Women’s Corner – October 2016: The Flip Side of the Comfort Zone

by Deborah Turton, Women’s Ride Coordinator

Last month I wrote about how stepping out of your comfort zone is good for you. This month I want to write about the Flip Side of your comfort zone. When you step out of your zone, it forces other people out of their zone. That’s the flip side and it’s good for everyone. When bicycles first became popular, women loved them. They allowed women the freedom to move about unchaperoned. Women who rode developed newer clothing that was easier to move in. Both of these developments alarmed many people. And then society moved on to a better place. In the same way today, women who force society out of its comfort zone cause some distress, but then society moves on to a better place. Most of us will never have the opportunity to make large public statements about society, but every last one of us can make many small statements that can force society to change its comfort zone. We can stand up against bias and discrimination we see. We can act in ways contrary to gender norms. We can support people who don’t follow society’s script. All of these actions can make us uncomfortable, but together they can change society.

I see many things about being a woman cyclist that closely align with society’s comfort zone. Just a few examples are: Women’s clothes most often come in pastel clothes. Bright colors seem to be reserved for men these days. And I like wearing red, but apparently women are only supposed to like pastels these days. Some men ask me if I need help loading my bike while ignoring other men loading their bikes. And what do these ‘helpful’ men think I do when they’re not around? Some shop guys ignore women or belittle their knowledge, but will believe that any random guy knows what he’s talking about. I generally leave the shop or interrupt shop guys who ask random men to confirm what I need. Advocacy groups often have more men than women. We need to show up at these meetings and contribute. Changing society is hard and uncomfortable, but remember what those Victorian women cyclists went through for us.

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