The “token attractive woman” caption is just part of the normal background-noise din that surrounds many women, cycling or not. Often unspoken, but still thought. Everyday sexism exists, it’s all around is. It envelopes us, swallows us and spits us out – every day.
It would be a head-in-the-sand attitude, closing the closet, if we acknowledged this as just a glitch. It is systemic.
This is one of the reason why it is so hard to get to its roots.
It also surrounds us in different forms. It can be there expressedly (as in the caption, a dog-whistle or a crude look) but often it is simply swept under the carpet – thought but not uttered. The caption is not an individual’s comment. It is the surfacing of the regular, the normal, the everyday thinking of many people.
And, let’s be fair and square, there also is truth in the caption’s words. Women do function as props, as mere accessories and passive objects. Cycling or not. The real problem, as I see it, is that the caption says what many are thinking, and that sentiment remains globally untackled, unchallenged. It sits at the awkward intersection where a stereotype meets reality. Personally I do not care which Cycling Weekly employee this may have been, not would I wish sanctions to be taken against that person.
If we don’t accept this to be real and systemic we won’t be able to move on up, out of this c/overt mess. I would suggest to Cycling Weekly to draw up an anti-sexism charter and then to swiftly proceed to proudly present it to the public. This would at least be a decisive action plan, and not a (potentially) hollow and toothless promise.
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