15 Oct


QBP Bike Mechanic Scholarship for Women


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


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


From their website

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14 Oct


Boycott MOA: #BlackLivesMatter


on October 14, 2015   comments 0


#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


The Journey is the Destination


on October 5, 2015   comments 0


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?


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


Our bodies are not your billboards


on September 15, 2015   comments 6

(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.


"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.


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.


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.

02 Sep


How to Ask Someone to Share Knowledge and Lived Experience


on September 2, 2015   comments 0

Leading up to, during, and after Babes in Bikeland 9, several people have reached out for my help.  They asked for my perspective and lived experience around topics like, gender 101, making a safer spaces policy, not being an offensive bro, and understanding tone policing.


Photo by Lindsey Wallace, bikinginmpls.com

I am so honored that people see me as an accessible resource! I love to be helpful, and I want to work tirelessly toward safer and inclusive spaces. The most flattering thing about being asked for help is not that I feel proud of the expertise people perceive I hold. The most flattering thing is that people trust me and find me approachable enough to want to be vulnerable. And the fact that people are reaching out means they want to learn and grow, which makes the world a better place to live in.

How to ask for knowledge and perspective from someone who experiences oppression

By now, we should all know that just because you want to know more about the black experience, doesn't mean you can approach a black person and demand they share their thoughts and experiences with you.  If you want to know about what it is like to be a WTF, they don't owe you "WTF 101." But if you are genuine in your desire to learn, how do you ask someone for help with something outside of your understanding?  Here are some steps to respectfully asking someone to be vulnerable with you, and share their time and energy with you.

  1. Always remember to ask for consent! Nobody owes you anything, you aren't entitled to anything. e.g. "Would you like to have coffee on Friday to discuss ____?" Be able to take no for an answer. "No?  No problem! Thanks for being clear and honest with me.  If you ever change your mind know that I am interested."
  2. Do some research. Either on your own, or you can ask for some homework before we talk. You don't have to be an expert, but it helps if we have shared understandings of basic concepts, and if you have specific questions we can be extra productive. e.g. Google it first.
  3. Set goals and expectations. What do you expect to get out of this conversation? e.g. "I'd like to share something I got called out on that I don't understand. Could you help me get to the bottom of that?"
  4. Accept my knowledge and experience. My experience is just mine. I can't speak for anyone else. Telling me not to feel a certain way or that what I've experienced is not real is not cool. e.g. Don't say, "You need to stop being angry." Please say, "Thank you for your perspective!"
  5. Drop the 'ttude. Defensiveness is an understandable reaction when talking about difficult subjects, but that doesn't mean it is welcome. No one is perfect and we all have to start somewhere, so try to stop defending yourself and avoid blame and really think about what's being said. e.g. If you feel like saying "Not all..." just stop.
  6. Compensate me for my work. Talking about the trauma and pain of my identity is emotional work. Discussing the nuances of how to do better is work. WTFs, POC, and other folks are expected to do this work for the benefit of the people who benefit from systems that oppress us, just beause they ask. It is fair to compensate people for their time and work that has value.
  7. Thank me and appreciate my time and energy. Because I am thankful you asked, and I appreciate your time and energy.

My friend Nicole recently told me that having concrete examples is a good way to give people the tools to support you. Instead of "Be respectful," I'm saying, "Don't make 'jokes' about gay or trans people, because it is disrespectful." I'm practicing this communication in this list.

I am over the moon that an event like Babes and all of the language that has been swirling around in preparation for, and during Babes has catalyzed these conversations! Humans have an amazing capacity for learning and for empathy. I love that the more we learn, the more we feel the pain and triumph of others. Never stop learning. Never stop feeling.

We are all in this together.

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