The internet is a large and diverse place. There’s something in it for everyone. If you’re a left-handed, horse-loving, vodka-drinking paperhanger, I’m sure there’s a website just for you.
It’s the same way with ski forums. There’s EpicSki, TGR (Teton Gravity Research), and AlpineZone, to name a few, as well as my personal favorite, TheSkiDiva.com. Although each of these focuses on skiing, that’s pretty much where the similarity ends. Each forum has its own culture, its own character, and its own group of dominant personalities. It’s easy to see what I mean; just go take a look. As I said, there’s something out there for everyone.
Recently I came across a discussion on EpicSki about whether or not their forum is a welcoming environment for women. Since I rarely visit over there, this is something I can’t even begin to address. But it got me thinking about character and culture, and how TheSkiDiva has developed its own personality. Yes, obviously, TheSkiDiva is welcoming to women. (In fact, that’s all we welcome.) But how did the site become the way it is, and how is it different from others on the web?
The first question is easy to answer. Basically, I wanted a site where women’s concerns were front and center. Where women could connect with one another and talk about skiing in a way that we could relate to. It’s something I thought was missing from the other ski forums, and obviously, it made us different right away.
Yes, different — but not inferior. Our membership ranges from beginners to oh-my-god experts. All are welcomed and treated with the same consideration. And that’s the key. I think what sets TheSkiDiva apart is the way we conduct ourselves. I can’t explain why, but there’s not a lot of bragging and boasting going on. The environment is extremely supportive. We applaud one another’s efforts. We accept one another as the skiers that we are, without being dismissive or judgmental. We offer lots of friendly advice. We’re more apt to build up than to tear down.
In short, we’re nice.
There’s no denying I’m a feminist. I truly believe that women can and should do whatever they want; that they shouldn’t be sexualized or exploited or perceived as somehow inferior beings. It’s always irked me that people assume that anything targeted to women is somehow not as good as something primarily for men. Or that women have to be more like men in order to succeed. Sure, there’s some talk on TheSkiDiva about fashion and ski graphics and that sort of stuff. That’s okay. It’s fun. It’s what we like. After all, we’re girls.
The culture of women is different. I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t explain why. Maybe it’s the nurturing aspect of our nature. Maybe it’s because many of us were encouraged to be good and not rock the boat – something that can definitely work against us. Nonetheless, the upside is a very civilized environment. Which, to me, isn’t necessarily bad.
If this leaves you with the impression that TheSkiDiva is this fluffy, pink place of lollipops and roses, that’s hardly the case. Yes, we have our disagreements. And there’s plenty of technical talk, detailed ski reviews, discussions about technique, resort reports, and all the other stuff you’ll find on the other ski forums. We just do it in our own way.
I’m extremely proud of the site. I’ve made some wonderful friends and learned a great deal from the women who’ve joined. And I’m in awe of the way they routinely step outside themselves to offer support and help one another. No, it’s not the gnarliest site out there. But in my book, it’s definitely the best.