competition has been revamped in recent years by Freeskier magazine who mustn't know women now have the money vote.

Fast forward to 2011 when Ride Snowboards rocked up at the ISPO Ski and Snowboard Expo with a pop up strip club. Prospective clients, customers and retailers could get a view of scantily clad chicks with their faithful snowboards through carefully placed 'peep holes.'  If that wasn't enough, you could queue up for the scheduled strip and pole dancing shows.

Have the good folk at Ride forgotten that women are no longer muzzled, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? That we too, ride.

Thirty percent of the snowboard population is female and only one in five of those females are over 35 years of age. It is hard enough for young girls to navigate the fine line of being a 'slut' and being a 'good girl' in a world that wants both, without having to compete with naked breasts staring at her from the topsheet of her boyfriend's snowboard or skis.

Try telling that to the blokes at adult film headquarters, Vivid Entertainment, and their mates at Sims snowboards who came up with the bright idea of using naked porn stars for the topsheets of their 2003 Fader snowboard series. Do you not want girls to snowboard with you?

It's bad enough that female snow athletes get less prize money than male athletes in most competitions. Snaps to Aspen Winter X Games where the prize money for both is equal, but the Rip Curl Freeride at Thredbo last year didn't think the girls worthy of having the same pay.

While the top three blokes were all slapped on the back with a hefty cheque, only the top two girls were slipped some cash and the third just got a pat on the head. It's worth mentioning that second place winner, Anna Segal, went on to take the FIS World Championship Crown for Slopestyle Ski in Deer Valley last February. In fact Australia's female snow athletes have won more medals combined in world championships and Olympics than the male athletes have. Just saying.

Anna is now doing her own bit for girls wanting to enjoy freeskiing in the mountains without having to jostle amongst teenage testosterone with the Chicks With Stix program of free on-mountain all-girl workshops in Buller, Thredbo, Perisher, Hotham and Baw Baw this season.

Don't get me wrong, I am far from a prude and I know sex sells (as readers of this column can testify). But we're not talking about the locker rooms of the NRL or AFL here, we're talking about a leisure sport enjoyed by men, women and children during daylight hours and by girls trying to make it in a mixed sport. 

I get that blokes like to look at breasts and that visuals excite them, but keep it in your own jocks, in your own locker rooms. Even I, who likes to look at George Clooney, was perturbed to discover a public forum thread this week dedicated to breasts on a website dedicated to all things snow, and a site I consistently (and still do and will continue to) highly rate for it's snow content.

Admittedly, the forum in question was in a non-snow content section - but still easily accessible. It wasn't the 547 pages and 700,000-plus views of videos and images of bouncing breasts, chicks in g-strings patting each others bums and various other degrading images of women that perturbed me most.

It was the finely masked references to masturbating as a weight-loss method that made me cringe. The idea that the males in the mixed gender portal were pleasuring themselves while watching the same screen view as mine. Ewwwww, gross.

Then there was the laughable justification, after users posted criticism of the thread, that it was barely more than what you would see at the beach or the pool. The pool of which they speak must be in the Playboy Mansion, because my local pool has screaming kids, women with cellulite and senior citizens drowning in aqua aerobics.

What made me chortle even more was a thread that the 'women' had put up in supposed protest filled with images of men's crotches, as if we find them attractive. I don't know one woman who talks to a man's crotch at a party the way some men talk to my knockers.

The site has since taken the thread down in line with NSFW guidelines. If the thread was in a site for a men's magazine like Zoo, Ralph or a male-targeted website then no problem. Each to his own. I am certainly not a fan of censorship, but I am a fan of firewalls that prevent this content in the workplace.

Why? Because most women find this celebration of strip clubs and pornstars in mainstream marketing as offensive, banal and seriously outdated. It's easy to be sexist, not so easy to be truly creative.

Sure we women may laugh as if it's all fine or simply choose to turn the other cheek but it makes us feel uncomfortable because we simply don't know how to honestly react. Do we go for the slut or the good girl response?

I'm a grown woman and it makes me nervous, imagine how it makes your daughters feel.

Post Script: Aussie Big Mountain Skier, Nat Segal, weighs in on the debate on her blog No Standing Only Dancing

Now it's your turn. Tell us what you think about this topic?  Should snow marketers get more creative, are they ignoring the female customer?  Do you have any examples of sexism on the mountains to either gender? Any feel good stories that celebrate both sexes at the snow?

In other news...Snow It All EXCLUSIVE

We've managed to get our hot little hands on a stolen 60-second clip from what some call Australia's own 'Warren Miller', Tim Myers.  His upcoming ski and snowboard TV special featuring Australia's winter athletes around the world broadcasts on Channel Nine in July.  Snow It All will be bringing you exclusive 'stolen' segments from the show in the coming weeks. We look forward to viewing the full hour to see what it brings.

PLUS - watch this space for your chance to WIN a ski trip to New Zealand, coming soon.

Follow Snow It All on Facebook and Twitter.

Comments