A few posts back I reviewed the ski film “Pretty Faces: The Story of A Skier Girl.” I didn’t really do my homework apparently, because I had no idea this film was produced by a male. I did, though, note in my review a tone-deaf scene of a ski bum type going on and on about woman skiers being “hot” and thus superior to other types of women. I thought that scene brought the tone of the movie down, because true freedom and real equality means that we can do things whether or not males think it is “hot.” The “do this because boys will like you!” message had no business in that movie, and I cringed when I saw it beamed into the minds of the pre-teen girls present at the screening. I wondered how that scene had made it into the movie.
Fast forward to yesterday, when I caught wind of Amanda Batty leaving her writing job at Pinkbike after being the recipient of nonstop online abuse and misogyny and being phased out of her job, which was, shall we note, opining about the bike industry, because her opinions were too straightforward for the simple minds of Pinkbike viewers. Amanda’s bosses at Pinkbike asked her to tone it down, but did nothing to stem the rape threats, vile insults, and doxxing that she endured at the hands of Pinkbike readers. What was she asked to tone down, you may want to know? Well, the final straw apparently was Amanda’s admonishment of Mike Levy, Pinkbike technical editor, when he posted a review of a BICYCLE (emphasis mine, because it’s a fucking BICYCLE and what comes next is just sick and demented) to a drunk woman (“your girlfriend”) whose alcohol intake makes her pliable enough to “do whatever you ask.” Amanda, quite rightly, commented that this type of reference is insulting to female viewers and perpetuates rape culture. Amanda received another tidal wave of misogyny and abuse from readers, and a big “meh” from Pinkbike editors. Eventually Pinkbike changed the review to read “your girlfriend (or boyfriend),” demonstrating their colossal, epic, unbelievable lack of comprehension of the problem. Before they did that, though, they stopped posting her articles. She ultimately got fed up and quit.
How are these two things related?
Well, here’s a copy of a post made by Jeff Brines, producer of Pretty Faces, both defending rape culture and restating that the best thing a woman athlete can offer is being “hot”:
Jeff Brines5 hours ago (edited) – Shared publicly
I find this interesting. While I do think the Mafioso of PinkBike is a bit absurd, I also think you are taking what was written out of context. At least slightly. First, lets look at what was written. “…[this bike is like my] girlfriend after too many shots” The writer didn’t explicitly write “this bike is so easy its like raping girls!”, he didn’t write “this bike is so easy its like drugging girls and raping them for fun”. He was trying to say he often gets lucky with less effort when his girlfriend has a bit much to drink. Is this a incorrect observation? Apparently, in his case, no. Another thing to look at – he said “girlfriend” not “girls I see at the bar” or “girls I stalk on my way home from work”. I think we are being far to liberal with the idea of “rape” in this case. Its well known alcohol makes people lose inhibitions. So are you saying everytime a girl (or guy) has sex after a few drinks its rape?
No matter, the only one who can truly answer for what was said is his girlfriend. Does she feel as though she is force fed shots and raped by her boyfriend? I guess we’ll never know but I’d bet dollars to donuts we’re being way overly critical of a bad joke. Poor taste? Sure. Promoting rape culture…??? I’m going to respectfully disagree. This was a bad joke. And bad jokes go hand in hand with cyclists like well…bad jokes and cyclists!
As a gear reviewer myself, I often make comparison to the opposite sex – eg “if you were to date this bike/ski/etc”. I don’t think I’m being mycologist or sexist in this but I am the first to acknowledge, men and women are different. And we should celebrate these differences. Its part of what makes “all this” (life) awesome.
Before you call me a misogynist realize I’m one of the biggest allies of female athletes. I produced a female ski film (pretty faces), have curated a female only component to the ski site I own (as well as including it on the main page) and hope to marry a high five inducing ripping chick one day. I think its the hottest thing a girl can be – an athlete. I feel there is no place for rape or “rape culture”. But I also think women have far more acountability in this “war” than they offer up. (for example, if I Jeff Brines, go drink too much and make a poor decision after, that’s my own fault – I believe the dividing line here is “did you say I don’t want to do this” and the other person continued anyway…simply drinking and making a decision you regret is not rape…)
Finally, I don’t blame you for leaving Pinkbike but would encourage you to keep writing. If its good, people will read it. You don’t need the behemoth of Pinkbike to get something read. In the words of Field if Dreams “If you write it (and its awesome) they will come…
Now I know how that scene made it into the film: the producer could not comprehend that women both do things for reasons other than “being attractive to males” and have a value other than being the recipient of sexual acts from males.
It is a HUGE problem to me that men who perpetuate this awful cycle are in positions of power in women’s sports and entertainment. For a man who claims to be a supporter of women in sport to shrug off the idea that rape is an entrenched part of our culture, a culture that regularly blames women for being victims of violence at the hands of men, is a chilling indictment of the kinds of people who are in control of the outdoor sports industry. If we don’t remove these men from their positions of influence over our lives, we will never see change. If we keep buying into the bike industry standard of misogyny and abuse, it will absolutely stay the same Here’s my suggestion: don’t use Pinkbike. Let them know that you aren’t interested in a site that punishes women writers for their opinions but lets male members spew vicious, violent hate at her until she quits. Don’t use MTBR for the same reason. Don’t go to Interbike and quietly tolerate all the frat boy behavior because you, too, want to participate in the bike industry. Don’t be a booth model at a trade show and don’t set foot inside the booths that use them. Don’t buy any bike that utilizes sexualized imagery to sell its product. Buy carefully. Don’t be quiet. Make sure you let those manufacturers know why you’re not buying their stuff. DON’T BE QUIET.
Don’t let men like Jeff gaslight the hell out of the issue and dismiss the endemic problems of rape and abuse in our society with the claim that he’d be OK with being raped if he’d be the one drinking. Bear in mind he NEVER has to worry about this scenario actually becoming reality. It simply is not going to happen to him, EVER. His words are meaningless because when he drinks, he is safe, always. He simply never has to worry about one of his male buddies creeping into his room at night after tying one on at an Interbike happy hour, pulling his pants down, and raping him while he’s unconscious. He doesn’t have to worry about subsequently enduring attacks on his character, his clothes, his lifestyle, and his choice of alcoholic beverage should he try to bring his rapist to justice. This is not something that crosses over into Jeff’s frame of reference, so he thinks the he would just “regret” his drinking, and move on.
Let’s, in the words of Newsweek reviewer Nina Burleigh in reference to Jon Krakauers new expose on college campus rape, Missoula:
explore. . .all the social factors that produce and enable so many men who prefer drunk, drugged, supine, knocked-cold or forcibly restrained female flesh to consensual sex with conscious and willing women.
Let’s. And let’s explore exactly what the social factors are that influence seemingly ordinary and upstanding, “normal” grown men to go on a web site and threaten a female writer with rape and murder when she posts her opinion. Find out for damn sure if you are living with a man like that and if you are, leave. Do your male friends act like that? It’s not that hard to find online handles. Find out who they are, tell them exactly what you think, and then stop interacting with them. I did that very thing last year when I saw an online pal call another friend a “cunt,” joining the dogpile of flatbrimmed industry insiders who took exception to an innocuous article she’d written. I wrote to that friend and told him that because of his choice of behavior and language, we would no longer be friends. He did not write back.