Friday, 5 April 2013

Keeping the rubber side down: gaining traction in the shifting sands of time.

Did you notice anything unusual of late? The Earth might have shifted on its axis again just a few days ago.  The 2011 magnitude 9 earthquake just off Japan moved the the planet 10 cm (4 in), sped it up, and shortened the day by one two millionth of a second, as a big quakes are wont to do. It's a cause and effect kind of thing. This week's shift was deeper and more profound than a mere earthquake, and who knows?  Maybe this time the movement slowed things down a smidgeon, and bought us a bit of time. 

sunrise over pacific
What?  You didn't sniff the scent of monumental change on the winds this week, nor sense the shifting of the great, intergalactic tide?

 Don't worry. Now that you're aware of it you'll notice all kinds of things.

You've already heard that Saudi women are suddenly allowed to ride bicycles, "if only in circles."

As Snobbers sez, it's " for entertainment purposes only, which means that while they can't pick up some milk on their way home from work on a bike, they can certainly do this:

Yeah.  Like that.

Never mind that they can only ride in designated recreation areas, in full abaya, and accompanied by male relatives. Never mind that they'll have to pack up the bikes and the men-folk, presumably in some crazy-assed HumVee with a trailer for their tandem bicycles...?? ...and drive to the designated "recreation area."  Er, and while you're at it, never mind the fine print saying that these daring women should shun places where young men might congregate "to avoid harassment."  

You've got to wonder exactly what that's going to look like....  will they have some form of girls-only, outdoor velodromes to equal the rollerdromes of the eighties, complete with disco music to get happy to? Or do they just head to the local mosque grounds and ride around the parking lot until some boys show up, at which point they all scatter like flies to the winds?  Never mind. The point is that the ultra-conservative Saudi authorities are letting woman ride, though they don't say why.

I wouldn't last a day over there. Never mind that well-behaved women rarely make history. The vice police would instantly have a massive hate-on for the likes of me, don't you think? Thank goodness I live in Vancouver, and not Riyadh, that most phallic of cities. There's getting stoned and then there's GETTING STONED, and I'm thinking Saudi style is simply not my cuppa.

The Kingdom Centre and northern Riyadh
Yes, riding in Riyadh is a teeny tiny baby step for womankinde, but it's emblematic of the greater whole.
Sally Armstrong calls it "The Ascent of Women," but really it's the ascent of consciousness. Many, many men are standing alongside the women they know and love.

And girls on wheels in Riyadh? Who knows? Maybe the young women of influence in the kindgom came home from their Harvard educations, raving on about the benefits of cycling, and insisting to dad, grandad, uncle, anyone who would listen, really, that they simply had to ride a bike, until one day, when finally the cranky old guard, so resistant to change, and yet worn down by feminine chatter, finally gave in.
Stranger things have been known to happen.

There are crazy-bad things happening to women all over the world, including some serious issues right here in Canada. Atrocities against women have been happening for a very long time, but suddenly, things are changing.  Women and children are standing up, speaking out, and being heard. These young people understand that silence is violence, and violence is everybody's business.  They get that if you can't talk about it you can't change it, and for once it seems the world is listening. They're creating change for themselves, having grasped that if they don't do it, nobody else will do it for them. 

They're Idle No More, as it were. 

This is so important. In Afghanistan Young Women for Change is empowering women to resist public groping, intimidation and harassment.  Their motto is "This is my street, too," something any cyclist can easily relate to. 

What economists are now coming to realise is that the health of the economy and the status of women are intrinsically linked together. Where women flourish, so does the economy. 
 Hello, sexually liberal Iceland.  
On the other hand, if your culture oppresses women you are doomed to be a failed state.  
 Er...hello Afghanistan.  

Never mind. There's vast change a-foot, so much so that the rate of change  is accelerating.  
Who knows?  
Maybe there's time to save ourselves yet. 

 I like being pre-occupied with my petty first world problems: which shoes to wear with what outfit, or what wine goes best with Thai Green Curry,

but there is a silver lining in the Arab Spring cloud, a lesson to be learned, an example to follow.  The young women of Tunisia and Egypt "didn't just join the protests.  They were a leading force behind the cultural evolution that made the protests inevitable."  As cyclists and responsible citizens of planet Earth, we have an obligation to peacefully BE THE CHANGE we want to see in the world.  

Not only can we take back the streets so that they are safer for everyone, but we can take back our world, too.  We can create cities worth inhabiting, and lives worth living.  The shift has already happened.  The change has begun.  Let's make the most of this opportunity, shall we?

Join me in the bike lane. I dare you.

Life is good here.

Wait!!  Don't go! The esteemed Serial Retrogrouch over there on snobsblog kindly directed me to this interesting little tit-bit:


I love it.  Love it.  Protests held all over Europe, April 4, 2013.  The Topless Jihad.  
I was there in spirit.


  1. Good stuff! As depressing as things are, sometimes, it is encouraging to hear that some things are getting better as time passes.

  2. ...reading these various articles with the presented facts & figures & watching the videos & trying to fathom the attitude of entitlement that the perpetrators of rape use to justify their acts, leaves me as a man, angry... initial response was to feel stunned & hollow, not because i've been blind or naive but presented this way, the sheer volume of the situation is overwhelming..., i'm filled with anger at the pathetic nature of these 'men' & when i try to look at this from the perspective of how women must feel, i can only say i'm choked up...i don't know that we, those of us who try to enlighten ourselves as men, can ever understand this particular emotion...

    ...i see this whole situation as about nothing but choice & anything else is weak willed bullshit...

    ...peer pressure leads you to rape a woman ???...cultural aspects of "your society" allows you to rape a woman ???...your "superiority" as a man absolves you from blame so you think it's right to rape a woman ???...

    ...we live in a world full of fear & sujugation because too many men think that's the only way they can stay 'in control' pathetic...

    ...i thank the great spirit that my mum was as strong & intelligent as she was in showing me an honest perspective of life & in teaching me how to be a man...i learned basics from my father but i better understand 'life' thanks to my mum...

    ...i hope she knows i'm still trying to make it worthwhile...

    1. I really feel for all our wonderful, enlightened men. It is almost impossible for me (old gal, boomer) to believe we so failed to change the world. We have it so right on the home front, I don't know what to do about the fringes. I have raised a good son. I guess I should have raised more. Your outrage is affirmation that we are on the right track in our world. I guess we need to try harder to engage the wider one. I wish I had an answer.

  3. The Bike Orgasm screen shot. Without watching the video I would interpret the image by thinking that she just left Cipo's house and is re-living the pleasure.

  4. Ms. Babble on, You seem like such a happy cyclist and like you I believe that bicycling can have a positive effect on people and place, but since I moved to the big city, I've noticed that a majority of bicyclists seen so uptight. And rude. The ultimate question for me will be; where will I take my grandchildren (when I have them) to ride on their little twelve and sixteen inch wheeled bikes with training wheels. Certainly not on “unseparated” bike lanes, where distracted and aggressive drivers will always be a threat and “Freds,” and other fast and furious types, are even making the pike paths dicey for young riders. Let's face it, when each and every one of us took our first ride, it wasn't for exercise or speed or distance; it was simply to ride.