Mom thinks riding is ‘unladylike’

by on June 7, 2010
in Other Biker Chicks

I recently read a really neat story that touched on something  experienced by a lot of women who ride motorcycles: the reaction of our family and friends, particularly our mothers. Now I don’t know about yours, but my mother was terrified of motorcycles. She would not let my dad own one, and she was absolutely against me owning a Honda Express when I wanted one as a teen-ager. (I eventually won that battle – I have no idea how.) She did not live long enough to see me learn to ride a “real” bike, and would have been beside herself with worry had she been here.

The story I read was written by Condi Starks, a gal from South Central Kansas who’s been riding her own for just about a year. Her current bike is a 750 Honda Shadow. But, Condi’s mom used to fret openly that riding wasn’t ladylike. I asked Condi if she would mind sharing her story here, and I’m delighted that she agreed!

My Cute Mother
by Condi Starks

My mother is very much a Diva!  I mean in every sense of the word.  I love her to pieces but can’t help but to just stand and shake my head at her.  She loves the attention and the drama that most “Divas” feed on, that’s my mom!  She had a cow when I got my bike.  “Condi that just isn’t lady-like!”  And then when I started shooting, she literally CRIED! And I am not even exaggerating, REAL TEARS because “I feel that you are losing your femininity!” We have talked and I “educated” her on what TRUE femininity was, and as you will see, I think she is a very good student.

A little history about my mother:  She came from a level of poverty that she was always embarrassed about; my grandfather worked his butt off, but with 5 children and one of them being a “special needs” child, it required that work and dedication from my grandfather.

My mother was a pre-teen before they had an indoor toilet.  So based on the “lack of” when she was a child, she created an image of what a “Perfect world” should look like and has strived to make her world as perfect as her mental image.

She dropped out of school in the 9th grade and went to work.  Then a few years later she met my dad.  He came from a very dignified family (mom’s dad was gruff and teetered on abusive).  My dad’s family was not “rich” by any means – they were dairy farmers here in Kansas and eventually lost the farm, so money isn’t what bought them respect in the community. It was their values.  This was the “Perfect family” in my mother’s eyes and she tried to mold me into THEIR image. (I don’t do so bad really but mental image is a hard thing to live up to).

My mother has since worked her way up to being the CEO of her own corporation, owning several tax franchises, and has every right to hold her head proud in her own right.  But she still struggles with “Mental Image” of what is “Perfect”.  And ladies on bikes, shooting guns is not the mental image she has of a “Dignified Lady.” UNTIL….

I told her “Mom, when I am on my bike I am free.  And there is nothing MORE lady like than FREEDOM.  I am free to be who I am, I am free from gender barriers. I am in control of my own destiny when I am on my own bike.  I am not sitting behind someone putting my life in the hands of THEIR riding skills.  You have always taught me to be in control of my own successes and failures, when I am sitting at the controls of my own bike I am in complete control.  I have POWER, when I hit that throttle and my bike roars, it screams ‘I am WOMAN, I am FREE, I am IN CONTROL!’

“And when I pick up my gun and master the skill of shooting I am saying I have value enough to stand up for my right to be safe and secure!  There is nothing lady-like in laying there letting someone rape you, there is nothing lady-like in begging for  your life, there is nothing lady-like in being reduced to hoping someone gets to you in time.  So by learning how to shoot I am learning how to protect the lady you created in me.”

She just smiled! Now she BRAGS about my riding and my shooting.  Recently while at a family picnic with “the perfect family” one of my female cousins said “Ohhh I have wanted a bike for so many years, but how do you keep Helmet Head away?” Before I could answer, my mother answered for me.  She said “That’s why you wear Doo-Rags.”

I smiled and winked at her.  By George I think she’s got it!!!

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9 Responses to “Mom thinks riding is ‘unladylike’”
  1. Ken L. says:

    Great post & thanks for sharing it. Those sorts of stories make me smile.

  2. Corn Dog says:

    Thanks for reading, Ken, glad to have you here!

  3. Pam says:

    Great post! I lost my mom in March about a month before getting my motorcycle endorsement. She was surprised by my new found desire for riding, but as always very supportive.

  4. Corn Dog says:

    Pam, my dad was around for the first several years of my riding and was very surprised at my interest. He said the same thing about my interest in camping – LOL – “I don’t know where you get these hobbies, the family never did anything like that.” I just smiled and said, “Well maybe that’s why I do them – because we never did them when I was growing up.” I know he worried about me, but he was always impressed whenever I’d get a new bike or talk about our various rides. Thanks for reading and commenting here – so sorry your Mom has passed, it is not an easy transition.

  5. Toby says:

    I just love this story. My mom was also terrified of bikes and never would have let my dad have one either. My mom passed before she ever got to meet my husband who’s been riding motorcycles for 30 years. When hubby and I were just dating (and before I was riding my own), we rode to the cemetery on his Road King, so that he could meet my mom. He so very sweetly said out loud to her “don’t worry…I’m going to take good care of your daughter”. It made me tear up, and I know that it made my mom happy. She would have loved him as much as I do and I’m pretty sure she would have seen riding in a whole new light. She might even have been tempted to hop on the back, and she would have been proud to see me ride my own!

  6. Susan says:

    Great story!
    I love people with open minds, I had a similar situation with my mother about my motorcycle riding. When I first bought a bike and started riding, my mom was VERY against it. She had never heard anything positive about people riding motorcycles, nevermind WOMEN riding motorcycles! She thought it was just dangerous and thrill-seeking, in a bad Hell’s Angels kind of way.

    So then I joined a group of women bike riders, and I would tell her about the various types of people in it, their careers, their personalities, and she became more receptive to listening. She learned there were teachers, sales people, health care workers, doctors, police women, etc. and she was surprised and impressed! She used to be a teacher herself, and when she learned the leader of our group was a teacher, that really made her happy!

    So gradually she changed her mind about my bike. Now she is downright happy that I ride with a group, she feels it is safer for me, and a real great way for me to meet new people and have great adventures. Now every week she asks, “do you have a ride planned for this weekend?” And she is happy when I do, and asks about it. I am so happy about her new attitude!

    And they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, my mom is 90 years old! So, as in life in general, communication is a great key to understanding, no matter what the subject!

  7. What a great story! Thanks to Condi for sharing her story with us! And the Doo-rag comment made me laugh out loud! LOVE IT! Surprisingly my Mom has been really supportive in me getting a motorcycle. I think it helps some that I wear a helmet and she also knows that I’ll pretty much do what I want to do! :)

  8. Shirley says:

    Condi, I loved your story and congrats on bringing Mom around! I have been so lucky in that my Dad rode all the years I was growing up and though Mom was behind him (this was many, many years ago) she loved it. Mom suffered from dementia the last five or six years of her life but when I bought my first bike after riding behind hubby for all those years she was so proud of me. She even liked my dragon tattoo so there may be a bit more to write about someday Condi.

  9. gj says:

    it is totally unlady like for women to ride motorcycles -its not feminine at all..please enough -that and being smothered in tats looks horrbile on women…

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