When Shriya passed her twelfth and had successfully got admission in Delhi University’s North Campus, she only had one thing to ask- bullet. Her father was reluctant but anyway had to buy one for his daughter because after all, he had promised. Shriya is not the only one challenging this stereotypical notion of females cannot ride a motor bike. Even today, a woman on a motor bike makes several heads turn. But that has no way stopped these badass women following their passion.
Vaishali, an independent motor bike rider talks about why motor bike riding is about passion and not ‘gender’
According to the ‘Autocar India’ magazine, around 350 million people in India ride bikes. Out of which less than 5% motor bikers are females; reported BBC. The note making point is that Indian women though slowly but are marking their place in the male dominated sports of riding gear motor bikes.
When Durga Nandini, former journalist and current employee of change.org, had bought her first bike in 2005, she made sure that it was a gear motor cycle, registered under her name. She did not give up to her parents’ expectations of being like ‘other girls’ and believed her decision of owning a motor bike for daily commuting as normal as it is for any man. But sadly, she concludes that 10 years down the lane, society has hardly changed its discriminatory approach towards women bike riders.
The challenge begins at home. Most women even have to go against their parents’ will to follow their dreams. The society’s ideal image of an ‘Indian-marriageable woman’ and the safety of their daughters in the country like India have always haunted Indian parents. “My brother does not want me to mention my love for bikes in my introduction on the matrimonial site. He is worried that no decent man will ever marry a woman who rides a motor bike”, tells Shwetha Ravichandran, an independent motor bike rider from Chennai.
Receiving a lewd comment from a complete stranger, mostly men, is not uncommon either for female motor bike riders. Many think that motor bikes are manly and are meant to be ridden by men alone. But as someone has said, ‘a woman has her way’.
Female motor bike riding clubs are coming up all over the country. Bikerni is one of the earliest female motor bike riders’ clubs in India. The group set a record in the Limca Book of World Records in 2013 for being the largest all-women group to ride to Khardung-La, considered the highest motor able mountain pass, reported The Hindu. According to the News 18 report, “The group ‘Biking Queens’ took up the task to promote Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao initiative in several countries, including Thailand, Nepal, Laos, Vietnam, Bhutan, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia and Malaysia”.
Be it Bengaluru-based group Hop On Gurls, Mumbai based REgals or Surat’s Biking Queens, unlike before, women across India are shunning their doubts and are chasing their dreams on their motor bikes. Shwetha Meenakshi, another Chennai based motor bike rider is associated with several clubs including East Coast Nomads and Madras Motorcycles.
— WheelsGuru (@WheelsGuru) September 12, 2016
Not everyone has the same experience. Despite India being considered unsafe for women, many women bikers have come up with positive experiences on roads and have called India ‘safe’.
May be it is all about different perspectives but the air is definitely changing.