In addition to me starting Couch to 5K (aside: not going great, level 3 appears to be cursed — not so much doing it, but arranging to do it. but I’ll get through), The Man and I have pulled out our (old, crappy, ill-fitting) bikes, bought a used trainer from Craigslist, and have started cycling. This is in part because running, due to his knees, is not something The Man is able to do; in part because it’s something we can bring the Boychick along for; in large part because parking at his downtown office costs upwards of $9 a day but would be an entirely bike-able commute (all downhill to get there! OK, so all uphill to get back, but that’s what buses with bike racks are for); and also because it’s just plain fun. And if it ain’t fun, I don’t do it.
Anyway, so I’ve been looking lustfully at bikes recently, because what we have are a couple of old bikes that are inappropriate to our purposes and ill-sized for either of us. Plus, I am a consumerist American: new hobby means new chances to buy buy BUY! So I’ve spent inordinate hours in the past week or so with my butt in a chair, eyes glued to an electronic screen, or driving a gas-guzzling pollution-pumping automobile all over town, with the excuse of researching a product designed to get me outside and active and reduce my impact on the environment. (Ah, life as a middle class “environmentalist” American!)
The things I’ve discovered while exploring the new-to-me world of cycling are sort of fascinating (for a certain value of “fascinating” approximately equal to “horrifying”). First, apparently laydeez need speshul bikes with slanted top bars for our voluminous skirts. You’d think teh menz would need the slanted bars so as to avoid massive testicular trauma, but nope, we get ‘em for our skirts. Also, and this probably goes without saying, we like “pretty” colors, like “powder green” and “robin’s egg blue”, and, of course, pink in all its mindnumbingly similar infinite varieties. And — this is a bit less familiar to yours truly — flowers under our rears. Here I thought the seat (in cycler parlance, the “saddle”) was for, y’know, sitting on. But apparently the appearance of something intended for our butts to sit on is highly important. Who knew?
Speaking of butts, the seats of “men’s” and “women’s” bikes are actually one area a difference in design sort of makes sense — if we ignore that some women have penises and testicles and some men have vulvas and wider spaced sit bones. Of course, some women have vulvas and narrow sit bones, some men penises and wider ones. Some people really don’t fit in any neat categories, whether gender or genitalia. But it would be entirely too easy unsexist confusing to just have a variety of saddles classified by size and features. Nope, they must be Men’s Saddles and Women’s Saddles, in case (patriarchal deity forbid!) we ever forget even for an instant that humans come in two distinct easily classifiable non-overlapping varieties, and never the twain shall meet (except under the covers, in the dark, for makin’ teh baybeez and pleasuring teh menz).
But what took the cake, what really pulled an impressive whole-bakery heist and set off a little Twitter storm in my corner of the Twitverse, was the selection of kids’ bikes at a local store. Go, gape at the overwhelming genderization on display for your delectation. It’s a treat (for a certain value of treat equaling “total shite”).
Note how all the bikes come in a Girl’s variety and a Boy’s variety (except for the Electra Hawaii 24″, which is just Pink, but I’m pretty sure by this point everyone knows Pink is patriarchy-speak for Girl’s). Note also, please, how the Boy’s bike (the Jet! because boys are fast, nudge nudge wink wink) comes in dark colors, predominantly black, styled like a motocross/dirt bike, conveniently decked out with fenders because of course boys play in the mud. The Girl’s bike (the Mystic, because women are so mysterious, I just can’t figure ‘em out with all those inside parts and inscrutable emotions!) comes in light colors, mostly pink, styled with pink flowers, with oh-so-practical white tires and plastic pompoms sticking out of the handle bars, and conveniently decked out with a white wicker basket because of course girls go shopping (thanks Kate for pointing that one out).
As Maria says: “whenever i see that kind of gender dichotomy in kids’ products i’m just like, “but where are the REGULAR ones?” gah.” Where are the regular ones indeed. (Silly Maria, don’t know you the regular ones are the Boy’sTM? We GirlsTM should be grateful they have anything for us at all, really.)
Even better, in-store (yes, I went to the store, though in my defense I let my toddler play in there for an hour and a half and didn’t buy anything) they have two toddler tricycles. You’ll never guess the colors. Go on, guess! Oh, you guessed pink and blue? Hm, I guess the patriarchy isn’t that inscrutable after all. Because genderization can never start too young. How will little boys and little girls know whether they’re little boys or little girls if they don’t have the right color tricycle?
I’m still jazzed about riding, and still suffering massive consumerist bike-lust. I’ll definitely be getting a saddle (yes, I’ve adopted the jargon!) “specially” designed for my speshul laydee parts (say it with me people: vulva. it’s a beautiful thing), because having my labia fall asleep while riding just isn’t fun and probably isn’t healthy either. I might even get the powder green drop-bar laydee bike (with the tiny rack in front, for my purse! instead of the big rack on the back of teh Men’s, for big important manly junk!), from the same manufacturer of the lovely kids’ bikes, because it’s comparatively cheap, meets my needs, and hey, the green is pretty. Really though, I could have done without the foray into Products of the Patriarchy just because I want something comfortable in which to ride around town and with which to reduce my personal pollution impact.
But hey, what’s life without a little rage at patriarchal idiocy getting the blood pumping through your veins now and then? Or now, and then, and always, and everywhere, and inevitably, and inescapably. Oops, there it goes again. I think I need a nice relaxing bike ride…