International Women’s Day: Bang Your Head Against A Wall

March 8, 2017

Hannah bangs her head on the wall
Head. Wall. Head. Wall.

It’s International Women’s Day. Hurrah. Let’s celebrate. Let’s celebrate the fact that women are so routinely overlooked that we need a special day to draw attention to ourselves.

OK, yes, it’s also an opportunity to shed light on all the amazing women out there doing inspiring things, and I don’t wish to detract from them and their amazing achievements at all. But if we lived in an equal society we wouldn’t need to be saying ‘look at these amazing women’ because they’d be on our TVs and in our newspapers every day anyway, giving their opinions on stuff, being asked to explain things to those of us who want to learn more, telling other people why their analysis is wrong, and generally being visible and listened to. We wouldn’t have to corral them together and point big arrows at them to let our children know they are out there, because they’d be seen, every day, in our everyday lives.

The UCI needs to step up and stop allowing women’s events to be treated as a secondary afterthought.

We wouldn’t need to be writing columns pointing out how – yet again, snooze, encore une fois, oh how tired of saying this we are – women are being left out and treated as secondary.

Imagine my interest when, whoop, yay, I see the headline ‘We Are Improving The World Cup Program‘. Well, that sounds interesting. ‘We are trying to launch new things to attract more fans and sponsors, as well as more teams and riders’. Excellent. Grow the sport. Yup.

‘We will start with a new discipline in world biking: SHORT TRACK. It is a short, dynamic race’. That sounds like a good thing. Easily put out on TV. Should be good for attracting sponsors.

‘For this year we’ll only launch the Men Elite category, let’s see what next year brings! :-)’

Smiley face.

Let’s just leave out half the population. Smiley face.

Let’s just sell you that left shoe. See how you get on. We’ll give you the other shoe for your right foot next year if you like the left one. Smiley face.

NO! Totally f****ing not smiley face. Really annoyed fed up of dealing with this sh*t face.

I know, in the grand scheme of crimes against women, abuses of power and misogyny, this is small potatoes. There are bigger battles out there to be fought and won. But this is so easily fixed, an instance of secondary treatment so easily avoided. The big battles still need to be fought, but the drip drip drip of little actions which treat women as secondary must also be challenged, as they create the background noise, the setting, the social landscape, in which those big issues are the tallest peaks in a mountain range of inequalities, rather than a volcanic remnant in a levelled landscape. Accepting these actions makes ‘men first, women second’ seem normal.

This is an ‘exhibition’ of the event. No rules apply. So just stick everyone in together – women and men. Or find some women and put on a women’s race. But in 2017 ‘let’s see what next year brings’ is just not good enough. Especially at a prestigious event sanctioned by our supposedly governing body. Triathlon manages to deliver equal prize money and competition for women and men. When is cycling going to do the same? The UCI needs to step up and stop allowing women’s events to be treated as a secondary afterthought. All of us need to be calling out this crap and making sure it’s not accepted by riders, fans, viewers, or sponsors.

International Women’s Day. I’ll celebrate when we don’t need one.

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