In an effort to raise awareness about the issues fem and non-binary people face, Bike Club and Students Against Sexism in Society collaborated on a bike ride Saturday afternoon. “Fem” is defined as people who are perceived to be feminine.
Senior Marilyn Barnes, the treasurer of Bike Club, was inspired to start the event after watching the documentary Ovarian Psycos. The film follows a group of feminist cyclists of color who form bike rides to raise awareness about injustice and issues concerning identity. Barnes viewed it as a model for encouraging underrepresented groups to join the cycling community and decided to reach out to SASS.
“I see a lot of people cycling, but usually just to get to campus, not really as a group,” said Barnes. “I wanted to try and do an all fem ride to just raise awareness about the issues that go on in our fem and non-binary community. I’ve been harassed quite a few times cycling. So that’s why we did it, and to bring more people into the cycling community.”
The ride went from Old Jail to Lake Storey and back, a 10 mile ride overall. Once they made it to Lake Storey, the fem and non-binary riders took part in an informal discussion about issues they have experienced while cycling in the past or as members of the fem and non-binary community in general.
“I want it to be more like a venting session,” Barnes said about the discussion before the ride began. “Sometimes we bottle things up inside and I just want it to be a safe space where we can open up and talk about the things that affect us, not only as cyclists, because not everyone that is coming identifies as a cyclist like I do, but how it affects us as women and non-binary folk.”
Sophomore Rafael Cho, the president of Bike Club, helped coordinate the event, but did not go himself.
“It’s only for fem and non-binary people,” Cho said, who went on to discuss how the event was still important to him as a cyclist. “There are kinds of issues that don’t directly affect me, but I still think they should be addressed. People are uncomfortable biking and the stereotype towards is it’s a guy
thing when really it doesn’t have to be.”
Since one of the plans to raise awareness was to have many cyclists riding together, Barnes was disappointed that only three riders, including herself, actually took part in the event.
“I was hoping for a big group so we could make an impact in Galesburg,” Barnes said.
However, Barnes is hopeful that the collaboration between Bike Club and SASS will continue on after she graduates so that more events can raise awareness. Freshman Eden Sarkisian, co-president of SASS, was also hopeful and felt that future rides would be more successful with more planning.
“We were thinking that this should become an annual event,” Sarkisian said. “Next year we’re going to try to do this again, hopefully with a little bit more preparation.”