An Enlightened Mans Guide to Sailing with Women

Published on November 11th, 2018

Jenn Harkness hosts a blog to share the musings of, as she says, “a weird middle aged woman’s journey of sailing and owning her first keel boat.” Based in the Pacific Northwest, here she provides insight for what an overwhelmingly male sport may need to know to pursue gender balance.

PART 1 – Mansplaining and Hepeating
First let me start by saying that I love me some men. I date a man, a man is my very best friend, I work with men and boys, I often sail with amazing men. Men can be so great! This is not a post about man hating. This is a post about how to be one of the good guys and to help include and support women in the sport. It is about the ingrained bias we have in America around gender and how to be aware and shift it.

In case you haven’t noticed: Sailing is still very much a man’s sport. Look at any boat roster, race team, or crew and you are gonna see a lot of men and some women. But our numbers are increasing. Unfortunately, the stories of misogyny and sexism are still going strong. Full report.

PART 2 – Assumptions Make an Ass of You
I will start this one with a shout out to men. Why? One: because I do love them and my intention here is to support them being better men around women. Two: because as a woman if you don’t do a positive shout out up front some people easily get offended and label you a man hater or bitch.

This proves another point that women have to do a lot of emotional labor to be heard. What I mean by emotional labor is that I have to start out by considering everyone else’s feelings before talking about my own. This is classic cultural responsibility we are taught as young girls: “Be nice.” As I’ve aged I like this one better: “Be kind, and be honest.” Full report.

PART 3 – Sailing is Sexy
Here is some stuff for you men out there to contemplate. This is what women talk about with each other often. I’m letting you in on the dialogue in hopes it brings some thoughtfulness into your life. It’s like a doorway into another’s shoes. I think they call that empathy, and even compassion. Maybe it can lead to action on your part. For my many faithful, diverse and beautiful women readers, this body image exploration is for you.

I find it odd to sexualize a sport in which most of the time you are either in giant foul weather bibs that make everyone look like they dropped a load in their pants, or you are in the same stinky clothes you have worn for days. This is a sport and lifestyle in which many haven’t taken a proper shower in over a week or have sweaty ass cracks from hard work. Full report.

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