Monday, 14 September 2009

Lycra, practical on men, pervy on women.

There's a bike shop fairly near work and I like it. The staff are generally very helpful and most of them remember who I am. However, there is a problem and it's one of their other regular customers. He's around twice my age and never looks at my face.

He's said hello before and I've always given the nod and silent smile of 'I'm being polite but not giving the go ahead for you to talk to me'. Normally I've managed to time my departure so I'm not alone with him and can cycle on in peace. This morning, after popping in for valve dust caps, I woefully mistimed it.

He followed me out admired my bike, then made several comments around the theme of 'You must be fit with a figure like that', 'You must cycle quite far to look like that' etc etc. I was desperately trying to get my panniers clipped and get out of there.

I've always admired women who know how to handle this kind of situation because I really don't. I cringe, I'm overly polite and all the time I'm panicking inside. When he said 'Which way are you going, because I reckon I should go that way too' with a leer I wanted the ground to swallow me. Instead I pedalled off, very fast.

So fast in fact that I overtook several swanky roadies and got into work much faster than usual.

I was wearing black cycle shorts that stop two inches above my knee, a bright pink short-sleeved jersey, trainers and a helmet. Hardly come hither attire. I've been whistled at and catcalled a few times but what I wear is not hugely different from other people on the road, it's just that I'm female.

What makes it ok to perv over a women in lycra when, quite frankly, the sight of a man in bibshorts inspires giggles in most women?

Why is lycra seen as a practical measure when men wear it and a come-on when women do?

So unfair.


  1. Ew. like you I envy women who can come up with a withering set-down or another response to deter unwelcome attention in situations like these. At best I can muster a withering stare. At least you got some speed out of it!

  2. Ooooooooooohhhh I know exactly what you mean. And we (as women) are so socially conditioned not to cause upset, not to be rude, that we hardly ever challenge it, we either smile weakly and pretend it's not offensive, or we just make a dash for it, or we let it go until finally telling them to f- off and get accused of "overreacting."

    I'm working on my Not Okay technique: look them squarely in the eye and say "No, it is NOT OKAY for you to make those sorts of comments. Please leave me alone." And then prepare to be called an ugly man-hating lesbian (amazing how the word "no" transforms you from object of extreme sexual desire to ugly / fat / unshaggable.) Argh.