Diah Rahayu: Bali’s lone female pro surfer
One of my favourite TV shows, Australia’s “Puberty Blues”, depicts 1970s surfing culture Down Under as a misogynistic boy’s club populated by a bunch of stupid jerks, with of course the one exception of the dreamy male lead. Girls are simply not allowed to surf and are mocked and bullied if they do. It’s a macho sport in a macho country at a macho time. So in surfing, so in the world.
But times have changed and attitudes towards woman have changed accordingly. As surfing continues to blow up as an international sport, more and more women are picking up boards and learning to shred. There are pro female surfers impressing the surfing world and becoming stars. Competition is tough as pro queens of the surfing world vie for that coveted number one spot as aggressively as their male counterparts. Former world number one Carissa Moore of Hawaii recently gave up her seat to the surging Australian Sally Fitzgibbons, who is closely studying the techniques of the top male surfers to help her own game. Women’s surfing has arrived.
A Bali pioneer
Though a centre for surfing, Bali does not hand women the same opportunities for surfing greatness as say, California, Hawaii or Australia. Attitudes and roles relating to gender are more traditional and conservative. Poverty levels also restrict both Indonesian men and women from dedicating the same amount of time and energy into surfing compared to richer countries. But things are changing in Bali too.
Meet Diah Rahayu, Bali’s first and only female professional surfer. Coming from a family of surfers, Diah found help in the form of her uncle rather than her father, who had to give up the sport to support his family and didn’t want his daughter emulating his life on the waves. Yet unlike Dad, Diah has been able to balance her university studies with her surf career.
While most girls in Indonesia stay away from the surf and the sun because they think it’s dangerous and don’t want to get to dark, Rahayu feels at home on the beach and among the waves.
A lot of my friends say, ‘Why do you like surfing? Surfing is dangerous.’ It’s not dangerous for me. It’s very fun. Indonesian girls are scared of getting dark skin and don’t want to go surfing. And I’m the luckiest one, I love the beach.
Check out this video of the Rip Curl-sponsored Diah shredding and talking about surfing. There are no English subtitles, unfortunately, but you get the gist.