June 08, 2009

Canoe & Kayak Magazine - CK Women

This month the 100th issue of Canoe & Kayak UK has been published. Since late 2007, I've been writing a column for them: CK Women. Each month I look at a different issue or news related to women in paddle sport.

For something a bit different I thought I'd post my first introductory article that appear in CKUK back in issue 80; entitled 'Man Up!'

‘Paddle like a man’ is one the best pieces of advice I have ever been given. The idea of kayaking like a guy is vague yet encompasses and accomplishes a lot in one very short sentence. When I’m having a day where I’m frustrated at myself, not achieving what I want or just getting beaten all round, it’s usually because I’m ‘paddling like a girl’.

Now this is not to say by any means, that we are second-rate or mediocre, but there is a lot to be learnt from our male counterparts that we could use with our female brilliance. Us girls, tend to have good technique to rely on because we can’t rely so much on muscle power and we ask a lot of questions to grasp an understanding before even the first attempt of something new. On the whole, men are more aggressive, have more strength and learn by trial-and-error. These are all traits that help towards success in kayaking. So when I ‘paddle like a man’, I put in a whole lot of ‘grrr’ and go for it, I stop asking questions and find out for myself. When faced with an uncertain situation, I think, what would a guy do? For me, if a bloke of the same skill level is running the rapid or trying a new move, then why shouldn’t I? It’s easy to assume you’re not up to a task because of you’re a girl and to be looking for assurance and guidance from the males of your group. A lot of girls find they may turn down a challenge that a guy of the same capacity takes up.

Recognise your ability without the labels and preconceptions and don’t let your sex dictate what you do or don’t do. We should not be held back by our gender, we need to acknowledge and appreciate our differences. We think and learn in our own way and, most obviously, we build differently, all of which has an impact on our paddling and progression. Classically, it’s assumed that of course we all like pink and to have a good cry on the river, but I know of more than one guy this applies to as well. Our differences are practical and actual. Combining both typical male and female characteristics can help us be the best we can be and push the sport further and further. It’s time we had a place just for the ladies. This is it. I’ll be reporting the latest news from around the sport, discussing hot topics and current issues affecting women paddlers and taking a look at female-specific gear. Hopefully, all to motivate, entertain and help all the females out there. Next time you get on the water, whatever you’re doing, taking a look at how the guy do it and try ‘paddling like a man’.


Distracted said...

HA. Great article. This philosophy can be applied to ANYthing. We can paddle "life", not like a girl, but with control and grace and a different kind of strength. Thanks for the post!iamthegoogler



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