Is Anyone Listening??
I sent an email this week to a major ski publication that I've wanted to send for a long time. It's taken years for my gut to be validated by too many real-life experiences, both from people in our community and for us personally. And it just hasn't felt safe to have them in the past, so I would simply decline invitations to be a part of many snowsports industry events and gear tests. But yesterday I sent this:
"We find that heavily male markets are really unpleasant for us, if not downright unsafe... we need men to be more outspoken about the bullshit, hold other men accountable, and create safe spaces for women (and all other humans who exist out of the white, cis-gender, straight male normality of our industry)...
What systems have you put in place to ensure that [our] experiences are positive and that [we're] treated well by [our] male peers? Do you have a zero-tolerance anti-harassment and discrimination policy?"
If you've been following Coalition Snow it's not surprising that I sent this email, but what you may not know is that for years we've largely had these conversations about the industry rather than with it. There have been far too many conversations and experiences that were so toxic that removing myself and the rest of the Coalition Snow team from that environment was my main priority. Sometimes it felt like the only way to keep going.
It also may not surprise you that their response was, "Thanks for the clarity on that. Appreciate you considering this, keep in touch."
Despite being blown off, I am still inspired to re-engage and work more behind the scenes because things are changing. The industry is taking a much harder look at itself, thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement and all of the activism by Black, Brown, and Indigenous people in the outdoors. We need to keep pushing the industry to engage in those difficult conversations and listen, rather than being on the defensive or simply ignoring the issues.
~ Jen Gurecki, she/her, CEO of Coalition Snow