Thursday, April 23, 2015

Women's Bodies, Women's Stories. When Will We Listen?

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This week delivered another hit to a tender spot when NationalPublic Radio published an interview with bestselling author Jon Krakauer, who is well-renowned for his investigative storytelling.

Mr. Krakauer has just released another book, Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, detailing the prevalence of sexual assault at the University of Montana, less than three hours from where I live. In a massive state like this one, that’s basically next door, but it’s also a world away.

As more people are waking up to the reality that rape victims everywhere receive silence and shame while attackers go free, the book is timely. Even Krakauer admits that the publication date was pushed forward in response to the blow-up over Rolling Stone’s botched expose' on an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia.

The interview is honest and open about Krakauer’s previous indifference and ignorance about how close rape hit home in his own life. He admits wondering why, in his 20s, a girlfriend couldn’t just “get over” a rape, and he also confesses being completely unaware how many women he knows personally who have come forward to tell him that they were raped.

The Conflict

Emotionally, I am ripped in two by this book, its promotion, Krakauer’s words, and the eddy of denial around the issue of rape.

Krakauer deserves appreciation for having the insight and fortitude to take on this issue. Often, women find it easier to stay silent about sexual assault because they will not be believed and their story, if ever told, will be filleted and dissected, along with their reputation.

After all that trauma, statistics say that the rapist will walk free. Even worse, he (yes, rapists are overwhelmingly men) will probably be surrounded by supporters ready to do battle against the accusations.

Krakauer knows that in taking up this cause, he will be subjected to the same treatment, which is already gaining momentum. When the book was released, the officials from the University of Montana and the city of Missoula were claiming that Krakauer had not interviewed them for the book, according to the Missoulian, the local newspaper.

While I can see that that the arc of history is slowly bending toward justice , there is much about this process that stinks. And it all rests on one question:

When are we going to let women tell their own stories about rape — and believe them?

Whose Story Is It?


With this book launch, we have another opportunity to talk about the facts, figures and details about rape, but they are being managed by a white male and a power structure (the publisher). We hear how hard it is for victims to be taken seriously, how prevalent abuse is, how justice is rarely served, and how lives are silently crushed by some men who forcibly take what isn’t theirs.

But the women who actually survived--where are they?

Feeling their absence, sirens that go off in my head when I read quotes like this:

The sad thing is there's a lot of doubters and haters out there who think women lie about rape…”

“You know, the book is — it's sort of a really close look about what it's like to be the victim of a rape: the pain you go through and the obstacles you have to achieve any kind of justice.”

“But it's hard for people unless you have been sexually assaulted. It's really hard to put yourself in the place of a victim and understand how that — being penetrated in the most private parts of your body by another person — is different than other kinds of trauma.”

Let me pose a very practical question.

Why on earth is he doing the explaining?

Krakauer has never been raped. He has not lived his life as every female in America has, being cautious in public and in even our homes, never knowing if the nice guy talking to us is a truly nice guy or a sociopath calculating a new mark.

Krakauer has no idea what it’s like to have to fake your way through a conversation, being careful not to piss off a guy who could follow you out of the room, slash your tires or worse.

And then blame you for leading him on.

Or dressing too provocatively.

Or not guarding your drink.

Or drinking too much.

Or being alone at night.

But this is not Jon Krakauer’s reality.

His role within the current structure now is to spend weeks on a book tour answering questions about the investigation, his writing process, his other successful books, and how writing this book has impacted his life.

Now he’s a national expert in high demand on a topic he’s never experienced, telling us stories and facts that girls and women of all colors have been repeating for years.

I get it, I get it.

He’s raising awareness on a controversial issue and taking the side of the victims, so I should be grateful and eager for another ally on the road to justice.

Then I read quotes like this, and I see the marketing and calculations woven through this process.

"Five hundred thousand copies [the first printing of Missoula] is a large run – it can go higher for John Grisham or a book by an ex-president," [Garth] Whitson [of Missoula bookstore Shakespeare and Co.] said.

"Releasing advance copies of the book would kill the buzz," said Garth Whitson, of Shakespeare and Co. "So they won't release the book. It is standard marketing procedure for any hot title."

These stories, this pain, this injustice simply becomes grist for the profit mill. The unwritten rules mean that you hit the hot topic, take what profit you can from it, and move on to the next new thing.

I guess we’re supposed to stay silent about that, too.

Of Course


Of course, Jon Krakauer isn’t a monster, and I’m relieved that his understanding has expanded.

Of course, the publisher is doing good work in the world by taking on this sensitive topic.

But I can’t stop wishing for a world where women are considered the experts about their own bodies and experiences.

And that they are believed, the first time.

Of course.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spring ride!

March is one of those crazy months in Montana. One minute it's blue skies and balmy breezes, and the next, you've got snow blowing sideways. 

I'm learning not to take the glowing moments for granted.

It would have been easy to be reeled in by the pile of dishes, a queue of emails to return and another article to read, but I stopped to pull the to-do hook out of my conscience so I could fly.

Time to pull out the townie!

I brushed off the thin layer of dust on the Schwinn, checked the tires, and took off. No need to change my cowboy boots. Just gimme clear roads and the sun on my face.

Enough sun to make a shadow!

First time this year I didn't ride with gloves on.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Start March strong! I'm offering Fitness Wisdom with support

Hiking with the dudes on Saturday

Spring is teasing its way here, even in cloudy Kalispell, Montana. The temps are higher, the sun is stronger, and you can tell that nature is ready to make a move for green.

I'm also getting more hits on my posts about my exercise routine (need to update that one, FYI) and my couch to 10k adventure (also needs a touch-up).

Now that the winter blahs are dissolving, dump the pressure of having a New Year's resolution. Let's take that spring energy and get March going powerfully for you.

The Fitness Wisdom offer in two parts
1. Connection One
Making connections makes things happen. I want you to have support to make the switch from struggling with exercise to craving it, so I'm sending out two emails a week (started last night!). You'll get a Sunday permission slip to set up pajama workouts for the week plus a Wednesday Humpday Hello just to check in and remind you of your own power.

If you want to get in on the email connection, just send an email to Of course, I ain't never gonna share your info with anyone else. It's for my eyes only!

2.  Connection Two
We'll be following the Fitness Wisdom Connection series that I recorded earlier this year. The first one's free, and you can listen to it anytime right here.

If you sign up for webinars #2 and #3 (only $25 for both), you'll have access to a private Facebook forum where you can chat with me and others who are transforming their relationship with exercise.  This is the juicy stuff. You'll get to swap ideas, recipes and booyahs! with other amazing women. Changes happen fast when there's a team behind you.

However you choose to receive support is completely up to you. It's your life, your body and your power, sistah (and brotha!).

I'll still be here on Bike Bliss, writing about whatever hits me when it comes to exercise and claiming my life. I'm always available for questions and comments here or on my Facebook page. I'd love to have you along!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Exercise: Suffering doesn't make it better

I've been simmering for a while.

Way back in October, the very wonderful Joel Runyon threw down the gauntlet to his mediocrity-defying fans: Do something you hate.

The world's gone soft, he says, and it needs to get over its sparkly unicorn entitled self and deal with the hard. Reality ain't pretty.

Pick something you hate, he said. Learn to love it anyway.

My knees nearly buckled when I read this. Hell no, I muttered. I've come too far to take that mantra. Joel, I love you and your fan-effing-tabulous off-the-charts life. I adore the inspiration you hand out, and there's no denying that it's working for thousands of people each week.

I'm not saying you're wrong, but I've got the receipt for this version of "No pain, no gain." You can have it back.

When I hear "Love what you hate," I'm reminded of all the courageous women I know who smiled through a rotten deal, stood by a destructive partner, starved themselves for the scale or endured a demeaning boss.

They weren't making excuses or looking for the exit when things got a wee bit difficult. They honestly thought they were stronger than the pain. They figured they had enough willpower, discipline and smarts to stick by their choice and save the day.

What they didn't calculate was the cost in confidence and power over all of the years of stuffing their intuition and moving forward anyway. Most of these women describe something like erosion -- a gradual wearing down of their joy, their optimism and their wholeheartedness until the river of Make It Work Anyway cut too deep.

That river exposed their essence, and they awoke from the denial and numbness. They quit doing what they hated and stopped telling themselves that it was okay.

Now that they're enlightened quitters, do you know what they say instead?

I wish I'd left him sooner.

Shoulda turned in that resignation years ago.

I'm so glad all that is behind me.

I know this pattern because I'm one of these women. I have a great family and an amazing husband, but I'm one of the millions who has lapped up the message that forcing myself toward success is the only way to get there. And I've paid the price.

After Joel posted Love What You Hate, I steamed, but stayed silent. I didn't write, thinking that his blog's popularity and my obscurity settled the issue. The world wanted his message, and mine was just reactionary and weak -- exactly what he railed against. 

I'm speaking up anyway, because I'm tired of everyone shouting through a megaphone as they pin medals on the idea that suffering leads to happiness.

It's clear that Joel's battle cry has struck a chord with many others who are looking to summon their inner power. Excellent. I have no desire to quarrel. I don't need to make this right or wrong. Let them find teachers like Stephen Pressfield who stoke that fire in their belly each day. I will watch and be amazed by all the impossible things they accomplish.

But I can't stand by. For those who can't bear to take on another thing they hate, I offer another option.

Find something you love more.

I don't love running, but I love the power in my legs and the nah-nah I give my inner critics as I defy them. I don't love crawling out of my warm bed to my chilly basement to do yoga in the winter morning darkness, but I love the beauty of my muscles stretching and reaching in graceful ways. And I love the freedom of biking -- deeply, truly and seriously.

When I love that strength in myself, I don't need to hate anything. I'm already home.

So maybe we don't need to draw lines between love and hate. I'm offering you permission to challenge the idea that exercise equals suffering. You can refuse to be a martyr.

Do something you love, and when it gets hard -- and it will -- choose something you love more than the struggle.

Chances are, it will be your own strength.

Monday, February 11, 2013

More Fitness Heresy on tap!

A little Monday oomph is waiting for you over at Living Healthy Together!

Ever felt like an inspirational phrase didn't fit? Me, too. Here's my take on "Get out of your comfort zone!" 

Want more Fitness Heresy? Try #1, #2 and #3.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Valentine's Day: Get your bike love on!

Bike valentine by hello truelove
Handmade goods are rolling in for some bike love this Valentine's Day!

A quick trip through Etsy today gave me some great ideas for my bike tribe, from cards to hats and Ts. I put my favorites together in a collection here, and I'd love to see some of your faves!

The saucy card at the top is definitely on my list, but so are these pillowcases by jems1987.

I'm hoping to get this dress from Sharp Shirter and a bike date with Hot Husband. What are you cookin' up for Valentine's Day?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Willpower vs. Momentum: And the winner is . . .

Nothing like the NFL's High Holy Day to inspire another round of dedication, discipline and just-do-it hype.

Yesterday, I wanted none of it.

I was blasted from being up half the night with a feverish child and a Downton Abbey marathon. (I'm all caught up now, thanks.) I dragged myself around, making excuses for being at half speed and wishing I felt better so I could get out for a real ride on one of the rare sunny winter days we have in Kalispell.

Finally, as the sun was an hour from setting, the pull of a ride in sunshine was too much. "Only a quick ride," I told Hot Husband, and I set off on on my 20-minute loop. I just needed to get out and move, but I knew I couldn't handle much.

I biked through the ice and slush on my neighborhood's road and hit dry pavement. In a flash, I knew that the bike was hijacking me. We were going toward the mountains, away from the rush of traffic with sun was at my face.

I rode and rode. I blew past my turnaround point, and the killer hill was no problem, even on my beastly old-school mountain bike. The ride was freedom and flowing motion at every moment.

In 45 minutes, I was back home, humbled by the realization that once again, I had learned that momentum triumphs over sheer willpower. I hadn't forced, rewarded or manipulated myself into getting out and feeling the breath and heat in my body. The ride kept tugging at me, and instead of rolling my eyes and finding a distraction, I just went along.

This week, I'm doing another online class on getting yourself to this place where you are drawn to exercise because it makes you feel powerful and grateful. There are no detailed workout plans, no special diets to follow, no new standards for what you should or must be doing. It's all about coming home to your body, without guilt.

Go here to find out how it works. Here's the link to register. And if you have any questions, please email me at