Published June 20, 2016 12:32
This blog post originally appeared in Sexual Assault Centre Hamilton & Area (SACHA). By Johanna Bleecker, New Hope Bikes.
As an avid rock climber, I always felt comfortable enough in climbing gyms. I would go with both guy and girl friends and on my own, was happy to make friends with other climbers, and never felt overtly discriminated against. Occasionally I would have to put up with others, usually male, giving patronizing tips I hadn’t asked for and didn’t want or trying to engage me in conversations that made me feel uncomfortable.
Then my bouldering gym started a women’s only time, adding a couple extra reserved hours onto their schedule.
Intrigued, my female friend and I went and found something in that space that we hadn’t realized we were missing. Women at all levels of climbing were cheering each other on, there were baked treats, and even the music was female-fronted. The biggest wall, usually overrun by the stronger male climbers, was being climbed by women who said they’d never felt comfortable trying it when the largely male clientele were showing off their skills one after another.
The women’s-only time was a comfortable, judgment-free zone for women to experiment and feel more comfortable in their skills, which would help them later when returning during regular hours.
I’ve made it my current mission to recapture that enthusiastic, supportive atmosphere in the different, also male-dominated world of bike repair.
After learning to work on my own bike in the friendly spaces of bike repair coops, I got further involved by volunteering at a coop in Vancouver after moving there last year. I assisted with a series of women’s only bike repair workshops which were welcomed by the community and created a warm camaraderie among the attendees, many of whom returned to attend multiple workshops in the series.
Upon moving to Hamilton, I took up my community bike repair ... Read more