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Discussion Starter #1
I have been asked to expand my instruction of basic kayaking to include a women specific class. I am excited because I have always enjoyed paddling with and tried to encourage other female paddlers. I have been trying to research the women-specific instruction phenomena that seems to be growing in popularity across the country as increasing numbers of women take up two-bladed paddles, but I am not finding much that is substantive. Anna L. seems to have done the most noteworthy work in trying to explain the differences that make women unique from their male peers in paddling. I am interested in knowing the thoughts and perceptions of other female paddlers.
 

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V for Victory
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I'm a guy, but my observation is simply that guys are stronger on average than women. Guys are used to forcing their way through physical pursuits. Women tend to finesse their way on the average. Mental factors aside, this makes women naturally more adept at the river because finesse usually works better than force against a river because the river is always stronger and never tires. Oh... and women can throw their hips better than guys! ;)
 

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I learned to roll from a man, he was a great teacher - no complaints.

I love floating down the river seeing things no one else (unless in a boat) can see or experience.

Rapids are fun, like a rollercoaster and it's fun to look back at the rapid and think "I totally stomped that!" or "I am lucky I didn't swim that, what a bad line" It's a fun mental game.

I notice I am very different as far as paddling goes compared to my husband, I err on the side of caution, he would rather bomb something over his head and freak himself out. That actually happened this year when he had a long swim thru Westwater in March that left him afraid afterwords to put on at small stuff like Deckers. I would rather stay within my limits and push them only when I feel very confident about my skills, this is not the way any of the men I have boated with view kayaking IMO.

I want to feel in control first and push my limits second.
 

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I'm not sure if you are asking about why women want to learn with/from women, or how women learn differently?
I am confused as well. For my lady, she enjoys catching eddies, making ferries, etc and loves spending time outside. She hates being scared, and if she is then she's not having fun on the water.

Female boaters are better to teach than their men counterparts b/c there's no ego involved. Guys try way too hard to muscle sports and tend to get in way over their head. Women on the other hand, paddle what they enjoy being on and don't have to check their egos.

In my experience, I prefer to teach beginner women over men. Once they are both class 3 paddlers, I think both eagerly approach the sport and how they get better.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Both

I'm not sure if you are asking about why women want to learn with/from women, or how women learn differently?
I am interested in both. I appreciate the insights and perspectives of those who have responded. As I have been looking at articles I have found several that state that there are definite differences in how women approach paddling/ and instruction, but not much detail after that. I have my own ideas naturally, but I am interested in what others think.
 

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Cowgirls

"Women are just male paddlers with more reason and finesse."
I have mostly a historic viewpoint on women and their love for paddling.
I've paddled for 27 years (since the Earth cooled and paddles were clubs.) I was taught by John Sweet at PSU who was all about slalom. Cathy Hearn was my hero. I saw her in a film called "fast and clean." For the first 3yrs I never needed a roll, mostly because I didn't jump into holes. But also I saw ALOT of girlfriends being screamed down the river by their boyfriends. I decided that would never be me. Paddling was my own private thing and remains so. On 2 occasions I recall the gals ditched their drill sergents and came with me and my crew.

So I taught 3 boyfriends to paddle, who stayed at my same level III sometimes IV. I paddled out West w/o a combat roll and Canada (Ottawa) Kenebec, Penobscot and The Black (NY.) After 13 years I got myself to NOC because I wanted to side surf and endo. Mary DeReimer (DeRiemer Adventure Kayaking) & Tom DeQuir (Grace Under Pressure Video) were there. They were teaching a more graceful-less-effort style and running the Green in its first year. Mary and I ran a small 15' fall on the French Broad. It was my first and last waterfall, not enough testosterone, I said. The next year I got serious about paddling and teaching and was living in D.C. I paddled 200 days that year and took 2 yrs. off to race, living in my van, paddling lots of stuff. I lived with folks trying to make the US team. During that time E.J. and Jason Beakes ran the MD side of Great FAlls. I truly never thought I'd see the day someone ran THAT thing.

But I never thought I'd see someone make a living at designing mostly play boats either.

Women started showing up for rodeo events and squirting, but still less than 5-6 at a time. The Dancer XS was considered a revolution. Then Tanya Shuman showed up and it seemed like in DC the ratios went way up (1993?) and women showed up alone. Wave Sport came out with the XXX with more open hips and cockpits made more sense.

Now its a whole new ballgame. Women are in every aspect of the sport, including the business end (nice work, Dana, Nancy and Cara!)
I think if you polled "old school" paddlers like myself they would agree that only MEN make comparisons or see women as "less strong" versions of men in paddling. I paddle JUST for me. I don't THROW myself down a river, I NEVER say "what the hell" but that also doesn't mean I'm not aggressive. When I AM attacking something I'm a bad-ass. But like one other post said, I'm more about power ferries and USING the water. I love the sensual feel of something much larger than me being unpredictible, but me finding my own flow through it, using it. I am rational but I'm easily bored too. I like being in charge but I want a thrill. Mostly, however, I paddle for the "glow factor." That factor has nothing to do with either estrogen or testosterone or the volume (make, design or year) of my boat. Seratonin is king.

You've asked a tough question. NOW that I can choose a boat as though it were a golf club, I can get more challenge with a smaller boat. I can spend more time on a wave with a shorter boat. I can bomb down something in a race boat. I can go down a class or river and make it difficult by borrowing a new boat. So glow factor is the only way I have to measure why I paddle.

Lastly, Instruction. I think instructing is ONE thing that many women more readily enjoy as part of paddling than most men. Its a tribal-nurture thing. Tribal men are off running creeks and howling at the moon (ha! ha!) When I taught my kids to paddle it was ecstacy and I didn't need to have new rivers to accomplish for over two years. I got a glow from instruction.

In my humble opinion its a marketing idea that women gain by teaching women. Mary D. started a Women's Week of Rivers in the early 90's for NOC. I didn't do that course. I had some kick-ass male instructors those years: John Weld (Riversport,) Scott Coulter (Outdoor Excursions,) Tom DeQuir (NOC.) They all share a viewpoint of paddling for self-inquiry and challenge and they all have won titles of one sort or another. So like men, women like myself learn from someone they respect but don't need to impress (or be impressed by.) I find my respect turning more and more to young women paddlers, though, too. But I really respect men who love to instruct and can bring home the titles. (I like their bodies!)

There's a gal who won the Cheat downriver that placed in the top 12% of ALL men and women. The race had less than 25 women and over 110 paddlers. You do the math, she's aggressive, rational, and has finesse. Nice work Susan! Perhaps the question fades here by 2010.

Today I no longer teach my boyfriends to kayak. I look for a fellow-boater with no one to impress but themself. Back then I'd NEVER be a shuttle-bunny. Now I'm happy to provide the service and ask him to do the same. Afterall, what are men for, other than the heavy lifting?
But then, my historic perspective makes me biased toward utility! :p I'm "less strong" than a man my size!
 

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Obviously I'm a guy, but in our club we have about a 50/50 mix of men and women and we definitely have more women that can roll than men. I believe this is because the women in the club are far more receptive to instruction and willing to practice incremental steps towards the goal (ie hipsnaps etc) whereas most of the guys are just want a 1 minute tutorial and think they can roll. I've also found that of the members of our club the women are actually better teachers as well which could be part of the nurture instinct someone mentioned before.

On the river I've seen some of what you've all been describing to an extent with women being more hesitant to say screw it and bomb something. However, I'm also inclined to believe that this may just be a personality thing less than a gender thing and may be biased by the sort of men that the sport attracts.
 

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Personality types

"On the river I've seen some of what you've all been describing to an extent with women being more hesitant to say screw it and bomb something. However, I'm also inclined to believe that this may just be a personality thing less than a gender thing and may be biased by the sort of men that the sport attracts.[/quote]"

I was driving today and wondering: "why didn't I just jump into holes early on?" It's this very thing you mentioned, and I concluded myself: its a personality thing, not a gender thing. My Myers-Briggs is "the inventor" I like to figure out and make new. 2% of population, more men than women. My type will complicate things if they're not interesting enough; my type says "and, and, and, and" no "but, but." Most of the people I mentioned have at least some of these same qualities. I think we notice what we ourselves are most likely to see through our own filters. I like an interesting question more than an accurate answer.

Say hello to xxx Gerrity for me at Denver club, I paddled with his dad Dave this weekend!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
8lifeGREAT wrote "I like an interesting question more than an accurate answer."

I agree. I have a sister-in-law who I have paddled with and learned wakeboarding with. She tells me repeatedly to get out of my head and just do it! She very quickly became an excellent paddler BTW.

I have found all of the answers interesting... I thought a question like this would have multiple answers, and so the question.
Thanks!
 

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women specific classes

I believe that women are drawn to women-only instruction classes for a few reasons. They may feel less intimidated with a lower level of testosterone floating around. They may enjoy that (llikely) most people are there to learn and not pick up women. They may enjoy the camaraderie of women, want to meet and learn with women if they don't necessarily have that type of group of women friends.

I've never been drawn to that type of class, but have many women friends who are. They usually tend to be taking a class in something they feel very weak at (say telemark skiing), and are not very confident. By the time the class is over, they are usually much more confident and interested in participating with a mixed group.
 

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"I love the sensual feel of something much larger than me being unpredictible, but me finding my own flow through it, using it...Seratonin is king."

Right on Sister! Sensual, that's why I paddle, I love the feel of the water moving with and through me, especially really high water.

I'm an old school paddler as well. I started a group called Women On Water many years ago to introduce women to the sport without the fear of high testosterone. I found that many of the women needed to feel safe before embarking on a new skill that carried fear for them. There tended to be more talking prior to the "doing" phase.

Times have changed and that was over 15 yrs ago. From what I've seen with the current generation of female boaters there tends to be a more, "just do it" attitude. I also think the age of the women you are teaching creates a teaching style unique to that population.

Kim
 
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