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Sponsor pulls out of Singlespeed Cross “World Championships” amid sexism concerns

Posted by on December 1st, 2016 at 11:23 am

” This event is about being inclusive. We are not arguing that some of these things aren’t juvenile, but the goal isn’t to be sexist, it’s to be equally silly to everyone.”
— Dani Dance, PDX Singlespeed Collective

Hundreds of racers from all over the country will descend on Portland this weekend for the “officially unofficial” 10th annual Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships (SSCXWC) — but some fans have decided not to attend and one of its sponsors has pulled out. They say the marketing of the event has been blatantly sexist and objectifies women.

SSCXWC, which got its start in Portland in 2007 and will be held this year at Kruger’s Farm on Sauvie Island, is legendary for its irreverent and debaucherous approach to cyclocross racing. Beer, mandatory tattoos for the winners, crazy costumes, severe heckling, and even strippers are expected elements of the race atmosphere. As the weekend approaches, it feels like everyone in the local bike racing scene is buzzing about it. Registration has been sold out for weeks as organizers have teased out details of Saturday’s main event as part of an elaborate and creative marketing strategy.

But some people feel like the promotion of the event has crossed a line from edgy humor to outright sexism — a behavior the bike industry on the whole has struggled with for many years.

Portlander Hazel Gross had registered for the event but no longer plans to attend. On Tuesday she shared on her private Facebook page that the race’s official social media posts were sexist in their treatment of women.

Two of the Instagram posts from @sscxwcxpdx that have been deleted.

Two of the Instagram posts from @sscxwcxpdx that have been deleted.

Specifically, Gross — and many others who have since spoken out in support of her — are offended by the inclusion of live strippers at the event (organizers say there will be both male and female strippers) and two Instagram posts from @sscxwcpdx: one that included a photo of a bikini and another that featured a photo of Ammon Bundy and the words, “You just gotta grab your host housing by the pussy.” Both of the images have since been deleted by the event organizers, a group named the PDX Singlespeed Collective.

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Gross’s Facebook post received dozens of supportive comments. Her feelings were also validated when local bike company Ruckus Composites decided to pull their sponsorship of the event.

In a statement yesterday Ruckus said, “Recently, the SSWCXPDX race has come into criticism for sexism and misogyny… Our organization simply cannot support events that degrade from our working passion or marginalize groups of individuals, whether unknowingly or unwittingly.” “We at Ruckus speak through actions,” their statement continued, “and participation in this [event] means complicit connection with every aspect of it. It is for such reasons that we will not be involved in SSWCXPDX.”

Dani Dance, one of the event organizers, responded to the concerns yesterday. “We have never intended for our posts to be sexist and I apologize,” she said via an Instagram post that featured the iconic bikini and men’s shorts that have been part of the event’s tradition for years. Here’s the rest of Dance’s statement:

“I take full responsibility. It is very important to me that this event is equal in all things. For example the golden bikini is just the other half of the golden speedo… both genders get silly swimsuits, both genders fill them up. They have for ten years (going back to 2007) and I guess we were assuming that everyone knew the history of the swimsuits. It was not intended to sound like a swimsuit competition or a “podium girl” outfit that only the ladies wear.

Strippers will be male and female (which is not part of the course), equal pay out men and women, if we are making fun of the culture it’s not from a gender angle. This event is about being inclusive. We are not arguing that some of these things aren’t juvenile, but the goal isn’t to be sexist, it’s to be equally silly to everyone. When I started this race ten years ago , my main goal was, even if there were only 17 women, that they would receive equal prizes (including the golden bikini), same course, same qualifier, equal everything. I am super proud that we have over 150 women competing this weekend… we are pretty sure this is the largest ladies race in history. This is huge! We are proud of that and we want to welcome our ladies and show them a super silly fun amazing time. We really just want to have everyone race their bikes and have a great time doing it. Social media can be a blessing and a curse. We are still real people that can make mistakes, but we are also open to a dialogue about them so that we may all learn and move forward.”

Dance’s post also received many supportive comments.

The event flyer.

If you do plan to attend, there are three days of racing and get-togethers in the works, starting with a party in southeast Portland Friday night. Saturday is the main event and the fun and games are set to begin at 10:00 am. There will be qualifying heats every 20 minutes, lots of great food and drinks available, and plenty of shenanigans to take part in. If singlespeed isn’t your thing, there are geared races on Sunday. Roll over to the Kenton Club (2025 N Kilpatrick) for after-parties and live music after the racing on both days.

(NOTE: I have edited this post to remove quotes from Hazel Gross that were made on her private Facebook page. I thought they were public and I now regret using them without her permission and have apologized to her for the mistake.)

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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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Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I was planning on bringing my family out to watch the races on Sunday, but it sounds like this event is not an all-ages affair.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I am planning to bring my son, too. The “strippers” will just be men and women dancing in scantily clad outfits, I assume. They won’t be nude dancers. If it’s an issue, I will just head out.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Who knows. I’ve been on the email list, but it’s hard to discern what’s going on. I guess it’s cute to send lots of emails but not actually provide much in the way of information.

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

They probably will be nude – if the last race is any indication. But they probably will be in a specific area (ie bus).

Bike Guy
Guest
Bike Guy

Seems to me like an overreaction.

Beth H
Guest

Well, okay, then. But to be on the safe side, let’s hear from “Bike Gal” and see if she concurs with your sentiment.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

Who says she has to? People can have different opinions and they need not agree. Both are valid.

Bike Gal
Guest
Bike Gal

I invite you to get catcalled on training rides, be sent advertisements and brochures for “products for women” where the bibs are modeled by topless women, show up to bike races and pay the same amount, race just as hard, and get 1/10th (if that) of the pay. I invite you to do that over and over again, day in and day out because you love racing bikes.

I then invite you to be begged by SSCXWPDX to race because they’re having trouble filling the women’s field, and then have to put up with this as the standard of how women are included. When you’re supposed to show up at a race to do someone a favor, and that organization decides that “Grab them by the pussy” jokes are okay, and you can still sleep at night feeling like a confident person whose worth is equal to their male peers, then you can come back and tell me it’s “an overreaction.”

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Never been to this event, but have been to some where antics of what might be called, ‘the wild people’, prevail. Unless what you’re referring to are strictly ‘Adults Only’ events, that’s some nasty stuff you’re describing, what with the jokes and the double standard with regards to gender. I wouldn’t put up with it either. It’s not being a prude to object to people being obnoxious, possibly with a mean streak in mind, or to object to people allowing them to allowing to do that sort of thing.

Someone has to draw the line at some point. Should of course, be the individual with regards to their own personal behavior…but if they can’t or won’t…then definitely, anyone prepared to step forward and intercede in a positive way, has my admiration.

It goes without saying that humans are sexual creatures. There’s socially acceptable and healthy ways for people of all ages to enjoy and reflect on and have fun with this, without being overly obnoxious and unreasonably stepping on the vast majority of people’s basic sense of morality.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Reminds me of some other events I’d been to back when they were not as big as now, such as the Country Fair or Burning Man. As they’ve grown, more people have wanted to share the experiences with their kids (of various ages), and of course peoples’ tolerances of what they want their kids exposed to varies widely, but it then puts the onus on organizers to be more clear on expectations (to Dan’s point).

I think Hazel’s concerns are genuine, and Dani’s response is appropriate and genuine. Resopmok nails it… social media “memes” are only funny if you’re in on the joke, but often leave you feeling as if you’re the butt of the joke. I’m sure (I hope) the organizers have learned from this, and having an equal purse for the woman’s field… well, that speaks volumes alone in bike racing today. Doesn’t sound to me like a full-on boycott is an appropriate action here, but definitely some refinements in the marketing approach. (Oh, and an agenda with better details for Dan… :)).

David Feldman
Guest
David Feldman

And….they wonder why the womens’ field is hard to fill??

bottom bracket
Guest
bottom bracket

BG,

Take lessons from Julia Roberts on how to deal with a holes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F8oJh3J1T0

🙂

Anton
Guest
Anton

Many people currently feel threatened in the world for a number of very upsetting reasons. So it just feels misguided to attack the sexism of a female organized cross race, potentially the largest women’s field in the history of the sport, with equal payouts for men and women and gender-neutral jackals erythromycin (swimsuits are for. Men and women) , for things that everyone seemed to enjoy for the last nine years.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

Kids nowadays are just to thin-skinned.

Sam
Guest
Sam

It’s bike-basket full of deplorables.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

Ah Portland. Always trying so hard to be weird and relevant.

Adam
Subscriber

“It was just a joke” is not an excuse for sexism. In fact, that reaction is indicative of a larger bullying and abuse problem that seems to be sweeping this country.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

One could argue that the reaction in the swing states was due to those folks feeling bullied by Neoliberalism.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

Neoliberalism. I do not think that word means what you think it means.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

I am outrage-depleted. I’ve got bigger things to worry about.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

People hosting an ‘unofficial event’ designed to be ludicrous, posting inappropriate things on the internet? This is unheard of!

Adam
Subscriber

You can be ludicrous and over the top without insulting groups of people.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

Thanks for the social justice warrior perspective Adam!

Adam
Subscriber

Really, there’s no need to throw out pejorative labels to people you disagree with. If a marginalized group says something negatively affects them, then I believe them. It’s really quite that simple.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

It’s not really that simple. There is perception and there is intent.

A dog that has been beaten its whole life will see a raised hand as a threat, even if it is to pet the animal.

The intent might be innocent but the reaction is conditioned by past experience.

bottom bracket
Guest
bottom bracket

This is rich coming from the left. The throwing of labels is about the only tactic the left knows.

Hopeful
Guest

Please save calling people “Social Justice Warrior” for your comments on the Oregonian’s website, Fox News, or elsewhere. I love BikePortland, but I miss when folks were more civil/ respectful here. I’m disappointed in you Todd Hudson.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

Someone will always be insulted. It’s the Portland way.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Someone will always be insulting. It’s the internet way.

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

A men’s bathing suit for the winner of the men’s race! Male strippers! I am so furious and disappointed. This objectifying of male racers has got to stop! When will we learn that this is not just a garment, but a message to all men out there that they are nothing more than a piece of meat?! A human-shaped piece of meat that paid a lot of money to ride in a fun bike “race”.
Here is what the winner should wear:comment image

Jennifer Ann
Guest
Jennifer Ann

This article seems a bit skewed. Hazel was one of the more vocal people about this event, but there are dozens of people talking about how the promotion was sexist as well as ones that chose to not participate because of these concerns.

Dick Button
Guest
Dick Button

I think sexism in the bike community is simultaneously at times overstated and chronically under-addressed. No idea what to do about it, other than being as respectful as I can. When so much of our bike culture is a dating scene, unwanted advances etc. are probably here to stay.

Al Dimond
Guest

IMO it’s not a good idea for male-dominated spaces whose main point is something other than being a “dating scene” to also be a “dating scene” — to the point where men should essentially never ask out women within the confines of the space, no matter how respectfully. Male-dominated workplaces are an important example: even if men and women are equally likely to make advances (probably not true) and if all advances are respectful (probably not true), women face a disproportionate number of advances and all the social awkwardness surrounding them, in a place we primarily go to make a living and advance our careers — these are things women need equal opportunities for!

Male-dominated athletics scenes, where we go to compete and challenge ourselves, are similar. I’m not as familiar with bike racing, but as a somewhat competitive runner I’d apply this logic to some competitive running groups (most running races aren’t male-dominated by participation rates, but some competitive groups and sub-groups are). The bike races I’ve been to (I haven’t been to SSCXWC) have been heavily skewed towards male participation, and seem to be more about competition and challenge (things women ought to have equal opportunities for!) than social mixing, so I’d suspect I’d apply the same ethics to those bike races.

This isn’t really so much a comment on this particular controversy with SSCXWC, which is on some pretty different issues.

bottom bracket
Guest
bottom bracket

I’ve ridden for 40 years, thousands of miles, and never been asked for a date while cycling. What am I doing wrong?

🙂

Dick Button
Guest
Dick Button

Maybe try a more brightly colored kit, and a new hairdoo?

Gaby
Guest
Gaby

This sounds like a really fun event but then you add strippers. Going to event that is going to be heavily attended by men and binge drinking that’s fine. But when you sexually charge the atmosphere that’s when I don’t feel safe.

Being wacky and naked, a la Naked Bike ride, is fine and fun. Strippers aren’t just about being naked they’re their to sexual component to a bike race.

JL
Guest
JL

Attended by men AND women

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

And kids. Unless they aren’t supposed to attend, which, again, is not really clear to me. Seems to me that kids and strippers don’t go well together.

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

Agreed. The last thing we need is our children seeing naked bodies.

Apparently you did not attend the last SSCXWC here in Portland.

Hopeful
Guest

As a parent who frequently brings my children to clothing optional Hot Springs, swim holes, WNBR, etc. I won’t be bringing my children around strippers. If you can’t see the difference, I don’t get it. I’m not anti-stripper, I just don’t want to bring my kids around that environment.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Sounds like there’ll be lots of drinking, so depending on how much alcohol consumption you define (and share with your kids) as “social”, that may be a red flag too. (Not sure; I’ve never been to this one).

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

Some people can look at other naked people and not turn into rapists.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Hmm, well, that sounds safe. Some people.

Rain Panther
Guest
Rain Panther

Saturday: Qualifying
Sunday morning: Portland Trophy Cup geared races.
Sunday afternoon: The Main Event
Noon – the “everyone’s a loser race” (50 minutes)
1:00 – Women’s World Championship Race (50 minutes)
2:00 – Men’s World Championship Race (50 minutes)

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

It’s entirely possible to do crazy and amped up without being sexist. Multnomah County Bike Fair and Chunkathalons are good examples. Set shit on fire and crash your bike and drink a case of Tecate. All good fun, but no need for strippers or topless models.

This whole thing just shows a colossal lack of imagination. It’s like a bunch of frat bros trying too hard to be zany.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

F’ that! Drinking Tecate is not good fun 😉

Emily Guise (Contributor)
Subscriber

*slow clap*

Jon
Guest
Jon

This is straight out of a Portlandia episode. It really seems like a lot of people these days are just looking to try to find a way to be offended. The entire event is a joke. If you “win” you have to get a tattoo. In the past there were alcoholic short cuts for the course. Do you think anyone doing the event supports Bundy or Trump? Maybe the organizers should have any communication only sent out after unanimous approval by a 200 person advisory board that would insure that no feelings were hurt.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

In the SSCXWC photo accompanying the “what is going on this weekend”, it looks like the event is all dudes. Also, in the promo picture in this story, all dudes on bikes, except for the lady doing something obscene on top of a bus. It’s probably good I can’t enlarge the pic.

Not judging, just noting.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I think the main character in the center is a woman. On a BMX bike. Catching some kickass air.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

He/she sure looks like Dana Carvey!

Spiffy
Subscriber

I thought the center person was a woman…

better image: http://www.sscxwcpdx16.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/poster-small.jpg

yep, it’s a woman…

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

It sure is a shame people don’t have a choice as to whether they’ll attend or not.

Jon
Guest
Jon

Luckily I believe that most of the cyclocross races in the area have recognized the equality of effort that you mention. I am not familiar with all the events but I do race the Cross Crusade and know that the prize money for the men and women is equal for the series and for each day.

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

I must have missed the Bundy Trump post in the IG feed. Definitely in poor taste and shows a lack of judgment.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

This story proves that social media has turned the internet into a giant gossip mill in which lies are as good as truth and taking offense (and being offensive) can take place without looking someone in the eyes first.

Furthermore, the graphic content of the advertisements qualify as nothing more than the garbage that passes for the communication format called a “meme,” save the movie flyer remake, which is simply an unimaginative trope of design with a slightly humorous self-degrading concept.

Also, I’m offended that people make a stereotype of masculinity in which its characteristics are countered by wearing a bikini. MAYBE I WANT TO WEAR THE BIKINI TOO.

racergal
Guest
racergal

So I have personally participated in several seasons of CX and other types of bike racing in the PDX area and beyond. I have certainly encountered sexism by organizers and participants. (unequal payouts, men hating having a woman in their field) But I have also encountered some of the most remarkable experiences of gender equality in this sport as well. Far beyond what I have experienced in other sports. I have had men welcome me with open arms into their races (this is the more common reaction) and to be frank have experienced a much greater degree of willingness from them to teach me skills and tricks to win and stay safe in a race than I have from the women’s fields.
Did the organizers of this event make poor choices in a whopping 1 or 2 of their advertisements? Definitely. But they are also offering the opportunity for women to be treated truly as equals on the race course and podium. Which is far from a given in this sport and nearly non-existent in some other sports.
Now I personally won’t be participating due to injuries and the high cost of entry but I also feel that the organizers are being unfairly beaten on. This has never been intended as a “family friendly” event. It’s meant to be risque. Alcohol, nudity, and general adult themes are to be expected.
As far as I’m concerned as long as such things are done equally with both genders (see the female AND male strippers) there’s really not a problem. It’s not going to be for everyone but then again risque events aren’t meant to be. If you don’t like it, don’t participate. There are so many other opportunities to race in the area, including ones that do things such as costume races, that it seems strange to get upset and say that this has to stick to the “family friendly” cookie cutter.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I don’t care if it’s family friendly or not. I just think it’s a good idea for the promoters to specifically to mention somewhere that it’s not.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

What? I can’t believe they are having trouble finding women that want to hang out with loser hipsters, riding bikes slowly in a dirt circle for 45 minutes. They can’t fill the women’s field? I wonder why.

JL
Guest
JL

Sold out is having trouble?

Steve
Guest
Steve

The singlespeed thing has been going on for decades now, beginning with Mtb’s. SSWC and SSCXWC have always been loud, offensive, sexual, beer soaked, and whatever else most people don’t have a problem with. I never saw a complaint from all you “family friendly” hypocrites about the S&M woman at the Crusade series smacking racers in the ass with a leather whip.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Now that I know the Crusade series condones killing cows so racers can be smacked in the ass, I’ll be spending my money elsewhere, thank you.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

That’s a but unfair… I’m told the flogger is made of pig leather.

bottom bracket
Guest
bottom bracket

That could get you a lawsuit if you smack people of some religions with pig leather.

Al Dimond
Guest

Different people are going to see these sorts of things differently depending on their experiences in life.

I’d be sort of uncomfortable and self-conscious wearing a Speedo up on a podium, but I’d feel a lot worse about that if I’d been repeatedly judged for my appearance and for what I did and didn’t wear. Then if I saw a race promotion show it using the same language that’s used to objectify people like me, I might be pissed. Maybe it wasn’t meant that way, and maybe it’s just one little part of the event — however you might see it, it’s pretty unfair to expect someone else to see it in the same light.

Al Dimond
Guest

(That was intended to be a response to a comment here that didn’t nest, not to Dani Dance’s response. It sounds like she gets this.)

KVC
Guest
KVC

bottom bracket
This is rich coming from the left. The throwing of labels is about the only tactic the left knows.
Recommended 5

Thanks for the insightful comment. You’ve really added to the quality of the conversation.