Discreet to excrete in the concrete jungle: women bike messengers and their inventive urban strategies in three US cities

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    In spite of the radical changes brought in by new communication technologies, bicycle messengers are still integral to many urban economies throughout the world. While all messengers creatively navigate through dense, hostile traffic on the streets, women face additional challenges in this male-dominated occupation. They not only confront gendered expectations, difficulties, and harassment from co-workers and the public, but also experience struggles to access restrooms during their workday. This is an overlooked-but crucial-corporeal challenge of bike messengering: how, when, and where to excrete while on the job. The issue of restroom access is compounded by instances of gendered policing, based on a stereotype that a bike messenger is an aggressive male. Drawing from ethnographic research in two North American cities and additional interview material, this article will first offer an overview of the job and then examine how women messengers work in this male-dominated occupational world. Next, it will consider inequities of toilet access, gate keeping and belonging, and how messengers are excluded from office restroom facilities. Finally, it will examine rationale for, as well as the geographic strategies that women messengers employ during their workdays in order to excrete in (relative) peace.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)85-96
    JournalGender, Place and Culture
    Volume24
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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