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Welcoming women into the skateboarding community

Updated: Apr 17

The skateboard scene in Minneapolis is growing, as are efforts to remove the sexism that sometimes flares up in the community. Vinnie Nanthavongsa is an instructor at Familia Skateshop Headquarters in Northeast Minneapolis. He attributes the sexism in part to the fact that skateboarding can be expensive.

“I think skateboarding can kind of be a privileged activity… it costs so much money to do,” he said. “[Those] kids are just raised differently, they're super privileged and that can leak into the toxic masculinity thing.”

Instructor Karlee Aponte says places like Familia are working to address these inequalities to help reframe skate culture.

“There's a lot of people in the skateboard community but they were the first ones willing to hire a woman,” she said, referring to her employer. “They’ve always been respectful and willing to have those types of conversations about sexism and misogyny.”

At many indoor skate parks, there is a required fee to skate. Familia requires a $15 fee for male skaters and an $8 fee for female skaters.

“We’re just trying to push more women skateboarding,” said Vinny.

“When I first started, it was actually ‘girls skate for free,’” added Karlee, “because there weren't that many of us at the time. So I think it's a good way to encourage women to enter the skate scene.”

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