In this first of two-parts, we explore four of seven sources of fear which constrain empowerment. The messages are universal, so if motorcycles are not your “thing”, substitute whatever works for you. Excerpted from Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment.
In spite of the call to our wild nature, we resist going with it. This happens with learning to ride or with many other challenges. But almost any barrier can be overcome if one wants to learn to ride. Ask Roxie Malone, who was told as a child she’d never walk, never mind ride a motorcycle.
Resistance is caused by fear and causes us to do silly things, which in turn drain our energy, make things much more difficult than they need to be and prevent us from progressing. A woman I know was so frightened by the stories she’d heard about motorcycles, she was terrified to use the throttle. When she tried to move off , she’d release the clutch, but she couldn’t bring herself to activate the throttle. So, she would stall and lose her balance, which in turn reinforced her fear. I tried to get her to understand that using the power would make things much easier, but she never was able to get past the fear.
The potential sources of fear are many:
Cultural training. Men originally wrote the rules for motorcycling and designed the game and the gear. Early women riders had to conquer this domination and defy societal expectations while riding bikes and wearing clothing designed for men. Even now, with greater participation of women, we’re still in the minority and sometimes still need to buck the system.
Opinions of others. Perhaps they’ll think we’re not feminine. Perhaps they’ll think we’re dykes. Families, friends and business associates all have an image of what a motorcyclist is. People regularly tell me, “But you don’t look like a biker.” But I must look like a biker, because I am one and have been for forty years. But what happens when someone who doesn’t ride wants to ask you on a date? Or what if he does ride and his bike is smaller than yours? Before we can change the way others view us, we must change the way we view ourselves.
Safety concerns. Families and friends worry about our safety, of course. Non-riders seem compelled to relate horror stories, complete with gruesome details of people who have been killed or maimed. But we know the risks and accept them and prepare for them. We overcome our fears and reap incredible rewards.
Dealing with change. A ride is always an adventure to some degree. Things happen when we’re out there. It starts to rain, there’s gravel in a corner, someone cuts us off, a detour diverts our carefully planned route, our GPS stops working. The list is endless, and when we’re motoring down the road on a five hundred-pound-plus machine, things can unfold in a hurry. We have to have our wits about us at all times. We learn to be prepared for the unexpected.
To read more, including stories and collective wisdom from a diverse group of women, purchase signed copies of Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment through my website. You can also order a print or kindle copy directly from Amazon.com. Links for other retailers and ebooks here.
Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment
Copyright © 2011 by Liz Jansen. All Rights Reserved.
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