From the Lady Parts archives...
Something happened last week that brought me back to a conversation I had in Kenya over the summer after a long day of cycling about why gendered competitions are essential to maintaining the power and privilege of men. It's my hot take on why Red Bull won't allow women to compete in Rampage.
Here's the Cliffs Notes:
Rebecca Rusch saw a void in women's MTB freeriding, and because she's an absolute LEGEND, she got Red Bull to host Formation. Formation was an invite-only "progression session" (because community over competition and also when it's not a competition, you don't have to pay the winners) for women in freeride mountain biking.
These women didn't show up to sing kumbaya; they were honing their skills with the ultimate goal of being invited to compete in Rampage, the pinnacle of elite competitions for freeride mountain biking.
And they nailed it. What these women accomplished is nothing short of remarkable. But after three wildly successful years of Formation, Red Bull axed it this spring and then this week announced the 2023 roster for Rampage, which included ZERO women.
It's not that the women who have been a part of Formation aren't good enough. Clearly, they have proven themselves. It's that if Red Bull opened up the competition to women, men would stand the chance of losing to them. This isn't necessarily about their ego; I'd give all of the men who are competing the benefit of the doubt that they'd be open to women joining. But Red Bull knows that women winning disrupts the system: cash prizes in the pockets of women, sponsorships shifting, the story of the sport forever changed, the patriarchy outraged.
So you create camps for women and competitions for men. You isolate all of the money, all of the power, and all of the prestige. You maintain the dominance of one gender over another. It's why we can't figure out what to "do" with trans athletes; the binary must exist.
One thing is for sure: Women have made history, and it will not be forgotten that Red Bull fucked with their futures.Photo Credit
Creator: Re Wikstrom | Credit: Re Wikstrom Photography