Bike Talk: Women And The City

When your an activist weaving through the streets on a bicycle, you see the way cities and minds work without rose colored lenses. Perhaps the world becomes to us more crass and less romantic in that we are aware and confronted with the reality that surrounds us. My growth as a bicycle activist and social activist has led me to think differently in how I read the bicycle industry, urban planning, and women's roles in these realms. 

It's not everyday you'll hear a woman's voice representing a bicycle corporation or leading planning developments. They are very few and hardly listened to. One thing that I do know is that women have something to tell us about the city and life we share. Women spend a lot of their time out on the streets, in parks, talking to neighbors, shopping for groceries or household goods, sustaining neighborhood communities, and piloting their children around. Women know what it is like to live in cities, street by street, day by day, better than the men who plan and build them. There is a lot to be said by women in ways that we can nourish communities and bring life to them over the stale roads and concrete pavements. 

Women have always found creative ways to be active in these realms but mainly through the use of blogging while being fashionably comfortable on their bikes, which has reached more women in cities. Parts of this blog hold this to be true because bicycle lifestyle and activism encompasses our comforts, beliefs, and personalities as well. Exploiting women for their bodies or getting women to become consumptive shouldn't be the aim of the bicycle industry or planning. For too long cities and industries have ignored them and thus have impoverished our lives and cities by not listening to them. Although we aren't always heard in these institutions, we at least have city streets that serve practical activities and our sense of happiness and community.

image @cyclovoalicia

Bike Talk: Women, Cycling, & The Media

As far as I have always known, the bicycle was a tool to liberate women. But what happens when you use something that has been liberating to reducing women to images that react to the desires of consumption? The basic theme remains the same: women are objects to sell, to be trained to consume and be sexually consumed. Very frequently now, I run across images on sites of our sisters half naked on a bike to sell a product, and I find it deeply offensive that bikes as tools of women's liberation are used to reduce women to this.

Bike Talk: Car Advertisements vs Bike Activism

In a recent media uproar from GM's ad targeting college students to "stop pedaling...start driving," GM got pretty whipped by the bicycle community and activists. As a backlash against the ad, I informed some followers via Twitter to write GM about their "creative" division between bike and car culture. Although this did help to get GM to apologize and change their ad, many of us weren't going to stop there. For example, Giant bicycles, a large bicycle company, created their own ad countering GM's mockery of cycling (photo above). Although this is badass and many were talking about how appalling GM was for this, I wanted to take it further. 

As with most things, I think it's necessary to call out the bullshit created by car culture. For a starter, GM has a large hand in history and present in its development of the destruction of our environment, economy, labor, along with the exploitation of sex, women, natural resources, and poor laborers. You may not see it the way I do but if you can try to understand how advertisement and corporations work, you'll see. GM also has a hand in the intoxication of soil, water, landfills, and is listed on the top of 1 of 20 of 100 corporations listed as the worst polluters of the environment (source). Let's take it further - Did you know, last year, our government settled with MLC (New GM) for them to pay 773 million dollars to clean up their act? Great one may think but realistically it's going to take them decades and trillions to save the environment they damaged. They can keep trying to look innocent by developing hybrids and cleaning up sites but where does that landfill from demolition go? Whose cleaning it up besides poor laborers who will be exposed to those intoxication's? I dare those CEO's and executives to go out and do it themselves.

I know it's no fun reading about the injustices that exist among us created by large corporations such as GM but it's seriously time to wake up and fight back the corporations that attack bicycle culture, our environment, and the lives affected by it's forces. Cycling activism never meant staying pretty on a bike and raising a middle finger to car culture. If we want to break it, the way it breaks us, we have to expose its dangers, disasters, and manipulation in our politics, environment, and lives. I think it's time to start raging against the man or machine, don't you?

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