The only thing that I’ve ever accomplished without the help of women was becoming a motorcyclist. Every other achievement in my life, is owed at least in some small part to the help of a woman, or “a girl.” Here’s a look at the art of helping someone (like a girl) in the 21st century, how one woman is addressing the difficulties women face entering sports (or power sports), and a special message for men out there.
We’re blessed to live in a world where your furthest friend is still only a text message away. We’re mislabeled as a generation hiding behind screens. We aren’t hiding. We’re the most efficient networkers alive. This generation can share information faster than any other. After years of silence, a few brief messages from an old university friend was all it took to arrange a meeting. We were seated at a pub across the street from High Park, in Toronto. Rebecca wanted to meet to talk about websites, a subject I know a thing or two about.
I had a very superficial understanding of Rebecca Bradshaw until this point. I still do. In university she was just another partner in a communications class. She had given the impression of being smart, well-organized, and dependable for the team. It wasn’t until she mentioned that she rode ATVs that I understood that Rebecca was part of the cool kids club, rock on!
After I went over the hows and whys of motorcycle blogging, and all of the things she’d like to know, Rebecca unveiled her plan: SheCanShred.com – a website devoted to boarding (on pavement, water, and snow) with a focus on women in these sports. I saw (and even got a mention in – thanks!) an article on Very Important Things where Rebecca outlined her thought process:
I think a huge reason girls are underrepresented in board sports is because it is a little intimidating when you’re the only girl boarding, especially when there are so many amazing male boarders out there.
This intimidation concept really hit me when I was watching a miniseries on Alana Blanchard, one of my favourite surfers. She was nervous about paddling out where some major male names in surfing were shredding. I was totally speechless because I know Alana can hold her own in the water. Her confession really opened my eyes to how many girls hold themselves back when they go out boarding because they feel intimidated.
The site is going to target girls who have never boarded and amateur boarders. We will dig into issues that are deterring girls from boarding like intimidation and getting hurt. We’re going to talk to women who work and compete in boarding and gather girls who have never tried boarding. – Rebecca Bradshaw on Very Important Things
I read the article the same day that I had helped a very drunk female friend (not Rebecca) make it through the night, and (surprisingly) to work the next day. I may not have gotten to sleep until 8:00 AM, but just a few days earlier this same friend had spent four hours in a car, to help me run errands that you just can’t do on a motorcycle. I was happy to be able to return the favour. Not that it’s ever about that. It’s never about being owed a favor or bullshit hidden agendas. It’s about opening doors for people, and making the most of doors that people open for you. Together we all win.
While reading the article I saw the parallel between boarding and motorcycling (heck, even her first article The Art of Falling sounds familiar to motorcyclists). We have all of the same mental barriers which could make entering the sport uncomfortable for women. There’s something else that Rebecca didn’t touch on, but that is so common for female motorcyclists that its a central theme to the movie Girl Meets Bike: Generally when a man helps another man get into motorcycling he speaks the way he would speak the way he would to an equal. Unfortunately, some men who help women get into motorcycling will speak and act as if they were out on a date.
How do women motorcyclists feel about being treated “like a girl”?
Yes, I am a girl, but when it comes to motorcycling, I want to be treated like a biker, not like a girl. Because let’s face it, being treated like a girl means not being taken seriously by the majority of bikers when it comes to wrench-turning and knee-dragging.
I’m not saying that I want to hide the fact that I am a girl (I LOVE being a girl) – there’s no way of hiding it anyway, even in full gear, because my long hair sticks out from under the helmet. But when I’m with my bike, I am a biker first, an amateur mechanic second, and a girl third (actually, in the motorcycle world, I find my gender to be completely irrelevant).
If I am being noticed at all, I want to be noticed for my CB600F’s unique Streetfighter-look (home-built, thankyouverymuch :) ), for my riding skills, for the adventurous trips I take, and for my extensive motorcycle knowledge – since these are the things that I am proud of and that make me who I want to be.
I’m going to ask 3 things of you:
1) Gents, these are our sisters, and they are our equals. They can teach and help us as much as we can teach and help them. Let’s start welcoming them and treating them appropriately.
2) Please have a look at SheCanShred.com
3) Watch this video, “Like a Girl”, and think about how it is you want to treat people, and how it is you want to be treated:
If you haven’t already done #2 on the list… Please have a look at SheCanShred.com !
Ride (and shred) safely… but have fun!