A significant number of women may be leaving some men far behind in the pursuit of adrenalin pumping adventure sports.
Participating in adventure sports is no longer just for men; in truth, it hasn’t been for years. This trend hasn’t been entirely unforeseeable, while Indian athletes who are women were the only ones who won medals for the country in the last Olympics- that Indian women excel in activities that require physical exertion has been visible for decades. One needs only think back to the runner PT Usha or more recently to the boxer Mary Kom or badminton players Sania Nehwal and P.V Sidhu to name a few Indian women who’ve made and continue to make the country proud.
That more and more Indian women are playing sports is welcome news, that women from across the world have been in the sporting limelight has been appreciated for decades. To understand what drives women, particularly in relatively conservative countries like India to take part in adventure sports, one needs only to understand a few key facts transforming society today.
Women Equalling Men Is No Longer a Utopian Dream
Women are playing the role of bread earners in many households and in urban regions of India it’s not uncommon for wives to earn more than their husbands. Women empowerment is a force for good and many women who participate in adventure sports believe that doing so allows them to experience thrills and cast off stereotypes of demure housebound women in favour of confident women who are active participants- not passive bystanders.
The worldview of Indian women in their late teens, 20s, and 30s is being shaped by global trends which showcase women playing assertive roles in society. More women are also better educated today than they had been in the past. Higher educational achievement allows such women to command good salaries and thereby inspires a generation of women to be well educated and to pursue their dreams rather than to merely help their partners achieve theirs.
Apart and parcel of the newfound freedom women have in the workplace is reflected in greater participation by women in sports that are thrilling and not free from personal injury. Women today are also influenced by their parents, an increasing number of whom don’t see a girl child as a liability but rather as someone who is as capable as a son. The media and public discourse have also crafted a new narrative in which strong women are shown alongside gentlemen working and participating in activities together.
Men’s Worldview Has Also Been Reshaped
Men also have a part to play. More men today are not only tolerant of women participating in traditionally male roles; they outright encourage women to play non-traditional roles. Many couples today enjoy going camping or hiking together and a significant number of men have discovered that their relationship with women is enhanced when they participate in activities together. This is one reason why so many couples today are unafraid of participating in some of the most extreme adventure sports such as skydiving.
A Desire to Look Good, IRL and Online
In a world of overnight celebrities and constant online and offline entertainment, everyone wants to look good. Increasingly more and people also want their friends on social media to see them having a good time. It’s unsurprising that so many couples who’re participating in an adventure sport love to share pictures of them doing so on social media. While the need to look good online has a dark side as revealed by the death of the Indian couple who died while taking selfies in Yosemite National Park last year, many women have realised that adventure sports complement their extensive gym regime while allowing them to escape their hectic urban routine. Hence more and more women enjoy the fact that participating in adventure sports makes them look physically attractive and also allows them to share their intense experience with their friends and family online.
The writer is Niharika Nigam Director-Business Development, Jumpin Heights (Views Are Personal)