Wednesday, March 18, 2015

NAHBS: Objectification Is Not Dead

A bicycle built by Allan Abbott and displayed at the recent North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) has been the center of a fair amount of controversy around the net. Built in the form of a naked woman, the Signorina (as Abbott has dubbed it) has led to a lot of criticism of its creator, but some of the criticism has even been directed at NAHBS officials for allowing the bike to be shown.

Where to begin? Hmmm. . .

What it isn't:

It isn't cool. Or sexy. It isn't clever. It isn't art. It isn't funny. It isn't even that well-made.

What it is:


I don't really even want to put up a picture of the thing, but I'd probably be doing a disservice to readers if I didn't show at least one. Some of the blogs out there are railing against the bike, and Abbott, and even NAHBS for promoting indecency -- then splashing huge pictures of the bike from every possible angle. If anyone really wants to see more, it shouldn't be hard to find. But on this blog, you'll have to settle for this:

Basically, what you have here is an oddly proportioned naked "woman" on her hands and knees -- not to mention, headless. It really just kind of grosses me out.

I'm not sure what it says about its creator that it even occurred to him to make this thing -- but it's even more shocking that he wanted to share it with an international audience.

What makes it worse (if that's possible) is that on his website, Abbott had a poll to get opinions on the bike:

"If you owned Signorina, would you. . . 

- Treat her like art in your home
- Allow only a few friends to see her
- Rider her hard and often
- Keep her locked to your bed
- Other"

However, if you go to Abbott's website now to look for the poll, you will find that not only has the poll been removed, but the entire contents of the website have been taken down. Clearly, the negative outcry against him and his creation has been too much to take.

What can I say -- people have freedom of expression -- but they don't have freedom from consequences.

Here is a sampling of what others have had to say about Abbott's Signorina:

Red Kite Prayer: "Cycling has enough problems with being insufficiently hospitable to women without the addition of throwback attitudes that treat women as sex objects and objectifies their form. It only serves to make many of the women we do have in the sport feel unwelcome, which is totally unacceptable. The more rich and diverse a community is, the stronger it is."

Bicycle Times Magazine: "The Signorina from Abbott Cycles takes the objectification of women to a new level. Definitely sucks that this is how women are represented here. Especially since this object was one of about 10 women I saw at the whole show."

BikeSnobNYC: "It seems Allan Abbott forgot to include 'registered sex offender' in his bio. Though he did manage to squeeze in a rape joke, which is pretty much the same thing." (reference to the poll from Abbott's website)

The Daily Bike @ Adventure-Journal: "Because men have dominated and subjugated and objectified women for so many thousands of years, and because the bicycle culture is one of the last, worst refuges of sexist jerks, somehow it's okay that this appallingly misguided and frankly ugly frame was given space to be shown to others. . . And by allowing it, the organizers of the NAHBS are just as complicit in the offense as Allan Abbott."

By the way -- lots of photos on that last one.

It's sad to think that there are still people out there who think there's an audience for something like this. And if there is an appreciative audience, they probably aren't people I want to ride with. There's probably more I could say, but I'll just leave it at that.


  1. Photos are still on his website.

    I think the bike is ugly.
    The shape.
    The color.

    1. Ahh -- I saw the list of files and clicked on a few but didn't see anything of note -- I guess I should have kept clicking. Then again -- it's probably best not to. I still don't know what would make anyone think something like this was a good idea.

    2. Sometimes things that seem like a good idea after three beers at midnight don't seem so in the cold light of day...

  2. I was at NAHBS and talked with Allan. He is a really nice guy start. What caught my eye was the picture of his land speed record bicycle he designed and set the record in 1973 with a paced speed of 140 mph. This guy has done all kinds of different things including being on the cover of Popular Science for a hydro-foil bike he invented. This guy is no idiot.

    Regarding the god, you would think people saw a porn video at the bike show. You are starting to sound like a bunch of bible banging, southern religious extremists. I suggest staying away from Italy and popular sculptures and painting....OMG, naked people.

    As far of as a hand made bike, he did a beautiful job. This is a well crafted bike. Give the guy some slack and give him credit for having an original idea. It was very nicely and tastefully done.

    His wife was standing with him and talked about the bike. She got a big laugh about the whole thing. I say good for them. I only hope a few bloggers and so-called bike critics could lighten up and have some fun again. I own a naked lady golf tee and now looking for a naked lady pen I remembered seeing in my grandpa's pen draw. Who knows, I may consider buying a naked lady bike too. Hope I don't cause any problems.

    1. As you notice, I'm not getting as shrill as a lot of people out there. Like I said, it kind of grosses me out, and it's really not my thing. But I do find it ironic that the people who are the most adamant that it's indecent, and that it shouldn't even have been shown are the ones with the most and largest pictures of it.