Thursday, November 17, 2016

Equity, Equality and the Outdoor Industry

Although it may not seem like it, today was a big deal for equality in the outdoor industry. From Brody Leven's posting about his public support and love for women to the behemoth that is Trek Bikes' taking on the trolls (and handily crushing them), it felt like a banner day.





And then, there were these folks:



Of all the things that Trek Bikes and Outside Magazine publish on their social media every day, why were these the things people chose to take issue with? Why, in an industry that is so full of amazing experiences, stories, people and pursuits, are there so many people so focused on things that have nothing to do with them? Why are there so many folks that are unequivocally against the promotion of female worth?

I've pondered this question more than once. I've beat, tortured and buried this dead horse trying to figure out the 'why's, and I've asked so many different questions that it makes my heart hurt and my head spin. In all of that, I've determined the following:

1: asking why a human being refuses to see something is an absolute waste of time.
2: pondering the existence and depths of human stupidity makes my brain hurt.
3: some people suck.
4: we must stop giving space to this particular infestation in our heads, our sports, and our world.

So I've decided that today, instead of asking questions, I'm gonna lay down a few quick rules.

The first rule: if you are the type of person who believes that inequality doesn't exist, you have no home in the outdoor industry. The second rule: if you are a person who is constantly upset by the efforts of companies and media to improve circumstances for women in the male-dominated outdoor industry, you do not belong in the outdoor industry. Third (and this is really the most important rule of all): if you have a problem with women, with women/girl/female/femme-centric content and with the possibility that not every bit of content is guaranteed to be directed towards you at all times, YOU HAVE NO PLACE IN THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRY.

Yes, I just wrote that. If you do not operate under the belief that women are people and deserve the same opportunities, this is your cue to exit stage left. Now, I promised myself I wouldn't curse in this post because I'm trying to make a point, but if you don't understand any of what I've written or what 'exist stage left' means, GET THE FUCK OUT. (Damn. So much for not swearing.)

Don't pick up your stuff, we'll donate it. Don't say your goodbyes, nobody wants to hear them. Don't make excuses, offer platitudes or pretend that the sexist tropes you offer up are 'just a joke'. We don't care.

We've tolerated the trolls for years. We've stayed while the 'average user' might objectify, demean, underpay, undervalue, insult and even assault us. We've tried not to ruffle feathers when you offer us subpar gear at inflated prices, or when you hire models instead of female athletes. We've even tried to be 'cool' under the immense amount of unrealistic pressure heaped upon us as we battle (politely, of course) for equal air time, for equal page time, for equal camera time, for equal _____ time. We've built programs to encourage girls and young kids, we've written books for parents navigating their way through the darkness that is girls' outdoor and sporting, and we've done our very best to (quietly) build from the inside and shed light on the possibility that yes, we have a problem.

But not anymore. Not for me. I'll stay, but you won't. I will speak so loudly, so truthfully, so angrily that you will shatter in your insecure shell and wander away. I will highlight so many women doing the same thing that you'll feel outnumbered by a million times. I will mock you. I will demean you. I will 'chick' you. And I will laugh. Not because I'm angry, but because it is time that you understand that this is not your house. We've kicked the door in, brought our friends, and we're gonna have ourselves a goddamn party.

This is not your world anymore.

This is OUR place. This is the place where people come to feel whole, to be capable, to progress and work and to do it all in the most beautiful surroundings. This is a place where capability rules, where adaptation wins, and where our willingness to work hard dictates our success, not our gender. This is a world of equality and promise now; unless you're willing to live by that code, you're welcome to see yourself out.

There is no place for you anymore.