In an article published in the Guardian this week titled 'Why must cycling companies saddle women with pink?' it was claimed that the over-feminizing of female cycling products may in fact inhibit women from being assertive on their bikes.
In response to this, over the coming weeks, we will be bringing the opinions of our readers, contributors, bloggers and industry folk on this topic plus an overall look at marketing toward women.
First up is Tina McCarthy from the sunny shores of Australia, who blogs at 'The Wheel Women' but also runs a cycling group - Wheel Women Australia. Tina decided to pick up cycling again in later life, to stave off acquiring Type 2 diabetes. After getting hooked, she decided to share her love of cycling and become a Level 1 NCAS AustCycle Coach to set up the cycling group.
Wheel Women is a social and recreational cycling group for women of all ages. It allows women to motivate and challenge themselves, while supporting others along the way. Tina and the group support that you do not need a lycra kit or a super expensive bike, they just want women to get involved and be comfortable.
Give me pink!
I admit it. I love pink. Not the pale baby-like pink, but bright, hot pink, fluorescent or magenta pink. Yes. I'll have it all - so call me a girl.
I'm not entirely sure what it is about pink that makes for such divisive opinions in women's cycling. It is just a colour after all.
Endless frills and florals may encourage women to be less assertive riders.
- Grace Wong, the guardian, contributor
I beg to differ. Women portray themselves in different ways and create their own agenda every time they jump on a bike. If a woman wants to wear 'florals and frills,' then good on her, that is her choice. If a woman chooses pink and purple and feels great in that, then hail to her.
What we are talking about here is the inability of some people to see that actually, it isn't the colour, or the florals or frills that make women seem like we lack assertiveness. Or the lack of images of 'awesomeness' referred to in the article that put us a step behind any equality with men. I think what is really at play is the fact we become accustomed, male or female, to not openly display our confidence.
This argument about the mechanics of bike company marketing just adds further fuel to the posse of pedallers who talk about all the barriers and inhibitors to women's cycling.
Damn it people, just get over this argument!
I wear pink, I ride a pink bike, I have lots of pink stuff. None of it makes me feel like a woman who lacks 'awesomeness.' In fact, to the contrary. I'm not saying this to blow my own self-inflated trumpet, but to make the point that I don't feel any less assertive because of my affinity for all things pink.
In all honesty, I like the fact that some bike company took the time to think about how they can make a pink bike, and make it look awesome, just so I might feel 'awesome'.
This argument is not about the marketing strategies of cycling companies, it's about our willingness as women to listen to how many barriers to cycling people are telling us we have. Not enough cycle friendly infrastructure, not enough safety, not enough nice women's clothes.
Okay, so maybe there aren't the bike paths we want, but how about learning how to use the ones we DO have; maybe there is a safety issue, but how about learning some skills to make you a safer ride; maybe there aren't any women's cycling clothes you - who says we must ride in cycling gear on a bike anyway?
Maybe the tide may change if we stop this notion that cycling has so many barriers and that cycling companies perpetuate the myth of the helpless female by marketing products that are pink. It is we women who perpetuate the myth.
There are bike companies out there who have listened to this argument and do not want to be seen as producing ‘shrink it and pink it’ clothing. Almost in a complete reversion of this they have chosen quite masculine colours and styles for both bikes and clothing; some women like those colours and if they feel good in them, they will exude confidence.
In essence, it isn’t the colour, or the floral, or the blingy bits which make us feel less assertive. And it isn’t the lack of ‘awesomeness’ in marketing campaigns for women’s cycling that make us feel less ‘awesome.’ It’s our lack of willingness to disregard the perceived ‘barriers’.
If we continue to say that we - as women - are pushed to the back of cycling because we are women, or that we have too many barriers, or that bike companies don’t use the colours we like, then all we do is perpetuate the myth. The truth is, if you feel good about yourself, you’ll exude confidence, or ‘awesomeness’, and everyone will see it regardless of what clothes you wear or what colour bike you ride.
For me though, I’ll stick to pink!
If you're interested in Tina's story, take a look at her The Wheel Women blog.
We're also keen to hear from more readers around this topic, so if you feel confident enough to write something for publication, please send through your article, with a little bit about yourself. Details can be found on our contact page.