About a month ago, I went on an all-women bike ride called 'Revenge of the 50 Fixed Women' with the excellent Laura. We were pretty excited about it. The idea of a group of women riding together, most on fixed gear bikes, and then getting a drink afterwards, was brilliant. We'd wanted to do something similar for ages.
Sadly, it didn't live up to our expectations.
What we were hoping would be a supportive atmosphere, turned nasty fairly early on. Several girls on the ride were incredibly rude about Laura's bike. Later on, at the pub, we were left to sit pretty much alone. Needless to say, we didn't stay long. Neither of us appreciated being made to feel like the lonely unpopular kid at school (probably because we've both been there, done that!)
We've been trying to decide why we think this happened. Fixed gear cycling (and cycling in general) is dominated by men. Women are outnumbered and not properly catered for within the industry. Sadly, it seems like some of the women involved in this scene have a complex about this and are worried about seeming amateur, or unable to keep up with the boys. They feel like they have something to prove, to be the cool girl who's keeping up with the boys.
This creates a sense of rivalry, which isn't a good environment in which to create a sense of community.
I'm so tired of women being pitted against each other in every aspect of our lives. It's not that I think we should all be friends, or even that we have anything in common with each other just because we're (trans and cis) women. It would, however, be nice if we weren't encouraged to be jealous of each other or to see each other purely as rivals for the attention and respect of men. We shouldn't have to trample over each other to get that, it should be a given.
The media paints us as petty gossips and bitches. We even secretly hate our friends. It's considered cool to say that you don't really have any girl friends because you just don't get on with them. Or the classic, 'other girls just don't like me', which is code for 'I'm so attractive to men, that other girls are super jealous of me and don't want to be around me.'
We need to all be able to see through this bullshit. That this is a way for men to get things from us, to make us pander to them and put them first all of the time. It serves a patriarchal, capitalist society well to keep women divided. Heaven forbid we organise together, then we might be able to do smash their systematic oppression!
So let's chuck out the gossip rags and shout down the people who lie about who we are. They don't know us! Some of us are gossips, some of us bitch about others (I guess we all do sometimes) but we are a million other things too. Let's make sure 'supportive' is one of those things. Why? I turn here, as I always do, to the Riot Grrrl Manifesto:
BECAUSE we are unwilling to let our real and valid anger be diffused and/or turned against us via the internalization of sexism as witnessed in girl/girl jealousism and self defeating girltype behaviors.
GRRRL LOVE FTW.