by airyn darling
Before I begin this review of Hear Me Roar by Ann Ferrar, a disclaimer: I am not a “We’re girls, we should all stick together!” type of chick. “I have done something and I am a woman!” doesn’t generally do it for me. Kathleen Coburn has a quote in the book that I think speaks for most women in any sport, and which appeals to me especially, “I didn’t want to be a girl doing well for a girl. I wanted to win.” Hell yeah. Thus, I may not be the right demographic for this book.
Ok, my overall impression? In the words of Dom Delouise in “History of the World Part I,” “Nice. Nice. Not THRILLING, but nice.” I am a person who will deprive myself of sleep for nights on end to finish a good book, yet I could not force myself to read more than 15 pages of HMR at a time. This isn’t to say the book is without merit. It does a good job of covering the many different styles of riding, and it gives the novice reader a fine overview of many aspects of riding, including safety, bikes, gear, and resources.
The first couple of chapters are enjoyable, laden with the kind of material I was hoping to find. Ferrar offers insights such as “in so many cases, a woman’s mastery of a motorcycle was metaphoric for her ability to surmount other obstacles,” and “the sight of a woman awheel has been tied to a slew of conflicting messages about her femininity, competency, power and liberation.” These are the kinds of things I was looking for in this book; putting forth sociological theories, drawing analogies, that kind of thing. But while she hints at them, she forwards no theories, just relays facts. Intuitions, thoughts, and feelings, those things that would draw the reader in, are rare. There are many individual women’s stories here, some of which would be fascinating, were more detail and color present.
Further, she emphasizes the community aspect of biking, yet somehow manages to segregate us with stereotypes, especially under the “Biker’s Social Calendar.” Here she manages to offend nearly every kind of biker there is. At the end of that chapter she says, “When bikers get together, motorcycles are social lubricants, demographic levelers, and, ultimately, adhesives for friendships,” after which I scribbled, “except for all that other (divisive) stuff she just said.”
The overall impression is unfortunately, tragically dry. It should be enthusiastic; instead, HMR reads like a badly written encyclopedia entry. I wrote notes in the book as I read, and here are a few:
It says, “these women were there to compete, in the dictionary definition of the word: to seek or strive for something in opposition to others.” As opposed to what exactly?
NEIGHING METAL PONIES?! Augh!!!
To recap: There is valuable information in this book, and reading it might make someone more inclined to try riding a bike, but it’s too precious in some places, uses too many cliches and generalizations, and is exceedingly dry.