There seems to be a big divide in the women’s snowboarding industry. This has been weighing heavily on me for some time now, and in light of our recent preview of next season’s gear, it’s forefront on my mind. Is the industry “dumbing things down” for women, or is it actually talking to the women who are buying snowboarding gear?
photo from pretty princess blog (case in point)
There are basically two types of people who snowboard- snowboarders, and those who “go snowboarding”. That probably doesn’t seem like a big difference to most people. But it kind of is. Those who snowboard see it as more than just something they do a few times a year. They are constantly looking for opportunities to get out there. They will make sacrifices to get out. They will go when conditions aren’t great because they have to get their fix. It’s like an itch that you can’t scratch…you need to go.
Those who “go snowboarding” will go perhaps a few times per year. They enjoy it while they are out there. But it’s not something that helps define who they are. It’s just something they do every so often.
Why is the distinction important? A different type of gear tends to appeal to each. And as buyers searching for what to have in our shop from year to year, it’s important that we know who is shopping with us. There’s nothing wrong with either group. They are just different.
So while I look at slapping pink on a board as a feeble attempt to win women’s snowboarding dollars just because it’s pink and that’s all that matters to us, perhaps it is enough for most people. Cheap snowboards are usually easier to learn on. And many of them look pretty cheap. Add pink, purple, or Aztec prints and we are supposed to “Swoon.” I am all for equipment to make the learning process easier, but I don’t like the feeling of being talked down to.
I read an article at whiltelines.com some time ago, and the author pointed out that even many of the product names like Swoon, Vixen, Minx, Poparazzi, Socialite, Diva, and Lipstick that are supposed entice us, can also be seen as kind of demeaning. She also mentions that we probably don’t need reminders that we are generally the smaller, weaker sex, especially if we are out there trying to learn how to ride with our boyfriends, husbands, brothers, or some other boy who has been riding for years and already has a degree of proficiency.
Perhaps it’s because I’m old compared to most women who snowboard. Perhaps it’s because I’m way too practical to be worried about being cute. Maybe the industry is right where it should be. Snowboarding participation for women increased 9.6% last year according to an SIA sponsored study. So something must be working. And perhaps that younger beginner is right where most of the industry wants to be, because maybe that is where the dollars are.
The message being sent concerns me when companies like ROXY snowboarding dumb down their line, eliminating important features like Magne-Traction (which provides extra grip on ice) and keeping their focus on pretty boards. But then I think about the rest of the ROXY repertoire and maybe a dumbed down snowboard line fits right in with the brand. Gnu (also made by Mervin Manufacturing) has girls who snowboard covered, and girls who go snowboarding can look super cute on a new ROXY board.
I really don’t begrudge any of this, as long as it’s not the entire future of women’s snowboarding. The other side of the coin is the preview of next year’s gear in my next post. Maybe it’s a win/win…the cute pink stuff entices the beginners, and once they start to improve they realize that’s not all it’s about and graduate to better quality and features, and that’s just fine.
I don’t appreciate any industry that treats me like I’m dumb. The snowboard industry is already heavily tilted toward men, which makes sense since 62% of snowboarders are male and only 38% are female. But perhaps talking down to us isn’t the best way to woo us and further the sport. And maybe offering more comparable gear and treating us more like equals will actually help to equalize things over the long haul.
Tags: womens snowboards, womens snowboarding ri, girls who snowboard ri, roxy snowboards,girls snowboarding, gnu girls snowboards, snowboards by roxy, women specific snowboards,women specific snowboard gear, womens snowboarding