I see it now.
It’s strange how I didn’t see it before. You’d think I’d have noticed. It was there. I even named it once. But back then it felt more like grasping at straws.
I was sitting in a jail cell. Fox News had requested to do an interview with me. Did I have a statement for the C.A.? Yes, I said. I looked into the camera and asked why he was targeting me. Was it because I was poor? Or was it because I was a woman? This last one seemed too absurd to contemplate. I mean really. Who prosecutes a bicyclist for being a woman? Absurd. Right?
I see it now.
I didn’t see it before and I should have. But I was in the forest of misogyny and all I could see were the tree’s.
I’m white. And that helps. At least a little. I commute by bicycle. That doesn’t help. At all. When I’m on my bicycle people don’t see me. I’m no longer human. They see a cyclist. An object. Something in their way. Ruining their day. I’m an ‘it.’
Men tell me they feel the same. I want to believe them. But I think in some ways it won’t ever really be an authentic experience. Just like I, as a white woman, can never truly have an authentic experience as black woman. But I can come close. When I’m on my bicycle.
When I’m on my bicycle I have to think about how to plan my route. Wouldn’t want to make the white men and women angry as I cycle past. Wouldn’t want to be in their way. But my whiteness is a privilege that a black woman doesn’t share. So it’s not quite the same and fuck anyone who says it is. But it’s close. It’s a solid taste. And it’s like poison on my tongue. Just that little bit of a taste. So tiny it’s almost nothing. But it floods my veins with the burning sensation of being dehumanized. In that moment I want to wrap chains around my antagonists neck and pull hard. Pull so damn hard they gasp for air and whisper “I can’t breathe.” I want to do this to the white man who felt that it was his superior right as a driver of an auto, (315 ABJ Oregon plates; white car) to press his car up close to my leg and intimidate me, as he pressed into my lane. My rage was white hot as I pulled up next to him at the light and poured my rage down on him. I think I scared him. Good. I hope he got a little taste of how he made me feel.
I see it now.
But I didn’t see it then. It was easy to compare myself to someone I actually couldn’t relate to, but thought I could. It was easy to deny that being a woman, even a white one, was a handicap. Though not nearly as much as being a woman and being a person of color. I can’t imagine being a black woman on a bicycle. I see why the black community aligns itself with auto culture. It exudes power. Even if it’s a false power. It’s a beautiful lie and one that is easily swallowed. But three handicaps is three too many and it’s tough enough with two.
Misogyny affects us all. Men and women. But we each experience it in a way that is unique to our own experiences. Misogyny hurts men as much as it hurts women. But men have their privilege to act as a buffer. Just as my whiteness is a buffer of privilege for me. It’s hard to imagine how it feels to be on the other side. The side that is perceived as weaker. The part that makes me smile deep down inside? I’m stronger, as a woman, for riding a bicycle. It takes knowledge and courage to feel your fear and live your life with authenticity, in the face of adversity. Each day is a fight and a struggle. You find your happiness where you can and you keep on keeping on. Is that what it feels like to be black? If so; It’s hard. And I’m sorry I didn’t feel your pain before. I’m sorry I couldn’t relate or imagine what it is like for you.
We’re going to win. We’re going to shatter misogyny and racism. We will win.
Come ride with me. You’ll see.