Many years ago when I told a relative I wanted to be a social worker her response was “Why would you want to do that? They’re all feminists!” Interesting, I thought. What would be so bad about that? I didn’t know much about feminism back then so it wasn’t surprising that I began to think that maybe she was right – maybe there actually WOULD be something quite bad about that. Images began to fill my mind of angry screaming women telling me I was letting down the feminist movement by cooking dinner for my boyfriend. Luckily I investigated this some more and after quashing the she-devil nightmares I realised that I was actually a feminist myself and had been for quite some time. To me this simply means that I’m a woman who believes that women are just as valuable and worthy of respect as men and should have access to equal opportunities and recognition in the kind of world that works just as well (or as badly) for women as it does for men.
So now that we’ve established that I actually AM a feminist, and a particularly un-scary one, what I really want to talk about is bikes. Why? Because when I go home at night I don’t spend endless hours on blogs and websites about women’s rights and feminism (apart from feminaust of course!) Instead, I trawl the internet looking for my dream bike and map out routes for weekend bike rides, comment on numerous bike forums (especially those that focus on women’s riding) and spread my bike love all over facebook. When I think about what bike riding means to me, I think about independence, strength, freedom and courage – all things that I think women possess (or should possess) and express in a multitude of ways. This is what Susan B Anthony, an American feminist civil rights leader in the 19th century, had to say about women’s cycling:
“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood”. Continue reading