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  1. #1
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    Slightly OT: How women are perceived

    How does this pertain to mountain biking? This is one of the few safe places for women to talk about topics.. what do you think?

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  2. #2
    Dudette
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    This is so timely - where to begin?

    First, yes, I think women who mountain bike are perceived differently than men. In so many ways. But, like any perception, it also depends on who is doing the perceiving (yeah, that was confusing). I think women who mountain bike perceive other women who mountain bike completely different than say, manufacturers, advertisers, or men.

    I think Darcy Turenne spoke on this very topic recently when she said (and I'm not quoting this directly) something to the effect that when she first started freeriding and getting her name out there, she used her sexuality, in part, to get photo ops and recognition. That it wasn't the fact that she could ride well that would spawn interest, it was the fact that she was pretty. Oh, and then she could also ride.
    In other words, I get the sense that women worry they aren't going to be viewed as feminine if they mountain bike, especially if it's downhill or freeriding (aka, "hardcore" riding).

    I can say this because I'm a woman and honestly, I've wondered myself sometimes if that's how people perceive me. Take for example clothes. Personally, there are a lot of clothes out there supposedly designed for women who mountain bike, that are either too flashy (for my taste) or just don't fit correctly. I'm a woman. I have hips and thighs - I ride! I personally found that men's shorts fit me better and were less flashy. I actually have a friend who mountain bikes who suggested I try some more feminine clothes, that it was okay to look like a girl. I couldn't help but think, um, where is the confusion here? I do have boobs and I have long hair. Is wearing feminine clothes going to improve my riding somehow? Give me Super Woman powers? Why must we be thrust into these gender roles when mountain biking? Maybe I bike to get away from all of that. How does what I wear make me less feminine; any less of a woman?

    Look at the bikes that are out there. Yes, there are some women who do like pinks and that's fine. I have a bike accented in pink, and I have another with purple. I happen to like both colors. But, I accented it that way by my own choosing, not because someone painted the bike bright pink and put flower decals all over it. Personally, maybe some pink with a smattering of skulls would be pretty cool .

    Another pet peeve of mine: not having more aggressive bikes built for women. Yes, there are women-specific bikes out there, and I applaud that. But, how about making downhill and freeride bikes with women in mind? Transition used to make the Syren. I lusted after that bike for quite a while, and then they discontinued it. But the women who do have them seem to hang onto them forever. Norco and Kona got into the mix a few years ago, too, but then they also discontinued their lines. Why? Was it because women weren't buying them because well, they cost the same as the men's bikes but with decidedly lesser groupos on them? Was it the paint scheme? Or was it they were calling them women's bikes, but damn, they still had frame geometries that were better suited to men, than women? Do manufacturers just think that women don't want to ride more aggressively, or are all Thumbelinas who don't require forks designed for anyone over 110# soaking wet? I WANT more than 140mm of travel that I can actually stand over and reach the handlebars. That I'm not just going to do some trail riding with, but take to the bike park and launch off of something. And no, I don't want it to be carbon and I don't want to pay $6,000 + for it or that has a 31+ inch standover on a size small.

    Or how about in regards to advice. Let's face it, women communicate differently than men. That's just a fact. I can admit it and make light of it and try not to take offense too readily. But, if I wanted advice from a man, I wouldn't go on this forum to do it. I think most women come on here because they want a woman's opinion and the encouragement and support from other women. That's not to say that a guy couldn't or wouldn't have constructive advice to give, they may. But, women learn differently than men. I'd wager a lot of us did not grow up hucking bikes off of loading docks or building ramps. I know there are a lot of women on here who are like me and didn't start riding until we were in our mid to late 30's. So, a guy telling me that doing such-and-such is "easy and you just need more speed" isn't going to really help me. I think women are usually more concerned about the consequences of more aggressive riding. We usually have more responsibilities (homes, families/kids, etc.). That's not to say men don't have the same responsibilities (I'm not trying to get into a gender war here)...just saying that I think we look at them differently. That's the point of this whole topic, right?

    I could probably go on, but I think Stripes really came up with a great thread. What do you all think?
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  3. #3
    Slothful dirt hippie
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    Sexism, classism, nepotism, agism, blah blah blah blah.... yeah, it's all real. Yeah it all sucks.

    One of the reasons I love to go alone into the woods is because once I'm there, NONE of this crap matters any more.

    The mountain doesn't give 2 shts. All that matters now is what you brought (gear, knowledge, training, determination, etc) and what you do with it. Wear pink, wear black, wear makeup, go entirely naked... mountain doesn't care. Mountain will alternately bless or eat all y'all indifferently.

    I broke my old tire levers finally this year and just picked up some new pink ones. 1. I find pink MTB anything ironic/amusing (I'm still keeping my eyes peeled for a light weight/right sized Hello Kitty bag for tools) 2. I like to think it keeps them from being swiped by the guys.... even though when repairing a flat out in the mountains nobody is going to give 2 craps about what color they are (beyond finding 'em again when dropped into the weeds of course).
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by verslowrdr View Post
    Sexism, classism, nepotism, agism, blah blah blah blah.... yeah, it's all real. Yeah it all sucks.

    One of the reasons I love to go alone into the woods is because once I'm there, NONE of this crap matters any more.

    The mountain doesn't give 2 shts. All that matters now is what you brought (gear, knowledge, training, determination, etc) and what you do with it. Wear pink, wear black, wear makeup, go entirely naked... mountain doesn't care. Mountain will alternately bless or eat all y'all indifferently.

    I broke my old tire levers finally this year and just picked up some new pink ones. 1. I find pink MTB anything ironic/amusing (I'm still keeping my eyes peeled for a light weight/right sized Hello Kitty bag for tools) 2. I like to think it keeps them from being swiped by the guys.... even though when repairing a flat out in the mountains nobody is going to give 2 craps about what color they are (beyond finding 'em again when dropped into the weeds of course).
    While, yes, I agree it all sucks. And yer right, the mountain and trails do not care.

    Maybe next time I should actually post more of what I mean. I'm gonna blame on it on the medication as I've been sick for a week.

    What I'm curious about it what you run into as far as perception. For example, a guy could be considered an "aggressive" rider where a woman could be considered "psycho" for trying a 20 foot gap...

    Or even in the opposite direction: a women could be use "finesse" where a guy would be considered a "p u s s y" for not trying a more aggressive move.

    And men and women are programmed differently (read on neuroscience), and that impacts how we view the sexes too:
    Brain Connectivity Study Reveals Striking Differences Between Men and Women | Neuroscience News
    Last edited by Stripes; 12-12-2013 at 04:57 PM.
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  5. #5
    I like mtn biking, too
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    This IS a great thread, Stripes. Look, I don't observe, at least in my part of the world, (a very progressive part for sure), that most men who mountain bike are objectifying us or putting us down. I think they are genuinely happy to have more women in the sport.

    But there are few gender issues that go hand in hand with mountain biking. For example, I set up the registration for a local Enduro race a couple months back and we ended up with 8% female participation. (It was more like 9% before two women had to cancel). There was 1 in beginner, 1 in sport, 2 in expert, and the rest were pro.

    Ever since then I have been wondering why that was the case? There are definitely women who ride. There are even some strong women riders whom I've met in my riding circles - strong on the XC and strong on the DH. But why are they not signing up for races? We sold out fast. Maybe women weren't fast enough or decisive enough? Maybe we have too many other pressures? I don't know.

    Is it a marketing bias? Do ads of mountain bikers always portray males by default, and if females are shown they are shown scantily clad in order to entice (hetero) men? Well, yeah, that may be part of it, especially in the DH scene.

    Certainly on mtbr threads I often wonder if the bromance makes women feel excluded, and if the boob pictures sometimes people post on mtbr threads makes women feel objectified and intimidated? I persevere anyway because I also feel that for more women to participate, and to break up the sausage fest, someone has to hopefully embolden more women to participate - and that's us!

    Or is it just the nature of being a woman? We are pretty much all career-women, but for many of us a lot of the traditional roles have not yet died - like being the manager of the household, cleaner, cook and child-care giver (especially for small children). Maybe it's an issue of time? I'm lucky my husband does a lot of this, and we don't have kids.

    And we still make less than men on average for the same work. Is it an issue of money? MTB'ing isn't that expensive. But it's certainly not cheap, like running, and having a decent bike sure is more motivating than pedaling a heavy old clunker around.
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  6. #6
    Don't worry, be happy!
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    I find the video to be rather silly in its attempt to make a point through exaggerating perceptions.

    I'm with verslwrdr... in a lot of ways I just don't give a crap any more. Maybe at my age I'm tired of fighting for it. Someone else can fight the battles. Not to say that I don't get sick and tired of the boob threads ( I do) but I'm tired of trying to change/enlighten/educate ...

  7. #7
    Slothful dirt hippie
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    FWIW I DO think there's a lot of issues in how women are treated vs men, and especially in the workplace it's a non-trivial matter.

    But as far as MTBing goes: who cares if someone says I'm Doing It Wrong (and the critics come in both XX and XY varieties). There's people who talk, and then there's people who ride. I just had to swap out my entire drivetrain + brakes because the whole lot was too far gone.... I don't have time to listen to self-appointed twits about the matter, real stuff needs doing.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  8. #8
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    I ride with other women and I ride with men. A lot of the time I end up riding more with men than other women. Some of my best riding partners are men. I really don't care who I ride with as long as we are friends and are having fun. Male or female really just doesn't matter to me. When I first got into MTBing I was kind of hesitant to ride with men because I wasn't sure how I would be perceived and I kind of thought guys would be like like "WTH is this chick doing out here?" but I can honestly say I never had a man act that way. The more I rode with men the more I realized that they don't think that and they don't mind when I show up to a ride and am the only chick there. They don't care and I don't care anymore either.

  9. #9
    Don't worry, be happy!
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    Slightly OT: How women are perceived

    I had no idea this was an ad for Pantene shampoo.

  10. #10
    Rides with Scissors
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    Quote Originally Posted by verslowrdr View Post
    I don't have time to listen to self-appointed twits about the matter, real stuff needs doing.
    A bit OT, but this ^^^^^ really needs a "LIKE" button. People say I can be a bit "short" with others, but really… I just have no time or patience for stupid, especially when things need to be done!
    Some days you're the dog, some days you're the hydrant.

  11. #11
    Slothful dirt hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by formica View Post
    I had no idea this was an ad for Pantene shampoo.
    Everyone knows you gotta have great hair crammed under that helmet. :P

    Totally OT: The budworms were really bad this season here in central WA. Getting needles and little sticks through the helmet vents tangled into my matted hair was always irritating enough, but those stupid little *worms* dropping in..... eeeeeeewwww!
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  12. #12
    Don't worry, be happy!
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    Better worms than those dang yellow bees. We had real problems with them over here this summer.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by catsruletn View Post
    I ride with other women and I ride with men. A lot of the time I end up riding more with men than other women. Some of my best riding partners are men. I really don't care who I ride with as long as we are friends and are having fun. Male or female really just doesn't matter to me. When I first got into MTBing I was kind of hesitant to ride with men because I wasn't sure how I would be perceived and I kind of thought guys would be like like "WTH is this chick doing out here?" but I can honestly say I never had a man act that way. The more I rode with men the more I realized that they don't think that and they don't mind when I show up to a ride and am the only chick there. They don't care and I don't care anymore either.
    I also ride with mixed company, and mixed age groups. And none of are like that..

    But, other mountain bikers who we don't ride with, and I'm including some of the guys who come in here and tell us how to ride/learn/etc, perceive us differently.. as the little gentle flower that what to groom and ride the way they want us to.

    We can get some of that at the LBS too. Definitely a lot of difference on how we're viewed. I'm happy there's some discussion going on about this, even if it's a very different direction I thought it would be Thanks ladies.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by formica View Post
    I had no idea this was an ad for Pantene shampoo.
    Gotta get me some Pantene.

    Seriously though, compared to most commercials, I have to give them some credit there.

  15. #15
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    There is a fine line between the various labels and the difference is confidence IMO. If you have practiced, studied, and are experienced in something you should have the confidence so that you don't need anyone's validation. I am father of four kids (two boys and two girls) and this is what my wife and I try to teach our kids. It does not matter who you are there is always some ready to try and tear you down. Throw down your best and rise above.

  16. #16
    pin it
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    I like what Betty says:

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    Lot's of women (all ages) approach me at the bikepark. They want to know what it's like to Downhill and how I got started; they ask me questions about my bike and gear; they want to know about the gnarly trails etc. And I tell them like it is, and I get all kinds of responses, and encouragement and all positive.
    I also tell other women that it's not impossible to learn and that learning a new skill or sport opens up many possibilities...

    Fight labels
    F*ck Cancer

    Eat your veggies

  17. #17
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    Yes - fight labels. That's what I like to do. People label - it's human nature. So it's up to us to re-define the label. When I'm on a ride, make sure I hold my own and contribute to the ride. I don't want to be the one that shows up to the trailhead with a broken bike, expecting the guys to fix it, or the one that everyone is always waiting for, or the one that always gets lost, or the one who has melt-downs on the trail. It's all about creating a good biking reputation for yourself and it helps other women as well.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post
    But, other mountain bikers who we don't ride with, and I'm including some of the guys who come in here and tell us how to ride/learn/etc, perceive us differently.. as the little gentle flower that what to groom and ride the way they want us to.
    Definitely. "You're last because you're a girl". ??? Uh, noooo, I'm sweeping because I'm the one with the first aid skills necessary to pick up the pieces, dumbass.

    And unfortunately I have experienced more subtle probably unconscious digs from the guys I *do* ride with. But you bet your sweet bippy I call them on it, on the spot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post
    We can get some of that at the LBS too. Definitely a lot of difference on how we're viewed.
    Yep. There are two shops here in town I won't go to now, because I always get ignored or condescended to.

    I'm very happy for those who haven't ever experienced sexism. My big beef is with people who say "I haven't experienced it, therefore you are lying/FOS/need to get over it." And then the expectation that it's my job to educate them about it. Oy veh.

    I'm of a similar age to formica & verslowrider and am really tired of it all at this point. I mean, we've been talking about this since the 70s and it seems nothing has changed. Then again, I'm in IT, where the ratios are similar but the problem seems to be much worse, so maybe I'm just feeling all stabby

    gabrielle
    Quote Originally Posted by Impy
    just plain unfriendly and maladjusted.
    "Yes, honey: I do love this bike more than I love you."

  19. #19
    Slothful dirt hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabrielle View Post
    ...I'm of a similar age to formica & verslowrider and am really tired of it all at this point. I mean, we've been talking about this since the 70s and it seems nothing has changed. Then again, I'm in IT, where the ratios are similar but the problem seems to be much worse, so maybe I'm just feeling all stabby ..
    Sometimes you just gotta ride it off. Speaking of that, you still need to get up to our 'hood and check out our traily-Oes. I've been getting in on some mighty fine goods since we rode together last, I can set you up.

    I hear you on the stabby too, but FWIW I worked in an accounting dpt for 6 months- complete with accordions. It's IT all the way down for me if I can help it.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabrielle View Post
    Definitely. "You're last because you're a girl". ??? Uh, noooo, I'm sweeping because I'm the one with the first aid skills necessary to pick up the pieces, dumbass.

    And unfortunately I have experienced more subtle probably unconscious digs from the guys I *do* ride with. But you bet your sweet bippy I call them on it, on the spot.
    Sorry my reply is going to be more rambling than I planned. So yer forewarned.

    LOL--yes. Awesome on the first aid. For me, uphill I want to be the last one. For the downhill, I want to be the 2nd in line, you know.. the one who rides after the photog

    I've found passing guys on the trails is more entertaining than passing women. Since my reduction 4 months ago, I'm much faster both up and downhill, and it's funny to see the look on a guy's face when I pass them--especially a younger guy.

    Funny thing is, this isn't limited to the bike. I see it when I'm walking from the train station to the office in San Francisco, and I motor past some guys. They get frustrated and pick up the pace. It's also the same when I pass a guy in my car. Nooo.. they don't like it one single bit.

    Yep. There are two shops here in town I won't go to now, because I always get ignored or condescended to.

    I'm very happy for those who haven't ever experienced sexism. My big beef is with people who say "I haven't experienced it, therefore you are lying/FOS/need to get over it." And then the expectation that it's my job to educate them about it. Oy veh.

    I'm of a similar age to formica & verslowrider and am really tired of it all at this point. I mean, we've been talking about this since the 70s and it seems nothing has changed. Then again, I'm in IT, where the ratios are similar but the problem seems to be much worse, so maybe I'm just feeling all stabby

    gabrielle
    Same here. If you haven't experienced sexism, you're very lucky. There are also some very miserable people who invent sexism where there is none, but there even less likely to find on a mountain bike.

    I'm also in IT, but IT security, which seems to draw a lot of testosterone poisoning. However, I'm really lucky to have a supportive direct manager and VP in my engineering role, and it's so different that I'm still in shock to see how well the sexes CAN play together in security.

    And I'm prolly in the same age group that formica, gabrielle and verslowrider are in. With my decision to actually go through and get a breast reduction this year made me realise how much sexism is out there and how we are perceived. People have been really supportive of the decision, but you do occasionally run into people who tell you how you should get more not less.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by verslowrdr View Post
    Sometimes you just gotta ride it off. Speaking of that, you still need to get up to our 'hood and check out our traily-Oes. I've been getting in on some mighty fine goods since we rode together last, I can set you up.
    That'd be excellent. I keep meaning to get up to Duthie...that might make a good meet spot, too. Maybe we could talk formica into coming over.

    gabrielle
    Quote Originally Posted by Impy
    just plain unfriendly and maladjusted.
    "Yes, honey: I do love this bike more than I love you."

  22. #22
    Slothful dirt hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabrielle View Post
    That'd be excellent. I keep meaning to get up to Duthie...that might make a good meet spot, too. Maybe we could talk formica into coming over.
    Duthie's a park. You go around in circles. Interesting for a bit of a larf, but it's definitely a 'scene' which isn't my thing.

    I've got much more nefarious intentions... deep Teanaway and/or Taneum back country.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  23. #23
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    Saw some bike-ism instead of sex-ism today for a refreshing (ummm, maybe not!) change. I'm quite sure the passenger who rolled down the window to advise me to "get a car" and that I should not be "in the middle of the road" did not know I was a woman when he started his rant against my bike-commute. The driver was silent (I assume his mortified wife), as I railed back at the moron at a red light. He gave me the finger behind his rolled-up window, but I noticed he blocked it from the driver's view, which is not how people generally fly the bird. As I pointed at the license plate and then my eyeballs, the light turned green. End of story, but dang if I wasn't mad all day.

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