The B-Side: It's About the Riding, Not the Soft Tissue

Mar 11, 2015
by Danielle Baker  
The B Side Header

I have never really considered that being a girl has anything to do with writing. I think that growing up without running water and electricity, being chased by whales, and that one time I hit my head really, really hard, has had more of an impact on what I have to say, than the fact that I sometimes get free drinks in bars.

In the past year there has been a shift, and a bigger focus is being placed on women in mountain biking. Awesome, right? The problem was that a bunch of people, really-great-not-sexist-at-all people, had a vague notion that women needed to be represented better or more or just. . . something in our media. They identified a void, but the solution wasn’t quite there yet. Being that I have the prerequisite ‘soft tissue’ the request was put to me a few times to provide ‘women specific content’.

Exploring the Kootenays with Mountain Biking BC
  Kelli Sherbinin and Darren Butler find the flow in Rossland.

I will admit that I saw an opportunity in this niche, and we all have rent to pay, but at the same time it just didn’t feel right to me. The few times that I have attempted to write a ‘rah rah rah up with women in mountain biking’ type article they have felt soulless to me. The type of read where the words are arranged well and the punctuation is stellar, but you walk away and immediately forget about it. Like a technically great photograph that leaves you nothing more than… ‘meh’.

For example I once wrote, ‘We are not solving global warming or preventing teen pregnancy; we are just riding bikes. However, it would still seem that the lack of women competing in this style of mountain biking is something we feel passionately about.” This non-committal, third party assessment of the concerns buzzing in our industry about the lack of women in downhill racing was my way of trying to fly the flag.

Danice Uyesugi came in 2nd in the Elite Women s category.
  Danice Uyesugi charging to the podium at the Silver Star BC Cup last year.

The problem is this; yes, I have a vagina but that makes me as similar to other women as my secluded childhood and imaginary friends make me similar to the guy who yells at me while going through my recycling. I really don’t feel like I know the first thing about what other girls are interested in. I grew up as a tomboy, my first fisher-price toy was a chainsaw, and I aspired to be a 60-year-old fisherman when I grew up – which to this day accounts for my fashion choices. My sister on the other hand was a beauty pageant queen. A girl who knew how to walk in high heels and who could completely transform the way she looked in under an hour. These are skills that I am still equal parts envious of and intimidated by in most women. So, from a very young age, I knew that I didn’t know everything about being a woman – and I’m still not clear on exactly what issues relating to mountain biking are specific to women.

Kelli hucking Severed D
  Kelli Sherbinin and Cynthia Young making the most of wet day on the North Shore.

The other thing that made my palms sweat and my Spidey sense tingle around the idea of writing women’s specific ‘from my vagina to yours’ articles is that I never wanted to be pigeonholed – and I’m using the Webster’s, not the Urban Dictionary definition here. I have never wanted to be seen as just a ‘female writer’. And I don’t mean that as ‘just a woman’. I mean it that same way that saying ‘sorry, I only write about Enduro now’ would severely hinder my career – minus having to wear a fanny pack.

I didn’t see equality as me being hired because I appeal to women, I see it as me being hired because I have a pretty solid sense of where a period should go. Tina Fey landed a role on SNL because she is funny, not because she is funny just to women.

When it comes to mountain biking, we don’t need to be women first. We are riders first. A riding trip is just that, a riding trip. No gender identification required. There needn’t be a specified women’s riding trip with the requisite cowboy hat, bikini, and side boob photos. Boys and girls can ride together! No segregation. And most importantly, women in the industry can be profiled without being asked what it is like to be a woman working in the bike industry, or how they feel about women receiving equal payouts on the podium. Those gendered questions can be replaced with the more interesting and personality revealing ‘who inspired you to ride bikes’ and ‘what are your goals for this year’.

  Andrew Baker and Beth Parsons adventuring in the Chilcotins.

Marching bands, neon signs, and gratuitous cleavage actually make mountain biking less accessible to women. They single us out, point out our differences, and become polarizing. But realizing that mountain biking is more about the experience and love for the sport, than about whether you sit or stand, will further unite us as an equal and more accessible community.

Subtly shifting the way we view ourselves as part of this community and industry is the first step in changing the way everyone else views us. I have never considered any of my articles ‘women specific’. When I write about my grandma being the inspiration for my outdoor adventures, or about the incredible person that Tara Llanes is, or about my friend Marilee who embodies the love of biking that we all feel, I choose to write these articles in a way that everyone, not just women, can relate to them, and in doing so a larger audience is inspired by women.

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  • 161 6
 I've always thought the best way of tackling gender inequality is to ignore it (stay with me). Basically, if you shout don't panic, everyone assumes something is wrong so gets agitated. If we (the collective we) write and read articles that deal specifically with gender inequality, would this not make the situation worse by simply enforcing the idea that there is gender inequality? Perhaps the better way of dealing with it is this: Employ equal numbers of sexes, write equal numbers of male orientated and female orientated bike reviews, races, etc etc. While this only deals with the issue in cycling, it is at least a start and, lets face it, cycling has the potential to be a flagship sport for gender equality!
  • 28 4
 Exactly my point as well buddy.
  • 13 4
 ^ +1
  • 13 3
 I am all for equal treatment/opportunities. But where does it really make sense to have m/f specific products? Is it just marketing? Or fashion? Or really anatomically advisable? Because i think where necessary or desirable ok but else there is a big potential to create issues and complications where there are none. M/F specific saddles? Frames? Shifters? Cables? You get where i am going.
  • 53 6
 There is an underlying message in these pro women articles that somehow WE, the predominantly male biking community, are to blame for the lack of women in the sport. Obviously we scare them off with our sexist attitudes and desire to reduce women to nothing but vaginas in bikinis... Frankly this is fucking bollocks. There is not much we can do about the fact that the average girl just doesn't want to get muddy, hurt themselves or throw themselves down a cliff. It's just the way it is. I am all for more women in the sport but I honestly don't think there is a whole cohort of girls out there who would love to ride bikes but don't because they're put off by the macho image of it. I mean FFS most people when you mention mountain biking to them still think you wear lycra!
  • 49 5
 in the interests of maintaining the correct balance, the word penis needs to be used at least twice in this article, and a mention on manboobs would not have been out of place as well
  • 14 6
 "Employ equal numbers of sexes, write equal numbers of male orientated and female orientated bike reviews, races, etc etc"

Who is going to finance writing those articles, that hardly anyone reads?

Looks to me people are trying to solve a problem that doesn't really exist.
Mountainbiking will always be dominated by men.
And there is nothing wrong with that.

(Though I would like to ride more with women.)
  • 16 0
 You can't have the: " Employ equal numbers of sexes, write equal numbers of male orientated and female orientated bike reviews, races, etc etc." on a market that is way more male oriented. I am not saying mountain bike is not for women, but we got to be realistic here, there are not even enough female bikes on the market to get a one on one review out. Not to mention the fact that a "female" product may just worsen the problem. People fail to notice that men and women ARE different, and pretending that there is no difference is plain dumb. We need to accept the difference and deal with it. By getting more women on the sport the demand for more reviews, races, etc will increase, but forcing more reviews, races and such is simply sexist.
  • 4 1
 Having male and female frames is a relivent due to the anatomy of the human body. In most but not all cases women will have longer legs but a shorter torso compared to men, this so forth changes the way the engineers designed the bike to feel. The way to have a woman have the same fell, on the "same" bike is to changes the geometry slightly (shorten the distance between the saddle and stem) in doing this you achieve the same desired feel but create a gender specific frame.

I'm not trying to be rude or arrogrent here, just pointing out that for most things there is no need for gender specific item but for other such as the frame and saddle there it.
  • 32 0
 My wife rides with me every weekend.

We all know the sport is male dominated and it probably always will be. However is doesn't help that out on the trails a lot of the men look at my wife and automatically think she is going to be slow. She is not! And quite often these men will quickly jump on the trail in front of her because they don't want to be held up. Only to find that she is pushing them along being held up herself! Not sure what there is anyone can do about this but it is certainly of putting for my wife as she always feels a little put down and wonders if she is actually any good on her bike and becomes embarrassed to ride in front of people. I don't know if this happens everywhere but it certainly does in the Surrey Hills.....maybe it's the "too cocky too much money and not enough talent people" we see everywhere??

Although, it's not just the men that do this! Often the ladies who "role with the boys" get a little cocky and won't even say hello to the less talented....

People just need to get off there high horse and accept that all different kinds of people want to ride, we want to enjoy ourselves whether we have 1months experience or 10 years experience. No matter the gender or the level of skill!!!
  • 21 4
 I used to ride with my wife all the time, early mornings, cheeky little lunchtime rides, lots of night riding and at least a couple of epic ones at the weekend, but nowadays I find myself out cycling instead.
  • 11 12
 Basically the problem with pretending it isn't an issue we lack awareness and knowledge of as a society is that we will never progress intellectually and things will just stay the same. It's important that we are active in our pursuit of gender equality. There is no simple fix. It is going to take time and hardship for us to finally accept and understand this issue as it is.

I don't care if you aren't interested in feminism, but you shouldn't try to advise people to not actively engage themselves in it. We don't need all of humanity to be an activist for feminism, just like we don't need all of humanity to be studying disease or racial inequality or any inequality. The movement isn't going to stop though, and a lot of you clearly have no interest/concern for it, which is perfectly fine. Your life is yours. So let people be passionate about what they are passionate about. I love being a feminist and it is one of the most meaningful aspects of my life.
  • 5 2
 @iffy don't worry mate, she's still getting her ride time in. With me....
  • 4 0
 lol mindf*ck?
  • 7 2
 I think @Thomaspearson and @Psyickphuk nailed it best here.
There is an imbalance in participation. That much is very clear. But I don't really believe there is a lot of straight up "gender discrimination" happening in mountain biking. It's more to do with skill discrimination, and the assumptions we make of each other's skill when at the trail head with someone you don't know. What I have learned about that though, is that those assumptions are often always wrong, and all that needs to happen in order to dispel of those notions is to ride with the person for five minutes. I'm not saying the person in question needs to be the Best rider, they just need to be on a similar level with those around them, and willing to ride the terrain of choice.
  • 9 3
 If we call it out as gender discrimination, it can sound/look/feel like gender discrimination. But in mtn biking it's really just people trying to figure out who's who in terms of riding ability. I bet we all ride with some guys that are slow, and some girls that are slow, and some guys that are fast, and some girls that are fast. Who gets invited on a particular ride has nothing to do with guy or girl, and more to do with fast or slow. If its a slow type of ride, invite them all. If its going to be a long and technical sketchy fast ride, its usually in the best interest of everyone to be a little more selective about who gets invited, and gender makes no difference. It also has a lot to do with initiative. Some people just don't want to ride certain terrain even if they are fast riders.
Mountain biking is a fringe sport, and shares a lot in common with other fringe sports. Like skiing, climbing, skateboarding, or even ultimate frisbee and volleyball. The girls go right along with the guys, and nobody pays it any mind as long as the skills to participate match up accordingly.
All that's really needed to completely dispel of the notion of gender discrimination is increased female participation. The rest will follow.
  • 5 16
flag banjberra (Mar 11, 2015 at 9:36) (Below Threshold)
 It's amazing how much effort people will waste trying to undermine a legitimate movement for no reason.

Please @Metacomet, just ride your bike and leave feminism to feminists. You're entitled to think they are wrong but leave it as a thought and live your own damn life. If you actually cared to do research you wouldn't express the ignorance you are expressing unless you genuinely had bad intentions toward the female gender. Even if you have good intentions, you are objectively uninformed. There is no argument. Tell me of the feminist literature you have read. Tell me how much you care about feminism. Please. Or just don't say anything at all. I can guarantee you haven't researched shit and are completely uninvolved in feminism.

You think you know how it is, but really, you have no idea because you don't care to research something you don't believe in.
  • 7 11
flag banjberra (Mar 11, 2015 at 9:44) (Below Threshold)
 Like I'm not sure if you are reading all the comments but someone explained that their wife was regularly discriminated against on the trails by male riders. Someone also mentioned the term "average girl" and then went on to say that they aren't interested in "getting muddy, hurting themselves or throwing themselves down a cliff. It's just the way it is."

I'm not sure if you are intelligent enough to acknowledge that as discrimination, but it is.
  • 5 17
flag banjberra (Mar 11, 2015 at 9:48) (Below Threshold)
 Idunno about you, but I'm not interested in hurting myself or throwing myself down a cliff or getting muddy. It just happens. I ride off cliffs and down drops in a controlled manner with good form. I don't just throw myself down cliffs, I do what I know I can do and I know I can do it because I took the time to build up to it. Started small, and now I have confidence in my ability. Some guys are unconcerned with their safety, but the same can be said about some women. There are all types of humans. You are not special because you have testosterone and a dick.
  • 11 1
 @banjberra I have no idea how you came to the conclusion that I am trying to undermine a feminist movement... I was just speaking to my observations about how guys and girls get along in relation to Mountain Biking as seen by one individual ordinary participant at the ground level.
Also not claiming to "know" how it is. Only putting some thoughts into words in a rather non aggressive and non offensive way. I am at a loss for how I have offended you or made you feel as though I am attacking a feminist movement? Bad intentions toward the female gender?? lol. Tell that to my wife and daughter and nieces with whom I bike, climb, ski, skateboard, and generally encourage to do whatever they are passionate about or interested in. They just might laugh in your face.
If you want to talk about gender discrimination in the rest of the world. I think its messed up and a very real problem that deserves a legitimate movement, especially in the music industry, the work force, and in organized sports. But this has simply not been my observation in mountain biking and other similar fringe sports.
I am not involved with feminism. I am involved with my loved ones and a passion for being active in the outdoors.
You came across pretty damn aggressive in your retort, and I am not sure what I did to provoke it.
  • 5 1
 Whoa, chill @banjberra I don't think he meant it that way. I personally enjoy riding with groups of similar abilities. If that group wants to get muddy, or ride DJ or super-tech, and I don't want to take the risks then I will sit and watch or not join at all. I am thereby discriminating (aka making a decision based on my understanding of the group). Not all discrimination is sexist (or racist, etc.). Sure there is active Discrimination (I won't hire you because of your gender) as well as more passive forms (I don't feel like riding with you today b/c your skills don't match mine). We discriminate all the time -- that's what gets us through the day as humans. No need to make this fringe sport which we all love a social experiment by getting into politics.

It looked to me like @Metacomet approached the subject without any agenda, so I'm not sure what provoked that response.
  • 4 15
flag banjberra (Mar 11, 2015 at 10:29) (Below Threshold)
 Okay buddy. Like you and I both said, you are not involved with feminism . I didn't say that you had ill intent, it was a possibility. even if you have good intent, ignorance is ignorance. Sometimes it is harmful to express it and should be addressed. Don't take everything so personallym
  • 8 1
 I don't think feminism is the question here. It is more about the way we judges people before they even start riding. Around here, if someone does not have a brand new bike, a D3 and dress in clown suits, they will automatically think they are better than you. It is the same with women, they will automatically assume that you are slow. But at the end of the end, we are just riding our bike. I don't think @Metacomet wanted to be anti-feminism or whatever, it was surely more about the fact that the skills is what matters, the fact that you are a girl, ride a shitty bike or does not have the real "fashion" does not matter. It exist guys that rides with their brakes on, as well as girls that are fast. However, by always bringing the subject about discrimination, it actually get things worse, because you emphase the subject instead.
I am a girl who has been riding with guys most of the time, they were most of the time faster than me, but i was hitting the same trails, getting the same mud and hurting myself as much. On the trail, it did not matter who was better, we were just happy to ride. I never cared about the fact that people judge me because I am a girl, it did not matter. It should be the same for everyone, try caring that much about discrimination because it take you off your main focus, having fun. Discrimination is real only because we make it happen by talking so much about it.
  • 4 11
flag banjberra (Mar 11, 2015 at 10:37) (Below Threshold)
 No, discrimination is a real thing and you are blessed to have the experience of a welcoming group. You are one individual. It's not all or nothing. It is great that groups like yours exist and are even becoming common, but it's important that we acknowledge discrimination. It is still a real thing. Also, it doesn't really matter what metacomet intended to express. People aren't perfect so sometimes they say things they don't actually mean without knowing, because we don't know everything.
  • 5 0
 To be honest I expected a rather vulgar response to my argument, though truth be told I am also gladly accepting some of the rebuttal too, thank you. If it were me, I wouldn't want to be patted on the back for being a minority in a sport, nor would I want anyone to go particularly put of their way to include me. My point, if it holds to reason, is that I would want people to not care about gender/race/creed/nationality, because we are all made from the same biological stuff at the end of the day.
  • 2 0
 Thank you Gaz!
  • 12 0
 @banjberra my friend. I think your are either misinterpreting or intentionally twisting our words into something they are not and were never intended to be, as you are clearly very passionate about feminism and wish to defend it. But nobody else ever mentioned the word or attacked its merits directly or indirectly.

I think the rest of us are referring strictly to everyday mountain biking, and you are referring to everyday life. Two very different things in this case. Making them one in the same would be to take peoples words out of context.
  • 6 0
 I agree with @Metacomet. This should be kept within the parameters of cycling as discussed in the article above.
  • 11 0
 does anyone else find it hilarious that this article comes right after.......

"Juliana Bicycles is proud to announce the launch of the new Juliana-SRAM Professional Mountain Bike Team!!!!!"

womens only, womens only, all womens mtb team, queen of mtb, Coming to an Enduro World Series near you - meet the all new, all female Juliana-SRAM Pro team.

seems the marketing depts at sram and juliana didn't get the memo............

'When it comes to mountain biking, we don’t need to be women first. We are riders first. A riding trip is just that, a riding trip. No gender identification required. There needn’t be a specified women’s riding trip with the requisite cowboy hat, bikini, and side boob photos. Boys and girls can ride together! No segregation. And most importantly, women in the industry can be profiled without being asked what it is like to be a woman working in the bike industry, or how they feel about women receiving equal payouts on the podium. Those gendered questions can be replaced with the more interesting and personality revealing ‘who inspired you to ride bikes’ and ‘what are your goals for this year’.

when it comes to this topic, danielle baker is 100% on the mark.
no segregation.
glad someone finally wrote about this.
  • 11 0
 just for fun..............

'When it comes to mountain biking, we don’t need to be 'disabled' first. We are riders first. A riding trip is just that, a riding trip. No 'disability' identification required. There needn’t be a specified 'disabled' riding trip with the requisite hospital bed shot, re hab work out, and inspirational pushin the wheelchair photos. Abled bodied and 'disabled' can ride together! No segregation. And most importantly, 'disabled' athletes in the industry can be profiled without being asked what it is like to be a 'disabled' working in the bike industry, or how they feel about 'disabled' receiving equal presence on the podium and in the media. Those 'disabled' questions can be replaced with the more interesting and personality revealing ‘who inspired you to ride bikes’ and ‘what are your goals for this year’.

  • 16 0
 As a woman, I cringe every time I hear the word "feminism". Way to create an us and them mentality. I like men for a lot of reasons. Many of my role models are men. Nearly all of the riders I aspire to be like are men. I also get annoyed every time someone mentions "average woman". There is no more an average woman than there is an average man unless we're talking about height or some other metric. Women don't need a movement to get respect at the trails, we just need people (all genders included) to stop making assumptions about what we want and are capable of.
  • 7 0
 My wife pisses a lot of dudes off by being faster than them on group rides. I tend to lead the pack and she rides mid packish. She always has stories of stubborn ego driven dudes who won't let her by. By the end of the ride they end up giving her props and let her ride where she should. She is humble and puffs me up and says it's my fault for her constantly having to chase me. I love it.
  • 4 3
 @em-j it's pretty much gonna take a movement to get men to stop making assumptions about what women want and what they're capable of. That's why there is one - feminism.
  • 1 4
 @shoprat truly. Full human equality is the sum of all individual movements of inequality. Every movement matters and there are no sides. Feminism only creates an us vs them attitude if you perceive it as such. When in reality it is just one of many important movements we are using to work toward equality for all.
  • 1 5
flag banjberra (Mar 12, 2015 at 6:01) (Below Threshold)
 Anyway it is clear with all my downvotes that the pinkbike community is more or less anti-feminist. Lets not forget the opening comment of this thread: "I've always thought the best way of tackling gender inequality is to ignore it (stay with me)." So like, this post was always about feminism(gender inequality, feminism is just as much for men as it is for women)

Then you went on to say: "Basically, if you shout don't panic, everyone assumes something is wrong so gets agitated. If we (the collective we) write and read articles that deal specifically with gender inequality, would this not make the situation worse by simply enforcing the idea that there is gender inequality?" And this comment here is what really pissed me off. See, you claim to be supportive of the female gender in MTB, that's how you are trying to make yourself sound. But holy f*ck dude. "Enforcing the idea that there is gender inequality"??????????????

Are you like.... Trying to imply that there isn't gender inequality in mtb? If pretending it wasn't an issue was going to get us anywhere, then why were women's rights absolute shit until the feminist movement started less than a century ago? You can't just wait for change to happen. Life doesn't work that way and never will.
  • 1 5
flag banjberra (Mar 12, 2015 at 6:22) (Below Threshold)
 Started more than a century ago but that doesn't matter. I'm not expecting everyone to become feminists, I just want to put an end to your mindless ignorant meddling. Like, if you aren't involved in feminism, just don't speak about gender inequality. It is too complicated of an issue. Arguing about it when you don't know is like arguing with a physicist about the string theory when you are totally uneducated on the subject. Why would anyone think they can talk about what they don't know outside of being inquisitive? You aren't interested in being open minded or hearing me out, you seem only interested in winning the argument and being right. Your experience as an individual means nothing. Just because women in your life aren't discriminated doesn't mean they aren't elsewhere. Is important to not let your own experience of life cloud your judgement of the state of society.
  • 7 0
 In your last post you are basically saying "people don't agree with what i say, so Pinkbike is anti-feminist"? and "people taht aren't feminist aren't allowed to discuss gender issues"? That's closer to fascism than femisism. It's nice that you see yourself as the spokesperson for feminism, but it's a very diverse movement. Sadly a lot of gender debate has been dominated by people trying to speak too much for others, including very dubious figures talking absolute nonsense in the name of feminism. With the statements in your last paragraphs I 'd be forced to put you in that same category, no matter hw much you are trying to do something good. The backlash against feminsim is vastly undeserved, but with certain very public "feminists" denying female privilege, turning every issue into a gender issue and blaming men and "patriarchy" for just about every perceived evil in the world, this backlash is a very understandable and even logical response. And i'm not saying that within this backlash (especially on the internet) there isn't a lot of horrible misogyny - it's more that that backlash has something to do with how some feminist try to "devate". Feminism means something different for everyone, don't try to claim it. Personally i believe that if you wnat to fight for gender equality (instead of womens rights) feminism should come up with a better name.
  • 7 0
 @shoprat You don't need a movement to tell you that judging someone based on a set of preconceived ideas you have about them is not a cool thing to do. That's just being an asshat. Feminism as a movement has been instrumental in getting basic human rights for women like voting and labour unions. It shouldn't have to babysit folks who can't display basic human decency.

@banjberra You can't just exclude anyone who doesn't share your feminist agenda from the discussion. That's not how you affect change. They are precisely the people you should be having a discussion with. Get down off your high horse before you hurt yourself.
  • 27 1
 "I didn’t see equality as me being hired because I appeal to women, I see it as me being hired because I have a pretty solid sense of where a period should go."

Is it bad that is found this sentence highly amusing? In a giggling schoolboy kinda way.

On a more serious note however, this is probably the best gender equality article I have ever read, on pinkbike or anywhere else. The whole "I'm sick of being discriminated against so you must now give me special treatment" argument really grinds my gears.
  • 12 6
 I think this article would be taken far more seriously if a man wrote it
  • 4 0
 There are definitely some clever lines in this article. I just urban dictionaried "pigeon-hole" and I am shocked and appalled.
  • 10 0
 "From my vagina to yours". I'm so happy to have read that phrase on Pinkbike.
  • 19 0
 an interesting and well written article regardless of the gender of the writer or reader.

perhaps the opening part of this article makes a more valid point than what it was perhaps intended to do.

Maybe the lack of women in mountain biking isnt to do with the the "lads lads lads" nature of the sport, especially gravity stuff but a more general lack of encouragement for women to take part in outdoor activities in general.

Of the women i know who ride it seems most got into it through a partner, at school while us lads had to do PE in winter out in the rain playing football or rugby or the dreaded cross country run in the mud the girls got to do indoor sports and got away far lighter if they "forgot" their kit. we had no excuses. Maybe this leads to less women discovering outdoor pursuits at an early age and then enjoying them into their adult lives.

I somehow think this whole unequality in our sport is far deeper than people are making out.

Maybe i'm wrong but i'd love to hear a womans view on my views. The fact that boys are given footballs, skateboards, stuff like that and the fact we were encouraged to run around playing army whilst the girls had toy tea sets and the like that almost bred them into domestic people before they had the chance to decided other wise surely can't have helped.
  • 3 0
 Quality-wise, I think she writes better, with more insight and perspective, than the other blogger Dylan.
  • 7 0
 @aidy I think you've nailed it. This is far bigger than just mountain-biking.

The biking community can obviously do their little part to make things better, but this goes back to much more pervasive issues that start when kids are still very young. Just look at "girls" and "boys" toys. Pink vs blue. Plastic ironing boards vs plastic power tools. Not saying that many of us aren't predisposed to one toy or another, but the giant marketing machines that sit behind modern culture are very quick to stereotype roles from a young age. When one is bombarded with those messages for years and years, it isn't really any surprise when most women think that mountain biking wouldn't be their thing.

(thoughts from a concerned father of a 4-year old girl)
  • 2 0
 And as a follow on from that, here's a great foundation that is doing work to change the status quo - (especially with their latest campaign)
  • 4 0
 In school I loved sports, and each year there was a big tournament where all the schools in the region came together to compete against each other in Aussie Rules football and Netball. I loved Aussie Rules, but I wasn't allowed to play it because it was for the boys. If I wanted to go I had to play Netball, which, for anyone who isn't actually interested in it is a terribly awkward and unfulfilling activity. That's just my experience though. I think it's important to notice that at least a few of the women in UCI DH like Rachel and Tracy have brothers who also race and seem to have come up through a supportive environment. It would be interesting to see how Ragot, Siegenthaler, Carpenter and the other top female racers got into competitive DH.
  • 2 0

That sounds about right, maybe we need to ask a certain big bike website to write that article, or, perhaps write it yourself then you can ask the questions you want. Emmeline is on facebook so if you contact her she may be willing to help Smile
  • 1 0
 Manon's dad was a bmx racer and had her biking when she was very young. Dunno about the others but I feel we might find that all female dh racers were effectively born into it.
  • 1 0
 At the top level anyway.
  • 1 0
 Okay so. Tahnee seagrave's family started FMD racing to support her, and she rides with her brother. Emilie Siegenthaler's father was an xc racer. Dunno about Emmeline Ragot. She may be self made, claims to get bored easy so maybe she picked up biking and fell in love right away. Who's to say.
  • 5 0
 I think @aidy makes a good point about exposure and expectations set at a young age. So many other women I meet say they can't "see" themselves mountain biking, and that has to be deep-seated from a young age. I credit my love the of the outdoors and sports and play because it was what I was allowed to do as a kid, and it was encouraged by my outdoor-loving parents. My mom didn't only buy me "girly" stuff (nor did she flinch when I wanted Batman and Spiderman action figures to go along with my Barbies) and my dad didn't let my being a girl stop him from teaching me how to properly shoot a basketball at a young age, and together we frequently went on hiking/camping trips. They just let me do whatever without forcing a gender stereotype on me. It meant that getting dirty, scraped up, sweaty, lost, and physically tired were no big thing.

I was in Girl Scouts as a little kid (in the U.S.) and HATED it. It was all baking and sewing and arts-n-crafts. I actually do like all of those things, but I wanted to be a Boy Scout. My Boy Scout friends were getting dumped in the woods with 40 lb packs and told to find their way out, 20 miles away. That sounded like WAY more fun, but that's because I did those things with my family and friends.
  • 2 0

It's nice to know i've made a good point for once so cheers Smile
It sounds like you had a great balance in your upbringing. I hope more people let their kids grow up the same way.
Maybe without the forced baking though Wink
  • 2 0
 Note taken... Looking into this as we speak.
  • 1 0
 @ambatt what part of this convo are you looking into. I'm curious.
  • 2 0
 About how pro DH women each got their starts racing, influential people, etc. Wink
  • 20 2
 Just drinks at the bar....
  • 6 0
 I dunno, I'm feeling deprived about never having a fisher price chainsaw Frown Got a real one instead tho now, yeeew! Great read!
  • 2 0
 I had one... it was alright
  • 3 0
 Totally depends on which bars you go to, and whose smile you return.
  • 2 0
 go to Macau and you'll know what being a hot girls feels like.
  • 14 1
 Like I keep saying: humans and riders first, gender last.

Equality isn't about pretending we're all the same. Equality is about valuing everyone's different qualities (strengths and weaknesses) on the same playing field. We're all human, and it isn't about trying to be better than someone else at everything -- it's about being the best us and doing what we're best at. For Cam Zink, that's him being his best. For Rachel Atherton, that's her being her best. They both have different, amazing skills that aren't gender-specific, and they do what they're best at, which makes them great. We're all human and #weallride .

However, we cannot ignore how women and female athletes are portrayed in direct contrast to men, not only by the media, but by sponsors, companies and even the athletes themselves in an attempt to supposedly 'get ahead'. THAT is sexist, and personally, I'd much rather be ignored than held to a different standard because I happen to have been born with a vagina. I grew up as a tomboy as well and didn't realize that my gender set me apart until around junior high, when they told me I could no longer play football with the boys during lunch break because I 'might get hurt'. THAT bothered me, and to this day, it still annoys me when unsuspecting people take one look at me and assume that I'm less than capable because of an altered genetic code.

It comes down to seeing each other as humans, not genders, not object, but individual people with skills and abilities that vary from person to person. Generalizations aren't appropriate, and just like we all bleed red, we all ride bikes. That's all that matters.
  • 8 1
 i agree with 99.9% of this......

well said.

just for fun.................

"However, we cannot ignore how 'disabled' and wheelchair athletes are portrayed in direct contrast to ablebodied, not only by the media, but by sponsors, companies and even the wheelchair athletes themselves in an attempt to supposedly 'get ahead'. THAT is discrimination, and personally, I'd much rather be ignored than held to a different standard because I happen to roll around in a wheelchair. I grew up as an ablebodied and didn't realize that my 'disability' set me apart until........."

never bow down to the lowest common denominator.
let your riding do the majority of the talking.
stick to your guns.
  • 8 1
 Am I the only person who noticed that this is legitimate badasses Amanda Batty and Stacy Kohut posting?

Thanks to both of you for sharing your unique and interesting perspectives.
  • 2 0
 Damn right @ambatt
  • 2 0
 Can't believe I didn't notice this earlier.

@stacykohut , you are incredible. Don't ever stop.
  • 7 0
 well said. I'm lucky enough to have a really balanced group (from a gender perspective) of mates to ride with, and it's great. there's no segregation or drama, everyone rips and has a good time. I think if this were the case more broadly, we'd forget about 'girls that ride bikes' and 'guys that ride bikes' and just realise we're all just people who ride bikes.
  • 8 3
 "the concerns buzzing in our industry"

but let us remind ourselves, this is not kids stuff, this is an industry, we must put the soulless corporate sponsors needs first.

do not concern yourself with trivial gooning around on bikes.
  • 7 0
 This isn't an opinion on all the women's articles that have been posted but more of a statement of where I'm coming from.

I enjoy riding coed the most. I'm not intimidated by an all guy group and don't mind being the only girl (this happens a lot at the dirt jumps). Most of the guys I've rode with have been super nice. I often get nervous riding in an all girl group (especially if it's a group I don't know well). This is probably because I feel that I fail at some of the women stereotypes or expectations; clothing being one of them, like Danielle Baker.

I used to race DH pretty competitively, but I don't anymore. It's expensive to get to all the races (especially if racing Nationally). And I find I have more fun spending the money on road trips where I get to ride a variety of trails, not just one. I still race the occasional race, and sometimes I'm tempted to return to DH on a provincial level.

I wish there would be a shift in media of how women are portrayed or noticed for; and this does not include solely mountain bike media. I want young women to feel empowered for their accomplishments, and what they do.

Mostly though, at this point... I want my knee to heal so that I can be riding my bike every day while I'm on spring break right now. Wink
  • 3 0
 I found the stereotypes, expectations, and clothes comment interesting so I clicked on your profile. Seeing what an accomplished rider you are actually made it more perplexing. How do we keep female cyclists from feeling this way? As someone who routinely gets asked where his riding gear is ("I'm wearing it, dude.") I want to scream from the hilltops that it just doesn't matter what you wear or what bike your ride, but that's not true for everyone by a long shot.

The portrayal of women in the that is a large, real, and deep rooted issue.
  • 6 0
 WORD! I was on an incredibly fun and fast road ride today. Tremendously strong riders at the front of the climb. We congratulated each other on our hard riding, one of the stronger riders was a woman older than most men at the front, and yet we congratulated each others as humans as riders all. No need to single out anyone. And this is a road ride, in trail riding you can hardly tell the rider's gender, especially in DH! Keep it about the ride and include and support and encourag eveveryone who is interested in riding, period.
  • 6 1
 I enjoyed reading this article. However, in the Junior Womens category of the 2014 DH World Champs there were less than 20 entrants (I think it might only have been 16). This is a problem! Something's going wrong, I'm not exactly sure what it is but, burying our heads in the sand and pretending that not addressing the issue at all is the best way to address it, is frankly, plain daft!
Either young women aren't getting themselves to the right level of technical ability to be able to enter the World Champs or they are and the rest of the industry isn't supporting them to get there.
There's a problem. Something is broken. I personally, would be a lot happier if it were able to be fixed. All I know is, it sure wont fix itself.
  • 3 7
flag poozank (Mar 11, 2015 at 10:57) (Below Threshold)
 Really? So now the problem is we need to encourage women to be better at biking. Talk about a waste of time. All sports are completely self driven. You can make it easy for people to get in and participate but beyond that its the individuals choice. Maybe the "problem" is not mtb but the fact that women don't gravitate towards it and racing nearly as much as men do. Thats ok, its not discriminatory its a personal choice.
  • 4 1
 I think you may have missed the point I was trying to make @poozank. I don't believe for one second that there aren't enough junior girls with the technical ability required to race in that field of 16 at the World Champs. Hell, we could've doubled the entrant numbers with girls from the UK alone. If you don't feel that the low number of entrants is an issue, then that's fair enough. In answer to your question "Really? So now the problem is we need to encourage women to be better at biking" Well. yes but, not just women. "Talk about waste of time" ? I disagree. Encouragement and support from the industry are a must but, unfortunately it seems to be taking some of them a while to come round to the idea. Encouragement from the MTB community is also important but I fear there's a mountain to climb on that front.
  • 1 0
 Not sure where you are getting the number 16 from - there were 4 Junior girls, 3 who actually finished.
  • 1 0
 There you go then, worse than I ever thought.
  • 9 0
 Reminder: never read the comments.
  • 6 0
 Awesome article Danielle. I've long hated the gender discussion in most things for this reason. Either you like to ride or you don't. It's pretty simple.
  • 4 0
 Lets face it, our sport will always appeal to a select group of people. Its one that calls for a sense of adventure and a love of the outdoors. A spirit that wants to connect with nature. Its a sad reality of our time that these things are not encouraged to many different groups of people. I'd love to see more women as well as a wider mix of races and cultures taking part, I guess what I'm saying is there are wider socio-cultural reasons, its not as simple as just playing the inequality card.
  • 2 0
 Nice honest point of view article. The down fall that you will always struggle against though is the young and prepubescent attitude of young boys and men. These are the one's that need to be educated in equality from a young age. I'm in my thirties now and i feel that I have finally accepted the true understanding of the sport on a level playing field for both sexes, But you'll also find that only with age comes the true none bias, understanding.
The sport is now trying to project the equality line but I personally feel that they are making too much of a song and dance about it. Like you said, it's all about the fact that you are female riders before asking the questions that are the generic default questions with regards to plans and expectations. The sooner they sway away from creating the segregation, the sooner it will become the norm and function fully.

Again, Nice write up @Danielle Baker.
  • 8 1
 so many manginas...
  • 2 0
 Great words! And a really cool approach at gender separation! Thanks! Something we are trying to deal with at the shop I work at, but admittedly it is to also draw a different network of customers too. Lol. Still, great article! Thank you!
  • 2 0
 An article, that doesn't completely get to the point, but alludes to the fact, that people are people, and who rides a bike or plays a sport depends on who wants to, not thier gender. If she said, hey, why isn't my sister an avid mountain biker, instead of whatever she is/does for recreation, it would poke more at the "lack of representation of women in mtb sport". I prefer to ride with people who like to ride, their gender makes no difference.
  • 3 1
 The original 'opinion' (i.e. not a defined problem) was that women needed more representation in our media. If you ask the opinion of the customers of that media, they will probably disagree.

Personally, I don't think there is a problem unless (as someone else mentioned earlier) there are these huge groups of women who desperately want to get in to mountain biking, but some discriminating, gender-related issue is preventing them. I also don't think there is a case for female specific products...even frames; there are as many anatomical differences between men of the same height as there are between a man and a woman of the same height. Do we have female specific motorcycles? Cars? Chairs?? Ridiculous.

Force-fitting a 50:50 representation in anything is sexist and more importantly unnecessary. If people are discriminated against, that is wrong. If most netball players are women, I don't mind at all. But let's not declare it as unequal, round up a load of blokes and try and persuade them to play netball!

An article describing the difficulties women face in being able to buy a bike and ride it outside; I'd read that. But let's not pretend that race events are all there is to mountain biking and that blokes drinking beer is ruining the sport for women.
  • 10 6
 This article is probably one of the best examples of what the author is complaining about.

back to bikes please Salute
  • 4 1
 " I never wanted to be pigeonholed – and I’m using the Webster’s, not the Urban Dictionary definition here. "

what are you hinting at here?
  • 4 0
 Leading with "I probably have never considered being a girl..." kinda sets it all up like bowling pins
  • 4 1
 Incredible article. By far one of the best writers on pinkbike. Now lets all go ride our bikes.
  • 1 1
 I'm sorry I don't actually address the topic of this article but I want to say that I admire you a lot and I wish other girls in general would think the way you do. A down-to-earth lady with such high intelligence, a sophisticated yet simple personality, courage and power.... And on top of all that a successful rider... Wow! What more can a man wish for?
  • 1 0
 Great article Danielle. Finally my tomboy younger self has found the perfect group to be a part of - LadyShredders. No Fear. Just the dirt trail and the wind blowing my ponytail.
  • 4 1
 "I have a pretty solid sense of where a period should go."

  • 3 4
 This whole thing is stupid. I don't even know why I bother voicing my opinion. Yes more woman biking competively would be good for our sport. But, I don't see it happening. Very generally, men like to go all out with what they do. Guys like anything fast, dangerous, stupid, funny, expensive and so on. Woman are more conservative. End of story. Everyday, I see many more woman biking than men. But they are just riding for commuting purposes or just to get some air. Mainly, when I see a dude on a bike, he's moose knucleing it with a 300 gram road bike. Or some younger kids riding their 50lb bmx bike with a loose helmet trying to 360° of a bus stop bench. I could go on and on. But that's just it. Woman just want to relax and enjoy the ride. Men just want to play Evil Knievel.
  • 3 0
 The whole thing is stupid. But what happens when a woman wants to play Evil Knievel? She has to prove her worth twice as often if not more because of the stereotype that she's conservative. Only once she's proved her worth many times over what a man has to on the trail, does she get invites to the co-ed groups. I too just want to ride. I can ride with the boys. It's just very frustrating when they stop in front, because they ASSume I can't do it. I don't want special treatment. Not all women are patient in dealing with the stereotyping on the trails.
  • 4 2
 She doesn't have to prove her worth twice over, she just needs to be as good as the other people doing it, who are all guys. That's actual equality.
  • 2 2
 Who stands with me: "I don't care about any of this, just want to ride my bike and leave this BS to the cry babies." Hope I'm not alone. All good if I am, probably better that way. Hahaha
  • 1 0
 interesting read with an informative counter-opinion from the social norm. plus she said 'vagina' twice, which really caught my attention.
  • 1 2
 Feckin ell. Can we just stop pandering to women please!? 'Ladies.. here is the sport as it stands. You like it? Get involved! You don't? Too bad. We aren't changing it so you like it. Maybe if enough of you get involved for it's true essence... you could change it yourselves!'
  • 1 0
 Excellent op-ed piece. Well written, and the quality of the ideas behind the story were thought provoking and insightful. Thanks!
  • 2 0
 Awesome article. My feelings exactly. It's all about a love for biking.
  • 1 0
 Well said Danielle! My feelings are completely in line! Let's just ride bikes!!
  • 1 0
 So true! I couldn't have said it better myself, thanks for an awesome article!! Smile
  • 3 1
 That was rad
  • 6 5
 Really? More of this.....?
  • 1 0
 baker and beth!!!! Awesome photo guys.
  • 2 1
 I like girls
  • 2 2
 Yoga Pants Rule
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