FEMFACTS
10 Apr 2019

Women only cycle to find love

According to one Slovenian journalist, women on bikes are essentially a peep show for male drivers and passers-by to enjoy.

Guest Mavens
Julija Ovsec NewsMavens, Europe
Women only cycle to find love - NewsMavens
Woman cyclist, PixaBay

Online lifestyle magazine “Polet” is an outlet of “Delo”, the biggest Slovenian newspaper. A few weeks ago, “Polet” published an article about specialized bicycles for women -- and earned itself a nomination for the most sexist claim of the year.  

WHAT IS THE CLAIM?

The article’s author, journalist Miroslav Cvjetičanin, kicked things off by observing that more and more women in Slovenia are cycling. In his words:

“More and more women like to have a good specialized bike between their legs. If you don't believe me, pay attention to whom you’re cutting off while you’re in a hurry to get where you are going in traffic. Haven’t you noticed that it’s more and more often a beauty on a specialized bike that you're nervously honking at? If your answer is no, then you are really rushing towards a speeding ticket. Relax and look around, maybe you will find the love of your life (if you are a man) and, if you are a woman, you will discover a new way to get the perfect body.

Cvjetičanin adds that the “myth about women's muscular legs from excessive cycling” is dead and argues that “there is no sexier combination than a woman dressed in cycling clothes with a helmet on her head and a fitness tracker on an arm, when she is rushing to Vršič on a specialized bike. And it’s not just other cyclists -- even the toughest men admit that this sight quickly awakens the member resting a few decimetres below their head.

The article then goes into the topic of which specialized bike women should buy. The choice, as the author claims, is not just based on the bicycle’s weight (or a woman's ability ”to carry it upstairs and downstairs”), speed and comfort of cycling. Opting for a titanium bike, he notes, could get you on the cover of a women’s magazine -- in which case:

You won't lack suitors among cycling experts.

Women, as he says, should "trust their heart and not their head" and choose the most beautiful bike, because all bikes available in Slovenia are of good quality. It does, however, matter which brand are they buying, just like it matters when they are buying “little outfits, perfumes, little cars, or little shoes”. He then gives precise instructions on how to obtain a bike:

Go to the nearest bike shop and ask about women’s specialized bikes. If the retail worker looks a bit confused, don’t leave right away. Maybe you are the most beautiful customer that the bicycle salesman has encountered in these times of crisis.

The article ends with a rhetorical question:

“Is cycling really turning into a sport for chicks?”

WHAT ARE THE FACTS?

Women in sports are still often misrepresented and described solely in terms of how they relate to beauty standards. In this article, women cyclists are represented as sexual objects for men and advised to act as such, under the presumption that their only goal, even while cycling, is to get the “perfect body”, satisfy the male gaze, attract men and get “suitors”.

Women’s sportswear -- generally meant to allow one to practice a sport as comfortably as possible -- is presented as another tool to turn women into sexual objects. The same is true of their equipment, bicycle included, which are made to be accessories to give men erections, to put it as bluntly as the author. Moreover, he also advises women on how to accomplish this goal, including instructions for minors task like visiting a bike shop -- which, presumably, a woman wouldn’t be able to accomplish without meticulous guidance.

All this, along with the question of whether cycling is becoming “a chicks’ sport”, also suggests that more women participating in cycling is taking away the seriousness of the sport. The author begins his text by addressing male drivers going to work-- and assumes that a sport retail worker would also be male. So the gender roles are neatly divided -- men are busy drivers and professional cyclists who enjoy the sight of women on bikes, while women are simpletons barely able to purchase a bicycle on their own.

The striking misogyny of the article did not go unnoticed. After causing outrage on social media and being nominated for “Bodeča neža” -- inglorious “award” for most sexist claim of the year -- the article was removed from “Polet’s” website. Spol, the website which hosts the “award”, tagged Polet in a post about the article, but the publisher did not reply, comment, or apologize to their readers. They then deleted the article from their website. 

According to Spol's Facebook page about the award: “After a university professor advised women on what kind of make-up to wear while cycling to catch the attention of many men with their fluttering eyelashes, a journalist of the same magazine has now upgraded her advice: for example, what kind of bike and sports outfit [...] can “quickly awaken the member a few decimetres below the head” of male cyclists. This article is so primitive and vulgar that even #BodečaNeža is not enough for it. One can hardly believe that this magazine has an editor.”

CONCLUSION

This entire article is a blatant example of sexual objectification of women. Moreover,  the presumption that all womens’ activities -- even those normally done for health and recreation purposes -- are centered around attracting men, is also rooted in biological determinism which denies women’s genuine interest in anything but “getting a man”.

WITH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM:
SUPPORTED BY:

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

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