Brave sister gets legal on your favourite website!
Swinging the all-men-are-bastards angle ain’t always an easy home run as The Inertia discovered recently when it ran a polemic by “writer, surfer, teacher, yogini, consultant and PhD candidate in development studies”, Tara Ruttenberg.
(Ruttenberg also enjoys “decolonizing sustainable surf tourism and exploring development alternatives for post-capitalist realities.”)
In her story As the Only Woman in the Lineup, Here’s Why I Don’t Apologize for Taking the Waves I Want, Ruttenberg let the patriarchy have it, serving a dish of male flesh nestled on a bed of sodium-rich men-can-go-fuck-themselves white rice.
“Short of putting anyone in danger or acting like a complete asshole out there, I’m dropping into the waves I want, every wave I can make,” she wrote. “And I’m giving absolutely no apologies for being there. For being here. For being anywhere.”
What wasn’t revealed in those stories was the reason for the disappearing of As the Only Woman in the Lineup, Here’s Why I Don’t Apologize for Taking the Waves I Want.
As Ruttenberg explains on the Instagram hornpipe.
“I have submitted a legal Cease and Desist Notice to The Inertia editors and the author of the defamatory rebuttal article that was published in follow-up to my story on women’s empowerment in surfing. The author of the article misrepresented my message and implicated my name in comments I never wrote nor promote, mis-quoting me in ways that are defamatory to my reputation as a scholar of critical surf studies. This was in concert with a smear campaign orchestrated by The Inertia itself, tagging me in incendiary posts using the same misrepresented language mis-quoted by the author of the article, as a result of which I received serious insults, bullying, sexist slurs and threats to my person, all of which I have reported as harrassment/bullying.
Following receipt of my Cease and Desist Notice, I saw that The Inertia removed all Instagram posts as I requested and removed *some* but not all of the misrepresented statements associated with my name in the rebuttal article. I am still awaiting a formal apology and removal of the remaining language as reparation for the defamatory personal injury to my reputation, as demanded in my legal notice.
I am sharing this so that all women and men know the ways in which women’s voices continue to be silenced/marginalized/misconstrued and otherwise shamed, when we get brave and speak up to share our stories with the world. And also, the legal recourse you have if something similar happens to you in the future. Please message me if this happens to you. I will no longer be publishing any more of my work with The Inertia.”
Getting the story pulled didn’t end the game. If you’ve got time and strong fingers to scroll down the page gobble up post after post until the very last mouthful.
“Today, The Inertia responded to my request for the removal of defamatory, misconstrued language from the rebuttal article written in response to my story on women’s empowerment in surfing by saying that they have removed both my story and the rebuttal article ‘as per my request.’ i want you to know that i did not request that they remove either article from their website, but rather that they remove the misrepresented language attached to my name in the rebuttal article that was defamatory to my reputation and consequentially injurious to my person.
i receive this decision by the Inertia in response to my Cease and Desist notice not as any sort of reparation to the defamatory harm they both allowed and orchestrated against me (which they denied), but rather as yet another means of silencing my voice as a woman whose perspective does not align with the mainstream.
the good news is you can still find my story in its original unedited version on my website (link in bio), AND this means it’s available for publication in another journal whose ethics align with a diversity of perspectives, unthreatened by the voices of surfing women willing to share the power of their stories with the world.
i am filled with gratitude for the outpouring of uplifiting support, solidarity, connection and lively debate stimulated by this experience of sharing my story, and i look forward to reading, writing and sharing more stories of our experiences as women among the waves. so much love for surfing sisters and supportive brothers near and far. you are my inspiration.
“1/2 Things I’ve learned (and re-learned) this week (:
1) If you write a story about women’s empowerment in surfing, in which you describe certain middle-aged men with male pattern baldness as middle-aged men with male pattern baldness, many other middle-aged men with male pattern baldness may take personal offense to that, instead of engaging with the ideas you offered about women’s empowerment in surfing. *Are there more PC terms to describe middle-aged men and male pattern baldness that I’m not aware of? Hairless males between the ages of 40 and 60? This is an actual question.
2) For-profit magazines, with dubious ethics beholden to industry advertisement, may re-word your story to create undue drama as a sales strategy, capitalizing on both your strength and your vulnerability, championing your story one day, and then hanging you out to dry over the weekend as best suits their capitalist interests, twisting the truths in your story into a soap opera battle of the sexes, and ultimately silencing your voice when you stand up for yourself and take legal action against instances of libel. My attitude here (similar to my attitude in my story) is less hate the player (read: for-profit media and middle-aged, privileged bald men) and more hate the game (read: capitalism and patriarchy). Unfortunately, somewhere between the message and the messenger, that attitude seemed to be lost on many, but fortunately not on all.
“[2/2] More things I’ve learned and re-learned this week:
3) With the social institutionalization of white male privilege comes great fear and insecurity, as the sociohistorical grip on power begins to unravel with dissenting voices and non-conforming actions withdrawing consent to patriarchy, the response to which often employs the heavy-handed tools of denial, selective ignorance, aggression, bullying, and harassment in defense of imploding identities disrupted by empowered feminist awakenings. To that I will say: the ways you wield your waning privilege to either support toward equitable change or stick to your guns in the face of these very real threats to the status quo, will determine less the future of that change and more your capacity to weather that change. For those suffering this fate, my compassion for you does not implicate my silence as a woman whose words and actions are not beholden to unjust social realities that might otherwise accommodate your unjust sense of comfort that you may or may not recognize as privilege.
4) while experience has shown me that women have few spaces for expressions of empowerment, freedom, rage, dissent and diversity in the world of surfing (and life), I am excited by the spaces being created beyond the mainstream in conversations, gatherings, art, publications, films, storytelling and events, where we can celebrate our unique perspectives and collective possibilities through ethics of support, solidarity, freedom, love, and diverse femininities, toward greater empowerment for women in surfing and beyond.
In other words, damn it’s hot in this kitchen, but I ain’t goin’ nowhere.
Or more appropriately, fuck your sweaty ass kitchen, we’re building our own castles in the sea.”
Do you feel like you’ve just had a bucket of wet concrete poured on your face?
Or are you, like me, enchanted by the hissing fury?