Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring cycling

Spring is really early this year. Really early - normally, our highs are still below freezing until well into March, but it's been above freezing every single day since February 26th.

That means the snow has melted, and it's rained so the dog poo of winter has washed away. Time for cycling!

When I last saw my bicycle, it had brand new slick tires and tubes to match - all set to go. And go we did.

First, the good things about the ride. It was sunny. There was minimal traffic, including other cyclists. No dog walkers. Few runners. Not that I mind either - but the paths can get crowded, and a small minority of dog walkers have trouble with the leash concept.

Now, a couple of mediocre things. I didn't wear warm enough gloves, and my hands froze to the point that it hurt when they warmed up. Chalk that up to idiocy - it's still below freezing at sunrise. This I know. Yet I grabbed thin gloves meant for the SUV driver, not the cyclist. One section of the path had a fair bit of snow, which my lovely new tires handled quite nicely. One had ice and slush, which I cautiously rode/hopped over - you know, you're on your bike, but pushing with a foot instead of pedaling. They actually had a "road under water" sign up - very cool, as it's pretty much a bike-only road. And, last but definitely not least, a good 4km of the bike path is under construction, so I had to ride on the road. A very nice road, but at this time of year the sides of the roads are covered in gravel and winter ick, so you need to ride closer to traffic than normal.

And, to end, a few more good things! I saw a street sweeper, so the road ick will soon be gone. My back tire held up well, despite being wobbly - I think the tube is bulging. And my helmet doesn't hurt the sore spot on my head where I bashed it when I fainted on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to the ride home - it's going up to 16!

I'm very happy I rode in. It is so awesome to be on a bicycle. There is nothing else like it. For me, it's the closest I get to flying, and who hasn't dreamed of flying?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Captain obvious paging idiocy, come in, idiocy

I was reading one of my favourite blogs – White Coat Underground – and found myself reading not one, but two long comment threads.

I don’t normally read long comment threads. Life is short. My eyeballs are old. And most comment threads just aren’t that interesting. But these ones were.

Pal MD’s post was in response to Isis the Scientist’s post and subsequent comments. She was replying to an e-mail sent to her by a female math grad student, who was creeped out by her advisor’s ogling. Isis mentioned, as part of the post, that in her student days she had been raped by a creep who she had refused to date. Horrible. I know too many women who’ve been raped.

The comments were mainly of the thanks for sharing, here’s my story, or here’s advice for the grad student form, but some were comments along the lines of hey, the advisor is complementing her, what’s the big deal, and women should take responsibility for protecting themselves.

Well, um, that’s where captain obvious hit me on the head. I’d never recognized how much of our culture focuses on the victim. I know that blame the victim is rampant in rape cases. But it extends beyond that, to blame the victim for failing to stop the attack, not just inciting it. So when the conversation steered in the direction of stating that rapists are responsible for rape, I found myself shocked that I had never thought of that. A d’uh moment indeed – of course rapists are responsible for rape.

So thank you to the commentors on those threads, who played captain obvious to my ignorance. Reducing the incidence of rape is not solely the responsibility of women. If we continue to believe and perpetuate the myth that women are even somewhat responsible for being raped, we give rapists an out, an excuse, a reason to avoid empathy and thought, an excuse for not controlling their violence or sexuality. To state that men can’t control themselves is insulting to men who can and do control their urges. And to state that women need to change, and not the culture that blames the victim and excuses the men, is not just insulting but dangerous, as it normalizes rape. Rape is an aberration.