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Cycling Fri Nov 11 2011

TyK Pinup Proceeds Empower Women to Speak Up

TyK1.jpgMs. August, as featured in the 2012 TyK calendar. / Photo: Kimberly Capriotti Illustration: Jana Kinsman

You know what happens when you assume: you make an ass out of you and... me? Or her? Wait, which pinup are we pinning this tale on, anyway?

The Thought You Knew pinup calendar takes real-life female cyclists from Chicago and styles them as their self-chosen pin-up alter egos. TyK aims to promote female empowerment and ownership of one's sexuality. Controversy surrounding the fourth installment of the calendar has swelled on Facebook and message boards during the past week, after a few TyK models got the attention of the cycling community by revealing they only recently learned proceeds from the 2012 calendar would not be donated to the Chicago Women's Health Center, as they had been in previous years. Some models said they felt "duped" by the news, and rumors about plans for the proceeds quickly followed.

TyK founder Alexis Finch responded via Facebook, clarifying plans for the 2012 funds, TyK's relationship with the CWHC and other concerns. In the note she said 2012 funds would stay within TyK's LLC to help start "The Monthly Cycle" programs in cities nationwide, bringing women into bike shops to learn basic mechanic skills and meet employees.

The thigh-high accusations have continued, however. Were participants wrong to assume the donation would remain the same as in years prior? Or should they have been informed of TyK's expanding direction before photo shoots started in June?

All this fuss over an issue concerning the opinion of female cyclists sure is making me feel...empowered.

While it's unfortunate some of 2012's TyK models lent legs and lashes under false assumptions, the whole controversy is a testament to the female cycling community Chicago has. We have a presence. We have a voice. We can speak out with confidence, because we have an audience. (And a number of us don't just pose in pumps, we ride in them too.)

To be clear, local female riders are still hugely outnumbered on the streets and at races, but compared to other cities, Chicago's scene is an example to look toward for attracting more females to cycling. Fifty applicants vied for pages in the 2012 calendar alone.

It's certainly not just pinup fantasies that have strengthened our numbers. Chicago boasts a diverse array of projects with interwoven intentions: Bike Fancy catches up with women on their bikes while Women's and Trans Night at West Town Bikes provides a less intimidating environment for women to practice bike mechanic skills; Pretty. Fast. aims to introduce women to bike racing while Chicago Women's Bike Racing keeps them informed. Just to name a few.

There is some criticism that the proceeds from 2012's Chicago-produced calendar are funding projects in other cities and not Chicago, but women should be proud to share what we've accomplished, knowing the 2012 calendar reminds us of our community at its strongest yet -- one TyK will be helping other cities strive toward.

I find the dedicated work and passion of my peers as it continues to develop our community's voice a hundred times more empowering than any stuffy corset or itchy stockings ever could be.

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Weronika / November 11, 2011 8:22 AM

Hello :) Thank you so much for this article. I have been part of TyK for 2 years now, in a more behind the scenes way. It is so disappointing to see all of the "bad press" coming to an organization that does SO MUCH good. Thanks for an honest article that shines some sense into this messy situation.

Kellie / November 11, 2011 12:00 PM

I am so glad to see this article. There has been so many rumors and so much speculation, including accusations of people "skip(ping) town," it's as though some people have sacrificed perspective in exchange for indignation.
This is a wonderful project and I feel so lucky to be friends with so many involved and to be a part of the city that promotes cycling , specifically for women. I think its great that it can move on to another city and celebrate that same strength and badassery. It just means we need to pick up the slack here ...and I don't think we'll have any problems with that.
Bike on, bitches!

Kelsey / November 11, 2011 4:17 PM

Very nice to see a positive approach to the situtation at hand. More calming down, less negativity! We are mature, strong, women. Let's prove it more with articles like THIS.

Good Journalist / November 11, 2011 5:01 PM

So, is this an opinion piece? shouldn't this be in the editorial section?

Maybe et some quotes from both sides what is really going on with this before you throw this in the news section? Maybe?

There are legitimate concerns about about the professionalism of the TyK organization and unless the leaders of this organization don't come out and say "hey, sorry for the misrepresentation" their credibility will be shot.

TyK can certainly hide behind your friends who choose to blindly follow. It still doesn't fix the reputation and the impression that calendar went to fund something other than what people thought, no matter what your web pages say.

A good PR person would tell you drop your defensive friends and say, "hey, sorry for the misrepresentation".

Anyway, the editors should move this to the opinion section where it belongs. It is slanted like a Fox news story and doesn't empower anyone.

Ellipse use? I have attached a copy the AP style guide.

Jacob / November 11, 2011 5:53 PM

I know that at least a full half of the women who modeled TyK this year had no idea that the funds were not going to benefit the women's health center and they were not happy that things had not been made more clear. I don't believe that most of these women were angry so much as confused and possibly a little hurt. They had been going around for many months telling people the calendar was benefiting the health center, when the fact that it wasn't was not made public (on the Kickstarter campaign) until October.

Most have chosen to not speak up publicly and I cannot blame them. The few (and especially the instigator who, granted, went about it pretty poorly) that have spoken up have been subject to as much witch-hunt nastiness and petty ugliness as Alexis Finch was. I would even call it a gleeful pile-on by a vocal subset. It's very sad. Neither side has come out looking good here.

Ultimately, the issue seems to have been resolved. Ms. Finch posted on TyK's facebook page immediately and explained everything very well. She didn't run and hide. At this point the story is carrion being picked over by crows. The back-and-forth bitchery on BOTH sides is what has me sad and tarnishes TyK more than anything else that may or may not have happened, however.

Andrew Huff / November 12, 2011 6:43 PM

"Good journalist," it's ironic that you call out someone for using an ellipsis while misspelling the word. Incidentally, other than not putting a space on either side of the ellipsis, there doesn't appear to be any violation of AP style in this case. Perhaps you'd be best focusing on the issue at hand rather than impugning the author's writing skills.

As to your question of which section the article should be in, I'll simply point out that there is no "news" or "opinion" section on Gapers Block. Opinion and news are intermingled; we trust our readers can tell the difference. Apparently we're wrong in at least one case.

Not so good journalist / November 16, 2011 12:52 PM

You know what's really sad? That most of this could have been avoided with a simple apology from Alexis, rather than her smug attitudes towards the whole affair. It goes to show just how much she cares about the incident.

And yes, people feel like she abandoned Chicago, took the money and fled. Because, well... That's what she did. She used the goodwill and likenesses of these models under false pretenses, changed her mind after the fact, and has taken the stance of it being "Too late now, oh well."

There's still the matter of her and her "accounting" to be considered too. Still haven't seen any of those records, receipts, expenditures. Some LLC she has going there. If you can't produce those sorts of records, and have to say that you "will be preparing an accounting of the past four years of TyK" what sort of business does she have running? Does she have any business running a business? Sounds like there's going to be a lot of falsified nonsense put forth if anything is at all.

All in all, this whole thing smacks of shenanigans. Whether or not she purposely misled people, or it was unintentional, it's still something that she should probably make an apology for. Some sort of amends or atonement.

Also... "The Monthly Cycle?" Really? As if women don't get subjugated enough. That has to be one of the worst names for a pro-woman organization/club/group that I have ever heard. Period.

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