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Recap: Culture Shift: Making Bike Shops More Gender-Inclusive in the Twin Ports!

By Andrea Crouse (they/them or she/her) of Zeigeist

Thank you to everyone who attended Culture Shift: Making Bike Shops More Gender-Inclusive in the Twin Ports! We’re super grateful for the lively discussion we had around creating more gender-inclusive spaces in our bike + outdoor retail shops…and we’re eager to have more. Below are some of the key points that were made in the film and in the discussion, along with some resources for continued education + conversation. Please take these to your shop/community and share around!

  • Dudey Free Zone, made in 2011, still resonates with today. As one interviewee says: “From the 70s to 2011, we’ve moved an inch.” We still have a ways to go…
  • Overt sexism is easier to handle—it’s the more invisible micro aggressions where someone doesn’t realize they’re being sexist that are harder to interrupt. As one interviewee says: “Sexism is the hardest to break through because it’s unintentional. How do you tell someone they’re hurting you when they have no idea?”
  • In bike shops, there’s often an assumption that everyone’s alternative or on the same page politically as bikes are the underdog in our car-centric society. But the larger patriarchal culture still seeps in. As one person in the film says: “Bike culture prioritizes masculinity.”
  • Customers routinely underestimate/devalue the knowledge + experience of women, trans, or femme (ftw) mechanics leading them to doubt themselves and/or feel like they have to continually prove themselves. Customers will often look right past the ftw employees or mansplain to them—yet when cis-male staff are able to redirect customers’ attention and stand behind their ftw employees by validating their expertise, it makes a huge difference.
  • Cis-men have an easy time applying for positions at bike + outdoor retail shops—when they look around it seems evident they belong. So for shops to be able to recruit and hire more gender diversity, there’s gender-inclusive language and criteria they can include in job postings…as well as more direct outreach they can do to these groups.
  • Creating spaces that feel safe/welcoming to trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming folks requires more intentional curating than just adding “trans” to the name—not all trans people relate to being femme/women or feel safe/comfortable in spaces that prioritize cis-women.
  • Financial accessibility is key so that more people have access to bikes and bike mechanics training. (Check out the Bike Cave and volunteer!)

In case you missed the film or would like to watch it again, it’s available for free on Vimeo. A huge shout out to Laila Davis for making Dudey Free Zone and facilitating the conversation, and to Continental Ski & Bike for hosting this event. If your shop is interested in hosting another gender-inclusive event (including more possible screenings of Dudey Free Zone), please reach out—we’d love to partner with you!

Please spread the word about the Gender-Inclusive Bike Shop Night @ Continental March 29, 4-7pm (flier below) — we’re still looking for a few female/trans/nonbinary folks to help facilitate bike mechanics. 

And don’t miss A Voice for the Wild film screening and panel talk about gender and racial inclusion in the outdoors March 28, 6pm!