Sunday, June 7, 2015

Why Superior Bikes' Apology (And Attitude) Sucks

Deep breath. Okay.

I've given myself a few days' worth of non-commentary to accurately approach this topic in the hopes of not coming off as confrontational, aggressive or... Oh, fuck it.

First off all: when one of my Twitter friends tagged me to the link to Superior's horrible PR screw up, I laughed. HARD. It was funny! I thought it was a joke. And then I realized that it wasn't. But I was still laughing. Because it was too easy. It was too clearly messed up. And then I had to show it... Because why?

1. Because irony. Because life is far too short not to enjoy the schadenfreude of being tormented for weeks about the bike industry not having a sexism problem and then finding a website that clearly states how inferior women are and how we don't need bikes that are aggressive, etc. Duh.

2. Because I laughed. Fucking HARD. And long. And then I gleefully shared it because HEY! You should look at this and laugh, too. At that point, was I really looking for another PinkGate/WWIII/BikeNerdApocalypse? No. It was just so stupid that it was laughable. Especially in light of all of the talk around whether or not the cycling industry does or doesn't have a sexism issue.

Secondly, all I will say on this topic is: I know. I just know. I feel you, my friend.

Thirdly, that apology. Oh my mother of Jesus, can we please talk about that 'apology'? Superior Bikes is sorry we got offended? Really? Because there was nothing truly offensive in their original copy and hey! It was a translation mix up! Besides! There are sooooo many women that it does apply to. How dare we be upset that we're so easily dismissed and generalized as one big chunk of flesh? Ugh. Clearly, we don't get it. 


I call bullshit. In fact, I'm calling horseshit, too. I call it all shit, because that's what it is. The original copy was dismissive, rude, sexist and nothing like the copy on the male 'Sport' line, which is nearly an identical bike. Claiming that it was a translation mix up is like me climbing into bed with someone else's husband, banging his brains out and then claiming "I thought it was my boyfriend! It was dark! We didn't communicate!" In other words, a royal fuck up.

"Dear cyclists, women!

My name is Jan Skřička and I work as a SUPERIOR bikes marketing person. It is me who's the author of the unfortunate intro text to our MODO Lady MTB bike category. After reading all the comments, I can see that many of you would like to have me torn to pieces, fired, burned in hell. And I understand it. Yet, before I'me done, I kindly ask you for some extra time to read the lines below. 

The formulation of the original text was unfortunate and contained stupid generalization. Though not formulated in a good way, the generalization was there to explain the concept of the bikes in the MODO category, not to offend women. We really took a lot of time and did our maximum when designing and developing the Lady MTB collection doing our best with the best of intentions. Same way me and my colleagues never realized that the text could be taken as offensive until the discussions started. My mistake! I take it.

What can you say and when something like this happens? Oooops!?

Now seriously:
• I sincerely apologize for the misunderstanding and the original texting.
• I have now changed the intro text to the MODO MTB Lady category and I hope that it now expresses the idea behind the concept of our MODO collection without offending any woman riding a bike.
• Thank you all who contributed in the discussions for teaching me a lesson! I have certainly learned something over the last couple of days. I hope! ;-)

Ride & have fun!

Jan Skřička
SUPERIOR Bikes, marketing"

And then suddenly, when Business Insider covered it, they issued an apology. And I tried to be polite and say "Thank you" and pass the appreciation on.

But after about six hours, I just... Couldn't do it anymore. As you can see above, it was just as half-assed, just as patronizing and just as infuriating as the original copy. Clearly, management decided that digging a whole new hole was worth the effort and left us with the oft-uttered superior little dig of 'Go ride!', but structured as "Ride & have fun!" when you confront an issue like this.

And I know that I'm supposed to be grateful they even lent us their time and deigned to issue an apology. I know that as a female professional, I should be classy and offer just a nod and positivity. But you know what? I'm not. I'm me, and this is my internet version of the middle finger to you, Superior Bikes. You can take your copy, your apology and your excuses and get lost. Because you're wrong -- dead wrong. Women are brilliant and strong and powerful and passionate and daring and even when we're ditching the bike, it's generally to go lift a car off of a baby or something (okay, maybe an exaggeration: I've never saved a baby). But even the generalization you made in the copy about women who want to just enjoy paved paths is incorrect. Why? Because my mom just wants to ride paved paths. But she does it for enjoyment, not because she's not a badass. And a lot of women are the same way -- they're not, in fact, one of two polar opposite groups that a large portion of the male bike industry would like to assign women into. Those women and this women are individuals who all want something different from their riding experience... Just like men. Why? Because women are human. And our wants and desires vary on our opinions and motivations and needs as individuals. Imagine that. 

Thanks for proving my point.

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