Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Art Of The Slut-Shame (Or Lack Thereof)

I recently posted an image of my abs on Instagram, and not because I'm a fitness personality (I'm not) or trying to brag about my body (I don't) or even trying to gain more followers (fuck that). I posted this image of myself in running shorts and a long-sleeved t-shirt for one reason: to refute the claims of the haters.

"Aren't you the fat chick that got kicked out of Canyons?", "You're just mad because you're ugly" and "The only people who have a problem with it [the commercial sexuality within biking] are the obese and ass-faced chicks" are all things that have been said to me because of my stance on the issues surrounding #AbilityOverAesthetics. And I laugh. Why? Because fuck those guys, that's why -- they'll never have the opportunity to meet me to find out who the person on the other end of the screen is, and that makes me giggle. It's not about what I look like anymore than it's about what other women do -- none of that has anything to do with our skills or abilities around sports and cycling... Just because we are able to exploit our sport doesn't mean we should. 💥 #crushlife #hatersgonnahate #tatersgonnapotate
A photo posted by Amanda Batty (@abattycakes) on

Why would I post this for the haters? Because they're wrong about me on so many levels, but often in ways that I'm unable to factually disprove without opening my life up for total examination or wasting my breath (and time) trying to explain why.

Over the last few years as I've made strong statements about the value of women, our ability to avoid commercializing sexuality and turning the women in our sport into sexual objects, the one 'insult' and completely wrong statement has been that I'm A: fat or B: ugly. These haters claim that the only reason I'm openly and aggressively against exploiting the sexuality or the appearance of women in cycling is because I cannot do that for myself. Their claim is that because I'm too ugly or fat to commercialize my appearance, I speak out against it.

I am not.

Obviously.

But I didn't post this photo only to refute that. I posted this photo as a means of showing that if these trollish idiots were wrong about my appearance, what else are they wrong about? If these men (and women) are so vastly ignorant of what I actually look like, how unfamiliar must they be with the rest of me, including my actions, words, passions and goals? And if they are ignorant of that, they clearly cannot intelligently or logically refute the things that I say that ARE based in fact, logic, studies and education. They simply cannot.

And so I posted it with what I assumed was an obvious caption. The last line in my caption read "Just because we are able to exploit our sport doesn't mean we should." I left this here as a very blunt indication that I had chosen not to exploit myself or my sport and that it was indeed possible to be successful without doing so. It seemed pretty damn obvious.

Clearly, based on the overblown reactions and messages I received later, it was not.

I was slut-shamed.

And it shames me to say this, but I wasn't targeted by the haters or the models from the ads or marketing I've so vocally opposed. Instead, it came from a woman who claims that she's about empowering women. It came from someone who coaches other women in programs like Vida MTB series, the Cycle Effect and 'backcountry babes'. This message claimed that the photo I posted showed me 'taking off my pants' and that I was wearing booty shorts, and that I should delete the photo and let my riding speak for itself. I refuted her claims and explained my stance, and she fired back with how much respect for me has been lost by her and so many others.






To that (and to anyone else), I will say this: FUCK. OFF. I don't care if you respect me or not. My actions and entire existence are not to validate the goals you or anyone else has. My actions are solely mine and a reflection of who I am as a living, breathing, duality-having human with depth, compassion, imperfections and intelligence. If you try to put me into a box, you will not only be greatly disappointed, but you will fail. I cannot be defined by the limits you try to impose on society and my boundary-breaking personality IS THAT because of who I am. I don't play by your rules, and I'm certainly not living to earn anyone's affections or respect; I learned a very long time ago that if you live for that, you aren't living at all. I learned it the hard way when I lost everything because of that -- not just everything that matters, either. I lost it all. And from then, I have always lived for one reason: myself.

The person I am has to fight for change, for improvement, for compassion. Who I am isn't based on the value you assign me because I happen to play into your politics for a brief moment or because you've deemed me as 'hot' or 'ugly'. Who I am is based on everything that is inside of me and the mind and spirit I have, boiling hotter than a nuclear reaction.

And yes, this matter has been rolling around in that magical lava cesspool that is my brain, and I decided that I don't like this for one reason: you cannot define another human being, and how dare you attempt to do just that? How dare you approach me and accuse me of taking off my pants when, in all honesty, you're the one with the reading comprehension problem? I was clearly addressing the people out there that would determine a woman's value only by her appearance and those who have dismissed my opinions (and mounds of marketing, logic, evidence and economic science) because of their beliefs about my body type and face shape?

When you are the side that cannot see my post for what it is -- my joy in the strong, capable, athletic, powerful body I've been blessed with -- it's not I who has lost the respect. I have respect. I have respect for myself, for my body, for my industry, for those who follow me. I have respect for the girls who look up to me, for the women I coach. I have respect for my fellow racers and riders, and THAT is the reason I posted this.

Just because you have allowed yourself to be defined by others doesn't mean I will. I am not fat, ugly, a slut or an object. I am human with duality and intelligence and humor.

And I will never fit in that box you've built.