If there’s one thing we should all know at this point, it’s “think before you speak.” It should be very obvious that words have serious consequences these days.
Therefore, I was utterly and completely creeped out by learning that people in the Pacific NW hold a bike ride that they call the “Green River Killer.” Reading that actually made me feel queasy. I know nothing about this bike ride, nothing at all besides the name, and I’m horrified. I am a woman and therefore cannot escape being targeted everywhere I go. I’ve had drugs dropped in drinks at bars, I’ve been attacked physically, I’ve been stalked, I’ve had horrible things happen to me, and I don’t know one single woman who hasn’t had at least one of these things happen to her as well.
Violence against women is pervasive. Make no mistake, most women have experienced violence or abuse at some point. What was going through someone’s mind when they decided to name a bike ride after one of the most notorious serial killers of the United States; someone who killed dozens of women, some never identified and some whose remains have never been found?
I often hear the lament from men that they have a hard time meeting women who like to ride. Men whom I pass on trails seem shocked to see a woman on a bike. This has mystified me for quite some time but this little “Green River Killer” tidbit is another piece in the puzzle. Hey, if you’re out there riding your bike around and calling your activity the “Green River Killer” don’t be remotely shocked if you look around you and see nothing but guys. And seriously? Did it not occur to anyone taking part in this little adventure that the name could possibly be in bad taste? That women who have experienced stalking and violence might be extremely offended by this name?
Go to anyplace where bicycle enthusiasts gather to talk and you usually find a bunch of men, talking a bunch of smack and acting like baboons, making googly eyes and lewd comments at pictures of women riders while at the same time wondering why they only see women riders in the company of other men when they see them at all. Really, I’ve seen this asked on that armpit of bike culture, MTBR.com: “I can never meet women on their own riding bikes. They are always with other dudes. Why?”
Well, now you know why. Would any woman want to go riding with men on something called the “Green River Killer?”
Get a clue, guys.
This acceptance, however seemingly “harmless,” of mass murder, and making light of it in such ways, simply perpetuates the pervasive strain of violence against women that we just can’t afford to have in our culture. Think about it. You’re riding around for five hours, joking about your activity being the “Green River Killer.” Everyone in your group will remember that no one objected to the name, that everyone thought that a demented man choking dozens of women to death over a period of thirty years is something to be made light of. You’ve just compared the violent death of many women to a bike ride in the rain.
And there’s a question about why women feel unwelcome in bike culture?