THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT
Photos by Matthew Jones | Words by Leticia Cline
The morning air was crisp, each inhale serving as a brisk wakeup call, stinging the lungs. I awoke with a knot in my stomach from yesterday’s decision to rent a motorcycle and set out on a 400-mile ride. It had been six years since I had been on a bike, and the rapid beating in my chest reminded me of that with every thump. I sat on my porch and my thoughts turned to my father, who taught me to ride and, up until his death, had been my steadfast road-trip partner. I was afraid. I was alone. But this was something that was bigger than just me and a motorcycle.
A lot had changed in six years. The women’s movement in motorcycling was something that I was not well familiar with. I’d never ridden with girls, and really did not even surround myself with them in regular life. I had a couple of women friends at that time and even they acted more like men than most men I know. For the first time in my life, I was nervously yearning to be accepted, even though I wasn’t yet sure why.
Having become familiar with the massive population of female motorcyclists through social media, I found myself wanting to do more than just connect with women online; I wanted to actually meet, to hear their stories in person and ride with them. For so long, we women have been labeled as “catty” and “emotionally unstable,” and even though I am a woman, I generally tended to agree—up until I discovered this subculture of women who actually encouraged one another. Maybe it’s because they are a subculture and by nature that comes with the territory; those in the minority tend to look out for each other.
It’s no secret that women have been riding motorcycles for a long time. What’s changing now is that women are no longer encouraging only other women to ride, but men as well. We have become pop culture, showing up in ads for anything from purses to mascara to feature films, riding away into the sunset at the handlebars, not feebly sitting on the hero’s backseat. Today, one in four motorcyclists is a woman; there are nearly seven million female riders worldwide, a 45 percent increase since 2003.
Every day, a new women’s motorcycle club or woman rider is born, and the world is taking notice. The American Motorcyclist Association’s #getwomenriding hashtag demonstrates an understanding for the movement and, more importantly, support. They even highlighted female influencers in the industry, including Ducati rider and blogger Alicia Elfving (The Moto Lady) and East Side Moto Babes member and racer Stacie B. London (Triple Nickel 555). Microsoft even highlighted woman rider, racer, and builder Jessi Combs in their #DoMore campaign...