Friday, 4 June 2010

Rapha Respect??

It started here, with a competition designed to gather a database of email addresses. Harmless, a bit of fun. Hey, I even posted, although I still have my email address intact ;-)

But as I followed over the hours, and then the last day or so, I become agitated, unsettled, out of sorts, more agitated, then peeved, then downright annoyed and angry. Apart from being repetitive, unimaginative and boring, the comment posts also reflected something else: a seemingly universal attitude towards women in cycling, as in women should be left at home, "managed" so that the male commentators could "escape" (funny, as this was a discussion about how to motivate oneself to get out of the house when it's cold and dark) and engage in some "manly" activity aka secret men's business.

The more whinging I read, the more I thought, gees dude, if living with this person is so bad, leave! Then I realised: I was looking at a list of stereotypes of women as perceived by men.  Predominantly as the butt of some male bonding jokery, but also as one to be duped, tricked, managed, placated, to demonstrate a male cleverness as getting away with some kind of behaviour that is not appreciated by a female partner. Her needs and wants seemed to be devalued against a need to go riding. Even sex is described as a night-before chore that will win a man bonus points in the morning (ie she'll be in a better mood). Stereotypes, apart from showing intellectual laziness, work in complex ways to maintain status quo, or enforce particular modes of being, and forms of (self) governance.

Frankly, the stereotypes iterated on the blog above repeatedly showed a lack of regard and respect for women. Women's interests, desires, concerns, requirements. My ruminating on it lead to a double whammy Facebook rant, reproduced here for those of you who are not on FB, or not one of my multitudes on FB:

getting a little tired of the insidious attitudes and comments from male cyclists about women in general and female cyclists in particular. Just because the zeitgeist is reactionary, doesn't mean it's Ok.. Sexism is sexism, racism is racism. Time to get over yourselves and your phobia fellas.

  Immediately followed by 
female cyclists don't deserve equity in prizemoney because they don't race as hard. Female tennis players may get same money, but don't play for as long, so that proves it. Silly old gits. Hope you don't get on the Board.

#2 was a second hand report of an overheard conversation at DISC last night, tidied up to make more sense (even though, of course, it doesn't. It didn't in the first place).

Cycling, can of course be replaced by the word "golf" or "formula 1". These days, it seems that if a woman is not a stay-at-home, income earning (not sure how that works, might have something to do with the next bit) pole-dancing master chef, then she should be. If she is not, she is to be ridiculed, despised, made fun of, abused, attacked, with her sexuality, gender, agendas called upon.

 I've heard stories of women being punched in the thigh in open races, verbally attacked and abused, run into gutters. I'd hate to be a female cycling commissaire for obvious reasons. You get the idea. Of course, I've heard of the same thing happening to guys as well. Which begs the question: where is the respect? You may look stcool in your new rapha kit, but if you don't demonstrate respect while wearing it, while on the bike, then you're still a turd, no matter how wanky trendy cool the kit you are wearing.


John. said...

Well said. As a male cyclist I couldn't agree more.

Lawrence said...

Thanks for visiting John, and also for your comment. I am anticipating a bit of flack for this post, so your words are heartening!

Enjoy your riding, raphaed or not! :-)