Have you ever been riding along on your bicycle and thought to yourself, ‘Wow, this is pretty awesome and all, but I really wish it looked like I was humping a woman right now.’
No? Are you sure? Someone in the world must have had that thought. Because the Signorina bicycle exists and I cannot, for the life of me, understand why someone would make it unless they had the desire to look like a misogynistic asshole everywhere they went.
The bike was made by a man called Allan Abbott. Hey Allan Abbot! What the fuck?
Seriously, why would anyone do this? Well, his website describes the bike as ‘a new direction in functional art’.
Ok. Let us for a moment consider the argument that this man’s intention in creating a carbon fibre bicycle shaped like a naked woman was to put a piece of art into the world. Perhaps he meant to celebrate the female form in the style of a Renaissance master.
Here’s the problem though. Technically you could call a painting done with your cock ‘art’, but in order for it to be ‘of the art world’ said cock-painting would need to fulfil some other criteria.
“Abbott’s website included a poll where you could say you’d ‘ride her hard and often’ or ‘keep her locked to your bed”
Like whether the owner of the cock is considered an ‘artist’ (I’m paraphrasing one of Grayson Perry’s eight ‘boundary markers of art’ in his book Playing to the Gallery), or whether the cock painting was somehow engaging an audience to think about something external to the piece (paraphrasing the philosopher Arthur Danto, quoted in Perry’s book).
These are valuable criteria that are also used when considering whether art is provocative or offensive, and why ultimately, this chair in the shape of a compromised black woman, has proved incredibly controversial.
The chair is by a respected Norwegian artist, Bjarne Melgaard, who was attempting to engage with narratives about race and gender by referencing another artist’s work. So it’s art. But does that stop it from being racist or sexist? The main problem lay in the fact that when the work first came to public attention, it was because an incredibly rich, white woman was sitting on it.
So I’ve been thinking about that chair, and this bicycle. And I think I’ve come up with one litmus test as to whether something depicting a woman is artistic or offensive. Can a man straddle it?
If a man can straddle a representation of a woman, it is not acceptable. If a man can physically dominate even the likeness of a woman, it is offensive. This bicycle is offering men a chance to subjugate a portrayal of half the population.
It is the most heavy-handed metaphor for thousands of years of patriarchal oppression I’ve ever seen because you are LITERALLY going places off the back of a woman. In a world where women are not afforded equal rights, in any country. WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?
This bicycle wasn’t even removed from the maker’s show at which it was on display. Instead, everyone made excuses about letting individuals make their own mistakes rather than accepting that you have a responsibility to remove offensive shit from your bike show.
It’s like no one got the memo that cycling is one of the most sexist sports in the world.
Still unconvinced that it’s a sexist bicycle? Abbott’s website, until recently, included a poll where you could say you’d ‘ride her hard and often’ or ‘keep her locked to your bed.’
Congratulations, world of cycling. Good job.