There’s been a bit of a fuss on the interwebs (well, what’s new?) regarding all male panels, and specifically, a blog poking fun at them. I mention it because I’m in the throes of organising the Women’s Cycle Forum (a week on Saturday! Please come along, it’s only a fiver) which has an all-women panel and I did get asked whether we would ever allow a man to speak at future events (we let them come, obviously, as long as they pay; a fiver is a fiver after all). I answered as diplomatically as I could (and for those wondering why I might organise such an obviously sexist thing, I have written about it at great length and with great eloquence – truly I surprise myself sometimes – last year). And besides, I suppose the short answer is we’ll stop having all-women panels on our *women’s* cycle events (the clue is in the name) when everyone else stops having all-men panels on their regular not-about-men-particularly cycle events.
I’m not holding my breath though
But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about, because to be honest you can argue about this stuff until you’re blue in the face and it won’t really change anyone’s minds. What I did want to talk about was the fact that the coming Women’s Cycle Forum definitely won’t be about the unfairness of all-male or all-female panels. Nor – if last year’s event is anything to go by – will it be about barriers to cycling that are confined to women. What we’re going to be talking about is the sorts of things women (or, indeed, men) can do to tear down those barriers. We’ve got speakers from the fab Playing Out and No More Page Three to inspire us about how, with a bit of imagination and lateral thinking, problems which have seemed intractable for so long can suddenly become soluble. And we’ve got some brilliant women who have done all sorts of brilliant things from tandem cycling for the blind to cycle campaigning of all sorts, to cycling back to Scotland from Thailand because, well, why wouldn’t you (and actually after my recent experiences with US airlines, if I’d had my Brompton and there hadn’t been the small matter of the Atlantic in the way, I’d have been up for cycling home myself).
We’ll be challenging people to come up with ideas and things that they can do to change cycling and – although it’s not very British to say it – I’m hoping that out of it will come a new network of fired up women (and a few men) ready to go out there and start setting the world to rights for real, not just on the internet. It will also (if last year’s event was any guide) be great fun.
And if you’re wondering why we need a women’s event to do that?
No real reason. It’s just sometimes it’s nice to be heard.