I was sent a very polite email from Cath about the fact that apparently women spear too 🙂
It’s very easy to fall into the age-old trap of saying ‘spearfishermen’ and not ‘spearo’ which isn't a gendered term. I’m guilty of it and thought I’d share a bit of context. So on that note, here is a lively discussion!
“Kia Ora from NZ Shrek
Hope things are going well over on your side of the ditch.
Just wanted to take a moment to say how much I have been loving the Noob Spearo podcasts. I listen to them everyday on the commute to work and I am learning heaps. As a beginning spearo, it's a great way to get some solid info and tips.
I also wanted to let you know that there are female spearos out here in NZ and a few of us keen wahine listen to your great work. Because of that, it would be super awesome if the show's commentary could also include mentioning both the guys (and the girls) who spearfish sometimes.
I am not one to normally get my fins in a twist about this kind of stuff at all, it just seems that for a programme that is super inclusive and welcoming, it sometimes feels like just a "boy's club." It may appear like a small thing, but when your guests or your commentators only talk about men, boys, the guys...as a female listener, it feels a bit shite.
I am part of a Facebook group here and it came up in a chat a little while ago about the lack of inclusiveness. I told the crew then to relax and not get so worked up. But I also figured we can't moan if we also don't let you guys know about it.
All in all, you guys are making a killer podcast. I appreciate the time and effort that goes into making each one. Loving the content and the style of presentation. Keep up the hard mahi!
This is awesome feedback and 100% on the mark. It's funny timing because I have a bunch of interviews coming up with some awesome women. In fact, I have the Salt Sisters crew organized and I want to get Esther Stuck (I think that's right) on the show this year from NZ as well as a bunch of others from around the place.
But your feedback deserves more personal context behind my attitudes/ideas, so let me explain myself a bit.
I really started to learn spearfishing in Southern Queensland, Australia and there are very few women who spear here. When I started, I really struggled to meet people and get a level of competence that would get me invited out on boats regularly (as nearly all the good diving here is boat diving). I never encountered any women (apart from Kahlee Andrews at a competition who I didn't get to speak to or dive with) and I guess I started to believe that women were just not that interested in spearfishing and that it is a pursuit that for the most part, is just something that blokes froth on.
In fact last year (March, 2020) I travelled to NZ to dive with Nat and Rochele to chase a Big Kingfish at the 3 Kings. Nat had told me on the phone that Rochele was bringing a mate as well so it would be the 5 of us. When I arrived at their place I was introduced to Rosie by Rochele and the first question I asked her was "Oh are you a spearo too?" I offended her, properly offended her. In my defence, Rosie doesn't really rep herself on social media and I didnt know her from a bar of soap either. Nat also hadn't told me that Rochele was bringing a mate who speared and so I made a big error.
Rosie gently hit me up about it a few days later and I had a chance to explain and apologize. Massive props to her for seeing past the offence and realizing that I'm not sexist, just a bit ignorant.
Anyway this experience made me realise a few things;
There are significantly fewer women who spearfish than men for several reasons (feel free to add or correct me on any of this);
- Due to women historically being under-represented in spearfishing clubs and groups, the gender skew has become self-perpetuating.
- Women are often isolated in all-male spearfishing contexts and this continues to inadvertently keep female participation down.
- Equipment, media (like the Noob Spearo Podcast) and club participation are generally targeted more towards men (this is in part because it is statistically justified however we need to intentionally make efforts to change this, see below).
- Due to differences in physiology, personality and motivation, females are often less inclined to want to spearfish (this is still my attitude although I believe it to be far less of an influence than the aforementioned).
What I think needs to be done about it;
- Spearfishing media need to actively promote grass roots womens spearfishing groups and efforts AND individual women too.
- Existing spearfishing clubs and groups that are currently male dominated need to promote events and sub-groups within their structures to promote female focused efforts.
- Women take ownership of under-participation and lead change through equipment innovation, creating and running events/groups and lobbying misogynistic Podcast hosts;)
Would it also be ok to share your message and my response on an upcoming podcast with just your first name?
I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas about how I could do the show better with regards to this.
I really appreciate you taking the time and energy to respond instead of just being quietly offended and not saying anything (which is what most of us do).
Isaac 'Shrek' Daly________________________________________________________________
Kia Ora Isaac,
Thank you so much for the incredibly detailed response to my email from the other week. I am so sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you. Super hectic days during term time at the moment.
I really appreciate the time that you placed into your reply. It is great to hear that you have some of our wahine spearo coming up on the podcast!
I can totally understand why you would have thought spearfishing was not a sport pursued by many women. To be fair, when I first moved to NZ twenty years ago, the water didn't have many women in or on it (I'm also a mad keen surfer and kiteboarder). But the last few years has seen a massive boom in terms of women participating in ocean-based sports. In fact a new Facebook group has started up this year for women in NZ who are keen to learn to spearfish and gather kaimoana. It is a supportive virtual place where noobies can connect with more experienced divers to build their skill set. There are over 6500 members in this group. That's a lot of keen spearos!
As I mentioned, I am not too stressed about the whole thing. I just thought it was worth you guys knowing that the number of wahine out here interested in the sport is growing and that it would feel a whole lot better if the people you showcased on your podcast were aware of that when they are talking to the audience out there in cyberland. We are not all "blokes and dudes."
Aside from making women feel included in the spearfishing world, being aware and promoting female spearos means:
1.) People who make the gear now have a whole new demographic to be catering towards when they market their stuff
2.) Male spearos may find a partner who will not only not give them grief when they want to go for a dive...but they may actually find a partner who is keen to go with them
Thanks so much for your reply Isaac. Your podcast keeps me smiling each day on my way to work and I feel like I am experiencing some of the amazing stories when your guests share their spearing missions. I am learning heaps and can't wait to see where Noob Spearo goes in the future. Keep up the great work and for sure, I am happy for you to share my thoughts. It only comes from a good place and wanting to build our spearo community into something bigger and better for the future.
After all, the more people who are passionate about our moana, the more chances we have of protecting it for the watermen and waterwomen of the future.
All the best,
I hope you enjoyed our email exchange. I felt it was worth sharing the conversation as I learned from it and I thought it might provoke more conversation and thought in our spearfishing community. LMK your thoughts!
If you are a woman getting into spearfishing, here are a bunch of interviews with talented lady spearos (or spearas if you want to be fancy - and Spanish). Spearfishing has a rugged learning curve for everyone regardless of gender so I hope you are inspired by these ladies! - Shrek