“I’m going to make a special plea to the press—not just the folks who are here, but also your editors—give this some attention. This is the kind of stuff, what these young people are doing, that’s going to make a bigger difference in the life of our country over the long term than just about anything. And it doesn’t belong just on the back pages of a newspaper; we’ve got to lift this up. We’ve got to emphasize how important this is and recognize these incredible young people who are doing things that I couldn’t even imagine thinking about at 5th grade or 8th grade or in high school.
And so pay attention to this. This is important. This is what’s going to make a difference in this country over the long haul. This is what inspires me and gets me up every day. This is what we should be focusing on in our public debates.
And as for all the folks who are here, don’t let your robots wander off anywhere.”
—President Obama at the White House Science Fair, announcing a new goal of 1 million more American graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math over the next 10 years
I Am The Lightning
Two months ago, when 22-year-old Bree’Anna Guzman was murdered in Lincoln Heights, the all-women bike group Ovarian-Pscyos Bicycle Brigade scrapped their previously planned ride to ride instead through the neighborhood to protest the killing.
“Whose Streets,” one woman called out.
“Our Streets” the more than 30 women riding answered.
While many recent bike groups are either bicycling for recreation, bringing awareness to bicyclists on the road, or use the bicycle for social justice movement events, the Ovarian-Psycos Bicycle Brigade is a community inspired women’s movement that does all of the above and then some.
In Los Angeles, fewer than 1 in 5 people cycling were female, according to preliminary data from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s most recent bicycle count. While this trend has been the constant in cities across the nation, the number of female bicycle groups in Los Angeles has grown from just a couple a few years ago, to at least four.
The currently all-Latina collective with roots from various parts of the Eastside pride themselves with their exclusivity to women, with sticker slogans like “Ovaries so big, we don’t need no fucking balls.” Their monthly all-women Luna Rides, which takes its name from the moons connection with a woman’s menstrual cycle, bring up to 30 women riders each ride. For their two-year anniversary in July, the Ovarian-Psycos are also planning the first female version of the monthly Critical Mass, which will be called Clitoral Mass.
For many of the women it’s their first time being involved in an all-female collective. The oldest members are 33 and the youngest is 20. Some are artists that ride bikes, and some are pure bicyclists. Yet the Ovarian-Psycos has become a type of sisterhood that, for many, they have never had before.
“Being around women, learning that we can interact in a way that was not hostile or competitive; it’s been a very new experience,” said Magally “Maga” Miranda.
Though the group has found stability recently, the group’s continued existence was never a sure bet. On the very first Luna Ride in July 2010, Xela, the de facto leader of the group at the time, hit a pothole on the road and fell face forward off her bike, hospitalizing her for two weeks. Andrea Ramirez, or “La Blackbird,” recalls that many bike riders didn’t come back after the first ride because they were scared.
Though one half left, and another came back for the second Luna Ride, Xela said, the group stagnated for the first year, never topping more than 20 riders.
“I was worried always that it’s going to die someday,” Xela said.
Yet, right before the Ovarians one-year anniversary, Xela started to recruit core members to better organize the group. After the one-year anniversary at Solidarty ink, and with a fairly consistent 12 core members, the group finally started to take off. Like before, each ride had a theme. Specific workshops involved speakers, and teachers on a range of social issues, and bicycle issues. Some workshops talked about women’s health, while other covered self-defense. Yet, the groups were getting bigger, and the core members were helping spread the word.
Many of the women say they feel they are not taken seriously in the biking community because their rides aren’t as long as traditional rides, there are usually many first-time riders, and the ride will stop and wait for one person. But, these limitations, Ova member Natalie Fraire said, can be a positive.
“We are encouraging a lot more riders and that’s more important,” said Fraire.
Riding as a women group has also made the riders more aware of the difficulties of riding in the city as a woman. Individually, or in small groups, Ova Elvira “Ashes” Arvizo has been catcalled by men on the street, and during one Luna Ride, the group noticed a male motorist was trailing the group. The women stopped and started to yell at the motorist, which caused him to flee.
As the group has grown, the women have needed to get closer. Many of their biweekly meetings resemble the chaos of a family dinner. At a recent meeting, Maryann “La Fingers” Aguirre would belch across the room, giving many of the girls a laugh, and Fraire ran to the oven to find she burned the artichoke dish brought. If the meeting ever got out of order, a clit checker (meeting organizer) would bellow out a warning to get the meeting back on track.
Each Ova have brought various skills in community organizing, photography, graphic design and bike mechanics which they also share with the rest of the group. Gloria “GLoTography” Vasquez takes most of the photos that are on the groups websites, but she has also taken the time to teach Ovas like Fraire how to use a camera. The group has also helped Vasquez to break her shyness and talk more with women on rides.
“Now run into women across streets and able to converse with them than just pass them by,” said Vasquez.
Each season there are rotating leaders of the group called a left and right ovary, and many of the women are expected to step up to take care of a portion of their work.
Many of the women have never ridden with an all female bike crew, and let alone worked with an all-women group. Yet, the same reason Xela started the group is the same reason the women joined: they couldn’t connect with the rides already in LA.
Andrea “La Blackbird” Ramirez said she could never get comfortable riding with the Midnight Ridazz because men always outnumbered women. Aside from men outnumbering women during Critical Mass, Arvizo said will leave riders behind, and that can deter a young woman-rider to join a ride.
The Ovas offer a space for women, Xela said. And the rides though recreational, can become extremely personal, with some events bringing women to tears. During a stop on their ride that was themed on domestic violence, many women came forward about their experiences.
The personal nature of the rides, and the already numerous LA bike rides is the reason Xela said, why it’s exclusive to women.
“It’s just a time for women. If they are trying to open up, won’t be comfortable opening up if there are men around,” said Aguirre.
Xela, whose been a part of women collectives that have never lasted, said she knew the Ovarian-Pscyos was a different type of all woman collective at the one-year anniversary. Jocelyn “Joss the boss” Hernandez brought a cake she made and designed to the group at the end of an interview at the Boyle Heights online radio station Centro de Comunicación Comunitaria. The cake had a symbol of a car with a slash over it.
“You do that for your sister, your best friend, and she did this for the Ovas. “That’s nice”
Thought a lot of you would enjoy this article.
robots just strolling around the white house
I just had to tell one of Devin’s friends that we broke up two weeks ago.
Believers are everywhere…
Holy shit, this one is the best so far.
And it’s in yellow!
black and white
“We’re pretty sure the cop is a Controller. And I don’t care what you say, Jake, I think Tom is, too. So, here’s the deal. You want to get into this fight against the Yeerks?” Marco asked me. “Fine. Let’s see how much you want to do it when it turns out it’s your own brother you have to destroy.”
That stopped me cold.
“It’s not exactly some video game, is it?” Marco said. “This is reality. You don’t know anything about reality, Jake. Nothing bad has ever really happened to you. You have this perfect family. Like I used to have.”
His voice cracked a little. He never talked about his mom’s death.
I realized he was right. I didn’t know about reality. Not the way reality had happened to Marco — and to Tobias.
“So maybe we just walk away from this,” Marco said. “Let someone else fight this fight. Sorry about the Andalite, but I’ve got enough death in my family.
“No,” I said, surprising myself. “The Andalite gave us the morphing power for a reason. It wasn’t just for the fun of being a dog or a horse or a bird. He hoped we would fight.”
“Then maybe Tom is the enemy,” Marco said. “Maybe it’s your own brother you’ll end up destroying.”
“Yes,” I said. My throat felt all tight. “Maybe that’s what will happen. Maybe not.”
ANIMORPHS WAS THE SHIT!
I lived for those books. I wanted the Yeerks to be real. I tried morphing and was devastated when I couldn’t do it. Also, Ax was my favorite. Hands down. I will fight you on that.
YOU SPEAK THE TRUTH
AND IT ENDED SO TERRIBLY
AND RACHEL DIED.
Riot grrrls of the Amazon variety. Amidst the Ukraine’s high rates of sex trafficking and gender oppression, a new movement of empowered women takes form—Asgarda—a tribe of Ukrainian women, mostly students, who live together in the Carpathian Mountains seeking complete autonomy from men. Approximately 150 women live together under the leadership of 30-something Katerina Tarnousk. Reviving the tribal traditions of the Scythian Amazons of ancient Greek mythology, the Asgarda train in martial arts, taught by former Soviet karate master, Volodymyr Stepanovytch, and learn life skills and sciences in order to become ideal women. French photographer Guillaume Herbaut met the Asgarda and documented their daily life and studies.
Life Calendar: How was your day?
This is quite cool.