Biff America: It’s a man’s world
Vail, CO Colorado
How do you tell a perfect stranger that she either has to take off her pants or hop home?
I was riding on the bike path on one of those hot days of August. About a mile from home, I encountered what I assumed were three Catholic nuns riding bicycles.
To be clear, I only assumed they were nuns and only two were riding; one was hopping. When I say hopping, I mean she had one foot on one pedal and with the other she was pushing off, coasting a few feet before pushing again.
While doing this, she was seriously wobbling; barely managing to stay upright. The other two ladies were riding slowly behind and also weaving. I slowed down to a near stop and tried to get a handle on what I was seeing.
All three wore identical clothing – long, black, baggy pants, white loose, long sleeve tops and head scarves under helmets on that hot day.
While growing up I was taught by many Catholic sisters who all dressed like Sally Field in “The Flying Nun.” I knew that many orders have done away or modified the traditional habit, and I assumed that these ladies were part of that new breed.
After riding behind them, unnoticed, for a half minute I spoke up, “Excuse me, sisters, do you need some help?”
Two of them screamed, all three stopped.
Turns out they were not nuns. They looked more like mother and two daughters and appeared and sounded Middle Eastern.
The mother spoke but so quietly I could barely hear her. “Thank you, brother. Her pants are caught in the chain.”
Sure enough, the youngest girl’s pants were totally wrapped around the chain and crank and even pulled through the front derailleur; in almost 50 years of biking, I had never seen anything like it.
It was mid-week, fairly early, but there were other people out riding, so I suggested we get off the path. The young gal hopped to the side while the other two held her steady.
Through this entire ordeal the only one who spoke was the mother.
I sat on the grass next to the tangled gal and tried to figure out how to get her pants unstuck. Her trousers were black, silk, very baggy, and it looked like she was wearing high black socks or hose underneath. Perhaps from the heat or her ridiculously heavy outfit, she was red-faced and perspiring.
While I was trying to hold the loose fabric out of the way to see how I might extricate the cuff. The mother took it out of my hands as if to keep me from touching the girl’s ankle. She also stood next to her daughter as if shield her from my view, which impeded my vision of the chain.
I had come to the conclusion that for this crowd, taking off pants was not an option. It then dawned on me that I had a tool in my seat bag to remove a chain.
The entire process took only a few minutes. The mother pulled the girls pants free helped her off the bike and out of the way while I reattached the chain.
They barely thanked me, but I knew they were grateful. I suggested that they all cuff up their slacks for the ride back, though I held little hope that they would.
As I rode away, I felt like a hero. I also was ashamed to be a man.
Why? Because the incident reminded me that all the hardship and indignation women have suffered since the dawn of time, and continue to suffer, are the handiwork of men. In some parts of the world, women are treated like cattle, which is often allowed and condoned by both church and state.
Even today, under the laws of the three most popular religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – women’s roles in those faiths are marginalized and restricted by holy books written by men.
Women get paid less for the same work.
It is mostly men who are deciding what, and what not, women are allowed to do with their own bodies.
A man deemed that those women on the bike paths should wear those ridiculous outfits on a hot day.
Have the plight of women gotten better or the years? Yes, but agonizingly slowly.
In our own backyard, in a country where a black man is president, some women still are put in the situation where they have two choices – take off their pants or hop home.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local bookstores or from http://www.webersbooks.com