Article Critique: Can Women Save Motorcycling?

A few days ago I read on article titled “Can Women Save Motorcycling?” Link to Article

This is a post to an online magazine dedicated to women riders. For the short time I’ve been following them I’ve found they post helpful and interesting articles, but this one… this one really got to me. As the title suggests, it speaks about woman riders and how they may bring about a different, more positive view on riders, and motorcycling in general. Which in and of itself isn’t a bad question, or thought. It’s the reasoning that bothers me; the whole things seemed incredibly patronizing. The author spends the entire article basically saying that men are reckless egomaniacs, and lauding women for being responsible. It felt like a thinly veiled attempt to placate the female audience. The basis of the article is analysis of data that showed and attributed the decrease in motorcycle fatalities to the increase of female riders. While this seems to be the popular conclusion, correlation does not equal causation. The conclusion drawn is flawed if only due to a lack of evidence, but the explanation offered in this article by Scott Johnson, is even more flawed. Here are some of my *favorite* parts of the article.

Will having more women riders cause male riders to … well … ride like women?

Mr. Johnson is implying that women ride better and more responsibly than men, presumably based off of this study and perhaps his personal experience. I have not had the experience that women ride “nicer” or even more responsibly. I have met many women riders, and have found a spectrum of riding styles. Some are safer than others. I’ve had many women recount risky behavior and questionable decisions while riding. And I, myself, am not always the most careful either. On my bike I tend to be less accepting of poor drivers. I certainly don’t default to a polite little girl on my bike but instead more of a fearless, rude biker. I would venture to guess that most women riders have some kind of rebellious, independent streak that draws us to the sport. And it’s the thrill of riding keeps us. . I mean how many well behaved women take up motorcycle riding?

Us guys have this “ego thing” that makes us want to appear more manly, which is just our natural way of establishing rank and courting females. We put on louder pipes, custom paint, do burnouts, ride really fast, and brag about our feats of daring just to attract attention.

Men definitely have huge egos that get them into trouble time and again, but men aren’t the only ones who want to look flashy, and impress others.(see below). One can argue that men use their vehicles to look flashier and more attractive, but doesn’t mean that women put a significant amount of effort into be attractive as well. This doesn’t just stop at women’s physical appearance. As a whole humans are all picky and fighting for the object of affection’s attention. We all want to be proud of our bikes and want things to brag about. In fact sometimes as a woman I feel I have to work harder and be more impressive just to be taken seriously as a rider.

Women riders, however, seem to be happy with just being on their motorcycles. Even with stock pipes and stock paint, without regard to make or model, they don’t seem to have anything to prove. It’s like just being seen on a motorcycle is all the ego they need.

I understand his point. There are many woman who are happy with just having a bike, they buy a bike that works for them and they are good to go. But I also know many men who would rather buy the bike they like and not need to do any work on it. I personally have many things I want to change about my bike. I want to add louder pipes, maybe not loud enough to rattle windows or wake my neighbors in the middle of the night but I would love it if my pipes could roar and crack like some of the bikes out there. I would LOVE to install a stereo system, and add some customizable handle bars. I’ve already changed the rear turn signals to some bad-ass “chrome” to amber signals, and REALLY want to replace the ones on the front. My point here is I WANT to make changes on my bike and I (a woman) take pride in the machine I’m riding. I personally believe that once you start riding, you begin to find things you want to add or change about your bike. The more you learn about what is possible, the more you want to change things. Perhaps what the author has experienced is a difference in priorities. Maybe women are have different priorities than men on what’s worth spending hundreds of dollars on, especially if the stock part does what it needs to do. (If it ain’t broke don’t fix it) kinda mentality. But I am also hesitant to apply this to JUST women, or say that all women are like this.

So as more stay-at-home moms and working women trade in their hybrid SUVs for CVO Street Glides, will it drown out the noise of male rider egos? As Bunco parties give way to garage parties, will it leave the anti-motorcycle lobby with less voice?

I honestly don’t even know where to start with this. How many stay-at-home moms CAN trade in their SUVs for a Street Glide? Are they going to strap the car seat onto the back? Maybe her husband can watch the kid while she goes out and gets some free time on a bike. But it’s not like women people with families can just up and drop the vehicles that enable them to care for their families for a fun mode of transportation. Another thing that bothers me about this paragraph is the derogatory tone towards woman, what they drive and how they spend their time all while asking them to save the “image” of motorcycling?
Besides who really WANTS to “save the image” of motorcyling? Isn’t that part of the whole point to feel like a bad ass? To take risks and have fun while doing it? I get that some there is a fair amount of regulation surrounding motorcycles but there is also a fair amount of legislation surrounding driving a car. Sometimes we just have to deal with annoying laws to do what we enjoy and I don’t know that any amount of “good PR” will change that. No amount of “good behavior” and “courtesy” is going to change people’s minds about motorcycles and the people that ride them.

But, hey, what do I know I’m just one of those “new”, “responsible” woman riders.

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Rain, rain go AWAY!

HAVEN’T RIDDEN IN WEEKS!! This rain is miserable. It’s rained all but 4 days in the last 3 weeks. I can’t complain too much, you know, living in a desert, rain is always appreciated, but I really need to get out of my cage for some wind therapy. Hopefully I’ll be able to ride this weekend. (Don’t get me wrong, I will ride in the rain, but it’s no where near as fun. And besides someone stole my helmet…jerk.)

Also fully aware it’s been a while since I posted. I have 2 drafts I’l lreview and post later today, and then hopefully I’ll have time next week to post. Even if I don’t have something new to write about, I can always recount some of my past adventures.