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I can't believe this thread is still ongoing. My first thought when I read the initial comment was: "I
think Anibal is a man. I wonder if the other guy knows that."
My second thought was that if the guy thought Anibal was a
girl, the post was a bit cheeky. Definitely sexist, but compared to the daily grind of BS you get as a woman, it was pretty mild.
As the replies to the post came in, I thought "Whoa." I was
suprised that there was such immediate condemnation, such a strong, clear line taken against anything that might be percieved as sexist.
I liked that people were anxious to ensure that this
community remained a space where sexist or racist attitudes were not tolerated. We all strive to make our shops friendly; sometimes this is tricky, as we serve diverse communities with different expectations and standards. It was nice to see the attempt to create a safe space made here, too.
I noted with interest that the people involved in both
sides of this seemed to be male.
Women have been working out all this feminist shit for
decades; as a woman, I'd have rolled my eyes at a shaving comment and let it be, saving my worry and attention for something that seemed worth the effort.
For example, a "bitch"/"cunt"/"whore" type of thing, or for
the kind of shop politics where women end up doing all the cleaning, or the situation where an older male who other guys defer to is rude or mean to female collective members, driving them first to tears and then out.
I also care about adequate lighting, and safe buddied up
rides home when need be, and child-friendly shops, and women and trans night, and taking the need for more female mechanics seriously.
So, in my opinion, the shaving comment, was, as I said,
cheeky, and if the write thought Anibal was annibelle, maybe sort of rude, but not worth writing home about.
The fact that men were trying to figure out how to create
a safe space for women, that was awesome.
Thanks. Thanks to all of you, no matter what you wrote,
for fretting and stressing and starting to snipe at each other about that issue.
It was sort of oddly healing to watch a group of guys
working to figure out what is cool and what is not cool.
Being called out for sexism or racism or classism or
whatever can be embarassing and hurtful and it can seem unfair. The natural tendency is to get defensive, and that happened here. Thanks for writing back anyway.
All sorts of things started to get tied into this--
things about hairstyles and politics and beverage choices, considerations of whether what we are doing is social or political, and if either, how... it was a little irritating to read, but also interesting, as people were obviously trying to figure out how all these things fit together.
One of the things I love about my community bike shop is
the crazy diversity of people who come there. I love our homeless men. I love our two Mormons and our Buhddist monk. I love our fixed gear obsessives, our bike couriers, our single mothers, our homosexual chefs, our senior citizens, and everyone else.
I love that while certain similarities exist, we all
have really different perspectives, and the weird random conversations about politics or art or whatever that we get into while waiting our turn could go anywhere.
(I do think we have a totally disproportionate number of
people who believe space aliens intervene in Earth's politics, but maybe that's just me.)
That diversity no doubt leads some people to freak out a
little. We are always sharing cramped spaces with people who make us a little uncomfortable.
Out of that non-politics, comes a politics-- one of
diversity, multiplicity, small scales, local things, building and fixing instead of throwing away to buy new, being out in the elements, using our bodies, trusting that our own bodies can do the work, waving to fellow cyclists, assuming that everyone (including the old or children, uneducated people, and people of all genders, etc.) can learn and can teach, sharing tools instead of everyone having to buy their own-- we're plenty political, and even pretty radical, but for my money ***better when we are not assuming a shared ideological outlook or proposing a narrow dogma as our ideal***.
Many of the people who come to our shop would hate to
have their bike riding connected to Godless Communism; others describe themselves as Maoists, for heaven's sake. I think both those groups are slightly nuts, but whatever.
One of the primary reasons I ride my bike is because it
gives me pleasure. I feel sexy and strong and good about life when I ride my bike; I'm guessing you all do, too.
Knowing about the complicity of the early twentienth
century cycling manufacturers in the rubber wars in Congo and Latin America doesn't change my sense that this mode of transportation is the cheapest, most elegant, most liberating, most fun, and just best way of getting around going.
Sometimes, that pleasure feels political-- I feel so
good, it makes me feel like an outlaw.
Thanks for all the earnest angst, folks. It was neat to
see you trying to figure some stuff out. If you ended up stressed by each other, I hope you got a chance to ride your bikes to get the kinks out.
P.S. About volunteer surveys-- surveys can be useful, but they are also annoying, and people are complicated. Polls and surveys often get the response that their writers sort of wrote them to get. Just talking to people does actually work, too.
I know that I'm underutilized at my shop; everyone knows what
I do for a living, and people have a sense of my skill set, and they even talk about needing that kind of help, and I've flat out offered a bunch of times. There are lots of people who come to our shop who have the special skills needed to make it better-- small business people, artists, teachers, computer wizards, etc.
But people get their little fiefdoms-- the person who did the
fundraiser last year may not want anyone to "take away" her role, or the guy who's been doing the books for two years feels somehow slighted by the thought that buddy-the-accountant (who offers every time he hears whinging about money troubles) might take a look at them.
People want help, but sometimes the whole organization seems
to live inside the head of a couple of people, and broadening that network seems to be a larger task than just continuing to do things yourselves. There are also touchy issues of people's feelings.
This kind of thing goes on in all organizations, and I'm not
sure how helpful surveys are when it comes to addressing these things.
On Sun, 16 Mar 2008 21:18:20 -0400 David Hazardous email@example.com wrote:
#1 nobody was being sexist. reading all the thinktank posts tells us that the one who doesn't shave enough is in fact a man, and as a man, i
also do not shave enough. i've considered waxing my face. thus, the response to shaving being the suggestion to waxing is just a thoughtful timesaving maneuver.
#2 before bikes were used to spread the gospel of a political system that doesn't work except for idealist college kids, they were the toys of rich people. as in, the common man (proletariat, bolshevik, etc) couldn't have one! who knew?
#3 before cars were stigmatized, bikes were. bikers were "hotdoggers" terrorizing horses and pedestrians.
#4 ever hear of bikes? responsible for paved roads.
#5 guess what? people drive more than ride. but more jackasses ride than drive. i just don't happen to be a hippie or vegan. but i suffer just as much for their political views.
#6 this is hella fun for me, and i'm a good person to boot
#7 looks like you contributed to this jackass thread.
#8 undercovercop, hells yes to drinking whiskey but don't you think that "retarded bike games" is offensive to retards? (that's a joke, like the original "offensive" comment)
i am offically gone from thinktank as fast as i came
...unless...people act like stupids again.
p.s. have fun being white and having dreadlocks. maybe we can all drink some yerba mate at the sierra club meeting. oops, too conservative. monkeywrench gang reprazent!
On Sun, Mar 16, 2008 at 7:34 PM, Geoffrey B firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
What a jack ass. Threads like these make me not want to
Thinking that the bike is not a political tool for change is
selling your self short. British 19 century commies used the
bike to get
out to factors where the roads have not linked to spread the
word of labour
rights a liberties.
Cars have been extremely stigmatized. They are a political
force, they are
killing everything. Dont kid your self about that. Ever heard of
Responsible for most of the expressways in America.
Dont freak out over being called a hippe vegan. Guess what,
hippies drive more then bike. Its not about sexist comments,
its keeping a
positive outlook on cycling. Dont degrade your fellow cyclists,
energy to portray a respectful attitude that motorists lack.
Its not political , its called being a good person. I have fun
good person, dont you. Being a sexist tyrant creates fun on
On Fri, Mar 14, 2008 at 10:28 PM, David Hazardous < email@example.com> wrote:
it's threads like these that make the public not take cycling
bikes are not a bandwagon for political agendas. bikes are a
transportation. they help people get to work, the store, and
yes, the bar.
and people eat meat and make sexist remarks just as much on a
bike. i am so
sick of being labeled "vegan" or "hippie" or "liberal" because
i ride a bike
and don't own a car. hey fringe culture: stop co-opting a yet-
vehicle to turn it into a political soapbox. NOT ALL BIKERS
TEETOTALERS. bikes aren't going to save the world, they're
just going to
give a few people reliable transportation. and fun. remember
flame me all you want, dhx
On Fri, Mar 14, 2008 at 7:11 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org
wow, michael, i'm sure you meant this in jest, but making
a woman having to wax to impress is pretty horribly sexist and
real bad taste in my mouth.
and perhaps you have an understanding with anibal that this
joking around is okay. i have lots of friends i know i can
tease in all sorts of offensive ways. however, this is a public
lots of folks who don't know one another. especially since
you say you
don't know annibal, it's really tempting to read your joke
straight-up sexist bullshit.
given how much really good thought and discussion i've seen
community put into identifying and rooting out sexist
gotta say i think you're out of line.
hope you don't take offense, benB chicago community bike project
-- 'every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his
hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.' -h.l. mencken
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-- "Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia" - H.G. Wells _______________________________________________ Thethinktank mailing list Thethinktank@bikecollectives.org