Bikers: Busting Myths

October 15, 2014   ·   0 Comments

As a motorcyclist of seven years and a member of a local social riding club, I have often thought about how stereotypes are formed and how difficult they are to de-construct, once they become entrenched.

A few days ago, I watched a CBC television newscast showcasing a young Quebec film-maker, Xavier Dolan.

This young, brash, yet gifted individual has been dubbed The Québécois L’Enfant Terrible.

After all, where does a fresh-faced 25-year-old, get off winning the prestigious Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his just released film, Mommy?

Decades-old, entrenched purveyors of his genre, have traditionally looked down their noses at such unorthodox young up and comers.

Breaking stereotypes, and shattering moulds, seems to be the new normal; as far as new, talented Quebec film-makers are concerned anyway.

A stereotype, once dissected and laid bare, usually verifies its own definition. An aberration or oversimplification of a partial truth.

Unfortunate and widely held misconceptions of the “biker mystique” promotes the image of a ‘rebel without a cause’; individuals with apparent dysfunctional, untrustworthy attitudes, borne out of seemingly rebellious natures, replete with a radical death-wish predisposition.

While there are unsavoury, immature individuals who utilize motorcycles, that does not necessarily translate into all participants of this two-wheeled genre being poster children for the Hells Angels or Speed Demons.

An unfortunate side effect of all this is that objective and reasoned information on bikers and their mode of transportation, has been obfuscated by ill-informed detractors.

These attitudes can, and do infiltrate the riding culture itself.

Some who ride cruiser style bikes, do not necessarily look with favour on those who decide not to ride that type of motorcycle.

Or if you do not subscribe to the “Sons of Anarchy” mentality, even in pretense (which has its own inherent dangers) then you are classified as an outsider; or a biker ‘wannabe’. The irony in that sphere of thinking is mind blowing.

Some bikers look as if they just stepped off of a 14th-century Viking ship and have an “eat-nails-for-breakfast” persona and dress the part accordingly; but in truth are the most gentle, compassionate, grandparents, doctors, teachers, pharmacists, mechanics, electricians… you could ever meet. Others look to have just stepped off the covers of GQ or Cosmopolitan, but have the disposition of Oscar The Grouch.

If we are honest with ourselves, all of us on some level, entertain elements of bias through our preconceived notions of how things should or should not be. These thought processes have come about through our upbringing, our environment, and from things that have made an impact on us, whether for good or for ill.

What we do about such thinking and how we comport ourselves moving forward as individuals (or as bikers), should prompt us to ask hard questions about ourselves. Regardless, beneath the leather, metal and chrome, we all have dreams, desires, hopes and fears, just like everyone else.

The point is, judging books by their covers, increases the risk of not discovering the value of the content within.

Stafford Edwards

Orangeville ON

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