Sam isn’t a cyclist. She’s just a person who rides a bike.

Okay, that’s a lie. Even my Twitter bio says so. It reads, ” Philosopher, feminist, ethicist, cyclist. Dean, College of Arts, University of Guelph.”

“Cyclist” is there right up with “philosopher” and “feminist” and before my not-so-new-now big job.

At the blog we’ve worried here and there about the reluctance of women to identify themselves with things they very obviously do. An example? Runners who say they aren’t runners. They’re just people who jog about town a bit. Women who say they don’t surf. They just muck about in the waves with friends. So here at Fit is a Feminist Issue we’ve been encouraging women to use the terms that actually apply to the physical thing they’re doing. We’re runners, climbers, sailors, cyclists, rowers, etc etc.

However, maybe, just maybe, in the case of cyclist we should slow it down a bit.

Here’s the Guardian, “Should we stop using the word ‘cyclist’?’

Why? Because drivers don’t think cyclists are human.

Here’s an excerpt from the Guardian piece: “Stopping using the term “cyclist” has been up for debate since an Australian study last week found 31% of respondents viewed cyclists as less than human. The research also found that the dehumanisation of people who cycle is linked to self-reported aggression towards them: if you see a person as less than fully human, you are more likely to deliberately drive at them, block them with your vehicle or throw something at them, the study found. “

I wasn’t a fan of referring to myself as a mother who rides a bike. I think women should be valued as persons, not just in our relational roles. But frankly it didn’t occur to me that the alternative was being seen as less than human!

Image description: Selfie of Sam, the cyclist, wearing a white bike helmet, no glasses, sparkly lip gloss and a red, pink, blue, and purple Friends for Life Bike Rally jersey.

3 thoughts on “Sam isn’t a cyclist. She’s just a person who rides a bike.

  1. Interesting.

    I’ve been pondering my self-labeling “I’m a runner” in terms of identity….am I still a runner if I run slower or less mileage due to aging and health issues, if I don’t do certain races, etc.? Is it a good idea to couple my identity with something that could be gone in an instant? (Well, I guess everything could be, couldn’t it?)

    I wonder if a similar mindset would explain some of the issues runners have with car drivers “not seeing” them.

  2. By identifying as a cyclist to those who know us (well or not so well) we put a human face to cycling. It’s also been noted that if we ride in a dress, or with kids on our bikes, we are perceived as a little more human. Not to say we are any different when we don lycra!
    I’m just going to try to keep riding (a lot or a little, fast or slow), identifying as a cyclist (preparing for the range of comments from “that’s so dangerous!” to “you jerks are in the way of my car!”), and riding as civilly as possible (when my patience allows).

  3. I do identify myself as a cyclist. But often, it’s cycling as part of my lifestyle because I don’t have a car and for fun, fitness. That’s how I explain briefly to others.

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