I'm writing this one in first person for once. Sarah, founder of Girls that Scuba, accepting all of the "man bashing/feminist" comments as an individual rather than letting it fall on the GTS community like it does once too often. I am the one who asked the girls to share their experiences and I am the one that asked if I could write an article about it, because if there is one thing I have learnt over the last year of building the largest community of female scuba divers in the world it is the POWER of social media.
I did this to allow the girls, and myself, to voice our opinions in a safe environment where we can discuss and encourage each other in our experiences. This is OUR contribution to #metoo. This is Girls that Scuba at our most vulnerable, yet strongest form. We are here to make a difference, and our voices will never, EVER, be silenced
If you feel differently, my personal email address is firstname.lastname@example.org - let’s talk.
Ladies, if you'd like to add any comments or read through more, join our private Facebook group for women and take a look through the thread here. We are constantly having conversations with our community on how we can correctly report incidents of sexual harassment or assault.
*All comments are anonymous.
I always have problems finding dive buddies, specially in the tech community. It's actually a nightmare to tell any guy to go diving, because they always think I'm hitting on them (nothing further from reality). It is worse if they have a girlfriend, the girlfriend sometimes gets jealous. Also, they tend to think you can’t carry your gear… or make fun of you carrying your gear (I’m quite small….) I found that in several countries.
A photographer who worked as part of the dive center where I was instructor incessantly commented on my breasts the entire time I was there, pretty much on a daily basis... to the point I dreaded changing into my wetsuit if he was around. it wasn’t always my boobs either, he often commented on my weight... one comment was ‘do you know (insert name), you’d know her if you saw her, she’s even fatter than you and even bigger tits’.
Scuba me too. He was the best dive guide at finding macro critters but he mimicked sex underwater and grabbed me in inappropriate places. I had to choose between exploring the undersea and being assaulted. Scuba me too.
Scuba me too. Had a fellow instructor volunteer to be tail instructor for a group night dive. Found he and the other dudes giggling afterwards BC he only volunteered to be in back do he could "shine" the light on the female butts and watch their ladies bits the entire dive.
I was a guest on a liveaboard and the boat captain tried to lock me in his cabin (a few of us guests had joined him in there for a beer - I was not on my own)... I was the last to exit (we were walking out pretty much single file) and he slammed the door shut before I exited... I had to bang on the door for my friends to force the door back open so I could escape!
One of the instructors when I was a DM used to always say ‘NO CERTIFICATION WITHOUT PENETRATION’
#metooIronically once was by a diving colleague. I asked them if they could walk me back to my hotel at a DEMA Show in Orlando so that I would be safe. They took it as an invitation that I wanted to sleep with them.How does "can you please walk me back to my hotel because it is late at night and I want to feel safe, and I trust you because you are a colleague" equate in a man's mind to "I want to have sex with you?!" It was a motel with the door straight off the street.I had to physically fight him off by my door. He's no longer in the diving industry. Thank heavens.
For many years a diving club owner would sexually harass women, including taking advantage of them underwater, and there were rumors and many other instructors in different clubs knew (small city and a small diving community) and no one did anything until a woman took photos of him with his dick out underwater. A few women filed a complaint and he was charged and served time in jail. He was forbidden from running the club but he family still owns it so he enjoys the revenues and since he got out he still hangs around there.
I am one of the less than 15 female instructors in my country which makes it a very hard industry to work in as a girl. I have had to make my way, sometimes working twice as hard as guys to get half the credit. There are some issues that have made me very uncomfortable. For example, having the other staff members (all male) or even customers (mostly male) almost always need to sexualize me to even listen to me. I have had to deal with dudes talking about my body, my swimsuit, my sex life (which they know nothing about), etc. every single day I have worked as a dive professional. The times I really get angry and tell them that I don´t let them treat me as a sexual object they get angry and don´t let me work. So (I know its wrong) but I have learned to let it be, because otherwise I can´t work properly, without the males (which are all of them) collaborating with me as part of the team.
I was hired as a Divemaster via telephone and email interview only. It was an all-male crew. I thought I could handle it/them. The dive instructor quickly "assured" me I was only hired because of "your tits" and "not because of your experience". He would then call me out every time I ate anything fatty and told me I shouldn't be eating that as I'd gain weight and then wouldn't be a "sexy DM" anymore.
I'm a short and thin woman and work as a DM and I've been told different things. One time I was about to take my vacations and I captain told me "you will have plenty of time to get tits and a big butt so you look like a real women", or the most common one is "wow are you sure you can handle those heavy tanks without breaking your back...", the most disappointing part was when I told both owners (man and woman) about the toxic environment in the shop and they said "men will be men".
It's a balancing act, and I will admit that I could be much better about standing up for myself. But I don't. As one of the only female instructors on an mostly male crew, there are some days I'm the only woman on an entire boat. And the easiest way to stay afloat in the industry is to lean into the jokes, ignore the lewd comments, and find an excuse to leave situations.
We even get issues about being a female-only community.
Yet, let us not forget the scuba men out there treating women as equals.
-While I'm sure there are many "me too" stories, I would like to mention that I dive with a bunch of guys - when at the lake, there are probably 5 of them out there - and I'm generally the only girl. Never once have they made me uncomfortable or said anything unprofessional or untoward. I assume I'm one of the lucky ones, but because my dive shop is woman owned and woman managed, I think the guys I dive with have a healthy respect for women!
-I dive with a group of guys who are awesome. Granted, my dive buddy is always either my dad or my boyfriend which may help deter unwanted advances, but in general I've had excellent experiences with everyone I've met diving.
Men, what can you do to help stop this?
Unfortunately these bad guys give you good guys a bad name, but we can't (and neither can you) use that as an excuse. Even if you didn't know these things were not ok (COME ON!), you DO NOW:
- Call out other men who are being inappropriate to women. DO NOT let them get away with it.
- Be mindful of how you introduce women. Do not use words such as "the sexiest DM", "the hot instructor". No matter how good she looks she would much rather be introduced by her job title and accomplishments.
- A women can wear whatever she likes scuba diving. Whether thats a small, cute bikini or a drysuit even when it's not drysuit water temperature. It's her body and her choice, and you have no right to comment on the way she dresses or sexualise her because of what she wears.
- At work, make a special effort to speak to women using the kind of person-to-person respectful address you use when speaking with male colleagues. Hint: Use their name. If you slip up and call your colleague "young lady" or some other small name like that, it's cool to say something about it, like "I'm sorry I called you that- it's disrespectful.
- Reframe how you think of consent. Don't just "go for it" because you think she's attractive and you know she's single (or in any relationship). Read body language. And, just because she didn't say "no" it most certainly didn't mean she said "yes". Seek explicit and enthusiastic, active consent before you proceed.
- Role-model your kids, show them how to treat women right, show them how to say no to a man if they aren't comfortable. Teach them to be strong in the most natural way - by your example.
- Going for beers after a dive is a social and industry thing. It's what us scuba divers do, this does not mean we want to have sex with you. Back off. Especially after a few beers.
- Pay women as much as you pay men.
- If you work in a dive shop/ anything in the dive industry with a lot more men to women, raise the issue, ask why, encourage hiring of women.
- Don’t read a list like this and think that most of these don’t apply to you