April Fuels

April Fuels
Breeze and I jammin down a back road in Indy during April Fuels. Photo by the legendary Benny Stucker.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Empowerment in front of the lens

Looking from the outside in.. misunderstanding the context.  A brief glimpse into someones life, a snapshot pausing a moment in time.  The subject and meaning of the photo is all in the eye of the person looking at it.  One photo can be looked at by many people and interpreted a million ways.
Today, we can look into anyone's life, see a snap shot of their lives and make any assumption about it we want.. and even voice our opinions publicly.  But.. we also have the ability to manipulate and pose that snapshot- into anything we want to portray.. there's a line between real and fantasy, and the skewed perspective , that has been a big controversy in the news lately, and it made me think about my personal situation.  The drastic assumptions and ideas that come from the photos that I take, or what they might convey to someone.
Benny, my fiance', and I started sharing behind the scenes videos of our photo shoots on the Patreon page: Benny Stucker Photography, just to show how our shoots go down.
In the last 5 years, I have been lucky enough to do bike shoots with multiple people in quit a few locations.. some who have never done it before, or seen what its like have participated and seen the work, the takes, the weather, the said: its not like I thought it'd be.  But maybe I could bring a little clarity to it all.
In my opinion, and its obvious by my actions, Nudity isn't shameful..    Evoke a feeling of security, grace, the softness of sensuality, something.  The human body is a work of art, and should be regarded as so.
Being in front of the camera is empowering.. and when you see the photos- you cant help but love yourself a little more.  maybe its the narcissist hiding inside of me, staring out saying.. OH WOW YOU'RE HOT!  I know for a FACT that when a woman feels good about herself, she looks good, and that makes her feel good, and so she looks good, and the spiral of love continues.  The dreadful spiral of body shame or punishment can be replaced with self nourishment and love.. and working with a photographer that knows how to capture your best side, is amazing.
Nudity empowers some, and scares others.. it can be an incredible sense of power.. or it can be something that holds you back.
The very first time I shot in the buff, I was with about 9-10 other women, all nude at the same time.
All ages, all backgrounds.. cancer survivors, and loved ones of women who survived.  We all had some sort of tattoo, or many, so the photo was a bit edgy, and still came together in one unified photo- a strong, somber feeling that made you think- why are they all so calm? serene? emotionless?
It was a photo, tastefully taken so that every 'bit' was covered by an arm, a hand, a well placed foot.. you get it.. it was to be auctioned off for Bikers for Tata's, a local ride and run for breast cancer awareness.

I want to go behind the scenes with you, and share a few of my photo shoot experiences, to maybe clarify... and hopefully open up the window for women to feel more relaxed with a photographer- and get yourself dolled up and GET in front of the camera! There is nothing like it.. and I would suggest everyone try it, at least once.  And I don't mean you have to get NAKED.. i mean- feel good photos- whatever that means to you.  Sexy, strong, try on some long hair... put on some fake eyelashes.. try those heels.. who gives a fuck. its ALL FAKE. all of it! make yourself up the way you want to be.. or just be yourself. there is no wrong answer.
Having your photo taken by a professional, in a relaxed and friendly space is like nothing else.
You get comfortable, you just be yourself.. and the photographer does their thing.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Xennials and Feminism in the Modern Motorcycle Community

Hello, my name is Amy Sue and I'm a modern feminist.  WAIT.. don't roll your eyes and hit the back button... let me explain...
I've grown up in unique and privileged generation... I'm not quiet a daydreaming Millennial... but I'm also not a jaded Gen Xer... I fall in this fun little niche called Xennials. "The Oregon Trail Generation" If you get that reference, you probably ARE a Xennial, born between 1977-1985, a mere 25.1 million of us exist in the US.

 Good magazine describes Xennials as "a micro-generation that serves as a bridge between the disaffection of Gen X and the blithe optimism of Millennials".  
This gives our generation a cynical caution mixed with an energetic buoyancy.. but we don't fall for either ruse.  We tend to make our own calculations, own decisions, and own way, not caring about what society thinks about us, since we were essentially forgotten anyway!!

In my opinion, this was a great time to be raised in America.. transitioning from the innocent carefree Reagan days to the technology flooded policed states we live in  now.  I remember sitting in the back of the station wagon, with NO SEAT BELTS, being a latch/key kid, left home alone with my big brother as a baby sitter at 8 years old, and no one called child services.  We witnessed the first steps of space exploration and watched the Berlin wall fall.  We lived through the AIDS epidemic and learned about the starving children of Africa from television, but not in our textbooks.  The comfortable financial security of the 90's, to the economic crash.  I remember calling my friends on the only phone in the house, the kitchen landline, stretching the cord WAAAAYYYY up the stairs and into my room with the door SHUT.  VCRs were a BIG DEAL.  My first cell phone was a nokia candy bar with interchangeable face plates and the 'snake' game.  I learned how to work on my own computers, write code, hack... we figured it out. By the time the first IPOD came out, I was old enough to buy it with my check from my job.. for $499...!!! My generation watched as 'terrorists' attacked, and learned now that it was our own government who did it. I was lucky enough to be raised by parents whom shared the ideals of second generation feminism, during the vagina monologue and punk rock Riot Grrl third wave, to become part of the fourth wave; which is mostly defined by internet based transparency, calling men out on bad behavior.   I've seen a lot.  I've learned a lot.  I feel I'm somewhat of a time travelling story teller.. and I don't plan on stopping.
ONE WORD: Snake.

In the time I've been lucky enough to be alive, I've seen how Feminism is misconstrued and politicized in a negative light.  I've seen a woman get blamed and shamed by a little blue dress, for the downfall of a Presidential campaign, and the incredible strides modern feminism has made in the Me Too movement, a women running for president, and in 2020- a possible Female President for REAL.  Feminism is a vague concept, so it's taken MANY forms over the years... It is simply, the idea that women can be treated equally to men... really; that our physical attributes shouldn't separate us as human beings.

Being a feminist doesn't mean that you can't shave your armpits... it also doesn't mean you have to hate men and trade in your heels for Birkenstocks.    AND NO- YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GET CATS.  Seriously... not a single feline required.  One can define herself in whatever fashion she wants... but these stereotypes are not required in modern day feminism.  AND GET THIS: YOU DON'T EVEN NEED TO BE A WOMAN TO BE A FEMINIST!!  Mind blown right? You can personally define Feminism in any number of ways, but the base of it is EQUALITY.

no thanks.

Of course, one can argue about stature, and hard labor jobs/heavy lifting/danger/etc etc... but that has nothing to do with me being a woman.  I've met GROWN ASS MEN that can't pick up an Ultra Classic. Stop it.
If someone tasked me with moving a heavy object, or scaling a skyscraper to weld a beam... I'd figure it out. I can use machinery, and I know people who can help me.  RESOURCEFULNESS beats sexual discrimination, EVERY TIME.  And coming from a generation that had to start our careers in debt during a recession, the oil crisis, 9/11- we are pretty flexible, and resourceful.
So this is where I'm going with all of this.. a shift in the mindset of the country is just another ebb and flow in the life of a Xennial.. and we deal with it easier than a hard headed, set in my ways Baby Boomer, or a disaffected and jaded Gen Xer.. we don't have the snowflake Millennial gene that sees everything with rose colored glasses either- we adapt, we change, and we overcome. We figure it out.

Put into perspective; my idea of being a feminist, and in that right, my own person- I discovered motorcycles, and never looked back.  Through hardships, threats, trials and harassment the Xennial female riding community is an even more secluded niche than you'd think.  Right now the majority of the female riding community is Gen Xers.. 40-60 years old..  These are the women who were raised around the sexist ideal that females are property, and belong on the back of a man's bike- the typical motorcycle mentality of the 70s, but were taught by their generation to go against the grain and be strong and independent, so it was a rebellious act to get on your own bike.. and eventually it was CELEBRATED by the men in their generation as well.  This did a few things to the female biker community... One: it opened the door for younger women to see that, they too, can be a bad ass biker bitch on their own wheels, on their own terms, and not a topless floozy getting passed around for mans' pleasure...... but it ALSO created a recoil effect from the struggle of acceptance, these women can give off a cold, closed minded stigma, that they don't need to be categorized as a female rider, because they can do whatever a man can do, they've been riding for 30 years and they can ride with their husbands and do not need a sisterhood- the pioneers of the female movement abandoned their feminism.. in my opinion because they had to, to fit in.

AT EASE LADIES!!! I have great news!  You don't have to fight anymore... we've made it. We get it- relax, and join in on the fun!

We are entering a generational shift in the motorcycle community.  Millennials are becoming a target for the industry.  They are basically exploiting the young internet based female riders to engage more women to ride as their own entity, because we are no longer just an extension of a man's ability to ride.  Start up classes, smaller more agile bikes, more AFFORDABLE bikes.  We have been considered to be PEOPLE now, Isn't that a hoot!?

Unfortunately, this too has a recoil effect, and is causing an over saturation of women who maybe want to ride because it looks cool online, but don't really understand that riding 600-900 miles a day isn't as easy as it looks.. or take it seriously and get hurt, or take it too seriously and not have any fun... the ease of access to the new wave of female riders is understandable, with the internet being the basis of advertisements.. its infinite.  But the market once again skips over the women who learned to ride a bike as a 4 year old (no helmet #survivedthe80s), owned a bike since college, and grew up watching it become more accepted and normal, this is mostly because Xennials have done the family thing (100% responsible for Gen Z the largest generation, even exceeding the baby boomers). So not only is a majority of my generation busy raising preteens, but they won't engage in dangerous activities that could endanger their livelihood they worked VERY HARD to obtain. I feel the majority look at living free as a weird concept, since we've been programmed to just go with the flow and survive...

I am an anomaly in that aspect (having ZERO children)  I didn't marry right out of high school, and I've always been supported by my family, growing up with BOTH parents in the household.  I think it helped me learn to be free and be a bit more of an outgoing person.  Because we are few, we get lumped in with the old, and ignored by the new...and we are forgotten- 
It's hard for me to swallow the "female riding scene" that currently exists- and pardon my lack of a filter, I wasn't born with one, but you either have to be on your third marriage/widowed and on your 5th Heritage Classic touring the windmills of Iowa, or you have to have a brand new stock Sportster, not ride it, but take a TON of pictures with it so everyone knows you HAVE a bike, fly to the 'women only' bike rallys, and join the Litas in order to belong to a community of women riders.  Listen.. do your thing woman, but that's not my scene.

 LUCKILY I am now in a very incredible place with other women and men who have found their path in the same exact way as I did.  Stuck in the middle, trying to make our way in the new incredibly accepting Feminist friendly Riding Community, going with the flow and once again changing with the times.
We decided by gathering similar minded men and women together to share stories, tips and tricks, techniques and ideas, really to just have FUN doing what we love- we can create a real connection in the only way we know how. REAL LIFE. We were the last generation to date without the internet, to play outside until dark and the streetlights came on.. we know how to be real people without stigmas of old ideas... Check out, In Cahoots Moto on Facebook or Instagram if you feel like you haven't found your wind sisters yet- the group meet up is set to be this summer in Colorado, we might be the right in between community for you: the modern feminist who rides a bike!
But maybe it sounds awful and stupid to you, the reader, and that's fine too-
Maybe you don't mind, but I personally don't like trying to breath in the 9,000 degree heat and exhaust fumes and thousands of douche bags of downtown Sturgis... I also don't want to buy $800 chaps made locally by a guy with a man bun, out of vegan leather that came in a really cute tote bag.   As a Xennial woman, I know we no longer have to fear our bikes being taken away by men (yes this happened to me once), and we've already proven ourselves worthy of a spot on the road, thanks to our predecessors, the niche is already there. We don't have to have perfect hair and new boots to be accepted by the fashion riders, because we would just ride alone anyway..  I'm cool just hopping on my bike with my pack, my pistol, and a pocket of cash, and heading West for a few weeks, just figuring it out. I just hope I don't get dysentery.

*Thanks for reading! Leave me a comment below with you thoughts!*