Friday, January 22, 2016

Control.

It's said that the only control humans have is how we respond to stimulus. Even then, much of it is based around the person we are and the experiences we're able to reference. 

As a logical human who also happens to be prone to outrageous responses, my brain likes to scream 'NO!' rather than 'yes, this is true'. 

I respond to everything. I cannot help it. If I were a therapist, I'd diagnose myself as a high-functioning child with the appearance of an adult but who has little self-discipline and focus; reaction is based on the level of experience I have. 

I think, however, this holds true for the majority of the bike community. We're 'grown ups' making poor investments, creating economic bubbles, throwing tantrums, tossing away the future in an effort to win right now and vehemently denying the existence of anything we think we might not enjoy. 

E-bikes are the industry's Lima beans (we won't eat them, Mom. We refuse!). Women are the girls next door that we have to play with but who we steer clear of because clearly, girls are dumb and icky, but we'll definitely play with their toys and steal a fruit snack or two. We want it both ways, but only ours. We'll only do something if it's comfortable or seems cool, and we're deathly afraid of anything that might be different. 

Because we can't control it. 

Just like nap time, we don't have a say. And that makes us angry. We've alienated outside business investments because we need absolute control (that toy is MINE!) and cannot tap into evolving markets or successfully engage new users without first alienating them. Why? Because we're unfailingly stubborn. We think we know best because this is the way it's always been done, regardless of the idea that cycling (especially professional cycling) is one of the youngest sports on the planet. It's not horse racing, it's not boxing, it's not bullfighting or gymnastics or climbing mountains or running or... You get the gist. But just like a toddler, our young sport has a set pattern. And damn you if you try to change our pattern. We'll throw a tantrum like no other tantrum before because, despite it being new and fresh in the world of sport, our 'history' and 'legacy' is precious... 

Never mind the Lance Armstrong debacle, cigarette smoking in the early 1900s, bike development and the ever-changing face of modern cycling. DON'T TRY TO CHANGE OUR NAPTIME, MOM. We've been doing it this way forever (if forever is no more than 150 years, or mere 'infancy' in the timeline of sport). We don't like change. 

However, like most children, if we don't change and adapt, we'll end up as non-functioning adults who live in their mom's basement, relegated to an unlived life and banished to the realms of mediocrity in the 'sad tales of what could have been' hall. 

My recommendation? Grow up. Get a job. Keep the sense of wonder, of fun, of excitement, but grow the hell up. It's time for our sport to do less tantrum throwing and more changing. Like skiing did a while back (and hopefully, less like snowboarding), we're in our pubescent years as a pursuit. Yes, it's painful. Yes, it's not pretty. We have weird spots of grossness and hair growing everywhere and WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?! popping up, but we need to accept that this is part of our process. We cannot be the toddlers of the white and very male genome any longer. We cannot do the world any service by focusing solely on the fact that we hate beans and naps and that we want to play with our blocks all day and leave us alone. It has to change. 

If boobs and cheap marketing are our play blocks while women, ethnicities and tech advancements are our beans and naps, perhaps it's time to maybe try them. Maybe go outside and see the new things the world is offering, maybe make a friend or four. Because while cycling may be stuck in a childhood time warp, the rest of the world won't tolerate it, and tantrums don't fix anything. Unlike in our infancy when everyone had high hopes in the potential that was the baby cycling and told us how cute we were, the world no longer revolves around us and we must find out how to fit in with the patterns of normal human operation. We cannot exclude other people or we won't have friends. We cannot pretend we're the most important thing because GUESS WHAT? We're not. Not everyone hates naps or beans and eventually, we'll have to stop crying about it because truly, nobody cares and they're busy monetizing naps and beans. We cannot respond to anything that is different with a whiny 'we hate that' because, well... We don't actually have control. Mom (aka, the world and life) will eventually force us to love naps and we'll start to appreciate beans. We cannot have much of anything exactly how we like it.

I'm learning this. I'm learning this extremely quickly and learning to respond with less rage and more humor. Less anger about things not being how I need them to be to make my world a perfect place, and more understanding that it's my job to create them. Less expectation of people to behave like adults and more realization that many of us are just toddlers. 

So please excuse me if I treat you with indifference. I'm assuming you're a toddler.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Women.

Somewhere between deleting my social media apps from my phone, reading two new books, skiing my face off, making cookies and reconnecting with friends, I forgot to clarify and reiterate a few things on the 'sex sells/sexual objectification/enraged feminist' front (because none of you are suuuuuper tired of it yet, right??). I don't always communicate with other humans, but when I do, there's chaos.

(Someone please make this into a meme.)

First: this is my opinion. Like the rest of them, they're simply mine. They're not fact, they're not law, they're just the thoughts and feelings and perspectives that flow from my impact-addled brain and my well-intentioned heart. You can refute them or abuse me for them, but at the end of the day, they'll still just be opinions. Some of them have even changed. Such as this one from a little way back. Well, part of it has. (I still think that 'giving women a place' in MTB is messed up. We already have a place: front and center with the rest of the riders.)

I digress (as is the way of the squirrel-brain). Anyway.

Not many folks seem to have read my last post about human duality and 'having it both ways'. If you haven't, go read that. Then come back. 

I think most of my criticism of sexual marketing by companies have been internalized by a lot of other women and taken as bullying or criticism of them personally. Let me say this: please don't. My criticisms of commercial sexual exploitation do not extend to anyone else's personal choices. It's simply not my job nor my place to say shit-all about anyone else's decisions. If you feel bullied by my opinion, I'm sorry. 

I was looped into and given a heads up about this by a kind friend who sees a wider range of the female cycling field than I do (possibly because she hasn't alienated anyone like I have) and we had a clear, open conversation about where personal lines have to be drawn.

After reading a comment by another rider, I wrote, "Lifting each other up is extremely important, hence all of the projects I'm involved in (like this one), but critical thinking is often overlooked in the eternal glorification of optimism. There's a time and a place for self-criticism, and the bike industry is long overdue. If female athletes want to market themselves a certain way, more power to them. But my personal line is drawn at companies who exploit women... I refuse to condone or allow that, and the more athletes who speak out, the better the industry and our consumers will understand that cycling is a place of equality. The world is a cruel enough place -- bikes need to be about fun and bicycling, not about politics. And unfortunately, the current environment in MTB/cycling has created a need for gender politics and resulted in everyone taking sides." 

She replied with an accurate assessment of "Seems there are 2 camps. As noted by other female athletes, many women athletes still choose to use the sex sells method." I agreed. 

"However", I replied, "that's an athlete's choice. I'm NOT going to criticize or condemn another woman for choosing what to do with her own image or body. That's all her, and trusting each others' judgement is paramount to getting anywhere." 

But companies? Faceless entities who reinforce gender stereotypes and sell products through sex by exploiting the pre-determined 'value' someone has that's based on a false attractiveness scale? Hell no. If a company is free to exploit and objectify an entire gender? I'm completely free to run a rage train on their uninformed asses. 

"But, but... Women exploit and objectify themselves all the time! Look at porn! Look at Instagram!" 

Hey, clueless! Guess what? It's not exploitation* of it's a conscious choice made by a consenting adult. However, as a company cannot get portrayal consent from the entire female gender (and because the stories we tell shape our future), it IS exploitation when women are portrayed solely as sexual objects designed to sell a product... Especially inside of an industry where there are so many badass women. It's a crime in itself to even suggest that women who MTB are solely the sum of their attractiveness. 

My fellow athletes are consenting adults. I respect and trust their judgement (and their right to an opinion), even if I may not agree or be willing to make that choice for myself. Just like I'm not going to hammer down on someone for smoking pot, why on earth should I criticize another woman for the way she chooses to portray her humanity? Do I agree with it? Does that really matter? No. It doesn't. What I think is inconsequential to another human's value. My opinions and feelings and even my best logic-based reasoning all take a back seat to that person's inherent value. That's what compassion and humanity is. That's what feminism is -- a belief that everyone has their own intrinsic value beyond gender, sexuality, race, religion, etc etc, and that their value gives the right to make choices as an individual. I can only speak for myself, and as an advocate for women, I would never dream of taking someone's voice or value away. That is nowhere within my wheelhouse of magical superpowers anyway (and I wouldn't want it). 

Shouting about my attempt to control anyone is just... Laughable. I speak out not to control or even influence anyone, but to offer an alternative pattern of thought. A stretch of the ideas, an extension of the doorway into possibility. I've often said that if I can open minds, my job here is done. Call it bizarre or lofty, but that's my aim. I want, quite simply, to open the thoughts, widen the scope of our singular perception and call for questioning of what the consequences are. 

So if you are one of these women who feel bullied by my outspokenness, I'm sorry. This is was never the intention, but then again, the road to hell is wrought with the good ones, isn't it? ;) My opinion isn't ever meant for internal consumption, but rather an external source of heat. 

Please know that I support you, I cheer for you and I applaud your efforts to widen the human scope of identification -- we're all incredibly different and nothing bad will ever come from recognizing and celebrating that. Ride on, ladies. Ride on. 



* See 'exploitation' in the dictionary: 




Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Your Sense Of Humor Probably Sucks

I know one joke. One. And it's a horrible, vomit-inducing joke that is only told when I'm four sheets into the wind and feeling gutsy. No, I won't write it here. Chances are good that if we've ever gotten obliterated together, you know the one. 

Stop blushing. 

Since my departure from Pinkbike last year over their lack of action on the inappropriate 'jokes' by a comtributing author of the site, I've been under fire for being 'unfunny' and unable to 'take a joke'. (Which is fine. A stand up comic I will never be.) 

However, my recent posts on Instagram about the size my own ass and my bawdy humor on Twitter have come under criticism from (some of the same) people who cannot seem to tell the difference between 'humor' and 'targeting' someone. 

Let me say this plainly for those with low reading comprehension: your jokes fucking suck. 

Why? Well, a 'joke' that objectifies, dehumanizes or puts a certain demographic into stereotypical, damaging light isn't a joke -- it's a bullying tactic. Just like me punching you in the face or blowing up your car isn't humorous, neither is perpetuating violence or inequality. 

Let me tell you what's funny: fart jokes. No, they really are. Even just farts are funny. Poop jokes are hilarious, too. Self-deprecating humor is always hilarious, too. Comedians use this one regularly... Just look at the great comics. Charlie Chaplin, Dave Chappelle, Ellen Degeneres, anyone. It's funny. Guess what else is? Animals being ridiculous is funny. Toddlers shouting profanity is funny. Insert more fart jokes here. Mocking the bullish ignorance of politicians is funny. Cartoons are funny. Irony is funny. Ignorance is funny. 

But the funny business is over when you begin mocking someone (who doesn't openly deserve contempt, such as the Oregon militia men who have taken over a nature preserve in the US to protest the government controlling their discounted use of the land that was wrenched from indigenous peoples about 150 years ago). 

Targeting women, ethnicities, handicaps, personal tragedy, etc just isn't funny -- as Ellen has said before, it's not a joke if only those exempt from it are laughing. But my hilarious and open contempt for the status quo is funny, as is my skewering of those responsible for the oppression or economic stagnancy of other demographics. 

You wanna talk humor? Check out Obama's SOTU speech last night. Watch Tommy Boy. But targeting an exercise post on my Instagram where I hashtag #bootyfordays in a sardonic commentary about the values espoused in our culture while you simultaneously treat the dismissal of an entire market segment as 'a joke' is just plain stupid. 

And guess what? If you can't crack a funny without humiliating or denigrating someone, you're not funny or clever. If the stories we tell create the narrative for our future, the jokes we find funny examine the darkest corners of our pain and expose them with blinding light. Openly mocking absurdity, too -- humor is how we deal with the worst parts of our psych. It's our coping mechanism. But if you're maligning entire races and genders because your fear of them and/or those of your own weakness, well then... You need a new joke book. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"You Can't Have It Both Ways."

Yesterday, sometime after commenting on a well-written article about the Maxxis calendar debacle on NSMB.com, I received an email notifying me that the comment below had been posted as a response. 


Unfortunately, I was unable to respond to this epic play of stupidity as the coward who posted it seems to have realized the idiocy of the reply and deleted the question, BUT! Never fear! The Internet lives on forever, bikesales. 

First, I am NOT the collective conscience for the cycling industry. Y'all motherfuckers are more than welcome to step up and shout your feelings too. If you have something to say, then say it! Christ almighty. It's not my job to be the moral Jiminy cricket for a massive industry that, quite frankly, should have their goddamn act together at this point, and yet here I am, giving you a lesson in human-ing. That, and who are you to tell me what I should be outraged about? It's pretty simple: I won't be angry about everything. I don't have that much room for hate. If I am peeved, you'll know. But don't tell me I should be upset about Emily's choices for herself. That's like... Being crazy mad because someone else across the globe ate Cap'n Crunch this morning and I didn't have any. Ummm. Wut?

SECOND, I don't know what magical superpowers you think I have, but if controlling people were one of them, WE WOULDN'T BE HAVING THIS RIDICULOUS CONVERSATION. Because the Maxxis calendar wouldn't exist, you wouldn't have written such a decidedly lame question and I would probably not be trolling the Internet. But I digress. My point is that I cannot control what anyone else does. Not Emily Batty, not NSMB.com, not anyone. What someone else does is on them. If a person wants to post something online, I cannot control that. I wouldn't dream of controlling or limiting that. 

It also happens to be none of my damn business, sir-bikesales-a-lot. What another woman deems worthy of her social media feed is NONE. OF. MY. BUSINESS. Sexual or not, suggestive or not, boring or otherwise, it's not my problem. How another human being wants to brand themselves is just not my issue to deal with. I don't need it and I don't want it. 

THIRD. I don't speak for all women, moron. I don't decide for all mountainbikers, either. I can only choose, speak, act, pretend, build and operate as best I know how. My code exists solely for me, and me alone. I don't want to feel objectified when I look at an ad... So I don't. But when I speak up, it's no longer about how I feel. It's about how someone else might feel in the future if I don't try to shape our industry into something positive and welcoming for all, even little girls and boys who might possibly see humans as equal and be disgusted at a company who makes tires sexually exploiting women for potential profit in their Motorsport division. Because if I feel disgusted, there's a good chance that someone else might feel repelled from operating within our industry because we tolerate this kind of shite advertising from a company that makes lots of money from us. But that's a big fat 'maybe'. Maybe all of my efforts are for naught. WHO CARES?! It's how I choose to influence my industry, which leads us to point four... 

4: I can and will have it both ways, you troll. Why? Because 'human duality', that's why. Google it. But just because you see my equality-chanting, business-minded professional side as my sole identifying trait doesn't mean that it's all that exists with my sphere of consciousness. In fact, my humanity-loving, female-equality side is one small part of who I am. Another side of me is an eight-year-old who still giggles at farts. And yet one more part is a healthy, sexually open woman. There are thousands of parts of me that combine, conflict and create the complex creature that I am, and I manage to have all of that call at the same time. So YES. Yes, I can 'have it' both ways. I'll 'have it' any damn way I please, thank you very much, and I may even have it all cooked over-easy like my eggs. 

So thank you for trying to stuff me (and the other incredible people in this industry) into your tiny little preconceived crazy box, but no thanks. Your limits are only yours and your alone. So kindly, you can piss right off, bikesales.