Tuesday, September 18, 2012

bikey bechdel test

last week was the first ever national women's bicycling summit. it took place close enough for me to consider attending, but between my two jobs, was just kind of hard to make that commitment. so i sort of sat back and waited for what the blogosphere would report back.

wellwellwell. i'm liking what i'm seeing so far. in particular the feminist spin on the representation of women in bikey things ranging from advocacy, racing, policy and advertising.

i went to an all female undergraduate college, and nearly every class had a powerful female lens to it. we became well versed in the concept of the male gaze and, outside of class, we were well versed in other strong female voices ranging from comics, to music. both are variations of art forms dominated by a male presence. sort of like all things bikey. this is why the phenomenon of female bike bloggers is so important to me, and to all of us associated with the blog. they show a diversity of interests ranging from not just fashion, but to photography, interests in bicycle geometry and road racing, among many others.

so what i'm getting to is one of the things to come out of the NWBS is the bikey bechdel test. are you kidding me? that's amazing!! here's a video summarizing the bechdel test for those who are not familiar with the concept. this is covering the 2011 oscars, and demonstrates why most movies are not worth my time lately.

now comes elly blue's post called "is this thing sexist? introducing the 'bike test'" (hint, if you have to ask, it probably is sexist. jussayin'). here is elly blue's the bike test:

The Bike Test:
Here are the criteria:

1. Are women present or represented at all?
2. Are the women presented as active subjects rather than passive objects?
3. If the gender were reversed, would the meaning stay more or less unchanged? (Or would the image become hilarious?)

keep in mind this framework for this test was introduced in 1985. that's almost 30 years ago.

let's apply this to a picture that came out from the interbike industry show.

yesterday this picture came out from the interbike FB page introducing some sort of who knows what. but it's got a blonde in a bikini! behind a cage! in vegas! was captioned with "Dunk tank at the wtb booth at OutDoor Demo!"

test application:
1. yes
2. passive.
3. meaning would become ironic and probably "hilarious" if the man was in a bikini. but to be fair, both genders definitely have had their share sitting on at a dunk table.

30 years everyone. THIRTY.

there's some talk of the real-life "mcdreamy" (ahem...we wont discuss that nickname here, because i don't really have a favorable view on it), who is pretty interested in seeing women becoming serious racing competitors. while that's great that he feels that way, i can't help but think that with women's growing buying power, that we can do this this for OURSELVES. or in conjunction with a gender balanced bikey think tank with funds.

h/t to jenny and richard.


  1. Cool video! Haven't seen that one yet! :-)

  2. I have always thought that the way to represent others fairly is to represent them in the spirit I would like to be represented myself. I wonder how many people ever put themselves in the stories they write or the pictures they show?

    1. is a good question. but that implies those people are as introspective as you are. the world would be a better place if people followed that way of thinking.