Why a Women's motorcycle ride. . .
The WROAR Ride started out as an 'All Women's' ride, but in 2007 we tried something new. We inviting men to act as allies. To help us discuss the issue of violence against women. Every rider who's involved, both women and men, have many personal conversations in the process of seeking pledges for the ride. These conversations are a valuable part of what WROAR Riders do.
Over the past three years, we've been talking to motorcyclists at motorcycle shows and events and at the WROAR Ride. I've spoken with several men who shared with me very moving stories of how their lives have been touched by violence against women. These men understand about the loss of power and control that accompaies sexual violence. We've also spoken to many women who ride as passengers who would like to participate. Violence touches the lives of many, and we're pleased to make a place in our ride for all.
Where We Started
Why a Women's motorcycle ride. . .
When we set out to plan this ride, in December 2004, we wanted to create something unique. There were over a dozen experienced motorcyclists in the room, all women, with well over 100 years of combined motorcycling experience, and only a few of us had been on even one all-women-motorcycle-ride. So I guess we found something unique!
one rider's thoughts
I've been riding since the early '90's, and I've only once or twice had the chance to ride with more than one or two other women riders. It's always been a very special experience. One of my new rider friends asked me what was special about it... It's a unique bonding experience based on a mutually shared non-traditional interest. That can be said of all motorcycle group-rides I suppose, but it's more uniquely true of a group of women motorcyclists. As women riders, we are a small part of a small group (only about 10% of vehicles are motorcycles, and only about 10% of motorcyclists were women when I started to ride) and that isolation encourages us to forget that as women, we are half the world. Working on this ride with the other women involved has reminded me how powerful we are in numbers. There is also power in our individuality too; as riders we accept the responsibility of being in control. And that's a big part of what makes a group of women motorcyclists very special. And besides, there is something unique and wonderful about being able to share the experience of a favorite road or an oil change tip with your female riding friends.
Why a Women's Ride Against Rape?
I know some really strong and independent women. Some of them are survivors of violence, and some of them are motorcyclists, I'm both; so it seemed like a very natural progression. And the image of a woman on her motorcycle conveys an impression of our freedom, independence and strength that I think many women can appreciate, even those who don't ride. I suppose there is a certain irony in using an outward expression of our freedom as women motorcyclists as a means of drawing attention to the issue of sexual violence and the times when society doesn't want to look; when women's lives aren't free and independent. The TRCC/MWAR fills a need in the lives of far too many women; I deeply regret that the need exists, but I'm so glad the TRCC/MWAR is there to meet the needs of all survivors of violence.
Questions, Questions, Questions
A woman's ride challenges stereotypes. In a society where the back seat of a motorcycle is still sometimes called the 'bitch seat' a woman's ride might appear to be a pretty big challenge! We feel a woman's ride will promote a positive, powerful image of women in control. That's still a pretty challenging image in our culture, isn't it?
We encourage men to get involved! Help us challenge gender stereotypes and promote a positive image of women in control by riding as a passenger. When riders, passengers and supporters talk to the people they know to get pledges for the WROAR Ride, they spread the word, having many individual conversations about the work of the TRCC/MWAR and the purpose of the WROAR Ride, and therein lies the roots of change.
What if we offend people? Well, I suppose that's possible, although I don't see why. If people are offended, we will perhaps have a chance to discuss the subject of gender roles, and is a positive step. Most women motorcyclists have encountered some type of gender oppression in their motorcycling experiences, and are probably pretty well equipped to discuss the issue. Our culture's attitude towards gender roles are changing year to year, and women and men both need to talk about our gender roles, stereotypes, and change. We don't wish to offend, simply to open a dialogue on the subject.
And that's one woman's answer to 'why an all women's ride?'