You can tell how much time and enthusiasm I have for Blogging here by the frequency of my posts. It's rare that anything gets me stirred up enough to write more than 140 characters right now.
However, in the case of Total Rush I will make an exception.
The latest news from the Total Rush - Specialized crew is the fact that they thought it was pretty cool to run a promotional evening with topless models painted in their trademark pink and invite guests to have their photo taken alongside. They then published pictures on facebook. Dumb move guys.
The response of the owner was to give a half-arsed apology and then recant it in a distribution email leaked to a journalist by someone with more brains.
I'm not going to link to pictures, stories or fascinating twitter streams. You can google them if you wish.
What I want to do is to examine myself here. Why am I so annoyed by this? Is it more than this one incident. Why is this so much worse than other similar things? Why do I want to see Total Rush and everything it stands for gone from cycling?
Why am I so annoyed?
I am annoyed for many reasons but I'll stick to the main ones. Firstly, I am annoyed because by promoting cycling in this way it portrays male cyclists as super masculine, misogynist idiots. Self-absorbed and with little or no regard or respect for others, especially women. Certainly this is an ethos keenly taken up by some male cyclists and a few women, but it has nothing to do with what cycling is for me or most people I know. Secondly, it clearly casts women into the role of subordinate, objectified vessels. Available for the use and enjoyment of men. This is made even worse by the owners claim to be such a strong supporter of women's cycling. That he is unable to see the conflict between these two just underlines the level of ignorance at work here.
Is it more than this one incident?
Before continuing, I must confess that I am now going to blame Total Rush and their clientele for a host of wrongs that surely bleed over into other groups but when this stuff goes down, you can lay odds that the perpetrator is wearing one of their jerseys. You know the guy you pass and wave to who sneers back? - Total Rush! You know the guy on Beach Rd on a $15k bike with disc wheels who sucks your wheel and won't take a turn for 15km before sprinting past 100m before his turn? Total Rush! You know the dudes in C grade who can't take a corner without bringing down the bunch? Total Rush! You know the guys at the back end of B grade doing industrial grade performance enhancing drugs? Total Rush! You know the arsehats who are more interested in the foam on their lattes, their sock height and where the arms of their sunglasses are than whether they have any skill on their bikes? Total Rush! You know the fuckwits who load their bikes into their sportscars/V8s/Audi KnobEnds and then drive like every other homicidal idiot on the road? Total Rush! I could go on. Suffice to say that the topless model performance is a symptom of the problem. These are the people who have come to our sport to promote their own egos and their own small worlds. They are learning nothing from cycling, they are the "new golfers".
Cycling is such a broad and eclectic activity. Freeing, liberating, joyous and social. It brings home to us just how vulnerable and weak we can be and yet what great things we can achieve with perseverance and dedication. Cycling is one of the things we can do with the ability to actually make a difference to the carnage we humans and our cities bring to the earth. It is open and available to all. It is egalitarian and a great leveler. I don't think these people get any of this. It's all just about them.
Why is this worse than other similar things?
This is a tricky one and you may think I have double standards. This makes me really angry and yet there are quite similar things which I either don't get upset about or quite like. I'll take an obvious example, of a well known Melburn website. The owner/proprietor does and publishes things that aren't totally different to this. Many of his photos, definitely objectify women and set out to do so. No doubt about that. I would claim there is a world of difference. His work is self aware and commenting on the eye of the artist much more than the women portrayed. It always portrays the woman as powerful and in control. It encourages the viewer to consider the way they are viewing the work. These are not some chicks with bikes.
He is a human first, a cyclist second and competitor third. A superb rider, he will happily chat with D graders between races at the track. On the road, he'll say hello the the kids on BMXs or the old asian guy on a K-Mart mountain bike.
Why do I want these guys gone?
These are the guys who get us a bad name. The ones running red lights, the ones swearing at drivers and pedestrians, the ones with no skills but tons of testosterone. The problem is that the world of mass media sees these guys as representative of everyone who rides a bike. I want them gone, and now.
The good news is that we won't have long to wait. It should only take long enough for European Handball or Segways to become the "new cycling" so the vast majority of us can take a shower and move on....