"Granny gear" and sexism

Discussion in 'General Cycling Discussions' started by swansonj, 11 May 2018.

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  1. swansonj

    swansonj Guru

    This cropped up in the "get home after a breakdown" thread, and several people correctly said it was a diversion of a quite useful and interesting thread. So, for anyone interested in discussing this in its own right:

    The term "granny gear" is deeply embedded in cycling, is used by most people with no malign intent, but is nonetheless derogatory and sexist.

    The paradigm behind it is that cycling is a macho activity; real cyclists ought to be macho enough to cope without low gears; and not subscribing to that macho culture, or simply prefering easier gears, is distinctively female (and, the imagery conveys, old, feeble females at that).

    Low gears make cycling easier and more enjoyable. It cannot be anything other than sexist to link a desire for cycling to be easy and enjoyable with women.

    It is damaging not just because all prejudice always diminishes all of us, but because the whole sports-derived macho culture of cycling - of which selling ordinary people bikes with unsuitably high gears is part - puts off more people discovering and embracing our wonderful mode of travel, to the detriment of them, us, and the whole of society.

    Discuss (if you wish).
    downesy, craigwend and smutchin like this.
  2. TinyMyNewt

    TinyMyNewt An execrable pun

    South coast, UK
    Yes. It's the same frame of reference that believes that some makes/types of cars are inferior and open to mockery because they are 'for girls'.
    downesy, hopless500 and swansonj like this.
  3. vickster

    vickster Legendary Member

    And some people believe that a woman might choose to use a breakdown recovery service like ETA just so they can pick up cute taxi drivers :rolleyes: not because they may not have the interest, desire, time or skill to fix a bike at the side of the road
  4. vickster

    vickster Legendary Member

    Or indeed maybe that a man in shining armour is just sitting at home waiting to collect them should a roadside breakdown occur, hence no need for such a service exists
    DCBassman and FishFright like this.
  5. bpsmith

    bpsmith Veteran

    Is the term actually sexist?

    There’s a massive assumption that Granny refers to Grandmother, rather than Grandfather.

    Ageist, fair enough.
    bladesman73, Moodyman and Cycleops like this.
  6. cosmicbike

    cosmicbike Perhaps This One..... Staff Member

    I have a woman in shining armour. I hope....
    C R, Pat "5mph", raleighnut and 2 others like this.
  7. vickster

    vickster Legendary Member

    Have you ever heard someone refer to their grandfather as granny (maybe it's normal in Wales)
  8. Welsh wheels

    Welsh wheels Lycra king

    South Wales
    More ageist than sexist I'd say
    bladesman73 likes this.
  9. Welsh wheels

    Welsh wheels Lycra king

    South Wales
    Granny in wales can just as easily refer to a elderly female sheep
    Cycleops likes this.
  10. Pale Rider

    Pale Rider Guru

    When someone posted about 'granny gear' being sexist/ageist a while ago I thought it was a wind-up.
    Last edited by a moderator: 11 May 2018
  11. bpsmith

    bpsmith Veteran

    The irony of being racist in a thread complaining about sexism is not lost on me. :smile:
  12. Welsh wheels

    Welsh wheels Lycra king

    South Wales
    Aye, important not to take ourselves to seriously (as my granny would say) And my granny also wouldn't claim she could cycle with big gears :tongue:
    Last edited by a moderator: 11 May 2018
    Vantage, Pat "5mph", Oldbloke and 2 others like this.
  13. bpsmith

    bpsmith Veteran

  14. vickster

    vickster Legendary Member

    Huh? Not racist, you live in Wales don’t you and made a comment about granny being a name for grandfather. Not one I’ve ever heard in England, so I wondered if it’s maybe a Welsh thing?!
    bpsmith likes this.
  15. bpsmith

    bpsmith Veteran

    Glad you responded in that manner.

    I was just trying to demonstrate that Intention is everything. You didn’t intend to be racist, and I didn’t genuinely think that, but using similar words with a different intention can be racist.

    My point being that I have honestly never heard anyone use the term granny gear with the intention of offending anyone female, older, or both. More often than not, they are referring to themselves using that gear and not being negative usually.

    Edit: the same goes for my post referencing the experienced rider thread. Zero negative intention, but the same argument could be applied.
    gbb and Salty seadog like this.
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