A Bay Area filmmaker and professional wakeboarder is using her skills to send a powerful message to women in her sport after a publication made a decision she says proves the industry has a long way to go in gender equality.
Nicola Butler, of Pleasanton, sets the tone in her video with one line, addressing women who have been told they can't. An internationally recognized pro wakeboarder, Butler said she made the video in response to magazine Alliance Wake’s decision to hand out what she and others feel was a very sexist award.
"I just decided it was kind of time to celebrate the girls," said Butler, a three-time world champion. "Recently, we were kind of left out with a female of the year rider award. I wanted to show the younger girls and the next generation what happens when women unite."
Butler felt a need to address the role of women in the growing sport. So she created a 2-minute video dubbed "For the girls," showing what women can do.
"I had the girls email me the footage they wanted in it, and we collaborated and came up with the script about what needs to be said," Butler explained.
Butler said her sponsor, Rockstar energy drink, has been a big supporter of female wakeboarders, but overall the sport has been slow to recognize its female stars.
"We're not included in a lot of contests or videos or covers," she said.
The big issue that prompted her video message was with sports media company Alliance Wake's recent decision not to issue an award for female wakeboarder of the year. They did, however, present an award for best wake butt.
In a recent post, Alliance Wake defended its decision, saying the awards were meant to be tongue-in-cheek humor. The media company said it chose not to select a female rider of the year because there was not a clear standout in all categories.
Butler’s video offers a different view.
"I've been getting a lot of messages from dads, which is cool," Butler said. The men told her they were showing the video to their daughters, and the girls love it.