16 Oct
2015

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Why do/don't you use pronouns in introductions?

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on October 16, 2015   comments 0

Using pronouns in introductions

I've written about pronouns here before.  Specifically 5 Whys and 5 Hows for using pronouns, and a guide to how Grease Rag uses pronouns in our spaces.

To explore a different facet of this topic, I asked some professionals I work with, 

"Why or why don't you use pronoun introductions in your meetings?"

Some people used them every time, and felt very comfortable with the practice. Some people needed more information about how to explain that in a different language, or how to answer questions that might come up, or how to deal with people not respecting the process, e.g. "I don't care what you call me! I never think about gender identity so you can call me 'mud' if it makes you happy!" #cisprivilege Another person said they just don't think about it, and honestly, would never ask/offer in a professional setting.

Let's define some terms

PRONOUNS

That's a fancy college-word. Really, it means, "How do you like to be referred to?" As she? As he? As they? (And there are others, too! And it's okay if you don't feel comfortable sharing that with me.) Why is it important? Because we all experience gender in different ways, and using someone's self-identified pronouns is a great way to honor their experience and identity. 

If you need a primer on "gender," check out the Genderbread person.

"Cis"

Short for "cis gender," and refers to folks who identify with the gender they were given due to their genital arrangement. Born with a "female" genital arrangement? You were probably assigned "girl/woman." If you identify as such, you are a cis woman!

Cis-privilege

If you are a cis gender person, you have cis-privilege!  Not sure what that looks like?  Check out this privilege checklist.

Start this conversation with people around you 

I am so happy I started this conversation! I was able to offer up some thoughts and experiences to help people get more comfortable with the practice of using pronouns. I encourage you to start this conversation with the people in your life.  I recognize that everything I write about gender and identity are my OPINIONS.  They are not univeral truths. Like all things related to identity, there are a lot of ways to navigate, and everyone has different comfort levels and preferences. Communication is your best compass.

Pronouns are "unprofessional" 

But let's take a moment to think about what it means to hear, "I will not discuss pronouns in a professional setting." Hearing this reminded me that, for some people, there is no place for transgender people (in the broadest sense, including genderfluid, agender, and other identities) in professional settings. Basically, your non-cis gender identity is "unprofessional."

"Professional" is a code for a classist, masculine, male world. A place where there is a strict/expensive dress code, women are expected to wear makeup and look a certain way and can be called a "bitch" for behavior which might cause a man to be lauded as a "strong leader." A place where transgender people are not considered. This is not news to me. But we can do better by contributing to spaces which honor trans identity.

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15 Oct
2015

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QBP Bike Mechanic Scholarship for Women

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on October 15, 2015   comments 2

Opportunity for "woman-identified" Grease Rag'rs

QBP, local distributor of bikes and bike parts, is doing a second round of scholarships for women to attend a professional training/certification program for bike mechanics.  There are some concerns and questions that we have, which are included at the bottom of this post.

There are 16 scholarships, deadline is October 31st

APPLY HERE

One of the perks of being a Grease Rag volunteer is that we will write recommendation letters and help you with these types of opportunities!  If you are considering applying, know that we have offers to proofread and strengthen your application.  (We do need time so don't wait until the last minute!)

About the Scholarship

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From their website

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14 Oct
2015

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Boycott MOA: #BlackLivesMatter

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on October 14, 2015   comments 0

#BlackLivesMatter

#BlackLivesMatter is a movement started by three black queer women, in response to black people being murdered by police.  Please read this Herstory.

When you design an event / campaign / et cetera based on the work of queer Black women, don’t invite them to participate in shaping it, but ask them to provide materials and ideas for next steps for said event, that is racism in practice. It’s also hetero-patriarchal. Straight men, unintentionally or intentionally, have taken the work of queer Black women and erased our contributions. Perhaps if we were the charismatic Black men many are rallying around these days, it would have been a different story, but being Black queer women in this society (and apparently within these movements) tends to equal invisibility and non-relevancy.

We completely expect those who benefit directly and improperly from White supremacy to try and erase our existence. We fight that every day. But when it happens amongst our allies, we are baffled, we are saddened, and we are enraged. And it’s time to have the political conversation about why that’s not okay.

We are grateful to our allies who have stepped up to the call that Black lives matter, and taken it as an opportunity to not just stand in solidaritywith us, but to investigate the ways in which anti-Black racism is perpetuated in their own communities. We are also grateful to those allies who were willing to engage in critical dialogue with us about this unfortunate and problematic dynamic.

Grease Rag focuses our energy on safer spaces that include trans and femme folks using bikes, honoring and educating around gender, and increasing access to transportation, as well as fostering a positive and uplifting community. #BlackLivesMatter directly relates to Grease Rag and this work because oppression reaches down and disrupts all of the pieces of our identities. We are all connected in this struggle.

Grease Rag was recently asked to send volunteers to a Free Bikes 4 Kidz event at the Mall of America, where Black Lives Matter protesters have been used as an "example" for anyone wishing to exercise their right to assemble and freedom of speech in a monument to capitalism. (Initially, MOA had been seeking restitution for "profits lost" during the protest, sending the message that profits>black lives.) Until charges are dropped, BLM has called for a protest of the Mall.

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05 Oct
2015

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The Journey is the Destination

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on October 5, 2015   comments 0

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Delirious with feevah

The Feevah

When I go out with Holly and Zack, we all get struck with the feevah (fever): Mushroom Feevah! And not just Mushroom Feevah , but Ramp Feevah , Fruit Tree Feevah , Lilac Feevah! It's hip to call the feevah "foraging," but whatever you call it, can't you feel it? Burning inside of you? The urge to scoop up things growing and thriving all around you to ferment them and cook with them and share them?  The feeling that pulls you into the woods, because there might be an edible a little further down?  Just past that next bend?

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When you have the Feevah, you evaluate the world as such

On a most gorgeous fall afternoon, we set out on a journey to an apple orchard 26 miles away. We poked along and rode through weird suburban bike "infrastructure," arriving at the consumerist melee which is an orchard in the fall. "All hail monoculture and apple-themed merchandise!" We drank a beer by the nearby creek, demolished a pie with plastic forks, and napped. I brought an empty pannier, expecting the bounty of my 1/2 peck of apples, a frozen pie, what was left of the other pie we tucked into, and some cinnamon apple donuts. The jam band was like Jimmy Buffet doing Neil Young impressions, and there were kids with sticky fingers everywhere... but it was still a great time with pals.

When we left, we picked up the pace to beat darkness. Although... our speediness was probably negated by the few wrong turns I lead us down. On one of our detours, Holly got the feevah when she spotted a tree in a vet parking lot. Pear Feevah!

Pear Feevah

We dramatically u-turned into the parking lot where an older person, with beautiful black hair and a thick purple wool cape had a long telescoping pole and was poking it into the pear tree.

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15 Sep
2015

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Our bodies are not your billboards

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on September 15, 2015   comments 1

(This is a visually boring post because I refuse to repost the sexist images.  They are linked if you really need to know.)

The bike industry is an exclusive, white male-centric industry with rampant systemic problems with sexism, racism, and transphobia.  

These problems are communicated and reinforced through marketing.

#nopodiumgirls!

"Is this bike thing sexist?" test

"Is this bike thing sexist" test applied

Female blogger leaves major publication because of abusive, sexist commenters and unsupportive staff

Bike company markets women's bikes for looking good and not exerting yourself

Sexist "shrink" and "pink" products at Interbike

Systemic and cultural exclusion of WTFs in bike shops

Using sex to sell is common.  It's lazy.  And it is also dumb, considering EVERYTHING WE KNOW TELLS US IT DOESN'T WORK.

The examples of how WTFs are excluded from the bike industry are endless.  Two images have been circulating on social media the past few days and are perfect reminders of how companies and the bike industry can be completely insensitive and alienate their WTF customer base.  Here, I want to focus on how we can use our voice to slowly chip away at these institutions which harm us with their sexualization and objectification of our bodies, the erasure of our image, and dismissal of our strength and experience.

1. Our bodies are not your billboards

First, a company that caters to "messengers" sexualizes bodies to be edgy in an advertisement.  The WBMA (Women's Bike Messanger Association) had a great response to the image.  

Last weekend, the Women's Bike Messenger Association (WBMA) held its first meeting at the Denver NACCC. The meeting itself was full of high spirits and great ideas, but we were occasionally met with the question of why it was necessary.

Yesterday, Chrome Industries posted a photo of a woman, wearing little more than one of their bags and their shoes, handing out promo during fashion week. This was seen as a clever "anti-fashion" statement on their part, and was defended based on the fact that there was a man involved and therefore gender neutral, even empowering.

As a company with a significant following and longevity in this scene that has always attempted to straddle the line between representing messengers while still utilizing our culture a part of your "lifestyle brand," we would hope the team responsible for posting to your social media would think twice before stooping to traditional corporate means of sexualizing women, specifically white and skinny women, in marketing. Proportionally, there are far fewer women cyclists, and certainly female messengers, and all of us have fought to be taken seriously as cyclists above and beyond our bodies and gender.

We call for Chrome to seriously take into consideration the number of women who have voiced their opinion on this. Your dismissal of our frustration and anger as just one of many opinions is not only disappointing, but disrespectful. We ask that Chrome remove their post, sincerely apologize for their actions as well as take actual strides in including the voices and opinions of women if they expect to be welcomed into the community upon which their reputation was built. We expect genuine recognition of why this is bothersome rather than PR commentary that does little to apologize for or rectify the real issue at hand.

This is why there's a WBMA.

The image was taken down without an apology.

This is why there's a Grease Rag.

This is why every women, trans, femme space, and every GLBT space, and every space for people of color exists. The dominant group does not see us as whole, capable, equal members of society. Sexualization and objectification are a part of rape culture.

SEE these WTFs coming together with a strong unified voice against sexist marketing! Respect. See a cowardly company refusing to respond, and see the less awake humans defending their harmful marketing.

2. Our bodies do not belong in your "goodie bags"

Second, the largest bike industry show in the country gives out socks with sexualized bodies in their "welcome goodie bags."  (The show is held in Las Vegas, a town known for using sex to sell.)  Women were disgusted and Pretty. Damned. Fast posted to social media.

For an industry that claims to want women to feel included, play a larger role, and spend more money, this was a really bad promotional item to include in the welcome bag. I think it's sad that Interbike is hosting panel discussions and seminars on what women want from the cycling industry. Well one thing women want is to be free from garbage like this. Not cool Interbike

The socks were removed from bags and a "non-apology" was issued.

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The comment from the company that makes the socks was even more tone-deaf.  This post deflects responsibility and essentially says, "My contribution to sexually objectifying women and contributing to rape culture was meant to be fun." Thumbs down.

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Thank you to all the people standing up for our bodies, and against this behavior

People have been blasting on social media and asking companies to be accountable.  Thank you to Jules, employee and blogger for local company Surly, for stepping up to write about these incidents.  Please read this whole post.

There will be people both male and female that just don't understand how this sets our industry back. How this creates an environment for women to be assaulted both physically and verbally inside and outside of the workplace. I would like to ask those that do get it to continue to talk about these instances. Talk about them loudly and make these companies that make these mistakes understand why it was a mistake and that they will be held accountable. We need to educate people. We need to work to create an environment where people understand body love comes from the person in the body.

What can we learn from this?

Learn. Talk to us about this topic.  

Read this post.  Read about our experiences in bike shops.  Follow links.  Google.  If you have questions about why this is a "big deal, " or why this is not "empowering," or why it would not have the same issues if it featured sexualized male nudity, please ask.

Call out, call in.

Take your bros aside, and tell them why they shouldn't be having twitter fights with people against sexualizing women for marketing purposes.  Call out companies.  See examples above for how we can actually start whittling away at this institution.

Say you're sorry, and mean it.

These companies need to take responsibility and make a meaningful apology. We wrote a guide on how to give meaningful apologies, because we all make mistakes.  We are bound to be wrong some of the time.

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