Friday, 1 September 2017

Everyday sexism in cycling



Cycling Weekly sorry for 'token attractive woman' caption

The editor of Cycling Weekly has apologised for a caption in the magazine this week.

The photograph illustrated a feature on a Leicestershire cycling club.

Cycling clubs are doing fantastic work encouraging women to join. My own club has given huge support to Breeze and recently launched a C-ride aimed at making it easier for Breeze riders to step-up to club membership.

Women are still in the minority on two wheels, though.

Can you blame us?

I've experienced far more sexism on the bicycle than anywhere else in my life. Shouted insults from passing motorists are commonplace and I've even had my arse slapped from a passing van. Twice. These people wouldn't behave that way if they met me in the supermarket or the pub but the rules are different when they're in a car and I'm on a bike. 

We've got cycling kit marketed by half-dressed women in high heels. And how are podium girls still even a thing in the 21st century?

So when the editor of Cycling Weekly claims that this caption "In no way reflects the culture of the CW office", he's either disingenuous or blinkered. Because someone in that office thought that was funny. And I'm betting that wasn't a woman.

When I started work on a newspaper, sub-editors in the noisy print room would mark-up pages with a chinagraph pencil. The blue lettering was invisible in an era of black and white publishing.

Routinely, someone would take-up a pencil to draw penises on some of the pictures. The week we changed to colour print, a costumed 'super hero' advertising used cars appeared to be visibly excited by the deals on offer.

The editor was predictably furious, the advertiser more so. But it was no good saying that the schoolboy scrawl didn't reflect the culture of the paper. Of course it did. This time, the culture had made it into the paper.

I hope that Cycling Weekly are sincere in their apology. I hope they run a feature on that cyclist and shower her with expensive cycling goodies. If they read this, I hope they get in touch to learn about the amazing, inspiring women who have joined our Breeze rides in Shropshire, overcoming fear and discovering the joy of life on two wheels in their thirties, forties and even sixties. I hope that we see the end of podium kisses and pink-for-girls kit.

But I'm not holding my breath.







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