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Friday Cartoon: A woman walks into a shop…

Posted by on January 15th, 2010 at 9:04 pm

[Note from Publisher: Sorry this week’s cartoon comes out a bit late. Enjoy the weekend! — Jonathan]

Illustration by Mark Markovich/markoart.net
Concept and writing by Jonathan Maus

– Larger version here (250kb, JPG)
– Related story: Editorial: My year as a woman in a city of bikes
– Browse more cartoons here.

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

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Jonathan Maus
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New blog post: Friday Cartoon: A woman walks into a shop… http://bikeportland.org/2010/01/15/friday-cartoon-a-woman-walks-into-a-shop/

Jonathan Maus
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New blog post: Friday Cartoon: A woman walks into a shop… http://bikeportland.org/2010/01/15/friday-cartoon-a-woman-walks-into-a-shop/

Jonathan Maus
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New blog post: Friday Cartoon: A woman walks into a shop… http://bikeportland.org/2010/01/15/friday-cartoon-a-woman-walks-into-a-shop/

PDX Bike
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RT @BikePortland: New blog post: Friday Cartoon: A woman walks into a shop… http://bikeportland.org/2010/01/15/friday-cartoon-a-woman-

PDX Bike
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RT @BikePortland: New blog post: Friday Cartoon: A woman walks into a shop… http://bikeportland.org/2010/01/15/friday-cartoon-a-woman-

PDX Bike
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RT @BikePortland: New blog post: Friday Cartoon: A woman walks into a shop… http://bikeportland.org/2010/01/15/friday-cartoon-a-woman-

Cycle Blogs
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Bike Portland: Friday Cartoon: A woman walks into a shop…: [Note from Publisher: Sorry this week's cartoon comes o… http://bit.ly/5Jb6I8

Cycle Blogs
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Bike Portland: Friday Cartoon: A woman walks into a shop…: [Note from Publisher: Sorry this week's cartoon comes o… http://bit.ly/5Jb6I8

steve-o
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steve-o

I read Elly’s account of the patronizing attitude she encountered at bike shops or other cyclists on account of her sex with great disappointment. I thought the bikey-culture was supposed to be progressive. Sections at bike stores devoted to pink cruisers seem more “Mad Men” than Portland. Women cyclists should not lose hope at ingrained sexist attitudes. Already, women such as Mia Birk and Michelle Poyourow have played crucial roles with transforming Portland into a cycling Mecca. Bad habits die hard, and likewise, sexism can’t die soon enough. As a male newcomer to the Portland last year, I am highly indebted to a few women who introduced me to bike scene.

Peter Smith
Guest
Peter Smith

love the cartoon! this alone, put up in shop common areas, would be a great idea.

Brad
Guest
Brad

Sure, but why do commuter bikes all have to be set up the same way? Come to think of it, that is more or less the description of three of my bikes. I’m a rolling caricature! Argh. Perhaps I need the pink cruiser, just to get over myself.

morgan scott
Guest

LOL. really!

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

As the potential customer for a Pashley Princess–complete with basket–I’d just like to say: let’s not throw the girly bike out with the sexism.

The Portland bike scene, in my opinion, needs more of the former at the same time as it works on getting less of the latter.

Lauren
Guest
Lauren

Anne: A girl bike isn’t necessarily a cruiser! Your Pashley isn’t a cruiser, it’s an upright bike.

No offense, it’s just a pet peeve of mine when people confuse any bike that makes you sit upright, with a cruiser.

joey
Guest
joey

Seriously, where is a good shop to get that stuff?

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

And let’s not forget the 30 inch wide handlebars…and sure, flip-flops with flat pedals are just fine for commuting.

ButThatHappened
Guest
ButThatHappened

And the sad thing is…that really happened to me including…”and it comes in pink.” (OK, I wasn’t asking for the same set of components, but….).

Needless to say, that shop no longer gets my business (and, my wallet knows, I do spend a healthy amount each year on my habit.

Shetha
Guest
Shetha

Reminds me of the time I asked if a bike shop carried child seats, and they responded “Oh, kid killers?, nah, they’ve been outlawed in 10 states!”

1mattcartoon
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BikePortland.org » Blog Archive » Friday Cartoon: A woman walks … http://bit.ly/4JWuyf

1mattcartoon
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BikePortland.org » Blog Archive » Friday Cartoon: A woman walks … http://bit.ly/4JWuyf

Anne Hawley
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Anne Hawley

@Lauren #6 I guess what I’m groping to communicate on this forum is that I ride a bike every single day in Portland, I’m part of the community, and I get the terminology wrong because I don’t care about it. And I don’t really care about it because it’s kind of irrelevant to me.

BikePortland isn’t the only community I’ve found that seems to want to be inclusive, and says they’re advocating for more bike ridership in Portland, while unconsciously dismissing bike-riders like me.

I’m just trying to make it conscious.

suburban
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suburban

Real men wear pink

True Blood Sucker
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BikePortland.org » Blog Archive » Friday Cartoon: A woman walks …: steve-o. January 15th, 2010 22:11. 1. I read … http://bit.ly/5Jb6I8

True Blood Sucker
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BikePortland.org » Blog Archive » Friday Cartoon: A woman walks …: steve-o. January 15th, 2010 22:11. 1. I read … http://bit.ly/5Jb6I8

jj
Guest
jj

Actually Anne, in your defense, I don’t see that you got the terminology wrong – you never actually called the Pashley a cruiser, just a girly bike, which it certainly is. And a lovely wonderful girly bike at that. 🙂

Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief)
Guest

Anne Hawley in comment #11 wrote:

“BikePortland isn’t the only community I’ve found that seems to want to be inclusive, and says they’re advocating for more bike ridership in Portland, while unconsciously dismissing bike-riders like me.”

Anne,

I would really like to know why it is that you feel Bikeportland is “unconsciously dismissing” folks like yourself?

We try to present a diverse array of stories and perspectives here. Not everything appeals to everyone, but I think “dismissing” is a pretty strong word and I’d like to know more about why you feel that way (besides this one comic, which I agree is something that may not relate to people who don’t know what all those brand names and parts are).

Thanks.

are
Guest

comment 10, if you are talking about those shells that sit on a rack behind the stoker, i will acknowledge that in a shop i used to work in we called those child killers, and while they may not have been outlawed in ten (or any) states, i would not and did not recommend them to customers. nothing to do with sexism, has to do with killing children.

cold worker
Guest
cold worker

Lisa: I propose to you that your heir not need be a boy. In this phallocentric society of ours–
Mr. Burns: I don’t know what phallocentric means, but no girls!

DREW
Guest
DREW

Go buddy,

Throw that middle finger up to your sponsors.

John Reinhold
Guest
John Reinhold

My wife bought her bike because it was a black cruiser with pink flames and pink tires and has tassels. I am not sure what this cartoon says about her…

JH
Guest
JH

Pretty typical of the PDX shop experience, some guy behind the counter who already knows everything and has all the answers, regardless of the needs and want’s of the customer! This cartoon hit the nail on the head!

noah
Guest
noah

If this comic is trying to speak to a gender discrimination issue, I am not sure it really puts it on the page. I didn’t understand it on that level until I read Elly’s story, afterwards.

It is entertaining, however; and for me it evokes pleasant Simpsons memories:

Homer: Welcome to the Internet, my friend. How can I help you?
Comic Book Guy: I’m interested in upgrading my 28.8 kilobaud Internet connection to a 1.5 megabit fiber optic T1 line. Will you be able to provide an IP router that’s compatible with my token ring Ethernet LAN configuration?
Homer: Can I have some money now?

tbird
Guest
tbird

JM- at the risk of veering too far OT; I do somewhat agree with Anne, although I don’t think it is bikeportland.org proper as much as the COMMENTERS on BP. I won’t name names, because we are all guilty of it in one way or another.

Good comment Anne.

tbird
Guest
tbird

Oh, and heck yeah real men wear pink.
😉

Vance Longwell
Guest

Why is the worker here being depicted as a male and the customer a female? I see about 66/33 split IRL myself, and it inches closer to 50/50 everyday.

This isn’t reality. It’s just a set-up, entrapment if you will. Do the women here only experience these things when they’re across the counter from a guy? And it’s discrimination, right, not one of about an infinite number of things, it’s discrimination definitely? You’re positive on this, I mean no proof, no nothing, just some circumstantial evidence, and a cherry-picked scenario?

I am under the impression that the so-called ‘women’ sections of bicycle retailers are a market response, and not the other way around. Maybe this ‘toon dude has serviced thousands of female customers and they uniformly purchased the items he is recommending? If so, he made a mistake in judgment, which is hardly discrimination.

I am routinely discriminated against as a man in bike-stores these days. If that’s what we’re calling rude, under-qualified help now. Just the other day I had a young girl get huffy with me over a wheel repair. I asked for a service that she did not know about, became insecure and defensive about it, and proceeded to be a jerk. Why make a gender issue out of crap like that? It could also be one giant-sized chip on your girl-shoulder, personal experience here, that elicits sexist behavior, you know?

The assumption this ‘toon makes is that men only do this to women, isn’t that sexist? If you speak to, “pervasive”, I’m gonna require some citations, be for-warned. (Otherwise it’s just too pat.) This ‘toon demeans a certain riding style too, and implies that if you wish to be taken seriously that you have to ride a certain type of bicycle. Since men and women tend to ride different kinds of bicycles, isn’t this sexist?

Much like hair-styles, face-make-up, plastic-surgery and the rest, this is all up to you women. Guys don’t have anything to do with it. You like to blame it on us, but it’s completely arbitrary, throw-back left-over culture kind of stuff from the caves. Not too sinister that. It’s not like we can physically force you to continue/stop behaving this way; ergo, you do it to yourselves. If you would like to see less pink bikes, by all means, feel free to stop buying them.

Whatever. The bottom-line is this is yet another media piece inadvertently casting dispersions onto an entire sex. That’s not sexist, no. Only when it is a woman who is the victim is it sexist, what WAS I thinking?

I get so tired of this. I notice the dude ‘toon is depicted as white too. Yup, no black or brown men in cycling. Only a white guy would be sexist. Plz, grow-up.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Thanks for responding, Jonathan.

Your blog is absolutely some of the best topic-specific journalism I see anywhere, and I should have been more careful in my earlier statement.

Yes, you do cover all kinds of bike issues without prejudice. My impression of selectivity comes from the comments–from the community of cyclist-readers that seems to be proportionately like the community of cyclists in general (not surprisingly)–people who’ve been riding a long time and take justifiable pride in knowing bikes inside and out. The women in this group, equally justifiably, are annoyed to be treated in bike shops as if they couldn’t possibly have all that knowledge and ability.

I see myself as being passionately interested in bike-riding and its implications for my health, the city, and the environment, without one iota of interest in competing, racing, joining group rides, fixing my own bike, or naming its parts. I’m convinced that that huge, elusive 40% of people who “might ride, if…” contains a bunch of people like me for whom not safety, but a sense of ineligibility to join the club, is the first big “if”.

Certain comment conversations here–notably this one, the one following Elly Blue’s article the other day about being a woman cyclist in Portland, and that one last year featuring the pretty young woman in a dress–have actually helped me articulate my perspective.

I may continue to express it (and make it clearer) in comments here, because I can’t imagine a better forum. Thanks for being open to it.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Derailleur of any stripe is the absolutely worst thing anyone can put on a commuter bike. Cannot even shift when stopped!

That woman needs serious advice–try the new Sturmey 3-speed fixed hub. Failing that, try the Shimano Alfine group set. Includes a nifty dyno hub.

She will be much happier!

Mark Young
Guest

@ Vance Longwell

What makes you so sure that the guy in the cartoon is white? He appears white because the comic is in black and white. When I was drawing him I felt that he was Indian (and 1/4 Irish) with white hair. Perhaps I should have put a dot on his forehead to be more clear, but then you would probably call me a bigot.

N.I.K.
Guest
N.I.K.

I see myself as being passionately interested in bike-riding and its implications for my health, the city, and the environment, without one iota of interest in competing, racing, joining group rides, fixing my own bike, or naming its parts. I’m convinced that that huge, elusive 40% of people who “might ride, if…” contains a bunch of people like me for whom not safety, but a sense of ineligibility to join the club, is the first big “if”.

Anne, I think it’s a fine approach. As a shop employee, I draw a line between a) the person who just doesn’t want to know everything and b) the person who gets angry when they realize they’ve destroyed their bike through negligence. The latter camp’s obviously irrational and there’s nothing much I can do for them apart from give them a quote for service – it sucks, but it’s the best I can do to help them. I don’t take any pleasure in seeing someone discourage themselves from riding their bike. (The “surly mechanic” stereotype, which is sadly justified, baffles me.)

The former camp, where it sounds as though you fit, is where it gets tricky, because there are some critical issues which aren’t always obvious, but the employee also needs to avoid being presumptuous about the customer’s existing knowledge and interests. There are a few things that might get viewed from the angle of “I don’t need your conventional cycling wisdom, it’s freakin’ subjective and a matter of opinion!” – stuff like saddle height, foot position on the pedals, gearing, and so on. In any case where I perceive that a person might be hurting their bike or (worse still) themselves, I have to speak up, because my function as a bike shop employee is to keep people riding and enjoying it. This comes down to the employee having to provide unsolicited advice without trying to sound pushy or dominant.

I always try to first ask questions regarding a given subject so that I sound more conversational than accusative. If the response fits my observations, I continue with a few further questions, and try to suss out if making a recommendation is advised. Anything subsequently suggested is presented on the physical basis for the “right” way of doing something, rather than “so here’s what the pros do!”, and with the caveat that there are variable factors that might result in a different experience for the individual customer. Not everything is in fact that subjective (cross chaining *is* bad, wheel truing *is* important, and so on), but presenting it in this way tends to cut down on perceived hostility substantially. My goal is to promote a better cycling experience without providing the experience of being dominated.

I know how my customers usually take this in person, but I’m curious to know your take on the process. Does it sound effective, reasonable, fair, unfair, domineering, or…? Thanks in advance for your input.

Elly Blue (Columnist)
Member

I rallied for the guy to have “bike industry” written on his shirt, but such heavy-handedness was shot down. In my mind, this one’s a capitalist parable about the failure of the industry to understand one of its fastest-growing markets. It seems equally true from comments here that the industry also doesn’t get that guys like pink and any number of other data about people who bike for transportation. That’s free consulting, y’all.

Anne Hawley, I hope you keep telling it like it is. Gets me thinking we should do a story about bicycling and size. Want to get in touch with me via email (elly at bikeportland dot org) and share your thoughts?

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

Thanks Vance. Once in a while a moment of sanity is needed in this knee-jerk forum, and you provided it.

mindmochi
Guest
mindmochi

Vance-look up MRA-there’s a picture of you there, talk about stereotypes. What about the menz?! Try unpacking the privilege for an easier ride

Dan
Guest
Dan

What’s a “canti brake lever”?

N.I.K.
Guest
N.I.K.

Dan: they’re brake levers made to supply the right amount of mechanical advantage for traditional cantilever brakes, as opposed to direct-pull/linear-pull cantilever brakes. Note that “right” here isn’t meant in the marketing sense that, say, a certain manufacturer might use when they talk about using only their chains with their products – we’re talking a difference substantial enough to where things work somewhere between bad and dangerous-crappy if you use the wrong levers with the wrong brakes.

N.I.K.
Guest
N.I.K.

mindmochi – Try addressing Vance’s statements with specific criticism in lieu of caricature for a more potentially productive dialog. Please?

Rich Wilson
Guest
Rich Wilson

@Vance:

I was once in one of those shops with autographed jerseys all over the wall and $5K bikes on the floor. I wanted a part, and when my hairy legs asked for something a little better (and more expensive) than what was offered, the 20-something white guy said “It doesn’t matter, you won’t be winning the Tour de France”. No shit. And neither will any of your other customers.

That doesn’t change the fact that sexism still exists.

N.I.K.
Guest
N.I.K.

Vance – Under-trained staff (PLEASE don’t call staff “help” – historical implications aside, we’re more than “help” -in bike shops, we make it all go!) is different from some old-timer who’s been behind the counter for years and years and has his preconceived notions about what what a particular customer is going to want. He might be under-trained too, but there’s a huge difference between “I don’t know” and “I know what you want”. A mistake in judgement would be more along the lines of “I’ve inferred the wrong conclusion from your statements”, whereas what’s being addressed in the cartoon is “I don’t need to listen to what you say you want because I already know”. It’s not just that it’s a woman coming into the shop that makes the “pink basket cruiser” leap ludicrous, it’s that she told dude what she wants outright and it couldn’t get much different from what he suggested.

Thinking about that scenario makes me feel crappy because I’m a dude who works in a bike shop, but on the other hand, I’ve got too many female acquaintances who have experienced almost exactly the same type of crap – stuff like “I want this type of brake lever” getting met with three different (and incorrect) excuses at three different shops, to the point where the woman in question got so fed up she let the last place sell her the wrong thing amid her seething anger and frustration, and I’d *never* known her to get that confused and angry in the face of difficulty otherwise.

The only sexism I’ve ever witnessed negatively affecting men in bike shops has been as follows:
-Man gets ignored by staff fawning over attractive woman shopping/needing service.
-Man gets ignored by staff fawning over his attractive wife/girlfriend/female acquaintance.
-Woman customer who has been given the run-around one too many times by bike shop dude behaves aggressively/treats unsuspecting friendly male staff with heavy suspicion.

The latter is the only case I’ve witnessed (read: experienced) where the woman is making an inappropriate assumption about a man. I try to put up with it because (I think) I understand where those notions are coming from – negative experiences. I don’t get it crazily-often, but when I do, it’s massively uncomfortable, and my only hope is that I do well enough to where I might present a better experience that I can only hope feels a bit less condescending and demeaningggg.

All that aside, I do think there are indeed some valid things to say about negative stereotypes of men. But I don’t think they necessarily apply here. The cartoon might make me angry if I were an older, balding, beard-sporting bike shop guy, but then on the other hand, if that *were* me, I’d probably look at it like, “Man, I’ve seen this crap happen a ton over a couple decades” instead of my current “I’ve seen this crap happen so much over a few years”. Elly’s proposed “bike industry” labeling may actually have been a cleaner approach. Then again, suggesting the industry is a balding bespectacled beardo would no doubt be a disservice to good people in the industry and 3B-ers alike, so who knows. 🙂

N.I.K.
Guest
N.I.K.

Er, make that “good people not befitting that description”. Eggshells and mine fields here, folks… 🙁

N.I.K.
Guest
N.I.K.

Rich – Saliently stated! Wish I could’ve been as concise.

What I can’t believe with anecdotes like yours (and I mean “I totally believe it”) is that someone at a bike shop skimps out on offering the customer the proper selection of in-stock parts, the customer says “I’m willing to spend more on it than that”, and the employee doesn’t go for it…just completely slam-my-head-on-the-desk there. Presenting an opinion like “I don’t personally think it’s worth it” is cool, a churlish remark and refusal to at least show the available item is not. I hope you didn’t go back there.

matthew v
Guest
matthew v

real men ride pink bikes. and we try not to take life too seriously….