Riding Like a Girl: Cycling and Chicana activism.
Dr Catherine Leen, Senior Lecturer, National University of Ireland, Maynooth
Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-Lavalle’s documentary Ovarian Psycos (2017) chronicles the activism of an all-woman cycling group in the Eastside of Los Angeles. With the provocative title of The Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade, the group exploits the link between the ideas of sport, body cycles and the lunar phase cycle. The individual stories of the founding members of the group establish a stark contrast between the sexual abuse and violence experienced by the group’s members and women in the area, and the freedom and joyous physicality of cycling. This paper will examine the documentary’s reflection on the feminist activism of the group in the context of the history of women cyclists and cycling and cinema. It also places it in the context of Chicana artistic activism that celebrates the physicality of the female body. I will argue that this documentary suggests not that a re-interpretation of the past is necessary, but rather that the work of an earlier generation of Chicana activists continues to inform that of the present generation and that this legacy needs to be further recognised.