What Women Want
I’ve been sitting quietly at Interbike, deliberating over whether or not I should say anything about #sockgate. Personally I think Jules has said it best, and has offered all too familiar and awful examples of WHY the sock debacle is a problem. Ditto Katherine Fuller’s piece in Dirt Rag.
Many—if not most— of my riding buddies are men and some think #sockgate is funny and say we should lighten up or “get a sense of humor”. I do stand up comedy in my spare time. My sense of humor is intact and pretty broad… and frankly, a bit crass at times. I’ve been a tomboy my entire life, mixing it up with rowdy boys and dirt baggers. And I’m realizing how so much of the bike industry—nay, THE WORLD— is full of men who just don’t want to grow up. That’s the only possible explanation for the continued imBROsition of such childish antics in a professional milieu.
Riding bikes has been a top priority in my life. When I moved to Bend, Oregon in 2011 friends assumed I was moving because I fell in love. I had fallen in love…with the trail access! Bend offers hundreds of miles of twisty singletrack right out the back door. There was no guy in the picture, my bike made me do it! I’ve also taken jobs in the industry—chosen passion over profit—when I could have worked in another industry entirely for much more money.
Most of the women who work in the bike industry tend to do so for the same reasons so many men do: because we love bikes. We love riding. And we love sharing our love of bikes with others.
When we are systematically and routinely depreciated because of our gender, it hurts in too many ways to list. We can’t just “lighten up” or “get over it” because this isn’t an isolated instance. It’s never an isolated instance, anymore. This treatment is endemic in the bike industry.
So many men I spoke with about the sexist double standards women face in the bike industry don’t “get it”. They don’t have to. That’s the benefit of male privilege. What disturbs me more is they don’t CARE to. At least not until they have daughters, or a woman they love and respect faces this sort of bullshit and they realize not caring is the root of the problem.
I’m not a militant feminist, or a man hater, or any of the other things I’m likely to be called by posting this piece. Jules’ and Fullers’ pieces paint the picture better than I am. If you want to understand why women don’t find things like sockgate funny, read their stories. I don’t have a solution to bridging the gender gap, but I do believe greater empathy and knowledge will be a good start.
Also… Dudes. Be excellent.
That is all.