On YoGoGirls and Bicycling
Bicycling staffer here. While I did not find the post funny or appropriate for us, and was myself offended, I am grateful for it, for a host of reasons. (Sidenote: I’m also grateful to my colleagues, who encourage each other to join conversations like this one.)
One of the most surreal things about working in media is being able to introduce people to realities that not only bolster and enhance existing world-views, but also sometimes those that completely upend perspectives. It’s exciting to see how readers process our work, and more importantly, what they take away from it. In order to serve the cycling community (the ENTIRE cycling community) as best we can, we actively search out people who approach our sport in unique ways, in order that they may share their experiences and ideas with our readers. When those ideas and approaches to cycling and life are met with differing interpretations and opinions, we can explore divisive things together — even if we don’t solve anything.
As an editor, I get to curate, contextualize, reframe, and develop so many ideas so that they gel with the Bicycling ethos — all in an effort to preserve the essence of a writer’s original idea and means of expressing it. We strive to tailor, not censor.
That’s because journalism isn’t a one-way activity. It’s only by toeing lines (or, here, barreling over them) that we can check the temperature of the community and get a better understanding of who we’re serving and what they want and need. (For a good example of how clashes over judgment can lead to a productive discussion: http://www.bicycling.com/culture/news/nopodiumgirls-what-we-ve-learned)
Regarding the YoGoGirls’ place in our community: Cyclists who participate in and create art are part of the Bicycling community, and it would be a disservice to our readers not to try to show the cycling world from as many angles as we can. The YoGoGirls’ videos and photos are beautifully done. The women themselves are imposingly athletic, graceful, and creative. Their brand of yoga and cycling is inspiring because it shows how movement can be used to reconstruct perspectives and physical realities, creating possibilities out of once-insurmountable obstacles. They use both disciplines to take themselves places and find hidden utility in their surroundings, indoors and out. I might not agree with all of their decisions, but think they do bring a lot to the table. And I don’t think this one decision — which was quickly reversed and discussed constructively — defines them. I am excited that they were into the idea of a takeover exploring yoga’s benefits to cyclists, and that we’ve gotten the opportunity to work with them.
Regarding feminisms, plural, in cycling: I’ve seen a lot of disappointment in Bicycling’s decision to feature the YoGoGirls at ALL based on their clothing and how they use their bodies, which really got me thinking about a conversation I had on a ride with another editor a week or so ago. We discussed how some women feel empowered by things that make us feel exploited (if you want to get nerdy, my personal brand of feminism is caught between Waves Two and Three), and that, while we don’t have to endorse other women’s decisions, we do have the responsibility to support their right to comport themselves in the manner of their choosing, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. Wearing minimal, tight clothing is not unique to yoga — cycling attire itself leaves little to the imagination. Making comments about how they’re ’scantily clad’ puts bike feminism back so many steps: We have opportunities to be supportive of many kinds of cycling feminists, all of whom have different approaches to their clothing and their sexuality. This isn’t ‘Sockgate’ or a Colnago ad; the YoGoGirls choose how they dress and what makes them feel most excited to get rad kinesthetically.