I bought a bicycle yesterday, and it was a positive act towards eliminating my residual internalized misogyny.
I need to give you some background.
I am one of you ladies. I grew up with enormous disdain for all things girly and, I am ashamed to admit, the majority of actual girls. It didn't help that I found the communication styles of grade-school-age girls mystifying. I couldn't decode their social cues, and so I hung around the boys, whose straight-forward ways (you annoy me — I punch you) were so much easier. I sat at the self-segregating "boys' table" at lunch whether they liked it or not (they didn't), and I thought this was a huge feminist statement. But it went further. I abhorred skirts, puffy stickers, cuteness, glitter, and pink, and I worked at abhorring them. I would have clawed your eyes out if you had tried to get a pink shirt on me. I was deeply insulted when any adult called me "cute." See, I had sussed early on that women and girls got less respect and wielded less power, and everything coded masculine got more. I wanted that respect, so I endlessly performed my rejection of anything and everything coded feminine.
I didn't get a handle on this until sometime in my twenties, during grad school and time abroad. I am much better now.
Mostly. Mostly. I still have a horror of pink. Oh, it's great for other people! I'm especially happy when I see men rocking pink anything. But it is not for me.
All of this is necessary to understanding my bike-purchasing experience yesterday. As it happens, I wanted a step-through bike this time, a so-called "ladies' bicycle," largely because I want to make commuting in a short skirt easier. (The slow process of being able to wear skirts could be another whole post.) I was already resolved to considering a women-specific frame, step-through or not, because it's hard enough to accommodate my biomechanical weirdnesses without too-wide handlebars and too-narrow saddles.
I walked in and explained my deal: short, long torso W seeks hybrid. W's bike OK, step-through preferred.
The salesdude reached for a small bike meeting all my preferences. I winced to see the pink racing stripes, pink handlebars, pink seat post tightening thing. I felt myself have a visceral reaction even though it was, by any standard, a black bicycle with a few pink details. I sighed and amended myself thusly: "Oh, and I am actually willing to pay $60 more to not have pink on my bike."
Now, pink products are often problematic even without residual internalized misogyny. I resent enormously mandatory pink as foisted upon women in all kinds of situations. The assumption that if I want to accommodate my stereotypically XX hips / support breast cancer research / do gardening in gloves that fit / whatever, that I must have no choices but pink is genuinely problematic independently of my long-standing emotional and conceptual allergy to the hue.
That said, on the purely physical level, this bike fit even as the dabs of pink paint here and were giving me hives. I imagined covering the ones I could reach with permanent marker, but cringed at how crappy that was likely to look. I imagined saving up for a professional paint job, but found I couldn't conscience the expense. I wrestled with my demons. And then I sighed and handed over my card. I needed a bike. I'm a grownup. I'll just have to deal.
I felt sorry for myself as the bike shop folks installed the fenders and the rack and everything. It was taking a long time. As I was standing around, I overheard another customer, a man looking at the selection of odometers. Sales guy wrapped up his overview of the options with "and there are lots of colors." The man nodded and said in his best Beavis voice, "maybe I'll get the pink one — hunh!" —and reached for the dark gray.
Something snapped in my head. Seriously? How old are you? Do you seriously have to perform your bullshit anti-feminine masculinity at every opportunity? Something snapped and demons flew out my ears. I honest-to god stood up straighter and thought, "Fuck yeah, pink bike!"
Fuck yeah, pink bike. I know, it's a black bike, but I'm giving myself credit for a small step, a tiny exorcism. I have plans. I'm going to get a badass pink safety pennant, and I will be badass.