November 7, 2017

Treating Women Motorcycle Riders As Equals

While I believe these models are gorgeous, I don't think they represent your typical woman rider. 
In the motorcycle industry I find few things as disappointing as the use of Promo Girls at motorcycle shows.

With the International Motorcycle Show just around the corner, I've been thinking about this long accepted practice in the motorcycle industry. Not only at the shows do we see this, but many of the motorcycle publications still feature scantily clad models draped over bikes.

To use women as decorations objectifies and demeans our role in the industry. There has been a long struggle to be seen as equals for not only the female industry professionals but the everyday women riders as well.

"As of 2014, the estimated number of women motorcycle riders was 14% and women influenced up to 25% of purchases in the $23 billion industry," according to Women Riders Now.

In the news lately, we've seen great emphasis on the poor treatment of women. Tens of thousands of women have shared their stories of sexual harassment via social media with the #metoo campaign. Yet with all of this focus on women being treated with respect and as equals, women are still being objectified by the motorcycle industry.

Little has been done by the industry leaders to end the inappropriateness of using barely dressed models at the shows and in the publications. These OEMs and publishers don't recognize, or don't care, that women have historically been categorized as second-class citizens in this industry.

They certainly have noticed the growing number of women motorcycle and gear buyers. We see more and more products directed at women everyday. We also see more and more women bike builders, fabricators, publishers, photographers and writers. But this male dominated industry still has serious issues with both equality and diversity.

I often hear talk about the need to attract new motorcycle riders to this declining industry. To me, it would seem a logical direction would be to attract and keep more women riders. Women drive 70 - 80% of all consumer purchasing through buying power and influence and spend upwards of $20 trillion a year worldwide. But when something so disheartening as minimizing women's role as nothing more than motorcycle jewelry, it goes against attracting riders and purchasers.

Women are no longer content to turn a blind eye and accept that some men expect to see these models spicing up the show. If you want to attract more buyers, you had better figure out who is buying.

Would it be too much to ask the industry professionals to stop marginalizing women by ending the objectification and embrace equality?

We're on another Road Pickle! We hope to find great breweries, tacos, steak and biscuits with gravy, as well as some roadside oddities along the way. If you don't want to miss a thing, join us by subscribing to our vlog on YouTube. I PROMISE you'll see some cool stuff!
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  1. As the publisher and editor of a regional magazine in Florida, I have made it a point to not publish photos or ads that have scantily dressed women draped across a motorcycle. As a female rider, I know there are many women who actually ride and I prefer to promote women as equally important in the motorcycle world. Every time I see a cheesecake photo, the first thought I have is "I wonder if she actually knows how to ride that bike." Thanks for bringing this subject to light, Sash! MLH&R

  2. Well said Sash. I was on Facebook yesterday and a poll came up from Adventure Rider on what bike you were most excited to see at a show. 4 of the listed choices were referencing women and not bikes. I just shook my head and didn't participate because of it. - Again, turning a blind eye.

    Moto Corsa, the Ducati dealer in Portland tried to show the world how it looked and this was their parody:

    1. Trobairitz thanks! That Moto Corsa shoot was done by Alicia Elfving, better known as Motolady. She did such a great job! But these are usually seen as silly rather than addressing the real problem.

      Unfortunately, I got some negative feedback about this article, which surprised me. I was called jealous, insecure and uptight. I was told to grow up, get over it, and find something real to worry about. This all came from women!

      I guess it's too much to expect that all women would see how this affects the industry. Most of the negative feedback centered around saying I was jealous or didn't like the models, none of which is true. It has nothing to do with the models, which I guess I didn't specify clearly enough in the article. Bummer.

  3. It's sad that we still as an entire society are using women to catch attention in hopes of making a sale. With all the, "new" awareness regarding harassment, maybe, just maybe we're turning the corner.

    Far beyond advertising, it's the attitude toward women. We grew up with it and too many people are OK continuing. If guys would drop the label, "My old lady" would be a start.

    Don & Karla 2vegans2wheels

  4. Couldn't agree more. Same goes for manufacturing bikes. I am of very small physique and somehow the manufacturers launches bigger bikes and does not cater for smaller woman. Also, it wouldn't hurt them to place a sexy shirtless hunk next to some of the "lady prefered" bikes at their shows. Their marketing guru's are definitely not spotting the huge gap.

  5. Well said! I have decided not to go to the shows. I find it disheartening and frankly disgusting when I see guys leering at the young girls. Motorcycle industry needs to catch up. I won't support the shows. They need to do better and be better.

  6. Well said! I have decided not to go to the shows. I find it disheartening and frankly disgusting when I see guys leering at the young girls.


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