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This is an awesome question, actually. Thanks for asking it! I can see how
some folks would ask the same thing. However, I'm vehemently against companies
using sexual marketing to sell their products within cycling because not only
are they making money off of the objectification and dehumanization of half of
their industry's participants by doing so, they're insulting the other half by
assuming they're motivated most strongly by their genitals. Individual
athletes are free to make their own decisions because, and let's be brutally
honest here, really, how many individual athletes can you count who have
singlehandedly changed or influenced the future of our sport? I can name many
companies who have, however, and who set the tone for how women and girls are
treated and not only marketed to (if at all), but thought of by the larger
industry. Research shows that the marketing we employ and the stories we tell
over and over influence what we tell ourselves: if we're constantly seeing and
hearing and having women maligned in our media, why would we even think about
treating women as equals on the trails, in community forums and as buyers in
So while an individual athlete is usually forgotten after they leave the
industry (with a few exceptions for those who ensure their own legacies),
companies come here and stay here within our industry, especially those women
who market themselves as sexual objects -- because once they're no longer
sexually viable objects in their audience's eyes, their careers are
essentially over unless they can pull a massive, mid-career rebranding bunny
out of their magical hat. I'm not worried about those women. As individuals,
as humans, their choices are their own. Companies who profit from the stories
they sell to our audience over and over and over again that shape the very way
we think, however, are another story. They have a responsibility to give back
to the sport they profit from and who keeps their lights on, not to exploit
its athletes and audience for as much money as possible.
My question for you: have you seen Burton snowboards lately? Have you looked
at the snowboard industry lately, or at the major decline since Nike, Adidas,
UnderArmor and other corporations have left? This is what will happen to MTB
if we continue to treat our female industry participants as objects instead of
individuals, as the snowboard industry has.
No company can sell a product with tits on it to a kid forever -- especially
in a rapidly shifting market that favors the female buyer. There are an
extremely limited amount of pseudo-'cool moms' who will foolishly buy into
this sexual hype, and that audience cannot last forever. It will not. And it
will create a bubble within our precious sport that will crush our buddy
economy faster than you can say 'sex sells'.
Sorry for the long form answer. It's a complex, nuanced subject that is
involved and very delicate. If you want to chat more, I'm always down to talk
about it (or cycling economics or economics or pretty much anything) anytime.
Hit me up. 🙂 Thanks again for this awesome question.
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