In American society, gender is a crucial part of our life and psychology. Interestingly enough, we often assign objects, colors, and even numbers genders. The gender of objects fluctuates throughout time. For example, the color pink, a color that is currently associated with women was historically a men’s color. Another “gendered object” is the motorcycle. The motorcycle is mostly associated with men and masculinity. However, there are many women who ride and love motorcycles, and that number is steadily growing. The LA Times in August reported that the number of female motorcycle owners rose from 4.3 million in 2003 to 6.7 million in 2012.
The motorcycle industry is noticing that women ride motorcycles too and motorcycle-owning women are speaking out about their love for riding, in order to counter the stereotype that only men love and ride motorcycles.There are many women-founded organizations and resources throughout the United States that focus on motorcycle riding, safety, and ownership for women. They provide great examples of women who love motorcycles and encourage other women to join them!
Westside Motorcycle Academy
This organization is located in Southern California. Founded in 2005 by Erika Willhite and Amanda Cunningham, this riding school is one of the few female owned Motorcycle Safety Foundation-approved rider schools in the United States.
“Women are the fastest-growing demographic in motorcycling, moving from the back of the bike to the front,” Willhite said. “And they do really well in the class.”
While not all of the students are women, this academy has a significant amount of women participants. Willhite and Cunningham strive to make their academy all-inclusive. As a result, their organization continues to gain success, so much so that singer Alanis Morissette, as well as other Hollywood names, have taken lessons through Westside Motorcycle Academy.
Women on WheelsTM
This organization is described as “international, family-oriented organization that serves to unite all female motorcycle enthusiasts while promoting a positive image of the motorcycling lifestyle.” Members range from teenagers to women in their eighties and from beginners to experienced riders. This organization is located throughout the United States—if you are interested in joining, you will affiliate yourself with your local chapter. Currently, there are more than 69 chapters across the United States, but unfortunately, a chapter has not been started in Utah. There are chapters in neighboring states that you can join, or if you are interested in starting a chapter, you can click here.
Driven to Ride: A Documentary
This documentary by Michelle Carpenter explores the spirit of women driving motorcycles in the United States. Says Carpenter, “Stereotypes about women on bikes are wildly outdated. They’re mothers, sisters, entrepreneurs and businesswomen. They’re so much deeper than what we see on the surface level.”
The idea came to her in 2007 while attending a motorcycle rally that was having an event focused around women riders, specifically because women at that time quickly became the fastest growing demographic in the motorcycle world. This documentary showcases different women who ride motorcycles as a way to illustrate diversity in the motorcycle-riding world. Motorcycle riders are women, too.
LA Times: More women are discovering the thrill of motorcycles , Women on Wheels , Denver Post: Women Motorcycle Riders a Fast-Growing Trend, Official page for Driven to Ride documentary
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons and Allar Tammik.