The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Quick complaint, quick action: Bike shop and customer show how to fight everyday sexism

Posted by on August 11th, 2014 at 11:58 am

Update 8/12: The bike shop in question has shared a brief statement about their response. See below.

Here’s a brief online exchange from Saturday afternoon that shows what it looks like when people come together to marginalize a sexist comment from a bike shop employee.

So, to recap: A bike shop’s customer saw something wrong, and said something (in this case digitally); the customer’s friend publicly notified the shop about it; and the shop pledged to take action right away. Without wading further into the details of this incident, it’s safe to say that this is basically how change happens. Nice work, team.

Update 8/12: In an email to BikePortland Tuesday, Citybikes’ Sexual Harassment Subcommittee writes, “Citybikes is conducting an internal investigation. It is our policy not to reveal the details of this process. We take this very seriously and are working to resolve this issue promptly.”

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. Thank you β€” Jonathan

  • carlos August 11, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    IMO, CB is the worst bike shop in town. Smug, unfriendly and completely unhelpful staff. I’ve given this shop the benefit of the doubt many times, but now I go out of my way to avoid shopping here.

    Again, just my opinion.

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    • Todd Hudson August 11, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      I have experienced the same. I sometimes wonder if they hired primarily based on experience or how edgy and hipster the applicant looks.

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    • spare_wheel August 11, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      I don’t know how many times I’ve had workers at citibikes drop what they were doing and help with a problem on the spot. It’s my go to spot for help with a stuck part or an uncooperative internal cable change.

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    • shirtsoff August 11, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      I’ve had quick, friendly service at CitiBikes. From talking to several people I have heard one person echo the sentiments being aired here presently. I’m not sure why there is a difference in experiences.. I just want to throw in my experience here least perception is characterized only by negative perceptions. Cheers to the co-op for taking the Twitter comment seriously and promising to work on it immediately.

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    • Mindful Cyclist August 11, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      I have to agree with spare_wheel on this. More than once, I have had a worker drop what s/he is doing to help me out when I was in a pinch. More than once they did it for free as well.

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  • Anne Hawley
    Anne Hawley August 11, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    A fairly egregious (and really offensive) instance of bike-shop sexism, to be sure, and I’m happy to think they’re “taking steps”.

    But Inappropriate speech like that is only the surface problem. Tell the guy to stop saying things like that – even fire him – and if the culture that made it seem okay in the first place isn’t altered, women customers are likely to continue feeling unwelcome in that store. Only now, it will be less obvious and harder to tweet specifically about. It’ll be just a “feeling”.

    It’s the feeling that I’ve had in several large local bike shops, and it’s the reason why I will never, ever return. They don’t want my business, and that’s fine. Not all bike shops are for all people. But systematically and silently driving half your potential business away does seem kind of dumb.

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  • davemess August 11, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Odd part is that most times I’ve gone in CityBikes (the main one, not Annex), it’s been mostly women working there.

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  • esther August 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    When I bought my bike at CB 10-11 years ago, I went in and picked it out, then had to wait for it to be finished being overhauled. When I went back to pick it up (after several attempts where it was not actually completed despite being told it would be…but bad customer service is another story) my boyfriend at the time happened to be with me. The (male) mechanic was going over the bike with me and pointed out the brake quick releases to me, then turned to my bf and said “you can explain to her how quick releases work, right?” It was so egregious and I sputtered out “I know what a quick release is!”

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    • esther August 11, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Oops, accidentally hit the post button. That was definitely the most egregious bike shop sexism I’ve experienced. That said, I have gone back since, there are a few people I have liked and a few I haven’t for various customer service reasons, and I generally avoid them now for that reason. I have always had great service at Metropolis and Velocult, have not encountered mechanics who assume I Dont know nuthin about no bicycles. But of course other people may have not had that experience, so I speak only for myself. And of course I Dont think either employs as many women as CB.

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    • Robert August 11, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      This is real sexism, thanks for sharing. It’s useful to know it that it happens. But what the original article is about … I’d call ‘hostile environment’, just maybe. But sexism? No way.

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  • Jason August 11, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    The unfortunate truth is that this is commonplace. As a bikeshop employee it boils down to how you allow your coworkers to communicate inter-personally as well as publicly. I wouldn’t delve out “congratulations” on behalf of a 140 character apology that is broad and non-specific so quickly.

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  • pixelgate August 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Sometimes this town is too politically correct for its own good. How would the worker’s comment offend anyone? What’s the stereotype here? Guy finds girl attractive, says something about it.. seriously, what’s the big deal? You can’t even crack jokes with friends anymore because an overly sensitive bystander may hear it and find it outrageously offensive and “threatening”. I give up on you Portland… far too emo.

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    • TonyJ August 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      If you frame this as just two friends making a comment and a bystander overhearing it, being offended, and tweeting about it, sure call the PC police.

      That’s not quite the situation though, is it? These are two employees making a comment in their workplace in front of a customer. Nearly any workplace with a sexual harassment policy would frown on such a comment. It doesn’t take much empathy from a man (which I’ll assume you are) to see how a woman hearing that comment might find it inappropriate. If you can’t it’s not really my place to try to school you.

      I wasn’t going to comment here, but I got a bit disheartened by the number of up-votes this had.

      It’s not hard to be a decent human being, at least at work and in public.

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      • wsbob August 11, 2014 at 6:53 pm

        Sounds like the kind of thing some some guys, or gals, tell as jokes amongst themselves. In many business situations, definitely not the kind of thing to be said in hearing range of customers whose likelihood of being comfortable with that kind of thing isn’t known.

        Some people, in saying things like this, don’t really mean anything more than a light hearted jibe, but with others, the intent may not be so harmless.

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        • KristenT August 13, 2014 at 10:18 am

          All employee handbooks I’ve seen (and I’ve reviewed quite a number in the course of my job, for clients as well as internally) have specific language regarding sexual harassment and inappropriate language, especially in front of customers.

          The policies should have specific repercussions for violation, up to and including termination.

          If I had been the manager in this situation, the employee would have been written up for violating the policy. Good customer service is paramount, and if you have employees making your customers and potential customers stay away, then you need to get rid of those employees– or send them to specific training, and terminate if they can’t get it.

          It doesn’t matter if they’re joking amongst themselves and the clients overhear– if they’re doing it on work time, on the work premises, around customers, it’s not acceptable behavior.

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    • Mindful Cyclist August 11, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      What’s the big deal?

      Let’s see….
      *because women make less doing the same job as men.
      *because women have to security walk them across a college campus at night and men don’t.
      *because women that have casual sex are labeled as “sluts” and men that do the same things are “studs.”
      *because if a woman gets a job, it is assumed it was only because of affirmative action.

      Should I continue?

      Saying things in private among friends that are crude in nature are going to happen. But, saying them in public where others can hear is just bad customer service and not just something fox news reporters like to label as PC. And I am glad that City Bikes understands this is not acceptable.

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      • Robert August 11, 2014 at 6:08 pm

        And how are any of those items (of questionable truth) relevant? You haven’t said.

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        • Opus the Poet August 11, 2014 at 6:31 pm

          I don’t know that any of the items are “questionable”. I have been site security and been asked to help women get to their cars undisturbed. I have been in situations where qualified women who beat out men were accused of getting affirmative action. I have “been there” when women who “have sex outside marriage” are called sluts (remember Sandra Fluke?). I have seen my mother take home less than people she supervised… Want more?

          And they are relevant because we live in a sexist society. Compared to some we are pretty good, but by absolute standards even our “enlightened” culture is horribly sexist. As was pointed out in the article above.

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      • PleaseContinue August 12, 2014 at 10:59 am

        Please do continue because it sounds like you are still living in 1995.

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        • Mindful Cyclist August 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm

          *because women have to testify in Congress to have birth control pills covered in the Affordable care act and men did not have to with ED pills.
          *because the SCOTUS said it was okay for Hobby Lobby to object to covering birth control pills and made no mention of ED pills.

          Are those two 21st century enough for you?

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          • PleaseContinue August 14, 2014 at 10:18 am

            I believe you have tossed out many irrelevant conclusions. We agree that such a comment shouldn’t be made in the workplace but we don’t agree as to why it matters. The main complaint of sexism here is that he objectified the woman. Why that matters; we do not agree on.

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    • BIKELEPTIC August 11, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      It’s basic customer service and employee protocol to hold a certain level of professionalism when on the job. Especially in a retail environment. That includes making comments about customers, talking about other co-workers/management/product line or the company negatively, etc. Besides sexual harassment and creating a hostile environment for not only women, but making it uncomfortable in general, it shows a complete lack of decorum and professionalism.

      This has nothing to do with “Portland’s political correctiveness.” Though passive-aggressive comments do.

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      • GlowBoy August 11, 2014 at 8:37 pm

        It’s not sexism, it’s harassment. Making the comment in front of ANYone – employee or customer – who doesn’t share the same lascivious feelings is a form of harassment, and would get you in deep sh1t at a lot of companies where I’ve worked. Saying it in front of a customer is downright unprofessional, as bikeleptic has pointed out, and reflects poorly on the shop.

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  • CaptainKarma August 11, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I’m far more worried about being shot by a cop for no good reason (like his/her misperception of my attitude, ethnicity, or mental health) than I am about bike shop customer service. I will give a bike shop ten tries before I decide if they are worthy of my continued patronage. Especially independents & co-ops.

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  • shuppatsu August 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Crass, yes. Sexist? Depends on your definition of sexism and your feelings about casual objectification. Offensive? If the genders were reversed, I would not be offended. But I recognize that’s not the appropriate test. I’m not sure what would be though.

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    • Robert August 11, 2014 at 8:19 pm

      “Depends on your definition of sexism”

      So I guess there’s no use discussing it; sad. I’d prefer to just look in a dictionary for what “sexism” means.

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      • shuppatsu August 12, 2014 at 11:15 am

        I think you misunderstood what I was getting at. I like discussion, particularly on this topic that i find fascinating and most certainly do not feel like i have all the answers. My point is that everybody jumps to whether somebody or thing was sexist without any agreement on what sexism is. Or even without agreement, what sexism means to them.

        Dictionary definitions are not very useful. Take, for instance, Google’s definition: “Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.” Under that definition, the worker’s comment was not sexist at all. But that definition is far too simplistic.

        My personal take was that the comment did not seem sexist to me, but I hoped I was clear that that viewpoint was couched in privilege.

        And yes, one can talk about sex in an offensive manner–and in the context of a bike shop, talking about sex is almost always inappropriate–without being sexist.

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  • Jim Lee August 11, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    I was raised with 3 older sisters and have no idea how to fight sexism.

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  • J4son August 11, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Certainly there were a lot more nuances than the Twitter comment described, but given there were not any further egregious comments or actions the hashtags should have been #whitepeopleproblems and #thinskin.

    This just proves that the show Portlandia is a documentary not a parody.

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    • TonyJ August 11, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      Certainly? Nuances? Like what? I get that this isn’t a capital crime,but there’s this much defense of this behavior? Is this reddit?

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      • J4son August 11, 2014 at 7:13 pm

        1. Sorry. Edit: Most Likely.
        2. Yes. Everyday life has them, everyday.
        3. I was not present at the scene, so I will not speculate.
        4. Apparently.
        5. No.

        That was a lot of questions Tony. But unfortunately sexual desire between strangers is ONLY about objectification. My sincerest apologies if this is an uncomfortable truth for you, but it does not dilute the fact.

        However, if OTHER unmentioned “nuances” were involved, and not just a comment between co-workers was made . . . then MAYBE you could say it was crass, and unprofessional to make the comment. Sexist, maybe . . . everyday life in the animal kingdom (which we are all a part of), yes.

        **This applies to all except for those special humans that think God, Yahweh, or Allah created Earth and humans in six 24 hour days, and that humans have some special consciousness that precludes us from the rules of nature**

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  • Tee August 11, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I have only had a couple bad experiences at one specific local shop, but am not sure if it was sales style or sexism…it did get better when I went back with my boyfriend who is a good cyclist (and looks the part). For what it’s worth, the Woodstock bike gallery and Lakeside both always have great customer service. No sexism there.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu August 11, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    CityBikes is a good shop. Fair labor rates, good mechanics, reasonable prices, useful bins of used parts. I’ve had quite a few repairs done there and always had good results. They focus on the commuter and everyday cyclist, and don’t look down on any bike or rider, they aren’t snobs. If you’re trying to keep a bike running without a lot of cash in pocket, they don’t blow you off.

    The way the City Bikes shops are set up, all the mechanics are not just working on bikes, but also customer-facing. This can occasionally be a challenge. Mechanics don’t necessarily have the people skills to match their mechanic skills; many do, a few don’t. I’m not singling out City Bikes or even bike mechanics here, it is true for other jobs often done in the back room as opposed to the front room. Think auto mechanics vs auto salesmen, cooks vs waiters. So sometimes a mechanic who starts working on the front side of the house has to learn the customer-facing, people skill side of things, what is and isn’t appropriate humor, what should be spoken or not.

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    • KristenT August 13, 2014 at 10:26 am

      Then the employer has the responsibility to make sure his mechanics are also trained in customer service skills. Unless they change the set-up so the mechanics don’t need to interact much with customers.

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    • pengo August 13, 2014 at 10:37 pm

      Former mechanic here. While certainly popular, the “rough around the edges” thing is hardly a defense. Sure a lot of techs can get pretty crude at times but doing so in front of the public is a failure to follow even the most basic standards of professionalism. I’d consider someone who can’t understand this or feels the need to buck against it to be actively harmful to my business and honestly kind of dumb. I also can’t think of a shop I’ve been in where service techs aren’t expected to interact with the public. In my experience it has worked out better to hire someone with people skills whose wrenching needs some refinement than the mechanical wizard who’s essentially a troglodyte.

      Whether it’s sexist or not will be apparently debated forever (if I round up two women who think it is sexist do I cancel out Mike Quiglery’s wife further down in the comments and take the win?), and ha-ha something something Portlandia, but the comment is easily grounds for discipline up to and including termination without even getting into any of that.

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  • Suburban August 11, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Perhaps the bike shop employee, when using the word “service” meant to sexually pleasure or consentually impregnate.

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  • Drew August 11, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    I worked at CB several years ago, both locations. Never heard that kind of talk in either shop. They do go out of their way to hire women and may pass up a guy with experience to train a woman with aptitude.

    One employee or isolated incident can have a huge effect on an individuals perception of a bike shop. This kind of thing can happen anywhere.

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  • carlos August 11, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    I think my original post got the comment section off track. This article is about sexism in bike shops, not our personal opinions of these shops. Apologies for the rant.

    It’s more important to concentrate on how this incident will effect the parties involved. I hope bikeportland will keep us updated on the developments of this story.


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  • pdx2wheeler August 11, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Wow, that’s sexism? Now I’m offended!

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  • Dwaine Dibbly August 11, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Here’s The Dibbly Test for Sexism: If a comment is worded such that you wouldn’t like to hear it made of your sister, best friend, or mom, then it is inappropriate.

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    • Robert August 11, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      Starts with sexism, ends with appropriateness. These are very different. It’s ok for them to be different. We don’t need to water down ‘sexism’ by applying to everything that’s not dr. suess-sanitized.

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  • Mossby Pomegranate August 11, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Had the employee been gay and made the comment would they have gotten so much heat?

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    • Tons Morset August 13, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      Completely irrelevant.

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  • JH August 11, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    For those men who are so clueless as not to get it, imagine overhearing another man crassly objectified by a smirking woman just for the size of his… wallet. Clueless still?

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    • J4son August 11, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      To offer a bit of perspective, I have a decent wallet but try to make no outward displays of wealth. I am not offended if a woman makes a comment as you described. It is common knowledge that any woman so preoccupied with an outer appearance of wealth is not anyone worth meeting. The woman in the above described article could display the same repulsion by ignoring the comment (made in her absence, but sensationalized by another customer), and simply moving on with her day knowing that the man making the comment was not someone worth her time.

      Do you really feel that your personal views of appropriateness should be imposed upon all of society, and that offenders of your views should be ostracized?

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    • Robert August 11, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      “For those men who are so clueless…”

      This mindset is the real sexism. “For those *men*?” Yeesh.

      FYI, I’ve shown this to an actual, live woman who doesn’t get why the original story is sexism.

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      • Tons Morset August 13, 2014 at 5:51 pm

        Which mindset?

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        • El Biciclero August 15, 2014 at 1:27 pm

          The mindset that only men can be clueless.

          I almost don’t think this even qualifies as sexism, per se, according to the definition. Inappropriate workplace behavior, or sexual harassment, yes. Was the victim denied service at the store? Was she made to move to the back of the line or ignored in favor of male customers? Was she spoken to (not about) in a way that suggested she was of lesser intelligence than male customers? What was the prejudice, bias, or stereotyping perpetrated against the victim here?

          What if I remarked to a co-worker about a female customer who happened to be the Governor of the state, “Wow! Powerful women are so hot! Especially when they are such competent leaders! She can veto my bill any time!” Would that be sexist, or just inappropriate conduct or harassment?

          Suppose a gay male employee made a similar comment about a male customer after the customer left the store—sexism? Or sexual harassment? I could see a case for sexism if inappropriate comments about men were somehow subject to discipline, but inappropriate comments toward women were not, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here, as the store is “investigating” this incident and has stated that such conduct is not their policy.

          Do I think not meeting the definition of sexism makes this incident OK? No, I’m not attempting to excuse disrespectful, harassing behavior, I’m just saying (as I now realize a few others have said in this comment thread) we should be careful calling something “sexist” or even “racist” if it really isn’t. Otherwise, petty misunderstandings get in the way of productive discussion.

          But then I’m a clueless male, so what do I know?

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      • are August 14, 2014 at 4:49 pm

        well that’s definitive, than. one woman thinks it’s not sexist, case closed.

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  • tnash August 11, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Good team work, bike Portlandia super heroes. In next week’s episode, we’ll pit ourselves against people who don’t recycle.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu August 11, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Can you really call them people?

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  • Smash August 12, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Hi, I a woman, worked for Citybikes 2008-2013. This tweet is an important learning moment – though I am also deeply saddened that this is the tweet that the shop has gotten publicity about. Myself, and so many other female identified workers have learned advanced bicycle mechanics from the Apprenticeship program and become owners, and teachers all invested in the goal to bring mechanics to all genders in a traditionally male-dominated industry. I have spent countless hours with the staff talking about how we could better serve customer needs. The cynical part of me wants to say – why bother with that anymore when some are just going to think we’re in this industry to offend or take advantage of people (yeah no!). But then I read some of the community’s comments regarding the good things we do each day and my faith in humanity’s ability to care for one another is restored. The comment was and is unacceptable – and I do genuinely care about confronting these mistakes. And also- I’ve worked at other places where being a woman was a daily barrage of sexism.. Working for Citybikes never was, and has always been deeply supportive, with mistakes likes these, a rarity.

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  • Mike Quiglery August 12, 2014 at 5:58 am

    Wife says this whole outrage is ridiculous. The same thing goes on when females get together out of earshot of males.

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    • TonyJ August 12, 2014 at 7:20 am

      Was this really outrage? That’s quite a bit of an exaggeration. A customer complained and the complaint was taken seriously.

      What’s outrageous is that so many people (and I think all men) feel the need to jump in and defend the dudes at the shop.

      For what it’s worth, to feel included, I also asked my wife how she would feel in this same situation, as a customer hearing this about another customer, and she would not have appreciated it either.

      But, again, it doesn’t matter how my wife or your wife would have felt, the problem evident here is that most men don’t seem to be able to take a woman’s feelings seriously and accept their feelings.

      Of course men and women talk about other men and women, but this was at work in front of another woman, not “out of earshot.”

      It’s great to confront inappropriate behavior. It’s important to not act inappropriately. It’s essential to at least not defend inappropriate behavior.

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      • Esther August 12, 2014 at 10:01 am

        Thank you Tony

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      • Mindful Cyclist August 12, 2014 at 11:30 am

        Thank you TonyJ (and Michael A for that matter for publishing this) for allowing me to have a little faith in the male population.

        It is very disappointing to see so many men here jump to defend these workers by rationalizing with the attitude “it happens all the time anyway.” Or others that are trying to get others locked into a no win game of semantics about what the actual definition of sexism is. Or making light and minimizing it by saying this sounds like a Portlandia script or saying it is not big deal because I know a woman that wasn’t offended by it….

        This is clearly about objectification and about treating a woman as a sex object. If that does not cut the sexism muster for you, that is your belief and I am not going to get into a power struggle with anyone about it.

        More importantly, it was done in front of another customer that felt uncomfortable by it. And, several women have chimed in here and said that it would make them uncomfortable. This is the real issue. Not what two buddies do in private.

        If we want to the number of bike commuters to grow (and of course, have an increase in bike infrastructure), we are going to need a lot more woman to help us make those numbers larger. And, many of these prevailing attitudes are not going to help.

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    • Jonathan Gordon August 12, 2014 at 10:27 am

      But this wasn’t out of earshot. That’s the point. This current discussion isn’t about what’s okay to say among friends. It’s about what’s appropriate in a business setting.

      And it’s not like this incident occurred in a vacuum. This happened in a bike shop, which are not always viewed as women-friendly. There’s a reason why women-focused bike shops exist; hello Gladys bikes.

      Also, the litmus test for appropriateness isn’t what would/wouldn’t offend you or your wife. Clearly there are plenty of people who seem to agree with the original tweet. I suggest reading some of the comments above with a bit more of an open mind. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that people be a bit more considerate of how they conduct themselves in public.

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    • J August 13, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      Yes, they do talk this way about men too, but the difference is there is not much woman-on-man rape going on so it isn’t at all an issue in society. How many women have you met who have been raped? The answer is: a lot more than you think- that is a fact. Please, think about that for a while.

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  • Dave August 12, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Carrie! Fred! Somebody’s writing another sketch for you!

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  • Clark in Vancouver August 12, 2014 at 8:26 am

    It’s one thing to talk like that when you’re with your buddies but when at work, you gotta watch your tongue. You represent more than just yourself, you represent a business.
    This is pretty standard stuff when working somewhere. Time for this place to have some staff training on behaviour.

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  • Audrey August 12, 2014 at 10:39 am

    In my personal experience I feel like I’ve been treated with courtesy and respect at the bike shops I frequent (Revolver, 7 Cycles, River City), even while heavily pregnant.
    However, for those of you saying this is no big deal, this IS something that makes women feel uncomfortable and objectified, even perhaps intimidated by the person supposed to be helping you. The bike shop is not a locker room, and that language does not belong. And if you’ve never felt the need to fashion your keys into a weapon to walk across a parking lot or feared for your safety when another bike approaches you after dark, you don’t get to dictate how this woman should feel about overhearing an employee sexually objectifying the previous customer. It is bigger than just one crass comment.

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  • Jim Lee August 12, 2014 at 11:32 am

    You are a good writer, Michael, and surely know many of the words that others have mentioned as being more accurate and relevant to the incident than “sexist,” or, “sexism.” Those two are are classic “Queen of Hearts” words, worse then euphemisms because they mean whatever their speaker wants them to mean. And that can change with her or his perceptions, thoughts, moods.

    Here are several specific suitable others: crass; crude; boorish, impudent, repulsive, salacious.

    The only reasonable and accurate definition of “sexism” I can think of is: asserting one’s sexuality identity to be preeminent or exclusive. The foundational principle of American feminism is that only women are entitled to a sexual identity; whenever men assert such a claim they must be intensively traduced. The major effectuator of this doctrine was Angelina Grimke, the rambunctious daughter of wealthy slave-holding aristocrats, first espousing a rigorous abolitionism, then adverting that well-off white women were in the same class as brutally enslaved and degraded African families–mothers, fathers, boys, girls.

    American feminism still exhibits such fundamental racism at its core. In the form of the “Equal Employment Opportunity Act” and the “War on Drugs” this outrageously destructive idea governs social structure in our country to this day: it puts middle class white women in law offices and poor black men in prison cells.

    And poor women are not feminists. They cannot afford to be. They only wish their rich sisters would not take the jobs their husbands need to support their families, so they could stay home to take care of their children.

    Then there is the social fact of assortative mating: lawyers marry lawyers; grocery clerks marry grocery clerks; homeless people marry homeless people. This causes wealth to coalesce in a favored class. Probably it is the greatest factor in the growing social and financial disparity between our “haves” and our “have nots,” more than “one-percent elitism,” because it operates on every member of our citizenry.

    Travel abroad and you’ll find that feminism is a strictly American ideology; women the world over take great joy and pleasure at sticking pins in the silly selfish bloat of their American sisters.

    I once had a wonderful romance with a lovely woman of Norway. From our first date she insisted we express rigorous sexual stereotypes: the man must lead; the woman must follow. Of course he tries to please her; of course she tries to accommodate him. Sexual stereotypes are defining, fulfilling, empowering! And a whole lot of fun!

    Unless one prefers a monotype…

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    • Tons Morset August 13, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      Agree entirely regarding class and racial bias underpinning certain strands of feminism; unclear why it is reasonable to generalize these failings to somehow apply to the whole of believers in progressive gender politics.

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  • Robert August 12, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Under that [dictionary] definition, the worker’s comment was not sexist at all.

    Exactly my point. If we each get to invent our own definition of words, then that’s just nonsense.

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  • rachel b August 12, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Women are such fusspots. She was probably just jealous. To overhear is a pale second to the joy of being the object of such remarks. Who doesn’t want that kind of sterling compliment lofted her way? I DO usually go to the bike shop for that kind of thing. No–wait: to the music store. No: to a restaurant. No–the grocery store. No! The sidewalks! Wait–the streetcar. No–the road, on my bike or a walk. No, the parks. School! Church! I feel fortunate there are so many places.

    Thanks for the story, πŸ™‚

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  • J4son August 12, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    It is now obvious that the only way to appease the angry mob is by capturing Micheal Scott and burning him at the stake for saying, “. . .that’s what she said!” thousands of times on national television.

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  • Onemansview August 12, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    There are a few things happening here:
    1. The activating event
    2. Ms. Brooke Ann’s response
    3. The broader social response

    Most of the discussion has been on #1: The double entendre that started it all. I agree the workplace is not the proper venue for these jokes. But I’d also say the burden of proof hasn’t been met by Ms. Brooke Ann. I don’t want to debate that so I’ll be charitable and say it’s 100% true. I’ll grant her the premise that a sexual double entendre was even made knowing she would hear it.

    What is the appropriate response?

    Well we’ve seen Ms. Brooke Ann’s tweet and the resulting messaging out to near 2,000+ people. Is that the appropriate response? Who did that benefit? Who did it harm? Who did it educate?

    Well I’d like to offer an alternative and it’s something I’ve actually used before when, as a customer I witnessed an older male manager putting a teenage girl in a situation he should have been handling while yelling at her. I was livid. But I didn’t tweet about it and I certainly won’t reveal the name of the well known business near Portland. I went and I talked with the manager. I told him what I saw, when it happened, and I asked for my money back. The boss went and actually got the offending individual and I told the both of them again, while the man had an actual chance to defend himself in front of his boss shortly after the incident took place. Quick complaint, quick action and my money was returned. So, I’m recommending the consideration of alternative face-to-face, or phone contact when such incidents occur.

    Why does this matter? What are our commitments to socially engage?

    Well, as you can see, there is a certain “We’re sick of it.” response from the public. It’s like the woman who spilled McDonalds hot coffee on herself and then sued McDonalds. Perfectly justified if you see the burns she suffered but most people don’t see the burns. Most people, when the encounter an idea they don’t like; change the channel, click a link, or otherwise provide some deflationary mechanism. Real change comes from engaging in speech or conversation that you might otherwise avoid. We can all preach to the choir or live in echo chambers but such things seem socially irresponsible. Sexism is a wicked problem. It’s socially complex and I’d encourage you to put more thought into how you choose to address these issues in the future as you move through life.

    So while it is, I can agree with your premise that double entendres are offensive in the workplace. I can not agree with your methods.

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  • pdxcycler August 12, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Could we rest with “it was offensively and horrifically-bad customer service”——and focus there—–rather than opining and diluting everything to death beyond that? Fewer words, bigger impact. People know what bad customer service is; address this, City Bikes, and we will *all* be better off. Without so much blather. Thank you.

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  • AMA August 13, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Good lord. There’re a ton of disappointing comments from my fellow menfolk on this post. Guys, if you find yourself doing rhetorical and mental backflips to defend creepiness and your right to creep, it’s time to reassess your life decisions.

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    • Firethewholelot August 13, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      I want heads to roll down there at City Bikes! I want the employee fired for what he said. I want the co-worker he said it to fired if the investigation turns up that he said “yeah”. Or if he didn’t even say anything because his silence should be considered his consent! One thing is clear, the co-worker didn’t bring it to the attention of the manager! And you know why? Because the manager allows this type of sexual commentary. So I want the manager fired too!

      Does City Bikes train employees on sexual harassment? Probably not. I want this business boycotted until the culture of the ‘good ol’ boy bike shop’ is demolished. #BoycottCityBikes. Trend it!

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      • Partnership for asking first before shooting... August 13, 2014 at 1:51 pm

        I’m really hoping this comment is sarcastic because it’s full of so many ignorant accusations that my head is rolling from the total lack of accurate information. Please consider even a small amount of fact checking before you assemble a lynch mob/boycott. Unless you’re firmly attached to a methodology of shooting people first, and ever bothering to seek the truth. Good luck with that.

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        • TonyJ August 13, 2014 at 3:53 pm

          I’m fairly certain that the comment is sarcastic, which doesn’t make it any better. The comment is using straw men and hyperbole to make it seem as though nearly any objection to a comment like the one allegedly made by the City Bikes employee is equivalent to a hysterical witch hunt.

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      • AMA August 13, 2014 at 2:26 pm

        You sound super fun.

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      • J4son August 13, 2014 at 5:17 pm

        Actually all men who do not immediately support any woman who cries “sexism” should be fired post haste from whatever sexist elitist profession they have. It might be easier if we just preemptively branded them all as felons and strip them of all legal rights.

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  • Beth August 13, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    The bicycle business has been, is, and will continue to be a male-dominated enterprise. I wish this article had gone more in-depth to cover the issue of sexism in the bicycle industry as a whole, rather than focusing — and thereby allowing commenters to focus — on one shop.
    I worked at Citybikes for nearly two decades (until fall 2012) and the fact is that it’s not one shop, but the industry at large that remains so stubbornly and pervasively sexist.
    I firmly believe that this not the bike industry’s fault, but rather a reflection of the ongoing sexism and misogyny that continues to run as a thread throughout our society.
    I do not expect this to change anytime soon. And while I still love to ride my bike, I don’t regret leaving the bike industry.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) August 13, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      Beth, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I know that while writing this, I made some efforts to emphasize that this is not a story about City Bikes, just an account of an incident that could unfortunately have happened in lots of shops. Brooke’s tweet saying as much is quoted in the piece.

      We very often write about small incidents that illustrate bigger problems without fully exploring those bigger problems; it’d be impossible to do so. Do you think this case is different?

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    • Edwards August 13, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      Beth August 13, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      “The bicycle business has been, is, and will continue to be a male-dominated enterprise.”

      And it has absolutely NOTHING to do with Sexism, feminism or misogyny! At the very worst it is a good ole Boy mentality but saying the bicycle business is SEXIST and has been male dominated because of that…is the most ignorant, close minded statement of the century!
      The bicycle industry has been at the forefront of equal opportunity for woman (and equal pay) for decades! some of the most powerful executives in bicycle manufacturing are women.. don’t believe me Google it! Stella from Velo (maker of the majority of bicycles seats, grips and other accessories worldwide and on your bike right now!) has been listed as one of the most powerful woman (and richest) in Taiwan for years. The CEO of CamelBak is a woman, VP/GM of Easton Bell Blackburn is a woman and that’s just who I know personally! I can’t even list how many women hold VP, marketing executive and brand management positions… I can list 20 that I know personally.
      The amount of bike shops, outdoors stores and bicycle related stores owned/operated by women equates to about 35% (which would be closer to 45% if you only count owners and not doors) of the bicycle retail industry… The Publisher and Editor of Bicycle Retailer are both women!

      What infuriates me the most about your statement and the majority of ignorant complaints on this article is that people think that bicycle shops are not female friendly and are sexist or talk down to women! I hate to be the barer of the true reality, those bike shops that make you uncomfortable when you walk in the door or make you feel inferior or like a 6 year old when they explain things to you… do that to everyone that walks in the door! not just women!

      The truth is bicycling is a small industry, and much like contact sports, motorsports or any sport that requires a lot of physical input as well as technical ability, it has always attracted more men than women… because of the physical aspect and propensity for bruised, scratched and broken bodies which traditionally scares women off at an early age.
      So now that it is much safer than it was 15 to 20 years ago and has become more mainstream, and accepted in all different aspects of outdoor life, women as well as all walks of people are opening up to it and becoming interested and involved, which leaves them dealing with the poor customer service, quality and low expectations of bicycle retailers.

      That is why shops as well as bike shop employees need to adjust and get away from the good ole boy mentality, open up to the fact that most people do not want to be bike tech savvy weenies and just want good solid friendly and respectful customer service!

      And lastly the writer of this article baited everyone on here by using a title that is venomous and inflammatory! If I were the owner of City Bikes I would put out of business for such defamation and just plain unprofessional journalistic ethics! It is counter intuitive to the community here in Portland for a community and commuter advocacy website to publish such tabloid crap!

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  • Chelsea August 13, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Men have no idea what it is like to be casually objectified as soon as you hit puberty. Congrats! Don’t tell people who aren’t you that they are being overly PC because they are uncomfortable being on the receiving end of behavior that you will literally never be able to experience.

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  • Esther August 13, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Original event + comments here:


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  • bettie August 14, 2014 at 2:49 am

    Portland is making this a sexist issue. What if I want to “service” a man? What is wrong with wanting to bang someone? It’s biology. Besides, how else do you think I get instant service in a bike shop when I walk in all sweaty & spandex-y and say, “my bike is making a noise…” Sorry women’s studies majors, sex works and it always will work and there is nothing you can do to change that. HTFU.

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  • are August 16, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    the remark objectified a female. the remark was made in the presence of a female customer. given the long history of subjugation of women, the remark was very likely to cause the customer to feel belittled, though it was not made in reference to her specifically.

    you can draw all the analogies you want and parse the thing into tiny bits, and you can call in carrie and fred, who are sometimes not all that funny. but the transaction was sexist regardless what “dictionary definition” you favor.

    the remark would have made me uncomfortable, and i am male.

    a remark disparaging a departing black customer [or “obama”] on the basis of race would have made me uncomfortable, and i am white. a remark disparaging an apparently homosexual or lesbian customer [or noncustomer] on the basis of orientation would have made me uncomfortable, and my orientation is none of your business.

    and this is not just about workplace, this is anywhere.

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