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Here comes the SS Pussycat: No boys allowed

Posted by on August 23rd, 2007 at 8:41 am

Action from the ’05 SS Pussycat.
(The guys are just volunteers.)
(Photo: Tori Bortman)

This Saturday’s SS Pussycat is a great opportunity for ladies and transgender cyclists to strut their stuff.

The event — which is strictly “no boys allowed” — is styled after alleycat races made popular by bicycle messengers. Participants will receive an “assignment” and then venture through the city, stopping at predetermined checkpoints along the way.

But unlike most alleycats, at the SS Pussycat the focus is on fun, not speed.

With a “get wet!” theme, this year’s event is The Fountain Ride and most of the stops are water-related. The course rolls through the inner eastside and takes place mostly downtown. A party will follow at the finish line in Sellwood Park.

PDOT, BTA bell giveaway on the Esplanade

When Bethany Berson is
behind an event, you know
it will be fun.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

Riders can choose to race for “speed or spirit” and women with children are encouraged to participate. Event organizers say, “Ladies, you are encouraged to wear a costume, bring water toys, tow your kids, ride with a friend, and otherwise express yourselves. MEOW!”

The ladies behind the event have lined up some awesome prizes including a frame-building workshop with Sacha White of Vanilla Bicycles, a professional bike fit, and tons of bike parts and other goodies.

To be part of the action, show up to Jamison Fountain (NW 11th and Johnson) at 12:00 this Saturday (8/25). You can learn all the details on this handy PDF of the official event flyer.

*Organizers could really use a few more volunteers. Either come to Jamison Fountain at 11:45 or email Tori Bortman at gracieswrench [at] gmail [dot] com .

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

39 Comments
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    da boyz August 23, 2007 at 9:03 am

    I wonder how It would go over to have a \”men only\” event. Probably get called sexist…

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    natallica August 23, 2007 at 9:15 am

    i\’m volunteering – looks like it\’s gonna be great fun! see ya there ladies!!

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    Austin Ramsland August 23, 2007 at 9:33 am

    For all you guys feeling left out, consider volunteering. I did it last year, and it was a complete blast!

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    N.I.K. August 23, 2007 at 9:44 am

    I wonder how It would go over to have a \”men only\” event. Probably get called sexist…

    The general assumption with these sorts of things is that most other events are largely dominated by men by default and thus a women-centric event is justified as it encourages more women to come out for things than might otherwise. The counter-argument to this is that exclusionary events are hypocritical and a successful shift could result in a reverse of the existing imbalance, but so far, the latter hasn\’t really happened on a broad enough scale to be taken as a serious concern.

    Best solution if you\’re worried about it? Be encouraging to people in general, just like you\’ve been doing all this time if your concern\’s genuine.

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    The Girls August 23, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Oh \”da boyz\”, so out of touch…

    Nothing wrong with women getting a little leg up considering it took forever for us to get the right to vote, work, leave the house on our own, marry the person of our choice, choose our own life style… and in some countries we\’re still stoned to death (\”honor killing\”, natch) for loving someone of a different religion, in some countries if we\’re raped we\’re tainting the family name and in this country we\’re still striving for equality in the work place and the right to socialize without fear of rape.

    So, da boyz, you think men need an all-boys alley cat? Seems to me they\’ve had an all-boys world for generations upon generations, isn\’t that enough?

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    gabrielamadeus August 23, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Please have an all boys alleycat. Be our guest. For some reason I think no one will show up.

    Having an all girls event is welcoming and will bring out folks who are otherwise hesitant. Having an all guys event is exclusive and absurd. Seems strange on paper, but that\’s just how it is.

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    Ramona Heights August 23, 2007 at 11:09 am

    The Girls-
    Equating a bike event to rape, stoning and voting rights? Jeebus! A little overly dramatic?

    gabrielamadeus –
    What if the \’otherwise hesitant\’ folks happen to be male?

    All female bike events are demeaning to women. Maybe the event should be billed for \’Novices only\’ or some such wording.

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    da boyz August 23, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Hypocracy is Hypocracy, no matter how you describe it on paper.

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    uzi August 23, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Real men realize that the world is tilted in their favor and don\’t bitch about all-women events.

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    bArbaroo August 23, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Ya know, I\’ve noticed that we (women) are different – haven\’t you? Why deny that? Why not celebrate that and if we choose to celebrate that by having a gender-specific event why ridicule us? We just want to have fun, not stopping you from having fun of your own making.

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    janis August 23, 2007 at 11:47 am

    A women\’s only event is not demeaning to women. It doesn\’t state that we are weak. Most women enjoy riding with other women plain and simple.

    How come other sports (soccer, Olympics, baseball, football, etc.) aren\’t considered sexist? Seems to me that it makes women look more determined…if there is a sport that is dominated by men and we want to be part of it we just start up our own. That shows strength.

    Ramona – not sure if you are male or female – but if you want to start something for novices then TAKE ACTION – action is more powerful than just verbally complaining – especially anonymously.

    ROCK ON WOMEN!!!

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    N.I.K. August 23, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Real men realize that the world is tilted in their favor and don\’t bitch about all-women events.

    Actually, real men have a wide variety of opinions, convictions, and points of view that may var widely between specific individuals -just like real women, real African Americans, real Muslims, real space aliens, or whatever other particular group you care to name.

    Attempting to figuratively emasculate da boyz because you disagree with his viewpoint? Well, that\’s embracing the idea that there\’s some unified definition of what behaviors a particular cross-section of people *all do* or *all should* subscribe to, which is stupid, especially considering what you\’re trying to shout him down for.

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    Bearhat August 23, 2007 at 11:57 am

    i\’ll be racing! quit yer whining and keep riding!

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    Dabby August 23, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Well,

    I had the great fortune of being the one to come up with the name for this Alleycat one day at bike polo, when Kerrie asked me what she should call it.

    I said \”SS Pussycat\” the SS standing for Super Sexy.

    Within moments we changed it to \”Slut Summer\” which is what stuck. ( A sweet name, by the way……)

    She threw it for the first couple of years I believe.

    I have had people try to tell me what \”SS\” stands for, and they have no clue.

    I encouraged this race, until it became quite biased.

    First and foremost, \”tow your kids\”.
    What if you have male children? Do you need to get a sitter?

    The first year or two, if you were a man, you simply needed to dress like a woman, do things at stops that emulated a woman, etc. Which included makeup wearing, etc at the stops. (I am not even kidding here)

    I challenge the people who are throwing next years Pussycat to bring it back to it\’s roots, and once again include everyone.

    There is no need for bias.
    There is no need for exclusion.
    And no need to be a seperatist.

    Why can\’t we all just have fun together?

    Luckily there is a alternative to the Pussycat, happening the same afternoon.

    EVERYONE regardless of sex is welcome.

    I hope you ladies have fun though!!!!

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    bArbaroo August 23, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks N.I.K. – I agree and my compliments on a well-stated, spot-on contribution to this dialogue.

    Stereo-typing and flinging insults – not cool.
    b

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    Diane August 23, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Y\’all should organize a TomCat event to be the all-male equivalent to the PussyCat.

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    da boyz August 23, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Dabby has (had) a much more inclusive plan, and actually sounds like more fun – without actually discriminating based on gender.

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    rixtir August 23, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    The Tour de France discriminates based on gender. In my view, SS Pussycat is less about discrimination and more about women creating a space for women in Portland bike culture. I don\’t have a problem with SS Pussycat being for women only; I do have a problem with the Tour de France being for men only. One is a fun event in a women-friendly space; the other bills itself as the world\’s premiere bike race.

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    SKiDmark August 23, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    All the sausage-fests in this city and people are upset about ONE woman-only event, which is likely the kind of event they wouldn\’t participate in, analleycat. You all should be ashamed.

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    Scout August 23, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    rixtir: I agree. What\’s funny, is there is a women\’s Tour de France, and (with apologies to the ladies who bust their asses in it), it always comes off to me as patronizing.

    Oh! Does some wittle girl wanna be taken seriously? How\’s about you ride a smaller, cuter version of the real ride, and we\’ll try really hard to see if we can get around to making it happen every year…

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    Scout August 23, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    That being said, I might just get off my big, lady-like butt and check out the SS Pussycat. I would probably never go to one otherwise, and this one sounded quite encouraging.

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    rixtir August 23, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Yep, Scout, exactly.

    If a rider can qualify for the TdF, why discriminate against her on the basis of her gender? Why create a second, lesser event for women?

    The entire pro peloton discriminates on the basis of gender, and as SKiDmark puts it so well, people are upset about ONE woman-only fun event in Portland.

    Please. Get real.

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    josh m August 23, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    Please try to remember, Ladies, the males of today had nothing to do with the suffering of women in the past, so please don\’t bring it up to them as if they\’re responsible. It\’s like someone complaining to me about slavery just because I am white.

    Second… If people would get off their asses and come out to alleycats, they\’d notice that there is one girl that isn\’t a messenger that usually comes out and places in the top 10(that is out of everyone).

    I had always heard of this alleycat, but I had heard of it as it was before, as Dabby mentioned.

    I agree with the first post. But I guess that makes my close minded and ignorant, as well as sexist, likely.

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    Dabby August 23, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    By the way, I only helped name it.

    Kerrie threw it. I helped worked a stop.

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    beth h August 23, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Ramona (# 7) wrote:

    \”All female bike events are demeaning to women. Maybe the event should be billed for \’Novices only\’ or some such wording.\”

    ******

    Um, wow.

    When I ride with men, I am often dropped. When I ride with mostly women I NEVER am, and in fact we all ride together and have a great time of it.

    I don\’t feel \”demeaned\” in the least when I ride with other women. Nor do I feel ashamed of being a Novice. Except for those who came screaming out of the womb on a racing bike, we were all once Novices. Some of us got fast, some of us didn\’t. So what?

    Thanks to the welcoming atmoshphere espoused in the literature and by friends in the know, I\’ll participate in this year\’s event, my first-ever alleycat. I\’m not riding to \”win\”, I\’m riding to have fun. THAT will be my prize.

    Cheers –BH

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    Scout August 23, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    Josh: I don\’t believe anyone here holds the men of today personally responsible for the wrongs of the past, and implying as much is dismissive on your part. I believe the point most people are trying to make is that women\’s only spaces are intended to encourage women who might otherwise not attend an event for a variety of different reasons, not the least of which is because they don\’t want to be the token woman in a room full of men.

    Personally, I was encouraged to be more \”lady-like\” while growing up, and though I was hardly forced into marriage or sold into slavery, there was an obvious disparity (and still remains in the lives of many women) between what I was allowed to do, and what my brothers got away with. Why be outside riding a bike when I could be inside helping my mom with the dishes? Why do sports at all when I could learn to cook and better hold onto a man?

    I won\’t bore you with the statistics of girls who are encouraged to participate in sports at a young age, or how they are less likely to get pregnant before high school ends. Nor are they likely be involved in an abusive relationship. The fact of the matter is that for many years prior to the day you decided you were an enlightened individual, things sucked for a lot of people. And simply because they may not have sucked in that way for you, is no reason for you to belittle people\’s attempts at making their lives better by no more than grand ideas and the power of positive thinking.

    I do not blame you or anyone else for sexism or racism. However, is it so much to ask that you not blame me for being bothered by its existence?

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    josh m August 24, 2007 at 3:32 am

    Scout,
    My comment was in response to this:

    \”Oh \”da boyz\”, so out of touch…

    Nothing wrong with women getting a little leg up considering it took forever for us to get the right to vote, work, leave the house on our own, marry the person of our choice, choose our own life style… and in some countries we\’re still stoned to death (\”honor killing\”, natch) for loving someone of a different religion, in some countries if we\’re raped we\’re tainting the family name and in this country we\’re still striving for equality in the work place and the right to socialize without fear of rape.

    So, da boyz, you think men need an all-boys alley cat? Seems to me they\’ve had an all-boys world for generations upon generations, isn\’t that enough?\”

    Especially the last little bit.
    It basically says to me that as a male I can never complain about being excluded from an event based on my gender because of stuff that has happened in the past.
    I don\’t agree with that.

    I don\’t blame you for being bothered by the existence of sexism or racism, but what does that have to do with someone questioning a gender exclusive event, when it\’s counterparts are not gender exclusive.

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    Scout August 24, 2007 at 7:47 am

    I guess I shouldn\’t complain about the fact that your second opinion is actually a bit more open-minded than the first one you wrote. Good thing this is a cycling website, though, because that was a truly amazing feat of back-pedaling.

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    Ramona Heights August 24, 2007 at 9:33 am

    Beth h (#25)

    \”When I ride with men, I am often dropped. When I ride with mostly women I NEVER am, and in fact we all ride together and have a great time of it.\”

    You\’re getting dropped because you\’re riding with faster, stronger riders who happen to be men. If you rode with some female racers you\’d get dropped then too. Maybe you should ride with people of similiar fitness levels, be they men or women. (I thought this was your idea behind SlugVelo). Excluding people by gender from what is supposed to be an event for \’fun\’ is not cool.
    Are we afraid that if men participate, that they\’ll win all the prizes, be mean, dominate the \’race\’? Jesus, it\’s not some Cat 1 Crit for big money.

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    SKiDmark August 24, 2007 at 9:46 am

    beth h, you are getting dropped because you are riding with a bunch of insensitive jocks. Go on a more \”fun\” oriented ride and be the breakaway.

    I think labeling this alleycat \”for novices\” would be an insult. There will likely be professional women (and transgendered) messengers there that can ride circles around \”novice\” riders.

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    SKiDmark August 24, 2007 at 9:48 am

    beth h, say HI to Bethany for me, please. Good luck racing. Alleycats are always great fun!

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    josh m August 24, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Uhm. I don\’t see how I back pedaled at all, please enlighten me.

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    jj August 24, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    I think we don\’t have official \”men only alley cats\” for parallel reasons why we don\’t have an official \”white history month.\”

    the pendulum of social history swings with extremes and I\’ll be a post-feminist in post-patriarchy. If I were not busy, I would be a volunteer and cheer my partner on.

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    amanda August 24, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    I really like this blog. The comments, though, almost always ruin the fun. \”Da Boyz\” is a troll, plain and simple. And due to that one comment, the floodgates for nasty commentary are open once again on a post. I think my favorite blogs are ones where commenting is seriously limited — people just can\’t behave themselves. Only posts where discussion is really warranted need discussion. Stuff like this just doesn\’t.

    I was like halfway excited about an all-girls alleycat and after reading these comments much less so. If you don\’t have anything nice to say….

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    Rob August 24, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    I hope the event is successful and everyone involved has a great time.

    That\’s it an\’ that\’s all.

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    N.I.K. August 24, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    I really like this blog. The comments, though, almost always ruin the fun. \”Da Boyz\” is a troll, plain and simple. And due to that one comment, the floodgates for nasty commentary are open once again on a post.

    1) If you dislike comments, why bother reading them? You\’re free to ignore them.

    2) Are you suggesting that the potential for posts opposing the point-of-view which you agree with is so great and irksome that it would be better not to offer the opportunity to express dissent or disagreement? While I do not entirely agree with da boyz\’s sentiment, and completely disagree with the manner in which his views were expressed, I\’d place more concern on somebody seemingly willing to agree to a condition upon which nobody is allowed to disagree.

    What makes bikeportland.org and many other blogs besides worthwhile isn\’t just the reporting, but the engaging community surrounding the posts – for good or for ill. If not for comments, I\’m fairly sure that this blog would have less of an audience and thus less of an impact.

    Griping about signal-to-noise ratio? Okay, I can see that. But complaining about topical posts, however seeming-troll or inarticulately phrased? That\’s being pissed because someone else doesn\’t subscribe to the same views as you, and about three steps removed from bowing-out of a public forum altogether and calling upon a particular mandate to dictate the behavior of all…quite alarmist if you ask me.

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    half pint August 25, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    i volunteered, and the event was great
    bethany did a wonderful job, i heard nothing but compliments and the fun people had…and yeah! to all the riders, there were quite a few

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    Bethany August 26, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    It was a very fun day. Natalie Ramsland of Sweetpea Bicycles took first place in the speed category. Congratulations, Natalie!

    I\’m sorry that some people felt left out.

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    Rachel Red Riding Hood August 26, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    Hey Bethany and all – Fantastic job!

    Heres some pics.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/96761775@N00/sets/72157601682576523/

    It was super fun to photograph! But I\’ll be riding next year!

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