Ok, this may seem a bit like a rant and I suppose it is, in a way, but not because I am a staunch feminist or insulted by reminders of my gender, just because I am frustrated by remedial attitudes. So here goes… why oh why does female-specific sports clothing and equipment often come with a patronising name like ‘lady’ or ‘gorgeous’? As you might have guessed, I have a very specific example that has triggered the need to write about this topic.
I am an avid cyclist and when I say that I do not mean that I look down my nose at people pootling into town on a commuter bicycle as I thrash past fully kitted out in expensive riding gear. I can’t stand the snobby ‘Lycra warriors’ that think they rule the road on two wheels, in fact, I think they give the rest of us a terrible reputation and perpetuate the bad blood between cyclists and other road users. What I mean when I say I am an avid cyclist is that I love riding a bike, pure and simple. I do long distance rides and short, relaxed rides into town. Basically, whenever I can get away with not using the car, I take my bike, but this has lead to a problem.
To be completely honest, cycling hurts more than just your thighs. As I discovered on a recent road ride, my commuting saddle is not suitable for anything over 30 miles and as such I am now walking like a very drunk, pained cowboy. Asking my other half, a veteran cyclist, what I need to do, he informed me that I need a female specific saddle. I must have pulled an unimpressed face because he followed up quickly with “It’s not an affront to your feminist ways Amy, it’s biology, so get a proper saddle or continue to suffer.”
Urgh. He was right and I knew it, so after a solid hour of online research I finally settled on the saddle I would buy. I didn’t pay much attention to the name as I joyfully tapped in my debit card details but horror struck when the offending article arrived in the post yesterday. Prepare to laugh girls because I bought a saddle called… wait for it… a ‘Lady Flow’. I wish I was joking, but I’m not. Not only does my saddle inform the world of my gender but it also seems to make a crude nod to the fact that I menstruate. What were the marketing bods thinking with that name?
Having been amused and shocked in equal measure at the name of my new saddle, I decided to take a quick look at some of my other cycling items and sure enough they were all emblazoned with the word ‘lady’, or in the case of a jersey that I wear ‘Chica’. So the question is: Should we be irritated? I think I am, I mean none of my partner’s cycling gear has ‘man’ or ‘chap’ stitched onto it, so why are we being singled out? I asked some female friends what they thought and the most popular response was that perhaps women are just really special and that fact is commemorated through tacky branding. We had a good giggle about it all and remained good natured, until that is, I realised everything specifically cut for women is either pink, accentuated with pink or purple or entirely floral in design… I feel another rant coming on!