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Sophia Llewellyn
Septmeber 18, 2018
GENDER EQUALITY Skating Out Of The Kitchen Start Reading

Slide "Biological differences aside, shouldn’t all individuals be just that; individuals?" When I went to visit the popular skater’s spot Macba in Barcelona, there were never any girls on a board.

Sitting against a wall eating an apple, I’d scan the open plaza searching. Bare chests, sweaty beards, long limbs, cigarettes dangling; the whole place was filled with cool-cat dudes. There were a few women sitting around but their role seemed set in stone; to watch the able-bodied, skater men. Where were the girls? It made me want to grab a board myself and just give it a go for the sake of balancing out the genders. Surely girls were able to ride a board as good as they could.

When Crystal Moselle’s feature film Skate Kitchen was playing at the Sydney Film Festival last week, I along with many others flocked to the Dendy Cinema in Newtown. Variety’s Andrew Barker said the film “has plenty to say about the lengths to which young women must go to clear out a little breathing room in testosterone-heavy spaces.” The film spoke to the male-dominated world of skating where women literally have to fight their way into the skate park to ride their board. Despite some societies having progressed in terms of gender equality, there is still much to be done at an everyday level. When you watch the world cup, the industry is overwhelmingly dominated by males. Surfing can be the same. The odd girl or two joins the male pack sitting out the back on a Friday morning.

Skate Kitchen explores the world of skating through a female lens in an evocative and interesting way, helping one to understand how raw and ugly distances still exist between males and females. The film follows protagonist Camille and her journey through adolescence and skating in New York City. Experimenting with all the usual fun wonders of teenage life, Camille comes to realise there is a great barrier to her being able to skate freely as a result of her gender. When a guy brings her along one night to join his all-male pack of skaters, a friend asks immediately if she’ll be able to keep up and doubts her ability. She proves herself in the end and seems accepted amongst the boys as she skates at the same level as them but the fact her ability is questioned due to her gender is simply ridiculous.

Biological differences aside, shouldn’t all individuals be just that; individuals? Don’t they deserve to live without having limitations imposed upon them based on preconceived conceptions about gender? Camille and her girl gang of skaters are phenomenal in that they aren’t afraid to take on the guys in the male-dominated world of skating. They help us all to see the power there is in standing up to the status quo and simply going for it. However, Skate Kitchen is a film and is resultantly limited to the theatrical confines of its art. Cinema can speak to and visualise on the big screen a future that is possible but there’s still much to be done when it comes to off-screen, everyday life. As Cyrstal’s first feature film lets us peek into the lives of the Skate Kitchen crew to see what these girls are doing to break down the glass ceiling impeding their experience and ability to skate, I hope their courage and strength will encourage other girls to jump on their board and give it a go. Hopefully next time I return to Barcelona to sit against that wall, I’ll spot some girls out there.

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