Turns out the sexist soap bubble we live in doesn’t pop when you hop on a Surly. If anything, people get MORE judgey: Ladies, you better not get to work sweaty and unpretty! But how dare you ride in a skirt and heels? I half expect some guy with a handlebar mustache to promote riding sidesaddle. (Lest you think we live in a post-gender society, know that women in the U.S. only take 1-in-4 bike trips.)
Former Grist editor Sarah Goodyear reached out to female cyclists, asking what it means to be feminine on two wheels (if there even IS such a thing). Reading the smattering of responses she got over at Atlantic Cities was both reassuring and eye-opening, reinforcing that there’s no one way to be a woman on a bike, just as — WAIT FOR IT — there’s no one way to be a human on Planet Earth. (Crazy, I know.) Here are a handful of ruminations on cycling, fashion, and gender (all of which you should read, BTW):
“I like to hope that I’m changing/expanding the perception of what is feminine when I zip around on my bike while wearing a dress.” — Emily
“It’s not that I want to avoid looking feminine, but that I want to be seen primarily as a cyclist. Yes, I’m a woman who rides, but how often do we talk about masculinity and riding?” –Caitlin Cohn
“I weird people out when I show up in a public space and take off half my layers. Women are expected to show up to places already presentable.” –Melody Hoffman
“I was always turned off by the pandering-seeming marketing of ‘feminine’ bike products: cute cruisers, wicker baskets, and that ‘I’m just always constantly biking to some cutesy-picnic-date’ vibe … ‘Feminine’ can be having really strong, shapely legs! ‘Feminine’ can be taking up less physical space, using less fossil fuel, and caring about the environment!” –Ruby Gertz
“Cycling is one of life’s greatest joys for me. I couldn’t care less what it implies about my femininity.” –Nsedef
YEAH. So eff gender expectations of being sporty or sexy or both. Wear what you want; just get your feet on the pedals!