I’m going to be real right now – I’m a bike feminist who spends a lot of time riding bikes with dudes. I do a lot of organizing in the FTW (femme/trans*/women) bike community, and I’m constantly trying to find more non-cis male riding partners (and I’m having a lot of success recently!). But I spend a lot of time riding, wrenching and talking shop with bike bros in a variety of circumstances – at polo, on the mountain, on the streets, in the shop, etc. I love them, have learned a lot from them, and generally feel respected and supported in those spaces.
And sometimes I don’t. And when that happens it feels like shit.
It all starts with this image (I’m not going to post it because I don’t really want it on my blog).
First, let me say that female nudity is not inherently objectifying. In fact, this is my fav bike feminist image of all time:
She’s got lazerz shooting out of her boobs! She looks fierce! She’s standing over a crazy, rad bike! It literally has FEMINISM written across the bottom! It says so much about what I love about biking, and why I feel empowered by biking.
But the image in question, the one that makes me mad, shows a woman in just about the most ridiculous situation ever – she’s bent over a downhill bike in a thong. Who would ever ride a downhill bike with no pants on? Have you ever eaten shit riding down a mountain? I have. It hurts. And if I hadn’t been wearing pants, pads and other protections it would have hurt even more. As I said earlier, it’s not nudity that bothers me, it’s when the nudity feels like it’s for male sexual pleasure, and doesn’t empower the object of the photo that bothers me. In full disclosure, I don’t know the history of this photo – who knows, she might (and I hope she is!) a bombass downhill mountain bike racer, who directed that photo and wanted it to look like that. That is totally her call. Because this rant isn’t (really) about this photo, it’s about the context of the photo. Continue reading