Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

A while back, I promised more about female Iranian motocross riders Noora Naraghi and Behnaz Shafiei.  Today I’m delivering with some bonus information about women learning to surf there.  The action sports scene is going strong, and these women are not letting patriarchal rules hold them back.

In 2009, along with eight other women (including her mother), Noora Naraghi competed with the men and rode out in front for the women. She competed against her mom, seven other women, and men in the MX2 division.  Her entire family rides, and her husband is stoked about the achievements she has made.  Noora set her sights on the U.S., and in 2010, she got her AMA license (the first Iranian to do so) and competed races stateside.  She worked with top female racers Stefy Bau and Ashley Fiolek while here and has taken the new knowledge to coach more women in Iran.

By Caren Firouz/Reuters

Behnaz Shafiei‘s career is full of firsts as well.  This year, she hosted and won Iran’s first female-only race.  She has also received support from family and strangers alike.  As evident with the New York Times article my friend showed me, Behnaz is gaining a lot of attention worldwide.  She even has a commercial for Georg Jensen.  Her trip to the U.S., however, taught her the need for sponsorships and licensing to compete abroad, and she is currently raising money through a gofundme to pursue her dreams.

Going from the desert to the ocean, French surfer and filmmaker Marion Poizeau introduced the sport to Iranian women four years ago.  The idea was somewhat of a coincidence, as it was a male friend who wanted to explore the untouched surf of Iran.  He missed his flight, and Marion and the third member of their party decided to make it a girls’ trip.  The locals became interested.  When she returned in 2013, she connected with two female Iranian athletes, Mona Seraji and Shalha Yasini, thus beginning “We surf in Iran” classes.

By Marion Poizeau

Coming full circle, Noora posted on her Instagram about a surfing instructor course.  Iranian women are probably embracing other action sports, as evident with Ana Lily Amirpour’s vampire skater girl protagonist in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.  Let’s hope these women keep ripping and pushing for more freedom, just like their American counterparts.

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I’ve seen a few of posts on my Facebook feed featuring women in action sports.  A couple of them even tie into a “Feminism in Action (Sports)” post I am planning to write.  It’s really heart-warming to see female action sports athletes get exposure and my friends championing it.

One that particularly tugged at my heartstrings was a BuzzFeed Canada story that a friend shared.  Jeanean Thomas posted a letter on Twitter to the young man who helped teach her daughter how to skate.
 photo CQ_yKFXUwAEeVhf_zpsaojfjllm.png

This is a perfect example of what feminism is.  Jeanean get mega props for letting her daughter know that she has equal  right to be at the skatepark.  The young man was a wonderful ally by going above and beyond to help out this beginner skater even though he was made fun of.  We need to be commending guys like him, not teasing him.  This is how a girl or a boy will develop skills and a new love for skateboarding.  When I was her daughter’s age, I had the same reservations about going to the skate park and thus never went due to lack of support.  As a result, I never went and grew frustrated with learning how to skate.  Maybe others aren’t as easily discouraged, but Jeanean’s daughter got a confidence boost through a kind individual extending a helping hand and not discriminating against her age, skill, and gender.

Another skating post appeared the other day.  My co-worker shared this striking photo, and I knew it had to be the work of Skateistan.
 photo 12278839_10205313294543871_1511743250074323011_n_zpsq5zpyw8h.jpg By Jake Simkin

It’s a non-profit that uses skateboarding to empower youth in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa.  It has particularly reached out to Afghani girls who cannot ride bikes or participate in sports.  I’ll be going in depth into Skateistan in a later post, but I had to share this photo along with my co-worker’s comment that it’s evidence that “people are the same all over the world”.  It’s a message of particular importance in these recent trying times.

Finally, another friend shared a “Women in the World” feature on Iranian motocross rider Behnaz Shafiei. I’ll be writing more about her and Noora Moghaddas in a later post too, but they’re badasses for essentially breaking the law to do what they love.  Feminism often involves taking risks, and women like Behanz certainly are with the hopes that there will be more equality in the future.
 photo slack-imgs-1-com_zpsp1msdvgz.jpeg Photo from The New York Times