Female Trickers Speak Out, Part 1
Picture something for me. Imagine if we took all the trickers in the world, and we grouped them together under one gigantic roof. We’d put some music on, clear some space for people to throw down, and turn it into a sick party. Sounds pretty perfect, right? Except that a cruel realization would creep through the crowd, dawning on each tricker until everyone discovered the cold, hard truth:
This party is a huge sausage fest.
Oh yes, no matter where you look, the vast majority of trickers are dudes. And that’s not the end of the world, at least not for us guys. Hell, we all like some “bro time.” But for female trickers, this imbalance sometimes totally sucks. Trickers or not, girls in general have to deal with creepy dudes aggressively flirting with them or being straight-up sexist. And when the sport you love surrounds you with dudes 24/7, that can get tough. So I decided to talk to some of tricking’s most seasoned and talented females in order to hear their side of the story. Here in Part 1, we’ve got some ladies from Intrepid Tricking: Tori Yo Fecteau and Ashley Adams. Without further ado, let’s get started.
JP: Sooooo who are you and stuff?
TF: I’m a junior at the University of South Carolina studying management, marketing, and Japanese. I’ve been tricking since 2008 or 2009 with the South Carolina trickers, like Bailey “Bagels” Payne and Austin Koon. I then moved to Tokyo in high school and trained with the Tokyo trickers, like Daisuke Takahashi. I now run Intrepid Tricking from South Carolina.
AA: I’m from Colorado, and I train with the Tricking Tribe. Plus I’m on Intrepid, and I’m starting a company with two other trickers called Meraki Tricking.
How did you first get into tricking?
TF: After years of gymnastics and then taekwondo, I was at the gym one day and saw 11- or 12-year-old Bagels doing parkour. I thought it looked pretty fun, so I started training with them. But we all transitioned from parkour to tricking pretty quickly thanks to Ben Hitz, who is currently tricking in Colorado with Pikes Peak.
AA: I did cheer and breakdancing before. Got really bored of cheer because I did it for like 9 years and didn’t get good at the part I liked, flipping. One day I was at a gym with my best friend, Erina, and we were trying to figure out if anyone there knew how to btwist. One of the coaches pointed us to Alec Vail, who gave us Nick Vail’s phone number to do privates. And now I trick frequently and attend a lot of gatherings.
What do you love most about tricking?
TF: The obvious answer here would be the community and the friends I’ve made, but there’s a lot more than that. Being such an unorganized sport, tricking pushed me to be more intrinsically driven, which has translated to other areas of my life. Furthermore, I love that tricking ruins the idea of limits and impossibility, because the athletes in this sport are breaking boundaries of athleticism and creativity on the daily.
AA: I personally love doing flips the most, and it’s fun to challenge myself with the things I don’t necessarily like, such as 540. But beyond that, I use tricking as a form of expression and a way to become the best version of myself. I like to find what I’m subconsciously or consciously resisting and take steps to overcome it. It’s a good way to build your character and to build strong relationships with people around you.
Was it weird at first to be surrounded by dudes all the time? Is it weird now?
TF: It was definitely weird at first. As a 12- or 13-year-old girl, I was hyper aware of it and incredibly self-conscious about how I couldn’t do all of the same tricks. It got less weird within my home community after training with the same people regularly. But it got weird again when I first started going to tricking gatherings – I got way more attention than I expected or deserved, and I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the situation. But when I kept training and got more involved in the community, I found that people started to look at me and treat me much more like just another tricker, and much less like a rarity in our sport.
AA: I didn’t think it was weird at all. I never really fit in when I did cheer, and coming from breakdancing, it was normal to be around the guys. I battled the guys all the time when I was young, so when I started going to gatherings, I never felt weird being one of the few girls. But then I started noticing people treating me differently because I’m a female. It’s like people thought I was there to watch or something like that. When I went to my first sessions, I never doubted that I could dubdub watching Nick, Rudy, and all the elite level trickers here. But I slowly noticed people’s doubt in me when I showed up to a ‘guys’ event.’
Have you ever felt stereotyped or judged for being female?
TF: Absolutely. From Day 1, I’ve been treated differently from male trickers. Some dudes will tell you all of your tricks are “really good for a girl,” while others totally brush all girl trickers aside and throw around the label “tricker groupie slut (TGS).” They argue that if girl trickers really cared about tricking, they would be a lot better than they are. But while these are very real stigmas that female trickers face regularly, I still think the majority of the tricking community has been very accepting and respectful of female trickers.
AA: People would always say that they only see girls at gatherings who are a girlfriend of a tricker or are “only there to hook up with guys.” Someone even asked me at a gathering, when I was looking around for a close friend, if I was trying to get with him. Hah! The stereotype has gone wayyy too deep. The girls who trick can only do tornado hook aerial apparently? Please! What ignorance.
Is “girl tricker” a term that you’re okay with? If not, what would you prefer?
TF: I think “girl tricker” is fine term, just as anyone would talk about tall trickers or big trickers, or any other demographic of trickers. The problem is when this term is used with a negative connotation, in a derogatory way, or in a way that stereotypes all female trickers.
AA: Not at all. The term “girl tricker” is associated to “TGS’s,” a.k.a. sluts or girls who aren’t good enough according to the standards of tricking. As someone who trains her ass off to be good at the sport I love, yes, it’s offensive to call me that, or to call any girl that in my opinion. The term has completely and unnecessarily grouped females together. So many girls think of Mackensi Emory as the best they can strive for, rather than Michael Guthrie or someone else. Most are setting tricks on a pedestal too much; they think that the best they can do is to double cork rather than triptrip. The truth is women don’t realize how capable they are because the tricking community has limited their mindset. I’ve seen 15-year-old girls do full-ins with ease. I’ve seen 9-year-old girls do dubs. So what’s the big deal in tricking? I have no doubt that a girl can dubdub and even break past that. I would just like to ask for you to retire the whole “girl tricker” term because honestly, IT HURTS ME! Most of you will never understand what it is like to be a female in a male-dominated sport, so please don’t use it anymore. It makes me feel like I am not good enough to just be called a “tricker.”
Do you get hit on a lot?
TF: I definitely did for a long time. I don’t think any male trickers have bad intentions; some of them just don’t think things through. They don’t realize that hitting on a girl when she’s trying to train is just inconsiderate and usually won’t yield great results. But as I’ve gotten more well-known within the tricking community, I get hit on a lot less. I think there’s something very different about hitting on the new girl at the gym vs. hitting on a girl that has earned her place in the community. Mackensi Emory and some other well-respected female trickers say that they never had to deal with getting hit on much, and that’s my theory as to why.
AA: Not really, but when I do its usually pretty awkward and doesn’t work. Hah!
Do you feel that guys and girls trick differently? Do they approach tricking differently?
TF: There’s no denying that we have different types of bodies, which can affect our tricking strengths, weaknesses, and style. However, while I think a lot of girls trick similarly and a lot of guys trick similarly, there’s definitely no clear-cut line. When I started tricking, I found my style of tricking to be very similar to that of Jujimufu, who happens to be wildly flexible. There are definitely girl trickers out there that trick in a more “masculine” way and vice versa. I don’t think there’s really a difference to the approach of tricking between the girls and guys.
AA: There aren’t many females to compare, but I don’t think so. For both males and females, there are people who don’t train and people who train hard. Out of those people there are people who like power, cleanliness, creativity, etc. Gaby Macias is a female who is creative, Mackensi is a female who is clean, etc. I can’t even think of many examples because there aren’t too many girls… Probably over 95% of trickers are male, so to truly figure out that question, we need more girls involved.
There is also smart training vs. risky training. Girls are more known to use mats too much, and I think it’s because we are more fearful. The only way to get past it is to dive right into it. Girls, learn how to fall, it helps a lot!
Why do you think tricking is such a male-dominated sport, and how can we get more females involved?
TF: Tricking is a male-dominated sport primarily because it’s rooted in male-dominated sports, such as martial arts and breakdancing. Furthermore, because of the reasons above (getting hit on and judged), it’s difficult to really stick with the sport as a female. As the community has grown, however, I think this is becoming less and less true. In the most developed communities, such as Colorado, the girl trickers have experienced a very comfortable transition into the tricking world. For that reason, I think we, as a community, are headed in the right direction. There are starting to be more and more female role models in the community, which is a huge part of getting more girls involved. I also try to make new girl trickers feel comfortable and train hard at gatherings, in an effort to encourage them to stick with it. The Euphoria team is especially good about doing that. The only thing left is to get rid of the stereotypes and judgments so that girls feel welcome in the tricking community as athletes.
AA: It started with all males, so it’s still all males. You gotta grow your community of trickers and reach out to females, because there are probably tons of girls like me who don’t want anything to do with cheer anymore. Find girls who are interested in this kind of thing already and teach them. The girls that trick already just need to continue progressing. It wasn’t until after seeing Scotty Skelton dub did someone even think about the possibility of dubdub. Now there are people who can dubdubdubdub! The female community starts with the current females, and their skills and relationships set the tone.
What do you wish male trickers understood better about female trickers?
TF: The main thing I wish guys understood is that we female trickers are just as passionate about tricking and just as capable as anyone else. I hate to see people brushing aside and/or ignoring girl trickers because although there aren’t many of us, we are still a very real part of the tricking community and deserve the same amount of respect as other trickers.
AA: I don’t know. I’m just another brotha except I’m a sista? We’re all a bunch of brothas!
And by the way, gumbi is not a “girl trick.” Guys just think their backs aren’t flexible so they refuse to train it. In reality it’s mostly hip/side flexibility.
What is your next tricking goal?
TF: Currently, I am not tricking due to health reasons, so my goal has become less focused on athletics and more focused on giving back to the sport that has given so much to me. My goals in tricking now mostly revolve around the growth of Intrepid Tricking and doing all that I can to help tricking grow in a positive direction.
AA: I have so many. I am trying to get swings better, and I’m trying to get all my full twisting skills, plus different setups and different transitions. Make them efficient like I did with cart fulls before replacing them with dubs. Trying out more original combos (OCs) ‘cause I can. Be an all-American twistbot ‘cause I can. Trying to get some kicks, but they’re not as fun for me. I want to get to c9h (c10 in mainstream?), do up to 720 degrees with any transition, and P9r (no clue in mainstream).
Any final thoughts you’d like the world to know?
TF: Possessing a vagina actually makes you better at tricking, but we’re keeping that secret for now.
AA: Meraki Tricking… Tricking Tribe… Trick Theory… Torque Tricking… Right on the money brothas… I love tricking… I like tea… Uhhhh haha… I love you all… It’s all about the bangers 🙂