Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Having sex while bicycling

The BBC reported yesterday that a British man had been arrested for having sex with his bicycle in his bedroom at the Aberley House Hostel in Ayr.  He was discovered by room cleaners who were shocked when they saw the man having a sexual tryst with the bicycle.  They called the police. Robert Stewart was arrested and pled guilty to a charge of sexually aggravated breach of the peace, and has been registered as a sex offender for three years. Sheriff Colin Miller told Stewart: ” In almost four decades in the law I had come across every perversion, but this is a new one on me.”

Obviously,  Sheriff Miller had not engaged in due vigilance during his 40 years when observing bicyclers cycling in public.  Of course, if he was only looking at male cyclists, he would have missed female cyclists engaging in flagrant sexual abuse of their bicycles and of course abuse of themselves.  The fact is that there has been a long and mostly unknown history of female cyclists in engaging in sexual gratification while bike riding.

Ellen Garvey in BREAKING THE BOUNDS writes about the history of female bicyling-

“Bicycling for women lofted onto the scene in the 1890s. Until then, bicycles were relatively dangerous high-wheel models, ridden almost exclusively by athletic young men. With the development of the “safety” bicycle (which had wheels of equal size, a chain drive, and air-filled tires), cycling became more accessible. Women, who already had abundant motives to move beyond their chaperoned and constricted lives, seized the opportunity to ride.

Women’s rights advocates were ecstatic. Cycling became more than just a way to get out and about. Feminists exulted that the bicycle would force dress reform–allowing them to go uncorseted and wear divided skirts or bloomers–and believed that once women commanded such physical freedom they could surely throw off other oppressive constraints. Suffragist and temperance leader Frances Willard, who learned to ride at age 53, called her bicycle an “implement of power.”

Where women saw liberation, conservatives saw a threat. They claimed that “mannish” cycling women, caricatured as strutting and smoking cigars, would ride beyond social controls and either refuse marriage or become so sexually loose that they’d be unmarriable.

The oddest form of assault on women’s riding was an outpouring of dozens of medical articles that attacked cycling not only as likely to make women masculine but also as a threat to sexual purity. As one doctor wrote, “The saddle can be tilted in every bicycle as desired. . . . In this way a girl . . . could, by carrying the front peak or pommel high, or by relaxing the stretched leather in order to let it form a deep, hammock-like concavity which would fit itself snugly over the entire vulva and reach up in front, bring about constant friction over the clitoris and labia. This pressure would be much increased by stooping forward, and the warmth generated from vigorous exercise might further increase the feeling.”

It gets stranger. To bike makers, opposition to women’s cycling was an obstacle to sales. So manufacturers addressed the “problem” with a doggedly concrete and literal solution: modified seats that eliminated contact with genitals.

Ad copy for these “hygienic” seats typically warned of the “injurious” or “harmful pressure exerted by other saddles,” carried medical endorsements, or declared their saddles free of “pressure against sensitive parts”–all euphemisms drawn from medical writing. (I find it somewhat ironic that modern versions of the split-seat and soft-nose designs are now targeted at men suffering from cycling-related urinary, numbness, or erection problems.)

The “stooping forward” posture that our good doctor objected to was the position adopted by “scorchers,” or the fastest riders. Speed was seen as dreadfully inappropriate for women–it let them roam even farther–so speed was specifically linked to saddle masturbation. For instance, another physician complained that “the moment speed is desired the body is bent forward in a characteristic curve . . . [and] the body is thrown forward, causing the clothing to press again the clitoris, thereby eliciting and arousing feelings hitherto unknown and unrealized by the young maiden.”

Despite these barriers, women continued pushing the boundaries of cycling. Just as they do in our era, bikes offered too much escape and independence to ignore.”

Although this post is somewhat off topic for this blog, it is not completely off topic.  It is most probable that female cyclists scorching across campus can disturb and offend the more sedate professors and students.  Unquestionably, such riding has its place off campus  in formally demarcated bike lanes.  However, the dankprofessor believes that if female students are seen riding along side male professors, such behavior should have zero tolerance on American and even on Canadian university campuses.

If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration to the same email address.Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2007

November 15, 2007 Posted by | bicycling, sex | 2 Comments


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