(Hetero)Sexism in the Driver's Seat

By Susan Van Haitsma

A brief reflection posted on Susan’s makingpeace blog fits with our theme this Flag Day 2008. And Susan says it will be okay if we post it here, too.–gm

I’m glad that for another year, Austin is hosting the Republic of Texas Biker Rally and the Austin Pride Parade on the same weekend. As the years
go by, I hope there will be more overlap of people between the events.

Last month, my partner and I spent a weekend in Fredericksburg when there happened to be several biker rallies in the vicinity. We had a chance to talk with a group of bikers about their passion for the open road and biker culture.

I asked if they knew of any male-female biker couples who rode with the woman driving and the man sitting behind her. They responded with
quips like, “only if he’s sick and she’s taking him to the hospital.”

They said there are definitely more women riding solo at the rallies, but women just don’t drive with men on the back. One of the women in the group said she wouldn’t necessarily want a guy sitting behind her anyway.

But I’m going to hope some biker dudes decide that being a real man means
not being afraid to be the passenger for a change. Isn’t part of biker culture about freedom from convention?

Be a rebel, guys. Defy the biker status quo, and see how good it feels when a woman is doing the driving.

I was thinking about the issue of gender expectation and tradition in relation to the Pride Parade also. One of the families in our neighborhood is a household of two gay men and their 3 children, each born of a surrogate
mother and fathered biologically by one of the men.

As I observe my neighbors raising their children, I notice ways they take on more equal
parenting roles. The men are freed from the baggage associated with societal expectations and traditions of man-woman parenting couples. I
think their more naturally equal relationship gives all couples some cues for ways that parenting can be more equally shared.

So, thank you to all the parents, couples and individuals of all ages out there who show what equality means by living it. Whether you’re two men on a bike, two women, or a pioneering pair with a woman in the driver’s seat, you’re helping build a republic of Texas that we’ll be proud to live in.

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