20th March 2019
So this morning I awoke to a shitstorm… it seems, since publishing my blog, the whole ‘man signs baton’ issue is spiralling out of control.
I am not going to make a big thing out of this, but I do want to document a few facts so that those reading my blog will know what happened.
Firstly, it starts with one person copying and posting their comments on my blog onto the WRWR facebook group. Immediately comments, both for and against, start being posted regarding men signing or being involved in WRWR. Then the personal comments about my blog begin and what I should or shouldn’t have said/done. Then it was confirmed that a man had not signed the baton at all and that this was a ‘false rumour’ apparently started by me!
Next I receive a phone call from Hayley Bell, the originator of the whole WRWR shebang.. we have a long chat about my blog, male involvement in WRWR, the promotion of women bikers, etc. However, the main thrust of her call is to tell me how devastated the Spanish Ambassador is about what I have said in my blog about my experiences and feelings on days 16/17 – Biarittz to Vinhais. She also confirms it is not true that a man signed the baton, it was a man standing next to a woman who was signing and the woman is upset that people are calling her a man. Furthermore, it is a woman’s hand holding the pen. I explain to Hayley that I am documenting my experiences, my reactions, my feelings of events as and when they happen. When I wrote about the lack of communication with the Spanish Ambassador and how upset I was that day and part of the next day I didn’t know the woman at that time and obviously with hindsight I now know what a lovely person she and the other Spanish woman are, but the blog is a record of how I felt at that moment in time, it is not retrospective and in the following days I do acknowledge how warm, welcoming and fantastically organised it all was. With regards to the baton incident, I merely reported what I had been told and how I felt about it.
Next I receive a text message from one of the other organisers insisting that I apologise to the Spanish Ambassadors for creating ‘false rumours’ and that I should choose my words carefully and take responsibility.
It is at this point that I post the following on the WRWR facebook page:
“I suspect that the baton upset has now moved on and I’m grateful for that, however I do feel the need to defend myself from some of the comments made about what I wrote in my blog. Having been contacted by WRWR organisers telling me about how devastated the Spanish ambassadors are and asking me to apologise for creating ‘false rumours’ I feel I have no choice but to put the record straight. First and foremost I am equally devastated that the Spanish ambassadors are so upset and I apologise unreservedly for any part I may have played in that. They are wonderful women who have done an exceptional job. We were all treated with the upmost respect and made to feel tremendously welcome by them and the rest of the Spanish riders. With regards to my blog and comments I make within it, this is a record of my days, my experiences, my views and my feelings. I am recording what happens to me, how I feel about it and my own opinions. I do not start false rumours I only report what I was told and how that made me feel. When I was told the baton had been signed by a man I took that at face value, I didn’t question it as I trusted the person who told me. That information was extremely upsetting to me and I fully accept and respect that other women do not feel the same way. I do not however accept being accused, vilified and criticised for documenting my feelings and experiences as they were at the time; my feelings of upset and devastation are just as valid as anyone else’s. Ultimately, if you do not agree that anyone should have the freedom to express those feelings in an online diary then please do not read mine.”
This created a number of responses, both supportive and not.. I am not going to document them.
I then felt I should contact the Spanish Ambassador to express my regret at the upset she has felt today and to explain my comments in my blog about things that happened. I fully expected her to unfriend me and never want to be in contact with me again. Astonishingly she said exactly the opposite, Mar Gómez Garcia you are a lovely woman, do not feel bad about any of this ok!
So, in the end what has happened is that it has been discovered that a man did indeed sign the scroll, it was an ACCIDENT… it was not planned or ignored or anything, it just happened. I think it is great that the facts have now come out and we can all move forward, let’s face it, we are all capable of making mistakes and I’ve been told that the man in question is equally devastated that he did not realise he shouldn’t have done it.
Mar put a statement on the WRWR facebook group informing everyone of this so hopefully we can all now continue to support the fantastic WRWR initiative. I personally won’t be taking any further part in the event this year… not because of this, but because I have to work and other commitments that I must devote my energy to.
So onward and upward… next should be a weekend trip with my club to the Peak District in northern England at the beginning of May… watch out there’s Dykes about!!
P.S. It seems some people felt my comments about male bikers a bit ‘harsh’, I think there may be a culture clash here… in my circle of biker mates (male and female) referencing bikers as ‘hairy arsed’ and ‘real bikers’ as big bearded, fat, men is a joke.. it is irony just as we joke about new harley riders ‘buying the lifestyle’ etc. etc. I received personal messages in response to the comment ‘everyone knows a real biker has to have a large beard, enormous belly and a dangly appendage!!!’ from my mates who actually have large beards, enormous bellies and dangly appendages who thought it was hilarious, so if you are offended then don’t be, its just biker chat!!
Finally, and I have thought long and hard about whether to say this or not, but I do feel I must comment on the consequences of the furore for me personally. After it was announced that the incident had actually happened I kind of expected at least the WRWR administrators who had contacted me yesterday accusing me of creating ‘false rumours’ and being the reason the Spanish were ‘devastated’ to, either publicly or privately, proffer an apology; I have waited all day for some kind of acknowledgement that I am not at fault. I have to say how sadly unsurprised I am that not one person, of those who were so quick to condemn and criticise me yesterday on facebook and via text and telephone, is prepared to even take the trouble to apologise once the facts became public late last night, therefore it appears that I remain, to some extent, still considered ‘guilty’…. a very, very sad end to the WRWR experience for me.