Thursday, 20 May 2010

Enough hatin'

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.



  1. I love this post! It's a shame you had such an unpleasant experience though.

  2. gee! glad i didn't end up going! i thought i missed out on it..mind you i also thought the girls would have been sweet - i got some very encouraging messages to join (from a girl on the LFGSS forum), but couldn't go cos of other plans... Sounds horrible, and really find it hard that people would put others down cos of their bicycle! Did L tell them anything-if anyone says anything about my bike then i 'll sure defend it like a best friend! (did all the girls have custom made bikes? maybe they don't like big companies and mass made bikes? dunno - more info?) Anyway, hope L is not put off...:-( x

  3. that's what we were hoping too. they all seemed so encouraging and supportive on the forum.

    laura did 'defend' her bike, but it's hard in a group of people who you've never met, but who all seem to know each other.

    lots of the bikes were £1000+ affairs. lots were custom. it was the fact that it was a langster that they were objecting to. heaven forbid somebody ride an affordable but good quality bike that you can just jump on and ride. she's been customising it, and is going on a bike mechanics course this summer. laura LOVES bikes.

    we've both been put off, we'll not ride with them again. more interested in organising rides with supportive folk (like yourself!)

  4. THANK YOU for this post.
    I am sad to see women are awful to each other in all sorts of areas, but I am glad to read this post.


  5. As someone who hasn't been on a bike since she was 12 I find it hard to believe that grown adults would actually make fun of someone for having a different bike.

    I don't know much about the subject but surely spending £1000+ on a bike doesn't show your love of cycling it just shows you have that kind of money to waste on it.

    It's quite disheartening to know there are people like this especially since I was planning to start cycling and I wouldn't have got the cool bike.

    I think you and Laura should make your own girl biking gang with one rule: No Girl Hate.

  6. This is pretty rotten.
    START YOUR OWN RIDE, LYDIA. I'm in!!! xx

  7. can we start a bike girl gang? my friend nati said she's like to come riding with us!

  8. bloody hell. even notwithstanding any and all feminist issues going on here, who the hell makes fun of someone else's bike?! that is INSANE. regardless of what gender they were, they were being monumentally twattish. were they the organisers? i think you could organise a girl germs ride instead.

    Pedal faster in the face of insecurity!

  9. Wow, that is just hilarious. What a gang of insecure, sad, women. I love my bike - it is an Electra Petro Zillia. It is covered in rainbows and has pom poms and I guard it with my life. I regularly get snide comments from men on mountain bikes in downtown Liverpool, sneering at the "unsuitability" of an internally geared coaster breaking city bike, in, eer, the city, against their machine invented to ride the Alps. The one place I wouldn't expect that kind of petty stupidity is from women, but I've noticed this whole fixie trend is full of people who're all about being part of a scene and don't really care for cycling.

    Today, I had an amazing conversation with a girl on the train. We only started chatting because we both had bikes. Down with bike bullying!