Counterpoint to Open letter to the Board and members of CRW re: women-only rides
Rationale for Opposition:
The use of the survey of ridership done in April - July, 2022, as a rationale for women-only rides can be challenged. The timing of the survey may have led to more bias in the ratio of female to male riders, as noted in one of the attached letters of support. In addition, it is important to remember that CRW is an IRS section 501(c)(3) charity. A statement from CRW’s application to be a tax-exempt charity under section 501(c)(3) makes it clear that CRW’s services “are not limited to any particular individuals”.
As an outreach program, the women’s ride program is not inherently offensive. It is the women-only rides that have led to this discussion. Those in opposition to designated women-only rides believe that the mission of the women’s program can be accomplished without rides that exclude members by gender.
Mission statement of Women’s Program The goals of the women's program as stated in the mission statement below apply to many potential and new members to the club, not just women: to foster connections with other members, to feel included and welcomed especially on their first rides with the club, to discover how best they can participate in the club offerings and meet other members with similar interests and capabilities. Integration of new members into standard rides is the ultimate goal. If ride offerings have been inadequate to appeal to women riders, I think it is short-sighted and probably sexist to think that all riders would not appreciate the opportunity to participate in a different approach.
"If you're not yet familiar with the Women's Program, our goal is to invite more women, non-binary, and female-identifying folks onto the road, foster connection with other women in the club, and act as an on-ramp to other co-ed areas of the club. Many of our fellow female club members have shared that they would like to know more people on rides BEFORE they show up, want more social opportunities together, hate getting dropped on our club rides, and don't often feel a sense of belonging with the club. If you meet someone interesting on a ride, it's hard to know if you'll ever see them again. And, feedback suggests that as a new female member, the club can sometimes be intimidating. So, our goal is to build thoughtful events and opportunities within the club to create personal connections and encourage women to participate in all that CRW (Women's, co-ed, adventure, gravel, weekend rides, etc,) has to offer. We offer monthly women's-only no-drop rides, occasional workshops and events, some recurring rides, and also try to identify other integrated club opportunities each month where we encourage more women to come out and participate. Our events often see 20-35 riders, with many repeat customers. On top of all that, we have a great time.”
Accomplishing the mission without designated women-only rides. Here are just a few suggestions for how to meet the goals of the women’s program without undermining long-standing values and customs of the club, in addition to basic principles of non-discrimination:
1. A monthly (or more often) new members' ride could include leaders of the women's program to reach out to other women and follow up with them about what rides are most appealing/accessible to them. Alerting other ride leaders to look for new women riders on their rides.
"International Women's Day Ride"
Erosion of core principles of the CRW ride calendar. Before the pandemic and other changes, there was an unspoken rule that private groups did not organize competing rides with CRW rides. Sadly, this custom is eroding due to anger and/or apathy. And while my initial concern was prompted by the posting of women-only rides on the calendar, I think this reflects general principles and values that no longer seem operative when leaders post rides.
- 5 rides were posted on Sunday, October 16, 2022;
- In contrast there was only one recurring ride in Hanson on October 23.
- On Sunday, October 30, there was the Hanson ride, an 85-mile ride starting at 8 AM, and a Women’s Only ride, leaving the largest group of members without a suitable ride.
Rudge S. McKenney
- The Board argues that female only rides are “popular” and so should be continued. Beyond the folly of how they constitute “popularity”, they fail to consider that because something is “popular” doesn’t make it right. Slavery was popular, as was racial discrimination, as was housing discrimination (redlining), as was paying men more for the same work done by women in the same workplace. All these had purported good reasoning. Some of these things continue today under a different name with the same outcome; and they are all equally ethically, morally, legally wrong, and repugnant. Pursuing this policy only gives support and justification to those that want to perpetuate these wrongdoings, whether it is here or elsewhere.
- The Board seems to make no mention of the fact that CRW, after lengthy dialogue and a vote of its membership, changed its name of many decades to Charles River “WHEELERS” because of the strong sentiments of members that “WheelMEN” was sexist and inferred the same to potential members. Women only rides are in direct conflict to this and dishonour. the reason for the change and the will of the membership. It further makes a mockery of any “diversity” initiatives the Board claims to have done or will do.
- The Board’s letter also cites the “advantages” of supporting single gender rides and related activities. However, it fails to note that the reasoning actually applies to ANYONE in the club regardless of gender.
According to the “An Open Letter About Women-Only Rides”, the basis for needing a women’s only ride program is that women are underrepresented on CRW rides. To prove this thesis an analysis was done of the CRW rides for April – July 2022. Based on that analysis, CRW rides are dominated by male riders. Unfortunately, that analysis didn’t break out the male/female split by ride type. I’m guessing the reason the rides were so male dominated was because most of them were probably Devo or early morning rides that attracted mostly male riders. Since the women only ride program rides are recreational, not Devo or fitness rides, then the CRW recreational (or classic CRW rides, along with the Wednesday and Friday night) rides should have been the only rides analyzed, basically an apples to apples approach. If the Devo and fitness rides were removed from the April – July 2022 ride analysis, I’m sure there would have been a much more balanced break down of male/female riders’ ratio.
What the analysis of the April – July 2022 rides showed is that most of the CRW membership, both female and male, are underrepresented. Most of the rides could only be done by a minority of CRW members, but of course that fact was ignored to justify the women’s only program. Also, what’s important to remember is that CRW is an IRS section 501(c)(3) charity. Below is a statement from CRW’s application to be a tax-exempt charity under section 501(c)(3). This statement makes it clear that CRW’s services “are not limited to any particular individuals”. Since the Women’s Only program is limited to particular individuals (women), the Women’s Only program violates CRW’s charitable purpose for services (the rides program) it provides to individuals.
Line 1a, Goods, Services, or Funds Provided to Individuals
The CRW program services activities that benefit individuals are described in Statement 3. These services are available to members and the public and are not limited to any particular individuals. (emphasis added)
Richard A. Levine, CPA
Feb 28, 2023
I think another questionaire