Friday, October 3, 2014

Why 'Giving' Women A Place In Mountain Biking Will Only Hurt Us

'Giving' Women A Place In Mountain Biking Will Only Hurt Us

As a writer and rider, I'm often torn by how I should approach topics, and the gender equality one is no different. However, because the gender gap inside of mountain biking (and how we're incorrectly addressing it) uniquely influences my income as a professional athlete, my value as a racer, and my career, I'm heavily opinionated about it.

And this is a rant.

Most of you know my feeling on the sexualization of our sport (I hate it), but do you truly know why?

This last week, a video was featured on Pinkbike's homepage of a young woman riding. Now, normally, I would be over the moon about this. "Chicks getting press, fuck yeah!" But not this time. Why? Well, for starters, she opens the video trying to 'show her girly side' (her quote) by prancing around presumably topless and licking a lollipop. Wait, what?! Yes. A goddamn lollipop. Last time I felt like being girly, I took a fucking bubble bath. And then I painted my toenails, did my hair, dressed up and went dancing... But I digress.

Sexually charged opening innuendo aside, it was an okay video. Some creative editing, some fun riding... But nothing I would call special. And that's the problem. The video was featured on the homepage of the largest bike site in the world. WHY?! Well, because women need more riding and role models, of course!

Ummm, no. Women and girls don't need THAT kind of reinforcement. The problem that I have with the video, despite the creator being a very nice 20-year-old girl, is that it degrades the value of 'quality' riding and athletic performance expected from women in exchange for sexual currency. How did Linda's video of her very average riding end up on the front page? Well, she took her clothes off, filmed a cute little ditty and slapped it online. Because it was the least mediocre of all the mediocre female videos on Pinkbike (and because naked chicks get clicks), the fine editors over at Pinkbike decided to run it.

Let me ask you this:

If she had been a dude, would the riding footage have earned her a spot on the front page? Even if she wasn't a dude, would the riding alone landed her a spot on the front page?

No? Well then, the video shouldn't have been posted on the front page. Period. This sort of pandering does our progression ZERO favors.

"But, but the pro guys run around with their shirts off all the time!" Those guys are also digging gnarly ass lines at rampage, breaking world records atop bicycles and in general, pushing our sport where it has be never been before. They can take off their shirts, pants, and whatever else they want because they've EARNED IT. You, my dear, have not. If you have not earned your notoriety through riding or somehow contributing to the progression of our sport, it is false. If you took your clothes off to get sponsors or your first 'sponsor' was because you modeled for them or you got hooked up because your boyfriend shreds hard? Yeah, you still haven't earned it.

Do something meaningful. Progress the sport. Push your limits. Take on the unknown and WIN. Encourage the women around you to be more than just talk. Stop talking trash on those of us DOING and get of out of the fucking bike park. Learn how to RIDE, not just pretend to ride.

And then we wonder why we aren't taken seriously? Ladies, you're not taken seriously because you won't stop demanding equality while still exploiting your sexuality. You can't have it both ways. You either earn your spot or it's handed to you as consolation for being a sexual object.

Is the riding good enough to stand on it's own? No? Well then, go fucking ride your bike some more and stop taking off your clothes in public.