Monday, November 07, 2016

Dames on Frames 




There is something about bicycles that is immensely empowering, particularly for women. From the suffragette movement to the Ovarian-Pscyos Bicycle Brigade to the hashtag #IranianWomenLoveCycling, bikes remain an enduring symbol of female emancipation. I’m not even sure I understand it. Well, of course I don’t. I’m not a woman and I never will be (unless I’m involved in a horrible automated corn shucker accident). Thus I will never understand the sorority of the travelling pants, by which I mean cycling shorts. I won’t understand it in the same way women can’t understand male-bonding bromances. To be sure, some men can’t wrap their heads around non-sibling, non-romantic male friendship. I point to the many snickering critics who surely would deem Frodo and Sam’s relationship in the The Lord of the Rings, as one long in-the-closet gay love fest. Admittedly, the friendship is even closer in the text without the longing looks cast in the movies, but I’d wager it was based on something J.R.R. Tolkien experienced in the actual trenches with actual mates at the battle of the Somme. This is entirely beside the point. It’s not even beside it, it has totally nothing to do with it at all. The point is, ladies and gals love cycling and it allows them to seemingly bond closer when they bike together. I’m going out on a limb here, a very treacherous limb to say when I see women riding together, it seems more fun. They really look like they are having more glorious fun.

Okay okay okay okay okay - before I am immolated upon a pyre of my own words here, this has nothing to do with whether women are able to perform sport at a high level. Obviously they can. Obviously I’ve seen plenty of women, young, old, big or small, surpass my inept hijinks to know any woman or girl can outperform this particular man. It’s just, women don’t exhibit the kind of bravado or braggadocio that men do. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist. Maybe I just don’t know the female version of braggadocio even though tennis, MMA fighting, ice hockey, rugby and soccer all have female versions of aggressive, take-no-prisoners style competition. Conversely, many male athletes also perform at a high level and exhibit the sort of fraternal respect you’d like to see in sport. For some reason rowing and curling crews come to mind.

Sisterhood, no matter what field of play, makes me envious. Perhaps it’s simply that women can more openly express themselves to each other than men have learned to, no matter how evolved they may be. Maybe it's because I grew up without sisters? I’m sure a hard hitting feminist might say I’m subconsciously expressing a fetish of femininity except I don’t have to do that. That is to say I already fetishize femininity very consciously as a ridiculous male of the species. To be honest I don’t really know what it is. It’s just dudes are always in a pissing contest which doesn’t seem to exist for ladies. I’m probably wrong. I might be very wrong. Yet it’s my impression and perception that leads me to believe that female friendships seem to have a weirdly stronger bond.

Now, more than ever, the idea of female achievement is appearing in a very singular form. HRC is on the precipice of becoming the first female president of the United States*. In some ways, it’s a shining example of American meritocracy while in other ways it’s a shining example of how far behind Americans are. I guess, DJT himself is the ultimate expression of the Alpha American Male and simultaneously the worst possible version of manhood I’ve ever seen. A lot of countries have already had female leaders. Why did it take Americans so long? This election has only emphasized the sort of misogynist crap pile women still have to put up with. Whether it’s the shockingly low rates of conviction and reporting of sexual assaults or the stinging assaults of trolls online, it’s still a hard world to be a woman in. This doesn’t even take into account what women face in developing nations where the number of child brides is growing, or in repressive cultures where women’s rights linger somewhere in a creepy cellar in the 17th century. Which still doesn’t explain why the UN, in an incredibly bonehead maneuver, chose Wonder Woman as a gender equality ambassador. Hey, I loves me some Diana Prince but were we all out of living women who could be ambassadors? It only shows the UN’s ineptitude at this kind of thing, not to mention a complete ignorance of comic books in general or the character’s rather complicated history and origin.

But back to dames on frames. Another thing I’m immensely jealous of, are people who can ride their bike and dress well doing it. Again, it’s not to say men don’t do this, just that ladies do it better. I use to wear the most incredibly ugly rain gear or “performance” clothes to ride anywhere. I eventually learned to find more practical and comfortable attire to bike in, but it’s really not that hard to water-proof your shoes and wear a water-resistant jacket. Yet, that still leaves me rolling in jeans, t-shirts and comfy shoes with some kind of ugly nylon jacket. It’s a look that says, “practical”. Occasionally I’ll see a dude in a suit on a bike, but not nearly as often as a woman in heels and a skirt looking like it “ain’t no thang”. Believe me, I’ve tried dressing better for work and biking but the biggest upgrade I’ve managed to pull off is a shirt that has buttons. I suppose I’m merely victim to the feminine mystique. I should never admit such a thing but to the ladies who ride in style and grace and a smile upon your face, I doff my lid and say, “Chapeau”.

*27/07/2017 Update for historical purposes: I've heard HRC's next book will be titled "What Happened" but I doubt any single book could correctly analyze the car wreck that was the 2016 election or the current state of affairs.

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