Image credit: Richard Masoner/Creative Commons
From riding in high heels to the safety of women riders, we've covered all kinds of topics relevant to female cyclists. But when April suggested the world would be better looking if there were more girls on bikes, the accusations of sexism came flying thick and fast. So I wonder what these same commenters would make of news that the Tour of Britain (the anglo-version of the Tour De France) is inviting top female cyclists onto the podium. The only trouble is, their role is to kiss the men and help them get dressed.At least that's how Helen Pridd sees the news over at The Guardian that the Tour of Britain is advertising for "podium girls" to kiss the winning riders and help them into their jerseys, and that these poorly paid positions are apparently often held by leading female cyclists:
"What is crushingly depressing is that the hostesses (known widely as podium girls and festishised all over the internet) tend to be top cyclists themselves. The "winner" will join Lauren Bason, who rides for Wolverhampton Wheelers, on the podium. And at this year's Tour de France, Claire Pedrono, cycling champion of Brittany, was given the "honour" or holding up the chalkboard with the information about the riders' times."
Some commenters claim that Pridd may have over-reacted—arguing that holding up the chalk board is a "proper job" at such events. It should also be noted that the tour organizers are not specifically seeking female cyclists to fill this role (which pays GBP50, or about US$75 a day!)—suggesting instead that it might be suitable for aspiring models or actresses.
Not being involved in the world of bike competitions, I must confess I have always found the "podium girl" phenomenon to seem, if nothing else, a little dated. Whether or not these women are cyclists, I'd love to know whether the whole phenomenon puts women cyclists off.
In the meantime Pridd suggests that anyone wanting "the very important job of helping grown men put their jumpers [jerseys] on" should contact the tour directly.