Some introductory words…
I am a firm believer that slacklining and slacklife is not about genders, but the thing itself. I felt supported with my ideas, when talking to my friends or when reading the feedback of my girlfriend to a draft of this blog post:
“The pictures are very nice, but I do not care about this boys/girls stuff. It does not motivate me. I am motivated to walk highlines, because it feels awesome. The height, fear, skills and adrenaline is what I care for.”
However, my girlfriend is special and not everyone may agree with her opinion on the motivation part. I myself got motivated by many male and female slackliners during the last four years of slacklining. Others have shown me multiple times that things were possible, that I perceived impossible before. This is my first blog post and I want to dedicate it to the female members of the slackline community. I do this because they are equally awesome as males (here we all know this), yet underrepresented in the media and in the community.
What follows are some examples from our Dutch slacklining communities, to support my ideas.
1. Girls can be great overall slackliners – Chandni is better than the vast majority of our boys.
The photographs showcase my good friend Chandni on a hand-tensioned 60m longline (3.5m sag) in my (lepyruvate’s) backyard (Watch Tom Peek playing hard at this beautiful spot on my vimeo page). Chandni is the most complete slackline-girl I know. In fact, she slacklines and rigs better than the majority of our male part of the community. Chandni does it all: Tricklining, Midlining, Highling, Waterlining, Rodeolining, Rigging, and much more. She has a nice pile of gear, understands her rigging, and she has some mad slackline skills too. Many Dutch slackliners found motivation in her or were taught how to rig, walk or trick.
Others got their asses beaten by Chandni during trickline competitions such as Hooked (Watch some dynamic frames of Chandni at Hooked at 2:35min). She founded the Slackline group in Wageningen, with herself being the only active member for many months. A few years later, the group has grown to one of the most active and diverse communities in the country (Watch some photographs of our recent Wageningen meeting on my facebook page). I believe that our community wouldn’t be as strong as it stands now without her. Thanks!
2. Because they do great stuff on slacklines and it is very motivating to watch them.
The photographs showcase Heleen unicycling on a slackline (left) and relaxing on a 85m longline with 2.5m sag (right). She is the only person I have ever seen unicycling on slackline with my own eyes, and she does it great. Heleen is a true multi-talent, you can find here on tightwires, slackropes, and longlines. She also does acrobatics, unicycles, juggles, and probably does another dozen other things. Heleen is very friendly and curios, she probably will try each and every line you rigged.
She walks very technical and controlled. Watching her crushing big lines onsight is inspiriting and motivating at the same time. The photograph shows Heleen onsighting a 85m (2.5 sag) longline during Slackline Wageningen meeting. At the day of writing this blog post, the longest distance walked by a Dutch female on Dutch ground. Moreover, it was the second best longline performance of a Slackline Wageningen member during the whole year. The only Wageningen member walking longer was Chandni (95m in Kiel, Germany). In other words: The two best Slackline Wageningen longline walks of the year were done by girls – Congrats!
4. Because nobody dares to swing as high as Agi.
The photograph showcases fearless Agi going big on a 14m high longboard swing. She rigged that swing together with me, and no one went nearly as high and often as her. In the background you can see Tom Peek enjoying a walk on the crane line.
Agi is also my best friend, girlfriend and partner in crime. She has much less fear of heights compared to me and she also got some sick maths and physics skills (just to name a very few things she outcompetes me in). The photos show her highlining, longlining and enjoying the wide view off the mountains (left to right).
Agi is also a great climber, the photograph shows her on top of Excalibur at Bjoeks climbing center in Groningen (the tallest climbing made wall in the world – 37m). However, she also holds the current Hungarian national record in Fierljeppen (Frisian) / Polsstokverspringen (Dutch) or far-leaping (English). She is very diverse and therefore not only focusing on slacklining. Stay diverse and adventurous!
5. Because girls can have incredibly strong minds
You know the list of 100 excuses why not to highline from Peter Auer (here a link to the first 10)? I have used the vast majority of them probably a couple of times by now, while Soraya would probably never use any of them.
Soraya is very determined and eager, some bruises and some blood won’t keep her away from finishing some mid/highline business. If she wants it, she gets it (that is Soraya).
Furthermore, she does not compare performances of others or whatsoever. She pushes everyone at their individual levels: boys and girls. Here strong mind and love to slacklining allowed her to cross several mid and highlines, although slacklining just for a few months by now. Looking forward to what is coming in the future: Stay true to your school and give us more of it!
6. Last, but not least: Girls are very important to our communities. They are: highly diverse, adventurous, our best friends, loving girlfriends and much more (and sometimes they are everything at the same time).
To sum up, I think that the differences between slackliners are due to their individual personalities and histories, but not due to their genders. As a community we have always rewarded curiosity, celebrated individual small and big successes, and pushed and supported everyone at their individual level and speed. As a result, the girls portrayed in this blog post did not felt any gender issues in the community. We should keep it like this and reward curiosity and small and big successes of everyone. This said, I am also aware that female athletes have to face drawbacks when doing sport as a profession. However, as a local community this is not a daily life issue, so we can concentrate on what we all love: Slacklining! Here nobody needs a „girls only highline festival“, but everyone gets the special treatment they need. Boys also can have great fear of heights, or no clue how to rig or whatsoever. That’s issues of being individuals, not gender issues. Here some more photos showcasing our girls skills and diversity.
However, we could have more girls in our community and more representation for them in the media.
I hope this motivated all girls and boys alike to go out and learn how to rig and walk whatever lines you feel like.
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