Image credit: Joe Plommer/The Mule Bar Girls
April may believe we need more girls on bikes, but there is no doubt that gender politics and cycling can be an explosive mix. When I wrote about podium girls—or the practice of bike races employing female cyclists to look pretty and kiss men—the response from our readers was mixed to say the least. Some felt it was just part of the culture, others felt it was degrading and disappointing. Now a top female cyclist is weighing in on the debate, demanding a hot male athlete to even up the score. Oh, and maybe she'd like a little bit of respect for her sport too.In a well reasoned piece over at The Guardian, Anna Glowinski of all-female racing team The Mule Bar Girls, explains why she wanted to be a podium girl. There is, she argues with the help of Louise Mahe—her lesbian team mate—two very different issues that are being confused in this debate:
"Are we talking about a problem with an image-based society, or the equality between men and women's cycling? This, we agreed on, was not to be confused. As racing cyclists we often find ourselves annoyed about the attention that men's racing gets, and as young and single girls, we also often find ourselves talking about hot guys/girls. We'd be hypocrites to say we don't notice what someone looks like."
In the end, Anna was not picked to be a podium girl, and she was disappointed. But not as disappointed as she was by the lack of attention given to the women's events in the Tour of Britain. Would she apply again? She doesn't say. But what she's really hoping for is "a hot guy with shaved legs and cyclist tan-lines" to give her a kiss when she wins a race. Presumably we can add decent recognition from the sporting press to that wish list too.
More links on women and cycling
Bike Race Employs Female Cyclists (to Kiss Men and Look Pretty)
High Heel Safety? Take a Bike
Charity Campaigns for Female Cycle Safety
6 Reasons We Need More Girls on Bikes
5 States Where Women Barely Dare to Bike Commute