I’m fired up. I did my own ripping, literally, last Monday on the first day of vacation. I was out west in Utah and within the first hour of the ride managed to navigate onto a trail beyond my capabilities. Soon thereafter, wham! Knee v. Rock. A trip to the ER and nine stitches later I was relegated to hiking the rest of my time out west. Rock: 1, Knee: 0.
After returning to Chicago, the disappointment continued when I found the following video online. This little teaser is a preview of a DVD coming out this fall that chronicles the making of the CYCLEPASSION calendar, featuring two prominent and successful professional US racers, Heather Irmiger and Willow Koerber. I hesitate to post the video lest more people view it, but here it is:
Now, let’s clarify that Heather Irmiger and Willow Koerber are adults and have the right to make their own choices. But why was this the decision?? “Select group of elite women cyclists,” “Slip into something a little more comfortable”?? Please. As a woman, I am always disappointed when I see other women choosing to objectify themselves in this way. But the fact that these women are professional mountain bikers is even more disappointing. What type of message does this send to amateur women mountain bikers (and other cyclists for that matter), particularly young ones? I’ve heard the argument before that dressing like a stripper is “empowering” for women. I must be missing something, because last time I checked this objectification of women is exactly the type of thing feminists have been fighting against since well before the women in this video (and myself) were born. Do we see male cyclists posing in provocative calendars? No, of course not. Because for men, being athletic is sexy. The two are not mutually exclusive. How would we know that the women in these photos were professional cyclists, were it not for the token bicycle in some of the photos? We wouldn’t. And that is precisely why this calendar and DVD are so insulting to female cyclists.
If you aren’t convinced, please check out Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, by Ariel Levy. You might also consider your mothers, sisters, friends, partners and daughters who ride (or don’t) and whether or not you would support them representing themselves in this way.