Fact or Fiction: Empowering Women Motorcycle Riders

Fact or Fiction: Empowering Women Motorcycle Riders

While scrolling through Twitter, I saw this post from Hipster Bike Videos:

Hmm. Okay, I’ll bite.

I followed the link and read more of the posts on their Tumblr. They’re funny and irreverent in their posts and pull no punches on the moto/cafe/hipster/fashion scene.

I’m a little too old, too shy, too not nearly attractive enough to really identify with what I *perceive* as that whole segment of the motorcycle world. It just isn’t me. Some of it comes across more about what it looks like than what it feels like to ride. But… that’s my personal biases talking. Whatever floats their boats. It’s all the same wind. ::shrug::

As I scrolled through the HBV account – I then saw a post about a behind the scenes video from photographer Lanakila Macnaughton’s traveling women’s motorcycling exhibit.

The guys at HBV said:

“Srs post this time.  We here, as dudes, enjoy looking at a woman shaking her ass in short shorts as much as anyone.  But have some dignity and respect [for your own gender in this case] and don’t try to pass it off as serious women riding seriously.”

Well, I didn’t expect to read that. More often than not when I see anything posted around social media with a hot chick who can ride her own bike more than 10 feet without killing herself – the wolf whistles and attagirls are usually flying.

While I don’t personally feel remotely empowered or even identify with the images being presented of girls in the video – I kind of chalk it up to what I was saying before. I’m a boring, average, middle-aged mom. Anything coming from me that poo-poos this type of aesthetic probably comes off as nothing more than sour grapes. You wish you were as hot as these girls. While that is true, even if I were that hot – would I be one of those girls? Probably not.

Then I think – would I want my beautiful teenaged daughter to ride around undressed like that? No. Not unless she wanted me to kick her ass. 

And then…

I circle back around to – what do I care?

Empowerment. Do I need it to ride my motorcycle? I don’t feel like I do.

Real women. What the hell does that mean anyway?

Appropriating the word “real” for the video, well – I guess if I were knitpicking I would only say that they are some of the women who ride. Real or otherwise. But I would hope the video is just a small segment of the full exhibit (which I haven’t seen) anyway.


“The Woman’s Motorcycle Exhibition: The Real Woman Who Ride.”
Spend a day with a few of these woman as they cruise the wooded backroads of Portland, Oregon. The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition documents the new wave of modern female motorcyclists. The goal is to reveal the brave, courageous and beautiful women that live to ride.

source: http://womensmotoexhibit.com


What’s Your Take?

Is there an empowered feminism in the portrayal of the riders in the video? Or do you think that they’re just hipsters who don’t get a pass from being mocked simply because they have vaginas?


17 Replies to “Fact or Fiction: Empowering Women Motorcycle Riders”

  1. Perhaps it’s just my weird world perspective but this sort of crap always feels likes pandering to me. What makes this any more relevant than “empowered accounts who dare to ride!” or something equally irrelevant to the enjoyment of motorcycling?

    As for the women that participate in these videos and pictorials, it feels like genuine narcissism to me.

  2. Hmmm the last time I checked I was a ‘real woman’ and I was empowered before I even started riding. I don’t buy into the gearless squid motorcycle culture and for the film maker to intimate that this is how empowered real women ride is counterproductive to us all and I hope new upcoming female riders take this image with a grain of salt and figure out that riding gear is what real empowered women riders wear and stunting is not part of street riding. Hell I wear pearls and make-up when I am wearing gear. I could spot the new rider right away in the film and she had nothing protective on. I hope to god that none of them slide across the pavement in their get-ups. I think they need to be introduced to Brittany Morrow. I like you am a mom and I have an upcoming rider who is my daughter and I can honestly say if she rides in anything less than full gear she is going to get her butt kicked. I also like to think that I have empowered her and not just because she has a bike & comes from a family that rides. It’s attitude and values that empower us and make us real women. Just my middle aged 2 cents.

  3. Man, I don’t know. I admit interest in the arts, after all it’s fed me for a number of years, and as an art piece I find the film both compelling and smashing (pun intended) but misleading in the general representation of female motorcyclists. I know many “real” female riders and not ONE of them is compelled to ride without gear, not one. We all measure our risk, takes steps to protect ourselves and ride with care.

    All that said, I’m interested in seeing her art show. I know there will be some beautiful photographs, but I also know there will be plenty of “geared” up female riders that attend the viewing.

    Pandering…hmmm, maybe. But it seems more like catering to a certain aesthetic of riders that will always be a part of our demographic.

    Great post, btw!!

    1. I do agree – it is an art piece.

      I asked my husband who he thought the target audience of the video was. He said, “guys.”

      Clearly the photog was seeking out a very specific type of woman for this segment. It cannot be taken seriously as a representation of “THE” real women of motorcycling. It’s just a small segment of them.

  4. Nope, they don’t get a pass just because of their plumbing. Quite mockable. But they also seem like fun people, having a good time, doing what they want, and riding.
    It’s all good.

  5. I agree with Donna, it is a lovely art piece and very creative and for that aspect alone it would be worth seeing. But I think the majority of new & seasoned riders choose the gear route. I do find it a little pander-ish at the same time and it kind of feels like it feeds the old aesthetic of motorcycle image/culture and not the current reality of most female riders. I would hope that the artist would look at the rest of the female riding demographic who aren’t 20 something hipsters. I think you have to look at the women’s motorcycling community as a whole and there are some pretty fantastic diverse women who have been riding a long time and inspired generations of women to go for it. Riding is more than just about look and perceptions of what a real woman rider is and I think we are more than what this film portrays and have actually moved beyond this image eons ago.

  6. I dunno. When I think of “empowered” I think more about the kind of powerful women riders I’ve met; serious riders. “empowered” women rarely call themselves empowered. To tell you the truth, I would not be nearly the rider I am today had I not been fortunate enough to cross paths with some very accomplished female riders who taught me a great deal.


  7. “Empowered” women such as myself certainly don’t ride around in “Daisey Duke” shorts and crop tops. Even if I had the body for it I value my porcelain skin! The place for such skimpy wear is not advised or safe for road wear and serious riders of any gender!
    I get that sex sells but girls in bathing suits aren’t why women ride bikes.

  8. Great post Rachel! I find the photos more in line with what I personally consider “hipster art” and not exactly what I would consider as something empowering. There is always the debate about riders and motorcyclist. I consider myself a female motorcyclist who is serious about riding. What I find empowering is to meet and ride with like minded people (not just women) who value safety, who get on the road for what motorcycling (riding) does for them and not for how it appears or what image it creates. And I do hope I inspire young girls when they see me on my motorcycle, in full gear with a big smile and happy.

  9. When I saw Fuzzygalore tackling “empowering women” in my Twitter feed I knew this was something I wanted to read right away. So I did. Then I knew this was something I wanted to comment on right away. So I did.

    The problem was that my comment ended up being 800 words, so I made it in to its own post, here: http://www.youmotorcycle.com/empowering-women-on-motorcycles.html

    The skinny version? I’d like to think that as a culture, motorcyclists have progressed beyond the point where the mere sight of a woman riding is empowering to women and impressive to men. The motorcyclists who impress me are the ones who ride better, further, and faster than me, whether man or woman.

    A video of a bunch of guys riding doesn’t empower me as a man, I don’t think this video would empower me if I was a woman.

    Then again, who’s to say I know the first thing about women! 😀

  10. Rachel, I think she’s an astute business woman trying to flog her photography exhibit the old fashioned way – sell it with scantily clad women who look like risk takers, sexy – right?

    I think (just my own humble opinion) it sets motorcycling back, perpetuating a rather negative image of what kind of woman rides. When I tell people I ride, the first comment I always get is, “You don’t look like a motorcycle chick (babe, momma)” In my own opinion (again), those gals clearly look the part if you still think women need to be tough looking, tattoo covered, tank top wearing, motorcycle mommas. It’s an image I thought we had put to rest.

    I’ve ridden across the continent (and back) 3 times, once from the 49th parallel to the gulf, around the Great Lakes and up and down the East Coast of the US and Canada several times – I haven’t a single tattoo, you won’t find a single metal stud or piece of leather fringe on my ride and when I’m dressed for the road, unless you look very close you’d never know I was a woman.

    What empowers me is the feeling of strength and personal accomplishment when I return from the challenge of a 10,000 km solo ride.

  11. I agree with Donna–it’s an art piece. Unfortunately, some members of the general public may not realize that, and think it is an accurate representation. I’m a guy, but I know a few women who ride, and most of them are pretty serious about it; in the film, what I saw were women who seemed more interested in projecting an image (Hipster?) than in riding a motorcycle. Of course, lots of guys are like that, too…

  12. I’ve met the photographer and some of the women and worked on a couple of their bikes. They are just hipsters who lack literal balls as well as the figurative balls that all hipsters lack.

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