The all-time most popular post on the Taking the Lane blog is the Bike Test. It provides an handy analytical checklist for deciding whether or not something is sexist.
As the influence of women grows across all types of bicycling, there has been quite a bit of debate about the representation of gender in everything from ads to advocacy campaigns, race tracks to board meetings. Is that photo of a sexy woman on a bike sexist, or is it empowering? Objectifying, or compelling? Tokenizing, or inclusive? Is it different if the photo was taken by a woman? What if the woman depicted is an avowed feminist? Does this mean we are never allowed to depict women wearing skirts and heels? These discussions tend to get frustrating, in part, I think, because we don’t always have a shared idea of what these terms mean.
I saw the need for an analytical tool that could be used by both media creators and consumers to evaluate images of women in bicycling. So, inspired by the Bechdel Test for women in movies (still as relevant today as it was in 1985), I created… The Bike Test.
This test also serves as the minimum standard for making sure what I write, edit, and eventually produce fulfills my mission of being a feminist publisher.