I’ve been following the whole Amanda Batty vs. Pinkbike conversation with interest over the past few days. The whole issue of the culture of misogyny from which this conversation has emerged is a topic that extends far beyond this single conversation. I will offer some of my thoughts on how this directly affects us at Ella and CyclingTips.
As a bit of background, I suggest you read these three pieces:
- Why I’m Leaving Pinkbike by Amanda Batty
- PinkGate by RedKitePrayer
- How one of cycling’s most famous voices went into media exile by Daily Dot
First and foremost, I’d like to clearly state that our writers and editors are well-aware that there is absolutely no room on CyclingTips or Ella for sentiments such as the one expressed in the original article. We want to work together to make women feel welcome – on our site, in this sport and, most importantly, in the community at large.
We are fortunate that CyclingTips is made up of educated, intelligent readers predominantly between the ages of 25-50. We rarely need to moderate our comments and often when someone makes a comment that’s out of place, the community will jump in and shut that person down before things get out of hand. There’s no fancy software to do it. Just a community who is respectful of one another. It makes me proud that we have a forum here where intelligent discussion takes place that hasn’t turned into the hate machine that I’ve seen other parts of the Internet has become.
When we initially launched Ella, we were criticised by some for segregating “women’s cycling” to another part of the site. I still stand by that decision however. I want to foster a community where women can come and feel welcome to openly discuss cycling on their own terms, without it being mixed in with what can become an overbearing discussion amongst men. I don’t believe this dynamic is the best way to build a community talking about their passion.
While we’ve found that nothing has changed on the rest of CyclingTips since the launch of Ella, many of the comments and discussion threads on Ella have been less than desirable. We’ve never had to moderate so many comments in the six years we’ve been around. And all of these troubling comments have been made by men.
This has actually been a problem into which we’ve had to put some time and thought. When we began to hear from women on social media that they don’t see Ella as a friendly place for them to join in on discussions, we knew we wanted to take action. We are currently in the process of finalising an official comments policy in reaction to this issue.
We’re fortunate that we haven’t come anywhere close to having comments descend into what Amanda Batty has had to deal with, but I do find it interesting that we’re trying to build a female voice for the site and it’s select men who have been getting in the way of the dialogue we’re trying to create. If we were less diligent about moderating our comments, I could see things becoming much worse.
To be clear – there is certainly room for men’s eyes on Ella articles and voices in Ella comments. I don’t want to suggest Ella is intended to be a women’s-only space. Rather it’s intended to be is a space where women feel welcome and empowered. Anyone willing to contribute to building that space with us is welcome.
I’m not one to stick my nose in other people’s business, and I only think about influencing the things in my direct control. And what I can control is this. When you participate in a discussion in our comments section, our aim is that it will be productive, intelligent, constructive, and hopefully fun.
Everyone who believes that this is a place for positive or constructive stories and dialogue is welcome here.