Monday, February 6, 2012

Feminism.....or Nit Pickism.....

I've never considered myself much of a feminist, but going back to graduate school in Adult Education opened my eyes to a lot of imbalance in the professional, educational, and social worlds. Perhaps going back to graduate school in ANY field would have served the same purpose, but I'm not going to pursue another degree just to find out.

Some things still manage to raise my hackles, though, and when I find myself hackle-raised I have to wonder, "Is this really a cause? Or am I just finding something about which to nitpick?" It's possible that I go around just looking for things with which I can disagree just so I'll have blog fodder. Not likely, but possible.

The publication associated with a cycling organization of which I am a member had an article in its January issue that was devoted solely to women in cycling. Good for them. While the numbers are becoming more and more equal, cycling (and many outdoor activities, I assume) is still a male-dominated sport. The cover of the publication featured a group shot of all the women included in the issue, and each one had space for her own individual story. They range widely in age and professions, and I think the editor did a good job of including women from a broad swath of society.

The stories didn't bother me. (Except for the fact that I wasn't asked to contribute mine, and I am a semi-regular contributor of articles for this publication. What's up with THAT?)

The pictures DID bother me.

This is the one from the cover. Can anyone figure out what bothers me about this picture? (Think: feminism)

How about some of the individual shots?

The one below bothered me in particular, because I know her. I don't know if it's the fact that I know her that bothers me most, or if it's the pose she's in. Or if it's the fact that she's wearing heels and standing on top of ... liquor kegs?

I don't think it's a coincidence that these women all showed up wearing high heels and cocktail dresses (except for one who wore a pantsuit). I can just imagine the way the call came from the editor:

"We want you to wear something sexy, and oh yeah, bring your bike, because we want to take a picture of you WITH your bike, wearing something sexy."

I should point out here that the editor of this publication is a woman. I think sometimes women commit the most egregious gaffes related to feminism, because sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking if it doesn't offend US personally, then it probably won't offend the REST of the women in the world. I think we forget to step back and see how any situation affects or represents women as a group.

I get what they were going after. I think. I assume they wanted to point out the contrast in our "feminist" side and our love for a physical, outdoor activity. "Look at us, we can look sexy but still kick your ass climbing a hill without standing up OR using the lowest gears."

I can't help wonder, though, what they might have asked the men to wear if they had decided to do an issue about men cyclists. "Wear your lumberjack clothes, because we want to point out the contrast between your manly side and the cyclist side of you that wears spandex." Or would they have asked them to wear suits and ties? Or tuxedos?


So tell me the truth. I can take it.

I think.

Am I allowing my inner feminist to show through?

Or am I just nitpicking, possibly expressing sour grapes because I wasn't included?

And perhaps most importantly:

If I HAD been included and the call had come asking me to wear my sexiest dress and high heels and bring my bike for the photo shoot...

...what would my answer have been?


Anonymous said...

I knew you couldn't ride a bike unless you were in a cocktail dress!!

Evil Pixie said...

Perhaps it isn't that I'm out of shape that explains why I don't ride a bike - it is because I won't wear a cocktail dress. I knew it!

PS. Not only are the photographs offensive, but they're patronizing. I'm disappointed in the publication, but I'm even more disappointed in those women.

DJan said...

You ask a very good question about what would they ask men to dress up in. These pictures trivialize a women's right to exercise. You don't put a women in an evening gown on a bike, everybody knows that. You are right to be offended.

Kelly said...

I think the photos are a bit (no, make that very) silly coming from a cycling organization. Maybe coming from somthing like Playboy I would expect that - no wait, they'd only be wearing cycling helmets in their photos!

I'm not much of a feminist, but this does seem a bit wrong. My first thought was how they could ride their bikes in those dresses.