Monday, February 15

Woman Seeking Women

It has been a long time between posts and I've missed you. I've been embracing the winter fully by doing my daily long, cold walks with a camera in hand.

As I continue to seek balance in my so-called life, I appreciate your patience. Neglecting this blog, unfortunately, is but one of my many outlets spiraling through gaping dark holes and disappearing forever. A backlog of incomplete or unedited posts await my attention. Some days pass by pleasantly—even enjoyably. Other days--too many days in fact--drag by with the energy that would make a sloth look like a speed demon.

While my hectic life has left little time to indulge the things I want most to do, day dreaming has proved a viable distraction. I've ridden off into the sunset during more than one business meeting. The ride calendar is filling up with tons of legal fun! Aligned with my previous blog about riding with purpose, I've come up with several projects that I'll need several life times to complete. I know that I'm probably far more project- and goal-oriented than many would care to be, but hey, different strokes for different folks, right? Very few things compare to two wheel riding. I do it for the sheer joy of moving through space; whizzing pass buildings and trees; and, inhaling smells both good and malodorous. It is fun and solitude on my terms.

Last season, my travels took me to many Underground Railroad Stations, National Historic Sites and Monuments; I enjoyed every outing. This season, I will continue picking these sites but I'm my pleasure sensors with some new projects.

One that I am announcing here now was sparked by reading motorcycle magazines. You may have noticed that some of them are aimed at the male reader. To many of these rags, the fact that women have increasingly joined the ranks of riders hasn't seemed to catch on. Yes, an increasing number of mags publish stories about and by women riders. Glad to see better inclusion. Still, the ads in some of these same magazines haven't evolved much. Typically, the women in the ads are sprawled, skimpily-clad, on or across the motorcycle.

The clothes they wear—or should I say, the clothes they are not wearing—scream volumes about who these ads are meant to attract.

I read these magazines too. Forgive me while I rant a bit. Sorry men, but I'm annoyed with poofy-haired, leather bustier wearing, Barbies with spike heeled, thigh high boots and pouty mouths, and grossly inflated adipose tissues staring out at me! Rather than continue getting mad, I'm taking action.

I'd like to proffer a counterpoint. So, I'm eagerly seeking women.

I'd like to interview a different kind of woman on a bike. For the upcoming ride season, I'm looking for women who ride solo. I prefer that they reside in the Midwest. They must also be ATGATT (all the gear, all the time). If you a woman who rides solo and lives in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, send them my way.

I will ride to meet up with her, interview her and take some photos of her and her ride partner, that is, her motorcycle. By “ride solo,” I mean, she rides alone 99% of the time. Before anyone debates me about my requirements, let me explain. I don't believe it is a challenge to find women to interview who ride. Such woman have become rather commonplace.

Women who prefer to go it alone will be a challenge I look forward to interviewing. Think about it, given women's socialization to stay near home, to never travel alone, to find protection with a male, that any woman rides alone is noteworthy. I know why ride alone. I'd like to know about those who other women who swim against the current.

Why do they ride alone? Where to do go? What bike do they ride and why? Do they camp alone or stay in hotels when they travel? Is riding alone choice or circumstance? Are they committed solo riders or just biding their time until the right riding partner comes along?

My hope is to eventually turn these interviews and images into a multimedia story accessible via the WWW. Eventually, I'd like to stretch beyond the Midwest. Details remain foggy at this stage but the planning is underway.

I will recruit on a few motorcycle boards and female motorcycle forums. Still, if you know someone, don't hesitate to let me know. Thanks!


irondad said...

I must be weird. When I read your fine blog I see only the words of a fellow motorcyclist. I guess I do have both male and female riding students, but I only see students.

Seriously, I understand what you're saying. I wish you success in this project. It will make a difference to those who matter.

Sadly, one wonders if a few deep individuals have enough to offset the abundant shallowness. Better to try than let the others win by default.

I, too, have a list of projects a mile long. It's good to pick a navigational beacon to sort by, isn't it?

cpa3485 said...

Sounds to me like a faacinating project. I would be interested in reading your interviews. On occasion I have looked at the magazine racks at the bookstore for a good motorcycle magazine, but get a little turned off by the pictures on the covers. Now, I admit to being a fan of certain types of adipose tissue, but it always amazes me how the advertising and marketing big wigs classify consumers. I frequently think they are way off base.
Some of the recent ads on the Super Bowl were very gender insensitive IMHO.
Good luck with the project!

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Thanks, Irondad,

IMHO, a great teacher teaches to the student regardless of what s/he brings to the learning table so you sound like my kind of teacher--and it's evident in your blog... might still be "weird" but that's another issue altogether. ;-)

I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one project heavy. I think we just have to start chipping away at them little by little. I keep getting reminders that there are fewer years ahead of me than there are behind me. I want no regrets when my time comes...

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

cpa3485, thanks.

I agree with you on the Super Bowl commercials. I didn't watch the sporting event but I saw a program that analyzed the commericals and even they pointed out that the commericals seemed laced with anti-women and/or anti-marriage humor? Those they previewed did seem unnecessarily unkind and NOT funny to me. But on more than one occasion, I've been charged with lacking a sense of humor, which isn't true. I crack up at my jokes all the time!

BTW, your comment admitting that you are a ..."a fan of "certain types of adipose tissue..." evoked my first chuckle of the day (it's 4:30 a.m.) Thanks!

karinajean said...

I've posted a link to this over at, maybe some of the women there who are more local to you will contact you.

while I do get frustrated at scantily clad women I am more frustrated that, as a woman, it is so difficult finding properly fitting gear. Or that there are dudes out there who write off perfectly good motorcycles as "women's bikes." but most of all, as a female motorcyclist I am frustrated by the paternalism I see and hear from non-riders (and a very few riders) - the assumption that maybe I just haven't evaluated the risks fully, and if they tell me how dangerous motorcycling is, I'll up-and-quit.

I am not nearby enough to go for a ride with you - but I would ask that you re-evaluate your last question! to ask "Are they committed solo riders or just biding their time until the right riding partner comes along?" frames the woman rider in the preconceptualized context that women do not like to be alone, and similarly, that they are looking for the one right person. Many people have groups they like to ride with occasionally, or several friends they know they can reach out to when they hit the streets for an adventure. Why not just ask the women riders you meet if they are committed solo riders, or if they choose to ride with groups occasionally? I would also not rule out that sometimes, it's hard to find people who are the same speed as you are, or who have the same commitment to safety and ATGATT, or who like to practice techniques as much. it's hard for ANYONE to find a group they click with - man or woman.

SheRidesABeemer said...

I don't actually know many of the main stream riding women. I know mostly the independent atgatt "serious" riders. You'll find a lot of us on BMW's. If only 10% of BMW owners are women, and BMW's represent 5% of US sales, collectively we are needles in the hay stack. Good luck with your project, if you decide to interview nationally, I can provide you with a variety of referrals.


Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Welcome Karina, Thank you so much for dropping in. I thoroughly appreciate your comments and sympathize with your "frustrations" about gear and the attitude we often get as both motorcyclists and as women who ride.

Re: the questions. Rest assured, these are not the exact questions I will ask--just sort of threw some out to convey the gist of what I'm planning to explore. All the questions will be opened-ended, free of overt bias ('cause there is always some bias) and presented in s style that encourages free-flowing conversation about solo riding.

I can understand your dislike of the question about committed solo rider vs biding one's time. I have yet to create my interview guide (i.e., the list of queries I will used to get the conversation going). To ask that particular question, as I presented it here, would be improper; it would also be a "leading" questions and no sane ethnographer would do that. Thanks for chiming in on that.

Still, mentioning it the way I did was the result of a couple of sad conversations I had with two different women who did not like their current riding status and were actually biding their time and stated that in no uncertain terms. Both stated they would be eager to give up riding alone; in fact, riding was their creative hook to get a partner. I can't relate, but it is a reality for some women. I'm curious about them too and will be all ears to all the reasons that women ride solo.

I'm interested too in women like me who are married who ride alone out of choice. What does that mean? Why? Does it have an impact on relationships, etc. ???

Depending on where you are, we might be able to meet. I have a heavy ride schedule this season. If I'm within 100 miles of you, I'd be willing to look you up for an interview. Talk later.

Thanks again for you time and thoughtful comments!

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Hi Gail,

Thanks for the info! After I take a crack at this in the Midwest, I'd like to get some funding to make this a bigger project. I'll let you know.

Take care! said...

I will be at the Chicago home show March 14 in the morning I have been selected to pitch my unique RaciBabi Helmet liner the Diva do to the Discovery Channel pitchmen. If you know any riders or have contact with any groups that can come for moral suppot to help out a fellow female bike – tell em to Roar on down !! said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.