Australian women’s surfwear label Roxy has been slammed by gender equality proponents and Twitter commentators for “sexploitation” of female surfers in a new YouTube video promoting a womens' pro surfing contest, the Pro Biarritz 2013, that it runs and sponsors in France this month.Surfing, as a sport and lifestyle, has always been sexy, but some have deemed the clip, which starts by showing a young woman half-naked on a bed, and often focuses on her undie-clad bum, “soft porn”.
The video asks #WhoAmIJustGuess and never shows the woman’s face, though it’s presumed to be five-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore.
Perhaps the most disrespectful part of the video: that it never shows this champ riding a wave – something that would probably never be left out of a men’s surfing promo.
Catharine Lumby, Professor of Media at Macquarie University, points out that while there’s nothing wrong with “celebrating” female athletes’ fit bodies, this looks more like a voyeuristic lingerie ad and has little to do with the sport it’s publicising.
It’s been stirring up mixed reviews on Twitter – some love it, others stress that it “does nothing for women in surfing being taken seriously".
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There’s no arguing that the video is provocative – but is using sexy images to sell female sport really such a bad thing if it means they’ll generate conversation? After all, the debate surrounding this clip means it’s been viewed by far more people than it would have if it was less sexy and controversial. And there’s no denying that women’s sport needs more publicity – is any publicity good publicity in this case?Take a look and tell us what you think: