The month of May is Women Riders Month, a month dedicated to honoring, acknowledging and supporting women who ride.
As a longtime rider myself, my Publisher “aka the boss” thought it would be fitting for me to write this month’s column in place of his monthly Letter from the Publisher. He said, “You’ve got free range to write about your experiences and how the motorcycle scene has changed or grown in regards to women riders.”
I took a good week to think about what I would, in fact, write about. I also had to accept that I may get a little heat for taking a stand on a few issues, but hey, it’s time that I exercise my voice and stand tall on behalf of the thousands of women that I’ve met while riding for the past 25 years who have shared their stories, and given me their feedback.
Women riders are and have been the number one growing demographic of motorcycle sales for several years now. Motorcycle manufacturers are doing everything they can to support this trend by designing bikes that suit a woman’s height and sizing. Dealerships have created special events just for women riders or those interested in riding. Motorcycle safety and training classes have seen a huge upsurge of female attendance. The fact is women love to ride their own scoots.
Times have definitely changed over the past 25 years, riding a motorcycle is far more acceptable to mainstream society regardless of your sex. Today it’s perfectly normal for a Mom to show up on her bike to attend little Johnny’s baseball game or Suzie’s parent/teacher conference. Most kids nowadays think it’s cool to have a Mom that rides.
Just about every lady rider I know has experienced this scenario at least a few times: You pull up on your bike, run inside the store or bank and when you return a couple of guys are standing around checking out your ride. This is where the story will go one of two ways – they may say “Wow, nice bike! What year is it?” or they may something like “Uh, we were just checking out your husband’s bike” or the silliest and most annoying comment of them all “Did you ride that here all by yourself?” Over the past 10 years I hear less of the silly and stupid comments and more “Right on, that’s a nice bike you’re riding” and that shows how far we’ve come in the past couple of decades.
Women are like guys in the sense that we take a great deal of pride in what we ride. If you go to just about any bike event you’ll see some gorgeous bad ass bikes that belong to women.
Speaking of women at events, for the past 5 years I’ve seen a trend and commitment by dealerships and local bike shops to throw events that are not disrespectful to the women who attend. Why? Because it’s 2014. Look around, we now have thousands of local women who work for, manage or own a motorcycle shop or motorcycle related business. The odds are that the door you knock on or the phone call you make asking for a donation or assistance with an event you’re planning will be a woman’s door.
The other issue that has been literally brought to my attention over the past 5 or so years is the subject of wet T-shirt and pasties contests that take place at various rallies and campouts. Many women have asked me why I don’t write about it and open up some dialogue on the subject. Well, truthfully, it was because I didn’t feel that the time was right or that I was ready to tackle such a controversial subject knowing I’d probably take some heat from a few readers with a different point of view.
Well, today is the day that I’m going to just say it like it is for myself and for the vast majority of lady riders, regardless of whether or not you’re on your own scoot or riding as a passenger. It’s time to think about why is it ok to have a bunch of drunk chicks on a stage acting downright vulgar and raunchy? Anyone with half a brain knows that it is offensive to the majority of women who attend your event.
Before some of you flip out on me, let me further explain. I was raised that ‘it is far sexier to leave a little to the imagination’. I’m not a prude, heck I’m far from it; I have no problem with bikini bike washes or photographing pretty, classy, sexy women and putting them in the magazine.
But like most of the females who attend these events, watching drunk chicks up on a stage acting trashy is not an enjoyable experience for me.
But what has been really interesting is the number of men, many of them old school bikers, who also feel that this type of thing no longer has a place at some of these events. Times have indeed changed, and it’s a little creepy to see a bunch of guys ogling girls that are their own daughter’s or granddaughter’s age!
I would hope that event organizers start to think about what percentage of women attend their event. Of that number (which can be as high as 50%) how many actually participate in the wet T-shirt or pasties event? The answer – just a few. I’ve received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from lady riders over the past couple of years who say “Hey, I’m paying the same entry/ticket fee as the guys. I like everything else about the event but I don’t want my money to support anything that is degrading or disrespectful to women. “What can I do about it? No one seems to care oracknowledge or address this issue?” I reply with, “Use your voice. Call or e-mail the organizers, or look at who their sponsors are and contact them”.
I realize that my take on this subject may not be popular with some of the guys who ride and that’s ok. I have 2 beautiful daughters who were raised around the local biker scene and 2 young granddaughters who already have developed a love for motorcycles; I used my voice and stood tall for them so that I, their Mama and Nana, could take an active role in improving their future within the motorcycle scene. In the end, that’s all that really matters to me, what my daughters and granddaughters think of who I am and what I stand for.
This month is all about celebrating and acknowledging the thousands of women of all ages who ride. They are our mothers, grandmothers, daughters and aunties. They are the ones who will continue to enhance, promote, excite, and persuade more women to join in on the fun of riding motorcycles. On behalf of Quick Throttle Magazine I’d like to thank each and every one of them for having the guts to follow their passion and their dreams.
I cannot ever imagine my life without riding; it is the very core of my existence. It has been my salvation during some of the most difficult and challenging moments of my life, and it has also been a joyful memory maker.
Until we meet again, get out and ride and let the good times roll…