All Photos by Paige Freier
A week ago I did a photoshoot with Paige Freier. We met some time ago as mutual friends of one of my favorite people on earth, Rachel Broderick. Paige has photographed her many times, and the images are always striking to say the least, if not capturing Rachel's very essence within them.
Paige and I met before sunset at Mormon Rocks, a high desert recreation area on the other side of Angeles National Forest, within San Bernardino National Forest. When I got off my bike, I was nearly knocked over by a cold, unforgiving wind, but nevertheless we persisted.
Now not only did I have a wonderful time with Paige (how can you not enjoy the company of one of your best friend's best friends?), but the images she created are like none I have ever seen of myself.
These photos captured more than what anyone else ever has.
Like many people close to me, the year 2018 has been one of transition, death, and rebirth. The circle seems to be coming to a close and restarting. I am overwhelmed with pain and excitement, opportunities and doors opening. I have found confidence, confidence to apologize less, to be myself more. And myself happens to see vast inequality in this world, and can no longer stand idly by to remain comfortable.
That being said, I am aware that some of these images reveal PART of my breasts. As you may know, I am fairly a blatant and unapologetic feminist. These do not have to be conflicting statements.
I took these photos because I want to. I feel closer to this machine than to almost any living thing on the planet. I work on my motorcycle (kind of) and ride my motorcycle all over creation. I am not an object placed on a vehicle to sell or enhance it, but this vehicle is part of my very soul. I think that Paige captured our relationship perfectly.
This 2000 Dyna Low Rider tells the story of a woman who has overcome addiction, sexual assault, the stigma of being a sober addict, the stigma of being a female in the motorcycle community, and in a patriarchal society. These mountains represent the same story to me - home, confidence, fearlessness.
I believe we have to think deeper than appearance of how we portray ourselves. There's a reason and an energy behind every piece of art - and we need to consider what it is. I see one too many motorcycle brands that only post photos of women when they are sexualized for the sake of straight men, not because they are riders or makers. If the answer to the question "why" makes you uncomfortable or hurts someone - then rethink.
Yeah, I love the aesthetic of the 70's, too, I've been dreaming of a panhead chopper since I learned what a panhead was - but I don't personally want to go back there. I refuse to idealize a contingent of bikers who perpetuate rape culture. Yeah, I think their bikes and their hair look cool as fuck - but I know what went on, and still goes on - and it is neither badass nor should it be celebrated.
In fact, they are no longer the 1% - perhaps they never were. There are far more of them than there are of us, so you can stop acting like they're a fucking subculture living in society's peripheral. If anyone, female riders have FAR more enemies after them and far more battles to fight than a white heterosexual man surrounded by similar company. I've been ignoring these particular trolls since the Real Men Ride Bitch shirt made its debut last year.
Gloria Steinhem said, "The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off." I'll consider everyone I piss off to be a victory - I know how infuriating it is to be wrong, and how hard it is to admit you are - and even harder then to change your ways to be right.