Choose your harassment
I’m very fortunate in having thick healthy hair and plenty of it.
And because it also grows fast, which is a mixed blessing, I’ve been quite adventurous in having it short and punky (Meg Ryan in French Kiss) or long and thick, like it is now.
For a commute it’s tied back in a low pony, and then that is sometimes tucked into the back of my jersey to stop the wind knotting it.
But I use it as a signal flag too, when I'm riding somewhere with aggressive traffic and lots of it, I make sure the long blonde pony-tail is clearly visible to drivers; I’m hoping they’ll check themselves and give me space rather then revving up close and dangerous; yep, I’m hoping car drivers will be less likely to hit me coz I'm a woman.
It makes me grit my teeth writing that.
I don’t like playing any sort of gender card. You shouldn’t be careless around me because I’m another human being, but some drivers don’t think that way. Bike? Get off my road.
Today however, I’ve had the opposite problem, I’ve been harassed by a couple of boneheads in a ute, specifically because I was female and to their mind, fair game.
Would they have yelled these same things at me, if I was waiting to cross at the lights in front of them ? If I was on the train as I will be tomorrow ? Walking down George Street?
So what specifically about me on a bike says I’m dying to show them my tits?
Maybe it's just because they seem like the peanut-brained, tiny-dick-compensating kind of mouth-breathers who think that shit is funny.
Maybe, had I had the opportunity to pull over and discuss with them, they would have felt ashamed and realised that they were being creepy.
Eww, they were those gross guys that hit on women in an inappropriate fashion, the way that makes your skin crawl, and your smile fade, and you exchange “that look” with your other friends and move to a different table in the bar.
The sort of guys who probably go to Schoolies week on the Gold Coast hoping to have sex with a drunk under-aged girl.
Not all disrespect to women ends in violence, but all violence against women starts with disrespect.
So I will never let this shit go by unchallenged.
I’m just appalled at the Sophies’s Choice of bike riding in traffic - you WILL be harassed – some days all you can do is influence which form your harassment will take.
If I’d been on foot and face to face with them, I would have ripped them both a new arsehole – there’s nothing like the righteous scorn of an articulate bike blogger to make your testicles ascend back into your body in sheer terror .
Maybe they were just compensating for the fact that a cyclist had kept up and then overtaken them and their tragically pimped-out ute on their journey home.
Aww, sucks to be you boys. Get off my road.