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.






Thursday, November 10, 2016

No Honey, No Vinegar. I am fire.

The most corrupt, dishonest, unsuccessful candidate the United States has ever seen became president-elect in the early hours of Wednesday morning. 

I sobbed as I watched the scene unfold in front of me, then curled up on the floor as the ramifications of this night would bring washed over me in oily waves and friends began messaging and calling, asking me in terrified tones what was going to happen. 

There were no answers to give.

The next morning, social media was something that can only be categorized as a digital war zone. People I loved were on both sides of the fence, some gloating, most mourning. As I read through my notifications on things I had posted the night before, I was horrified to see the casual cruelty and complacency displayed by humans I respected, revered. 

Statuses and tweets about 'grow up, stop crying', comments to my own worries, condescending and loud, about how corrupt Hillary was, about how we didn't want a criminal in office, now did we? From every angle, bragging about how they didn't vote and didn't care. One young friend of mine shared a status about the danger to women and minorities, only to be shouted down by his friends, told to 'shut up and go back to school', called a 'p**sy', and demeaned. He's 18 and one of the most respectful and curious young men I've ever met. I was floored. And I was angry. 

All of this demanding from people not at risk by this new terror-spectre, telling everyone who was how they should feel. Excoriating us for mourning in 'their' space. After posting my own emotions missive asking for space and emotional respect from these people, i received a private message from a close friend. He explained to me that he respected me, but that my negativity about this fresh situation was alienating and off-putting. He told me that he valued my voice as an outspoken woman and my ability to educate others, then advised me that my swearing and anger weren't productive. He spoke about using 'honey instead of vinegar' to make my point.

I have been told this my whole life. The only problem? 

I am neither honey, nor vinegar. 

I am fire.

I am a fire that burns so brightly I cannot be extinguished. I am fire that may flicker, but will not go out. I am a fire that can light torches, burn structure, lay waste to entire systems. I am fire, and I am a woman. 

So many of us, as women, seem to have forgotten this. 

53% of white women voted for Donald Trump. 53 percent of us voted for a sexual harasser, a business failure, a fraud, a racist, an abuser, a liar. 

We voted in a man who has publicly bragged about the size of his dick, who has bullied, mocked and directed vitriolic hatred towards women, people with special needs, Muslims, Jews, Hispanics, people of color, the poor, veterans and even fallen American heroes. 

We voted in a man who encouraged his supporters to beat up people they don't agree with. WE, AS WOMEN, HAVE VOTED IN AN ABUSER. A man who bragged about sexual assault, a man who called a convicted rapist 'a close friend', and an individual who said he would date his own daughter and who touches women and little girls inappropriately in public... ON CAMERA. 

We did this. Fifty-three percent of white American women support this. 

And yet we tell our daughters that they are princesses, that they are valued, that they are loved, that they can be and do anything they can dream of. We fight for their equality and safety day in and day out, and yet we just handed their lives and futures over to an abuser. But not just their lives... The lives of little girls around the world. The lives of little boys, the minds of the easily-influenced. We have made it okay, given permission to those who would hurt them... And us. We have given a nod to the man who follows us home, to the enraged ex boyfriend, to the angry acquaintance. We have told them that as white women, we approve of and accept this behavior, and that its's still okay to be president of a superpower even if you're a total piece of shit. 

There is a woman who has been outspoken about her rape while in the military. Yesterday, she received messages of violence and hatred from 'men' who felt emboldened and empowered by their newfound invincibility. She is one of many for whom the floodgates of hell have just been opened. 

And we did that. 

It's not about emails and you know it. It was never about emails to you, the white woman who voted for Donald Trump. It was likely an echo from society about how a woman doesn't need to be a leader, about how she should be able to control her husband from cheating. You may have voted based on pressure from your own husband or family or perhaps from your refusal to do your research, or maybe it was just your complacency, your ignorance, your unwillingness to see what and who he is. 

White women voted for Donald Trump because we are the silent controllers of society, even as much as we are victims of the system. White women voted this way because we don't care what happens to others, as long as it doesn't mess with our own families or livelihood. 

White women didn't vote for Donald Trump because they care about politics or change or what's going on in the government. White women voted because, more than anything, we want order and 'peace'. White women voted for the most idiotic and dangerous moron in this country's history because we don't believe that we can handle conflict, that we're capable of sorting through chaos. 

We voted for Donald Trump because, even after a century, we still don't believe that we deserve to have an equal voice. 

But let me tell you a few things, white women -- in the coming years, you will need your voice more than ever. As you fight for insurance benefits for your aging parents, for medical decisions for your children, for your own dignity in a climate you just radically changed, you will need your everything. 

As you grow frustrated with the economy and your tanking benefits, as you worry about education and the price of gas, you will need no honey, nor vinegar... You will need fire. Whether it's a month from now or a year from now, something will wake you up to the horror we have all ushered in, and you will either wilt or you will fight. 

I recommend doing it sooner, because you have a job to do. You have to spread that wildfire far and wide. You must ignite the fire in your daughters, so that they can demand equality and respect, so that they're able to make the right decisions for themselves when it counts most. You must light the fire in your sons, so that they want to fight for the people around them. 

Your decisions on Tuesday will affect them for decades to come. Whether it's their healthcare, their education, their societal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it has been compromised... And we did it, us white women. And like ripples in a pond, as we compromised their futures, we compromised the future of children and women around the globe.

And now? We must burn brighter to fix the disaster we just birthed. Whether you see it in yourself or not, you have to find that flame inside of yourself. Stop nodding along. Stop living in your fog of self-delusion. You are not different from the women around you because of your skin color or class... You are a woman, and you will be seen as only that when reality crashes down. You are a woman, and you can either hide the fire or use it.

But you need to decide quickly.

We need you in this fight, my sisters. We need your help to overcome the violence and hatred and economic burdens in our society. We need your compassion, your love, your ability to see the world with wide eyes and a soft heart. We need your anger, your rage... Everything you have been told to suppress for so long, we need you to free it, and we desperately need you to free your fire. Let it burn. The world needs you. 

Now, more than ever, the world needs your individual power. The grace, the strength, the kindness. We need your ability to assimilate, to identify, to share and encourage. The world needs your support. 

Women were bless with our advanced conflict-avoidance instinct to protect their young and stay alive. That sense has evolved into a supreme benefit in modern day by helping us navigate the many pitfalls. But it only works when used correctly, and right now, it needs to be used. Avoiding conflict now by supporting and enabling a sick and demented abuser won't lead to success or survival late -- we all know that only lasts for so long. So somewhere inside, find that protective instinct, and allow it to take over. 

We must burn the bridges we've built with complacency, and replace them with iron gates of equality. 

The very future depends on your flame.