Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Women's stuff cordoned off

Yes even sport merchandise catalogs warrant scrutiny on this blog. Not that I am seeking out these moments--they just find me. Such was the case this afternoon when I went to check my mail and found in the box a catalog that the former owner of my house receives. It's a biking catalog I had never heard of, Bike Nashbar. It contains everything for cycling--road and mountain--and had some pretty good deals, especially on shoes--not that I need another pair. Anyway as I was flipping through it casually I noticed that in the clothing and shoe sections all the women's merchandise had a little bitty corner of the page. So, for example where there were at least 10 options for men's shoes there were only 3 for women. Also of note, only the women's gear was labeled. So if it wasn't in the little women's box, we had to assume it was men's gear.
This was very interesting to me as I thought about cyclists. Cycling is a male-dominated sport (see for example the Tour de France--all men, no one ever talks about the possibility of women doing it which I continue to find odd). But when you head indoors to indoor cycling classes or "spin" at gyms the majority of participants are women. Some are women who use the classes for a cardio workout but there are many who are using indoor cycling to train for outdoor cycling.
There has to be something going on here with indoor/outdoor::public/private space and who gets to occupy and ultimately (try to) control it in addition to the whole male-dominated sport "base" issue. Especially given that once society got over the whole women ruining their reproductive organs, riding a bicycle was a very feminine pursuit.
Hmmm....seems like a paper waiting to be written--unless someone already has and I just haven't read it yet--which is entirely possible.


Plain(s)feminist said...

VERY interesting. Guess my catalogs tend not to be of the sporting variety - more like LL Bean, which has a section for everyone.

My general sports catalog issues are that Title IX and such tend to have only skinny people clothes.

(BTW, tell MFHP (I give up - don't know what that means) that I appreciated the article!!! Thanks for sending it!)

ken said...

True that LL Bean has a section for everybody but, like store design, the catalog--from what I have heard though I haven't seen an LL Bean lately--is organized to get women shopping. The men's merchandise is put in the front so that the women have to go through it before they get to their own so they are allegedly tempted to buy for the men in their lives.
My favorite hockey player says "you're welcome."