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Dissecting the Dude Soup with Jen | Volume 1

Dissecting the Dude Soup with Jen | Volume 1

When that ski bro yells from the chairlift “Hey, stay out of my powder” on a powder day. When someone at après dismisses someone else’s experience on the mountain with “I try to keep politics out of skiing.” Perhaps you’re sick of hearing “Wow you’re pretty good for a chick” and you need some wisdom on how to cope with the nonsense of the patriarchy. 

Have you ever thought to yourself "What Would Jen Do?" in these situations? To these annoying dilemmas and more, we turn to Jen Gurecki: Our fearless leader who always seems to know exactly what to say from her years of experience shredding the patriarchy. In Dissecting the Dude Soup with Jen, she's answering your burning questions in need of validating, problem-solving, or commiserating and sharing her answers Dear Abby-style but with more snark.

Do you have a question for Jen? Ask away here.

Okay so, I've been on the same ski patrol team since 2016, built this community from the ground up. I've watched guys get promoted over me to supervisor role that know less about the position's requirements and daily operations. At the same time that they are asking me how to do something, they are telling me that they don't consider me leadership on the team. It all came to a head last week when I complained about patrollers drinking on the clock while still caring for a (pretty fucked up) patient. No consequences for anyone, the supervisor I brought it to yelled at me for "raining on the parade," and somehow I've become the villain now being ostracized by the whole team. So my question is, WTF?? But actually my question is, how do I navigate this scenario with the utmost professionalism and without losing my damn mind?

Dear It's Not You It's Them,

Easy answer: Your boss can fuck off, your colleagues need to pull their heads out of their asses, everyone owes you an apology, you deserve a raise, and they are lucky they aren't getting sued or all fired for violating codes of conduct. With that said, you and I both know this situation isn't so simple and it's going to require you to act strategically and with patience to resolve it.

To start, it appears like you do navigate your position and these scenarios with the utmost professionalism so that’s likely not the issue. Please be kind to yourself. I know that is easier said than done, and I'm sure there is a lot of fear of the repercussions of saying what is right and standing up for yourself.

You may have already done this, but things that I would consider asking your supervisor the following: 

  • What are the protocols for caring for patients?

  • What are the policies around drinking at work?

  • If a patient were to dispute the quality of their care, who would be responsible for this addressing their concerns and who would be liable?

Understanding your liability as a member of ski patrol might give you the talking points that move it away from subjective statements “I feel like I’m not respected” to objective statements “We have issues that not only violate policy but put the ski resort at serious risk.” 

Try to get the responses in writing. Consider sending in an email to document or schedule a 1:1 and take notes; with the latter, after they answer, repeat what they said "to make sure you understand them correctly" (insert eye roll here).

Next thing to consider, given that your supervisor is part of the problem: Who is their supervisor and can you go to them? You still need to go through the chain of command, but once you've given someone a chance, it's time to take it up to the next level. Document all of this in writing in with emails, and be specific in your communication. Then you can show what was responded to and not and how.

In terms of not being promoted, have you asked to receive in writing the position requirements and the process by which candidates are selected? Then you can see if there is anything that you don’t meet and also document how you do meet the requirements, and again, that might need to go to someone who supervises your supervisor.

I feel like we're going to need to check in on this again. Send updates and I'll send hugs.

Xxoo,

Jen

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Dear Jen,

Why won’t they take care of their mental health? I go to therapy. I’m working hard to deal with my issues and traumas, why won’t they? Egos are way less fragile when you work to heal yourself bro.

Dear Therapy Works,

There are lots of humans who don’t take care of their mental health for a lot of reasons: they are afraid of what they will learn about themselves, they fear the social stigma associated with seeking help, they don’t have the financial resources, they don’t think that they need help, and/or they just don’t want to. 

While we can’t make other people take care of themselves, we can take of ourselves by setting boundaries about who we let in and who we don’t. Sometimes we need to hold space for people by loving them from afar – not write them off completely, but don’t allow them close to your heart or into your daily interactions. Sometimes we have interactions with them that can’t be helped and so we can hold our tongues and scream into pillows when we are alone, use simple techniques like breathing through difficult conversations, or simply just walk away. We all have different thresholds for what we can tolerate and what lands on the “I can ignore this” versus the “I must say something” list. It’s good to know what we’re willing to fight for and over versus what isn’t a good use of our energy.

xxoo,

Jen

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Dear Jen,

How do I respond to my super nice mechanic friend who continually says things like, "Wow I've never met a woman who can change a spare tire" (or insert whatever skill I have demonstrated that he's never known a woman to do). He is always genuinely happy about it and complimenting me, which I love... but... you know? I always smile and say "I know lots of women who can change their own oil" for example. But should I be explaining why I don't like it?

Dear Handyhuman, 

It’s a shame that your mechanic friend’s compliments are backhanded to all women, and despite your clear attempt to help him see that, he doesn’t. Whether or not you explain to him why his language is problematic comes down to this: How much energy you want to put into this relationship and to what extent you think his words are damaging. 

Questions for you: Have you ever considered what would happen if you didn't smile? Why do you feel the need to be nice about it? If being nice hasn't worked, is it time to be direct? 

Being nice upholds the patriarchy and white supremacy. And certainly we don’t have to fight every battle. This may not be the one that you put your energy towards. But finding out why you respond the way you do and if there are other ways to get the outcome you want may be worth your time, even if you don’t apply it to this situation. 

Xxoo,

Jen

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Dear Jen

Thoughts on the term "slut strands"? Reclamation of womanhood or perpetuating the patriarchy or something else?

Dear Slutty & Confused,

I’m all for reclaiming the word and re-imagining it through the female lens. There’s nothing wrong with the actions that result in us being called sluts; it’s the patriarchy that makes us believe that we should be ashamed of our sexuality. There are so many other words that I’d rather fight about and for, and this isn’t it. It’s cute, it allows us to be sexy and in our bodies, and we can make it our own if we choose. I’m here for it.

xxoo,

Jen

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Dear Jen,

I have two best friends. We are best friends bc we share the love of shred, mountains, adventure and some deep life stuff together. They are males. I have never been or felt anything sexually with neither. I have very close women in my life but they do not share the same passions as me. How do I make more "like-passioned" lady friends later on in life?? Sometimes it feels like I'm missing something very significant only mostly having close dude friends. I have type-2 tendencies. Help!

Dear Full Send,

I love that you have best friends who share your love of shred, regardless of their gender. You’re not missing out on anything; you have found people who bring you joy and help you feel seen. There’s no one person who will do all the things for us, even though society tries to trick us into that.

I get it that you want more women in your life. Who doesn’t?!? The solution just might lie within you shifting your perspective. Perhaps you find women who recreate differently than you in the sense of your drive, but still enjoy the same activities. Or perhaps they occupy different spheres in your life. 

I think the key here is to not expect them to be like your dude friends. Your life will likely become so much richer with women in it.

PS: Check out what I wrote to In Your Head below.

Xxoo,

Jen

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Dear Jen,

My question is more about my inner state rather than how to respond to someone... I am a lifetime skier from Reno, now living in Flagstaff AZ. While I am not someone hucking backflips off of cliffs, I'm a pretty dang good skier (I think?). However, I constantly feel like I'm somehow not good enough to ski with "the guys." I have really struggled to make any ski friends here in AZ, especially women ski friends. There is a group of guys I met recently that I was excited to ski with, but I have texted them to ski a handful of times and all of them makes vague excuses that they're busy... why do I feel like they just know that I'm not as good as them? And that they don't actually want to ski with me despite saying "let's totally ski" whenever I bump into them in person... Am I making this up in my head? It's really making me doubt myself for some reason.

Back in Tahoe if I was feeling this way, I would just take a hiatus from the boys and ski with some of my lady shredder friends until I was feeling confident again. But I am yet to meet a girl skier friend here in Flag that is as good as me / wants to ski the same stuff I want to ski. So I feel stuck either trying to pursue friendships with skier guys who aren't that interested (?) or have a chill day with girls... I feel so silly asking about this, but do you have any advice for me?

What if I used to be good, likely really pretty good shredding the mountain and keeping up with the dudes but now after having two kids I’m NOT and I feel too intimidated to even get out there again. I’ve worked so hard to get where I am in life in terms of my career, my relationships (finally left a terribly unhappy marriage!), over multiple past traumas - that to think of feeling inadequate and inferior on the mountain is just too much. But I miss it more than I can admit and I would be devastated to not share this part of me with my girlies.

Dear In Your Head,

Copy and paste what I wrote to Full Send. A lot of what I shared applies here. And you might be in your head and maybe not. So let’s get into that. 

As a woman in her 40s, I know how difficult it is to make friends. Are these men making excuses? Perhaps. Or they just don’t know how to be friends with a woman who isn’t their partner. Or how to be friends with someone new. It likely has nothing to do with how they perceive you as a skier but more about what a heterornormative society tells us about relationships between people of different genders. Or they suck. Who knows because MEN.

None of what I’m saying changes the situation that you want to shred with women. I get that. I want that. And fortunately, I have it. I have put in A LOT of time cultivating relationships with women both at my home mountain and outside of where I live. It’s taken nearly a decade to get where I am today. I’m curious about what you’re doing to meet other women who want to ski the same things that you do: are there events at local gear shops, any avi trainings in the area, events on mountain, perhaps even summer mountain biking or climbing events? A great place to find other women to shred with is in the regional crews in the Coalition Clubhouse and/or meet up with us at one of our events. I know that sounds like shameless self-promotion but there’s a reason why we do what we do, and it’s for women like you. 

One final thought: Who cares about keeping up with the dudes? Don’t set that as your bar or your ideal situation. You should ski to have fun, and there are humans who match your style and level of skiing. It might just take a bit to find them. 

Xxoo,
Jen

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Dear Jen,

Ideas for dealing with aggressive Rambo-like Public Safety staff at local ski areas who generally harass women slightly more than men because we are ‘easier targets’? Knowing that the whole administrative team is white men who prefer ignoring complaints? And we have no real other mountain to support?

Dear Stuck,

I’d likely not say the “we are easier targets” out loud unless you have actual proof because men like that don’t care about feelings or our gut instincts they care about FACTS which is why video and sound recordings are your friends. 

Then there’s this thing called Twitter or Facebook that you could take to and tag them and talk about how their Public Safety team isn’t keeping the community safe with their aggressive tactics. Because public shaming sometimes is what it takes to get people to listen who otherwise have a difficult time when they are presented with the gift of 1:1 feedback. 

Finally, the potential of making this public and garnering the support of the community is something that you could lead with in a discussion with a decision-maker at the resort. Then you’re giving them an opportunity to resolve it and if they don’t? Well then that’s on them. Give them the rope to hang themselves with.

Xxoo,

Jen

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Dear Jen,

I’m nonbinary and present pretty masculine - maybe 2/3 of the time I get read as a guy, which I hate. It’s less emotionally exhausting (and safer) for me to just roll with it, so I figure I should use my (temporary) passing male privilege for good. When that happens, any tips for what can I do to make the space more comfy/less icky for women and other enby folks?

Hi OG,

First of all, I’m sorry that this is your experience. Everyone deserves to be seen. With that said, yay for you to recognize your privilege and how you can make the world a better place with it. 

When I think about all the things that “the good guys” don’t do that they could do is always speaking up. It’s one thing to articulate your beliefs in a like-minded space, but what happens when you’re around the bros and things get said that shouldn’t? 

Another opportunity is to shift the focus of the conversation to the non cis-men in the group, since they tend to take up all the space. You could be the person who redirects conversations by interjecting with other questions or topics specifically targeted at non-cis men. 

I also wonder if you speaking truth to the identity of enby folks could be a way to unhinge the patriarchy. Like Jedi mind trick this shit – if they think you’re a cis man, go with that but then say all the things that could help cis straight people understand the lived reality of enby folks. If you have people’s ears they might just listen to the person who’s “like them.”

Xxoo,

Jen

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Dear Jen,

I want to set things on fire daily because the patriarchy makes me so mad. How do you deal with anger? Should I move away from D.C.? Is it too in my face? Is that the issue?

Dear Move to The West Coast Already,

I deal with anger in a lot of different ways. Some healthy, some not so healthy. Screaming into a pillow. Smoking cigs. Having a drink at 2 pm on a Sunday because I’m annoyed AF (like rn). What helps me get through my anger is to know that being angry is normal and reasonable and if you’re not angry then you’re not paying attention and then you’re an asshole. So be angry. 

When your anger is exhausting and/or disrupting your life, then it’s time to manage it. I really am a big fan of a mediation practice alongside journaling. Just taking 10 minutes out to close your eyes, think of something different, and consider why you feel the way you do really does make a huge difference. 

I wouldn’t function if I didn’t get outside and play. Play can look different for everyone – what is it that brings you joy and how can you tap into that when you’re really angry?

Also find your people, the humans who see you, understand you, and have huge containers to hold all of you. If you don’t have them in DC you know you have at least one here in Reno.  

Xxoo,

Jen

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Dear Jen,

What do you say to the guy who tells his buddies that his gf should be at home on a powder day making him a sandwich since she can't keep up?

Dear Easy Answer,

If this was some rando who said this in front of me on a chairlift, I'd just stare at him for a long time in silence with the corner of the left side of my mouth turned up (in a way that makes every feel super awkward) and then say, "That's an interesting thing to say about your girlfriend." I'd keep staring at him with that "are you fucking kidding me look" regardless of what comes out of his mouth because the point is to get him to think "I don't know what this bitch is going to do next." Then I'd ski off the lift and never spend an ounce of energy on him again. If this man is in your life, he shouldn't be. Fuck this dude, he's sad, and no one has time for his bullshit. Either way, he's not even worth the energy to explain why his sentiments are gross and outdated. 

xxoo,

Jen

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Dear Jen,

I feel like I’m drowning in dude soup!! The freeride team I’m on has very few other girls, in which none of are at a higher skill level than me. So if I want to ski with someone I can learn from, it has to be the guys. To make things worse, one of those guys is now my ex boyfriend who treated me like a piece of shit before dumping me. Now all the other guys who were my friends too have started excluding me and ignoring me since my ex dumped me. It’s a sticky situation.  Help! Any advice?

Dear The World Is A Big Place,

There are more humans on this planet than your shitty ex and his friends. I bet there are people who ski at your home mountain who don’t even know who your ex is or that you dated. Expand your friend group. Be OK with that taking time. Be OK with being alone. Don’t let your future hinge on the way that one boy and his dumb friends treat you. There is more out there, you just have to find it. And yeah, it’s on you, as much as that suck. Or, like I said to In Your Head, find rad women in the Coalition Clubhouse. Also fuck your ex.

Xxoo,

Jen

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