It’s a sad fact that dinosaurs still live amongst us.
I‘m not talking the scaly giant lizards of yore, but the leathery underbelly that has somehow persisted within the motorcycling community.
What I’m talking about is the toxic masculinity and sexism of the “old boys club”.
True, motorcycling has historically been dominated by men to some extent, but instead of welcoming all into the incredible experience that is motorcycling it seems there are still too many blokes out there holding onto misogynistic views towards women, homophobic tendencies or generally think it is still 1985.
Women make up (give or take) 50% of the population and if we want motorcycles to survive into the future we need to ditch the sexism and share the joy of motorcycles with all comers.
It was recently brought to my attention a motorcycle dealer (who I won’t name here as he is already notorious enough) posting videos to Facebook, on his dealership page no less, admonishing the New Zealand PM and making sexually explicit comments towards her.
Even in light of the crazy times we live in trying to purge the nation of an invisible virus, the dealer in question crossed a line with his sexist comments regardless of where you happen to fall on the political spectrum. Not only does he come across as a venomous human being, he is also potentially harming the motorcycle industry with his conduct. In the age of social media the motorcycle community doesn’t just include riders, but their wider circle as well. How would you feel if your wife, partner or daughter was told the same by someone representing the pastime you love?
The toxic masculinity and boys club need to end if we want the bike industry to survive going forward, especially where many are struggle to turnover bikes in any significant numbers.
While the higher end of the market is sluggish, the LAMS segment tops the sales charts year on year. The days of the 650cc or larger bike being a manufacturers bread and butter are long gone and one of the keys to getting riders onto those bigger bikes is to grab them early on.
A big part of building biking is getting women onto these machines, but with the stuff I see posted to many of the social media pages I belong to it’s a wonder any pick up the keys to a bike at all.
For starters, references to women who ride as (forgive me) ”dykes on bikes” need to end. Even if it’s said in jest how can this possibly be helpful to anyone other than to be divisive? The joys of taking a bike by the handlebars and forging your own way should be shared by everyone regardless of sex or sexual preference.
Other problematic behaviour includes the oversexualisation of women online with regard to sharing pics online. Somehow this tends to bring out some incredibly cringe worthy comments like “I’d ride that!”
There is a reason why you don’t see nearly nude models sprawled across bikes on magazine covers these days and it’s not because magazines are dying off. It’s because times have changed and (thankfully) women are viewed as equals and not objectified.
Even many of the major motorcycle manufacturers have long since moved away from this way of thinking and become more inclusive. You’re more likely to see a woman riding the latest and greatest motorcycle in advertising and promotional imagery than draped over it in a bikini or even riding as a pillion.
It isn’t always as extreme as the above either. Sharing something as seemingly harmless as a meme of a girl in a bikini on a bike can be a stepping stone towards these attitudes of the old boys club and we can do better. Objectifying women rather than encouraging them is perhaps the most common potentially problem behaviour that is rife amongst Kiwi bikers online.
Like I said, it’s not 1985 anymore.
We actively need to fight against such individuals by speaking up and telling them their views have no place in modern society let alone the motorcycle community.
Heck, currently some of the most prominent figures in New Zealand’s motorcycling scene are women.
Avalon Biddle has long been championing the female cause as one if the country’s best known racers regardless of sex, while socially Amber Erasmus (AKA @chaoticblonde) boasts a following of well over 21,000 and backing from some of New Zealand’s big brands including Kawasaki and Motogear.
Ad to that the fact that NZ’s only world champion racer of recent years is Courtney Duncan, reigning WMX champion, and it’s hard to pretend women riders aren’t doing their bit as ambassadors for the sport. So why aren’t the rest of us?
We (blokes in particular) need to change our attitudes and step up to the plate to do our bit for motorcycling and it can start by putting the old attitudes to rest for good.