By Cheri Felix
What Happened in Interbike in Vegas.
When I was a little kid, maybe like 11 or 12, I would spend a lot of time at the park. I played tennis, basketball and since I love cross so much it doesn’t surprise me one bit that after a good rain I loved to go to the park and practice my mud slides. The park was a place of freedom. And it was the perfect place for someone like me who just wanted to play. And there’s something about this whole #sockgate that really touches a nerve.
See, Save Our Soles decided it would be a good idea to put a pair of socks in each Interbike bag. And apparently, without much forethought (giving some benefit of the doubt here), they deemed it smart to use a design depicting women. And we’ll leave it at that. Because frankly, the socks are not only tasteless and reminiscent of some Burt Reynolds movie and a trucker, but they’d never make it into my sock drawer. Not even close. So what are we to make of it when a company makes socks that some of us think are ridiculous and misogynistic and demeaning? Do we write it off and say “Oh well, boys will be boys” or “That’s marketing” or my personal (non)favorite “Sex sells”?
No. We don’t. Because it does matter. When are we going to stop sending the message that girls and women don’t matter? When are we going to stop sending the message that girls and women are only the sum of their parts? That we shouldn’t be judged based on abilities, contributions, intelligence, kindness and frankly kick ass bike skills and passion but only on our face and our ass and everything else. I for one am sick of it because girls and women do matter. My daughters matter, all the girls that I coach at the high school level matter and guess what? I matter too.
And don’t tell me that we take things too seriously. Because guess what? It’s all connected. And you can try and be mean and tell me it isn’t and that everything lives in a vacuum and that socks are just socks are just socks. But this is 2015 and we know that it matters. And at the very least, you should know it matters too. We all make mistakes. The more we put ourselves out there the more we risk making someone mad. And running a business is hard work and you take risks. I totally get it. But when mistakes are made or misjudgments are made, you say “I’m sorry.” And you start a conversation. One that matters.
When I was that little girl playing at the park I had to encounter all kinds of things. Mainly, Oregon rain. Like all the time. But my least favorite were the boys who would corner me by the basketball courts and hold me down so that one of them could pull up my shirt and hold it there so that they could get a closer look. I wonder where those boys are now. I’m sure they’d love the socks. But the rest of us? Not so much.
Be better. We all deserve better.