I have learned sometimes being in an MC means death by 1000 cuts because you don’t the power to make it stop. Even the tiniest little things add up to something big – sometimes its really death by 1000 paper cuts.
The cuts started early. Your discouraged and humiliated when first starting to learn to ride in a group. I remember standing on the side of the freeway terrified, cars rushing by, with everyone screaming what a failure I was. How I was going to kill myself and everyone with me. Few people give you credit for how scary it can be when you are first starting out. By nature most woman or not in the business of risk taking when it comes to physical things so initially this is pretty big hump to get over. I still get anxious riding with others even though I have gotten pretty good at doing it on my own or with my guy. A paper cut for every ride.
Most MC’s have next to no women in them. The guys make comments about the woman who try to prospect and fit in without being interested in them on a sexual level. The woman who are with these men constantly see you a threat, of course you must be there only to find some guy to be with, particularly their guy. Most of the men don’t take you serious until you are screaming and then they just say you crazy. You learn pretty quick to be a bitch or be ignored or worse yet pushed around. What you are left with is years of pushing yourself to hard because you wanted prove something. A paper cut for prospecting.
When you go to functions the guys make cracks and tell stories about how their wife/girlfriend don’t understand why the do this and give them shit about being in an MC. They constantly justify their exclusion of their significant others, so they can run around and miss behave with impunity, with comments like this is my thing. It’s clearly intended to be a joke they can all identify with, and most of them do as the population is largely male, strait and generally misogynistic. For those of us who are not, it’s a regular signal that we’re not considered, that maybe we don’t belong. Very few of the woman can stick together and maintain a united front of protection for one another. The competition for male attention stands in the way of almost any real sisterhood. The heavy drinking makes you feel unsafe and makes you unsafe. A paper cut for every event.
If you are work really hard, like in my case I mean really hard and get into an MC you find your self consistently faced with someone in authority patting you on the head and dismissing any argument you have about things going on wrong around you. As though you are a child — a thing they couldn’t do if you were one of the guys. There is always a problem with your reaction to any given situation and this reaction becomes the focus and not what you are reacting to. How many times I have heard well yes that was fucked up but your reaction was wrong for this reason or another. More times than not when calm down you see they were absolutely correct. It leaves you feeling even more self loathing because of your constant feeling of failure to negotiate the land mines. When one feels so embattled wrongly they lash out in every direction to find relief. Even the self knowledge that you have never set out to mess with someone melodiously is no consolation. To constant feeling that you can’t get it right is exasperating.. They talk about the way you dress or how much you weigh and make you feel uncomfortable. You get asked to cook and serve food for functions you should be participating in as an equal member of the group. The brothers make sexually charged comments about woman around and expect you to participate or at least behave like this objectification is cool. Others say that you don’t ride enough even though they hardly ride themselves. A thousand cuts for the riding world.<
Every time you push to make things better or different. You are guaranteed a patronizing response from someone. If I had a dollar for every time someone suggested that some demographics just aren’t biologically predisposed to being a good club member, I’d be rich. On more than than one occasion, I’ve had people try to engage me in arguments about the importance of diversity only to later claim they “were playing devil’s advocate”. I’ve had people derail diversity discussions to victim blame and try to speak for the minority that they were not a member of. A paper cut for every time you speak up.
Before someone suggest that these patronizing responses are just jerks and not the general feeling, no thats not the case. I get these responses fairly regularly. From my own club brothers. From people who know me. From prominent members of the community. From people who should know better. The cuts are deeper when they are real people because you just can’t turn them off.
Cuts I don’t feel save writing about here because they’re too personal or I fear the consequences…
When ever I talk about this, someone always tells me I’m just looking for things to get angry about. As though my feelings are not valid. Maybe they don’t understand that probably wasn’t the only thing that happened that day or that week or that month or for the duration effort. That you can’t detach and view these things in isolation. That no matter how tough you get, how thick skinned, paper cuts still hurt. I’m not the only one in bandaids trying to stanch the bleeding and focus on being in a MC because it’s the thing that I love. I am terrified of the day that it becomes terminal.