My Truth – by Chris Grant, Publisher of Jettygirl.com
“The only reason a guy would hang with girls is either to f*** with them or to f*** them.”
–Female surfer friend of mine talking to me about another guy
[frame_left src="http://www.jettygirl.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/oside.0276-200x300.jpg" href="http://www.jettygirl.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/oside.0276.jpg"]Love, Light & Magic. © Chris Grant[/frame_left]
When I first heard those words leave her mouth, I semi-laughed at the phrase before it hit my brain, “Hey, I hang out with female surfers a bit …is that what people think of me too?”
On my drive home after speaking with this particular surfer I did a quick reflection of things I have actually heard over the years of operating Jettygirl Online Surf Magazine. I’m sure there have been many more that I haven’t heard.
The year was 2006 and we had virtually just kicked off Jettygirl. Following an in-depth interview I filmed a walking up the beach sequence of a still-mic’d-up pro surfer who mused to her good friend, “Who is this guy and do you think he’s for real?” As her words echoed in my headphones I was frankly a bit disheartened and hurt at the question of my true motives.
In the years that have followed I now realize there is some history behind that question. Since running Jettygirl I have seen virtually everything that female surfers face in a very different light.
In the social spectrum of things I would fall more on the quiet side of the fence and as such find myself spending as much time observing people’s expressions, interactions and body language as I do in lively conversations. While those traits don’t really serve me well at a dance party, they’ve been beneficial to seeing the larger picture as a photographer. It always surprises me that despite swimming around with a big ole’ camera while wearing a helmet emblazoned with Jettygirl stickers, I almost seem to be invisible in the lineup. Perhaps mistaking me for a seal, walrus-like old surfers will paddle behind a bikini-clad surfer girl barking and bellowing at “what they would do to her” given the chance each time she duckdives under an oncoming wave.
Would they really? Given the chance? I don’t think so and I’m almost positive they would be less than thrilled about some other old carp talking about their daughters in that manner.
So where do I fit in? Why am I, a 45-year-old male surfer running a website catering to female surfers? What is my motivation? What makes me any different than some of the other dudes in the parking lot, whose sunglass-covered eyes praise your cutback while secretly hoping that you have a towel mishap while changing out of your wetsuit?
To answer a few of those questions, our original mission statement in 2006 provides some clues.
“Jettygirl Online Surf Magazine is focused on delivering inspirational photo galleries, high performance surf video clips and in-depth interviews with professional surfers, artists, free thinkers and legends of the sport.”
To condense it even more, as I spoke into the microphone a few evenings ago at the San Diego Surf Ladies’ Board Shorts Surf Film Festival, “Jettygirl exists because the girls are ripping and they deserve much more than a cheesy bikini shot in the mainstream surf magazines.”
In short, the “why” is that I feel and have felt for a long time, that female surfers and the image of female surfing has been ripped off, distorted and hijacked by brands and companies whose empowerment slogans and taglines are little more than sugar-coated candy …sweet at first but short on true substance. As a guy running a girls’ surf site, I try my best to stand back and reflect what the girls are doing in surfing instead of presenting my own views as truth. In my opinion it would be stupid for me to stand in front of the line and sell you a bill of goods of what I think women’s surfing is or what it should be. Your experience as a female surfer is and always will be different from mine. I simply want Jettygirl to be about you, not about Chris Grant. [frame_right src="http://www.jettygirl.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/chris.rhona_-205x300.jpg" href="http://www.jettygirl.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/chris.rhona_.jpg"]Rhona & Chris Grant, 1991.[/frame_right]
To answer any misguided assumptions that shooting with female surfers is somehow a means to score a date or something, I can assure you that it has not nor ever will be the case. I’ve been in love and married to the most incredible woman I’ve ever known for a few decades now and we’ll be celebrating our 21st Anniversary this summer. Although she is not a surfer herself, her support has been the number one reason Jettygirl has lasted this long. I really enjoy working on the Jettygirl project but if my wife ever felt that it was somehow detrimental to our family, I’d pull the plug on it in a second. I absolutely love and cherish Rhona. She is everything to me.
In closing, contrary to the opening quote by my surfer friend, I’m here to tell you that this particular male doesn’t care about any of that. I’m not here to mess with heads and I’m certainly not interested in using Jettygirl as a dating service. My sole and only purpose with Jettygirl.com is to showcase what’s going on in women’s surfing …whether bikini or fullsuit, grom or grandma, skinny or living large, longboarder or shortboarder …the details really don’t matter to me. The truth does though, and this is mine.
Reflecting on a New Venture, Part One: Kim Mayer, the Original Jettygirl