Locked out of the changing room? : a gendered history of surf lifesaving in Canterbury 1917-1990.
Type of content
Since its beginning in the early twentieth century, surf lifesaving in New Zealand has been a predominantly male sport. This research essay examines the position of women in the Canterbury Surf Life Saving Association (CSLSA). It studies the Minutes and Annual Reports of the CSLSA in order to shed light on male attitudes toward female participation in the sport. The male attitude towards female surf lifesavers has generally been negative, although the degree of this negativity has varied across different surf clubs in New Zealand and Australia. The CSLSA was heavily focused on its public image, and this image was predominantly masculine. Women were often seen by men as lacking the physical capabilities required to participate in surf lifesaving. This research essay also addresses domestic roles within the surf clubs that allowed women to have some involvement in the clubs. It also discusses how factors such as the outbreak of World War Two allowed for women to become active surf lifesavers and begin to have a voice. There were some successful women within the CSLSA, yet only two women achieved significant recognition within the Association’s Minutes and Annual Reports. The main focus of this research essay is to determine male attitudes towards women within surf lifesaving in Canterbury.