Speaking of change, fashion is not the only thing that is mercurial. It appears that gender too can be a bit of a moving target. A reader informs me that he plugged this very blog into the "Genderanalyzer," and it came back with the result that I am most likely a female:
To be perfectly honest, I have mixed feelings about this result. On one hand, I find it heartening that I have achieved near gender-neutrality, as I of course take great pains not to be a part of the patriarchy of bike culture and bike shops and to ensure that nobody is exluded due to their gender identity. Then again, I can't help but find my gender neutrality somewhat disconcerting as well. I think most of us like to think that our genders are readily discernible to others. As such, learning that I'm slightly a woman makes me feel like some combination of the portrait of Dorian Gray and that photograph of Michael J. Fox in "Back to the Future" in which he fades in and out depending on whether he's being successful in making his parents hook up--it's as though my own "parts" are constantly changing depending on which side of the 50% barrier my gender index is on at any given moment.
Intrigued and disgusted by this notion, I decided to test the accuracy of the Genderanalyzer by plugging in the blogs of some other cycling writers of whose genders I'm reasonably certain. First I tried Fat Cyclist, who it turns out is 62% man. Though not a landslide, the result is certainly decisive and accurate.
Next up was HTATBL, and it may come as a surprise to its author Stevil Kinevil that he is (according to the Genderanalyzer) a whopping 75% female. I'm not sure what led the Genderanalyzer to its incorrect conclusion, but I'm sure Stevil will be pleased to know that he can always print out this result, have it laminated, and use it to gain access to Super Power Inclusion Night at the Derailer Bicycle Collective in Denver, CO.
Next up was Jim at Unholy Rouleur, who was correctly diagnosed to be a male. (He came in at 67%.) I'm not sure why the Genderanalyzer didn't simply check his profile, since the fact that he's named Jim should have upped the odds considerably, but in any case it was correct so I suppose that's all that matters.
Finally, I sent the Genderanalyzer over to unretired professional cyclist, cancer activist, fashion icon, and budding social networking enthusiast Lance Armstrong's Twitter. The Genderanalyzer had little doubt as to Armstrong's gender, and it pronounced him to be a male with a probability of 93%. Unfortunately, I'm sure that this overwhelming result will only lead his detractors to accuse him of using testosterone, and I'm also sure the USADA testers are kicking down his door and demanding that he urinate in a cup as you read this. If you live in the Austin area you've probably seen Armstrong's USADA "urine detail," but if you haven't I can tell you that they shadow him in a Plymouth Reliant and they look uncannily like Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez in the 1987 film "Stakeout:"
Just imagine the person attached to that leg slipping on a Nike cycling shoe instead of a red pump and you've got the idea.
But when it comes to gender and stalking, nobody is in a better position to stalk people of the opposite sex than a bike messenger:
to the girl in the architecture office - m4w - 26 (everywhere)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-11-15, 8:01PM EST
You are every beautiful girl in every architecture office, at your desk by the door, with your dignified "we love modernism even though we know it's so over" style and your glasses. I am the bike messenger, one of the smart ones too stubborn to get a real job, the architecture school dropout, who is in your office for 15 seconds at a time, who you smile at, who you offer water, who you ask if it's still raining out. I never have time to chat, but maybe after work sometime we can wax nostalgic about saarinen and kahn and talk about the houses we someday want to build for ourselves.
While you can't always tell people's gender from their writing, you can usually tell right away whether or not they're smart. Still, this particular person felt the need to come right out and say it. And if you're still not sure, he's also dropped some names. (As a smart person myself, neither reference was lost on me, and I know both Saarinen and Kahn as notorious "Star Trek" villains.) Furthermore, not content to tout his own intellectual superiority, he's also gone ahead and disparaged other messengers as well as the vocation of messengering by suggesting that it is not a "real job." I suppose what he really means to say is that he's a person of privilege, and that as a person of privilege he has elected as a form of self-expression to do a job that other less privileged people must simply do in order to survive. Moreover, he's also saying that those who are messengers by necessity rather than choice are stupid--or at least not as smart as he is.
Given this, it's no surprise then that so many messengers are poorly compensated and receive no benefits. After all, it's a lifestyle choice, not a real job, right? So why would "smart" people who messenger instead of getting "real jobs" bother to demand better treatment when all they really require is an excuse to ride around the city on weekdays and lord their superiority over non-messengers at alleycats? Sure, this attitude doesn't work out so well for their many co-workers who actually have to messenger, but then again those people ride crappy bikes and speak different languages and don't dress well and are totally unsexy. They're the lumpen-proletariat. Who would want to have anything to do with them? Certainly not beautiful girls who work in architecture offices.
In any case, I wish our smart and stubborn bike messenger luck. I hope he does get together with a beautiful architect, and that together they build a glass house on a hill from which they can gaze bemusedly upon the lumpen-proletariat below.
But the lumpen-proletariat is not the only distasteful group of people out there testing the patience of the sophisticated urban cyclist. There's also the Hasidim. And I wouldn't expect this rivalry to end anytime soon, for it seems the "hipsters" may already have taken to actively baiting their pious minivan-driving adversaries:you ride a converted track bike... - w4m - 25
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-11-12, 1:50PM EST
...black with straight handlebars. you dodged the minivans in south williamsburg beautifully- i am a scandal, a reason for the outcry of bike lane indecency in my neighborhood. wanna be part of the problem?
As one who longs to see a peaceful coexistence along the Great Hipster Silk Route, I was dismayed to read this. Certainly intentionally scandalizing your neighbors is no way to live in harmony with them. My only hope is that this is an isolated incident. Perhaps this particular woman is simply a Semitic exhibitionist who derives a perverse thrill from being watched by Hasidim, and she's hoping that the guy with the conversion and the straight handlebar shares her proclivities. Assuming this is the case and they do connect, they can then place another Craigslist ad seeking a minyan to observe their lovemaking. And maybe--just maybe-- such a fetish will allow the "hipsters" and the Hasidim live happily together after all.
I also hope that things have gotten better over in London. A reader recently forwarded me this article from his archives, which despite being a year or so old is still relevant today:
If you're anything like me, you're simultaneously shocked that a cyclist could be capable of such brutality and dismayed that there's no video of what doubtless must have been a highly entertaining and comical interaction.
Lastly, you may recall that not too long ago I was somewhat critical of a marketing video for the Oso Bike. Well, I'm pleased to report that Oso Bike owner Shane Stock has just informed me he's produced a new version:
I'm sure you'll agree that, with its high-energy techno soundtrack, Stock has finally managed to capture the spirit and excitement of his famous backyard Bacchanalia. You simply haven't experienced gender-bending and Semitic exhibitionism until you've been to Shane Stock's house.