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Friday, November 02, 2007

Online Reaction to Discrimination Charge at Montpelier Bike Co-op

Do you ever stumble upon conversations you know you're not really supposed to hear? It happens to me all the time, because part of my job is to find out who's writing about Seven Days online. And that inevitably leads me to obscure websites discussing our stories — and their subjects — in crude and unflattering terms.

This week, News Editor Patrick Ripley wrote a story about a discrimination complaint against a Montpelier bike co-op. FreeRide Montpelier hosts a "Women and Trans night" each week to give women and trans people a safe space where they can learn how to fix their bikes. Men are encouraged to attend workshops on other nights, but boys under 10 are allowed — presumably so their mothers won't have to find childcare for them.

A male FreeRide member complained to Seven Days that this is discriminatory, and we wrote a story about it.

FreeRide's rationale makes sense to me, though I can understand the guy's complaint.

I noticed the story was getting a bunch of hits on the website, so I checked to see who was generating the traffic. Turns out we got a flurry of hits from a post on the Outside Groove message board entitled: What kinda freaks do we have here in Vermont???

Freaks indeed.

I feel like a freak for having to find and read conversations like this.

November 2, 2007 at 08:58 AM in House Rules | Permalink


It kills me when people use that "true Vermonter" bullcrap to endorse their ignorant, hateful opinions. My parents and I are progressive, green, queer-loving, trans-advocating, diversity-promoting liberals. We are also native Vermonters going back many generations!

If you want to be a peabrained bigot, fine. I am not disputing your right to free speech, but don't claim to speak for "real Vermonters". YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME OR ANY OF THE OTHER "REAL VERMONTERS" I KNOW so just grow up and take personal responsibility for your fear and hatred you ignorant, witless cowards.

Posted by: Molly | Nov 2, 2007 12:13:02 PM

Ah, you never know what rotting carcass the Google Alert cat will bring to your front door (uh, inbox) each day.

I'm sort of in the same boat as Cathy re not knowing how to feel about what I've read so far about FreeRide Montpelier's weekly "men need not apply" request. I think I'm willing to err on the side of supporting the restriction, because I know how the odds are terribly stacked against women and GLBTQQ folks when it comes to getting institutional and social support for developing proficiency in "traditionally" male skills. (OMG, I've become a human resources manual.)

And re the Outside Groove posters so dismayed about the whole thing... Here's hoping for some much-needed satori for one and all.

Posted by: Nato | Nov 2, 2007 9:19:08 PM

Actually that conversation you linked to wasn't nearly as irrational or crude as I thought it was going to be...and no offense but I wouldn't want my 10 year old son hanging around a bunch of cross dressers either - even though that probably makes me evil and ignorant in your eyes.

Posted by: Jesse | Nov 3, 2007 12:03:57 PM

That conversation was definitely much tamer than some of the others I've seen in my travels. I'm still haunted by some of the things I read on threads discussing my "creepy clay babies" slideshow. Ugh. I couldn't bring myself to link to them. They were really, truly disturbing.

Also, I think it's important to point out that the FreeRide organizers are NOT inviting any old 10 year old boys. The workshop is geared toward women and trans people (not cross-dressers, fyi) and THEIR children. Big difference.

It's not a kids' workshop -- they just word it that way to help people who aren't able to find childcare.

Posted by: Cathy Resmer | Nov 3, 2007 12:13:12 PM

As an involved member of the Montpelier Freeride coop, I can say that there was much heated discussion regarding this decision, most of which came from myself. The Freeride is simply a group of friends who keep the coop alive through our volunteered time. If one of our members wanted to open the coop for a "people with dogs" night, we would gladly let them. It is our hope that people view this not as a discriminatory measure, but as someone in the community who saw a need for a specialty event, and promotes it as such. Men are still allowed at the coop that night, but Robin decides to run the event which might otherwise simply be a time the coop is closed.

Posted by: Stan | Nov 4, 2007 8:24:23 AM


The event is 'Woman and Trans Night' -- as in transgendered, or transsexual -- someone who was born assigned as one gender, but feels psychologically as though they are another. I suggest you read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transexual.


Freeride does not allow Children under 16 without an adult/parent present I believe.

Posted by: Stan | Nov 4, 2007 8:28:26 AM

Thanks, Stan!

Posted by: Cathy Resmer | Nov 5, 2007 8:49:15 AM

So where is the line between discrimination and freaks? Howard Stern played some recordings the other day of people who wish to marry ponies and other animals because they love them and have sex with them. Teachers, priests, hippies and judges have been having sex with minors for years yet why are they now persecuted and "discriminated" against? Heterosexual men are discriminated against for enjoying scantily clad women in Seven Days (horrors!!!) due to the intolerance of those who protest under the pretense that it's "demeaning to women". What about prostitution? Why is consenting sex between a man and woman for monetary exchange shunned by society when it's ok for gay and lesbian activities of just about any kind? Why is it ok for gay parades with scantily dressed men and women while a heterosexual parade with female strippers and rugged guys would be the ultimate taboo? I guess I'm confused. Who makes the rules as to what constitutes discrimination or freakiness? Shouldn't we all be able to do anything we want, despite what others may call perversions without discrimination? In this land of free speech I can't see why one man's opinion (right or wrong) is always someone else's tag of discrimination.

Posted by: Glebus | Nov 7, 2007 4:04:07 PM

It is discriminatory. The real question is it right or wrong and does it even matter.

Posted by: Walter Jeffries | Nov 13, 2007 8:38:02 AM

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